Government use of Ubuntu

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Governments are making increasingly effective use of Ubuntu in large-scale projects, from big data to little schools. There is growing confidence in  open source in government quarters, and growing sophistication in how they engage with it.

But adopting open source is not just about replacing one kind of part with another. Open source is not just a substitute for shrink-wrapped proprietary software. It’s much more malleable in the hands of industry and users, and you can engage with it very differently as a result.  I’m interested in hearing from thought leaders in the civil service on ways they think governments could get much more value with open source, by embracing that flexibility. For example, rather than one-size-fits-all software, why can’t we deliver custom versions of Ubuntu for different regions or countries or even departments and purposes? Could we enable the city government of Frankfurt to order PC’s with the Ubuntu German Edition pre-installed?

Or could we go further, and enable those governments to participate in the definition and production and certification process? So rather than having to certify exactly the same bits which everyone else is using, they could create a flavour which is still “certified Ubuntu” and fully compatible with the whole Ubuntu ecosystem, can still be ordered pre-installed from global providers like Dell and Lenovo, but has the locally-certified collection of software, customizations, and certifications layered on top?

If we expand our thinking beyond “replacing what went before”, how could we make it possible for the PC companies to deliver much more relevant offerings, and better value to governments by virtue of free software? Most of the industry processes and pipelines were set up with brittle, fixed, proprietary software in mind. But we’re now in a position to drive change, if there’s a better way to do it, and customers to demand it.

So, for a limited time only, you can reach me at governator@canonical.com (there were just too many cultural references there to resist, and it’s not a mailbox that will be needed again soon ;). If you are in the public service, or focused on the way governments and civic institutions can use open source beyond simply ordering large numbers of machines at a lower cost, drop me a note and let’s strike up a conversation.

Here are a few seed thoughts for exploration and consideration.

Local or national Ubuntu editions, certified and pre-installed by global brands

Lots of governments now buy PC’s from the world market with Ubuntu pre-installed. Several Canadian tenders have been won by companies bidding with Ubuntu pre-installed on PC’s. The same is true in Brazil and Argentina, in China and India and Spain and Germany. We’re seeing countries or provinces that previously had their own-brand local Linux, which they had to install build locally and install manually, shifting towards pre-order with Ubuntu.

In part, this is possible because the big PC brands have built up enough experience and confidence working with Canonical and Ubuntu to be able to respond to those tenders. You can call up Dell or Lenovo and order tens of thousands of laptops or desktops with Ubuntu pre-installed, and they will show up on time, certified. The other brands are following. It has been a lot of work to reach that point, but we’ve got the factory processes all working smoothly from Shenzen to Taipei. If you want tens of thousands of units, it all works well.

But Ubuntu, or free software in general, is not Windows. You shouldn’t have to accept the one-size-fits all story. We saw all of those local editions, or “national linux”, precisely because of the desire that regions have to build something that really suits them well. And Ubuntu, with it’s diversity of packages, open culture and remix-friendly licensing is a very good place to start. Many of the Spanish regional distro’s, for example, are based on Ubuntu. They have the advantage of being shaped to suit local needs better than we can with vanilla Ubuntu, but the disadvantage of being hard to certify with major ISV’s or IHV’s.

I’m interested in figuring out how we can formalise that flexibility, so that we can get the best of both worlds: local customizations and preferences expressed in a compatible way with the rest of the Ubuntu ecosystem, so they can take advantage of all the software and skills and certifications that the ecosystem and brand bring. And so they can order it pre-installed from any major global PC company, no problem, and upgrade to the next version of Ubuntu without losing all the customization that work that they did.

Security certifications by local agencies, with policy frameworks and updates

A European defence force has recently adopted Ubuntu widely as part of an agility-enhancing strategy that gives soldiers and office workers secure desktop capabilities from remote locations like… home, or out in the field. There’s some really quite sexy innovation there, but there’s also Ubuntu as we know and love it. In the process of doing the work, it emerged that their government has certified some specific versions of key apps like OpenVPN, and it would be very useful to them if they could ensure that those versions were the ones in use widely throughout the government.

