Saturday, January 10, 2009

Slashdot misreported this. did, too. Every little blog is picking this story up from these two and others. I'm going to correct them all on a couple of points, but I don't want them to take it personally. They just reacted instead of reading carefully.

This is not about Linux. Vietnam is requiring open source operating systems, not Linux, and that requirements is only for IT departments, not for the government in general. Although Linux is the most well known, there are others you may have heard of, including BSD (the heart of OS X) and OpenSolaris. ReactOS (Win2000 clone) and Haiku (BeOS clone) are open source, but unready for deployment.

Let's look at the and figure out what ir really says, shall we?
Accordingly, by June 30, 2009, 100% of clients of IT divisions of government agencies must be installed with open source software; 100% of staffs at these IT divisions must be trained in the use of these software products and at least 50% use them proficiently.
IT departments will be the first to transition to open source software. They will be the ones moving to Linux / BSD / Solaris. The article text says "clients," but the picture caption says "servers" so it's not clear which are affected. Possibly both.
The instruction also said that by December 31, 2009, 70% of clients of ministries’ agencies and local state agencies must be installed with [OpenOffice, email software for servers of Mozilla ThunderBird, Mozilla FireFox web browser and the Vietnamese typing software Unikey] products and 70% of IT staff trained in using this software; and at least 40% able to use the software in their work.
Non-IT departments will switch to open-source applications before switching operating systems. They will probably remain on Windows.
The above agencies are requested to increase the number of documents and information exchanged among them processed by the above software. By December 31, 2010, all staff at these agencies must be able to use open source software in their jobs.
All government employees must be able to use these applications within two years. There is still no statement about the operating system for non-IT departments, but one can assume a long-term transition since IT departments will be using OSS.

My guess is that Vietnam will stay on Windows for the time being. Once the IT departments have completely transitioned to open source operating systems and users are familiar with the standard OSS office software (end of 2010), Vietnam will start a slow migration of user machines to Linux or BSD. At that point, the work-flow won't change for the average user, and changing the OS will be relatively painless. This edict is being declared brash by many. The truth is that it's probably the start of a smart, long-term strategy to get out of proprietary software.



Firefox & OpenOffice are the first 2 steps to switching to Linux. The end user won't have any problem once shown that this is the web button, this is the email button and this is the Office button. But if they are not used to OpenOffice before-hand, they 'll need some training on it.

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