Open-source firms need 'equal treatment'

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To help boost the application of open source technology, which could in turn benefit local industry, the government needs to help out with better regulations, an IT firm says.

Harry Kaligis, business and marketing general manager of Sun Microsystems Indonesia (SMI), said that although open-source firms had been given the freedom to grow, they were still often subject to "unequal treatment" by the government.

"In a tender, the government usually decides to buy a certain product -- for example, software X made by a particular company -- instead of setting out the specifications for what they actually need so that open source technology providers can also bid," said Harry.

"They place less trust in open-source companies like us just because we're not as big as the licensed ones. They should give us an equal chance to prove that we can also make equally good products."

In simple terms, open-source software gives the public free access to a computer program's source code, allowing anyone to freely modify and redistribute the software.

Harry said that in some developed countries where open-source technology had experienced significant growth, governments had issued regulations to support the use of open-source software.

"Based also on our experience, the top-down approach works better than the bottom-up one," he said.

According to SMI president director Wibisono Gumulya, open-source companies needed to constantly innovate so as to maintain and develop their businesses.

"We must offer our own added value in the form of significant innovations."

He said that open source technology in Indonesia had been experiencing rapid growth over the last few years. "Many people want to learn about it now, many industries use it and the size of the open-source community is continuously growing."

Wibisono said that SMI had launched a number of programs, mainly in the education sector, so as to help promote the use of the open-source technology in Indonesia.

In 2005, SMI pioneered the establishment of Indonesia's first Java Education Centers in Bandung, and donated StarOffice software licenses worth US$20 million to around 2,500 academies and universities across the country.

SMI has also partnered up with the Education Ministry to maximize the use of open-source software through the establishment of some 50 information and communications technology centers, which are expected to produce between 10,000 and 15,000 new programmers in the years ahead. (11)
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