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LA Goes Open Source?

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It sounds like our fair city could be following in the footsteps of Brazil and turning to the low-cost alternative of an open source infrastructure. For those not involved in the on-going battles between proprietary and open source software, 'open source' encompasses any software which does not protect its source code from view, use or change by persons who do not own the software. According to the Open Source Initiative, "The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs."

Per a press release dated today, February 2nd, Councilmembers Garcetti, Greuel and Weiss have introduced a motion that could save the city as much as $5.8 million dollars that is currently being spent on licenses for proprietary software. The City already utilizes some open source applications, including Linux and OpenOffice.org, but the change would result in a wider shift toward non-proprietary software. The motion also recommends that any funds saved through this move would be routed into the Special Fund for Efficiency Projects and Police Hiring—an clever move, especially considering recent debate over the half-cent sales tax hike.

All in all, LAist sees this as a smart and forward-thinking move. However, considering the history of bureaucracy and the omnipresent mire of red tape, we wonder just how many ways this good idea could go wrong...

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Image from the Linux Kernel Archives