25 January 2007

Brazil's Free Software Utopia

A great piece by Bruce Byfield, in which he peeks behind the mainstream media's traditional image of Brazilian free software:

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.

We should have known: "utopia" means "no place".


aspir8or said...

Brazil may not be the FOSS utopia some have made it out to be, but two good, user-friendly distros of Linux have emerged from there, Dreamlinux and Sabayon. If this is the standard of work coming out of Brazil today, the future looks very rosy.

Glyn Moody said...

Let's hope so.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that 'good distros' would measure a country's likeness to FOSS, actually, it's got nothing to do with it.

Brazillian developers are quite good ones indeed - I've read some articles stating that just for beeing from Brazil would rise the, um, 'trust' in that developer.

But that's not what the 'utopia' is about. It's about a massively adoption of FOSS throughout the country's federal/state administrative machine. This does happens, and I don't think they (we) will ever go back to proprietary software.

Regardless, the main (political) problem here (Brazil) is corruption and this applies to any and everything, so I doesn't matter how good the initiative may be, it'll never achieve perfection, unfortunatelly.

I guess I went a bit off-topic, sorry. But my point is: brazillian developers have been contributing a lot to FOSS for a long time and it's got [b]nothing[/b] to do with the government.

Now, about the article, it's a very good read and gives a nice overview of our situation.

I think I shoudn't have written this much... =P

Glyn Moody said...

"I think I shoudn't have written this much... =P"

On the contrary - thanks for the insight.