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Brazilian Gov't May Pass Pro-Free Software Law 242

Posted by Roblimo
from the another-step-forward-for-Open-Source-software dept.
Kaufmann writes "More news from Brazil... this time it seems to be good news, though; this page describes a law project, already on Congress, which, if approved, will obligate all sectors of the Brazilian Government - agencies, public corporations, et cetera - to use only free (as in speech) software (unless there is none that provides the required functionality). This is rather surprising news, considering the incredible power wielded by Big Software Companies in Brazil (their puppet, the Brazilian Association of Software Corporations, is conducting a massive anti-"piracy" witch hunt, with some success). Email the author of the bill, congressman Walter Pinheiro, and show him your support! (Most links are in Portuguese; you might want to use your favourite text translation tool.) "
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Brazilian Gov't May Pass Pro-Free Software Law

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  • by adraken (8869) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @01:44PM (#1462750)
    This is interesting... Slashdot is encouraging citizens of other countries to try to affect decisions in nations not of their immediate concern. Why should a Brazilian representative care about what some fool in New York thinks? Great, the rest of the world supports it, but his constituents just care about getting those damn strip miners out of their backyard.

    The CD-R tax story from a couple days ago also comes to mind. Non-canadians are probably signing it with something like "Toronto, Ontario" so that the petition people can say "this many canadians voted for it" and then the officials can reply, "there aren't even that many people in that city."

    I'm all for the ideals behind the story, but I'm curious as to what influence a non-national has over a delegatory representative...
  • by Gurlia (110988)

    This is amazing... so government agencies will be made to use free software unless free software doesn't have the required functionality? I must say, if this gets through it will be a big win for free software.

    But I don't know if I like the idea of politics mixing into free software... we've seen some not-so-positive response with commercial entities getting into free software. I guess I'm just more confortable with a pure idealistic free software world. But I suppose anything that is worthwhile must prove that it can go beyond merely an idealistic context and usable in real-world applications.

  • There's a big loophole there in the "required functionalty" clause, but Free Software is rapidly approaching the functionality of commercial packages. In some cases (Apache) it already exceeds the functionality of many commercial packages.

    The cynic in me says that the reason is to help the balance of trade, but I don't even casr if that's the reason. It's just good to see governments supporting Freedom over commercial interests.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Believe it or not, I think these two Brazil stories (banning of certain shoot-em-ups, and pro-free-software laws) are symptoms of the same problem. Both are a result of governments that are all-too-willing to mess with peoples lives and the processes of free markets* in order to create outcomes that they believe will be `best'. Sure, it's all fine and dandy when they do these things to help free software, but do we really want a government that decides what companies succeed and what companies fail on a whim?

    *Please don't let the inclusion of that word start a holy war.
  • Required functionality usually means being able to use Microsoft Word documents. Since no vendor but Microsoft produces such a thing, this doesn't help any Open Source project. As far as web browsing goes, Netscape is barely functional when compared to Internet Explorer.

    In other words, unless IBM decides to bribe some more south american government officials, Brazilian government workers will continue to happily use their Macs and/or Windows machines.

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • Slashdot isn't encouraging anyone to try to affect this decision, only to show the representative that they agree. It's a friendly gesture to tell him "hey, even though this decision doesn't affect me as a non-Brazilian, I think it's a good idea and I wish our government was this clever."

    Also, who says there are no Brazilian Slashdot readers?
  • by Money__ (87045) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @01:54PM (#1462756)
    Note: the following was bablefished from http://www.conectiva.com.br/jornal/noticias/not337 .html

    It makes use on the use of programs opened for the beings of public law and private law under shareholding control of the public management.

    Article 1 - the public management, in all the levels, them To be able of the Republic, the state-owned companies and of mixing economy, the public companies, and all the too much public or private organisms under control of the Brazilian society, is obliged to use foreground, in its systems and equipment of computer science, opened, free programs of restriction proprietor how much its cession alteration and distribution.

    Article 2 - that one Is understood for opened program whose license of industrial or intellectual property does not restrict under no aspect its cession, distribution, use or alteration of its original features.

    Article 3 - the open program must assure to the using the unrestricted to its code source, without any cost, with sight to modify program, integrally, if necessary access, for its perfectioning. Only Paragraph. A code source must be the foreground feature used by the programmer to modify the program, not being allowed to dim its accessibility, nor neither to introduce any intermediate form as output of a daily pay-processor or translator.

    Article 4 - the license of use of the open programs must allow modifications and derived works and its exempt distribution under the same terms of the license of the original program.

    1 - the license will only be able to restrict the distribution of the code source in form modified in case that it allows to the distribution of programs modified jointly with the code original source, objectifying the alteration of the program during the compilation process.

    2 - source Must allow also the distribution of program compiled from the modified code explicitamente, being able in such a way to demand that the derived programs have different names or version numbers, that differentiate them of the original.

    Article 5 - it will not be able to have clause in the license that implies in any form of discrimination the people or groups.

    Article 6 - No license could specific for be determined product, making possible that the extracted programs of the original distribution have the same guarantee of free alteration, distribution or use, that the original program.

    Article 7 - the licenses of open or restricted programs, will not restrict other programs distributed jointly.

    Article 8 - the licitatórios certames that objectify to do business programs of computer with the beings specified in the article 1 of this law, will have obligatorily to be conducted by the principles established in this legislation.

    Article 9 - 1 will only be allowed to the use for the beings of the article, of programs of computer whose licenses are not in agreement with this law, in the absence of open programs that do not contemplate content it the solutions object of the public licitation.


    JUSTIFICATION It has more than fifteen years argues in the whole world the free manipulation of the computer programs or " free software ". In 1984 proprietor, supplied by means of restrictive licenses of ample specter was impossible to use a modern computer without the installation of an operational system. Nobody had permission to freely share programs (software) with other users of computer, and hardly somebody could change the programs to satisfy its operational necessities specific.

    The design GNU, that dates of the beginning of the Movement of free Software, was established to change this. Its first objective was to develop a compatible portable operational system with the UNIX that would be free 100% for alteration and distribution, providing to the users who contributed with its development and alteration of any part of its original constitution.

    Technical GNU is as UNIX, but it differs from the UNIX for the freedom that if it provides to its users. For the confection of this opened program, many years of work had been necessary, for hundreds of programmers, to develop this operational system. In 1991, the last more important component of a similar system to the UNIX was developed: LINUX.

    Today the combination of GNU and the Linux is used for million of people, of free form, in the whole world.

    This program is only one example of as the freedom in the alteration, distribution and use of programs of computer to be able to transform still more quickly, and in more democratic way, the profile it social and technological development in the world. The State, as fomentador being of the technological development and the democrátização of the access the new technologies for the society, cannot be to steal its responsibility to prioritize the use of open programs or " free software / open source ". E if small, the average and great companies multinationals already are adopting opened programs, thus preventing the payment of hundreds of million of dollar in licensing of programs, because it would have the State, with a infinity of devoid social causes of features, to continue buying, and expensive, the programs of market.

  • by Yebyen (59663) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @01:54PM (#1462757) Homepage
    We all love free software... but personally I don't like the idea of forcing it. I'll admit forcing people to use free software does have some useful applications... no backdoored programs for example. I wasn't able to make much sense out of the article... I speak spanish, english, german, not portuguese. Anyway I don't think that "forced" and "free software" should be in the same sentence. The idea of free software is freedom, isn't it?

  • by FalseConsciousness (59610) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @01:56PM (#1462758) Homepage
    Well, there is Amnesty International [amnesty.org], to name a prominent example of non-nationals attempting to sway government officials and policy-makers. They are certainly others as well - European groups have been very influential in North American policies affecting forestry and commercial hunting.

