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Feature: Free Software

Brazil's FOSS utopia image at risk

By Bruce Byfield on January 24, 2007 (8:00:00 AM)

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According to the international media, Brazil is a leader in free and open source software (FOSS) adoption. The New York Times describes the country as "a tropical outpost of the free software movement," while BBC News claims that "Increasingly, Brazil's government ministries and state-run enterprises are abandoning Windows in favour of 'open-source' or 'free' software." However, FOSS advocates familiar with Brazil describe a less hopeful situation.

They talk about unsystematic support by the government, and a business atmosphere in which mention of FOSS is more about hype than understanding the underlying philosophy. They say violations of the GNU General Public License are commonplace. Some genuine FOSS adoption does happen, they say, but, too often, it is marred by inefficiency, and possibly widespread corruption.

During the first term of the government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, which began in 2003, FOSS adoption was announced as a major policy. In addition to encouraging federal and state governments to switch to FOSS, Silva's government also used FOSS in PC Conectado, a program to make inexpensive computers available to the Brazilian public. The announcements of these initiatives created the impression internationally that Brazil would soon become an example of FOSS adoption to the rest of the world.

However, not only is the potential of this promising start yet to be realized, but there are signs that pro-FOSS policies are stalling. When Silva was re-elected in late 2006, his party's platform contained only one brief reference to free software -- a general promise to "improve direct and remote service-rendering to citizens, simplifying procedures, training civil servants and broadening the technological base, including the utilization of free software." Nothing of the earlier widespread plans for FOSS was in evidence. Possibly, this de-emphasis of FOSS is due to increased opposition by proprietary software interests, such as those trying to mount a constitutional challenge in the state of Rio do Sul against a law giving preference to FOSS solutions in the government.

Whatever the case, Brazilian advocates have learned to be skeptical about claims for FOSS. For example, although Conectiva (now part of Mandriva) widely publicized a deal with systems integrator Positivo that resulted in more than 90,000 computers shipped with Conectiva installed, Debian developer Gustavo Franco suggests that "almost all the users installed Microsoft Windows copies over that." Franco does not substantiate the claim, but his point is that lower-income Brazilians do not want free software as much as what they see on TV or in ads. Even if his suggestion is not completely true, it reflects the wariness that advocates have learned through bitter experience.

Interest in FOSS still exists throughout Brazil, but signs of progress are hard to see in 2007. "There're a lot of people doing almost nothing but talking a lot," says Debian developer Otavio Salvador.

Hype over quality

Some signs of FOSS adoption are still visible through Brazil, but FOSS observers are concerned about the quality of the code being released and where the efforts are being applied.

Gustavo Noronha Silva, another Debian developer, notes that the federal planning ministry is developing an inventory system called CACIC under the GNU General Public License in partnership with a public company called Dataprev. "The code is not that great," he says, "but they're bringing the free software concepts into the government, and are releasing real code and maintaining it."

Similarly, the Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia da Informaç a government software company, and SERPRO, Brazil's official federal data processing service, have developed some free software courses and assisted in the migration of some government departments to FOSS. "I took part in some of this process when I was managing the IT of one of the ministries," says Silva, "and I could see that their job was very poor quality-wise, and with no planning at all."

Silva cites one case in which source packages were built on top of installed Debian packages and mixed Debian workstations with Windows-based rdesktop connections, and another in which email services were migrated without concern for the existing infrastructure. "They have done lots of damage," Silva says.

In another case, CAIXA, one of Brazil's largest public banks, implemented its own Debian-based operating system. Silva says that the system "basically breaks if you try to upgrade it, so it's impossible to use sanely on servers" -- although that is where CAIXA is using it. He notes, however, that the release of the software was announced "in a big conference with lots of IT heads of the government." Silva's concern is that such efforts will discredit the whole concept of FOSS because of their poor performance, and represent a triumph of marketing over technical considerations.

Similarly, Franco is concerned about government plans to buy laptops from the One Laptop Per Child project. "I think the project is a good idea," Franco says, "but the government's goal is to put the laptops in the teachers' hands" rather than distributing them to lower-income citizens as the project intends.

Franco also mentions rumors that some of the other attempts to deliver cheaper computers in Brazil "bundle dubious quality hardware with a random Linux distribution that doesn't fully support the hardware."

Silva's and Franco's concerns are that such efforts will discredit the whole concept of FOSS through missteps and poor performance. The fact that some government initiatives are being funded by multinational companies such as IBM and Cisco could only add to the disaster for FOSS. "The FLOSS hype in Brazil is a marketing thing," Franco writes in his blog, and, privately, Silva echoed the sentiment to NewsForge.

The software but not the spirit

Advocates are even more concerned about the priorities behind FOSS adoption. The concept of free software has so many positive connotations that both governments and private companies wish to be associated with it. Yet, in practice, many seem more concerned with the free cost than the philosophy of freedom. In many Brazilian FOSS projects, Franco blogs, "Nobody out of the project office (when there's a real one) ever see the source code," even though sharing code is at the heart of the FOSS communities.

In fact, many organizations and companies developing and selling free software in Brazil appear to be in violation of section 3 of the GNU General Public License (GPL), which requires them to either make their source code available, or to offer publicly to provide it. Such companies include Kurumin, a distribution widely installed by new users, as well as Poseidon and Kalango, two Kurumin derivatives, Blane, and Dual O/S (formerly Freedows). None of these distributions appears to offer source code anywhere on its site.

According to Franco, the reason that Kurumin does not provide source code is that its developers claim that the distribution uses only original Debian sources. "This isn't true," Franco insists. However, even if it were, the distributions would still be obliged to provide their own source code. Many other distributions in the same position have been found in non-compliance by the Free Software Foundation, and there is no reason to think that Kurumin or any of these other Brazilian distributions would be exceptions.

Moreover, Franco notes that Kurumin's end-user agreement contains a provision stating that users who sue the distribution's developers "lose the right to use 'their software.'" Similarly, Dual O/S includes an evaluation copy that expires after 240 hours of use. Both these restrictions seem to violate additional aspects of the GPL, including Section 4's against sublicensing and Section's 6 requirement that distributors pass on the GPL's rights to subsequent users.

Franco also mentions Plurall, a thin client project, as being in violation of the GPL for not releasing source code. However, Ricardo Prado Schneider of emrede, the non-government organization developing Plurall, tells NewsForge that a repository containing the source code will be available shortly.

FOSS advocates are concerned that, rather than addressing such issues, Brazilian companies and projects are attempting to redefine free software for their own purposes. Silva points to the license developed by the state of Paraná, which is incompatible with the Free Software definition. The FSFLA, the South American sister organization of the FSF, is trying to get the license altered, but comments like those of Omar Kaminski, one of the drafters of the license, that the "GPL is incompatible with Brazilian legislation," and that "perhaps free software in Brazil is moving in a different direction than in the USA" do little to reduce the concerns of FOSS advocates.

Franco worries that, should present trends continue, the FOSS movement in Brazil "won't be a community-oriented one, but something being managed by a well-paid company. Details and source code won't be available. In a way it's already happening, but on a smaller scale."

Corrupt or unaware?

Some FOSS efforts in Brazil do appear to be genuine. Silva cites Mandriva as an example. The Insigne distribution also seems to be in compliance with the GPL, and, although earlier releases were of poor quality, the latest one is said to be significantly improved. Silva also suggests that many individual Brazilians are making contributions to free software, although they are mostly ones "who were doing their work before the hype came up."

"A lot of government institutions, NGOs, and companies are using the FOSS appeal and its arguments with the masses to do what a Brazilian does best (after playing soccer)," Franco says bluntly: "Corruption."

By contrast, Silva feels that the problem "is mostly related to free riders and people who are good at communicating stuff that they don't actually do. I wouldn't go so far as implying corruption. I have seen no evidence of such a thing related to free software. I'd mention incompetence, free riding, and unawareness, though."

Still, one thing is certain: the image of Brazilian FOSS in the rest of the world is out sync with what is happening. "What's being told to the world isn't exactly the real truth," Franco says.

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who writes regularly for NewsForge, Linux.com, and IT Manager's Journal.

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who writes regularly for Linux.com.

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on Brazil's FOSS utopia image at risk

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Government

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 05:22 AM
"They talk about unsystematic support by the government, and a business atmosphere in which mention of FOSS is more about hype than understanding the underlying philosophy."

What did Bill Hicks say about governments? Food for thought.

#

A correction

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 05:41 AM
"state of Rio du Sol"

That'd be the state of Rio Grande do Sul (<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_Grande_do_Sul" title="wikipedia.org">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_Grande_do_Sul</a wikipedia.org>)

#

Re:A correction

Posted by: nanday on January 25, 2007 07:08 AM
Thanks for pointing out the typo. It's corrected now.

#

Clarification.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 06:13 AM
I'd just like to make sure I got this straight. Brazil is implementing FOSS in a poor fashion because:

They don't care about the philosophy.
They just want it for no cost.
They want to steal the free software.
They do poor project planning and roll-outs that are destined to fail.
Proprietary software companies are telling Brazil to buy their software because its better.
Corrupt groups are stealing the software and making a profit from it.
This is all likely to make FOSS look bad in the eyes of the world.

I don't understand why anyone would be surprised. It sounds just like everywhere else to me. The same things are happening in the U.S.A. and Poland and Germany and everywhere else. Boo hoo.

What ever happened to the city of Munich? Oh yea, massive failure to live up to announced expectations.

Now I just wonder how long it will take the community to get past the fatalistic 'blame it on Microsoft and corruption' argument and start doing something about it. None of the problems listed in the article are Microsoft's doing, they are all failures on the part of FOSS and its advocates.

Kudos to Bruce for writing an article that is grounded in reality rather than the typical breathless and gushing stories of some insignificant prefecture's "adoption of Linux".

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Whoa, either too coffee or trolling!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 10:46 AM
> I'd just like to make sure I got this straight.

I'm Brazilian, so let's help you here, then.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;-)

> Brazil is implementing FOSS in a poor fashion because:

> They don't care about the philosophy.

I disagree. Many, many times it is about a fanatic who is 100% philosophy and ZERO practical thinking used by a bureaucrat who doesn't get the philosophy but wants to be "in" -- so he cares about it, but for the wrong reasons.

> They just want it for no cost.

Not so. This is important for poor scenarios (like in schools, which never get serious money), but purchasing a private licence means you have to guard it against illegal copy. This is a burden; also, having n+1 versions of Windows times m+1 versions of Office creates an incredible mess of lack of interoperability _among_ M$ products! Free software solves this: good or bad, you can use ONE distro throughout the entire public organization.

