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[ossig] [Fwd: [FOSS-PDI] Taiwan mandates Linux-ready PCs]

----- Forwarded message from fred@bytesforall.org -----
     From: Frederick Noronha <fred@bytesforall.org>


Taiwan mandates Linux-ready PCs
By Aaron Tan, ZDNet Asia
Monday , June 26 2006 03:34 PM

update Taiwan has mandated that all PCs purchased for government use
must now be compatible with the Linux operating system.

According to media reports, the new requirement came into effect last
month, marking the start of efforts to boost adoption of open-source
software in Taiwan. About 120,000 new desktop PCs acquired by the
Taiwan government will have to comply with the new mandate, the
reports stated.

The Central Trust of China, Taiwan's government procurement agency,
has commissioned the Taipei Computer Association (TCA) to ensure that
bids from PC vendors include equipment that are compatible with Linux.
So far, about 33 desktop PC models from Acer, Asustek, Lenovo and
Hewlett-Packard, have been certified Linux-compatible by the TCA,
reported Taiwan's Chinese language newspaper, Economic Times.

It is not known, however, if the certification process involves any
specific Linux distributions such as Red Hat and Novell.

Goh Seow Hiong, director of software policy at Business Software
Alliance (BSA) in Asia, noted: "There are many different distributions
of Linux, and the intention may not be to ensure that every variant of
Linux would be supported."

"Perhaps the certification may be [awarded based on] more specific
criterion such as the Linux Standards Base (LSB), which is easier to
verify for compliance," he told ZDNet Asia. "Otherwise, very few
computers will be able to meet the requirement." The LSB is a set of
common standards established by the Free Standards Group to enhance
interoperability across Linux distributions and applications.

Fewer choice, increased cost
While the Taiwan government is not mandating, for now, that its PCs
must run on Linux, Goh said the new hardware requirement might reduce
choice and increase cost for the government.

He noted that it might potentially be more expensive to acquire
hardware that are compliant, and exclude PCs that can be used in
non-Linux environments.

"If the policy is intended to cut costs in IT expenditure, the
government should stay technology and brand neutral," Goh said. "It
should avoid targeting specific areas or brands, as policies would
always lag behind industry trends."

Such policies, he added, would intervene in an otherwise free and
competitive market.

But Harish Pillay, manager of partner development at Red Hat Asia
Pacific, disagrees. He noted that the new requirement is a "great
move" that would foster a more competitive PC market in Taiwan.

"Right now, it's not a level-playing field because of the lack of
device drivers for Linux," he said, adding that the mandate would
compel hardware vendors to ensure their products work well with Linux.
This will also expand the options available to those who do not want
to be locked in to a single vendor.

Late last year, Taipei Times reported that Taiwanese legislators
passed a resolution that called for a 25 percent cut, across all
government agencies, in the procurement budget set aside specifically
for Microsoft products--which they claimed were too expensive.

But Goh noted that the cost of IT includes both hardware and software.
"If there is a need to cut cost, why target only software? Hardware
costs are equally significant, and neither would be of any use without
the other," he said.

A Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview, that
the software giant respects the Taiwanese government's decisions, but
called for neutral procurement policies that promote fair competition
in a free market.

Frederick 'FN' Noronha   | Yahoomessenger: fredericknoronha
http://fn.goa-india.org    | fred@bytesforall.org
Independent Journalist   | +91(832)2409490 Cell 9822122436
AsiaCommons' blog http://www.asia-commons.net/blog/39

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