Last update 12/16/2010 6:08:38 PM (GMT+7)

Vietnam slow in applying open source software

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam has been developing open source software for the last 10 years, but it has witnessed no considerable progress so far, according to the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC).

At the workshop on improving the application and development open source software held in Hanoi on December 14, Nguyen Thanh Tuyen, Deputy Director of the Information Technology Department under MIC said that under the Instruction No 07/2008 on using open source software at state agencies, four softwares asked to be used at the agencies include, OpenOffice, Mozilla ThunderBird, Mozilla FireFox and Viet Unikey.

The instruction stipulated that by December 31, 2009 at the latest, state agencies belonging to ministries, branches and provincial authorities must have 70 percent of workstations installed with open source software, while at least 70 percent of workers must be trained to use the software, and at least 40 percent of workers must use the software in their works.

However, by 2010, only four out of 12 ministries and branches have installed open source software for workstations. Of the 12 ministries and state agencies which have sent reports to MIC, only three ministries and branches have installed Open Office, seven out of 12 ministries have installed Unikey, 6/12 Firefox and 4/12 have ThunderBird.

“These are really low numbers,” Tuyen concluded.

Support is needed

Tuyen said that Vietnamese organizations and enterprises are already familiar with closed source software, therefore they hesitate to shift to use open source software.

However, analysts believe that the key problem here is that the state agencies which use open source software still lack support.

The leaders of the Information Technology Department also admitted that when local agencies apply the use of open source software, technical assistance remains very weak. Most local authorities complain that they have difficulties in human resources. Information technology officers still cannot meet basic requirements and the knowledge of supporting staff members remains modest.

The lack of a proper financial mechanism has also been cited as one of the biggest difficulties. Every locality has 1.2 billion dong to encourage the use of open source software for four years, from 2009 to 2012, which means that they have 300 million dong a year.

The Vietnam National Institute of Software and Digital Content Industry (NISCI) under the MIC itself, the unit that directly assists authorities, branches and ministries to utilize open source software, also said that the total budget for the institute is only one billion dong a year for 40 workers.

The institute’s head Le Hoang Minh complains that with such a budget, it is very difficult to provide technical assistance to localities, even though the infrastructure for utilizing open source software is ready.

The IT department said that besides the issued instruction, it is necessary to promulgate another legal document, stipulating detailed spending on implementing the open source software development plan. The document should be promulgated in early 2011.

It’s necessary to create a community of users

It is clear that many software products are reliable and user-friendly which can replace many kinds of closed source software. The development of open source software will help organizations and individuals to reduce the reliance on exclusive solution providers, cut spending on software purchases, and especially, this will help encourage the development of the local software industry.

However, according to Le Trung Nghia, Director of Nhat Vinh Company, software products will not be able to “live”, if they are not protected and supported by a community of users. Meanwhile, Vietnam still does not have a policy aiming to develop the community of open source software users.

Experts believe that the government needs to give support to ensure the success of the program on utilizing open source software. For example, it can stipulate a reserved budget for open source software development. If so, this will be an impetus for enterprises to invest in software utilization.

According to Tuyen, the government, can also build up a mechanism requiring all workstations and servers to be purchased by state agencies, to install the stipulated software.

Source: Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam