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Open Source Linux Politics

Open Source, Open World 76

New submitter Ian Grant writes "This article takes a brief look at open source software in Brazil and how it's transforming tech use in South America: Bringing free software to Brazil, however, is not just a matter of copying North American practices. The idea of free software has also been substantially transformed through contact with Brazilian politics. In the United States, the open source software community has long had libertarian leanings, which have only strengthened over time. The core tenet of free software, after all, is giving the users freedom to do what they want. ... And when free software was finally embraced by business, many members of the movement welcomed it as a validation of their ideas. The business-friendly side of free software is easily visible in Brazil, too. Many Brazilian companies, for example, use Linux. At the forum in Porto Alegre, commercial free software was well represented by large foreign companies, many of which appeared to be there primarily for recruiting. Yet the forum also showcased another side of Brazil’s place in the world of free software — a key meeting place of free software and leftist politics. "
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Open Source, Open World

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  • How is this measured?

    A poll might be a start...

    • Exactly, I want to see a source. It would be especially neat to see the political leanings of the free software vs open source communities (and overlap of course): http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html [gnu.org]
      • The article made little distinction between the free software and open source movements. That's more distinction than one might expect in such a short article, and a growing annual gathering of more than 7000 people for free software in Brazil rivals the largest Linux and UNIX conferences I've attended.

      • An article about open software with no source? Oh, the irony!
      • I haven't seen a survey. But look at the figureheads:

        Free Software - Richard M Stallman - hippy.
        Open Source - Eric S Raymond - Far right libertarian.

        • First, let's congratulate Brazil for doing more than it's fair share in the open source community. We have a ton of open source people here in the US (RMS for example), and obviously Linus makes Finland an open source Mecca all by himself. I've dealt with several excellent open source devs from Brazil, many countries in Europe, and a ton in South America, yet I have yet to meet a decent open source developer from the entire content of Asia. What's up with Asia?

          Libertarian leanings? This comes from the b

          • If they take heroin, crack, meth, or any new fangled drug that overrides free will, then we need to take away their freedom and help them recover.

            You're making a sophomoric error here on the order of supporting cell phone use laws. We don't need a law for that, it's already illegal to drive recklessly, or while distracted. We don't need a law criminalizing drug use, all we need is to treat their behavior with an eye towards rehabilitation, unlike our current legal system.

            • We don't need a law for that, it's already illegal to drive recklessly, or while distracted.

              A law isn't simply a tool to arrest/charge/sentence/ticket people. It's firstly a guide to the public of what is acceptable behaviour. Unfortunately many people think that they can use cell phones whilst driving and that isn't reckless or distracting. Or at least they have different ideas to what elements of use are acceptable. So the law clarifies specifically what is and is not acceptable. So no, it's not redundant.

              Drug dependancy on the other hand, I agree that they should be treated as a medical issue n

              • A law isn't simply a tool to arrest/charge/sentence/ticket people. It's firstly a guide to the public of what is acceptable behaviour.

                It's not simply, it's first and foremost. Proof? Selective enforcement. If the law required the police to punish (well, do their part anyway) all violations of the law, then you would be correct. But it doesn't, it leaves them leeway. This is a sign of a system designed to be used unfairly. The cops don't have to arrest, the DA doesn't have to prosecute, and the court doesn't even have to hear the case. This results in the passage of bad laws which can easily be used to ill ends, again, through selective en

                • While your statement is technically correct, it is functionally false.

                  Yes it is technically correct, and nothing you say makes it "functionally false". It being firstly a guide to the public of what is acceptable behaviour doesn't rely on it being enforced at all.

                  Where you have laws that are little enforced, by choice or because they are hard to detect, you often get people saying "It's technically illegal, but you'll almost certainly get away with it." That means they have the message as to what is acceptable and what is not. They may choose the illegal path anyway, but that

                  • It being firstly a guide to the public of what is acceptable behaviour doesn't rely on it being enforced at all.

                    Yes, yes it does. If the behavior is actually unacceptable, then you have to enforce the law. But the behavior is instead simply reserved for some and denied to others on the basis of who is the bigger bully, which is why we have selective enforcement. A system of law designed to be fair would require enforcement, and it would have less stupid laws which criminalize things which ought not to be criminalized because otherwise there would be no one left to enforce the law; everyone would be locked up.