Of course, today, that means manually installing the right version every time, and tracking updates. But Ubuntu could do that work, if it knew enough about the requirements and the policies, and there was a secure way to keep those policies up to date. Could we make the operating system responsive to such policies, even where it isn’t directly managed by some central infrastructure? If Ubuntu “knows” that it’s supposed to behave in a particular way, can we make it do much of the work itself?

The same idea is useful in an organizational setting, too. And the key question is whether we can do that, while still retaining both access  to the wider Ubuntu ecosystem, and compatibility with factory processes, so these machines could be ordered and arrive pre-installed and ready to go.

Local cultural customization

On a less securocratic note, the idea of Ubuntu being tailored to local culture is very appealing. Every region or community has its news sites, it’s languages, it’s preferred apps and protocols and conventions. Can we expand the design and definition of the Ubuntu experience so that it adapts naturally to those norms in a way much richer and more meaningful than we can with Windows today?

What would the key areas of customisation be? Who would we trust to define them? How would we combine the diversity of our LoCo communities with the leadership of Ubuntu and the formality of government or regional authorities? Would we *want* to do that? It’s a very interesting topic, because the value of having officially recognised platforms is just about on a par with the value of having agile, crowdsourced and community-driven customisation. Nevertheless, could we find a model whereby governments or civil groups could underwrite the creation of recognised editions of Ubuntu that adapt themselves to local cultural norms? Would we get a better experience for human beings if we did that?

Local skills development

Many of the “national linux” efforts focus on building small teams of engineers and designers and translators that are tasked with bringing a local flavour to the technology or content in the distro. We have contributors from almost (perhaps actually?) every country, and we have Canonical members in nearly 40 countries. Could those two threads weave together in an interesting way? I’m often struck, when I meet those teams, at the awkwardness of teams that feel like start-ups, working inside government departments – it’s never seemed an ideal fit for either party.

Sometimes the teams are very domain focused; one such local-Linux project is almost entirely staffed by teachers, because the genesis of the initiative was in school computing, and they have done well for that purpose.

But could we bring those two threads together? The Ubuntu-is-distributed-already and the local-teams-hired-to-focus-on-local-work threads seem highly complimentary; could we create teams which are skilled in distro development work, managed as part of the broader Ubuntu effort, but tasked with local priorities?

Public investments in sector leadership

Savvy governments are starting to ensure that research and development that they fund is made available under open licenses. Whether that’s open content licensing, or open source licensing, or RAND-Z terms, there’s a sensible view that information or tools paid for with public money should be accessible to that public on terms that let them innovate further or build businesses or do analysis of their own.

Some of that investment turns out to be software. For example, governments might prioritise genomics, or automotive, or aerospace, and along the way they might commission chunks of software that are relevant. How could we make that software instantly available to anybody running the relevant local flavour of Ubuntu? Would we do the same with content? How do we do that without delivering Newspeak to the desktop? Are there existing bodies of software which could be open sourced, but they don’t have a natural home, they’re essentially stuck on people’s hard drives or tapes?

 

There are multiple factors driving the move of public institutions to open source – mainly the recognition, after many years, of the quality and flexibility that an open platform provides. Austerity is another source of motivation to change. But participation, the fact that open source can be steered and shaped to suit the needs of those who use it simply through participating in open projects, hasn’t yet been fully explored. Food for thought.

And there’s much more to explore. If this is interesting to you, and you’re in a position to participate in building something that would actually get used in such a context, then please get in touch. Directly via The Governator, or via my office.

19 comments:

  1. Dennis Shimer says: (permalink)
    March 8th, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Please keep thinking big, moving toward the horizon, dreaming. By this you allow us to dream. Not of the day when I convert one more friend or family member to an ever more attractive and open community. But to the day when open standards are a way of life. When creative companies compete profitably on the quality of their product and not on who can lock the most people into a closed system.

