Positive discrimination towards free software


It was only a few days ago, but in the middle of the discussion about the national budget in Chile, the senator Alejandro navarro (Independent ex-PS) proposed an indication to the budget bill that will draw our attention to all:

“The quotation of computer equipment that includes the cost of licenses must indicate at least one alternative with software licensed under the open source or free of cost modality.

It will not be possible to acquire licenses in the purchase of computer equipment and the software licenses that are required must be acquired separately, and its quote must be accompanied by a special justification if there is an open source or free software that it makes the same function ”.

¿You read well? If not, read again because it is the most important thing in this article.

What does this mean?

If this indication were approved, it would allow free software to have the advantage in almost all public agencies, which is logical considering that software licenses represent a tremendous expense for any State, therefore, if it must be spent in any license, it is clear that there was no other better option.

For example, if a Library needs many PC'sTo tender the purchase, there must be options in which the machine does not come tied to an operating system, there should be options with GNU / Linux or any other similar system in terms of freedom of use (with FreeDOS for example). If the Library itself wanted to acquire licenses to, for example, organize its collection, it should also give arguments (convincing of course) for not having used free software.

Don Esteban, why did you use 3D Max and not Blender? You better give me a good reason or you will go to jail for embezzlement of public funds!

It reminds me of the concept of «positive discrimination»Since, although on the one hand it is intended to protect the treasury's pocket, but it is also possible to protect national developers, who with a law like this would have immense facilities to develop software specially designed for local realities.

As you will suppose, it did not take long for the response of the great economic powers of the software industry to arrive, demanding that the indication be disapproved in the next instance, arguing that it hurts local software SMEs that live off the licenses they sell and, on another accusation minor: That violates the technological neutrality among other things.

What Navarro proposed (it must be said, without great success at the moment) in Chile, is not something new of course, but it gives us the opportunity to debate it, to talk about it. The arguments on both sides are understandable.

Although the software industry seems anchored in the past with such a great fear that free software is the first option, it is still a good argument for its position that it could be violating the technological neutrality that every good State must defend if it is worthy. But many governments have lost their technological neutrality, not because of a law but because of lobbying or due to corruption. In Chile precisely that happened about a year ago, there was a «Fierce Lobby“I don't know if corruption, but guess where it came from: what other company but Microsoft.

Although that does not mean that technological neutrality could (eventually) be violated, it is unethical that it is the software industry, the ACTI (Chilean Association of Information Technology Companies), the same that defends the rights of Microsoft who speaks of neutrality. For the rest, that legal imposition would not prevent these companies from switching to free software to be stronger in a new "open" combat front or to defend themselves by giving good reasons (based on better programs) to continue paying for their licenses.

I liked the initiative of Senator Navarro, although it is timid, since focuses all its interest on getting the State to get software at zero cost, without giving importance (at least in these paragraphs which are the only ones I have looked at) greater than having the source code, which helps a lot when the software does not adapt to my needs.

How are things in your country? Is the advantage admissible for free software?

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  1.   kernel_panic said

    In Venezuela we are supposed to be beyond that: p

    A few years ago, the president issued a decree in which all public bodies were obliged to use free software, and that they had one or two years, I don't remember, to make the complete transition. Of course ... I see that the closest public library (in charge of the Government of my State) has pure XP.

    Likewise, my University (public, in charge of the State) should use free software for its classes but nothing ... pure XP (and win 98 or 2000 in the laboratory where matlab is installed, in which I have class in an hour: p)

    The sad thing is that I have already heard of many teachers who use gnu / linux! 3 thermodynamics teachers and the plant instrumentation teachers use it

    Another case, which is the one I like the most, is that of my automatic controls teacher. She asked if we all already had matlab and I told her that I was looking for a matlab equivalent for linux, so my classmates told her «oh teacher, Excuse this boy, he always has a linux disease and he doesn't use windows because he doesn't use anything proprietary ... "to which my teacher replies" well, I'm going to tell you something, I understand ... I don't use matlab either because it is PRIVATIVE! (imagine my smile: D) but scilab because it's FREE and so I don't have to worry about the license, renewing it and such, and that's very important if you do a lot of jobs that require it, you can't say you did it with one pirate license ... »

  2.   Caesar Salad said

    Would be wonderful!!!!! But I think that in Chile we still have a long way to go. I work in a primary health service and, obviously, they only work with windows in several of its versions. From w95 to XP because all patient management software was developed for those platforms.

    I do not imagine what could happen if someone controlled the licenses of the computers, because I am sure that the vast majority with pirated windows.

    I think change will be very difficult, there is a lack of basic elements to change the conception of information technology in public services. There are still some in my work who wonder if I do ALL MY WORK with Ubuntu, and they cannot imagine that a simple document or report can be written in OO. It seems that standards are not only built between industries, they are also rooted in culture.

  3.   Paul said

    it's still a good start. I think it matters a lot to realize that no one can depend on a company that does what they want when they want. It is true that there is a long way to go, but taking the first step one learns a lot. And that matters

  4.   Hamlet said

    Hello everyone, because in Chiclayo, Peru a couple of months ago free software began to be used in the municipal government and all its offices, in this way I do not know if they forced all the employees or not but until now I am installing debian in 7 Personal computers for those employees to practice and get used to using at home, they receive training on the job of course. I don't know if the same thing has happened in other parts of the country, but already some companies and other institutions (such as the headquarters of the National Institute of Cultira in Chiclayo) are seriously thinking about migrating from / & (% dows XP to Linux.

  5.   Hamlet said

    Adding something else, in the case of the central government, because neither free software is mentioned, nor in congress or anything else, the governmental institutions are migrating individually from the operating system according to the policies they use in their regions.

    I think that in the city where I live there was some luck, but well there, I know that with this the institutions will begin to encourage more to change.