    So, you're right, a politician's immediate concern is the people who get them elected. However, this doesn't mean that they can't be influenced by voices on the other side of the world, given the right conditions.

    Falsifying your city of residence or nationality is no way to advance a cause you believe in. If you think that the national policy level is a good place to promote OSS (note this is an "if" - there is bound to be a spectrum of opinions on whether this is strategically/ethically right), then go ahead, make your best arguments to whoever will listen.

    --

  • by Effugas (2378) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @01:56PM (#1462759) Homepage
    Heh! Slow down!

    Open Source Software is a wonderful thing, for innumerable reasons [doxpara.com], but I'm not sure upper management(i.e. Congress/Parliament/Whoever) should be mandating its usage any more than it should be mandating its avoidance.

    Res Ipsa Loquitar--Let The Facts Speak For Themselves. In this case, let the value of the software speak for itself--I'm a hardcore advocate of Open Source, but let the engineers on the front lines make the technical decisions, not someone whose top priority is to Cut The Budget. It's one thing to have a policy that explicitly states that it's acceptable--even encouraged--to use (L)GPL'd code for your projects. It's quite another thing to demand it, and to stigmatize the use of anything else.

    Closed Source code shouldn't be presumed better because it costs many; Open Source shouldn't be presumed better just because it's free. Let the engineers be free to make their choices regarding what to use--hopefully, the track record of our development model, the quality of our code, and the immutability of our support(hi, RSA) will convince them to operate within the system we've created.

    I'd rather convince the engineers than threaten their jobs. But that's my opinion.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • Required functionality usually means being able to use Microsoft Word documents. Since no vendor but Microsoft produces such a thing

    Last time I checked, Staroffice worked fine with .doc files. I'll agree that netscape sucks, but you can't very well run internet explorer on a free software OS, can you? Maybe this undermines the whole law... I can't use IE in linux (or some other OSS operating system), and I need the functionality of IE, so therefore linux is no longer required. How about "I need to play Duke Nukem (hehe)... That is required. Therefore I can't use Linux." or "As a pawn of Microsoft, I am incapable of using any software not derived by them." As you can see, the "required functionality" clause can turn useless pretty quick :-) wait i'm ranting... ok sorry :-)

  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @02:03PM (#1462762) Homepage Journal
    Using free (as in open) software means the government isn't at the mercy of a private software company, which is at least as important as the money that will be saved.

    Imagine if Microsoft refused to provide the U.S. Government with licenses or support for any of its software, or planted back doors in the software ir provided. The government would only have three choices: cave in to Microsoft's demands, seize whatever it needed, or spend the time and money converting and retraining to another system.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The support of things like this is showing me that you believe that free software can't compete on merits alone. Supporting government-mandated actions like this is anti-free market and will result in worse software in the future. Consider - would software choices be better or worse if all software was free? The biggest irony here is that the supporters of things like that are often the same people who scream against monopolies because they prevent choices. Hello???
  • Hear hear!

    The big thing about open source is CHOICE. By forcing the open source (or closed source or any other decision on people), you're defeating it's purpose.

    Go read those manifestos and cathedral essays again, boys.

    -Chris
  • Like if the gap between the rich and the poor isn't already large enough. The government isn't there to enrich the rich, it should be to the service of everyone! Therefore going to free software is the way to go.. and all governments should do the same - of course the software should be trusted too.
  • by Money__ (87045) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @02:10PM (#1462766)
    Dan buddy, I respect you a lot, and usually find your posts spot on, but I would like to shine some light on one little thing.

    Engineers need funding. I work in the private sector, and in order for me to buy software for my network, I must first accrue(sp?) the funds.

    In a government model, these same funding decisions are made by the Government (i.e. Congress/Parliament/Whoever).

    I would like the funding and the freedom to make the decision that best solves the problem, and this kind of legislation (passed or defeated) calls attention to a software development model that we all should be using.

  • by Captain Zion (33522) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @02:17PM (#1462768)
    not being allowed to dim its accessibility nor neither to introduce any intermediate form as output of a daily pay-processor or translator.
    not being allowed to intentionally obfuscate the source code or use an intermediate form such as the output of a pre-processor or translator.
    1 - the license will only be able to restrict the distribution of the code source in form modified in case that it allows to the distribution of programs modified jointly with the code original source, objectifying the alteration of the program during the compilation process.
    The license can restrict the distribution of the modified source code only if it allows the distribution of the modifications along with the original source, i.e. a patch.
    2 - source Must allow also the distribution of program compiled from the modified code explicitamente, being able in such a way to demand that the derived programs have different names or version numbers, that differentiate them of the original.
    [The license] must also allow the distribution [in binary form] of the program compiled from the modified source code, and may require a different name or version number [to make it clear that it's a derived work].
  • Well, I am Brazilian and if it wasn't for Slashdot I'd have to look around to find the congressman's address. Thanks for the service, /.!
  • Interesting viewpoint, that all of Slashdot's Internet viewership is from the United States. As a Canadian, I was rather glad to see that particular story (on CD-R's), though the story hit our local LUG's mailing list a few hours before it came out. I imagine that a Brazilian reader would feel the same way about this story.
  • by Karpe (1147) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @02:29PM (#1462772) Homepage
    It says: "The public administration, in all levels, the Powers of the Republic, the state companies and mixed economy companies, and all other public or private business under control of the brazilian society become obliged to use, preferentialy free software, free of proprietary restriction on availability, alteration and distribution in their software systems".

    In our public university, the witch hunt has began. Last month, there was a big shift of operating systems on machines. A lot of machines changed from NT to Linux. Our lab, was the only which used mostly linux for research, and so we gave a lot of support to the other people. It was a lot of work, but we did meet a lot of new people. :)

    Sorry for the bad translation of the law, but I hope you can get the idea.

  • by Effugas (2378) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @02:36PM (#1462774) Homepage
    I would like the funding and the freedom to make the decision that best solves the problem, and this kind of legislation (passed or defeated) calls attention to a software development model that we all should be using.

    I'm not sure we're disagreeing at all.

    I want you, as an engineer, to have the funding to best solve a problem. Maybe that funding means that you'll devote five man-months to improving the SCSI stack on Linux, or maybe it means you'll just buy a farm of Solaris machines.

    Whatever you do, the decision should be made on technical grounds, based upon available resources and the ability for you to amortize the value of the project across multiple tasks, departments and maybe even agencies. Open Source has some definite advantages here! But those are advantages for the engineers to evaluate, not for the long-disconnected politicians to order them to choose, unless they're willing to put their jobs on the line saying what's out there Just Isn't Good Enough.

    If Microsoft got a law passed ordering departments to only use the most popular closed source software available, it'd be wrong. The opposite, in my mind, is also true.

    That being said, there is assuredly resistance at the direct managerial level above the engineers that makes free software a touchy subject. That resistance should also disappear, but not by mandate of law, but by sheer fact that the reasons behind that resistance are antiquated and just no longer valid.

    I'll admit, this is a very strange side for me to be taking, and actually feels kind of out of character, but I just don't feel it's right to speak of freedom and higher quality software out of one side of my mouth while mumbling about forcing the use of free software unless there's nothing that even comes close to finishing the job out of the other.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • That's a translation of a translation of the Open Source Definition, by yours truly and the Debian developers. The original, with explanation, is available here [perens.com].

    I'd be happy to offer assistance to the people who are pushing this bill, if anyone can put me in touch with the right people.

    Thanks

    Bruce


  • Those darn Brazilians... they're going to legalize themselves back to the stone age of computing.

    Silly them.

    BTW, people keep mentioning StarOffice -- it's not open source, is it?? The Barzillian articles clearly (well, as clearly as I can understand from the babelfish translation) mean "open source" the way we know and love it here on ./
  • If a government wishes to use Free Software for itself, then go for it. But they have no business whatsoever mandating non-governmental groups to do the same.

    If the only way Free Software can get marketshare is for governments to require its use, then it's not really free anymore. What happened to the free choice in Free Software? Or are we sacrificing our principles for the "greater good".
  • To those are concerned about government forcing people to use free software, please notice:
    1. The proposed law only forces government agencies, not private citizens or companies.
    2. Big companies do have an immense power over our government. Lobby is rampant. I don't think anything can compete in its own merits in such a situation.
    3. If not for something like this, Brazilian governmental agencies would never try anything other than Microsoft, just because no other company comes closer when it comes to spilling money for lobbying.
  • Staroffice works okay with .doc files, but it still has problems, especially with VBA/macros. You'd agree, right?

    My point is that since MS Office itself is a "required functionality" in many government offices, that free OSes (or more specifically, non-Mac/Windows machines) will be out of luck in these places.

    I'll admit that I was a little hard on Netscape -- you can get stuff done with it, but I'm just way beyond frustration with using it. (In fact, you can blame Netscape for the fact that all my Linux boxes are headless now -- I use the web so much in my work, and Netscape has fallen back so far, that Linux had fallen into almost complete disuse for me as a desktop OS. Nowadays, I do all my Linux programming and server stuff from an X-Server running on Win2K, so that I can still do the stuff on my Linux box while being able to just pop open IE anytime I want. I know that it's causing me to not see the latest KDE and GNOME desktop developments, although I can at least still use the KDE apps that I need to via the X-Server.)

    I've gotta say that I'm a bit mystified that someone scored my original post as a troll. I'm presenting a view that this bill is a lot less meaningful than it looks on the surface, not going after anyone. Oh well, I guess it's "caveat poster" for anyone who doesn't go along with the rah-rah boosterism...

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @02:59PM (#1462782) Homepage
    Insofar as Latin American IT is my field, I'm really excited by all the news (even the bad) that has been coming through the pike about it lately.

    Here are some issues to consider:

    1. It could be argued that any non-American government would be insane not to use Open Source software, in light of the possibility of sabotage with hidden calls, compromised security, etc. Right now trade relations between the US and Brazil are, if not hostile, a little bumpy, and Brazil is probably not entirely comfortable with not knowing what their software is doing. No country could be sure that US software companies aren't being pressured by the NSA etc. to put back doors in their software, especially in light of the Echelon scare.
    2. This is going to change the way that software is sold and supported in Latin America. Right now, the west is trying to push the software-as-sold-object model. The anti-piracy campaign is an example of this. It's really deep in the local mindset that if you have lost nothing by my copying something, I haven't really stolen anything. The amount of government pressure required to change that has made a lot of enemies down here. Some of them are frankly pissed at what they feel is a blackmail attempt by anti-piracy forces, who on one hand will encourage distribution of software to people in the ranks, then fly in with lawyers and gov't agents to see that everything is all in paid for - piracy is used to leverage sales down here, it's the biggest dirty little secret in the industry. By taking government agencies outside that whole game, the software industry changes.
    3. Corollary to the above, the current model exalts sales people far over engineers and developers. When support and implementation become the key to the software industry, that's going to have wide-ranging implications for those affected business cultures - you might see technical pay scales rise vis-a-vis sales pay scales (since the development for the closed source software was usually done in the US or Europe, local programmers aren't really benefitting from the current model.) All in all, I think this is an excellent development, and I hope other Latin American countries follow suit.
  • finally free software that works. Now if all software was free, we wouldnt have Warez. And if there were no Warez, hrmm, I actually couldnt imagine life w/o Warez. That would be interesting. Now all we need is free music :)
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Saturday December 18, 1999 @03:06PM (#1462784) Homepage Journal
    Well, obviously some Brazilian representative cares what I think, because he based his proposed bill on something the Debian developers and I wrote :-)

    Cool.

    Bruce

  • As licenças de programas abertos ou restritos, não restringirão outros programas distribuídos conjuntamente.

    Fascinating! Unless one cops the plea that libraries aren't programs, so aren't covered by this bill, it sure sounds to me like only LGPL'd libraries would be permitted, not GPL'd ones.

  • He means "per se".
  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @03:16PM (#1462790) Homepage
    Who says that no Slashdot readers are Brazilian nationals?

    JEEZ. Talk about national solipsism.

  • Yes... When I read it (in the original, as I'm Brazilian) I was stunned... A politician that understands Free Software! And knows the OSD (aka DFSG)!

    Well, since he seems to understand it, he must know how to speak English (well, most people here know Spanish or English as a second language, since it is a requisite in many jobs). And if he knows all those things about the OSD, he might also know you're one of the ones that created it in the first place. So write to him yourself. Tell him who you are. And ask if he might want some help. Though I can't see how you could make a difference, it's always nice to try.


  • The other day, Bruce heard the new Britney Spears single and proclaimed "That's a translation of the Open Software Definition(OSD)"!

    The day before that, Bruce saw the Pokeman first movie with his kids and proclaimed "That's a translation of the OSD"!

    It would seem that Bruce is claiming credit for the language in this document without there being any common language.
    Bruce, please take credit where credit is due, but not in this case.

  • One fo the major reasons for the creation of the open source movement was to create alternatives so that people wouln't be obligated to buy M$ crapware or other stuff that they didnt want, there is no reason for people to be obligated to use open souce.

    Obligation and the freedom for which the open-souce movement stand for simply cannot coexist.

    --Ed
  • Ack, feel free to mark me as redundant. I had been cruising around with a 2+ threshold. I should have realized that others would have made the same observation by now.

    By the way, I'm running around with a 2+ threshold because Slashdot seems broken when a critical-mass threshold of messages is passed. The comment page gets cut off mid-way; the high threshold is just to keep the pages short, not to avoid reading. Is there a fix in the works for the html problem?

  • If you use free software, there is no public money to reroute to your pocket :-(

    Or to reroute to improve the development of OSS! So you end up with just a crew of government leeches, underfunded to improve but mandated to use...

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • The required functionality business will get them, unless they are very very smart. I was thinking about this the other day, and what i would tell some company who asked me to give them an infrastructure. I would ask, "What is your required functionality? What do you need to be able to do?" And the first words out of their mouth would be "I need to be able to use Microsoft Office". And of course, I reply with, "What, your business needs to be able to use MS Word, not any other word processing?"

    See, the problem is that people confuise functionality with the product. I love StarOffice, but I will admit it loves memory (to eat it that is). It handles most word docs just fine. If they want a new infrastructure, they are going to have to change their way of business as well. Stop doing things with WOrd Macros left and right. If they can do the equivfalent of what they are doing with the word macros in another product, then that is equivalent functionality, but it does not have to be compatible. Sure, it helps reduce the cost of transitioning and training, but that is another issue.

    And of course, this is where MS has been winnig all along, get people using their products, reliant upon them, because of some functionality that they feel is necessary, and lock them into a product. Which is why standards are nice, because you can use whatever product you like and be assured that it will inteface properly.

    Ripping out an infrastructure is no mean feat. It requires lots of training of people, implementation of new software, and development of new procedures. Sometimes it does not justify the cost. You do not have to upgrade everytime a new thign comes out...

