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Interview with Dr. Villanueva 207

Posted by michael
from the too-bright-to-be-in-government dept.
cigarky writes "I think many of us were very impressed by the recent letter of Peruvian Congressman Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nuñez. Linux Today has a followup interview with more in-depth information."
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Interview with Dr. Villanueva

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Congressman is getting more and more caught up with the open source and free software movements as time goes by. Villanueva was once invited to an event in Columbia where he was to meet with the Free Software Foundation's Richard Stallman, and to his great disappointment this event had to be cancelled.
    Whew!
  • by Limburgher (523006) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @08:53AM (#3557899) Homepage Journal
    Any chance he'd be willing to run for President in the U.S. in 04?
  • Beautiful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inkfox (580440) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @08:56AM (#3557922) Homepage
    Perú's youth continue to approach Villanueva, offering to march in support of the Bill: "It is the youth that needs to drive its creativity, its intelligence, its intellect ... there are many young people that can create their own employment through [the use] of free software."
    Beautiful. "there are many young people that can create their own employment" thanks to free software.

    When you hear people complaining that free (as in beer) software is going to cost programmers jobs or cut their salary, or that free software will send us into an economic tailspin, remember this: Both free (as in speech) and free (as in beer) software are making technological revolutions possible in places where it just couldn't happen otherwise. And you can bet that we're going to see good stuff (more software!) starting to flow back the other way.

    • "there are many young people that can create their own employment through [the use] of free software" - so what will they be doing then - working for the government or something else?
    • I'll be convinced when I start seeing a large contribution to free software by nations who do not take part in the G7 economic summit.

      Until then it appears to be nothing more than pro bono work resulting from wealth created by an already well established commercial industry.

      One can make the same claim of benefit to poorer nations as when the US drug companies give pills away for free. It certainly does benefit the poorer nations, but it is because the drug companies subsidized this cost with profits made off wealthy US citizens.
      • ...nothing more than pro bono work resulting from wealth created by an already well established commercial industry...

        But that is the whole point. The majority of developers in OSS work for companies which use OSS. This means that they benefit from the improvements that they make, as well as the improvements that all other companies are making.

        Which means that it is NOT 'pro bono', it is sound business. They share their work on those specific packages they don't want to write from scratch, and everyone else shares theirs, everyone involved is MUCH better off. The companies have more valuable products they can sell with support (since they have programmers on staff familiar with the software to support it), the customers have their choice of vendor for roughly equivalent software, and service and support improve as a result.

        There is not a single bad result that I can see here. Hmm. Come to think of it, you should READ THE LETTER. Hmm. Me too.
    • The third LinuxToday response links this native Argentine article [vialibre.org.ar] (in English) which is less professional but in its own way even more telling than Villaneuva's response.

      Read some of the explanations of the motivation behind much software `piracy' in `less developed' countries and weep. Imagine, for example, paying more for a base copy of your OS than you did for your new hardware!
  • BREAKING NEWS (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by phunhippy (86447)
    Today it was announced Stallman is boycotting linuxtoday.com until it changes its name to the "correct" gnulinuxtoday.com and now recoomends everyone use Windows in protest until this change is made across the GNU/Linux world!

  • If every Slashdot reader wrote him in on the ballot, he would end up with more votes than Ross Perot.
  • Oh yes, the Peruvian Congressman's letter, how could I forget?

    It reminded me a lot of that recent Mexican treatice on excellent no-background slashdot subject descriptions.
  • by Domasi (318366) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:08AM (#3558008) Homepage
    I think this recent post [slashdot.org] would reasure not only Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nuñez position but the rest of the Open Source advocates that a secure OS is needed. Would you install a OS when it's creators tell you it is not secure?

    • > Would you install a OS when it's creators tell you it is not secure? It is precisely *because* people are willing to accept that Linux (and no software) is totally secure, that I use it. Would you install an OS when it's creators tell you it IS secure, but they keep releasing "critical updates"?
  • Is the text of the Bill proposed by Dr. Villanueva available on-line in English?
    I'd like to see their definition of free software.

    • Re:The Bill (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TrixX (187353)
      Try here. [grulic.org.ar].

      Actually, this is the text of a bill proposed in Argentina, but it is almost identical (to the point of s/Argentina/Peru/g). The free software deffinition used in both is the same.

      • Re:The Bill (Score:2, Informative)

        by oever (233119)
        e) Free program (software) is any which use gives the user, without an additional price, the following rights:
        d.1) unrestricted execution of the program for any purpose.
        d.2) unrestricted access to its source code
        d.3) exhaustive inspection of all internal operating mechanisms of the program.
        ...


        Very good: patents are not allowed for government software!
        But, hmm, hat does rule d.3 mean?

        This is also interesting:
        g) Open data format is any digital information coding method that meets the following conditions:
        g.1) its complete technical documentation is publicly available.
        g.2) the source code for at least one complete reference implementation is publicly available.
        g.3) there are no restrictions for writing programs that store, transmit, receive or access data codified this way.


        So a standard is not an open format until there is an open source implementation. This means a lot of the stuff by w3.org is not an open format!
        • Well, what's the point of adopting an open standard, if your mandated open software can't....wait for it now....open it?

          *collective groan*
    • yes, there is (Score:2, Informative)

      by sT0n3_h34d (572639)
      u can check it at here [pimientolinux.com]
      regards
  • Minor pedantic point: His second last name is Núñez, not Nuñez.

    More important point: I am glad he wrote the letter; I can now explain to all my friends in México why Linux is important by having them read the original Spanish version of his letter.

    - Sam

    • 'cos I'll be jiggered if I can figure out how to get any international characters out of my Linux box w/ a US 101-key.
        • Typing the keystroke sequences you listed does different things in different programs. For example, Alt-A is the standard keystroke for "select all" and does exactly that if you try it in Netscape. In emacs, alt-A does something completely different.

          There is no keystroke standardization in X. I don't even think X itself does anything to trap keystrokes whatsoever - just windowmanagers and any other programs you have running. 's one of the most *ahem* beautiful *ahem* things about GNU/Linux - absolutely NO user interface standardization, and no way for a user to create it without modifying the source code to every piece of program he or she has.
      • 'cos I'll be jiggered if I can figure out how to get any international characters out of my Linux box w/ a US 101-key.

        You could use HTML mode and type in the ASCII markup: Núñez (Núñez).

      • what does this mean? yeah i know i'm another ignoarant yank.
        • It means whatever you want it to mean. I seem to remember it being some sort of bastardization of "Jinkies" from Scooby-Doo, but it could just as easily be a real word with a real definition that I heard once that slipped into my vocabulary.
    • Not only is the kernal important, the whole GNU/Linux system is important too, since we're talking about naming in this thread (and since the letter we're referring to correctly refers to the name for the system).

  • by Jeppe Salvesen (101622) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:21AM (#3558102)
    While the background information on the writing process of his now famous letter is intriguing, as well as the fact that this guy is a lawyes who has been with the OSS crowd for 6 years, I would have liked more eloquence directly from the horses mouth.


    What intrigues me about the entire software industry, is that they charge relatively different prices around the work. In Europe, a copy of XP is maybe 1 week of average pay. In inner Africa, a copy of XP runs well into the months. Asking companies there to pay full price is plain ridiculous. When I'm rich and famous at 35, I'll go to Africa to teach them how to unleash the then awe-inspiring power of the Penguin. Hopefully, I'll be many years too late.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      can the penguin build a roof over their head? does the red hat distro install running water? i am sure your time could be better spent. the answer to africa's problems is not a beuwolf cluster of linux server so they help out with seti proejct...
      • It will not solve the problems you talk of but consider this:

        Having access to the internet enables those people to exchange information, a process invaluable in terms of solving problems and sharing experiences.

        It enables people to find cheaper practical ideas to the problems of getting clean water, roofing, medical aid etc which they might not have known about earlier.

        It enables people to gather and process statistics, one of the oldest computing tasks, which is invaluble in helping them to see their problems as a whole.

        It helps them to learn, and enables them to get access to learning materials which they possibly could not otherwise do.
      • read about the hole in the wall: http://www.niitholeinthewall.com/kiosk.htm http://www.greenstar.org/butterflies/Hole-in-the-W all.htm
      • How come after 7,000 years or so of Human existance, Africa STILL needs OUR help in getting runnign water???? Name one thing that has come out of Africa in the past 500 years that has benefited mankind?
        • How come after 7,000 years or so of Human existance, Africa STILL needs OUR help in getting runnign water

          africa had running water for more of those 7000 years than anyone else did.

