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Linux in Canada: Are We Going Open Source Yet?

Existing Linux and Open Source in Government Efforts in Canada

July 22, 2002

I'm from the U.S. but I moved to Canada about eight years ago. Since I've been doing all of this research into what's happening with governments and open source lately, I also can't resist a chance to dig around on my chosen home turf.

What I found is that there's a will, but that no one's quite found the way yet.

For instance, most people don't think of "Canadians" and "activists" in the same sentence. Canadians are typically thought of as a low-key people who might just be too polite to get out there and try to fire up change. When I started writing this article, I was pulling together as many arguments for why there are definitely Canadian activists out there as I could. But as I finish it, I see that maybe Canadian open source activists are a bit too polite.

There are a few groups working specifically toward government adoption. One of these is Free Software in Government (http://www.memeshadow.net/npiwiki/index.php/Free%20Software% 20In%20Government), which is best described as a loose coalition of people who all want to see more adoption of free software and open source software in the Canadian government. This group does not have an "organization" persay, but is instead more of a grass roots clearing house for information that individuals require in order to keep writing to and electing representatives regarding these topics.

Among other things, this group maintains a Canadian Open Source in Business directory, and an excellent collection of links for those who want to learn the art of generating publicity.

There's also CanOpener, the Canadian Open Source Education and Research organization (http://www.canopener.ca/). This is a small group, with 33 members as of this writing, but like any open source movement they're passionate in their beliefs and they have folks who put their time where their mouths are.

Canadian Linux User's Exchange (http://www.linux.ca/) members have also expressed interested toward open source advocacy. Only time will tell how far these efforts take them. There are also a number of individual Linux User's Groups who put time toward "Getting the word out." Considering that there are over fifty LUGs in Canada, that could be a lot of cumulative effort.

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