    Is there a word processing standard? I am not talking about ASCII here. it has to do fonts and macros and all that stuff that makes document production such a production.
  • will obligate all sectors of the Brazilian Government - agencies, public corporations, et cetera - . There is no mention of forcing non government businesses to use non-free software.
  • I look at this differently. While I would not contact a member of a foreign government with hopes of influencing his political decision, I would contact another person in a foreign country to give them my opinion on their beliefs/ideas if I thought it was worth my time. Just because someone is a senator/judge/president, etc. doesn't mean they are not a person and thus not worth sharing your ideas with. Part of this whole "Internet thing" is the idea of no borders to free thought. If you want to express an opinion to anyone, anywhere, go for it.
    Stuart Eichert
    U. of PENN student/FreeBSD hacker
  • Law: A code source must be the prime feature used by the programmer to modify the program, not being allowed to intentionally obfuscate the source code or use an intermediate form such as the output of a pre-processor or translator.
    OSD: The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.

    Law: The license of use of the open programs must allow modifications and derived works and its exempt distribution under the same terms of the license of the original program.
    OSD: The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.

    Law: The license can restrict the distribution of the modified source code only if it allows the distribution of the modifications along with the original source for the purpose of modifying the program at build time.
    OSD: The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time.

    Law: The license] must also allow the distribution [in binary form] of the program compiled from the modified source code, and may require a different name or version number [to make it clear that it's a derived work].
    OSD: The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.

    Law: the license can't discriminate a person or group of persons
    OSD: the license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

  • Thank you for pointing this out.
    I stand corrected :)
  • It was rather hard to make out the translation, but what I find interesting is what is said in the last paragraph:

    The State, as fomentador being of the technological development and the democrátização of the access the new technologies for the society, cannot be to steal its responsibility to prioritize the use of open programs or " free software / open source ". E if small, the average and great companies multinationals already are adopting opened programs, thus preventing the payment of hundreds of million of dollar in licensing of programs, because it would have the State, with a infinity of devoid social causes of features, to continue buying, and expensive, the programs of market.

    As far as my interpretation of this goes, it looks like they are trying to make the Governments use of technology free, not necessarily the peoples. The aim of this law is to replace all proprietary software with free software, cited here as GNU/Linux, and make all software developed for the Government free as well.
  • Excuse me, but running and supporting this is just as bad as doing the same for "closed source only software" The "choice" option is eliminated.
  • Slashdot goes into "overload" mode when there are too many top level comments (50 IIRC). You can view the next pages by choosing the "2" link from the bottom of the page.
    --
  • Mmm... that is the Open Source Definition. The retranslation to English was pretty inaccurate, but the wording in Portuguese is a near-unchanged translation of the OSD - it may even have been copied from one of the OSD translations in Portuguese without changes at all at some points. Yes, Bruce is Right and You are Wrong.
  • It may be a right choice in your opinion, but not necessarily one for everyone else
  • Some might say TeX; some might say SGML; some might say *roff.
  • No, there's another bug which is related to nested mode, which is how I read. It has to do with cumulative page size and/or thread length, not with number of comments. This is, I think, a "known bug" that a couple others have caught.
  • Equivelent functionality?

    Hmmm... so if I say I need software that is fully windows(tm) compatible then the answer is that only windows can do it... thus, I can use the commercial stuff.

    Then let's see some half assed government comittee try and decide what software is "equal".

    Ken
  • by Kaht (122157)
    You did absolutely nothing but waste space by rephrasing what was said at the top..
  • Ok. This may be true. But, our (brazilian) government uses Win all the way, from what I know. They use MS software and formats for everything. It's a pain to access the sites with Lynx (I'm not going to talk about accessibility, since we have had a good deal of that on Slashdot). It's presumed that you use Windows.
    Documents for download are .doc (yes, the files end with .doc, not rtf, not pdf ...), the html pages are crap loaded as the majority made with frontpage.
    And don't forget we're talking about a country with many social & economic problems, and wich is paying lots of money for this.
    By the way, it's been anounced that the receita federal (our IRS) servers will be down since some hours before midnight and 'till 3am of January 1st, to avoid problems with hackers, and still with a special team taking care of the (turned off?) servers.
    And also the law project says the public administration will be "obligated to preferably use", so I don't think it will be forced in the case there is a good justification.
    What I hope is that the folks start realizing .doc is not a public format, and so, there should be, at least, other formats as well, and things like this.
  • Let the engineers be free to make their choices regarding what to use

    Rolling on the floor, laughing, crying. The engineers NEVER get to choose, except perhaps for their home systems or if they have graduated to management, at which point they are not really engineers any more. Senior IT management choses WinTel not for technical reasons, but because Nobody gets fired for buying {IBM, Microsoft}. Senior management has one overriding aim. Keep their high paying jobs. This is why FUD *WORKS*.

    If you think that there is a government IT purchasing process in action anywhere on the face of the earth that operates on the basis of choosing the best engineering alternative, you are hopelessly naive. IBM is famous for the phrase 'choose my system or I will get your boss to fire you."

    The same principle operates for Microsoft now. People are AFRAID to recommend anything else.

    Now we have the {Brasilian, Chinese, Mexican, French} governments talking about Linux. Fine. That is their perogative. Will wider use be good for Linux. You bet.

    But don't kid yourself. There is no way such decisions are going to be made at the level of the implementor. It doesn't happen that way. It's why the Challenger blew up.

    The best we can hope for is that Linux gets recognized as a safe choice so people will not get fired for choosing it.

    Microsoft is doing it's best to cloud the issue, and if it weren't for the DOJ it would be REALLY ugly right now.

  • I can't see removing choice when there is a much bigger issue -- interoperability.

    Can you imagine if radio or television was allowed to mature the way computers have? Only apple radios could recieve apple signals, only microsoft tvs could decode mirosoft signals.

    I would much rather see governments demand that all I/O (network or file formats) be open and standardized so any client software can utilize and server packages or files.

    I know we're talking standards organization here, but in this case it could be worth it.
  • (Moderators: Just ignore this post.)

    Could whoever gave me my first Flamebait rating *please* comment as an AC as to...umm...WTF?

    I'm not annoyed. I'm actually *curious*.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • "If a government wishes to use Free Software for itself, then go for it. But they have no business whatsoever mandating non-governmental groups to do the same. "

    What an excellent sentiment, and I agree wholeheartedly, of course the converse should apply as well, shouldn't it?

    Well, in the US, many of the businesses that have contracts with the US, were/are required to submit all documents in certain specified formats. For many government agencies the required formats have been MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. and always the latest version. Because there are few products that import/export MS formats completely (and even more so in years past), numerous government contractors have been forced to purchase MS products, and update to the newest versions.

    Thus a tyrany of Closed Source software... Personally all formats required by any government should be based on standards instead of proprietary formats, so that the choice of software can be left to the individual/company...

    Thanks,
    LetterRip
  • OK, perhaps I am blowing my own horn a bit much. I was just completely blown away by finding the OSD written into a proposed Brazilian law. This does not happen every day and you can expect me to be a little nonlinear when it does. Sorry!

    Bruce

  • by iCEBaLM (34905) <icebalm@icebalm.LISPcom minus language> on Saturday December 18, 1999 @05:20PM (#1462842)
    This is interesting... Slashdot is encouraging citizens of other countries to try to affect decisions in nations not of their immediate concern.

    While I don't even think it's a bad thing as we do it in so many other areas for good, (ie: Save the Rainforest, etc) I think you're quite farsighted. Not everyone who reads slashdot is from the states, and to say that they are would be complete arrogance.

    Why should a Brazilian representative care about what some fool in New York thinks?

