If he is to make good on his promise to improve life for the tens of millions of Brazilians who live in dire poverty, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva knows that one key challenge is to bridge a massive technology gap. And if that means shunning Microsoft Corp. software in South America’s largest country, then so be it.
Silva’s top technology officer wants to transform the land of samba and Carnival into a tech-savvy nation where everyone from schoolchildren to government bureaucrats uses open-source software instead of costly Windows products.
Such a policy makes eminent sense for a developing country where a mere 10 percent of the 170 million people have computers at home and where the debt-laden government is the nation’s biggest computer buyer, says Sergio Amadeu, the open-source enthusiast appointed to head Brazil’s National Information Techonology Institute by Silva after the president took office this year.
Paying software licensing fees to companies like Microsoft is simply “unsustainable economically” when applications that run on the open-source Linux operating system are much cheaper, Amadeu said. Under his guidance, Silva’s administration is encouraging all sectors of government to move toward open-source programs, whose basic code is public and freely available.
“We have some islands in the federal government using open-source, but we want to create a continent,” said Amadeu.