World Social Forum open source software gathering
January 31, 2005 5:42 AM   Subscribe

Pushing the open source agenda to the international stage. Brazilian Pop superstar / Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil, Grateful dead lyricist John Barlow and others participated yesterday in a World Social Forum gathering in Alegre, Brazil to urge a free open source software policy in the developing world. An open source constitutional discussed previously on metafilter here.
posted by tidecat (26 comments total)

 
"All the social forum's 800 computers are running on open-source software, but the loosely organized event ran into an embarrassing glitch Saturday when two big screens betrayed the fact that the computer was running on Windows, with the operating system's toolbar visible at the bottom of the screens." Tee hee.
posted by tidecat at 5:43 AM on January 31, 2005


I'd like to see some substantiation for Barlow's claims.
posted by Captaintripps at 6:04 AM on January 31, 2005


Barlow said poor nations can't solve their problems unless they stop paying expensive software licensing fees. 'Already, Brazil spends more in licensing fees on proprietary software than it spends on hunger,' said Barlow, also the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a cyberspace civil liberties group.

is this more or less than the amount they are stealing?

The USTR said it initiated a GSP intellectual property rights review for Brazil in January 2001, after finding that estimated losses due to piracy of copyrighted materials would total $785 million in 2003, an increase of $70 million over 2002.
posted by three blind mice at 6:09 AM on January 31, 2005


At least in the software biz, MS wants them to 'steal'- if they actually had to pay full price, they'd move to linux even faster than they already did. The day MS calls for an American-style software audit on any third-world government or major business is the day their IT departments start burning linux CDs en masse.
posted by louie at 6:26 AM on January 31, 2005


and the day their IT departments start burning linux CDs en masse is the day that they realize that stealing from MS was actually easier.
posted by three blind mice at 6:39 AM on January 31, 2005


three blind mice, wouldn't the increased piracy be an argument for affordable software? If people are stealing their software, perhaps they'd be happier using equivalent free software, assuming they aren't simply pirating for the sake of piracy.
posted by odinsdream at 7:15 AM on January 31, 2005


Lessig had two good blog post's about the forum here and here.
posted by togdon at 7:44 AM on January 31, 2005


JPB is da man. This is so right-on. Multiple harmonic frequencies converging. Down with Microsoft and down with American Hegemony!
posted by VP_Admin at 8:13 AM on January 31, 2005


and the day their IT departments start burning linux CDs en masse is the day that they realize that stealing from MS was actually easier.
posted by three blind mice


I think you're confusing stealing with copyright infringement. They are two completely different things, although certain groups would have you believe otherwise.
posted by VP_Admin at 8:16 AM on January 31, 2005


People feeling the necessity to "steal" software indicates that the pricing structure of the goods is out of synch with what the market can bear. To put it into strictly Randian verbiage.

Steal what you need.
It doesn't reduce the number of copies available for others to purchase.
Or, use open source. It's better anyway.

and the day their IT departments start burning linux CDs en masse is the day that they realize that stealing from MS was actually easier.
posted by three blind mice at 6:39 AM PST on January 31


On what planet? ROI says otherwise.
posted by nofundy at 8:18 AM on January 31, 2005


and the day their IT departments start burning linux CDs en masse is the day that they realize that stealing from MS was actually easier.
posted by three blind mice


Maybe they want security and professional grade software that doesn't crash all the time. Maybe they need auditable source code so they can have confidence in their IT infrastructure. Maybe they are joining with lots of other countries who are boycotting American exports because we elected the Butcher of Iraq for a second term.
posted by VP_Admin at 8:18 AM on January 31, 2005


On what planet? ROI says otherwise.

Maybe they want security and professional grade software that doesn't crash all the time. Maybe they need auditable source code so they can have confidence in their IT infrastructure.


maybe. maybe this is just wishful thinking. and maybe i'm the one on the wrong planet, but - piracy aside - didn't MS post record profits last quarter? clearly people want what MS are selling, but not everyone admits that taking something without paying for it is stealing.
posted by three blind mice at 8:42 AM on January 31, 2005


VP_Admin, could you refrain from all the amazing pro-Open Source, anti-Microsoft comments I've had the pleasure of reading for about eight years? I think concentrating on the strengths (legal and technical) of your preferred solution and contrasting them to the parallel weaknesses in products from companies like Microsoft would be a little more effective. Or maybe you can post some "clever" homoerotic pictures of Bill Gates on your website.

