Anti-open source document from SirsiDynix leaked

Awesome librarian Jessamyn West at Librarian.net is blogging about an anti-open source document from SirsiDynix corp. available from WikiLeaks. About the document:

“This document was released only to a select number of existing customers of the company SirsiDynix, a proprietary library automation software vendor. It has not been released more broadly specifically because of the misinformation about open source software and possible libel per se against certain competitors contained therein”.

From the document I have find a lot of interesting statements:

“…it should be noted that it is rare for completely open source projects to be successful. Rather than focusing on best-in-class software choice decision-making, these projects often end up being archipelagos of systems driven by a philosophical principle that is anti-proprietary”.

Apache, Linux, Firefox, Drupal, WordPress… Need we say moore?

“..the number of Linux desktops is meager compared to Microsoft Windows desktops. By choosing a Linux desktop, a user closes the door on some software because it may never be created for or ported to Linux. Add to this the major changes in allied systems that require an adaptation for the ILS and the issue grows exponentially”.

Times are a-changing…

“While some open source ILS companies are offering hosted solutions, these solutions are not at the scale or professionalism of a proprietary SaaS solution, nor do they provide the service level agreements or service expectations that SirsiDynix commits to”.

Was that adressed to LibLime and others? Or even Acquia for Drupal or Canonical for Ubuntu?

“Generally, the available open source ILS platforms have less than half of the features and functions of any SirsiDynix ILS”.

It took at least 2 years for ExLibris to implement an usually common option in their Aleph system that I know a programmer could have fixed in less than a day.

“Proprietary software has more features. Period. Proprietary software is much more user-friendly”.

WordPress is veeeery user-friendly. SharePoint is not user-friendly. RT is not user-friendly. Mac OS is user-friendly. It’s not about proprietary or open source when coming to user-friendliness.

“SirsiDynix consultants have written custom API programs since the company introduced the Application Programming Interface (API) nearly 20 years ago”.

I read at swedish library blog Betabib this observation from the conference Computers in libraries 2009:

“He [Stephen Abram] addressed the issue of SirsiDynix longtime experience of API:s. But when talking to some of their customers they looked at me questioning”.

Even more from the document:

“Some of the most security-conscious entities, like the United States Department of Defense, restrict the use of open source software for fear that it could pose a terrorist opportunity”.

Why did the White House choose open source Drupal? Aren’t they afraid of terrorists?

“Finally, one of the biggest claims of open source proponents is that it is more reliable. They argue that since any programmer can find and fix bugs, the software will be repaired and improved more quickly. There is, however, no guarantee that the bug you want fixed will engage a member of the community to fix it”.

Maybe the IT folks at the White House think they can fix bugs better and even faster within in the community than behind the walls of a proprietary software corporation?

From the end of this document.):

“We’ve [SirsiDynix] led the development of some of the most advanced features and capabilities of ILS platforms. So we know a thing or two about what it takes for library systems to be successful. While we encourage the development of open formats, we must discourage libraries from jumping headlong into an open source platform to operate their ILS system on. At the current production cycle, jumping into open source would be dangerous, at best”.

Every ILS solution is more or less dangerous to speak SirsiDynix language. It’s just that it I like when I can see what is dangerous and share this dangerousness within an open community. Thanks WikiLeaks!

White House changes CMS to Drupal

Just read at AP (via Huffington Post) that the White House has changed CMS to Drupal and yes, I knew we did the right thing when choosing Drupal for our new library website at Umeå UB ;-) Joking aside, we decided platform about a year ago and we hope to launch the site in a couple of months. One of the great things beside of Drupal being open source LAMP is the community: very active and big. I already know Karlstad University Library is using Drupal and KIB is on their way, already using it for their Intranet. Talking of libraries in Sweden. Lots of libraries in US already use it.

I also read in a Drupal Groups discussion that U.S. White House launched recovery.gov with Drupal earlier this year February 17. And read a blog post at Lullabot explaining how to figure out if a website is running Drupal or not.

Chris Wilson thinks running the White House Web site on Drupal is a political disaster and explains it with five statements: Drupal knows best, Drupal is disorganized, Drupal is righteous, Drupal is impenetrable, Drupal hates change.

Let’s see what he complains about:

“The apologists will tell you that, once you scale the learning curve, it gets much easier. This is probably true, but a lot of ordinary, code-fearing people who just want a simple Web site are getting left behind”.

Yes, there is a learning curve but I’m sure the learning curve will be a bit lower with Drupal 7? Has he tried that? The development of Drupal 7 is focused a lot on the usability problems. Lot of open source projects have great problems with the usability design but that doesn’t mean proprietary software also has. I think WordPress is a great example of teriffic usability design and it’s open source. Maybe Drupal in version 7 is reaching their level. Maybe the IT staff at White House will contribute to this usabilty efforts.

More from Wilson:

“Instead of displaying your pages in folders that you can browse, like you do on your personal computer, Drupal provides a nightmarish content list. To find what you’re looking for, you have to search for it.

Yes, I do agree that the content list is not optimal but at least in Drupal 7 you can sort columns.

