Megatotoro described here how the recently announced University migration to free software made a big splash in national newspapers and even on TV news. The idea is to start by replacing MS Office suites by free software equivalents (Open Office.org/Libre Office) and, eventually, dump Windows and implement Linux.
I visited the online page of one of those newspapers to see the coverage and the comments I read were, for the most part, very encouraging and positive. Of course, the public is congratulating the University for the initiative of saving a LOT OF MONEY (that was used to pay MS licenses) through the use of Free Software and to invest this growing amount on improving the campus and on resources available to students.
Today, I had the opportunity to speak to the Dean of the Faculty where both Megatotoro and I work and somehow the conversation steered to Linux. To my surprise, she said: "So you use Linux? That's where we are heading!". Her position was one of embracing change rather than one of fear or discomfort.
Her words are certainly consistent with some actions that the University took:
1. A Free repository was enabled, so scholars and researchers can upload their works and share them with national and international communities for free
2. Several University dependencies have taken measures to guarantee access to their services from different platforms, Linux included.
3. There is a cluster of servers called ESPEJOS (mirrors) that basically lets people download linux distros and other free software from everywhere.
4. The ICT programs are required to teach courses on Free Software.
When the reporters asked the MS representative that handles government issues in the region how Microsoft was affected by this, her words were more an evasion than an answer. She said that Microsoft is “commited to work on interoperability”, and that “this implies more opportunities for developers and more technological innovation and market competition for enterprises and governments, and users”.
Yes, interoperability, she said. For crying out loud! It's thanks to Microsoft that their own proprietary formats do not work properly with other office suites (sometimes, not even their own!)
The interesting outcome of all this is that many comments from the public are urging the government to imitate this step the University took. Of course, our country is not rich and sending all that money to Microsoft instead of investing it on our students or services makes little sense.
I'm sure Microsoft will try to react to this. I was told that, last time, they had a terrible flop trying to license a specialized software for statistics in Windows...It was embarrassing because, during the demo, it crashed, just like on this memorable video...
Maybe that episode prompted the migration :-)