          Name one thing that has come out of Africa in the past 500 years that has benefited mankind?

          Well I suppose the US includes mankind, and slavery certainly benefited the new world.

          A solid corpus of study suggests that thats also the answer to your first question.

          • Most people would not consider Ancient Egypt as part of Sub-Saharan Africa. In answer to the second part of your comment, Egypt had black slaves as well.
            If you consider "slaves" as benefitting mankind, practically every culture has had slaves (due to war and occupation). Actually, slavery is still going on in this country on a grander scale in the form of indentured servants. Look at the state of the H1B visa. That's servitude if you ask me. Go to projectusa.org and see how these people are being taken advantage of.
        • So, I'll let your obvious fundamental faith in Christianity slip by - humans have been around for much longer than 7000 years. Let's see what's happened to Africa in the past 500 years?

          Oh. Colonialism. Slave trading. Infighting. I'm not saying they behaved better pre-whites, but we sure haven't made it any easier for them to prevail. We introduce concepts like nations, but draws the borders according to river streams and just using a ruler if we can't find a proper river to use, disregarding any socio-political matters like tribes. We borrow them money, but will not buy their produce. We still get more money from them by interest than we give them in terms of aid. So, without our so-called help they might be have been able to arrange running water for themselves.

          That being said, anthropologists theorize that the reasons why the west has come to rule is bad weather and winter. In Africa, it was for a long time relatively feasible to live hand-to-mouth. They didn't have cold, cold winters where food got scarce. They didn't have overpopulation that required ever increasing levels of food output. Being too organized in terms of housing might have proven a disadvantage when there was confrontation. Lots of theories.

          So, if we had been invaded by space aliens who used us for dumb labor force, oppressed us, and made Al Qaeda share a country with republicans, would you really expect us to produce a lot of good for the benefit of mankind?

          By the way, the Sierra Leone elections give me hope. Holding democratic, peaceful elections after 10 years of civil war is an inspiration. Maybe they just benefitted mankind in terms of inspiration? ;)
        • I'll ignore the hamfisted, blockheaded admixture of arrogance, ignorance, and crudity that informs your post - the idea of thinking of a continent in such ridiculous terms as you postulate - and answer the question in two very simple ways:

          First, Africa is mankind, at least a goodly part of it. So, it benefits mankind by continuing to exist. The fact that you measure its value only by the things it gives to the rest of humanity is like valueing your neighbors only to the extent that they work on your yard.

          Second, I will name one thing right off the top of my head: my old linguistics professor, Sam Machombo. He was a very good linguistics professor. Like hundreds of thousands of intelligent, generous, hard-working Africans, he contributed just by being who he was and doing a good job of it.

      • It will be people in Africa who are able to use current technologies who will solve the problems of food distribution, housing and the like. And much of the reason for the problems of hunger and disease are due to problems of politics, infrastructure, logistics, and knowledge, anyway.

        Should we stop supporting the arts in the US because there are still homeless people here? Should we stop helping the homeless people because there are victims of domestic violence in the US?

        Technology doesn't solve everything, but people who are using technology usually solve more problems than people who aren't.

  • Interview? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rot26 (240034) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:22AM (#3558111) Homepage Journal
    I didn't see an interview.
  • by originalhack (142366) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:39AM (#3558223)

    Since most of us don't vote in Peru, all of us in the OSS community should pay special attention to any requests for tech assistance from Peruvian sources.

    Spread the word.

  • From the article's links:
    • http://www.congreso.gob.pe/organizacion/comisiones . asp

    Let's hope that some day they will get rid of the .asp bit, and implement PHP instead ! :)

    • php translated into spanish is actually asp.
      it is also worth noting that "open source software" translated from spanish means literally "the expensive stuff mr.gates sells"
      not sure what all the fuss is about...
      • The fuss regarding the phrase "open source" has to do with using the name of the wrong movement to talk about what Dr. Villanueva refers to in his letter. Early on in the letter he corrects the Microsoft rep's use of the term, telling Microsoft he is speaking of Free Software, not Open Source. There is a big difference between the two movements.