  2. Frederico Araujo Mendes says: (permalink)
    March 8th, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    It would be interesting who is in China, to download the Ubuntu server located in China, have the Chinese language, already installed. In Brazil, Portuguese, etc … That would be interesting, smarter and saves download language pack.

  3. Georgi Chulkov says: (permalink)
    March 9th, 2012 at 12:05 am

    > If you want tens of thousands of units, it all works well.

    I wish it worked nearly as well if you want one unit. It is nearly impossible for an average person, even one willing to go through extra effort like myself, to buy a high-end laptop with Ubuntu, or even just without Windows.

    Mark, do you have any ideas how to approach this problem?

  4. Chris says: (permalink)
    March 9th, 2012 at 3:04 am

    The US government could create a “Securebuntu” where every line of code has been audited and reviewed. It could even be forked to add their “extra secure stuff” and hosted on github and shared between all agencies (And anyone else that cares to use it).

  5. Tom Albrecht says: (permalink)
    March 9th, 2012 at 4:28 am

    I’ve been working on U.S. Government computer systems for eight years, and I believe that it will be impossible to chip away at Red Hat’s lead in this area without Common Criteria certification. Red Hat understands this and invests a lot of time and money in getting their servers certified to an EAL4 level.

    There is currently a blueprint page on this issue, but it doesn’t seem to have much traction.

    There is also a good article on Infosec Island about EAL levels and what they mean to getting Ubuntu in the door.

  6. Petar says: (permalink)
    March 9th, 2012 at 4:34 am

    I was waiting for this subject to be opened. Finally! First of all, you can add Republic of Macedonia to the list of countries that jumped on the bandwagon of using free software.

    Allow me to copy/paste(actually translate) an information taken from the “Ministry of Informatics Society” of the Republic of Macedonia:
    …The government project “Computer for every child” is part of the governmental initiative for “education and training for everyone”. The project is based on the National program for education development (2005-2015). 17818 personal computers, 98710 LCD monitors, 98710 keyboards and computer mice AND 80892 thin clients for the primary and the secondary schools in Republic of Macedonia are planed to be obtained with this project. This computers will be used as tools for accessing the digital educational tools that can be found on the Internet.

    The project will be realized in three segments:
    -obtainment and installation of the computer equipment
    -maintenance, local and internet connection of equipment
    -Developing digital content and teacher training…

    (link http://www.mio.gov.mk/?q=node/83)

    As I’m writing this, the project is entering in the seventh year of its execution. What might interest you in particular is the choice for the OS platform used for the project. Which one did our government choose?

    Edubuntu!

    How is this project doing?

    BAD!

    No, it’s not doing bad because the computer equipment was never bough. It was! This project costs the citizens of Macedonia more than 30 million euros (actually it might be something like 50+ million, but it’s hard to provide true numbers with our government). Allow me to skip the details of all the screw ups that are making this project doing badly and concentrate on the Edubuntu part.

    First of all the mistake was made when the thin clients were bought – they were provided by NComputing (http://www.ncomputing.com/). What was so wrong with the choice of their thin clients? Well nothing at the time they were bought, but someone forgot to ask for the lenght of the support they’ll offer for their thin clients, specifically the linux driver needed so that they can be used with Edubuntu. NComputing provided a driver for Edubuntu 7.04 (not even a LTS version), and by the time the computers actually reached some of the schools (2009), Edubuntu wasn’t even supported any more.

    The second problem? Lack of useful software. So we had to pretend that our education will really florish by using: QCad, Scribus, KIG, Geogebra, Dr.Geo, Phet, KmPlot, Inkscape, Kalzium, Q Gis, Solfege, Klatin, Kverbos, Chemtool, and OpenOffice. A couple of months (or maybe a whole year) after the computers reached the schools, while browsing the Macedonian Ubuntu forum, I stumbled upon an fairly recently posted (at the time I visited the forum) but never answered question from an informatics teacher begging for help with installing Lazarus (free alternative of Pascal-the computer language taught in the technical secondary schools), because unfortunately, Lazarus was still not available in the repos in Ubuntu 7.04. Judging by this Edubuntu video tutorials (Albanian and Macedonian – http://www.mio.gov.mk/?q=node/2247) it seams that they solved the problem, but I guess that teacher had to wait for a solution for a long long time.