> They want to steal the free software.

I don't understand this phrase. I thought the very basic idea of using GPL was to have one's software stolen. That's why you give the source. Did you mean anything else?

> They do poor project planning and roll-outs that are destined to fail.

This one you hit right on the nail. Deploying new apps is intimidating, but we are very skilled in fscking up things.

> Proprietary software companies are telling Brazil to buy their software because its better.

Yes, and a bunch of idiots here bow and obey like they're trained to not question authority -- because this is the way they are trained to think!
See the movie "The Pentagon Wars" to see what I mean (specially the finale).

> Corrupt groups are stealing the software and making a profit from it.

That is true only if you're talking about political gains (as in populism); if people really wanted to "profit", proprietary software is a much better venue.

> This is all likely to make FOSS look bad in the eyes of the world.

I'm not sure. There's a saying in marketing that goes like "Praise me or bash me, but do talk about me." In this sense, even if we make a mess, we're helping F/OSS by being pioneers...

> I don't understand why anyone would be surprised. It sounds just like everywhere else to me. The same things are happening in the U.S.A. and Poland and Germany and everywhere else. Boo hoo.

This is your Ballmer side speaking. Don't yield! Resist!<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-P

> What ever happened to the city of Munich? Oh yea, massive failure to live up to announced expectations.

Really? Last articles I read, things were going pretty much smooth technically, after some legal discussions. Maybe there's another Munich, like Paris in Texas?

> Now I just wonder how long it will take the community to get past the fatalistic 'blame it on Microsoft and corruption' argument and start doing something about it. None of the problems listed in the article are Microsoft's doing, they are all failures on the part of FOSS and its advocates.

We really solve nothing by just complaining, action talks louder than words etc. etc. We really should kick those M$ lackeys in their fat butts, but hey, this day will come. Let's work toward this noble goal.

> Kudos to Bruce for writing an article that is grounded in reality rather than the typical breathless and gushing stories of some insignificant prefecture's "adoption of Linux".

Bruce's article is great and it shows he's actually researched a lot, but here are some points I'd like to comment:

- the situation here is not "less hopeful", but advances slower than we Linux users would like... but yes, departments and state-run enterprises are using Linux with crescent adoption.

- corruption unfortunately is widespread and it really prevents Linux progress. But it is not inefficiency the problem, it's pure stubbornness of braindamaged managers who want to derail the free software movement. Be sure it's not unintentional.

- PC Conectado sort of flunked and was replaced by "PC para Todos" (PC for all). PC Conectado (PC Connected) was about giving people cheap bad quality dial-up internet access. Never took off; PC para Todos was about providing tax exemption and special low interest financing to Linux-only (yes, pre-installed!) PCs up to around USD 600. This was such a resounding success that M$ had to come up with its Windows Starter Edition, which sucks (and gets no special government cheap financing). Further yet, people claim those almost 1 million Linux PCs sold (11%+ market share) were converted using pirated Windows (but 27% stayed with Linux, yay!). It so successful that stores are unashamed to sell Linux computers now (they say it sells like hot cakes), and the low-tax/ cheap financing was extended up to USD 2000 just a few days ago. Tipically a Windows Starter Edition PC costs USD 150 more than the same h/w with Linux. For poor people this discount, and the 24 monthly payments instead of paying cash, make a world of difference. About using pirate copies, even if the PC came with genuine Vista, people would put a pirated XP on it. Brazilians love to tinker; the solution which will tremendously help Linux is to extinguish piracy.

- Rio Grande do Sul's government made a serious mistake of mandating an specific solution through law. Brazil has a capitalist economy and laws reflect a need to foster competition, so FLOSS must win on its merits not by decree. This is easy (as the recent EU study proves), but that legal blunder was done. Also, goverments change after elections and the last one wasn't so pro-FLOSS like the former (which did the legal mess).

- Kurumin is based on Knoppix; all modifications are directly made available on its site; other sources come from Debian. They offer to send a CD with sources for a processing fee. I believe this is specifically mentioned in the GPL; the "don't sue us" might be equivalent to a "no warranties", but the writing is really poor and non-specific. It should mention "regarding the software".

- Dual O/S, formerly Freedows, is a confusing beast. For starters, it seems not have non-GPL parts mixed with LGPL ones; like the LGPL stablishes, they can go without revealing their proprietary parts. Not a real Linux, it seems...
but they do distribute sources for the free parts. I don't know them more than that. Never looked like the real McCoy for me...

- Regarding GPL compatibility with Brazil law, I personally saw a discussion about this some years ago. We must use other legal mechanisms to accommodate the GPL, but it has been done. Or so I've heard, IANAL.

> "What's being told to the world isn't exactly the real truth"

And it is always so, like a professor of mine would say "They never tell the real reason". Nonetheless, this is a good fight and sooner or later FLOSS will be perceived like a tool it is, to be used by everyone -- and not just as a political weapon.

All in all, a great article, very correct in many points -- including the disappointing government use results, but there are positive results as well.

#

Re:Clarification.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 12:21 PM
"What ever happened to the city of Munich? Oh yea, massive failure to live up to announced expectation"

Where did you get this information, troll?

Troll-posts are so darn annoying.