  • all documents (Score:2, Informative)

    More coverage on this entire topic here [pimientolinux.com]
  • of it's original bang. Seriously, I hope someday we can look back on this as a defining moment in the history of the open source movement... wouldn't that be cool? Even cooler, to be able to tell your grandkids, "Yep, I was there and here's what I did..."

    Okay, and at the risk of offending any tender PC sensitivities out there (whoops, this is /. never mind), every time I read the letter I get the urge to shout "Viva la revolucion!" ;)

  • by sam_handelman (519767) <skh2003@@@columbia...edu> on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @09:51AM (#3558314) Homepage Journal
    This is all a real blow to my cynicism.

    People say "the internet will change the way the world works!" and I say "yeah, right", because people who say that sort of thing (often involving the non-word "paradigm") don't even know what a packet is. "It's shifted the whole paradigm for the sex movie industry", I say derisively.

    Well, this, and by this I mean the whole imbroglio where Dr. Villanueva is now the cause celebre of the open source movement, could never have happened without all that international packet switching, and the culture that has grown up around it, and this is very significant.

    This isn't a fake economic event - like stock quotes. This isn't a manufactured cultural event with no social or political relevance - like the pop music we're swapping. This isn't the sophistry of most modern political news which is nothing more than the latest lies to promote your own self interest.

    This is real and genuine and the internet has made it possible.
    • The internet didn't make it possible. This is simple file swapping, information sharing, and press releases.

      The printing press, telegraph, telephone, radio, and organized mail delivery caused revolutionary changes. The internet is just incremental or even incidental, except in very few circumstances. This is not really one of them.

      You haven't become cynical enough. Maybe in another five years or so. True cynicism knows no bounds.

      BTW, watch out for nihilism. It sneaks up on you once you've become truly cynical.
      • BTW, watch out for nihilism. It sneaks up on you once you've become truly cynical.

        No, it doesn't. Never has, never will. Things never change.

        True cynicism knows no bounds.

        You're only into "pretend" cynicism. True cynicism doesn't give a shit.
    • Well, this, and by this I mean the whole imbroglio where Dr. Villanueva is now the cause celebre of the open source movement...

      Please make the effort to use the term Free Software (not "open source") when referring to the movement referred to in the letter. The bill and the letter all refer to only Free Software. The Open Source movement stands for something quite different.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When this story broke. A lot of people made comments like: ' I wish we had government officials who were as clueful.' I took that as a clue to write to my elected reps and fill them in on the scoop and also mandate that free software be used over proprietary here in the U.S. You should consider doing the same. Let us make our reps accountable for the IT infrastructure used to do governement business.
    • Oh yeah, that's going to work.

      "Deer Congresman,

      Please stop using Micro$uck's software in the federel stuff. GNU/LINUX ROX!! Like that letter in Peru. They got it write!

      Sinceerly,
      Anonymous Coward

      p.s. BAN MICRO$HAFT!!!!"
  • Its been a long while, so it might not be so, but isn't Villanueva Pippi Longstockings house?
  • I wish this guy was an element in the US government. Instead, we're stuck with Fritz "Freling" Hollings' caricature of how technology can / should be used to serve his supposed constituents. Which is laughable at best, since it seems to be more focused on eviscerating digital rights /privacy and handing them out to corporations wholesale.

    Good to see digital democracy is alive and well in Peru. Sorry I can't say the same about things back home, though........
  • The Doctor's letter is more than impressive. His point by point rebuttal of Microsoft's falacies was both thorough and consise. He clearly called out the internal contradictions that are so common in Microsoft's arguments. I was stunned by how well he made his points. For anyone who hasn't read it, regardless of your position on the issue, you should.
    • It was well written, but it wasn't anything that I haven't seen before. You never wrote (or read?) a long message on UseNet in comp.os.linux.advocacy?

      Granted, I did most of my best flame-baiting (youthful indescetions), essay-length rebuttals, and such many years ago (well before the Attack of the Spammers), but you can probably still dig up some good stuff from UseNet even now.

      The guy gets attention because he's a Very Important Person, not because he's a great writer.
  • by slow_flight (518010) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @10:06AM (#3558435)
    Villanueva was once invited to an event in Columbia where he was to meet with the Free Software Foundation's Richard Stallman, and to his great disappointment this event had to be cancelled.

    They refused to re-name the country GNU/Columbia.
    • Since I can not currently moderate, I must say "Bravo!". This gave me a nice hardy laugh.

      To those who can moderate (and have a sense of humor), please mod this up! (the parent post)

      T

    • by jonathanjo (415010)
      Villanueva was once invited to an event in Columbia where he was to meet with the Free Software Foundation's Richard Stallman, and to his great disappointment this event had to be cancelled.

      Columbia South Carolina or Columbia Maryland? I hope Villanueva meets with Senator Hollings!

      And what's Villanueva doing in North America? Don't they have Free Software events in places like Colombia?

    • Actually the event wasnt cancelled it was just postponed to take place sometime after the upcoming presidential elections in Colombia which happen to be next sunday.
    • GNU/Colombia or Colombia of the Wilderbeest?

      I think the GNU name is silly, when you could have an awesome name like Wilderbeest. Same logo, awesome name. RMS - you read this?
    • I wonder what is the opinion of Stallman with respect to the Bill and the letter?

      Will he be as enthusiastic about it as everyone else seems to be? Or will he complain about the use of "open source" terminology and limited freedoms?

      Will he praise Villanueva's efforts? Or will he complain that the Bill is not named GNU/1609?
  • Slashdot Interview (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <{mdinsmore} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @10:06AM (#3558440) Homepage Journal

    How about a Slashdot interview with this guy? I haven't know many politicians to shy from another couple million eyeballs regarding their pet project, even if it comes from non-constituents.
    • I totally back this up.

      I'm from Panamá. My government has its head inside its but. They beleive Microsoft is the Mesiah, the saviour of the opressed and the poor.

      More information from another latin american country could help people to wake up.

      Interview!!!
  • Fear in Redmond (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theolein (316044) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @10:54AM (#3558809) Journal
    I don't know if I'm imagining it but everytime Villanueva's name turns up here on /. the anti-OSS trolling increases to a fevered pitch.

    It seems as if opponents of this bill are very, very scared of the snowball effect that it could have. Peru is a poor country and is one of many on this earth. While I doubt that many of those countries have leaders that are as interrested in the wellbeing of their populace or as well articulated, I think there would be enough to see the benefits of a law such as this one, especially if it makes a notable difference in the IT landscape in Peru. Certain companies will certainly try to use dubious methods to try to silence efforts such as this, because it leaves them out in the cold, or did anyone think that poor countries had any possibility of expending their IT knowhow in any other manner?
    • they want to save us from, how could they not come leaping to save us?

      this link was posted by someone, below the interview at LinuxToday,
      http://www.vialibre.org.ar/lessdeveloped.html [vialibre.org.ar]

      it details some of the penalties being threatened by the BSA down south. Apparently some of the BSA's advertising is using the thought of prison rape as deterrent.

      how can they possibly know if you're not guilty if you don't have a receipt?
  • Hmm, if they pass this bill, it will be their undoing. MS will have a few al-qaeda Ts moved down to Peru, then we can bomb them and get rid of their damned commie/terrorist/un-american/free-software society and install a real gubment!
  • The US government, fustrated with vendor-lock-in and the national-security fact that they 'didn't know what was in their software' specifically stipulated that all future programs written for the state by contractors will be written in "human comprehendable COBOL". This was in the late 1950s. . .

    I was reading this in a computer history book recently. . .anyone wish to comment on it? It seems to have the same pretense as the Peruvian Bill but was enacted all wrong (aka forcing a language). . .
  • ...follow suit.

    MS South Africa has just
    (http://www.mg.co.za/Content/l3.jsp?a=11 and about being able to compete in the global market.

  • Is there a Nobel Prize for Open Source yet? This guy should get the first one.
  • We _really_ need to make sure that when this bill passes, the OSS/FS communities make sure that the project gets all the help it needs!! We can't let this project even hit a small snag, let alone fail.

    Face it, with the attention that this is getting, if anything goes wrong, M$ is going to jump down our throats about it. This is the poster child project for the whole movement. It's going to be looked at by the whole world as an example of what happens when you go the Free software route, therefore we can't let it fail.

    Please help make sure that the project goes as smoothly as is possible. Thanks in advance.

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