The reality is that there's an inertia that makes crossing over to something different more difficult. Ideally, we'd all be using robust Open Source operating systems and software that was easily, securely updateable. Oh yeah, and everyone would instantly feel a deep emotional attachment to the software.

From a practicality standpoint, I rate Lessig and Gil higher than Barlow. Barlow has done good work in being a strong voice for digital freedoms, but any more his resume seems more and more a cliche to me. That's where another part of the sale of open culture is going to happen, in the interactions and personalities.
posted by mikeh at 8:43 AM on January 31, 2005


maybe this is just wishful thinking.

Are you ignoring the issue? Software that doesn't crash: Not Wishful Thinking. Secure Software: Not Wishful Thinking. Auditable Source Code: Not Wishful Thinking.

These are real issues that real people want real answers to. Open-source software provides real solutions to a lot of these problems. It isn't 100%, nothing is, but it's a step in the right direction when people need to know what the source code is doing. Call it a "niche" if you want, but it isn't the stuff of dreams, either.

As for MS making money - I don't understand how this plays into any argument for or against open source software.
posted by odinsdream at 8:48 AM on January 31, 2005


didn't MS post record profits last quarter?

So did Halliburton. Your point again?
posted by nofundy at 8:54 AM on January 31, 2005


VP_Admin, could you refrain from all the amazing pro-Open Source, anti-Microsoft comments I've had the pleasure of reading for about eight years?

No.

The reality is that there's an inertia that makes crossing over to something different more difficult. Ideally, we'd all be using robust Open Source operating systems and software that was easily, securely updateable.

Duh.

From a practicality standpoint, I rate Lessig and Gil higher than Barlow. Barlow has done good work in being a strong voice for digital freedoms, but any more his resume seems more and more a cliche to me.

So you want originality from me and you think JPB is cliche?

I explained the facts to someone who thinks windows is better than linux. Sure, it's not original, it's been said before but I'm not a poet or artist, striving to please your fickle ear. Facts need to be repeated to those who don't know them.

Also, what makes you think I or anyone else gives a rat's ass if you think John Perry Barlow's resume is cliche?
posted by VP_Admin at 9:01 AM on January 31, 2005


That's where another part of the sale of open culture is going to happen, in the interactions and personalities.


Gee, maybe you can be the VP of Marketing for Open Culture (tm).
posted by VP_Admin at 9:07 AM on January 31, 2005


but not everyone admits that taking something without paying for it is stealing.
posted by three blind mice


Taking a physical object that doesn't belong to you is theft. Making an illegal copy of something you're not licensed to copy is copyright-infringement.

Get it?
posted by VP_Admin at 9:13 AM on January 31, 2005


Bah linux is still too complicated for the average computer user. Yes open source does have security advantages over windows, however if open source had a huge market share you would see those advantages erode like sand in the wind.

Show me a techno dolt who finds linux easier to use than windows and i will show you the beginnings of a revolution. Until then i think its a moot point. Linux users cry out for change from ms to linux, but they fail to address the usability issue that makes windows so profitable and linux a masochistic endeavor.

On preview the fact that the metafilter spell check thinks the closest word for Linux is Olin is a good case and point.
posted by sourbrew at 9:22 AM on January 31, 2005


Bah linux is still too complicated for the average computer user. Yes open source does have security advantages over windows, however if open source had a huge market share you would see those advantages erode like sand in the wind.

The main drawbacks to linux today are lack of popular software (adobe, macromedia, etc.), lack of hardware support from companies that won't make linux drivers, and the inertia of the windows mind-share monopoly.

Linux will never be as insecure as Windows, no matter how popular it gets. It is an inherently more secure OS, by design.

Windows is the masochistic endeavor, but some are still compelled to suffer the incredible lack of security because they require certain software and hardware.
posted by VP_Admin at 9:28 AM on January 31, 2005


The main drawbacks to linux today are lack of popular software (adobe, macromedia, etc.), lack of hardware support from companies that won't make linux drivers, and the inertia of the windows mind-share monopoly.

