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GNU is Not Unix Software

Brazilian Government Continues Push For Free Software 295

Posted by timothy
from the and-a-one-and-a-two-and-a dept.
rmello writes "The 'Legislative Free Software Week' in Brazil ended last week, drawing 2,000 people, including 3 ministers and presidents of congress and senate. Computerworld reports (in Portuguese, translation by submitter), among other things, that 1) House of Representatives will NOT renew MS-Office licenses, but is looking at free software alternatives, 2) The free software parliamentary front was announced in congress, 3) The e-mail system of the house of representatives is being replaced by a free software one, 4) The federal government is looking at concrete measures to stimulate free software as means of saving money and stimulating the national software industry. Looks like free software is here to stay in Brazil. Kudos to the many Brazilian free software groups working to make such victories a reality."
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Brazilian Government Continues Push For Free Software

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  • not renewing... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Its interesting that it says "not renewing" in regards to the MS office licenses.. does that mean that until they decide to go with open source alternatives (or not), that they will be illegally using the software? Or maybe they will continue using MS products, and just not renew licenses, etc..
    • Re:not renewing... (Score:4, Informative)

      by penguin7of9 (697383) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:20AM (#6802554)
      Its interesting that it says "not renewing" in regards to the MS office licenses..

      That's the standard term. What else are they supposed to say?

      does that mean that until they decide to go with open source alternatives (or not), that they will be illegally using the software?

      No. Existing licenses don't expire prematurely just because someone publicly announces that they won't be renewing.

      I think it's pretty clear what they are saying: they aren't going to give Microsoft any more money, and they intend to be using an open source before the issue comes up.
      • I think it's pretty clear what they are saying: they aren't going to give Microsoft any more money, and they intend to be using an open source before the issue comes up.

        If that's the case, good for them. Just because the U.S. is trapped under the thumbs of the likes of Microsoft and SCO doesn't mean the rest of the world needs to be.
    • Its interesting that it says "not renewing" in regards to the MS office licenses.. does that mean that until they decide to go with open source alternatives (or not), that they will be illegally using the software? Or maybe they will continue using MS products, and just not renew licenses, etc..

      Just not renew licenses which, suprisingly enough, is even still legal in the U.S. despite all of the efforts to the contrary.
    • Discount (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rf0 (159958)
      Just wait until MS comes along and offers deep deep discount with lots of tech support.

      Rus
  • Any country which architecture is build on a foundation which can not be reinforced by private developers, will crumble until, and if, the contractor who built that foundation "patches" that foundation up.
    • by kramer2718 (598033) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @03:06AM (#6802699) Homepage
      You're quite right. I think that Brazil is actually counting on those private developers. I think that their plan is to contract out the software projects that they need done while using Linux, and other free software as a basis for those projects.

      Farming out developement of other software has got to be cheaper than paying M$ obscene liscensing fees. Furthermore, when you hire contractors, you can get a solution which fits better than an out of the package software-suite. At the beginning, they may have to send some of that work overseas, but they will probably find local talent pretty quickly.

  • by cfl (82047) * on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:15AM (#6802531)
    I'm be interested to see how Microsoft react to this. E.g. Counter offers, as per the City of Munich decision to go with Linux desktops: Munich spurns Ballmer's rebates [slashdot.org]
    • Sauron sent a Nazgul team to deal with this last year. This is the result.

      If they send Ballmer, Brazil might prohibit proprietary software altogether, so vehement was Villanueva's response (and so effective is Ballmer).

      Next up, Texas!

    • Maybe Microsoft should point out what happened to Guatemala after they annoyed the United Fruit Company in 1954.
    • I'm be interested to see how Microsoft react to this. E.g. Counter offers, as per the City of Munich decision to go with Linux desktops: Munich

      The only effective counter offer that Microsoft could offer is a guarantee that 100% of the revenues it receives in Brazil are spent in Brazil.
    • by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:42AM (#6803788)
      I'm be interested to see how Microsoft react to this. E.g. Counter offers, as per the City of Munich decision to go with Linux desktops: Munich spurns Ballmer's rebates

      Microsoft really screwed the pooch on this one.
      • A plethora of countries announce various free software and open source initiatives, emphesizing a transition away from foreign proprietary software to home-grown, or at leat home-enhanced, free and open software.
      • Microsoft panics, sends Balmer et. al. down to buy off politicians and entice officials with obscenely cheap ("dumping" prices) licenses, no activation requirements, and liberal sitewide licenses that expire in a few years.
      • Microsoft clearly believes it has offered these foolish governments something akin to "sucker lines" of cocain: a free (or very inexpensive) hit followed by the client paying through the nose for additional fixes.
      • Instead, all of these countries obtained the right to legally use Microsoft, for pennies on the dollar, for the time they needed to transition to a free and open environment. During this transition these countries would have had to run Microsoft products anyway, either dealing with piracy accusations or paying full price for licenses. It isn't like one can switch an entire country over to GNU/Linux overnight! Microsoft foolishly gave these governments extraordinarilly cheap licenses to run their products during this critical (and expensive) transition phase.
      • Now Microsoft cannot go after them and harass them for "piracy", or even earn a one-off full licensing fee for the duration of the transition (which almost certainly will require a year or two to complete, during which time these countries still have to have Microsoft licenses: licenses Redmond was so good to give away for pennies in their institutional panic).


