Free Software In California

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Recently on (The state of California's website) there was a request for IT ideas to fix the Government's IT problems. I want to advocate a free software solution by outlining and drafting a suggestion. The idea will be submitted to ( California mentions 3 ideas to keep in mind when answering these questions

  • What new services or improvement to existing online services should we be providing? You can see the existing services here.
  • As an entrepreneur, how would you like to partner with the State to bring innovative IT solutions?
  • The State of California has a number of systems using older technologies. How can we best leverage innovative IT solutions to modernize our portfolio?


Question 1

  • Free software meets the Six Strategic Concepts for California IT (
    • 1. IT as reliable as a utility – Providing the agile, effective, extensible, reliable and secure IT infrastructure and shared services necessary to meet program needs of state agencies.
      • Free software meets this need. One the most famous example of Free Software the linux kernel has been in development since 1991 and seen thousands of developers and has proved extremely reliable. Other examples such as the MySQL database runs some of the world's most powerful websites such as google and wikipedia. Secondly it is agile and extensible because the source code is free to be modified by anyone compared to a proprietary technology which depends on the vendor. Free software is also more secure then proprietary software ( Even proprietary software from a major vendor such as Microsoft is not necessarily secure as evidenced by the recent "google bug" in Internet explorer.
    • 2. Fulfilling Technology’s potential to transform lives – Providing accessible, reliable and secure services that meet the needs of California’s residents and businesses.
      • The current proprietary system that California uses is not meeting this potential as evidenced by question 3 about California's outdated IT infrastructure. Free software is an ethical choice that changes lives and is capable of meeting the needs of California (or potentially being modified to).
    • 3. Self-Governance in the digital age– Enabling greater accountability through enhanced government transparency and accessibility.
      • Proprietary technology can never meet this requirement. It is by definition non-transparent and non-accessible.
    • 4. Information as an asset – Leveraging the state’s vast information resources to facilitate informed policymaking and enhance the performance and productivity of state programs and services.
    • 5. Economic and Sustainable – Ensuring that the state’s management and use of technology contributes to efficient government operations and furthers the state’s environmental goals through the implementation of green IT best practices and policies.
    • 6. Facilitating collaboration that breeds better solutions – Advancing communication and partnerships between stakeholders, external and internal to government, is critical to delivering innovative and effective government policies, programs and services.
      • Free software is able to leverage the power of communities to innovate. As mentioned before the linux kernel has had thousands of developers. Google even has a program to involve students in free software called the google summer of code ( There is no better way to increase collaboration between the private and public sector then by using free software.

Question 2

Question 3

  • Proprietary software depends on the vendor to modify the software. If the vendor is slow or shuts down the State of California is stuck with software that can not be updated or modified.
    • Freedom 1 in the free software definition solves this problem and allows the users (in this case the state) to modify the software to fit their needs.
  • Using proprietary software and the use of proprietary data formats causes vendor lock in.
    • Data using proprietary file formats may not be accessible using programs decades later.
  • Free software freedom number 3 allows you to help the community as a whole. There is already a free software community that has been already developed that can make the Californian community much stronger.
  • Completely free and modern (compared to the outdated systems the Gov is using currently) GNU/Linux distributions are available for no charge such as GNewSense (