    Because that "fool" just might be an expert on the subject.

    Great, the rest of the world supports it, but his constituents just care about getting those damn strip miners out of their backyard.

    What? I thought we were talking about government software choices here?

    The CD-R tax story from a couple days ago also comes to mind. Non-canadians are probably signing it with something like "Toronto, Ontario" so that the petition people can say "this many canadians voted for it" and then the officials can reply, "there aren't even that many people in that city."

    Or perhaps real Canadians like me who read slashdot every day see the story and find the link to the petition, (where, BTW, we'd never find elsewhere, good luck finding it through "conventional" sources) and signs it?

    I'm all for the ideals behind the story, but I'm curious as to what influence a non-national has over a delegatory representative...

    And who are you to say the submitter wasn't Brazilian? Or for that matter, that Brazilians don't read slashdot?

    -- iCEBaLM
  • Nope, it's really the OSD. Even the paragraph numbering is the same for much of it, the requirements are the same, and they are in the same order. See the Portugese translation of the OSD here [harvard.edu] .

    Bruce

  • Oh, and it seems like the submitter IS Brazilian, as his email address is in .br

    -- iCEBaLM
  • I can't see why people hate Netscape so much. I have only used IE a few times, but it was horribly bloated and slow on a 486, and reasonably slow even on a P3!

    As far as I can tell, Netscape 4.0x (on Win95 and Linux) works perfectly with almost all pages; Netscape 3.x doesn't like PNGs or style sheets, but it works most of the time.

  • So, the government's gonna vote itself a huge budget and then use only free software? Sounds about right.

    But wait, what if Doom or Quake are free? Can government officials use them?

    Brazil seems to be having some minor software weirdness today. Can you say "we finally got a reported down here that understands portugese and the internet at the same time?" Good, I knew you could.
  • "public corporation"

    This is a different thing than a government run corporatoin. Examples of public corporations include Redhat and VA Linux.
  • This is the most anti-business, anti-programmer move I could possibly imagine. Government should not embrace agendas, like the GPL, which are explicitly designed to put people out of work.

    Such a measure would be a terrible blow to Brazil's software industry and to programmers everywhere.

    --Brett Glass

  • No problem. I really didn't write those Brittany Spears songs... And I'm not really bigger than Cher :-)
  • Believe it or not, I think these two Brazil stories (banning of certain shoot-em-ups, and pro-free-software laws) are symptoms of the same problem. Both are a result of governments that are all-too-willing to mess with peoples lives and the processes of free markets* in order to create outcomes that they believe will be `best'. Sure, it's all fine and dandy when they do these things to help free software, but do we really want a government that decides what companies succeed and what companies fail on a whim?

    Actually I have a different take on this. I think that by mandating free software, they are doing exactly the correct thing. When they buy proprietary packages, they lock themselves into a single company due to compatability issues. By standardizing on MS-Office, for example, they make it very difficult to change over to another package down the line. Users don't want to convert files, and conversions are never as good as the original files, and sometimes lose important elements. By using free software, even if you decide to go with another alternative in future, the fact that source code is open and can be incorporated in future products from whatever vendor you choose promises to make changes much more simple. And if they are missing functionality, they can hire developers to improve the product, a difficult, if not outright impossible task in the closed source world. Consider the educational possibilities: computer science students in Brazil working on government sponsored open source projects during the school year and on internships. The government could award prizes to the students and their CS departments based upon performance. The money they save on proprietary software and license policing could probably fund the program. I think this sort of move is long overdue for governments. I would never trust my company/government to run software which I had no hand whatsoever in the production of and no legal recourse if the vendor changes licensing agreements. In short, I think it very responsible that governments limit themselves wherever possible, to software that they own, rather than that which the license. That notwithstanding, go for the most flexible license you can get.
  • There are obviously at least a few Brazilian Slashdot readers. You think the person who submitted this story was from Korea? ;\)

    Last I looked, we had readers on every continent except (AFAIK) Antartica.

    I get e-mail from everywhere. It's very cool to realize how far and fast open source is spreading. We could use more stories about Linux and open source in places other than N. America (hint, hint), especially features that draw on personal experience (BIG hint).

    - Robin


  • Get, like, a grip, dude. Most programs have nothing to do with word processing. Even if you are talking about a word processor:

    1. Word compatibility is not rocket science. Even abiding by the terms of the MSDN EULA, give me a couple of months and a lot of coffee and I'll reverse-engineer whatever's necessary to make it happen. In serious software development terms, this is so cheap as to be essentially free. I work with a guy who spends many of his days reverse-engineering data structures in the NT kernel, the better to write device drivers. Stuff like that is common. A file format is trivial in comparison. You're naive. Even in volunteer-driven free software terms, it's within reach.
    2. MS is developing an increasingly stiff hardon for XML. Dealing with XML-formatted information is so easy it's not even fun.
    3. Word compatibility is necessary only when Word is treated as a standard by the government. You're telling us that the government will not be compatible with itself because it doesn't use Word. Dare I question your logic?

    As far as web browsing goes, Netscape is barely functional when compared to Internet Explorer.

    Have you used Netscape? Can you quantify the alleged drawbacks? It displays HTML, it does Javascript, Java, and plugins, what more do you want? If it does ActiveX controls, I damn well want to know about that so I can tell it not to. That's executable code, bro, with no security. No thanks.


    From a developer's standpoint, the only salient fact about IE is that it fucks up the common control libraries. They're releasing OS patches on a toy-application rush-rush development schedule, and that is not wise. Each new version has different bugs. Everything has to be tested on an ever-expanding variety of different "versions" of windows, each of which (pre Win2K) can have any given version of IE, or none. Windows development has always been partly a matter of deducing when the documentation is incomplete or wrong, and when the API is buggy, and yadda yadda, but IE has made this much, much worse, because the number of versions has exploded and the machine I'm debugging on is not even relevant to half the users out there. And guess what -- we pass the problems on to you, the consumer! Where I work, we're very damn careful and we test like madmen (and even so, we still goof now and again). Not everybody is so careful. Not everybody is willing to slip a release date by a week to make sure it all works, all the time.

    Of course, since every Windows user now "freely chooses" to use IE in precisely the same way that geese in France "freely choose" to produce foie gras (but with less desirable results), there's absolutely nothing anybody can do about it. Except of course use an operating system that's not hopelessly fragmented. Which the Brazilian government seems to be considering. What was your point again?

    Anyhow, this is a bill before the legislature, and it will not pass. Don't worry, nobody's going to hurt poor little Bill. You can go back to sleep now.


  • bla bla bla bla bla bla

  • Oh yes, and how about we shoot pronographers, because pornography is wrong. And we can also lock up people who use cuss words, because that's wrong. Oh, and non-Christians can also be thrown in jail, because that's just plain wrong. And people who wear plaid. Plaid is wrong.

    If free software has to resort to force, then it is no longer really free, now is it? The freedom of choice is a much more basic right than the freedom to duplicate.

    Non-free software hurts no-one. If you don't like it, don't use it. What about software that isn't "open source" in the OSD sense, but does come with source code? (ie: you get the source when you buy it, but you're not allowed to distribute it) How does that hurt anyone? All it does is ensure that the developers actually get paid for the work they did.
  • Will you please get off Bruce's back? Don't ever put him in the same sentence as ESR. If you're going to criticize him, be man or woman enough to attach your name to your comment.

  • I have no problem with you personally, and I don't particularly mind your sig, but I wish you would use the standard method of attaching it.

    If Taco gave me enough room to have both a quote and a sig, I'd gladly use the standard method. It's annoying retyping it every time :-)

    That being said, I sign my name because, as the WELL saying goes, You Own Your Words.