      Whether this is an example of third world brilliance outthinking their arrogant American counterparts (getting Microsoft to effectively subsidize their move to free software by selling them such inexpensive, limited time licenses, thereby decreasing their costs of transition dramatically), or just countries getting incredibly lucky as a result of Redmond's panic, I don't know. Probably a combination (not to mention examples of outright corruption, with corrupt politicians being replaced by less corrupt ones who revive these initiatives, examples of short sighted politicans balking when it comes time to pay the piper and renew licenses, instead renewing the free software initiatives they tabled earlier, and who knows how many other variations on this theme).

      In any event, the irony is delicious. We as a community lamented the short sightedness of so many third world countries selling out to Microsoft in exchange for cheap licenses that would expire in a few years, when in fact Microsoft was being far too clever for their own good, helping to underwrite all these nations' transition to freeer platforms. They squandered their last chance to get licensing fees from these nations, and effectively did nothing to prevent them from transitioning away from their product anyway.

      Or at least some of these nations, like Thailand and Brazil. Who knows how it will play out elsewhere, but for now I'm chortling with delicious glee.
      • by jlusk4 (2831) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:42AM (#6804230)
        You're assuming the deal(s) done today won't come unravelled tomorrow. MS is hoping the following plays out: the target countries stay w/MS "for the time being" while (a) MS continues to campaign for them stay w/MS longer-term AND (b) MS continues to improve Windows. A year or two from now (ok, 2-4 years from now), things could be different, and MS is hoping that they can keep users until then and get another shot. Don't think the days of vaporware are past; even today, a sucker continues to be born every minute.

        John.
  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:16AM (#6802535) Homepage


    You always have interest groups pushing for one solution or another. In the case of free software, it's tens of thousands of people who will have jobs they wouldn't have otherwise.

    Switching systems like this requires more people (more jobs) for training and support. And even though the cost for the governament doesn't dramatically shrink, the money, not only stays in Brazil, but also creates thousands of new jobs.

    It's about time the politicians of the world understand that important part of using free software!

  • by westyvw (653833) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:17AM (#6802542)
    OK heres about brazil:

    Rich and poor, very defined. Kids huffing gas, and police squads killing kids.

    Big celebrations and they are fun.

    Free software supporting.

    Hospitals going defunct, and leaving medical equipment that is radioactive on the streets up for grabs. No one knowing any better putting stuff in thier mouths cause it looks cool.

    Free software supporting.

    Hmm. I hope it saves them some money, then I hope they help thier people.

    Anyone from Brazil please weigh in on this.

    • Your forgot an important fact about Brazil: They have the coolest Culture Minister [jsonline.com] of the World!
    • Hopefully all those dollars leaving brazil and going to redmond will start to circulate in their own economy and providing jobs for their own kids. Sounds bleak over there.
    • by yuri82 (236251) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @03:14AM (#6802734) Homepage Journal
      the country has widespread corruption, the rich people pretty much have owned it since the discovery days.

      they buy the lawmakers who pass laws that help them get richer and richer.

      in my opinion and experience the country doesnt grow because of the catholic church and what it does to poor people...

      i am from brazil btw...
      • by hummassa (157160) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @05:33AM (#6803092) Homepage Journal
        1. Rich and poor, very defined.
          Not different from US, UK, Spain...
        2. Kids huffing gas, and police squads killing kids.
          Didn't look up what "huffing gas" means, but it has being some time now since last killing squads (rogue police groups) made a hit on minors here.
        3. Hospitals going defunct, and leaving medical equipment that is radioactive on the streets up for grabs.
          This, like the last one, happened in the 1980's. More care is being taken, now.
        4. No one knowing any better putting stuff in thier mouths cause it looks cool.
          I seriously doubt this would be different in any USian or EUian ghetto and, believe me, I know some pretty hard EU ghettos.
        5. I hope it saves them some money, then I hope they help thier people. (sic)
          Someone else in this thread pointed out: renew licenses Vs. feed people is an easy decision to make, right?
          And it is about feeding the people, cause we are in a deep recession; if you start developing free software, knowledge is formed and stays in the country, the money goes to people that has the knowledge here and pumps the economy up.
        6. in my opinion and experience the country doesnt grow because of the catholic church and what it does to poor people...
          I didn't get quite what you mean, yuri82. What exactly the CC does, that hinders the country growth?
    • by Simon X. (700576) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @03:24AM (#6802768)
      Is it much different in the USA?

      Except that the government is supporting free software.

    • With all these problems the Brazillian government certainly has better things to do with its people's money than renew Microsoft licenses.
    • It's simple. We had no middle class. Then we had one, and now world economics are destroying it. :-)

      I don't mean globalization, btw, just how the cards have been dealt in the past two or three decades, that happens to have been screwing us up. But I'm generally optimistic. I think we are getting better, and, most importantely, more of our children are getting a basic education, which is essential to the advancement of standards of living.

      As for whose at fault for our problems, that's really simple: us. We
  • Start of a change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@nospaM.yahoo.ca> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:21AM (#6802562)
    This is the start of a changing of how third world countries will act.

