01 May 2009

The Shame in Spain

I've written a number of times about Spain's use of free software, notably at the provincial level. There's even a handy - if rather out-dated - map that shows the extent of Penguin love there. Sadly, it looks like Microsoft is making the Spanish government an offer it thinks it can't refuse:

According to a press release from HispaLinux, Spain's national Linux association, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government is finalizing a plan that would supply all children who attend state schools with personal computers with touch-screens so to "promote awareness within families of the usefulness of information and communication technologies and encourage their use." Specifically, we're talking about Microsoft technologies.

Despite the enormous load this plan would have on the budget of each autonomous region (which would have to foot the bill), and hence, on the taxpayer, not a cent would find it's way back to any Spanish company. The Spanish Ministry of Education has not considered any other vendor apart form Microsoft, there hasn't been a public contest, and the media and other vendors were not informed about the pilot program until it was over. Furthermore, no other alternative has been considered.

If the plan gets the green light, it would have dire consequences for the communities of Andalucía, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Valencia, and all the other autonomous regions that already have a Linux-based IT infrastructures, which have already been paid for and are in use, in place within their school systems.

This is really scandalous on so many levels.

It's clearly born of ignorance about what is really being offered - lock-in to Microsoft's systems - in the naive belief that touch-screens are somehow the future, probably just because the iPhone has one.

It is born of arrogance that the government knows better, and therefore needn't consult with others that might have a view or - heaven forfend - knowledge on the subject.

And it's born of sheer stupidity, throwing away the huge lead that Spain had in this area, forcing local governments that had saved money by opting for GNU/Linux to waste money on an unnecessary and doubtless insecure solution from Microsoft, and as a result making the country dependent on a foreign supplier when it could have nurtured its own domestic software industry.

Shame on the Spanish government.


Guida Al·lès said...

I've translate your nice post for spanish readers: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dvs89v9_1436dvd5txg8.

In Catalonia (Spain) we've created a group to fight against it:


Glyn Moody said...

¡Excelente! - muchas gracias.

dreig said...

I didn´t read your post before I´ve published about it on http://www.dreig.eu/caparazon/2009/05/04/politica-y-turismo-digital-zapatero-no-esta-en-internet/ but i´m going to quote it now. Thanks, Guida for translating

Edward Miller said...

Digg this story everyone


Frank Malone said...

Hola Guida, si no te importa voy a copiar tu resumen traducido en mi blog y pondré el enlace.

Si no lo crees conveniente por favor indicamelo y lo retiraré.


Glyn Moody said...

@Edward - thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

I'm Spanish (from Extremadura) and I can tell you that the actions pro open source has been so badly managed that they damaged the image of open source in Spain in a worse way than this agreement.

Glyn Moody said...

Really? That's terrible - can you say more?

Anonymous said...

I've seen this allegation a few times recently, in various places. If I recall correctly, these allegations have always been posted by "Anonymous", and have definitely never included any hint of details or directions to further information.

josvazg said...

Zapatero is for sure the worst Spanish President to date. This deal with M$ is just a detail compared to all the crap we have to suffer from this useless goverment, that keeps on thinking they are "allright" when we have twice as much unemployment rate as any other country in Europe, for instance.

Just to name you another issue worse than this and related to Information Technology:
In Spain we have, since the begining of 2008 the "digital canon"

This means that the government assumes you are going to use all digital storage media for piracy purposes, so you have to pay for it in advance. The money goes to private (and opaque) organizations (like the SGAE, "kind of" the Spanish equivalent of the RIAA) that ARE NOT required to share with the "tax"payer where that money goes to.

These canon is partly explained because of political favours that Zapatero owes to the SGAE and some actors, singers and writers who go to certain demonstrations (war in iraq), but not to others (other wars, terrorism victims against negotiations with ETA, etc).

But the base problem here is that Zapatero (or Zparo = Z"unemployment" as some call him now) is a big enemy of FREEDOM.

josvazg said...

More on the cannon issue, see this table with some of the storage device extra "taxes":


josvazg said...

A better source:


Glyn Moody said...

Thanks - that looks terrible.

Anonymous said...

josvazg, while I agree with you that the canon is a big mistake as well as this new deal with Microsoft for which I still have not much information, I think that comments such as "for sure the worst Spanish President to date" are kind of silly to say the least. Since you have started making comparisons, what is worse? this guy or a president that takes the country into an illegal war because of his ego? Remember that people die in wars (http://www.iraqbodycount.org/).