    Didn't know the retyping was annoying anyone but me. I'll try to do something about this.
  • Since they have to create a law to make free software their policy, I wonder what is the current law regarding software purchases. Do they currently require the use of MS products ?
  • Mandating that anyone -- and the government in particular, since it is a large customer -- not buy commercial software means killing the software industry in that country, which in turn means destroying jobs. It's not rocket science; it's common sense.

    It is also not in the citizens' best interest. The people will be best served if government procures the best software for the job. And to insist that government boycott native businesses in favor of almost entirely foreign products is an idea that only Richard Stallman -- who spitefully wishes to see all commercial software companies destroyed at any cost -- could love.

    --Brett Glass

  • And the purpose of this mass emailing would be...?

    I'm all for communicating with representatives, but treating each member of the CCTCI to a slashdotted inbox probably won't make them feel warm and fuzzy inside.

    What it will teach them is that when they deal with Microsoft et al they end up dealing with one contact that obviously is supported by a very large organization. When they deal with the free software community they end up being overwhelmed by a slew of redundant emails having a very low signal-to-noise.

    I like your intentions, but I'm afraid the effect could be counterproductive. A thousand proponents won't be able to convince a congressman nearly as effectively as one proponent will.
  • Hi, Richard.

    Sorry, but -- bzzzt! -- I think that folks are learning your true motivations at last. The fact is that it's the GPL which hurts others, by turning open source software -- which was originally free for all to use for any purpose -- into a weapon against business. For the sole purpose of fulfilling your spiteful grudge kindled some 15 years ago.

    --Brett Glass

  • Privating behavior is caused by the feeling of "being able to get away with something", no merely saving money. It's easy as hell to (bypass the macrovision) and copy a movie. But nobody does it, when you compare to sofeware privating, because it's not cool. If there's no privating in this world, every sofeware/dvd movie/book will be five times cheaper than the current price. Just like those "buy one get 12 free" BMG music CDs.

    Media company make money by controlling the distribution channel and leverage, not the "product." They can have you pay 14.99 for a cd that have one song in it and still feel like the luckiest person on the world, as far as they put only one song in every CD.


    CY
  • Right from the submission, and also in the article, FREE as in free speech.
  • Well, first of all, I would like to make a few comments, as KGBear does sometimes :):

    1) We are not talking about explicit open source software. It is FREE. The source is closed? It doesn't matter. If they can give us, we will use it. That's the idea.
    2) Probably that will save huge amounts of money, of course. But there is a lot of piracy, even into the government (many agencies have illegal copies of very expensive software). That will keep going.
    3) The lack of supervision will probably throw this law into complete dust. Who will be assuring people are using 'as much as there is possible' of free software? What will be the _penalties_ for people running commercial software? Those questions intrigate me.

    Now to the good point. This will lead to something very very good, and completely new: thousands of people using software like *nix. That will make the understanding of such systems much more common between everyone. And, we all know no jobs will vanish from such acts. Software bought was bought. Future software running will be free, and programmers won't have to work more (or less) so they can sell his new applications. If the functions of the program are very needed, like, let's say, PhotoShop (there is always GIMP =D), the program will be bought. What I mean is, good programmers will always have their places.
    So, concluding: why not? less budgets, and, besides, just wonder how much people will begin using real os'es? how many people will get to know the real possibilites his computer had but he never experienced?
    I think some other countries should take a look at the idea.
  • Indeed, the power that closed source has is astonishing: especially considering that the government traditionally has insisted on multiple sources for products for "national security" reasons.

    Add in the economic damage that takes place when countries like Brasil import billions of dollars worth of software -- the trade imbalance is a serious problem for countries like Brasil and their money could be put to much better use at home than in Redmond.

    If this bill passes it will help their economy immensely and should be a good model for a lot of other countries with a large support base for Linux users (India, for example, could benefit in much the same way that Brasil could).

    Then there's the savings per system -- making computers more affordable for home users ("I need to get the same thing we have at work") will contribute to education and computer literacy...

  • And your problem, Brett, is that you are willing to prosper, to raise yourself higher, by standing on the backs of your fellow man.

    We should all stand on one another's shoulders. As Brian Reid once put it, scientists stand on one another's shoulders, but programmers seem intent upon standing on one another's feet!

    Civilization can never advance so long as we take personal profit from the good works of others.

    Not true at all. When we make a contribution to the state of the art by building on what has been done before, we should be rewarded for having done so. And the more one contributes, the more one should be rewarded.

    --Brett Glass

    P.S. -- Since I'm not posting as "Anonymous Coward," I hope you'll own up to your own ideas and do likewise.

  • Yet
    Another
    Freakin'
    Brazilian
    Software
    Article
    There, I got to go trolling in context. Where is that guy? I haven't seen that post in a while...

    This doesn't make sense. There's idealism, and then there's practicality. The government of Brazil seems to be just a little too much of the former.

    Free software is just that -- software. The (sigh) MONEY comes in when you sell related "services". Obviously, they aren't free. To paraphrase jwz [jwz.org], free software is only free if your time (or someone else's) is worthless. Depending on the situation, you may spend (more || less) for (better || worse) software.

    It's a good idea to look at all the options. Perhaps free software alone does suit your needs, but there are many, many "Ask Slashdot" questions that seem to suggest that OSS can't do everything for everyone.

  • Ah, but to the GPL fanatic, commercial software is immoral and must be destroyed at all costs. The end justifies the means -- and the means, alas, include forced denial of choice. (That's what the GPL is about, too: coercing authors to forfeit any reward they might otherwise reap from their hard work.)

    If you point out -- rightly -- that the proposed law mentioned above denies freedom, they'll do the old "pivot word" trick and say, "No, you don't get it! It's not free speech, it's free beer! Or is it the other way around? Doesn't matter.... Whichever meaning of free you're talking about, we mean some different one, so your argument's irrelevant."

    --Brett Glass

  • What, with the high cost of living in silicon valley and total lack of nightlife, wouldn't you rather be hacking code on your laptop on some beach in Brazil? Carnaval is coming!

    Viva Brasil!
  • The market _is_ affected. Every company that sells closed source software is automatically prevented from making from the government. (e.g. Corel, Sun, etc.) OTOH, it is very likely that this will help one of RedHat, Caldera, SuSE, or [whoever's selling debian, sorry I forget :]. It'll also help out other OSS companies at the expense of "traditional" business model software companies.

    The effect is good, but I don't like the method. Free software should win on its own merits, not by being forced down people's throats. Keep in mind that Corel recently _successfully_ sued the Canadian government over an unfair tender for office software. What I would like to see is the government pointing out that free software needs to be considered alongside the tenders from commercial companies. I imagine it would win much of the time, given the excellent price point :), but then things will have been fairly evaluated. The only time it won't win is if commercial software gives a lot more functionality for not much cost, or if free software can't meet the tender requirements. Obviously there would need to be laws against making up bogus tenders which excluded free software. OSS companies could submit tenders, too. This might work better than just having a zero-cost "free software" tender go in the pot, since most government departments would need someone, or a company, to figure out exactly what piece of open source software they needed, and to set it up. Presumably, they would want to buy a support contract from someone like linuxcare, or something.