                    They may choose the illegal path anyway, but that's not through ignorance.

                    No, that

          • Libertarian leanings? This comes from the basic principle that if I'm doing something that hurts no one then the government shouldn't interfere.

            With regard to open source, what specifically? The government do nothing to stop you sharing your source for free if you want to. So why does it need campaigning about?

            If you mean the right to share other people's source, then that's a problem. Your hypothetical freedom to copy without permission would break their freedom to make a living from their skills and efforts. One of the primary reasons for a government is to balance one persons freedoms against another, where they conflict.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      Most people do open source for pragmatic reasons, not because of politics. You could just as well say that because of its each giving according to their abilities and receiving according to their needs approach open source is communist.

      • As soon as you attach open source to politics, you will always lose. It would be like the unions in the US wondering why people are fighting to keep them out of their workplace and not contribute money to them when they are there.

        People use it for their own reasons, politics may or may not be one of them. But the open source is closer to the commune in communist then communist itself because it operates on a user mode instead of a government or command structure. What I mean is, open source is a way to get

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Leftist doesn't have to mean government involvement. Think of leftist ideals such as credit unions or co-ops.

          • I don't see credit unions or coops as leftist. They are simply a means to effect a goal of providing goods and services to areas neglected by other providers. Credit unions are coops and coops replace businesses who don't see a profit potential in an area or in addressing aspect of demands of areas. This is no more a leftist idea then the rotary club or chamber of commerce or eagles club or a local church.

            People on the left have embraced those concepts and used them to their advantage, but I don't see anyth

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If anything runs counter to libertarian philosophy it's free software. It's a culture of giving and sharing, a cooperative community, where a libertarian would want competitive market forces, "rational self-interest" and "rugged individualism" to govern.

      This much is true: the term "open source" was and is an ideological hijack attempt in order to make the "free software" concept more palatable for business. Quoting Wikipedia (emphasis mine)

      Perens poses Open Source as a means of marketing the free software

      • So no, I don't appreciate the subtle political hijack of the free software community by some weird market cult cleverly crafted as an ideological buffer between the rich and the poor, who are led to believe their liberation will come through the same rotten capitalist system that robbed them of their dignity and liberty in the first place.

        I agree that libertarians are fake anarchists, but I'm more bothered by the GPLv3 debacle, which is in the process of making GCC irrelevant for one thing. Can't the FSF gurus just cancel it and let software stick with GPLv2 instead? Hell, Gnome 2, Gnome 3. GTK2, GTK3. GPLv2, GPLv3. There's a pattern. Also LGPL is what you use for libraries, not GPL.

        I fear that by going one notch too far each time to preserve my "freedom" they will end up ruining everything. I guess RMS wants me to run in VESA graphics, with

        • The GPL3 exists because a few want to abuse the spirit of the law with a license literalism run-around.

          That's the problem with ideology -- it doesn't compromise to pragmaticism. :-(

          Each user needs to decide what an "acceptable" compromise is. Still to their ideology and not use any modern hardware, or comprise their freedom and use the latest hardware.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If anything runs counter to libertarian philosophy it's free software. It's a culture of giving and sharing, a cooperative community, where a libertarian would want competitive market forces, "rational self-interest" and "rugged individualism" to govern.

        And with these two sentences, you amply demonstrate that you do not understand the first thing about libertarianism.

        Giving and sharing? That can ONLY happen in a free society where the government doesn't compel you to give, or to share.

        The first thing you n

      • by agm ( 467017 )

        If anything runs counter to libertarian philosophy it's free software. It's a culture of giving and sharing, a cooperative community, where a libertarian would want competitive market forces, "rational self-interest" and "rugged individualism" to govern.

        Libertarianism is all about sharing, charity and compassion. There is nothing compassionate about having agents of the state force you to "help" people. That's not compassion because compassion is a voluntary action. As soon as you force it it stops being compassion. Libertarianism is the philosophy that does not extort or force. It is the only philiosophy where compassion and charity can reign.

        Rational self-interest does not equate to being discompassionate or uncharitable. On the contrary. It means that i

    • How is this measured?

