Check Sums

As part of my job, I read too many government reports.

Most of them are available online and can be downloaded without charge.

Downloads are generally in PDF format, though occasionally a press release or speech is available only as a Microsoft DOC (I haven’t encountered the newer DOCX format yet).

Checking document properties, it’s clear each department has it’s own IT preferences.

Gaeltacht uses Acrobat PDFMaker for Word. The CSO and the Attorney General like Acrobat Distiller for Windows, while the Taoiseach’s office prefers the Power Mac version.

The Mahon tribunal produced reports using Word and Windows, while the Morris tribunal preferred Quark Xpress on a Mac.

They do things differently in France.

Eighteen months ago, the Assemblé Nationale migrated over 1100 computers used by MPs and staff to Ubuntu, a popular Linux distro.

The estimated cost saving is about half a million euro over the five year term of the parliament.

So successful has the project been, the French are offering advice to other European governments on how to save money by making the switch.

Meanwhile, Irish government policy is to stick with proprietary software, which one Minister claims cost less.

Someone needs to do their sums again.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.

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