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EURO2012 in Free Software quarter final: Norway vs. Estonia

The last quarter final in our EURO2012 in Free Software. Here is the data we’ve gathered in the wiki:

Norway: public administration and education

Estonia: public administration and unfortunately no data regarding education

Did you follow the links? Can it be any more difficult than that? So, we have on Norways side:

Obligatory IT standards for the state sector already adopted:

All users are supposed to have equal access to public information and services on the internet. The state should not discriminate users based on what kind of technical equipment and soft ware they are using. This decision means that the users are granted a right to watch or download multi-media material from the state in open format; that is, formats not locked to specific suppliers in the market, reform minister Heidi Grande Røys says.

And to our very pleasure, the policy is quite specific:

  • On government operated web sites, from 1.1.2012 it will be obligatory to publish multimedia content in open formats:
    – For video:  Theora/Vorbis/Ogg or H.264/AAC/MP4.
    – For sound: Vorbis/Ogg, MP3 or FLAC/Ogg.
    – For pictures: JPEG or PNG.
  • When exchanging documents as attachments to e-mail between government institutions and users, from 1.1.2011 it will be obligatory to use the document formats PDF or ODF.
  • Version change: From 1.1.2010 the ODF version 1.1 is to be used.
  • The standard for character sets ISO10646, represented by UTF8, is to be used at all new ICT projects in the government sector. From 1.1.2012, UTF8 is to be used during electronic information exchange. It will possible to make exemptions from this demand in special cases.

The UTF8 decision is an important step in enabling the public sector to handle characters in the Sami language and other languages in a correct way.

And of course, Norway is the cradle of Skolelinux.

And on Estonia’s side:

A Joinup article explains:

The Estonian public sector first adopted free/libre/open source software (FLOSS) in 1995 to save costs. Now, it has grown to appreciate the many freedoms such software provides, and all common projects in the Estonian public sector are oriented towards FLOSS

and further:

Today, all common projects in the Estonian public sector are oriented to use Open Source technology.


Because it is a major software user, Estonian public sector considers that it has a key role in promoting FLOSS. Thus, the basic software used for the modules of the data exchange layer of national databases (X-Road) is Linux. Besides this, all the software components developed for public access of the X-Road system are based on FLOSS and are available as free software for public sector organisations.

And finally:

For the Estonian Public Sector, the adoption of Open Standards must follow some criteria, such as:

  • the costs of using the standard are low and do not pose an obstacle for its usage;
  • the standard has been published;
  • the standard has been adopted on the basis of an open decision-making procedure;
  • the intellectual property rights to the standard are vested in a non-profit organisation which operates a completely free access policy;
  • there are no constraints on the re-use of the standard.
  • Finally, the advantages of the open source software are to be considered by all central and local government agencies alongside proprietary alternatives.

Now, in this article it says (emphasis added):

The newly published open source policy is part of Estonia IT interoperability framework. It outlines principles for public administrations when purchasing software. For instance, open standards should be supported by all new IT systems and by interacting IT systems and joint projects. The policy also says that ‘depending on certain-brand-based products and services is to be avoided in information systems’.

I don’t want to quote too much, I’m afraid I already did. There are one or two more “shoulds” in this policy.

These “shoulds” cost Estonia the semi final in my view, because Norway firmly demands open standards and even explicitly names them. File formats every Free Software user can access.

My vote: 4:3 (Norway:Estonia)

DSC01150, Song Fest Grounds, Tallinn, Estonia

(cc-by 2.0 by lync883)