      Most likely the good old selection bias: "all my friends share my political beliefs, or at least don't contradict them". Also, libertarians have a tendency to take a somewhat religious attitude towards their politics, and "all the cool/smart people agree with me" is a way of feeling validated, so...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    About the "Reserva de Mercado de Informática" (computer market reserve), from TFA: "The policy lasted through the mid-1980s, and its legacy has been disputed ever since. For some, it was a heroic battle of David against Goliath that left Brazil stronger, even though it eventually lost the fight. For others, it was a nationalistic boondoggle that deprived a generation of Brazilians from access to good foreign computers."

    I am from that generation -- the policy was incredibly short-sighted. It meant that

  • by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @05:11PM (#44851955)

    There is a growing left wing in South America but there is also a deeply established and quite violent right wing. For example many Priests and Nuns as well as other Christian workers have been murdered in South America as Christianity is considered a radical, left wing doctrine there. The rich and powerful seek to maintain their positions and any movement that is felt to be a threat to the power of the right wing tends to let lose the butchers. If they see open source as some sort of socialist or communist tainted notion then violent conflicts will surely follow. Even the idea of sharing with others may offend some of the old, stuffed shirt, aristocrats. I can not bring myself to scream kill a right winger for Jesus but I do come close to it.

    • by cusco ( 717999 )

      You're about two decades behind the times.

    • There is a growing left wing in South America but there is also a deeply established and quite violent right wing. For example many Priests and Nuns as well as other Christian workers have been murdered in South America as Christianity is considered a radical, left wing doctrine there. The rich and powerful seek to maintain their positions and any movement that is felt to be a threat to the power of the right wing tends to let lose the butchers. If they see open source as some sort of socialist or communist tainted notion then violent conflicts will surely follow. Even the idea of sharing with others may offend some of the old, stuffed shirt, aristocrats. I can not bring myself to scream kill a right winger for Jesus but I do come close to it.

      Open source is taking hold in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and other countries, not because it is open, but due to cost. MS licenses are expensive, and the governments there can't afford to pay to acquire MS software. We should see a lot of great Linux software emanating out of Latin America in the coming months and years.

  • That whole argument is totally bogus. You might as well argue that Free software is fundamentalist Christian because Michael Meeks supports it. Or Free software is fundamentalist atheist because Richard Stallman supports it
  • Each and every one of us uses free software...open source software... etc etc for any number of reasons. Putting labels on things and writing articles like this only serve to dumb people down.

  • Worlds apart (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iksrazal_br ( 614172 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @05:47PM (#44852199) Homepage

    I've programmed professionally in both the USA as an American in the 90's, and in Brazil for about 6 years until I started doing remote contracting for US companies. I contributed modestly to open source in both countries.

    In Brazil it was pretty eye opening to see how the programming market is pretty much 90% paid by the government in one form or another. Truly private companies are few, even fewer are smaller startups. In the USA I didn't even know anyone employed by the government as a programmer - I guess because I didn't live in Virginia or Maryland (Pentagon and NSA). And in Brazil for white collar work, its jobs for life as its mostly impossible to get fired - there's very little turn over.

    I mention this because while I worked with Brazilian programmers that were often great - I suspect because in Brazil you mostly need a degree for a job so the bar is higher - but its about as far from USA style libertarian culture as you can get. One quick example: There is a 60% VAT on imported computers and anything electronic, in effect about double the USA retail price on Chinese imports. There would be a revolution in most world countries if that was tried there.

    Brazil has greatness in many ways - its where I live happily. But there is nothing libertarian about it currently or trending that way. I say that as someone who often votes and supports USA libertarian candidates.

  • There are at least two different schools of "libertarian" thought. There are right libertarians like Ron Paul and left libertarians like Noam Chomsky.

    • Not only that, the first people to call themselves libertarians were also anarcho-syndicalist socialists. In the USA where people have been conditioned to think of socialism as a big-scary-government thing, a minimally hierarchic socialism has been excised from most thought and language. Libertarians in the USA don't even know their roots. So, TFA has some pretty shallow caricatures to work with from the start.

"And remember: Evil will always prevail, because Good is dumb." -- Spaceballs

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