Archives par mot-clé : Government

If you still want Thunderbird in Ubuntu…

If you’re one of the rare species still wanting Thunderbird in Ubuntu as described in Jorge Castro’s recent post, you can help. I am more worried about Jorge’s other comments, following his logic Ubuntu and free software are only less and less relevant by the day – not a trend I am observing.

Considering Canonical decided to include Thunderbird in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS – which will keep it around for 5 years, Thunderbird is not going away anytime soon. This essentially puts forward software that is considered irrelevant by its employees (dogfood anyone?) and demonstrates improvisation and miscommunication between Mozilla and Canonical. Many are still waiting for an official statement from Mozilla. I’d love to hear a more formal position than Jorge’s on the subject from Canonical too.

I appreciate the cloud, closed web-services and Google Apps may be all the rage (and the money) but for the rest of us, here are a few links to gather forces and continue. Remember this is not a user-centric or technical issue. The issue at hand are the business deals between Mozilla, Google, and Canonical. If anything, the recent Mozilla announcement will help Thunderbird get a better chance at surviving such forces.


Thank you Ubuntu Québec and Facebook

Télévision de Radio-Canada is a Canadian French language television network. It is owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, known in French as Société Radio-Canada, or just « Radio-Canada », for the rest of us. – from Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago they launched a new web site,, making « available » all their TV shows (or most of them)… in Flash 🙁

Never mind it’s 2010 and HTML5, Ogg Theora and in general open standards and formats are the talk of the day on most web development sites… Flash 10 is a bad enough choice as it is, but apparently’s team just forgot that Linux existed.

Within hours of the launch Ubuntu Québec team members started complaining on the mailing list and on’s Facebook group. We wrote to their admins, provided details, wrote to the ombudsman, got canned replies for all communications. We then put together a Facebook group, and started inviting people to join and we shared our findings (now all on a public wiki). 451 people joined the group which is an amazing number for Quebec province, given the context. I never ever thought I’d use Facebook for open formats and Linux support advocacy in such a way!

Only one programmer from the’s team first acknowledged the problem, then asked for testers. That’s it, total silence from the tax-payers-funded TV network and website.

Within hours of the initial launch people on the mailing list had analyzed the streaming protocol, the Javascript code, etc. and ruled out problems there. To our amazement, a single commented line was preventing any shows to be displayed. Someone put together a GreaseMonkey script, someone else tested it… we went online on IRC to coordinate testing + blogging. Bottom line is we came up with a workaround. A week later finally applied minimal fixes to unblock the Flash display on Linux systems.

The site is not perfect and now other minor issues subsist, and yes, I wish open formats were an option. For now I just wanted to thank Ubuntu for providing not only an incredible operating system but also an amazing community that made all this possible 🙂 I also wanted to thank the Free Software Foundation as we used several resources from them such as the Defective by Design web site to explain the problems associated to using DRM-like implementations of web TV sites, and the problems of not using open formats, such as Flash.

I also wanted to send a big FAIL to Radio-Canada and’s team. To this day they don’t even mention Linux on their FAQ.

You can also find more details about this little victory of ours in my original blog post in French.

Your taxes at work!


Massively purchase proprietary software without any invitations to tender: get sued by your local free software association

As per FACIL‘s press release:

Massive proprietary software purchases without any invitations to tender
FACIL contests government practices in the Superior Court

Montreal, August 28th 2008 – FACIL, a non-profit association, which promotes the collective appropriation of Free Software, contests the Quebec government purchasing methods for software used within public administrations. FACIL has filed a motion before the Quebec Superior Court in order to bring an end to these methods which the association believes not to be in the best interest of the Quebec government, but more importantly, not in accordance with the regulation for supply contracts, construction contracts and service contracts of government departments and public bodies (R.Q. c. A-6.01, r.0.03).

In Quebec, access to public markets is the rule while contracts attribution without invitation to tender is the exception. A public market should be transparent, fair and most importantly, open to all. The solutions as well as the propositions must be evaluated objectively on known and accepted criteria. Furthermore, the regulation implies that public markets have to enhance the local economic development as well as the Quebec technologies.

From February to June 2008, FACIL has noticed sales of proprietary software for more than 25 million dollars. These purchases were made for products offered by large multinational enterprises, with no regard to suppliers in Quebec. These purchases hurt the Free Software suppliers throughout Quebec and are an obstacle to the development of Quebec IT enterprises. FACIL contests these methods as the association believes they are illegal and unacceptable.

A strategic Free Software utilization in public administration could create thousands of jobs as well as a significant decrease in software licensing costs. However, Quebec’s public administration refuses to even consider and evaluate these options.

While most of the developed countries have started, a few years back, migrating their technological infrastructures to Free Software, Quebec’s public administration is far behind. In France, hundreds of thousands of desktops used by civil servants have been migrated. In the Netherlands, the public administration, one of the most modern in the world, has decided to forbid the use of proprietary software in the public sector.

But here in Quebec, despite numerous initiatives, the public administration refuses to communicate and to cooperate. FACIL has decided to bring the matter to court in order for the public market law to be respected.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Friday, August 29th 2008, 10h30 at 7275, Saint-Urbain, Montreal, office 201.

Source: The Board of Directors of FACIL
Contact: Mathieu Lutfy (FACIL President)

I was on the board of directors of FACIL until last year, and I blogged a few months ago about SavoirFaire Linux’s similar initiative.

Apparently this is getting a lot of attention. Hopefully it won’t only be

Also see:


Acer, HP and MSI netbooks seen at Bureau en Gros in Montreal

Netbooks at Bureau en grosToday I went to Bureau en Gros, which is the same as Staples stores in the USA. Think of it as the office supplies and electronics / computing store. Although I knew netbooks were coming « sometime soon » I didn’t expect to see them here in Montreal, particularly at a « mainstream » store like BeG!

I took some pictures, but here are direct links to BeG online catalog:

Update: I am told this guide to install Ubuntu on the Acer Aspire One should be in my post 😉
Update 2: The Aspire One has since gone out of stock and is not even in the catalog anymore!

I find it very interesting they were side by side and had clear tech specs, including operating systems right down to the graphics chipset. I took more detailed pictures, although not very high res as I only had my phone camera at the time. I’ve put them all on Flickr in case anyone is curious. Can’t wait to see any Ubuntu netbook remix machines available in Canadian retail stores!