Canadian Census Online, Unless You’re Using Linux

If you are an exclusive Linux user, you won’t be able to fill out the Canadian Census online. Bryce Byfield, a FOSS user and advocate, has elaborated on his experience of trying to complete the Canadian Census online, and soon realized that the minimum requirements include IE on Windows, Safari on the Mac and a proprietary version of Java. There is no support for Linux, Firefox or anything open. And it’s not just the Census. It looks like most government-to-public communication systems are geared that way, and continuing toward a proprietary path. Read more.

Bryce has also posted a call to pressure government that this is unacceptable.

If you are a Canadian user of FOSS, you may want to contact — and educate — your local Member of Parliament about the situation. You might also contact the Census Help Line (1-877-594-2006), Statistics Canada (1-800-263-8863), and Public Works and Government Services Canada (1-800-622-6232) to state your concerns. If enough people do, then maybe the Canadian government will realize that all residents have the right to access online services, not just those who use the approved (proprietary) software.

I’d go on even more about how other governments around the world are moving toward open document formats and non-proprietary systems, and how the Canadian Government must certainly move toward openness … but I’ve got a phonecall to make.

Thanks to my friend and FOSS champion Peter Rock for alerting me to this story!

3 thoughts on “Canadian Census Online, Unless You’re Using Linux

  1. Alec,

    The census Web site actually says that you can use Mozilla or Firefox, but I usually use Camino, which is not supported.

  2. Yes Heather, it appears to accept Mozilla though when I tried with version 1.0.7 it did not meet the requirements. I assume this is because it also requires the proprietary JVM to be installed – which is unacceptable.

    Alec, you refer to me as a “FOSS champion”. Remember, I’m a crazed, religious free software zealot that has gone off the deep end! I’ll accept the term “FOSS,” but it’s right on the edge. :)

    But on a serious note, I think more awareness will come about concerning the importance of freedom (rather than mere ‘openness’) as people begin to understand the sanity of GPLv3. Open Source DRM is well on its way. Free software DRM is now impossible due mainly to the brilliant and hard work of Richard and Eben.

  3. The Census online is available to Linux users with Mozilla or Firefox or any browser that can masquerade as a compatible browser.

    Refer to:

    “This broadened access to open-source users is available to those who have a valid browser and JVM. These minimum requirements are necessary in order to maintain the same level of data encryption with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). You must have a browser with Java virtual machine (JVM) from Sun Microsystems Inc. (Version 1.4.2_3 or higher)”

    Before visiting, you should clear your browser’s cache or close and reopen your browser.

    The initial list of combinations work are :

    • Fedora core 5 with Firefox 1.0.4 or more recent
    • Suse Linux 10 with Firefox 1.0.4 or more recent

    Do you Census online now! It is safe, easy and fun!

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