    Third problem? Because of some strange network settings and system administration but also because of the lack of support for the Ubuntu 9.04, some exploits were very soon discovered by the pupils and students enabling them to gain root access (isn’t Internet wonderful???) and disable iTALC so that the teacher can’t see what they are doing on their computers and also change the proxy settings in Firefox so that they can connect to the Internet whenever they want (I have no idea why the internet access control is set in this way).

    My questions (that you are not obligated to answer):

    Has Canonical ever worked with and earned any money from NComputing?

    What is you opinion about how this failed project affects the name of Canonical and the Ubuntu brand in general even though nobody ever asked for your services, at least not anyone from the Macedonian government?

    Don’t you think that it’s time for Canonical to start offering complete solutions for Ubuntu deployment, meaning not only Landscape that is not even used by this failed project, but the complete coverage including the hardware, software, support, training etc?

    I really hope, for Canonical’s and Ubuntu’s sake, that this failed business opportunity will give you some guidance of the mistakes you need to avoid on your path to reach your “200 million Ubuntu users” goal.

  7. Uli says: (permalink)
    March 9th, 2012 at 8:33 am

    One rather obvious localization is the video scope/lens. In Germany for example news from ARD are available as stream or on demand, and ZDF offers a back-log of most aired programs via the net and probably also have some kind of api.

    Though I am not to sure how relevant such localization would be for governments. My guess would be that they would probably be most interested in very specific stuff, such as integration into their intra-nets or a lens to search for appropriate forms in their database.

  8. Clive says: (permalink)
    March 9th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Nice idea, so let me challenge you with a potentially workable approach. Would it be possible to produce a utility that could ship with a “vanilla” ubuntu edition that would enable a reasonably technical user to build a “custom package subset” such that this user could prepare a new installable ISO image containing a partially pre-configured solution?

    This modified image could consist of current core packages plus more from the repositories, with the user able to burn to CD or DVD as required. Once created, other technicians would be able to very quickly and easily replicate a “customized” ubuntu distro that could be pushed to machines quickly and easily? [If the user were brave, perhaps scope would allow for adding tailoring scripts - things like automatically mapping to known file and print servers, for instance? ]

    Take to the next stage, and how about putting this technical capability on a running ubuntu server on a network. Now produce *another* CD/USB that can boot a network-connected workstation, link to the server, and pull down and build an image across a corporate network. [Imagine how much deploy/maintenacnce effort that would eliminate].

    Throw in, for example, an amended splashscreen process that allows the users to produce boot screens that show a hybrid of their own logo in addition to a boot screen, and you have quickly made it easier for large third parties to really customise the distro.

    If you really want to push the envelope, then how about extending/adapting this service to let all ubuntu users “re-image” a version of the distro? What I mean by this is that over time you ship patches, fixes and updates to each release, so over time the “ISO” image gets further and further out of date and needs more and more package updates. So how about making it possible to “re-image” that ISO, taking the core packages and bringing them up to date with the latest config? I would love to be able to do this with a release just as you end support for it [i.e. with the latest package cluster] so that I have a “revert point” if I need it… which sadly I have on multiple occasions.

  9. Garry says: (permalink)
    March 9th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    @georgi, you can get them from system76 and zareason. Both companies offers a range of specs.

  10. Links 9/3/2012: Linux Mint 12 LXDE is Out, Nokia Rushes Back to Linux-based Operating System | Techrights says: (permalink)
    March 9th, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    [...] Government use of Ubuntu Governments are making increasingly effective use of Ubuntu in large-scale projects, from big data to little schools. There is growing confidence in open source in government quarters, and growing sophistication in how they engage with it. [...]

