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← Santiago Hoerth on free software in Latin America

Santiago Hoerth habla sobre el Software Libre en América Latina, Quito, 21 de octubre del 2011, 5.47 pm.

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Showing Revision 6 created 11/30/2011 by Silvia Viñas.

  1. Juan Arellano - Let's talk about free software in Latin America,
  2. what's your opinion?
  3. Santiago Hoerth - Well, actually, free software is extremely popular in Latin America.
  4. It is probably the place where it is most popular, regionally.
  5. There is, to begin with, Brazil and its government's
  6. decision to incorporate
  7. free software for public administration purposes,
  8. and the support for the local development of free software.
  9. Also, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina,
  10. Costa Rica is now implementing a new system
  11. where universities are required by law to incorporate free software.
  12. And, in other countries, free software is also
  13. growing noticeably, not only through those
  14. who actually use it, who are obviously important
  15. and who make free software possible,
  16. but also through the support of the authorities,
  17. in this case, the government.
  18. The government supporting free software is
  19. an important encouragement for those who
  20. are trying to develop free software.
  21. So, yes, the outlook of free software in
  22. the Latin American region is definitely positive.
  23. Even though some people still use privative software
  24. on their computers, when it comes to
  25. companies and public administration
  26. there has been a noticeable migration towards free
  27. software, and this also includes some universities.
  28. What Código Sur does is to encourage
  29. civil society organizations and social movements
  30. to incorporate free technologies.
  31. Not only free software, but also, once the free software
  32. has been incorporated, move on to other types of
  33. free technologies as well.
  34. It is a fact that free software has become
  35. a Latin American movement.
  36. It is so because of the growing support that
  37. free software has received from different areas.
  38. So the prospects in Latin America for free software
  39. are that free software will continue to grow,
  40. will have an even stronger market position,
  41. and will slowly replace privative software altogether.
  42. What I always say is that those who are nowadays
  43. working with privative software in most
  44. of the information technology areas
  45. have their days numbered.
  46. Because in a short time from now,
  47. no one will support privative software.
  48. I couldn't tell you exactly when.
  49. It is, obviously, a matter of years.
  50. It could be 5 to 10 years.
  51. The growth of free software is unstoppable.
  52. JA - Free software, generally...
  53. There are some criticism of it.
  54. On the one hand, those who develop free software
  55. are quite ...
  56. how can I put it?
  57. radical
  58. SH- Aha.
  59. JA - ...about its incorporation to the market.
  60. And on the other hand, I've also read
  61. that free software simply copies
  62. privative software, and provides the free software
  63. version, and that it lacks originality.
  64. What can you tell me about all this?
  65. SH - Well, the first thing I can tell you is that
  66. no, that free software is original to
  67. a very large extent.
  68. And I'm going to use Firefox as an example,
  69. a web browser of the Mozila Foundation,
  70. that is free software.
  71. In the struggle that took place between
  72. the browsers in the world,
  73. Internet Explorer had 98% of the market share
  74. two years ago. Nowadays it is starting to fall,
  75. it already lost 40% of the market share.
  76. It approximately has 60% of the market share now.
  77. When Firefox was launched, one of the
  78. improvements, related to Internet Explorer,
  79. was that, I don't know if you remember,
  80. a few years ago with Internet Explorer 5 and 6
  81. when you wanted to open a new window,
  82. you had to literally open a new window,
  83. and if you wanted to use several pages
  84. at the same time, we had to open 30 windows
  85. in our operating system, right?
  86. Different windows. Each one in a different
  87. Internet Explorer window.
  88. Firefox said, "I think it'll be a good idea to
  89. solve this with a few tabs".
  90. And it started the idea of tabs for the browsing
  91. of different web pages.
  92. So one could have 30 tabs open
  93. in only one Firefox window.
  94. Automatically, Internet Explorer, on its 7th version,
  95. if I'm not mistaken, what was its next step?
  96. Adding tabs to its browser, wasn't it?
  97. Because the way Firefox was working
  98. was obviously more functional.
  99. 80% of the Internet, approximately, it is not an
  100. exact figure, but it is around that number,
  101. works through free software.
  102. Apache is the number one web server.
  103. Most of the e-mail addresses are free software.
  104. And regarding what you said about the