    Seriously, lets see "PAY LICENSES" or "FEED PEOPLE"

    Ok the argument is not always about feeding the people. Paying license fees is not what third world countries want to do. I mention this as a start because it will shift to other things other than software, eg Drugs Patents, Copyrights, etc. The West better be paying attention, because people like the RIAA say, "Why do you need bread when you can eat cake!"
    • This guy has a point look around the world at the poor countrys China now is going to use only in house software and linux and now brazil I think that this will help brazil and china and hopefuly they will be able to spread from just them to the area *Asia and Latin America*
    • Re:Start of a change (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Daengbo (523424) <daengboNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:42AM (#6802617) Homepage Journal
      Thailand formed the Ministry of ICT about a year ago, and one of the first decisions it made was to commit to 50% open source use in gov't within 3 years. They are promoting OS/FS with the sole intention of building their local IT talent.
      Companies have begun to offer large prizes (4 years average programmer salary) for 3D games which run on Linux, and have fast tracked the certification of an "official" OS and office suite for the country, which have been developed by an arm of the gov't, NECTEC. My school will get free promotion from them when we open our OS/FS training courses next term.
      The Thai goverment hopes to free itself from outside control. The national anthem says "None are allowed to oppress and destroy our independence." Thais are very proud of their colony-free heritage, and look at foreign software as part of that.
    • Re:Start of a change (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Malcontent (40834) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @03:04AM (#6802692)
      Read this [com.com] article about the shcool system in shanghai. MS did an audit and then try to bully them into buying more office licences. The school system instead chose to actually remove office from it's systems and go with a competing product locally made in china. Here is a quote.

      The move to snub Microsoft comes after the software giant asked the Shanghai Education Commission to buy licenses for the office suite on every school computer. Antipiracy officials earlier raided several schools in the city for using pirated versions of the software, according to the report.

      In this case they did not go with open source but the competing product cost half as much.

      People all over the world are getting a clue except the American PHBs who are not only sticking with MS but some are actually paying licencing fees to SCO.

      Makes you wonder.
      • Re:Start of a change (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@nospaM.yahoo.ca> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @04:06AM (#6802882)
        >>> People all over the world are getting a clue except the American PHBs

        I say be careful what you wish for... I like Open Source. I make my money with Open Source, because earlier in the 90's I saw that Closed source was coming to an end. Or at least the "big bucks" was coming to an end

        However, this trend by other countries is good for Open Source. It does not however translate to money in my pocket with trade. I am ok with this because I figured out a way to get around this.

        Many people will not be ok with this and this is what is happening right now. Witness SCO. SCO is only digging the grave for all business in the US. Do you REALLY think SCO has a snow ball's chance in hell trying to force their "rights" in Brazil, or China? Of course greed by SCO is fogging the big picture issue.

        Likewise with patents and other copyright issues. Like the guy with the patent against Microsoft. Or the RIAA. These companies are only damaging themselves and the market they manage. They are deluding themselves into thinking that if they can only last a couple of more years everything will go back to normal.

        No times have changed, and the West better a clue REAL fast or the West will have to start looking for handouts from the "third" world nations.
        • Re:Start of a change (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Malcontent (40834)
          "No times have changed, and the West better a clue REAL fast or the West will have to start looking for handouts from the "third" world nations."

          The US has an abundance of natural resources. It has lots of trees, minerals, fertile soil and water. Granted all those resources are being abused but there is enough left to last for at least another generation if not two. If we cut back even a little on consumption they might last for decades. Most of the rest of world has already eaten through it's natural reso
          • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @06:26AM (#6803274)
            "The US has an abundance of natural resources. It has lots of trees, minerals, fertile soil and water. Granted all those resources are being abused but there is enough left to last for at least another generation if not two. If we cut back even a little on consumption they might last for decades."

            Yes, USA has some natural resources, but you are very far away from being able to sustain your living standard on your own. This is not just about having iron ore in the mountains ; have you any idea how much each and every American has to cut back on consumption in order to get down to European levels, not to mention eg. China or others? You guys have a completely grotesque overconsumption of things like energy and clean water.

            "Most of the rest of world has already eaten through it's natural resources and will be buying them from us for a long time."

            Hmm, yes, right. Try to read something about this subject. Why do you think your rich-boy's-club president and his thugs chose to attack Iraq - a country with huge oil reserves? Because their hearts were bleeding for all those poor Iraqis who had to go without American style demockery?

            "Combine that with the enourmous amount of captial that has accumulated in this country and you will realize that we will not be lining up for handouts anytime soon."

            Your enormous wealth is based almost entirely on American military power and presence in the world. As long as the US Dollar is the de facto standard currency for most international trade, it is easy for American companies to borrow money whereas other countries are at a disadvantage; in effect America controls the world market that way. However, the Dollar is losing out to eg. the Chinese RMB and the Euro (OPEC have been talking about trading in Euro - another very good reason for Bush to go to war against Iraq, as a warning).

            On top of this most American companies and individuals are in deep debt; so I would say that America's incredibly fabulous wealth is just a bit fictitious. You may find yourselves looking for handouts before you think.
      • Smartarse comments about Chinese piracy aside, how does MS get to raid schools in Shanghai?

        I would have thought that these schools would not have had any reason whatsoever to let MS (or "antipiracy officials" in general) anywhere near their systems. If anything, I would have thought the Chinese education system was about as immune to this type of treatment as any group of people on the planet, courtesy of a long history of piracy being tolerated in China and the Chinese education system not taking a pro-A
    • Re:Start of a change (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Caid Raspa (304283) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @03:45AM (#6802831)
      This is the start of a changing of how third world countries will act.

      Seriously, lets see "PAY LICENSES" or "FEED PEOPLE"

      We Europeans are facing the same problem. It is not licenses vs. food, but something like licenses vs. education, health care, rebuilding the country after 50 years of communist rule, ... These are on the priority list after food. Most of the software license fees go to US. Same applies to many copyrighted things, like movies and music. I think Germany (or actually Munich) is showing the way to Europeans.

      Paying license fees is not what third world countries want to do. I mention this as a start because it will shift to other things other than software ...

