Canada’s Pitiful Open Source Activity Ranking

Georgia Tech University and Red Hat, a leading open source company (incidentally co-founded by Canadian Bob Young) recently released a new global open source ranking.  The study identifies 75 countries with the most open source activity, including development and adoption by both government and industry.  Most of the top ranked countries are European, including France, Spain and Germany as the top three.  Australia ranks fourth and the Unites States ninth.

Canada ranks a miserable 28th worldwide, dragged down by a government ranking of 34th (industry adoption ranks 17th and the open source community ranks 16th).  This should (though it likely won't) send alarm bells within government.  Not only does it mean that Canadian taxpayers are less likely to benefit from cost benefits of open source, but Canada finds itself behind virtually every "peer" country that it competed with for tech talent and investment.  In addition to the countries noted earlier, Canada sits behind virtually every major European country, leading Asian economies such as Japan, China, South Korea, and Thailand, as well as fast growing economies like Brazil and India.  The study's methodology may be subject to debate, but there should be no debate about the need for government to lead by example in the adoption of open source software.


  1. Is that site open source?
    Their map just gives me javascript errors 🙂

  2. oss_user says:

    That site uses w3 standards.
    to crade:

    probably because you use IE and the site uses w3 standards, 🙂

  3. it is pitiful
    I think by trying to spread more awareness about OSS I’ve gotten more people interested in why some of their software is free… but I’ve found that the rest of them don’t really care.
    Which is kind of painful…
    Net neutrality is another thing I’m trying to spread a little bit.
    I ask them what they would do if they woke up tomorrow and they had no Internet.
    A lot of people didn’t know what they would do, but it was pretty clear that they use the Internet a lot.
    I still don’t understand how they can use this thing everyday and rely on it for so much… but not actually care about how the government says they can use it.

  4. Rick Yazwinski says:

    Tucows Loves Opensource
    Here at Tucows we use a LOT of opensource and contribute back to those communities regularly. We’re always on the look for new opensource projects that advance our goals. I wrote a blog post on our use of opensource last year:

    That being said, here in Canada, we do feel somewhat alone. Sure, there are individual contributors to FOSS in Canada, but the vast majority of what we’re seeing is coming from the US or overseas.

  5. British Columbia is implementing the open source integrated library system “Evergreen” in libraries across the province:

  6. john trenouth says:

    Canary in the mine
    In a country that always looks to government rather than citizens for solutions, and that generates wealth from pulling stuff out of the ground rather than pulling stuff out of people’s minds, is it any wonder that we rate so low?

  7. Neil Watson says:

    No surprise there. I worked at a government agency last year. I saw very little open source software. While they were considering network monitoring products open source products like Nagios and OpenNMS did not even appear on their radar.

  8. Slowly getting better
    I’ve been w/the feds in IT for 6+ years.

    Open source was never previously considered as a viable solution. The typical management response was there was no support available and that it wasn’t “enterprise” software (let’s no even dive into those ones here!).

    Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen attitudes slowly start to change (e.g., GCPedia).

    This is in part from growing awareness of the communities and companies that make up the FOSS ecosystem (where we can get support and see proven deployments).

    The other part (more important in my opinion) is more and more employees in the PS being aware of, familiar with, and pushing for these solutions.

    If all the staff is MS/Novell/Oracle trained, it’s hard to push for a solution that involves a lot of (re)training or leverages a technology that the teams aren’t familiar with.

    That’s slowly getting better.

    A potentially bigger problem from within (maybe Michael can help here, INAL) is the PS contributing back to the community.

    Our legal teams are exactly versed in the line between Crown Copyright and contributing back to the open source community.

    Getting permission to provide our internal work back out to the community without jumping through hoop after hoop is key to moving things forward.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. Slowly getting better (quick note)
    2nd last paragraph should read,

    “Our legal teams _aren’t_ exactly versed…”

  10. OBAMA lost confidence watch n see says:

    LIke what you expect?

    THen you have rogers and turner hollywood overlord and there deal with microcrap

    billions a year could be saved and less taxes paid and services increased if we went open source, did anyone at faircopyright listen, nope.
    its all swept under by the microsoft/bell/mpaa/riaa paid bloggers that go about and harrass and intimidate people and try and cover up the truth

  11. I agree with the 6 year IT guy. The fact that we have a growing non-government oss community is a positive sign. The government would be far more likely to use OSS software if there’s a large OSS talent pool.

  12. elliot noss says:

    it is a symptom of a bigger problem
    this truly is a symptom of a bigger problem. in canada we have an economy with a higher proportion of bigger, slower growing companies. this is primarily, but not exclusively the result of two factors.

    first, we have a commodities-based economy and still have lots of manufacturing (auto as 1/7 of the jobs in ontario). those companies tend to be larger and less innovative when it comes to IT.

    second, for a number of years in the 2000’s canadian capital markets were dominated by income trusts. there was a three or four year period where the ratio of income trust:IPO was about 95:5. there were very few (no?) income trusts that were IT/Internet companies.

    to be clear, canada used tax policy to direct the vast majority of it’s investment capital to low-growth businesses and then we looked up and said “how did this happen?”.

    this too shall pass, but sadly it will hurt us for many years.

  13. David Daley says:

    Change takes time
    I’m actively involved (board member, blogger, support org) in OSCAR Canada, an open source Electronic Medical Record platform developed under GPL at McMaster. ~700 doctors across Canada, North/South America, and Asia use the platform and our growth last year was up 75%. What we are finding is that when people have open source explained to them, they convert and don’t go back.

    Innovation is occurring in open source in Canada. The marketing of our successes – well, that wouldn’t be Canadian. See / for more info.

  14. I agree with Mark
    and would add that, given the propensity for some government departments to go to private industry for solutions, I wouldn’t expect a change in the near future. Why? A few reasons. First of all, in a number of departments the old question of, “If it goes wrong, who do I sue?” is still in play. Secondly, private industry really doesn’t have an incentive to supply open source software as part of the solution… they can’t mark it up. Thirdly, in particular where there is a Canadian company that produces a commercial product which does the job, using OSS would open them up to accusations of not supporting Canadian businesses.

  15. open source
    I’m happy to say that in my small enterprise that I own, I do try my hardest to use open-source software along with use of propriety softwares. It does take effort, energy, knowledge, drive of learning new softwares or platform to implement open source software.

  16. government and OSS
    The motivation behind at least the feds not using OSS is the support issue. Red Hat and other products which have a place where you can get a contract with is not intrinsically a problem, but the general stuff, no. “What’s to stop the guy from stopping development? Who do I contact for assistance?” are *really* big issues. I can understand this; I think it will have to come in as a new way of thinking in general.

  17. tech talent?
    I don’t see how a Linux ranking suggest Canada is behind tech talent? As for government leading by example, it is doing this by using Windows. So, I don’t see the logic behind your argument? The only thing we can conclude from this “particular” study is that Linux is not that big here in Canada. To draw other conclusion from this finding is nonsense.

  18. Evan Prodromou says:

    Nationwide action?
    So, what can Canadians who care about Open Source activity in this country do about the matter? The recent victory of openness in Vancouver ( is really heartening; how can we spread it to other municipalities in the country, up to provinces and to the federal level?

    Do we have a Canadian equivalent of OSSI (