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[nettime-lat] Peru y el software libre
Ana Viseu on Mon, 24 Jun 2002 23:19:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[nettime-lat] Peru y el software libre

[un articulo (in ingles) sobre el intento de un politico Peruano de hacer 
obligatorio el uso de software libre (open source) en la red de ordenadores 
del Estado. La idea es buena, a ver que pasa. No conozco ningun buen 
periodico Peruano, pero en la pequena busqueda que hice online no encontre 
esta noticia en espanol. Encontre un site que se dedica al tema del 
software libre <http://cofradia.org/> por si acaso le interesa a alguien. 
Saludos. Ana]

June 23, 2002
Associated Press

Peruvian lawmaker's effort could ban Microsoft on government computers

LIMA, Peru (AP) - Computer software could make Bruno Crespo's job much 
easier -- if only he had the cash.

Crespo, the chief administrator of Callao, the port city that abuts Lima, 
has a long wish list: a new tax database, a computerized property registry 
and modernized desktop programs for 200 PCs, half of which run on Windows 95.

But like all city governments in impoverished Peru, scarce revenues can 
barely provide for basic public services, let alone computer programs for 
municipal workers.

Crespo says he would need $120,000 just to pay licensing fees for 200 
versions of the latest Windows office suite. That alone is about four times 
Callao's annual computer budget.

If Congressman Edgar Villanueva gets his way, Crespo might have some more 
maneuvering room. Swimming against the Microsoft tide, Villanueva is 
pushing legislation to obligate all public institutions to convert 
exclusively to open-source software.

Villanueva's office has also coordinated with similar legislative 
initiatives in Argentina, Spain, France and Mexico, said Jesus Marquina, an 
adviser to the congressman.

Open-source programs, embodied by the Linux operating system, have 
underlying code available to anyone who wants to modify or customize it.

Such software, in unadorned form, can be downloaded from the Internet for 
free. The value that developers add by customizing open-source software for 
specific needs -- and supporting it -- generates income.

In proprietary software like Microsoft's, the source code is mostly secret. 
Companies charge licensing fees. Users update it by buying a new version.

Villanueva's measure would apply to all software -- from server operating 
systems to databases, word processors and e-mail. It allows for exceptions 
only if no open-source solution exists.

If passed, the legislation could be the first of its kind in the world -- 
the first government-authored legal restriction that aims at Microsoft's 
dominant operating systems and the commercial software industry that has 
grown around them.

Open-source still represents only a small share of the global software 
market, but governments around the world have begun turning to it for 
various reasons.

Federal agencies in major powers including France, Germany, China and the 
United States have adopted Linux for servers, mainly because it's cheaper, 
stable and deemed less susceptible to viruses and hacker attacks.

For poorer governments in Latin American and elsewhere, open-source would 
mean big savings without losing functionality, proponents say.

``The basic issue, really, is that governments are paying a high price for 
commodities,'' said Miguel de Icaza, chief technological officer at Ximian 
software company in Boston. ``A country shouldn't be paying between $200 
and $700 for each workstation to run word processors, spreadsheets, Web and 
calendars, and e-mail.''

De Icaza is a lead developer and promoter of open-source software, 
including in his native Mexico. His company sells for $60 a Linux desktop 
complete with a modified version of OpenOffice.org, the free, open-source 
competitor to Microsoft's Office.

For Callao, open-source could take the expense out of software upgrades, 
leaving Crespo to dedicate his computing budget to developing database systems.

Villanueva says the Peruvian state owes about $30 million in overdue 
software license fees. A government study last year estimated Peru would 
have to pay $18 million in licensing fees to cover the pirated software it 

The same study painted a stark picture of Peru's overall IT situation. Many 
government PCs still run Windows 95 and about a third still use the 
outdated Pentium II processor -- or earlier versions.

Villanueva says budget savings is not the primary goal of his proposed law.

``Our philosophy is to try to give access to technology to the most people 
possible, especially young people, and that the state should play a 
fundamental role in that process,'' he said.

Villanueva hopes his measure triggers activity in Peru's software industry 
by freeing programmers from the constraints of working with coding 
controlled by a few large companies.

Microsoft officials contend the legislation is based on misconceptions and 
unproven theories. Along with Peruvian software companies, Microsoft has 
lobbied congressmen, government officials, academics and businesses with 
that message.

The office of the chief of Peru's Cabinet has already voiced opposition to 
the measure.

``There are several challenges that the government would face if it 
approves that law,'' said Mauro Muratorio, Microsoft's corporate strategy 
director for Latin America.

Muratorio said software comprises just two to three percent of an 
organization's technology costs. More than 90 percent goes to services, 
such as technical support, training and development, which could be even 
more costly with open-source, he added.

Sales of Microsoft products -- mostly made through local businesses -- 
encourage local growth, Muratorio argued.

Microsoft Peru expects $27 million in sales this year, which would generate 
about $70 million for local businesses, Muratorio said.

Rolando Liendo, president of the Peruvian Association of Software 
Developers, said the country's fledgling software industry -- which 
produces $40 million a year in mostly proprietary software -- could be hit 
hard by Villanueva's legislation. Roughly a quarter of its business goes to 
the government, he said.

But Villanueva argues that the freedom created by his bill would far 
outweigh any temporary losses.

With proprietary software, ``a systems engineer graduate ends up being a 
user. Call him 'programmer' in quotation marks, but in the end he's a user. 
If he had access to source code, that engineer would have the possibility 
to transform, to modify, to adapt to his needs, to create,'' Villanueva said.

``We're just giving them a legal tool so they can go forward. We'll see if 
it happens.''

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Tudo vale a pena se a alma não é pequena.

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