      The people in poor countries have stopped paying license fees a long time ago. Visit any bazaar in China or Russia to check what is their attitude to Copyright. It is more about ability, not willingness. Governments can't hide behind the corner, the DVD pirates can. They are much easier to sue, and software vendors have their lobbyists. In practice, software vendors has US government, WTO, and other powerful supporters. Corruption is also an issue. Finally, getting any major change through a government is very slow. Changing anything in a democracy takes at least five years.

      I am advocating for free software in a political party (about 10% election support at local level, 3rd largest). At first, most people were not interested. In January 2002 we had to buy a new computer, and I suggested we try OpenOffice before buying the MS version. "It's free, you won't lose a dime." And we never bought MS Office. At September 2002, we suggested that the local government should consider OpenOffice. (Before that, we had a few words on free software, mainly to keep me silent). Now, we are suggesting that again. Office 97 (yes, we are poor and backward) "dies" in January 2005, so maybe we have a chance of getting this through next year. After that, migration takes at least one year.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's not just a matter of not wasting money on "upgrading". Most open source distros are much easier to maintain than MS-Windows. e.g. SuSe, RedHat, and especially Debian. That's just regular maintenance. You can pretty much say goodbye to wasting hundreds of man-hours per year chasing worms and viruses by dropping MS-Outlook and MS-Windows. Then there's the benefit of fewer user problems because apps are more secure, more stable. i.e. more time working and less time calling support and calming down ne
  • by segment (695309) <sil@politrix. o r g> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:21AM (#6802563) Homepage Journal
    1) House of Representatives will NOT renew MS-Office licenses, but is looking at free software alternatives, 2) The free software parliamentary front was announced in congress,

    So German government stated they were making the switch in 2001, China is making a switch, who's next. Could spell big trouble for MS' revenue considering China, and Brazil are just HUGE. This could be a break for Sun Microsystems though if they would do something with Solaris under x86 ala Linux or BSD. (freely downloadable I meant to say).

    3) The e-mail system of the house of representatives is being replaced by a free software one,

    Damnit, with the mention of another hole found in Sendmail I hope it wasn't that.

    4) The federal government is looking at concrete measures to stimulate free software as means of saving money and stimulating the national software industry.

    rants page): Let's say that OS #1 costs a small company $499.99 for about 10 licenses, we'll call this company Foobar Incorporated. Foobar incorporated is now getting pounded with about 20 virii per year, and it takes their administrators about 20 minutes per machine to update the operating system every time something new causes chaos on the network.

    Either way you decide to do the math, it is going to be costly. Place 2 administrators in Foobar Inc., and have them patch up the system at a total cost of 100 minutes per person for the update. 20 minutes per machine multiplied by 10 machines divided by two administrators, we'll now give these administrators $10.00 per hour and the cost for this one instance is $33.33 for this one instance. $666.66 per year, for this one company. So how many small companies are there? Should we be generous and say 10 million? $6,666,660,000.00 in lost revenue.

    These figures are only on viruses, not program crashes, not system downtime, strictly salary. Sure I know some geek wizard is going to scrutinize this be my guest... There are pros and cons to free software being you won't necessarily receive great tech support for it as opposed to some (note I said some*) companies tech support.

    Now before someone unloads the holy grail of follow ups, I said *some* tech support. We all know that certain unnamed companies blow when it comes to tech support, but remember not everyone is going to browse through sites like kernel.org, nor jump on IRC for support. Many endusers still prefer pretty to geek.

    </rant>

    • 3) The e-mail system of the house of representatives is being replaced by a free software one,

      Damnit, with the mention of another hole found in Sendmail I hope it wasn't that.

      Oh, I must of missed that news because the internet was down due to two massive Microsoft Windows worms. I'll be sure and tell the sendmail authors how I feel when I can finally open up my firewall to allow incoming mail again.
    • by davejenkins (99111) <slashdot@@@davejenkins...com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @03:24AM (#6802767) Homepage
      This could be a break for Sun Microsystems though if they would do something with Solaris under x86 ala Linux or BSD. (freely downloadable I meant to say).

      Why would Sun want to make Solaris freely available? Why would Brasil want to buy more proprietary hardware from the US? You`ve missed the whole point of what Brasil is trying to do here: native support, native distro, native jobs and IT industry.

      Even open source leaders like Red Hat, who do make source code available, stand to benefit little immediately: the native-blood syndrome is too strong.

      I would imagine that Brasil is more than willing to go `low-tech` on some of their infrastructure as long as it is free or homegrown: they don`t need Lotus notes, email will do; they don`t need Oracle 9i, PostGreSQL will do, etc.
      • Why would Sun want to make Solaris freely available? Why would Brasil want to buy more proprietary hardware from the US?

        If Sol made Solaris free, eventually somewhere down the line hardware will hav to be purchased as you can only upgrade for so long. Sun could benefit by offering low cost hardware to accomodate some of the fundamentals of Brazil like their gov. for their infrastructure, and their Univ. which in turn as many have seen could possibly produce those willing to give back to Sun via way of pro

        • Choosing something like Linux or BSD is a good thing, and choosing Sol for say 64bit machines is also good unless they intend on staying in a 32 bit world forever.

          AMD has been selling their (32 and) 64-bit Opteron for a while now. Linux and BSD are both geared up to support this. Eg., NetBSD already has their amd64 port fully functional, and slated to ship in the next NetBSD release, FreeBSD has it running and supports it as a Tier 2 platform. Some LInux vendors have also promised support. There is e

    • This could be a break for Sun Microsystems though if they would do something with Solaris under x86 ala Linux or BSD. (freely downloadable I meant to say).