  11. John Cockroft says: (permalink)
    March 10th, 2012 at 12:50 am

    First of all – thank you for starting Ubuntu which has produced (or at least integrated the components of) a fantastic operating system which is easily as usable as Windows 7 or OS/X and which I have been using on a daily basis as my main operating system for several years now.

    I think the main reason that more people are not using Ubuntu or similar modern distributions like Fedora or Mageia (fork of Mandriva) is simply that the blatantly monopolistic pre-loading of Windows on all non-Apple PCs is preventing anyone from even knowing about any alternatives to Windows unless they are technical or ‘in the know’. This produces the current self-perpetuating Windows monopoly which is sustained by the 100% no-alternatives Windows mind-share. This (of course) extends to schools where the current ‘educational agreements’ prevent schoolchildren from experiencing the wonderful rich range of software and activities that can be experiences legally and for free whilst running Linux!

    I develop software that can run on multiple platforms (mainly Linux, OS/X, proprietary Unix and Windows) although my preferred platform (by far) is Linux. At home we have several computers (including an Apple Mac and Windows PC) but my children (9 and 12) both prefer to use Ubuntu Linux (their choice and they were offered both Windows and OS/X). They can happily hop between Windows, OS/X and Linux without any problems and use both LibreOffice (whilst at home) and Microsoft Office (whilst in school). This makes a complete mockery of the narrow minded staff in schools and local educational establishments who way that using Linux would be too different and too hard.

    Have they ever tried?

    Living in the UK – I have tried myself to get Ubuntu Linux into schools but run into Microsoft brainwashing every time. One time I had burned a handful of Ubuntu CDs (looking nice and ‘polished’ with logos printed on nice printable CDs). Various parents had asked me what Ubuntu was so I took these along to a school event and gave them out to anyone who was interested.

    One teacher got very angry with me (about 2-3 years ago).
    “You can’t distribute pirated software here!”, he said. I tried to explain that is was open source and therefore perfectly legal.
    “Rubbish – everybody knows you have to pay for software!”, he said.

    The only way to attack the Microsoft monopoly is with education and advertising I think. Perhaps if Canonical/Ubuntu were to run a money raising campaign (perhaps as a separate web site linked to the main Ubuntu one) to buy advertising time in newspapers or even perhaps even a TV advert (perhaps some other companies might sponsor this as well?). I would certainly be willing to demonstrate Ubuntu in schools – and if volunteers could do this worldwide then maybe, just maybe, we could break the current stranglehold and free our children’s minds. If a major PC seller (such as PCWorld) would sell a couple of decent specified computers running Ubuntu alongside the Windows ones then we could actually begin to have some choice again at last.

  12. Daniel says: (permalink)
    March 10th, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    In regards to Pre-installed Ubuntu. I agree with Georgi on this one. Garry, I am aware of System 76 and Zareason, but it doesn’t compare with the hardware selection available from other vendors.

    I recall visiting the Ubuntu webpage once, and on the splash page is showed Ubuntu running on a slick ultra-thin Acer laptop, so I go to the Ubuntu Certified hardware page, and find that Acer does not have any certified laptops. So, what the heck did I see on the page? The difference between Ubuntu functioning on hardware and being certified on hardware is very significant in the enterprise. Developing a partner ecosystem is not an easy task, but a necessary one.

    I sometimes wish that Canonical would take a page out of the Google book. With every major Ubuntu release, partner up with a hardware vendor and release/sell a line of Ubuntu branded hardware. This would work similar to the Google Nexus brand being released on HTC and then Samsung. Ubuntu could provide the front-end for selling the hardware and support, and the vendor customizes the branding and gets a piece of the pie. This type of partnership could be extended to other vendors on a per release basis. If we want more vendor variety, maybe it can be done on a per-release and per-type (netbook, ultrabook, etc) hardware. Just an idea.

    Regardless, I cannot wait for 12.04 and I hope to see some improvements/additions in the HCL in the near future. This would help me greatly in selecting the best hardware for the job.