“…it [Drupal] remains a religion. If you went to DrupalCon in Paris last month, then you would have almost certainly come across proselytizers of one the movement’s fundamental tenets: Drupal doesn’t break Web sites. People with Drupal break Web sites. Most problems with Drupal stem from people who “don’t get it” or aren’t using it correctly”.

Open source projects has a tendency to become religions but you don’t need to be a dedicated Drupalist to use Drupal and go to the confs. You can swear in front of your screen at your Drupal installation and you could ask the the critical questions at confs. All Drupalists will not damn you for that. Some get religious but that doesn’t mean all Drupalists become that.

“Drupal’s defenders are eerily reminiscent of those movement Democrats who were constantly knocking at your front door in the summer of 2008”.

Heh, haven’t met them in Sweden ;-) but I like what they did: moving Bush out in the desert.

Tim O’Reilly in his Radar has lot of interesting reflections on Drupal for White House and is quite positive IMO:

“…I suspect that simply using open source software won’t slash government IT budgets, at least not right away. What it will do is increase the amount of value we get for our money and the speed with which new technology can be adopted. Features that would have cost millions of dollars and years of development to add will now be rolled into the scope of current contracts”.

Though he thinks White House should be better on contributing to the Drupal community:

“…the White House has not yet released any of the modifications they made to Drupal or its operating environment back to the open source community. The source code for Drupal (and the rest of the LAMP stack) is indeed available, but the modifications that were made to meet government security, scalability, and hosting requirements have not yet been shared. In my conversations with the new media team at the White House, it is clear that they are exploring this option. Giving modifications back to the Drupal community is the next breakthrough announcement that I’ll be looking for”.

Doug Cutting talks about open source search engine Nutch

On the website Videolectures.net I found an interesting lecture by Doug Cutting on Yahoo (former Xerox Research):”Experiences with the Nutch search engine“. He talks about open source and search engines with Lucence, Nucth and Hadoop as examples. If you’re interested in knowing more about using Nutch I highly recommend this talk, lecture, speech or whatever you want to call it.

Interview with Jon “Mad dog” Hall from last year

Yes, this is an interview from last year but still interesting. Or isn’t everything older than three month just obsolete ;-) Lars Danielsson from Computer Sweden interviewed John “Mad dog” Hall, excutive director at Linux International. Here’s a short transcript from the live interview September 5, 2006:

LD:What is the single most important issue to use open source software?

JH:“Control. Control over your business, control over your software. Software used to be a luxury. People could afford not to have control over it because if the software didn’t work the way they want it to they could revert back to other methods within their business, but business is so important and software is so important in your business. You have to have control over it. You have to be able to get the fixes as you need, when you need them and not when it’s convenient for the producer of the software to create that fixes”.

More tutorials on image editing software GIMP

Found some more tutorials showing how to use the free open source image editing software GIMP. One is called Gimpguru.org and includes for example textual tutorials like how to remove red eyes in photos. The website is maintained by Eric R. Jeschke and though the last news post is from May 16 2006 and the front page is last modified May 17 2006 the tutorials seems adequate.

The other GIMP tutorials are interactive screen casting videos (think it’s produced with Camtasia) and in Swedish. The tutorials are produced by Håkan Källqvist, an art teacher and working for The National Resource Centre for Educational Media (swe. Multimediabyrån) at The Swedish National Agency for School Improvement (swe. Myndigheten för Skolutveckling). Thanks, Håkan!

Article on another open source library system called Evergreen

Thanks to Ronald van Dieën from Rotterdam, Netherlands, who pointed me to this article about the open source library system Evergreen called:”Librarians stake their future on open source“. Published 21 December 2006 at Linux.com.

A group of librarians at Georgia Public Library Service have developed their own open source library system which they call Evergreen and version 1.0 was released in november 2006. It’s written in C, JavaScript and Perl, licensed as GPL, runs on servers with Linux/Apache, uses a PostgreSQL database (Ohh, not swedish developed MySQL ;-) etc. Evergreen covers the GPLS’ network of libraries called PINES including 252 member libraries. You can try the PINES catalog.

PINES Program Director Julie Walker says to Linux.com:

“It has really been the easiest conversion I’ve ever been through in my 25 years of working in libraries,”

“Our Sirsi system ran on a great big Sun server that was quite expensive. We poured a lot of money into that over the years to continue to upgrade it, plus the housing of it was very expensive. [Evergreen] runs on a Linux cluster, which is a lot less expensive. Also, we’re not paying licensing fees anymore. When you’re talking 252 libraries, which is what we are today, that’s the great big savings.”

A study that PINES conducted in 2002 showed that if all of GPLS libraries would have to buy a new system, it would cost more than $15 million dollars, plus about $5 million dollars a year for maintenance. GPLS run PINES for a lean $1.6 million a year.

Librarian Brad LaJeunesse, PINES System Administrator with GPLS, says to Linux.com about another open source library system Koha:

“[Koha] wasn’t built with the scalability or deep organizational hierarchy that PINES requires. It would work fine for a 10-branch library system, but not for a statewide system.”

Good point if it’s applicable!