      It doesn't matter whether it's freely downloadable, if it's not free as in OSS. Using Solaris would not be a strategic move, it would be a temporary measure in the migration path to Linux.

      Building systems on Solaris is better than building them on Windows (because of the open standards), but using Solaris on a productivity desktop is just pure idiocy.
    • Damnit, with the mention of another hole found in Sendmail I hope it wasn't that.

      Are you talking about the DNS map problem? A problem with a feature that nobody uses, in versions of sendmail (less than 8.12.9) that nobody should be using.

  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cliffy2000 (185461) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:27AM (#6802578) Journal
    Brazilian Government Continues Push For Free Software
    So... all M$ would have to do would be to distribute free copies of their software to the Brazilian government in order to solve this, correct?
    If I were Ballmer and Co., I would take this as opportunity to nip this in the bud. But I'm not evil. [sarcasm] And I hope that M$ doesn't read this and steal my idea... because you just know that they've never done this before. [/sarcasm]
    • Re:Well... (Score:2, Informative)

      by caranha (680518)
      So... all M$ would have to do would be to distribute free copies of their software to the Brazilian government in order to solve this, correct?

      Actually no. The issue of FS in Brazil, altough being shown to the media as "cutting costs", is also largely political.

      Until recently, Brazil's politics scenario was largely dominated by right-wing parties, with the only significant left wing party, the "Worker's Party" (PT), housing all kinds of people who wanted to protest against "the system" in one way or anot
    • So... all M$ would have to do would be to distribute free copies of their software to the Brazilian government in order to solve this, correct?

      You mean "give the man a fish" instead of giving him the means to fish? No, if Brazil truly wanted to use the savings from not paying Microsoft licenses to stimulate its own economy.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OzJimbob (129746)
      I don't see how Microsoft could keep up this kind of behaviour in the long run. Imagine they give Brazil Windows and Office for free. What happens when Argentina starts examining open source software? What about Japan? UK? Even the US? Wouldn't they all demand the same deal "otherwise we'll go Open Source"?

      Before you know it, Microsoft have given every government on the planet free software. How long before large businesses and even individuals start making the same threats?

      Microsoft will continue to
    • No, you aren't. Companies giving away product below cost is called dumping, and is illegal in most markets. MS could afford to sell their products very much cheaper than they do and still make a profit - but, if they start to do that, a ball would start rolling. For the same reason, drug companies are frightened of selling drugs at reasonable prices in the Third World. It wouldn't be long before the same was expected of them at home.
  • by MoThugz (560556)
    I mean what advantages does this development give to Linux users? Its not that the Brazilian govt will channel money that they used to pay MS to the FSF. They just want to cut costs.

    The only direct advantage of this is that the knowledge that open source hobbyist learnt on his spare time can now be implemented in the department... Wait, I take back that statement... The poor bastard will then have to support all the other ignorant users.

    "Mauricio, how do I install this flash plugin on Mozilla?"
    "Mauricio,
    • Why so negative? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Steeltoe (98226) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:52AM (#6802654) Homepage
      They can use the money they planned on licensing from Microsoft to support their own IT-staff, including programmers. They can afford to build and extend on Free Software where necessary. It's all about mindshare, thousands of people surrounding the government will also install Free Software, and contribute when they get educated about FSF/Open Source and have an itch to scratch. This means fewer people locked into the abusive monopoly behemoth that is Microsoft.

      You should rather ask yourself: Why am I so negative?
      • Dear Sir,

        I would like to apologise to you regarding the failure on my part to compose my prior post within <rant class="joke"> tags.

        I hope this has not inconvenient you in any way as well as clouding your rosy view that money saved from MS (a.k.a. the abusive monopoly behemoth) will go to everything pro-Free Software and/or pro-Open Source... because as we all know, Brazillians have nothing else to do with their money anyway since the massive loan default incident of 2002.

        Yours mistakenly.
    • Re:Why so happy? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Malcontent (40834) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @03:13AM (#6802726)
      "' I mean what advantages does this development give to Linux users?"

      Anything that adds to the userbase helps linux. More users mean more and better drivers and less IE only web site. Also some small percentage of those users will actually contribute back. If they spawn another Miguel or two the world would be a better place.
    • by poptones (653660)
      Sounds to me like Mauricio has job security. Better that than for his kids to join the others on the street.
    • I mean what advantages does this development give to Linux users?

      It makes Brazil one of those nice places where an individual can develop things independently and share their work, and are encouraged to, legally?

      Unlike the USA, Japan and (as of next week) EU, where individuals and small businesses are selectively persecuted, and always under threat.

      There they have a system called "patents on virtually every widely used idea", most of which are harmless but a few are selectively enforced. Much like

  • by tugrul (750) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:47AM (#6802633)
    "Microsoft gives Brazil upgrades to latest releases for pennies on the dollar."

    Will Brazil truly pull a Munich [slashdot.org], or are they just playing the game Thailand thinks it won [osnews.com] with Microsoft.
    • We win regardless. Either Microsoft will keep cutting prices (and each deal it makes will make other customers start pressuring them), with the resulting reduced margins and hopefully dropping profitability, or people will see through them and they'll lose customers. Both ways leads to a weakened Microsoft. What Microsoft doesn't seem to understand is that cutting prices to the bone only really works when you are fighting against a small group of smaller companies that you can bleed dry by consistently unde
      • We win regardless.