I bet you, he wont cite A-N-Y article, and I am sure he does not live in Munich.

#

Facts - They're Ugly

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 03:46 AM
The plan for The City of Munich to move 14,000 PC's to Linux was made in <a href="http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS3199247984.html" title="desktoplinux.com">2003</a desktoplinux.com> with the intent to start the roll-out in 2004.

Unsurprisingly, with such an audacious plan there were <a href="http://www.crn.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=26800043&flatPage=true" title="crn.com">speed bumps.</a crn.com> Most of these were overcome, at least from a planning perspective.

But, despite all the Linux community chest beating and fanatical bravado, it seemed unlikely that The City of Munich would have more than <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9003515" title="computerworld.com">200 Linux desktops by the end of 2006!</a computerworld.com> I'd say that that was a "massive failure to live up to announced expectations." <sarcasm>But, don't fret, The City of Munich is really cranking things up by recently posting job offerings for four count 'em <a href="http://www.marsmenschen.com/index.php/2006/12/22/city-of-munich-is-looking-for-additional-linux-specialists-technical-system-integration/" title="marsmenschen.com">4 Linux specialists.</a marsmenschen.com> At that rate, their bound to have the project half finished but 2020.</sarcasm>

There's no question that there has been a MASSIVE amount of hype regarding The City of Munich switching to Linux. There have been all sorts of loft goals and some outrageous claims made. This has significantly raised expectations. But frankly, a 200 PC roll-out is underwhelming at best as we enter the fourth year since the ballyhoo began.

#

Re:Facts - They're Ugly (NOT)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 07:05 AM
Your very own link is titled "additional-linux-especialists". Get the word additional? It's what they have (e.g., 500) plus 4.

Now, let's recap some things:

a) M$ makes software which have some problems, which are widely known;
b) M$ is from the USA;
c) Munich is not in the USA;
d) M$ makes money for itself and largely to pay USA infrastructure and USA taxes, which are used to """defend""" the country;
e) Windows is more expensive than Linux as been shown repeatedly in many studies;
f) Maybe, just maybe, Munich is considering strategic reasons and money saved over the long haul in their decision to move to Linux;
g) Outside of third party applications (AutoCAD, Adobe's, etc.), M$ Office offering have been matched by Openoffice.org -- which even reads old M$ formats better than M$ products themselves! ;
h) Games and tax software don't count in business scenarios, because games are a big NO and tax software is different for every country and they must have theirs in Linux, as my country has;
i) I got tired. You lose.

Go use M$ products if you want and let others mind their own businesses.

#

Nonsensical Ass Clown

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 11:29 PM
It's what they have (e.g., 500)

You wouldn't have a citation to back that up would you? The poster provided several citations to bolster his assertions but, you failed to provide any to bolster your own.

<a href="http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9003515" title="computerworld.com">The linked article</a computerworld.com> says that they only have 200 Linux desktops right now but, you claim that they have 500 Linux specialists. Do the specialists not have their own Linux desktops? Why are there so few Linux desktops today and the progress so slow in adding desktops if they have such an army of specialists that I can only presume would be working on this roll-out?

I can't make any sense of your Microsoft references and rants. Nowhere in this thread does anyone mention Microsoft. The thread is about the original article and Brazil's failure to live up to the hyperbole and promises regarding their Linux adoptions and the similarity of The City of Munich's failure to live up to the hyperbole that has been going on out it for the past three years.

Your nonsensical tirade is indicative of the darker side of that hyperbole. Your hysterical screaming at dissenters to your "vision", for pointing out simple facts, seems to have no basis in reality. Rather, it seems like the hysterical rantings of a madman. As always, an ugly representation of the community of overzealous fanatics that perpetuate the hyperbole.

I'm not surprised that you got tired. I certainly tired of trying to make sense of your post. My "loss", as you put it also eludes me but then, I don't live in your bizzare world. Mercifully, my world is relatively free of nonsensical ass clowns, such as yourself.

#

Re:Nonsensical Ass Clown

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 27, 2007 09:17 AM
Me>>> It's what they have (e.g., 500)

> You wouldn't have a citation to back that up would you? The poster provided several citations to bolster his assertions but, you failed to provide any to bolster your own.

I have one now (from Google):

-- snip ---
Definitions of e.g. on the Web:

        * for example: as an example; "take ribbon snakes, for example"
-- snip ---

Do you understand what means "for example"? Maybe English is not your first language -- it's not mine, too. "E.g." means something used for illustration, just to help present an argument. It can mean also a descriptive entity used for explanation purposes. I have not idea if they have 500 Linux experts, they could have 1000 -- the poster posted a link to a comment asking for 4 specialists. Nowhere did he mention how many they already have. So there. Next time you call names, think for a minute how much this tells about you and your low respect levels. Good thing you posted anonymously, huh? No need to have class that way...

> The linked article says that they only have 200 Linux desktops right now but, you claim that they have 500 Linux specialists.

I don't. Look in answers.com the definition of "e.g." if you don't believe me.

> Do the specialists not have their own Linux desktops?

I would venture (= "suppose", to save you the effort) they have one even at home, considering Germany's preference for free software.

> Why are there so few Linux desktops today and the progress so slow in adding desktops if they have such an army of specialists that I can only presume would be working on this roll-out?

