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Open source tour of Europe: The NetherlandsMatthew Aslett, June 24, 2008 @ 6:34 am ET
To coincide with EURO 2008, I’m embarking on a virtual European tour, taking a quick look at open source policies and deployment projects in the 16 nations that are competing in the tournament.
For those that followed The Netherlands’ progress through EURO 2008 it should come as no surprise that David Winner’s book Brilliant Orange is subtitled “The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football”. Having disposed of the last World Cup finalists 7-1 on aggregate, the Dutch were largely ineffectual against Russia and lost 3-1 after extra time.
In 2003 the Dutch parliament adopted a plan that would see open standards used exclusively from 2006 and called for the government to promote open source software in the public sector. Adoption of open standards was not approved until 2007 (see below) but the OSOSS (open source as a part of the software strategy) program was created to help stimulate the use of open standards and provide information on open source software.
Among the initiatives have been a prize for the most practical and innovative use of open source software and open standards in the public sector (won by the Union of Water Boards and the Board for Zeeland-Flanders in 2004 and the municipality of Den Haag in 2005) and an open source repository for the public sector.
In 2004 the National Institute for ICT in Healthcare published a report that recommended that open source software be considered in the health sector, while in 2005 an advisory board launched an Open Source Taskforce to stimulate growth and jobs in the north of the country to build on success in Leeuwarden (see below)
2005 saw the formation of the Holland Open Source Platform, which is designed to bring together users, vendors, and open source projects and promote open source adoption.
In December 2007 the second chamber of the Dutch parliament approved a plan for the country’s public sector to adopt open standards and also called for the use of open source software wherever possible.
In April this year the NOIV project (successor to OSOSS) announced that, having analyzed European rules on tenders, it had concluded that European public administrations do not have to issue a call for tender for open source software projects. It also published a guide on the acquisition of open source software.
Leeuwarden was an early success story for open source in the Netherlands based on a policy of adoption of open standards in general and positive discrimination in favour of open source software when it is more competitive.
In June 2004 the source code behind the software used for online voting was made public by OSOSS, while more recently five Dutch municipalities decided to fund the development of an open source application that allows citizens to organize their interaction with city services.
An OSOSS report published in 2007 stated that 61% of 453 Dutch city councils was using or planned to use open source software. Further projects include a open source thin client project in Haren while Amsterdam began evaluating open source on the desktop in 2007.
This year fifteen cities formed a support group for Dutch public administrations working with the content management system Typo3, while just this week it was reported that NLnet Foundation, a Dutch charity, is funding an open source project to design smart card software that offers greater protection of personal data.
At a national level the Patent Office and the Competition Authority became the first national government bodies to start their migrations to Linux on the desktop, while the second chamber of parliament began a small-scale open source desktop trial in June.
Case studies are available of open source projects in IJsselstein, Rotterdam, the water board for Zeeland-Flanders, the Forensic Institute, the Directorate for Public Works and Water Management, Amsterdam, Haren, and Terneuzen.
View from the ground:
While The Netherlands has been more proactive of late in involving itself in the promotion of open source, progress is not moving quickly enough for some. I recently spoke to Arje Cahn, CTO of open source content management vendor Hippo, and found that his views of open source in The Netherlands had not moved on a great deal since he wrote this post criticizing the country for being too introspective when it comes to open source.
And another thing:
Over the years there have been a number of projects designed to apply the principles of open source development to cars. c,mm,n is one of them and is the brainchild of the Netherlands Society for Nature and Environment and the Universities of Delft, Eindhoven and Twente.
As always we welcome your input. If you have examples of open source adoption in The Netherlands that we’ve overlooked, please leave a comment below. For more stops on the European tour, see this post.
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