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Linux in Canada: Are We Going Open Source Yet? - page 2

Existing Linux and Open Source in Government Efforts in Canada

  • July 22, 2002
  • By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

There are a number of signs out there that people within Canadian Government are sitting up and taking notice, but most of them are faint. Perhaps the biggest one is the government event Open Source Solutions Showcase, which was held in Quebec in May 2002. Enthusiast Russell McOrmond has documented this event at http://www.flora.ca/osss2002/.

In Quebec, the provincial government has gone to the trouble of producing a formal study (more at http://www.linux-quebec.org/), and further looks into open source and free software have been requested from Quebec's Laval University. Elsewhere in Canada, when the open source crowd gets the attention of the big bad politicians, it can be difficult to get very far.

One woman sums up the problem eloquently, as told to her by a public official: "You Linux and open source people need to get organized because the people lobbying us are so much bigger and meaner." And to get to the politicians, we need to get to their constituents, which means educating the public.

Rumors abound. In my research and discussions I've run across mentions of National Defense and Industry Canada both looking to Linux. Even Heritage Canada comes up. All over the country, there are people helping to implement Linux setups in schools, which is where open source and Linux adoption seems to be getting entrenched all over the world. Anyone who follows individual LUG mailing lists sees the occasional announcement about the latest Linux setup for a local schoolwhich means that eventually those kids will head out into the world quite comfortable with the ideas of Linux, open source, and free software.

The growth of open source events of various types will help to add to our media coverage, such as the Bioinformatics Open Source Conference (http://bosc.open-bio.org/) coming up in Edmonton, Alberta, and the Ottawa Linux Symposium (http://www.linuxsymposium.org/), but we need more of it. Hopefully one of the current organizations will step forward to take on the challenge, or the various groups will band together and put some muscle behind their numbers.

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