That, and it's a pain in the ass for the average user. There's no getting around this. It should be possible, if not stupidly easy, to do anything you need to do without touching a command line. Apple proved that you can take a *nix kernel and wrap it in a pretty, usable interface which requires little or no use of the command line. If someone can do that for the x86, and give it away for free, Microsoft should be scared. Of course, the lack of software/drivers is a problem. However, with an appealing platform and a solid IDE it would only be a matter of time before the developers started cranking out the goods.
posted by mullingitover at 10:55 AM on January 31, 2005


This has nothing to do with open source, but here goes anyway. What is Barlow always identified in these stories as "Grateful Dead Lyricist?" He wrote or co-wrote some decent songs (Lost Sailor/Saint of Circumstance, Music Never Stopped) and some truly weak songs (Just a Little Light, Blow Away, I Will Take You Home). To say that he is/was a Grateful Dead lyricist is literally true, but does a grave disservice to Robert Hunter who wrote most of the songs strongly identified with the Dead's body of work. Since this is much more about his post-Dead life, why can't he be "EFF Guru" or guy who tried to board a plane post 9/11 with dope?
posted by fixedgear at 12:51 PM on January 31, 2005


People feeling the necessity to "steal" software indicates that the pricing structure of the goods is out of synch with what the market can bear.

Substitute "software" with anything, and the reasoning doesn't appear to change. After all, people have been "feeling the necessity" to steal (sorry..."share") about anything since the dawn of time.

I'm getting seriously tired of these arguments: on one side you have large companies who would like to keep stretching the scope of IP rights into infinity, regardless of what the public thinks. On the other side, Linux fundies and downloaders who feel that they ought to be free to exploit other people's ideas and work without any compensation whatsoever. Where did common sense go?!
posted by Skeptic at 2:05 PM on January 31, 2005


Except software is intagible. If you substituted software with "diamonds" you end up with people stealing a finite amount of diamonds. One person stealing a diamond means another person has one less diamond. If people could make exact duplicates of their diamonds, their price would dramatically drop, until someone copyrighted the diamond. Then the metaphor breaks down, which is why it doesn't make sense to compare intangible objects to physical things.

I just want to share my personal experience: I had never bought Windows. '98 came pre-installed on one machine, and subsequent copies (98SE, 2000) I got from a friend. (later I bought a refurb. laptop and asked that the OS be left off the price, but it got included anyway. I didn't pay for it, but there it was, full license and all. I don't know. It's like they -have- to include it). I also used unpaid-for copies of various programs to get things done. I ended up paying for CDRWin, but not much else.

I installed linux, and used entirely free software, and loved it. I guess that makes me a "fundie." Any software I found I needed to buy (crossover office), I actually bought this time around. My financial situation hadn't changed much from the Windows days, but my outlook had.

I now use a combination of Linux and OS X, and I've bought several pieces of software for OS X, and a few for Linux. I don't use unpaid-for software at the moment.
posted by odinsdream at 4:59 PM on January 31, 2005


On the other side, Linux fundies and downloaders who feel that they ought to be free to exploit other people's ideas and work without any compensation whatsoever.
...
posted by Skeptic


How exactly are "Linux fundies" exploiting other people's ideas and work without any compensation? What do you mean by "downloaders"? Why do you lump "Linux fundies" together with "downloaders"?

"Linux fundies" are more uptight about copyright infringement than anyone. The licenses which protect their public software are based on copyright law.

The kernel developers of Linux won't look at the source-code for Solaris, Windows or anything else, because they don't want anyone to have any legal standing to accuse them of stealing ideas.
posted by VP_Admin at 5:23 PM on January 31, 2005


I predict that in the not too distant future that all operating systems will not be considered as a revenue source but only as a base platform from which to build specific functionality. The current pricing of Windows operating systems is greatly exaggerated. The profit margins of software companies is extremely bloated and that in turn creates market demands that circumvent the normal processes (illegal copying.)
posted by nofundy at 4:48 AM on February 1, 2005


« Older "You have the audacity to call me intelligent.”...  |  "Why is my birth certificate a... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments