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[vox-outreach] My letter to CPR
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[vox-outreach] My letter to CPR



I _suck_ at writing this kind of stuff, but here 'goes.  Just submitted it!



Members of  the CPR Commission, thank  you for allowing  me to address
the CPR recommendations.   I am a software developer  who creates both
proprietary commercial software  for a small company in  Palo Alto, as
well as Open  Source software in my spare time.  I  was pleased when I
learned of recommendation SO10, "Explore Open Source Alternatives," as
I understand and appreciate the benefits that Open Source software can
have in a government agency.

Beyond the initial cost savings in procurement, Open Source software
benefits a public body in ways that proprietary software typically
does not.  Full access to the software's source code allows an
organization's IT staff to examine, adapt and improve the software
without being beholden to a vendor's timeline or interests.
Improvements made by one group can flow out to other groups, without
license fees or restrictions.  Massachusetts' "Government Open Code
Collaborative," launched this summer, was created for this precise
purpose.  (See this Computerworld article for details:
http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/software/appdev/story/0,10801,94335,00.html
)

It frustrates many of us in the Open Source community to hear news of
the latest virus or software bug causing problems in the public
sector.  Two weeks ago, Colorado's Department of Revenue was unable to
issue drivers licenses for days, thanks to a virus propagating on
their PCs.  The recent air traffic control problems in Southern
California, which left literally hundreds of planes in the air without
guidance, was thanks to a well-known bug in the Windows operating
system.

While the fact that a piece of software is licensed as Open Source is
not a guarantee to its stability or security, its openness empowers
developers and consumers with the ability to fix, or otherwise alter
it to suit their needs.  The rarity of viruses, spyware and security
holes in Open Source software -- and the short time in which fixes are
typically released for such problems -- is a compelling argument that
the Open Source method of software development (and licensing) works
to fight such problems.

Some may argue that Open Source software is not inherently cheaper,
safer or more secure than proprietary software, and that the mere
licensing differences should not be enough to compel the state to
consider Open Source software.  On the contrary, the Open Source
licensing model is the most important reason to prefer such software.
Open Source licensing prevents vendor lock-in, allows and promotes the
sharing of knowledge (in the form of source code), and protects users
from forced upgrades and software abandonment.

I strongly encourage the CPR Commission to accept recommendation SO10,
as it has the potential to save taxpayers' money, improve stability
and security, and most importantly, free the state to explore and
improve the software they need and want.

Thank you for your time,

William Kendrick
Mountain View, CA


-bill!
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