20 Aug 2009 hulten   » (Apprentice)

The government and Free Software

I work at the Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI), a government institute. The Dutch government several times said that they wished to use more Open Source Software and Open Standards, but forces seem to exist which prevents the actual embracement of this. I was asked to write a plan concerning our troubles with the Linux-driver for the Nvidia cards that are part of the workstations of the KNMI.

Obviously, the problem is the use and acceptance of non-free software (and hardware). However, users want 3D acceleration (Google Earth, Nexuiz, visualisation of models). Is ATI a viable alternative? They went open spec. No, the free (as in speech) drivers are not completed yet.

The obvious alternative is the onboard Intel GMA X3000 and higher series. Even with the newest GMA X4500 series the performance is not nearly as good as of recent Nvidia and Ati cards. However, I am sure that it is more than enough for most users. I will convince them that it is better to buy Intel GMA's, so that we can use Free Software!

update: Sadly, I was not able to convince them. This is partly related with agreements between KNMI and vendors, and the GNU/Linux administrators at the institute do not have much influence on that. Now, five years later, I left KNMI for a new job in France, and KNMI administrators are still having the same problems...

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