I went to a meeting today with some folks I’d never met before and we got to talking about the use of open source. They are in a government agency and are extremely enthusiastic about using as much OSS as possible. And then they asked me, “Why aren’t you at OSCON?”
The answer is, I can’t afford it. But regardless of that, I was delighted to be reminded that there are great people doing hard work in government who are promoting the use of open source every day. The fact of it is, the government buys a lot of technology (I couldn’t name a single agency that doesn’t have an Oracle Enterprise license, for example) and those purchases and products get a lot of publicity as a result.
Underneath the covers, though, agencies are using open source everywhere. (And I’m happy to say that we’re integrating a lot of it.) I believe that Tomcat, Perl, Plone, and a slew of other OSS technologies are the ones that truly rule the roost in government because, like any large organization that wants to get stuff done, buying software is expensive and takes a lot of time.
I just appreciated being reminded of this today because for the past few weeks my head’s been filled with license costs and feature descriptions of commercial products we’ve been bidding on very large proposals. It was nice to remember that underpinning all of this is OSS, and it’s alive and well in government.