I ask you why is it becoming more and more difficult to sell competing proprietary solutions (like Microsoft's)? Maybe the world does not need computing anymore? I guess no, I guess you will be refusing to see Linux everywhere around you for the next 80 years...

> I can't make any sense of your Microsoft references and rants.

There's a context involving corporation conviction. Research a little and it will turn up.

> Nowhere in this thread does anyone mention Microsoft.

I did mention it. It's not forbidden to discute alternative competing products.

> The thread is about the original article and Brazil's failure to live up to the hyperbole and promises regarding their Linux adoptions and the similarity of The City of Munich's failure to live up to the hyperbole that has been going on out it for the past three years.

It is not about this. It _was_ about this until I got my foot-in-the-door and said Munich is going well, according to recent news. And you have to trust them about this, or ask them directly how is it going _right now_. I'm not German, my Deutsch is bad and you son, well, go learn English first, ok?

> Your nonsensical tirade is indicative of the darker side of that hyperbole. Your hysterical screaming at dissenters to your "vision", for pointing out simple facts, seems to have no basis in reality. Rather, it seems like the hysterical rantings of a madman. As always, an ugly representation of the community of overzealous fanatics that perpetuate the hyperbole.

Yeah, you seem to know a lot about hype, indeed. Looks like that intro from Colossal Cave... your description of my, erm, "madness" stretches out of view.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-)

> I'm not surprised that you got tired. I certainly tired of trying to make sense of your post. My "loss", as you put it also eludes me but then, I don't live in your bizzare world.

But you can, stop your evil ways and yield to Linux, you'll see an entire new world of freedom. (How was that? It's a beginning, or what?)

> Mercifully, my world is relatively free of nonsensical ass clowns, such as yourself.

You mean... you work for Microsoft? But they use Linux there, too!

Mmmmmmuhahahahahaha...

#

Re:Clarification.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 01:28 AM
It is not a sensible idea to base a product on philosophy that is attached to it. People will want to use it without philosophy. Majority of people live their whole lives without or with very little philosophy. In general, people are driven by interests, not by philosophy.

There is a question that nobody have ever answered me: is GNU softtware for the faithfull only, or for everybody ?

If the license are violated, why does FSF not go after violators with legal action, as it has done before ? Or FSF is acting like Microsoft here ? Bill Gates said about illegal copies of Microsoft software in China : "If they steal, make sure that they steal from us".

DG

#

Re:Clarification.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 07:15 AM
> It is not a sensible idea to base a product on philosophy that is attached to it.

On the contrary, this is a very good marketing idea. So good it has a name: brand recognition.

> People will want to use it without philosophy.

Do you realize you're presenting a philosophical assertion?

> Majority of people live their whole lives without or with very little philosophy.

This, in itself, is a philosophy of living. People argue about how this is sensible.

> In general, people are driven by interests, not by philosophy.

I wouldn't say that, considering the massive success religions have had.

> There is a question that nobody have ever answered me: is GNU software for the faithful only, or for everybody ?

I can answer this. Usage is for everyone, (re)distribution is only for those who abide by GPL requirement of source bundling.

> If the license are violated, why does FSF not go after violators with legal action, as it has done before?

It does go after. There have been successful suits about this and companies have been forced to comply.

> Or FSF is acting like Microsoft here? Bill Gates said about illegal copies of Microsoft software in China : "If they steal, make sure that they steal from us".

Sometimes means are not enough to define evil or good. Intentions and final outcome are also important.

FSF aims at knowledge sharing; OTOH, let's say M$ doesn't want to share its money, ok?

#

Re:Clarification.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 27, 2007 11:29 PM
It is not a sensible idea to base a product on philosophy that is attached to it.



Hmm, I wonder wat Bill Gates would say. You remember his vision "A computer on every desktop?". That is an attached philosophy to Windows.



People will want to use it without philosophy.



They can do so too. There is no clause in the GPL that requires you to philosophize over your OS.



Majority of people live their whole lives without or with very little philosophy.



And this is relevant how? Should everybody cater to the "unwashed masses" per default? What if some people don't care for that?



In general, people are driven by interests, not by philosophy.



Good for them, but your statement still includes the premise that this is something that should be catered to wholesale.



There is a question that nobody have ever answered me: is GNU softtware for the faithfull only, or for everybody?



I won't stop anyone from using Free Software, but if somebody claims not to care for the ideals behind it, I will distance myself from that person IT-wise. It is not in my idealistic best interests to support people who spit on the ideals I think are worth keeping around.



If the license are violated, why does FSF not go after violators with legal action, as it has done before ?



This is a really easy answer. The FSF can only enforce license compliance on code they are the copyright holders for. Just attaching the GPL doesn't make source code the property of the FSF. The FSF can only assert rights over code they own, with third party code they don't have standing.



Or FSF is acting like Microsoft here ?



Funny. Thanks for the laugh.



Bill Gates said about illegal copies of Microsoft software in China : "If they steal, make sure that they steal from us".



Well, GPL code theft only occurs when you don't abide with the redistribution clauses of the license, so it is very hard to compare the "bait and switch" philosophy behind Bill G's "I want them to steal ours." and the sharing done by the Free Software community.



r_a_trip

#

Hmm

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 06:34 AM
Nobody said it was going to be easy. There are opposition and people who is scared to loose their deals.