        I'm not so sure about that.

        Either Microsoft will keep cutting prices [...] with the resulting reduced margins and hopefully dropping profitability

        Thats short term. They might not be earning their full potential, but they aren't bleeding. And in return for that mild payment, they buy the lucrative lockin of a relatively virgin market. This is no loss on their part, this is investing into cultivating a stable market.

        or people will see through them and they'll lose customers.

        If they
    • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <`abacaxi' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @07:31AM (#6803475)
      Will Brazil truly pull a Munich, or are they just playing the game Thailand thinks it won with Microsoft.

      The rhetoric around this issue in Latin America has included "paying tribute", "software imperialism" and other politically loaded phrases. When it becomes a matter of national honor, and when M$ is seen as the greedy absentee landlord sucking profits from the country and giving little in return ... it's over.

  • Pics (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:50AM (#6802644)
    Some pics from the event:
    http://www.gulms.org/fotos/SL_congresso/ [gulms.org].
  • by mattr (78516) <mattr AT telebody DOT com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @03:07AM (#6802704) Homepage Journal
    This is great news for not only Brazil but for everyone in the open source using/developing community.

    Someone asked "Why so happy?". Well now there will be many people working in parallel to use open source software in a large enterprise environment, and don't tell me you have to speak English to be a (good) hacker. People will solve problems, submit patches and improvements (if welcomed), and develop new software which we can use and leverage too.

    Also it should divert money that would have gone to the richest man in the world, to pay programmers, and to encourage young people to study programming, starting with open source as a given not as an eccentricism. It is entirely possible that you will get an environment in Brazil in which Windows becomes a minority. Could you imagine what kind of things would be possible when the magnifying power of open source is combined with even a small budget? I'm looking forward to hearing stories about Brazil in the future where it becomes famous for a "can-do" attitude (and they actually do it!), when solutions are shared by many and developers are able to enjoy exponential successes.


    If this can be documented and nurtured it just might suggest that there is another path for human development in general - capitalism is great but for some sociological or economic reason it hasn't done well in Brazil. Maybe open source can be used in programming and many other fields to codify knowledge and give Brazilians a boost so the money they do spend is most effectively disposed.


    I think this goes beyond the general idea that the network is stronger the more nodes it has. We are talking about people who are going to be getting tools put in their hands, the equivalent of an investment of millions or billions of dollars worth of software, and they are going to attack problems and solve them by both tapping into support from the world at an individual level and by recognizing that problems can indeed be solved. The only things I would like to add are that food, sanitation, safety, machines, and free telecom are prerequisites for this. If the government has anybody with a clue (sounds like they do!) they will figure out a way to provide free highspeed internet connectivity. Conceivably this could be done around libraries or community centers, perhaps someone from Brazil or other countries with such experiences can provide some ideas. I am very interested in hearing what the result of this would be if started from Brazilian values, perhaps it could be refreshing.

    One thing I can tell you is that one mature person educated in the world can make a difference. A journalist friend of mine has been able to build a hospital, orphanage, newspaper, and a hundred schools in Cambodia from donations around the world. I would guess that Brazil is far, far ahead of Cambodia, at least they have still got their brainpower among the living! Let's help them!

  • The federal government is looking at concrete measures to stimulate free software as means of saving money and stimulating the national software industry.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but how is this going to stimulate the industry if there is no money to be made for the software "companies"? Surely this will damage the software industry?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Suppose that a small office spends $50 on Linux rather than $500 on Microsoft. The other $450 does not disappear! The bueiness will spend $450 on other business expenses, or it will make the owners $450 richer -- which is better than making Bill Gates $450 richer.

      At the end of the day, lower prices for software may or may not help the software industry. But they definitely help every other industry that purchases software.
    • Correct me if I'm wrong, but how is this going to stimulate the industry if there is no money to be made for the software "companies"? Surely this will damage the software industry?

      Unless by "software industry" you mean only "on the shelf" software companies (which, in Brazil, are mostly companies from other countries), no way, but even if you do...

      Brazil has already some companies on the open source paradigm of software industry (support, local solutions, etc). A big example is Conectiva, which even shi
    • Yeah, that is definately one thing that people in the states never think about when they mindlessly bash MS and people like the MPAA and RIAA.

      Whether or not you realize it the software industry, and music and movie industry, contribute huge amounts of money to the US economy - i'm too lazy to look up the links - but without those industrys the US' trade deficit would be much higher than it already is, and it's already too high.

      The Brazilian government, and all those who switch to linux and other free alte
      • John Gilmore pointed out once that the telecom industry in the US contributes 1-2 orders of magnitude more money to the economy. The extra use of bandwidth if everything the RIAA and MPAA ever made was made free would, if properly priced by the telecom companies, most likely make up for the loss.

      • Why should the Brazilian government worry about how much taxes the U.S. government gets? Look, no matter how hard American "Congress Critters" try to make it be so, software is not a limited physical resource.

        Somewhere along the line so idiot thought it would be a good idea to make the rest of the world be America's "IP" bitches without considering that the rest of the world would object. Perhaps its time for Americans to wake up and smell the (Brazilian) coffee before it's too late.
        • Obviously the brazilian government shouldn't care, but americans do care. That much money taken from country X is that much more money we don't have to get from home. Yeah I know, crappy world view but what can you do?

          Also, if you looked at the trade deficit/surplus figures between the US and Brazil my *guess* would be that american puts in about as much money into brazil as we take.
      • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @06:21AM (#6803257) Homepage
        So what you're saying is that the rest of the world is absolutely 100% correct in changing to OSS ?