    I guess whatever happens, the average office dude still has the software choices of his superiors shoved down his throat in many cases. :(

    Hmmm, now that I think about it, the above might be not quite true. Having access to source code does make good sense as a tender requirement. We all know how much that matters. (hehe, I guess I just forgot about it for a sec...). So, I guess this is all well and good after all. I imagine there will still be tenders from OSS companies to provide "solutions" for various things, though. Hmm, I wonder if any companies do *BSD, because if not, it could lose the consideration it deserves for the things it is good at, if the selection process involves tenders and support contracts. I bet if many other governments or even [non-tech] companies start doing this, companies will spring up that will install and support pretty much everything. (not everything by each company. you know what I mean.)

    I just hope there isn't too much backlash against this from the working dudes in all the offices. (kinda like Torg in UF the last few days... :) I mean, StarOffice is crap. It is the
    most bloated thing I've ever seen^Asecond (after windoze)^E. ...and they say Emacs Makes A Computer Slow. I would complain if a place I worked standardized on soffice, but as long as I had freedom to use an OSS I chose, I'd just use Emacs + LaTeX :) (speaking of LaTeX, it would be really awesome if a whole bunch of people in government departments learned LaTeX. If Brazil's anything like Canada, most of the people there could use the infusion of logical thinking it would provide :) In fact, OSS in general requires more thinking to use initially, but once you get used to the UI, it makes perfect sense. (I like that:)

    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • To take an optimistic view of the situation, the law is saying that one of the requirements for all software is that it comes with free source that they can hack if they want to. At first, though, I was thinking along the lines you are (were?). I hope they're smart enough to be doing this to avoid getting locked into vendor dependence, not just to ram OSS down people's throats. The law would stop foolish people who might be swayed by the [short term/sales pitch] lure of flashy closed source software.

    The government is free to set out the requirements for tenders to provide a software "solution", and in this case they've decided that all tenders must come with source.

    I think the "required functionality" clause will take care of cases where closed source software is significantly better, so this really is a good thing for them to do.

    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • This is what I've always wanted to see:

    (1) Very strict enforcement of copyrights (no one, but absolutely no one uses illegal copies)

    (2) The government, as an IT-consumer, must investigate first if Open source can do the job, before spending taxpayers' money on proprietary software.

    It totally changes the ballgame. If, for example, the government standardizes their word processing requirements an open source package, it will raise a very serious challenge for MsOffice in that country.

    Governments worldwide spend easily up to 50% of the gross domestic product. As IT consumers, they can definitely set the tone.

    Combined with better law enforcement, aimed at stamping out the illegal use of Microsoft software, an open-source-first policy will make a significant difference.
  • If there's no privating in this world, every sofeware/dvd movie/book will be five times cheaper than the current price. Just like those "buy one get 12 free" BMG music CDs.

    No.. if piracy stopped, the prices would stay the same, but the record companies would find another excuse for keeping them there. CDs cost $12-$15 not because that's how much it costs to cover losses due to piracy, but because they know that people will keep paying that much if they have no choice.

    Also, there is no book piracy to speak of. Ever try finding the text of a novel on the net? Ripping and encoding audio from a CD is easy, but no one wants to type in an entire novel by hand, or tear apart his copy of the book and scan each page.

  • The GPL does not meet the requirements set forth here, because it discriminates against the authors and pubishers of commerical software. Therefore, GPLed software would be excluded by this text.

    Which is a good thing, IMHO. The GPL attempts to turn open source into a weapon against business, and this is not a good thing.

    --Brett Glass

  • Yeah the free market works, but only in the longer term. Stop being against the Brazilian government on the principle of non-interference. Who says they're forcing anyone to use anything?

    The public bodies still get a choice of _which_ free software to use, there's still competition between different projects.

    Also, they'll have to pay money whatever software they use. Either they can pay a lot for the software, and that money will go abroad (closed software), or they can pay their own citizens for support and customising the software. Given that choice, it's easy to see why they're trying to boost their own economy by mandating that they keep the money in their country. After all, it's in their own interest as the Government to do so.

    For the rest of us, we should be glad that such a large organisation as a government is prepared to invest in free software, which benefits everyone.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Which influence ? The project _ALREADY_ is in congress and for sure were a Brazilian initiative.

    Beyond any SlashDots encouragement there is the reality: We do not have money. You certainly would realize if you ever see one of our Uptown Hospitals, which hasnt room for half of the people (even those who are actually one step to death). No beds, No medicine, No doctors, Nothing, that this decision should be made not based on a fool opinion from a foreign fool, but on the real need of the Government. What should they buy ? A shiny new copy of Win2k or some medicine ?

    More yet: Ill be very happy if other under development (tah certo isso?) coutries could be influenced by our attitude. Free software is a viable, no-cost option that wont just make the SlashDot readers proud by being a free software defender, but will give some money to us instead to Bill Gates. He already has enough.

    And besides, What makes you think that we had foreign influence ? We have some good ppl here. Did you ever checked WindowMakers Info Panel ?
    Go check the Linux kernel CREDITS file and get ready to see that Free Software doesnt obey frontiers.

    Think about it.

    PS: Please ppl, forgive me for my bad english.
  • I agree that choice is what open source is all about.

    But I would argue the Brazilian government, presumably working in the interests of the Brazilian people, have the right to choose policy on procurement for software used by the government, which is what this appears to do.

    There is a practical issue here for one thing. Interoperability and upgradeability are both greatly enhanced by a monolithic solution. Open source has advantages in both areas, and provides more choices at the same time. Think about the money and time required for a government to switch to W2K for a minute. If the taxpayers revolt against that, you think the government should ignore them?

    More importantly, open source is a little like the freedom of information act. It allows the software infrastructure to be examined by anyone who wishes to. As software becomes more and more critical to our way of life the risk of closed software doing unknown things becomes more and more of a real threat to privacy and democracy.

    Just for example, if internet voting is adopted I think a law requiring the sources for the voting software to be public would not be unwise. Otherwise the designer of the voting software could exert political influence, or datamine voters, without anyone realizing it. Such an argument could be made for almost any government agency's use of computer software. Software purchased on behalf of the public should be open to public scrutiny -- not really that radical is it?
  • Don't you just hate that?

    Looks like you got moderated back up, though.

    I bet that the moderator won't post their reasons, sadly. The same thing happened to me a couple of days ago, and I did what you did, and my question to the moderator got marked Off Topic which, while I guess was true was a little annoying considering the number of "Grit" posts still with a Score of 1 and 0!

    Someone (I'm assuming it was the same person) disagreed with my views enough to burn 2 moderation points on it! I should be flattered, I guess.

    It's a perfect example of why moderation should not be anonymous.

    I agree with your post, BTW.

  • Closed source software companies have big budgets. They are likely to always have big budgets as long as they are able to sell software form $200 to $20,000 a seat. They use these big budgets to marshall and finance huge sales and marketing forces.

    Trust me, if marketing, advertising and sales techniques didn't work, capitalism would have saved that money and stopped using them a LONG time ago.

    So, point 1: superiority based on the merits of the software is not enough; it is perception and business relationships that matter, and point 2:even with these big old market caps, I can see no way for free software to fund the marketing and sales forces needed to compete with the closed alternatives, since per-seat licenses generate so much revenue so quickly. Only Apache and some infrastructure software is exempt from this situation, because infrastructure software is sourced and implemented by IT people, who are more likely to be informed of the actual options.

    I see the strongest model for free software development in the public sector as coming from a commission model: the water utility needs to upgrade its systems, it looks for bidders to design an open/free solution, and then pays them to do it. The product of that work remains public and available for peer review and improvement, and available to other water districts. Software development becomes a service industry with a collegial environment - and, without all the detritus from trying to ape a manufacturing model replete with sales and marketing forces (above a bare mininum) I think you could expect developers to make a LOT more.