Starting to roll the stone is difficult, it requires you to push hard, but once that stone is rolling, it will be easier...

They are pioneering, they are among the first to go FOSS. Breaking new ground is pioneering has its difficulties. But the goal is noble has its advantages. Continue they and will reap the rewards.

Exchange their old legacy closed proprietary infrastructure to a modern open one with open standards and open file formats that will promote competition and interoperability.

The government should mandate/require open standards, open protocols and open file formats in the public sector and encourage it in the private sector.

They should give preference to FOSS in the government, savings due to software license for hundreds/thousands of computers can be saved and spent on other stuff such as health care.

Government can also use money to have government-sponsored FOSS projects.

#

Not corrected in my copy

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 12:37 PM
You are quite welcome for the correction. My copy is still not corrected, however.

Fourth paragraph, last sentence:

"...such as those trying to mount a constitutional challenge in the state of Rio do Sol against a law giving preference to FOSS solutions in the government."

Brazil does not have a state "Rio do Sol" There is a Rio Grande do Norte and Rio Grande do Sul. The later is known for their support of FLOSS so I assumed that is the state you want.

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language barrier?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 01:06 PM
Disclaimer: This is just a guess; I've never been to Brazil and I don't know that much about it.

I think a lot of problems (especially GNU General Public License, whose only official version is in English, violations) might come from Brazillians not knowing English.

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Re:language barrier?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 06:22 PM
I don´t think language barrier is really the problem. I'm Brazilian and I thought English for 17 years. To me, the problem is always the same: people want to profit! They will do anything to get a buck out of anything. It´s really unfortunate to say the least. But it's something widespread in the country. People here complain about politicians, but they reaaly represent the people who voted for them, that is, the worst you can imagine. It is a shame to say these things about my own people, but it's true.

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Re:language barrier?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 08:47 AM
I'm not sure if a contract could be enforceable by law with "unofficial" translations:

<a href="http://www.gnu.org/licenses/translations.html#rules" title="gnu.org">http://www.gnu.org/licenses/translations.html#rul<nobr>e<wbr></nobr> s</a gnu.org>

"The reason the FSF does not approve these translations as officially valid is that checking them would be difficult and expensive (needing the help of bilingual lawyers in other countries). Even worse, if an error did slip through, the results could be disastrous for the whole free software community. As long as the translations are unofficial, they can't do any harm, and we hope they help more people understand the GPL.

We give permission to publish translations of the GPL, GFDL, or LGPL into other languages, provided that you (1) label your translations as unofficial (see below for how to do this), to inform people that they do not count legally as substitutes for the authentic version, and (2) you agree to install changes at our request, if we learn from other friends of GNU that changes are necessary to make the translation clearer."

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Re:language barrier?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 08:45 AM
my 2c:

1st cent: It seems that Portuguese was the first language to have a translation of the GPL endorsed by FSF (or sort of).

2nd cent: Quite many people in Brazil know some English if you consider those who really count (i.e. those who work with computers). At my work, for instance, there are four others, besides me, who know English at a useable level (and we are only 22). And no, I don't live in Rio or SP, it is a smallish town in SE Minas Gerais. No again, it is not a rich town.

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Re:language barrier?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 08:51 AM
The translation was endorsed by Creative Commons and their representants in Brazil at FGV-RJ. So it's a kind of official-non-official translation.

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Re:language barrier?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 30, 2007 09:20 AM
Ha Ha Ha.

And we think George Bush is an idiot because of translations errors.

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Re:It is mostly the same in Malaysia

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 25, 2007 03:35 PM

An experience I had in Malaysia in 2005 illustrates one problem. I bought a laptop there with Linux pre-installed. Great, I thought Malaysia is ahead of the US here. But the installation was crap. X didn't work, so there was no GUI! I wiped the garbage that was pre-installed, and loaded Debian. After a little bit of tweaking, everything worked perfectly. The hardware is supported.


The problem is in 6 little words: "After a little bit of tweaking, everything worked." A retailer on razor-thin margins hasn't got the time to do "a little bit of tweaking". He doesn't have to do it with Windows; why should he have to with Linux? Installation does not have to have a fancy GUI (or any GUI). But it does have to work, without "tweaking". And frankly, it mostly doesn't.

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Tweak once, install many

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 01:24 AM
The vendor should have tweaked one install on one laptop. Then, you just copy that image on to all laptops of the same model. Tweak once, install many over and over again. That's how a Windows image is installed at the factory anyway.

Aside: I bought a brand new laptop here in the US from a major store and major manufacturer. Factory sealed in the box. It produced keyboard driver errors constantly, brand new, out of the box, in Windows XP. The solution? Wipe the drive and re-install from the provided image DVD. That solved the problem.

Why was there a problem in the first place? The Windows XP was installed at the factory and should have "just worked," right? My point is that even Windows out of the box does not work sometimes and requires tweaking. Ignorance or problems from a small vendor about Linux installation may be more common but ignorance or problems from a large vendor about Windows installation is not uncommon.

BTW, I only boot the Windows on my laptop when I have to, which is about 2 times in the past 4 months. Linux runs great on it and did not have a keyboard problem even when Windows did!

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Re:Franco is enemy of Free Software

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 01:35 AM
You're retarded. Franco is a Debian developer and has done more for free software than you probably ever will.

