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Governments push open-source software
CNET - news.com (Paul Festa)Aug 29 2001original
Posted by giovaOct 09 2004 - 12:41
Governments around the world have found a new rallying cry--"Software libre!"--and Microsoft is working overtime to quell it.
A recent global wave of legislation is compelling government agencies, and in some cases government-owned companies, to use open-source or free software unless proprietary software is the only feasible option.

This legal movement, earliest and most pronounced in Brazil, but also showing signs of catching on elsewhere in Latin America, Europe and Asia, is finding ready converts as governments struggle to close sometimes vast digital divides with limited information-technology budgets. So far, there is no evidence that similar legislation is being considered anywhere in the United States, experts said.

Open-source and free software represent a budget-priced alternative to Microsoft's Windows operating system and applications that can cost thousands of dollars a month to license. In addition, access to underlying source code means governments and businesses can fix problems or modify software to work more effectively.

But behind the obvious reasons for the move to open-source and free software are more subtle issues. One of the overriding drivers behind legislation, experts said, appears to be a desire to break free of the United States' lock on the global software market.

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