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This last May 17th there was a controversial article published by the brazilian news magazine Veja (http://vejaonline.abril.com.br) on how the adoption of Open Source alternatives by the Brazilian goverment led to a major decline in technological advances as well as increased the overall spending on technical support.  Though a very brief piece in the magazine, Mr. “Duda” Teixeira’s article’s message was loud and clear to the average brazilian reader:  Open source is a major mistake!  Citing several (source not published) studies to back up his statements, he goes on to point fingers at the current governemt’s attitude for adopting Open Source as being “anti-Microsoft” and completely deprived of logical reasoning.

As per his sources, several national companies that work in the tecnical support business were extremelly affected, for people were now using non-proprietary software and didn’t require the same level (or frequency) of support.  Well, isn’t this an advantage for a country where there’s a screamming separation between the social clases and an average “Joe” can barely pay for his daily needs on a ridiculously minimum salary???  He also mentions that 2000 new jobs were created in order to support the new “harvest” of software that was being incorporated across the nation.  So… generating new jobs is a bad thing???  One last thing he pointed out was that the new alternatives created were not as stable as the proprietary counterpart.  Once again, no specifics were provided and the reader is left with an extremelly bias view of what the Open Source world has to offer. Obviosuly, anyone who can read beyond his misconceptions and complete lack of understanding of the subject, can see that his major intent is to point fingers at the current president and all of the political circus that has exposed him ever since the Bolivia-Brazil fiasco of a few weeks ago.

But I’m a very tolerable person (those who know me personally will attest to that) and will give Mr. “Duda” the benefit of the doubt. Instead of flinging back (well, maybe just a bit) all of the non-sense back at him, I hereby offer him the opportunity to defend his view by providing a few questions, to which he is more than welcome to answer at his convenience.

  1. Have you ever tried Linux?  If so, when and what distribution?
  2. Are you still using it?  If not, why?
  3. In case you answered NO to the question above, and if your stoppage was due to any type of problem of support, what measures have you taken in order to try to solve it?
  4. What are the sources for all the figures mentioned in your article?
  5. What were the applications that were not usable (in contrast to its proprietary counterpart)?  Have you actually used them or accepted some type of third-party feedback?
  6. If you eliminate the current situation of the Brazilian politics, could you consider that maybe, just maybe, the fault (if any) lies with the implementation methodology and not necessarily Open Source itself?
  7. Being that Veja is a well known publication in Brazil, and considering the influential effect that media has on people, if you were to advise the middle/lower class reader who managed to finally buy a computer, to purchase an operating system… do you feel that you’re in such a position to make an educated and logical choice?
  8. Have you heard of the US$100 Laptop per Child program?  D you think that all of its backers are headed to sure failure for choosing Open Source?

I’m sure more questions will come up…


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