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Re:Franco is enemy of Free Software

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 30, 2007 09:18 AM
When one doesn't have a point, one attacks the person, not the ideas.

Shame on you, clueless troll.

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Re:Franco is enemy of Free Software

Posted by: Administrator on January 26, 2007 01:52 AM
So you are. Doing free software don´t makes you a free software friend. He is putting some personal preferences before the real free software values here. At some point he just ignore what is really going on.

Take the CEF system, that he says that is an "poor" application. Ask John "Mad dog" about it.

I'm a free software developer too, but he should not play against freedom as he is doing now.

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Re:Franco is enemy of Free Software

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 02:03 AM
Hi,

Could you quote me where i state that the CEF system is a poor application, please? While we're at it, since it seems that you're in the loop, could you please point me to the URL where i can download the actual source code of the system in question for license review?

I've stated that some in Brazil are promoting software as pure/cool/100% free software where actually they're not free software, the software is pure vaporware or the software isn't entirely free or the bundle contains proprietary parts.

Develop free software, work coordinating free software teams, advocate and give free software talks is part of my life for the last 10 years, if it doesn't make me a free software friend but an enemy. I'm a hell of a enemy! Just Google around or ask, before new insults.

thanks in advance,
-- stratus

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Re:Franco is enemy of Free Software

Posted by: Administrator on January 26, 2007 03:02 AM
Hi,
I should suppose you are Franco, right?

As Franco, you didn't really told directly in the text that the CEF system is "poor", but the text implies it as it says after point several flaws in the system:
"Similarly, Franco<nobr> <wbr></nobr>..." If the texts is making bad of your words, please feel free to post your view about the case here.

About the systems publicity of the source. Most of Kurumim is at theyer own repository. What is not is supposed to be the exactly the same as debian. You can, as a debian developer, ask then for the source. When I started contributing to Open Source we used to get then form FSF in Tape Media. There was no Internet at that time. So you can do with Kurumim. He will point where you can get all packages build.

Some of the software bundles constains proprietary software, and they are not really free (a good example is Kurumim), but, by the OSI OPen Source Definition this is fine:

"9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software

The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. "

Sorry if you take this as an insult, but, as I see it, when your word hides real Open Source victory in you are playing as a friend. I'm happy to know that you mind about it.

Of course your life job for Free Software makes you a friend, I was just the words that made you bad.

I did no insults, unless you take enemy as an insult, it is just a position.

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Re:update: Plurall provides repository

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 02:16 AM
This is pathetic. It was clearly rushed to try to appease the flames this article has sparked. The repository is horrendous, with gigantic blobs like "etc.tar.bz2" and only 22 (twenty two!) revisions.

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Re:update: Plurall provides repository

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 03:51 AM
The repository was assembled in order to provide the complete "kit" to generate a Plurall ISO image. The blobs are part of what is necessary for that.

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Re:update: Plurall provides repository

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 03:58 AM
It was not that.

We had a problem with the provider that was selected to host the subversion repository and, as a consequence, had to create the repository again from scratch.

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Re:update: Plurall provides repository

Posted by: nanday on January 26, 2007 02:26 AM
Maybe you should tell Plurall that?

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Re:Franco is enemy of Free Software

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 02:29 AM
Well, i'm sure that Carlos Morimoto (Kurumin) and Ricardo (plurall) disagree with your opinion about my intentions, for full information about their reaction after this article was posted by Bruce, please read: <a href="http://stratusandtheswirl.blogspot.com/2007/01/truth-that-hurts.html" title="blogspot.com">http://stratusandtheswirl.blogspot.com/2007/01/tr<nobr>u<wbr></nobr> th-that-hurts.html</a blogspot.com>

Now, let's talk about who's spreading FUD about what...

-- stratus

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Re:update: Plurall provides repository

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 02:36 AM
Eh. I can't be arsed. I'm just, you know, using this commenting system to comment on it.

The first revision on that subversion repository, according to "svn log", is from 2 weeks ago, by the way, and Plurall was released in December.

One can't even check out the full repository either. The download always hangs right about here:
<tt>A    plurall_boot_server/trunk/bootserver/DL-build-con<nobr>f<wbr></nobr> ig
A    plurall_boot_server/trunk/bootserver/DL-kernel-co<nobr>n<wbr></nobr> fig</tt>

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Re:update: Plurall provides repository

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 03:54 AM
Checkout is working fine.

It apears to be hanging just because the next file to be checked out (after DL-kernel-config) is a large ISO image that will take some time to came trought.

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Re:update: Plurall provides repository

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 11:26 AM
We had a problem with the provider that was selected to host the subversion repository and, as a consequence, had to create the repository again from scratch. Thats the reason for the revision date.

Checkout is working fine. It apears to be hanging just because the next file to be checked out (after DL-kernel-config) is a large ISO image that will take some time to came trought.

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A Linux distro has NOT to be "GPL"

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 06:31 PM
You CAN distribute a Linux distro and say in an EULA, "one month limited! adopt a pet!"

Or am I missing something?

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PR is important

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 26, 2007 07:02 PM
Although I can understand some of the concerns in the article we have to understand that at the level your talking about (politics) publicity is far more important than technical advantages.

This is what makes Microsoft so big, you can say a lot about them, but their marketing machine is very good and what they promise does not need to be what they deliver, but people (read managers who do not have a clue) go for their 'solutions'.