  13. temir_kazak says: (permalink)
    March 10th, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Hi, everyone and Mark ! I have been using ubuntu 2 years till now , it satisfies all my needs, however ,the most appearent shortage of linux or ubuntu is the video editing tools on linux ,which are not professional, I would really like to develop a better professional if i am able to. So,in my opinion , ubuntu should prepare some killer apps which are already exist,such as blender , inkscape, gimp, libreoffice,etc. so it’s necessary to have a pro video apps. thank you! UBUNTU FOR HUMAN BEINGS!!!

  14. Peter Müller says: (permalink)
    March 11th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    “Could we enable the city government of Frankfurt to order PC’s with the Ubuntu German Edition pre-installed?”

    In my opinion it is possible.

    German cities like Schwäbisch Hall and Munich are now “linux cities”. Munich has already migrated 10000 of its computers mainly to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS with KDE 3.5.10.

    http://www.muenchen.de/rathaus/Stadtverwaltung/Direktorium/LiMux.html
    http://www.muenchen.de/rathaus/Stadtverwaltung/Direktorium/LiMux/Zahlen_Fakten/Projektstatus.html

    Recently Munich completed the migration of all its MS Office macros to OpenOffice:

    http://www.pro-linux.de/news/1/18088/muenchen-schliesst-makromigration-ab.html
    http://www.it-muenchen-blog.de/2012/02/konsolidierungserfolg-durch-die-open-office-org-migration-bei-der-landeshauptstadt-munchen/

    One day they might need a special Ubuntu 12.04 edition, so yes, there could be big chances for you and Canonical, respectively, with or without sold PCs.
    Moreover, Munich is showing other cities that a migration from Windows to Linux is possible and they achieved this with Debian (in the beginning) and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (the new Limux client 4.0 is based on Ubuntu 10.04). It could be that other cities will follow Munich.

    See also
    http://www.golem.de/1108/85823.html
    “Limux Client 4.0 is based on Ubuntu 10.04″

  15. celso says: (permalink)
    March 12th, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Hi Mr mark!
    Ubuntu is walking on a path like i expected it would be. Ubuntu never let me down. its my main OS from long time ago.
    But please, government use of ubuntu but with libreoffice interface? its a good office solution but needs to improve its appearance. (its seems like 90′s design) At least with a Unity theme style. by the way, rhythmbox and movie player would need some themes to match with unity too.
    Just want to leave a huge THANK YOU! for you, the developers and the community for making a great Os. keep it up!

    Best regards,
    Celso

  16. Petar says: (permalink)
    March 12th, 2012 at 3:48 am

    @celso Government workers are rarely affected by the “beauty” of the UI of the applications they use. Just look at some of the custom made software made for governmental use and you’ll notice that functionality always comes first and some of them look very ugly, but they fulfill the purpose for which they were built for and so they are being used. The important question is whether or not LibreOffice satisfies the functional needs of the government workers. Also the beautification of LibreOffice’s UI is not Canonical’s responsibility, it’s in the hands of the the Document Foundation.

    In my country (Republic of Macedonia), OpenOffice is already being used by the ministries and the ministry workers as a replacement for MS Office. It’s installed on WindowsXP and lately Windows7 computers.

    MS Office was used before that, because the copyright laws started being enforced 5-6 years ago and most of the versions of MS Office were actually pirated. And only certain number of MS Office users were using the Office software properly in a sense that there wasn’t any document management systems/software used – the most far they went was organizing/sharing documents by using shared named folders on some networked HD. Kind of replacing the old typewriters (mechanical and electronic) with computers. That’s why this transition was/is not very painful. For instance the only problem my father ever encountered with the transition was that his monthly report MS Word document that consisted of an fairly simple table was not being rendered and recognized properly in OpenOffice, so he used the home computer (with MS Office 2003) instead of his office laptop to write the report. Yup, after using MS office for 15 years, he still doesn’t know how to create tables on his own.And he is not an isolated case.

    Three years ago, I got a temporary job teaching a very (VERY) basic introductory course to WindowsXP and MS Office(Word+Excel+Powerpoint). Among other people, I also had 2 groups of (15-20) each that were actually administration workers. Each of them had seen and used MS Word before (and used it during their work day), but their knowledge was very very elementary (typewriter level).