        I agree. It's a complete waste of money to send license-money to the USA for programs that could be better and cheaper made at home.

        Take Germany as an example. There's around 80 million people, and around 50 million computers. The average cost for Windows and Office alone is something like 400.

        If you assume the average user buys a new version of software from MS every 3 years on the average, then this works out as 6.6 billion a year.

        For this money you could hire about 130.000 full time programmers permanently. Read that again.

        It gets worse: Even if you *did* need 130.000 programmers permanently to keep Linux and OpenOffice competitive for the tasks you need, it would *still* be preferable to hire them, rather than buy the software from MS.

        You see, those programmers would pay taxes. They would also do most of their shopping in Germany, paying VAT. They'd hire german carpenters and electricians to build them houses etc etc.

        In reality, it'd probably be cheaper and better for the local economy of Germany to hire a quarter million coders permanently instead of buying the software from MS.

        Something to think about indeed.

        • Yeah, that's kindof what Microsoft and some members of the US government are afraid of. Obviously some US companies will adapt (like red hat and IBM) but people are afraid of a business model which allows for no one country to dominate the market and is, basically, free. The cost-of-entry barriers are virtually non existent for something like linux, compared to - say - car manufacturing, chip production, or heavy industry. Interesting times indeed.

          It would be far better for just about any country to invest
    • There is absolutely no reason why you cannot create a viable software addition to free software that can remain your IP. Coders that are good at creating taylored apps for specific needs will always make good money. With open source you do not have to pay for the framework to create from, big difference. If you get good enough you can create in effect your own distro taylored to individual needs. Try that with MS based framework without paying big time for a peek at MS proprietary libs! There are many ways
    • Well, with open source software, the playing field is wide open.

      If the Brazilian gov't wants customized/tailored software, it can get it now - cheap, because *anyone* can bid on the contract to do the source modification and release things back into the public domain.

      It may not be millions of dollar-contracts and beef barrels any more (thank god), more likely it'll be small, fast, light development companies that spring up (new industry forming) to take on the role of 'custom software development' using t
    • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @04:57AM (#6803002) Homepage Journal
      You seem to assume (wrongly), that most software engineers work on shrink wrapped software for companies that live off selling mass produced software, when in fact most software engineers work on in house applications and one off deliveries. Microsoft is an anomaly. Most software engineers already work in positions where open source would not affect their jobs.

      However, the shrinkwrap applications that are in common use account for a disproportionate amount of software spending, and by encouraging the use of open source one would free up huge amounts of money otherwise spent on license fees that could be spent on hiring people to adapt various software packages to your specific conditions.

      For Brazil that would be hugely beneficial, as most money for shrinkwrap software end up in the US, while software engineers hired to add features to open source software would be more likely to be local.

      But even though the US stand to lose short term, it too stand to lose longer term as open source over time reduce the cost to develop software (because of the increasing amount of software that can be used as building blocks free of charge). Looking at the history of software development, this is unlikely to reduce the number of available jobs for software engineers overall - in fact it is likely to make more jobs available, as cheaper software development means significantly more projects become cost effective.

      It's like car manufacturing - Ford massively automated the process, but that didn't put people making cars out of work, it massively grew the industry since the lower cost lead to lower prices, which led to a huge increase in demand.

  • by Simon X. (700576) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @03:11AM (#6802721)
    Not relying on dollar-paid foreign products greatly is of utmost importance to the economy and financial position of Brazil.

    Using and promoting free software stimulates local know-how and will generate many jobs.

    This is just one more sign that by electing their president Lula, the Brazilian people got the government they deserve (in a positive sense).

    Let's see on september 1 (the vote on the Software Patents Directive) if we Europeans can we be equally happy with our Parliament...

  • by jabuzz (182671) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @04:21AM (#6802920) Homepage

    Perhaps, they might start looking in their own backyard and have their National Institute for Space Research (a goverment backed organization) open source the excellant SPRING GIS package from what is already a free download, but no source. Works on Linux/Solaris and Windows, and is rather easier to use than GRASS.

    http://www.dpi.inpe.br/spring/english/ [dpi.inpe.br]
  • Cheap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsa (15680) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @05:10AM (#6803026) Homepage
    I think in countries like Brazil, India and China where labour is cheap it's even cheaper to move to another software system than in the 'Western' countries because the migration process takes a lot of effort (and thus man-hours).
  • by Tarakona (700486) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @05:27AM (#6803072)
    IMHO Brazil takes a step that we Europeans should be taking as well. If Microsoft products are being used in government agencies and the national industries, the know-how and the jobs would reside in the US and Europe will depend on the US as far as Information Technology is concerned. Furthermore, there would be a lot of money in license fees flowing from Europe to the US. IMHO it is clear that the US would have an advantage over Europe they would NOT use for the good of Europe but for their own.

    Thus, a healthy European software industrie based on OSS is needed in order to be independent of the US.

    I truly hope that our parliaments will realize this before it is too late.

  • On the one hand, the developed West becomes completely beholden to the Corporations: Microsoft, RIAA, MPAA, with Windows used in schools, universities, hospitals, governments... with innovation stiffled by patents and the DMCA, with lobbyists creating laws for purposes of business and not the civil state.

    On the other hand, the rest of the world with an eye on the budget, choosing for free software and eventually developing their own. India, Brazil, China, and eventually Africa too. Countries where innovation continues because it's a matter of survival, and where the corporations can't impose their US laws because governments are incapable and unwilling to enforce them.