So for once be glad that foss is being put in a good spotlight and use it from the positive side and try to resolve the negative once!

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I agree.. but

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 09, 2007 12:38 AM
I'm working in Brazilian government free software stuff since 2 years. I agree with this article but I think that the Brazilian situation is a totally new and different case. There is no country that tried this widely. The society is not prepared to the free knowledge/free software revolution. It's difficult to explain.. but try to imagine a change like this applied in a heterogenus reality that is a society. You are not in a controlled closed ambient, like a University, a business company, a local administration. You have to spend money, to make a very good project for that, to get qualified workers and spread this totally different model. All of this in big way. I think that such a revolution couldn't be do by the already existents IT department/entities. It's a cultural revolution. It doesn't belong to TI. It's not a only a tecnical matter. Here in Brazil there is a lot of work and mixture with other cultural dimensions of free knowledge. I hope that all the work that is going on, bad and good, and I agree that a big part is bad, will produce some results not only negatives one. And there is no place in the world that is happening something like this. For example, there is people using computer for the first time directly with Linux (see digital inclusion programs) and we don't know what will be the consequence of this. I think that, like the singer BNegao said, "O processo é lento", the process is slow.

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Why it's still an utopia?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 11, 2007 12:31 PM
I believe FOSS only can become professional (that is, good) when appropriately impulsed by a commercial force (as Windows is by Microsoft), or by Government force (as we have public education and health, I believe in a notion of 'public software'). FOSS needs to be 'managed'.

But in no place in the world there exists such commercial driving so that FOSS (in general) could really compete with proprietary software. It seems it's the main goal (bug #1) of Ubuntu: to take some significant Windows marketplace. Will Canonical get it?

FOSS software often is not good, not as professional as proprietary one. It's driven by volunteers, that by default have not a strong compromise to satisfy users as in the 'commercial jungle'.

(A noteworthy (and weird) exception from this is Firefox, which is really a good aplication. Although it's not a commercial stuff, it's still professional).

What I mean with all of this? Brazil's Government is trying to use FOSS. In one side, professional but proprietary commercial software, in other, free but unmanaged free software. This is the main problem, and it's related with FOSS in general not strictly with Brazil's scenario.

Personally I believe it could be solved by the Government itself 'adopting' free software, becoming an effective software provider as any commercial company, where the difference is that its software is 'public', which would mean free *and* good, since it's for self (and society) usage. An official and public service, just like education, health, security etc.

But in Brazil FOSS advocates are fragmented, and also, don't understand that FOSS need to be managed both by 'commercial force' or 'government force' (society's organized force). They try to use and implement FOSS without one of these.

We just can't wait FOSS become commercially main-stream, so why there's not that alternative 'government force'? Because as I said FOSS enthusiasts here are often ingenuous and widely fragmented over all territory and departments, and mainly, the central point of that 'utopia', there's no strong leadership. No heads. A kind of Ministery of Software (as there are others), something stronger and most visible than ITI, should exist, with well-prepared heads to organize all this confusion and drive a realist, focused and permanent strategy for the FOSS (and related stuff) in Brazil.

------------------
Renato Silva (computer technician at Rio de Janeiro)
renato3110 (at) yahoo.com.br

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No kidding?

Posted by: Administrator on January 25, 2007 06:06 AM
Widespread corruption in a South American government. Isn't that a completely redundant statement?

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Re:No kidding?

Posted by: Administrator on January 25, 2007 10:44 AM
Only in South America?
Halliburton means anything to you?<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

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It is mostly the same in Malaysia

Posted by: Administrator on January 25, 2007 11:18 AM
Sadly, the issue is mostly the same in Malaysia. Open Source is just hype, and used as a popularity enhancing tool. No real progress has been seen, especially in the government sector. Recently, the policy of pro-OSS has been reversed to be technology neutral. Malaysia is not moving forward, but backward in OSS.

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update: Plurall provides repository

Posted by: nanday on January 26, 2007 01:44 AM
Since the article was published, I've heard from Plurall. As promised, it now has a subversion repository at:

<a href="http://svn.plurall.net/plurall_boot_server" title="plurall.net">http://svn.plurall.net/plurall_boot_server</a plurall.net>

- Bruce Byfield (nanday)

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Franco is enemy of Free Software

Posted by: Administrator on January 26, 2007 01:27 AM
The only thing I can see about Franco's word is: he don't know what he is speaking about or he is just trying to make FUD against free software.

His words talks about usual problems, and mixed Open and closed source software that goes all around the world.

There was a lot of hype and marketing for Open Source in Brazil, of course. This is the good thing. Some of the marketing is getting down now, but what we have is that Open Source is so strong tied to all IT infrastructure that we can´t go without it so easy.

Yes. I'm Brazilian and I know about many projects running over Python and Java. We have a lot to go, many battles to win, but I know that some proprietary software companies are really worried about what we have here.

If Free Software get more into Brazilian's mind we can became ever a stronger example of what Freedom can do for a country.

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Correction

Posted by: Administrator on January 25, 2007 07:48 PM
The link for CACIC is not working. The correct link is <a href="http://guialivre.governoeletronico.gov.br/cacic/" title="governoeletronico.gov.br">http://guialivre.governoeletronico.gov.br/cacic/</a governoeletronico.gov.br>

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