Open software decree or open software folly?

September 29, 2004

Venezuela is getting ready to decree that it will be obligatory to use open source software in all Venezuelan public offices. This is not the first time that Chavez threatens with this, in fact his former Minister of Planning Felipe Perez made a priority of this during his somewhat ephemeral and colorless tenure in that position. Chavez said that this is done to attain national scientific independence, I wonder if he ever considered this when he destroyed Venezuelas oil research institute Intevep in what I consider to be scientific genocide. In one stroke, the worlds best research group on heavy crudes was disbanded and shipped abroad so that the countrys competitors would benefit.


I can only ask: What will happen to the Smartmatic machines that are Windows based? Or the fingerprint capture machines that are Windows based? Or to the system for issuing national ID a card which is Windows based? Maybe they will have to be replaced a cost of a zillion dollars, but how can a zillion dollars stand in the way of scientific independence? No?


 


As my friend B. suggested today in an e-mail to me, why doesnt Chavez stop selling oil to any country not using open software exclusively? In this way he could get rid of viruses. It would be Venezuelas contribution to the world!


 


I agree with Diosdado Cabello, using Linux, Latex and openwin (thanks B.) truly represent the democratization of the access to information technology and give more power to the people. I certainly hope the Misniter of Science is installing Unix tonight in her home PC to lead by example.


 


This is all part of a very special project “Science for the people and without scientists” that the Government has been working very hard at ever since its premier scientist Merentrs accepted a Government position.

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