    The knowledge and interest in the course they showed?

    MS Word

    Only one of them has heard of Unicode and Unicode fonts before. My country uses the Cyrillic alphabet, and because at the time Windows 95 came out, Unicode didn’t exist,so someone made a dirty hack, reworked some of the Latin fonts and made them appear and print as Cyrillic but when you use the Search function for instance, you still see the word you type with Latin plus some symbols like {,},|,\ etc.) – but I doubt they any one of them ever used the Search function. 15 years later they still use those tweaked fonts while creating their documents, 40+ font versions exist, not all of them behaving identically (with some letters uppercase and smallercase are inverted, some letters might have different mapping etc.) And I doubt that any one of them will use Unicode when creating their new documents, unless they are forced to do so (some ministries actually started enforcing the Unicode use).

    They were impressed with the formating capabilities of MS Word and that’s the part of the course they liked most.

    PowerPoint

    They refused to listen to this part of the course, because none of them actually find it useful in their work.

    Excel

    They found it interesting, but 20 minutes after the presentation they started recognizing some “database capabilities in organizing data” from the presentation. When I told them that the true database part is actually covered by MS Access (that wasn’t part of the course), they started discussing how they really need a course on using MS Access (not they I believe that they could have handled it).

    I know that this sounds like an experience from a 3rd world country but the problem is that we are speaking about a country located on the European continent that aspired to become member of NATO and EU.

    But don’t allow this to fool you. Our government still spends A LOT of money for IT (relative to the financial situation and the unemployment percent that is around 33% – mush bigger than in many 3rd world countries).

    And Microsoft still managed to collect big money for the Windows and MS Office that is installed (and underused), after allowing for a period of time (5-10 years)for pirated version of its software to be used. Enough time for some people to start to believe that it’s indispensable and irreplaceable.

    I already wrote here a big post about the introduction of free software and Ubuntu (Edubuntu) in our education system and the difficulties we’ve encountered, but it’s still waiting for being reviewed as Akismet recognized it as being a spam (it appears when I refresh this page).

    My personal opinion is that Ubuntu has a good potential in Government use. But something has to be done about Unity (among other things).

    The people I worked with are not susceptible to changes, they refuse to learn keyboard shortcuts (not even ctrl+c and ctrl+v), they wouldn’t find any use of the lens.

    They even find the MS Office UI overwhelming (2003 was and probably is still used by the ones that use MS office). They forget that they can zoom in the document they opened. You know how when you start Word 2003, the right side of the screen lists the recently used files? Well if they have luck, they’ll find the document they need from there, they have much more difficulty locating it by using the Open dialog (double clicking on a document icon is the way they prefer), BUT, they will never remember to actually CLOSE that annoying right-hand side dialog even though they have difficulties working/reading the document they’ve just opened. Their eyes will tear, they’ll move their head closer to the monitor even after you remind them 10 times that they should do that. By the end of the class they’ll do it, next week you see them doing all over again.

    This are the typical government workers in my country. Is this unique for my country or is it more general? I don’t know.

  17. Chris says: (permalink)
    March 13th, 2012 at 12:26 am

    > With every major Ubuntu release, partner up with a hardware vendor and release/sell a line of Ubuntu branded hardware.

    This. Whoever they partner with has to take it seriously though. None of this, “Good luck with working out how to get the Ubuntu computer on our website, getting drivers, support, getting a refund on your Windows license”. The hardware vendor must be seriously back their Ubuntu computer through advertising, support, treating it as a first class citizen on their website, brochure, etc.

  18. Rosie says: (permalink)
    March 13th, 2012 at 4:42 am

    You’re lucky to have several computers running well. I read in a forum that there’s this government office where they only have one Ubuntu computer running.

  19. Matjaz says: (permalink)
    March 13th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Congrats Mark, developers and community. Your contribution and the results are amazing. Thank you!