Govt lock-in overhyped: Linux Oz president

Summary:Linux Australia president John Ferlito has called for calm over the Office Open XML document conflict sparked by the Federal Government's peak technology policy group AGIMO and its recently released Common Operating Environment policy.

Linux Australia president John Ferlito has called for calm over the Office Open XML document conflict sparked by the Federal Government's peak technology policy group AGIMO and its recently released Common Operating Environment policy.

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(Credit: ZDNet Australia)

Speaking from the annual gathering of the open source faithful, Linux.conf.au 2011, Ferlito said that the debate had been blown out of proportion, adding that the Office Open XML (OOXML) format was most likely chosen due to the government's existing infrastructure.

"You go and read the draft document and a lot of that has been blown so out of proportion. What they really wanted to say was [we'll use] Windows [and Office] 2007 compatible stuff, because right now that's what a lot of [their machines] are running," Ferlito said.

He said that the hubbub surrounding the government's file format policy was bad timing, as it coincides with Linux.conf.au in Brisbane. Ferlito said, however, that wider open-source community isn't offended by the OOXML decision.

"I don't think it's a slap in the face [to open source], it's just a natural progression [of policy]," he said.

Under the policy, government staff will operate locked desktop stations where software, browsers and add-ons are controlled by an administrator. AGIMO also mandated the OOXML standard format in the document, which is unsupported by several Office alternatives.

The OOXML standard selection has drawn the ire of many commenters on the AGIMO blog, with some accusing the government of moving towards a vendor lock-in with Microsoft.

AGIMO first assistant secretary, John Sheridan took to the government blog to dispel myths surrounding the format selection, adding that a mud-slinging match wouldn't help further the debate.

Topics: Government, Government : AU, Open Source, Social Enterprise

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A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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