The letter from Peru is a call for help.
Posted 16 Aug 2002 at 01:58 UTC by Alleluia
Several have been asking about the current status of the 'letter from
Peru.' Here is an answer, structured within the language
of advocacy. Several links are at the end of the article.
The letter from
Peru has a context. It eloquently brought worldwide attention to a
cause that has been quietly underway for several years, which is to bring
free software into use by the governments of developing nations, for the
twofold effect of 1. reducing cost and 2. maintaining an independence
from the whims of proprietary software developers, including security
concerns. As detailed below, the news from Peru has encouraged
legislators in other similar governments to begin moving forward with
similar proposals. Others which were already underway have received
strength from the clarity of that letter.
As the largest software developer to be affected by this strengthening,
responded with an array of threats and short-term promises to Peru if
it will _not_ enact such legislation. This tension brings notoriety to
all sorts of related issues which spiral outward from the core debate of
open source versus closed source, such as security, copyright, and the
stability or credibility of various development platforms. As a result,
many landmark concerns with effects ranging well into the future are
being studied for the first time by people whose role is to create
laws, all over the world. If ever there was a critical
'moment' in the advancement of free software as a cause, it began
in the spring of 2002 and will continue briefly for the next few years as
these issues reach legislative form which is international in scope,
although local in fact.
"Among other countries, the closest are Brazil and Argentina; for
Europe, we know about the law passed by the German parliament, as well as
the proposal in France and the study presented to the English parliament.
In Asia, above all there are the actions of the Chinese Government,"
said Dr. Villanueva in an
interview with Linux
Within the open source community, here is the central issue of which to
Now that free software has reach a critical mass that brings it to the
attention of legislators as a legally-mandated option, there is no
turning back. Hour by hour now, a vacuum is being created in legislative
bodies worldwide, which will be filled one way or another with a body of
law that regulates software 'choice' in ways not seen before. If
open source advocates do not move with clarity at this point in time,
legislation influenced by proprietary software will be implemented in
ways which make it more difficult to choose free software options in the
Thus, now is a perfect time to soberly consider the technical merits,
overall marketing strategy, and long-term future of Free Software, by
everyone who can work on these issues. In this light, here follows an
up-to-date list of annotated links which will set a solid starting point
(there are many more links to be gathered) for others who can begin
implementing similar legislatively-oriented projects in their local
government, local Linux User Groups, and other forums. It is entirely
possible for this sort of legislation to be enacted in your local
government, no matter where on Earth you may be. Villanueva is encouraged
by local youth who have said they are willing to march for this
"It is the youth that needs to drive its creativity, its
intelligence, its intellect ... there are many young people that can
create their own employment through [the use] of free software,"
said Villanueva in an interview
with Linux Today
We must be careful to let free software develop in an organic manner,
that is, slowly an of its own momentum, never forcing it by overmarketing
it. By resting firmly on its technical merits, free software development
will remain free; if we entangle it with marketing. It is upon this solid
ground that we must stand, as we approach legislators, never letting our
advocacy leap ahead of our ability. In this manner, free software will
always have a reputation for honesty.
The following links get right to the heart of the issue.
Via Libre: This site, in
conjunction with GRULIC, is a perfect example in history for a
dedicated grassroots effort which is having a solid impact; these
people helped Dr. Villanueva compose the original proposal (link
translated to English by Google.com). On the site is a 'law' template
which can be copied and localized throughout the world.
Pimiento Linux links :
links regarding the Peruvian letter as they appear in world news.
GRULIC list : a
Linux User Group in Argentina which has compiled a solid list of laws
currently under consideration around the world.
List : GRULIC has gone into great detail.
article : in a comment to a story, a user expanded on some of
these themes, with links to barrapunto and others.
Barrapunto article : The "Spanish-language Slashdot" has
this article, which is a July update on events, with comments (link
translated to English by Google.com).
Linux User Group which has
taken this cause on in several ways (link translated to English by
Linux Links: The advocacy page from Loads of Linux Links.
Thanks to Google for
their freely-available ads-free translation software.
This deserves restating because it is our greatest foe, far greater than
all the Microsoft promises, threats and FUD:
We must be
careful to let free software develop in an organic manner, that is,
slowly an of its own momentum, never forcing it by overmarketing
It is imperative
that we retain this honesty and the integrity of our methods, even if some say that "business does not work without deliverables" and
even if someone offers us the exclusive provisioning rights to the Pentagon!
. Remember this: By our merits alone we have come this far, by the beauty of our methods Bob Young tied
the multi-million dollar funded NT, and it is by these methods that we will prevail. If we do as the recent UL promises state ... well, if grafting old-school methodology and constraints on it did
work, then why is the world having this discussion right now? Client-server did not give us the Web, AOL did not give us P2P and bi-annual releases by cloistered developers is not going to give us transparent technologies.
Here's my advocate's pep talk: We have nothing to fear but our own fear of not winning fast enough. We must put the code first, admit it's shortcomings, and as Alleluia says, never let our advocacy (or that of our collegues) outpace our ability.
Another warning came in today from CNN/Money:
the penguin means the possibility of growth, something sorely lacking in
much of today's technology landscape.
This is the conclusion
at the bottom of an
article advising investors to follow companies who side with Tux
Now I ask you, is that funny or is it just sad: With all the
glitz and glamour over this week's Corporate Lovefest, with all the
trumpets and flagwaving over homeland economics and security, have they
all missed the point that it's not the flightless bird that gives the
edge, but the GNU that powers it?
ok, ok, I know there are other free software licenses, so don't harp on about that. my point is no less true for any of them. it's the methodology the license allows that is our magic pixie dust.
This all sounds very gay...
There is 'no all or nothing' philosophy in life, that way of thinking
in third world countries is known as Facism' and we all know how that
evil social experiment ends.
Instead, being open to a wide-range of thinking (i.e open source or
otherwise) is a more balanced approach to eveything in life. There is
no one way to anything, including writing software. Everything has its
positives and negatives, do not be blinded by your own enthusiasm to
harsh realities. Learn from everyone, merge into something bigger than
Forcing or telling soemone to do something one way will only backfire
on you. The more the better, the less the worse. Let everyone in, be
open not restrictive to only one thing.
Yes open source is not the only thing, and definetely not the
only 'open' thing either.
Be Buddha, have balance, a little of Ying, a little of Yang.
I'm puzzled ..., posted 27 Aug 2002 at 21:18 UTC by jbuck »
How did homosexuality enter the discussion? (And now some moron will
criticize me for being "politically correct" for objecting to this usage,
accuse me of censorship, and all the rest, expecting everyone to submit
to this corruption of the language in which "gay" == "bad", as if
bullying people not to object to something is less censorious than
raising an objection in the first place).
In any case, if a government chooses to avoid spending taxpayer money on
Microsoft, this is a choice, not coercion. One could make an argument
that, for governments, open data formats and protocols are the most
important thing, so that no one will be forced to buy software from only
one provider. "But they offered the low bid" is meaningless if they can
achieve lock-in and jack up the price when you need to upgrade.