it.gen.nz

Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

GPL.Govt

As Don Christie has blogged, the government is releasing the software that drives the new government web portal at newzealand.govt.nz under the General Public Licence -the GPL. That makes the portal free software.

This is a really good thing for several reasons. One is that the portal code becomes available for anyone to use, tweak or re-implement. And that’s entirely appropriate – we taxpayers have paid for this software to be developed, why shouldn’t we have access to it?

But the main reason this is so important is that it shows the government getting into step with many other players in the field. Free and open source software is the norm for infrastructure software – look at the Apache webserver, look at Firefox, look at Linux, look at just about every program that makes the Internet work. Here in New Zealand our domain name registry released its registry software under the GPL.

That’s right, without free and open source software there would be no Internet. That’s not just empty rhetoric – lots of companies tried to build internets – remember Prodigy and Compuserve? But the open Internet, built using common, open standards and open source software, eclipsed all the others.

The government is keen to use the Internet to suit its purposes, and to suit ours as well. This way, it’s putting something back. Good on it.

posted by colin at 7:21 am  

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