    Why does the US still suffer from a fragmented and pathetically old-fashioned telephone system while even the most war-striken, bankrupt nations on earth already have one or two national GSM networks? Because where there is nothing, people can create.

    Similarly, the IT industry in the West has moved to a phase of terminal stagnation, and will eventually be reduced to a simple service industry, with the innovation being done in those places that today choose open source.

    No coincidence that another article today mentioned Microsoft's gradual takeover of the US's CompSci departments. Innovation through Windows? Now that's funny!

  • The big picture (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlastairBurt (3604) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:17AM (#6804018)
    Many of the comments here see this as the start of something big in
    Brazil. In many ways, it is perhaps better to see it as the culmination of
    a process that has being going on a long time. There have already been free
    software initiatives at many levels in this the fifth largest country in the
    world. Most notable of these is in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which
    hosts each year a major free software event [softwarelivre.org]. I also know that in Brasilia itself they have been
    funding free software development to support [interlegis.gov.br], for example, information
    exchange between all the different legislatures in Brazil.

    Moreover, the support for free software would seem to extend across
    political parties. A workshop I attended in Sao Paulo last year, to
    encourage cooperation between Latin America and the EU in the IT was
    explicitly asked to be about free software by the administration preceding
    that of Lula da Silva. This means the Brazilians already have a wealth of
    experience in using free software and for finding mechanisms to fund its
    development. It also means that there are already a lot of firms and
    administrations that have committed to this process. Some of the comments
    here have suggested that Microsoft must merely flash out its cheque book to
    block the push for free software. I think it would have to flash out many
    cheque books at many levels and would step on the toes of many local
    interests.

    Two other aspects of free software in Brazil do not seem to have received
    much attention. The first is the wealth of good free software programmers
    already in Brazil. Several key Zope developers come from Brazil and the
    first language into which the popular content management system Plone was
    localised was Brazilian Portuguese. A lot of good work is also going on in
    free software GIS systems such as SPRING.

    The second aspect is represented by the presence in the congress of the
    Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil. I note that the title of the congress
    mentions "free software" and not "open source". The interest is not just in
    economics or software engineering, it is also cultural and extends into
    other areas, such as the support for creative commons [creativecommons.org]
    licenses.

    Viva Brazil! Viva o software livre!

    for-the-people.org [for-the-people.org]
  • by Savago (701928) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:21AM (#6804048)
    Friends Actually, Brazil does have some IT (and high tech) expertise: 1) Lua programming language was developed by PUC's (Catholic University) Rio de Janeiro staff. 2) Marcelo Tosati (programmer who works for Conectiva _ a Linux system based in Red Hat) is the maintainer of Linux kernel 2.4, I guess. 3) We are the first country to run elections in a computerized system. Flame bait: you americans do need some help in this issue? ;-) 4) Spring is a GIS software developed in Inpe (National Institute of Spacial Research - free translation). 5) Mac Donalds in Brazil (yes, it's right!) uses a management system developed by a native soft house. And have plans to export those to foreign countries. 6) Onca (Jaguar) network were the first to sequence a complete bacterium DNA (Xilela fastidiosa) and make it public (probe in Nature or Science magazine, I don't remember). This makes Brazil the first country to sequence completely a bacterium DNA. This is part of Genoma Project developed in Sao Paulo Province. And we are always open to foreign people that wants to develop high tech research in our country. Several of our universities phD researchers come from USA or Europe universities. Best regards (sorry about the poor english) :-(

  • A country that uses proprietary, closed-source software is a country that is not free. A country that uses proprietary, closed-source software is partly under control of the seller of the software and of government of the country in which the seller is located.

    Why is it that the government of Brazil is quicker than the government of the United States to realize the necessity of running a government with open source software?

    To understand this, it may help to understand other differences between Brazil and the United States. One country is more primitive in some ways and less developed than the other. For example:

    The United States government has bombed 24 countries in the years since the second world war. The Brazilian government has bombed none.

    The United States government supports culture. It has an organization called the National Endowment for the Arts. Apparently that is the group that puts on those unbelievably boring shows in the U.S. capitol. The Brazilian government supports culture. The culture minister, Gilberto Gil [jsonline.com], is a musician and singer who is famous throughout the world.

    Officials of a large city in one country visited the officials of another country to learn how to run a city in a more humanistic way: Officials of the city of New York visited the officials of Curitiba, Brazil, to learn the mayor's methods for making a city an enjoyable place to live.

    Brazilians are generally slim and good-looking. Americans are the most overweight populace that has ever existed. This seems to be because the Brazilians are more skilled at making themselves happy than Americans. Definitely Americans eat when they are not hungry, and indication of unhappiness.

    The city of Rio de Janeiro has a reputation for violence. The homicide rate is 43 per 100,000 people. The city of Washington, D.C, the capitol of the United States, does not have a reputation for violence. The homicide rate in Washington, D.C. is approximately 77 per 100,000 population, close to double that of Rio.

    The United States government has powerful organizations that operate in an almost completely secret way as a world-wide police force, forcing U.S. government ideas and culture on other countries. For example, there is the NSA, CIA, and FBI, and some agencies whose existence is almost a secret from U.S. citizens. The Brazilian government is far from perfect, but it has nothing comparable.

    The Brazilian culture is far from perfect. For example, Brazilians generally don't like to plan, so things that require planning are often done poorly. But in the areas above and in other areas, things are better in Brazil.

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.

Working...