  105. 'copying of the privative software', I think
  106. it is not imitation what we could find but attention
  107. to the needs of all those who use the product, right?
  108. For example, Photoshop is not very similar to
  109. GIMP, regarding presentation and the way some
  110. things are done. But it allows you to do--
  111. I mean, the results are practically the same.
  112. The same happens with Inkscape and Illustrator
  113. and other Adobe programs.
  114. There are a lot of programs that are
  115. characteristic of a certaing area, for example
  116. video or audio, and therefore a large
  117. number of users would be used to a specific software.
  118. So the aim would be to keep the learning process
  119. very close to what people already know,
  120. so as not to drive them crazy and to increase the
  121. potential penetration rates of the free software
  122. on users of privative platforms.
  123. So, I think it is not really 'copying',
  124. but rather some projects trying to achieve a
  125. certain level of comparison so new users
  126. would not have any problems when learning
  127. how to use the tools.
  128. But, actually, free software is much more
  129. innovative than privative software.
  130. Many of the numerous developments that are taking
  131. place are not even present in privative software.
  132. JA- Ah, OK.
  133. And I also mentioned the activists of
  134. free software being referred to as "radical".
  135. SH- Right, yes, yes.
  136. Well, radicalization, I think, has to do with
  137. being aware of what is happening with
  138. companies and people who develop privative software.
  139. What is it that happens when one uses
  140. privative software?
  141. I mean, it is not a simple matter.
  142. On the contrary, one does not have any
  143. control over what one is doing.
  144. So the purpose of radicalization is to
  145. make people understand the reasons
  146. when we talk about technology, we
  147. necessarily have to talk about freedom.
  148. And that freedom is translated in the
  149. possibilities and freedoms that
  150. the software I'm using provides me with.
  151. If a software does not let me see the source code
  152. there is no way to audit it and know
  153. exactly what that source code does.
  154. There's a thing that happens--
  155. I don't know if at some point, to those who
  156. use Windows, for example, when trying
  157. to install a program they get a notification
  158. that says: "This software in not validated by
  159. Microsoft. Do you still want to install it?"
  160. JA- Aha.
  161. SH- If us, as developers, want Microsoft to
  162. validate one of our softwares,
  163. what we need to do is send it to them,
  164. send the source code for them to analyse it,
  165. and the application that they approve is
  166. returned to us as a compilation.
  167. What does a "compilation" mean?
  168. That we can no longer see how that
  169. software is done, because we can no longer
  170. have access to the code. It is a compilation,
  171. it is closed, a package, we can no longer open it.
  172. And that is what they allow you to introduce,
  173. as a validated product, into their system.
  174. JA- Which could be completely different
  175. from the one that you sent.
  176. SH - And you don't know what it is that
  177. they changed, exactly.
  178. You don't know what they they did
  179. to it, because they send it as a compilation.
  180. So, from this point of view, what does
  181. it really mean to de radical?
  182. Is being radical making people aware of how much
  183. proprietary software is damaging society?
  184. Or are they people that--
  185. leaving aside any internal problems among
  186. free software supporters, and that some people
  187. can be more radical or more closed-minded.
  188. I mean, generally, the free software movement's
  189. main purpose is for people to see what really
  190. happens when they use privative software
  191. and what are the advantages and possibilities
  192. of using free software.
  193. And I'm not simply referring to technology, but
  194. to society as a whole. With either one of them.
  195. Socially, when we use privative software, we
  196. depend on the person or the company
  197. that develops it. We will never be free
  198. from the company that develops a
  199. certain software which we can't access.
  200. Free software, on the other hand, can be
  201. developed through a specific company
  202. and if in the future, for whatever reason, you don't
  203. want to continue working with that company,
  204. you can hire a different one to continue
  205. developing it, because the source code
  206. would be available to you.
  207. So, radicalization has to do with that.
  208. In some places where human rights are
  209. being violated, there are people who are
  210. extremelly radical exactly because of that,
  211. because they are defending human life.
  212. We can translate this into the position that
  213. the activists of free software have.
  214. JA- Aha, OK. Than you Santiago.
  215. SH - Pura vida