  • Bill No. of 1999

    (By Mr. Walter Pinheiro)



    Disposes on the utilization of open source programs by public and
    private entities under stockholder control of the public administration.



    Article 1 - All levels of the public administration, the Powers of the
    Republic, the Government owned and/or controlled companies, the public
    agencies and all other institutions under control of the Brazilian
    society are obligated to use preferencially, in its systems and
    informatic equipment, open source programs, free from proprietary
    restriction as to its licensing, alteration and distribution.



    Article 2 - Open source programs are those which adhere to a license of
    industrial or intelectual property that doesn't restrict in any aspect
    the licensing, distribution, utilization or alteration of original
    features.



    Article 3 - The open source program must assure users unrestricted
    access to its source code, without any cost, with the intent of
    modifying said program, in its entirety if needed, to promote its
    development.



    Paragraph: source code must be the preferential resource used by the
    programmer to modify the program, not being permited obfuscating its
    accessibility or introducing any intermediate form of output from a
    pre-processor or a translator.



    Article 4 - The utilization license for open source programs must allow
    modifications and derivative works and their free distribution under the
    same terms as the license for the original program.



    1 - The license may only restrict distribution of a modified form of
    the source code if it allows for the distribution of the altered
    programs together with the original source code, aiming at the
    alteration of the program during compilation.

    2 - It must explicitly allow the distribution of the program compiled
    from the source code, and it can require that derived work have
    different names or version numbers so as to differentiate it from the
    original work.



    Article 5 - There must be no clause in the license that implies in the
    discrimination of persons or groups of persons.



    Article 6 - No license shall be specific to any one product, so that
    programs extracted from the original distribution have the same
    guarantee of free alteration, distribution and utilization as the
    original product.



    Article 7 - The licenses of open or restricted products shall not
    restrict those of products in the same distribution.



    Article 8 - Bodies intending to commercialize computer programs with the
    entities described in Article 1, shall mandatorily be regulated by the
    principles established in this legislation.



    Article 9 - Entities described in Article 1 shall mandatorily use
    computer programs distributed under licenses not in agreement with this
    law only in the absence of open source programs contemplating the
    solutions required by the acquisition process.



    JUSTIFICATION



    For more than fifteen years the free manipulation of computer programs
    or "free software" (in english in the original) has been discussed in
    the whole world. In 1984 it was impossible to use a modern computer
    without the installation of a proprietary operating system, distributed
    only under broad spectrum restrictive licenses. No one was allowed to
    freely share computer programs and it was very hard for anyone to change
    the programs to satisfy their specific operational needs.



    The GNU project, dating from the beginning of the Free Software
    Movement, was created to change this. Its first goal was to develop a
    portable operating system compatible with Unix that would be 100% free
    for alteration and distribution, making possible for users to contribute
    with its development and to modify any part of its original
    constitution.



    Technically GNU is like Unix, but it differs from it in the freedom it
    allows its users. Many years of work by hundreds of programmers were
    needed for the development of this open source operating system. In
    1991, the last major component of a Unix like operating system was
    created: Linux.



    Today the Linux/GNU combination is used worldwide, freely by millions of
    people. This program is just an example of how the freedom to modify,
    distribute and use computer programs can influence in a faster and more
    democratic way the profile of social and technological development in
    the world. The State, as a facilitator of technological development and
    of the democratization of access to new technologies by the society, has
    a responsability to prioritize the utilization of open source programs.
    If small, medium and large multinational companies are already adopting
    open source, thus avoiding paying hundreds of millions of American
    dollars in program licenses, why should the State, with its infinite
    social causes in need of resources, continue to buy - and at premium
    prices - commercial programs?



    Sessions Room, December 15 1999



    Congressman Walter Pinheiro

  • rm -rf /usr/local/microsoft

    HTH.

  • Well, obviously some Brazilian representative cares what I think, because he based his proposed bill on something the Debian developers and I wrote :-)

    Sorry to disagree with you here, Bruce.

    Obviously this "representative" has a son (or cousin, or...), probably a university CS student, which is a recent convert to the Linux "movement", and who is poised to get a big government contract for Linux tech support. Assuming that Walter Pinheiro has even heard of you (or even touched a coomputer in his life) is just wishful thinking. There's an abundance of legislation here in Brazil with similar underhanded purposes, some of which thankfully didn't pass - more out of a general cluelessness of Brazilian Congress, rather than a wish to curtail such sleaze - and this is simply one more example.

    I'm amazed how the general /. response, usually a knee-jerk response against government abuse of "free speech" or "free enterprise", becomes a knee-jerk response in favor of any harebrained government initiative which happens to pay lip-service to "open source" for its own purposes.

    Interesting that /. is asking /.ers - most of which probably are Americans - to write to a Brazilian congressman in support of legislation which certainly will benefit only a few American companies like Red Hat. I'm all in favor of breaking the stranglehold Microsoft has on the Brazilian Government. If you don't run Windows you're practically locked out of any web site or data interchange with any public agency - official documents are in Word format, official databases are in Access format, income tax software is Windows-only. But, kicking Brazilian software companies in the nuts in favor of "open source" software, which is just starting to find a viable commercial model in the US, and has none at all here, will just add to the massive unemployment figures.

    I have the proposal here in front of me. Article 9 clearly states that any public agency (this includes govt. companies, public schools, and universities) will be forced to use "open source" software in preference to other options unless none at all is available for the intended use. This clearly opens the way for all sort of shenanigans, as any such acquisitions are approved by local committees - and the proposal nowhere spells out any requirement that the software should work at all for the intended purpose. And, let's face it, to assume that any agency will go, every time, through a months-long rigmarole of examining source code, is to be completely unfamiliar wih the way these things are done here. Either some "consultant" will be hired at an inflated salary to approve some package which interests himself, or another "consultant" will be hired to recompile something which has been bought already by some other agency, since the source code will be publicly available.

    I have personal experience with selling software to the Brazilian government. The first package I did (on spec) had no copy protection - I finally managed to sell one in every major city, and then, no more sales at all. And even for these half-dozen copies I had to go to court to see my money... I've been looking into writing a legal dictionary - where presumably at least half of the sales should go to government agencies - but if this thing is approved, I'll be out of business.

    I'm cautiously in favor of "open source" for operating systems, for a limited number of cases - but to extend this to application software is madness. This effectively legislates a well-established business sector - non-"open source" software companies - out of existence.

    Consider the education sector. Public schools here are often constrained to install Windows-based systems, which end up underused or even scrapped because of huge support problems. I've worked for over a decade to open up more schools to Macintoshes, which are much easier and cheaper to support. If this legislation passes, do you think schools will be able to use Linux systems? This is just ridiculous.

    Well, I'll be e-mailing lots of people next week and lobby to get this nonsense scrapped.

  • Actually, the law does not just require open source, it explicitly requires Free Software. Richard Stallman has a webpage on the differences [gnu.org].
  • That's all fine; but I think that using free software instead of proprietary software is not just a technical decision; it engages other issues as well.

    For example, closed-source solutions hide what is going on. There is no real way to tell if Windows NT is sending your E-mail back to the NSA.

    But beyond any practical advantages of free software, there is also a moral issue at stake. If we really valure the freedom that free software gives us, then mabye someday Microsoft will come out with a better OS than Windows. (I know, work with me on this) I would say that if there is a Free Software solution that does the job, then go with it.
  • See the problem with netscape is that it is just as bloated as IE. Of course IE runs constantly so it seems less bloated than netscape, because when you're looking at the speed of IE, it's the speed of IE alone, but the speed of netscape is hampered by IE running in the background. Of course us linux guys don't have to deal with that :-).

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