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Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

El Gobierno Vasco dice NO al software libre

Posted by isilanes on January 19, 2008

Quería hacerme eco de la noticia, aunque no es nueva (creo que es una decisión de principios del pasado diciembre). Tal y como se puede leer, y bien comentado, en softwarelibre.deusto.es y en cybereuskadi.com, el Gobierno Vasco se ha sacado de la manga un informe (por ahora, secreto) por el que han concluido que el software libre no es una alternativa viable al actual sistema de software privativo (básicamente, Windows con Office) para los ordenadores oficiales.

La declaración oficial (PDF) de la Vicepresidenta del GV, Idoia Zenarruzabeitia, es una respuesta a una petición realizada por la diputada del grupo socialista Idoia Mendia.

El detonante de este post es otro en la página de ELSE (Asociación de Empresas de Software Libre de Euskadi), donde comentan una reunión mantenida hace 4 días con el GV, de la que ESLE salió (aparentemente) con bastante buena impresión. Yo no comparto tal impresión. Más bien creo que el supuesto informe es una excusa barata. Dice ESLE en su blog:

También hemos solicitado acceso al informe realizado a lo que Gobierno nos ha trasladado la imposibilidad de sacarlo al exterior, ya que se trata de un documento de uso interno […]

Y yo me pregunto: ¿es que un informe así no debería hacerse público? ¿No tiene la ciudadanía el derecho a saber? ¿No debe el gobierno dar explicaciones a sus ciudadanos?

Ocultar el informe convierte lo dicho por el gobierno en un simple argumento de autoridad. Como lo dice Zenarruzabeitia, o cierta consultora, o cierto informe, o el gobierno, o _____ (introduzca la autoridad que desee), debe de ser verdad.

A mí a lo que me suena es a que tienen otras razones, más inconfesables que las dadas, para rechazar el SL, y se escudan tras el informe para justificarse. En otro foro propuse que quizá (¡qué mal pensado soy!) en caso de dejar de malgastar dinero público comprando software de mala calidad a una empresa privada extranjera, quizá ciertas personas (las que decidían si hacer dicha compra o no) dejarían de recibir misteriosos maletines por Navidad (negros por fuera, y llenos de verde por dentro, creo que se me entiende).

Pues bien, parece que hay más gente defendiendo estas “conspiranoias”. Por ejemplo, hay gente que dice que difícilmente el GV se pasará al SL después de saber que MS lleva un tiempo “negociando” con el GV instalar una sede en Arrasate. Dicha sede, supongo, traería mucho dinero para el gobierno Euskadi, con lo cual pasarse al SL y enfadar a tito Gates podría ser muuuuy malito para los políticos la ciudadanía.


Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

My opinion on Mandriva vs. Microsoft

Posted by isilanes on November 6, 2007

Blog moved to: handyfloss.net

Entry available at: http://handyfloss.net/2007.11/my-opinion-on-mandriva-vs-microsoft/

I have posted about an open letter François Bancilhon, CEO of Mandriva, wrote to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

Here I intend to give proper answer to some comments in the Mandriva blog page, mostly covering ethical and legal issues.

For a complete immersion on the subject, please read the whole letter. For a summary: the government of Nigeria decided to buy 17k computers. Mandriva and Microsoft made offers, and Mandriva won. After the computers being sent to Nigeria, the government of Nigeria contacted Mandriva and informed them that they’d pay the bill, but that they had changed their mind and would install Windows instead.

Now some comments in the Mandriva blog page, and my responses:

Charles said

November 1, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Would you entrust your country’s educational computer future to a company whose CEO writes whiny unprofessional conspiracy theories on his blog? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

Even if bribes were made (and I’m just saying hypothetically ‘if’), the reality is that for this to have happened somebody must have seen value in a Microsoft solution over your ware. It’s your fault for not being able to convince the customer otherwise, not Microsoft’s for behaving like a business.

Grow up.

1) The whole point is that with Mandriva the Nigerian government wouldn’t be “entrusting their country’s educational computer future” to anyone. It’s the other way around! No matter how stupid/lame/immoral/illegal Mandriva and its CEO are, once you make the Linux bet, you are free. You don’t depend on any single vendor for anything. I know it’s a complex concept for a slave-minded Windows user, but Linux is about Freedom. On the other hand, going for Windows implies entrusting yourself to a single company: Microsoft. Would you pledge obedience to an unethical, monopolistic, soulless, predatory and often illegal company? You are doing so by surrendering to MS. Besides, the CEO of Mandriva is not “whining”. He is caring. After all, they got the money, so, if money was his only concern, he’d be happy. But he is concerned about more things, which you seem to be impervious to: the fairness of the deal, the fulfillment of closed agreements, the access of Nigerian youth to Free Software, the respect of MS to anti-monopoly and fair market rules… The wise is pointing the sky, and you look at the finger instead.

2) It is not Mandriva’s “fault”, and MS did not “behave like a business”. If MS somehow bribed the Nigerian government, they’d be seriously breaking international law, violating the rules you rely on to believe you live in a democracy. Not “everything” is permitted in business. A monopolistic holding can not sell products below price (dumping) to eliminate the competitors. It is against law, and, if permitted, it totally damages the consumer in the long run. In the short run, the lower prices are a plus for the consumer, but once the competition is hampered, the company in the monopolistic position can continue abusing the market (raising the prices, lowering the quality, applying arbitrary limitations…).

sarek said,

November 5, 2007 at 3:46 pm


What are you whining about. You have sold your PC you already have your money. If the Nigerians would say, we don’t want to pay for the software because we install Microsoft Windows i could understand your complaining. But you have deliverd your goods, and got payed. What is your problem, if the Nigerians want to convert the machines to a Sony Playstation, that is not you problem, it is their right because they have bought and payed for the goods. I can’t understand all those whining of Linux community against Microsoft, I use Linux myself and the company uses Windows. Linux is not heaven and Microsoft is not Hell. If you look at companies as Suse/Novell and Red Hat, it is no open source anymore (they are copieing the Microsoft marketing strategie).

François, stop whining and use a better sales team

3) Again, François is not complaining for money! He is speaking of fairness, justice, and even the good of the Nigerians themselves. Don’t you get it? Mandriva won the contract, because their offer was better. Any act whatsoever afterwards is a dirty trick (possibly illegal) to impose a worse product that had lost in fair competition. François is worried about Nigerians getting the worse product.

4) About Mandriva getting a better sales team… why should they? They freakin’ won the contract!! Their product is better, and their sales team did convince the Nigerian government. Where did Mandriva fail? They should have bribed the Nigerian government, I infer?

Steve said,

November 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm

Come on guys! Seriously, you wonder why the mass market isn’t taking on Linux in numbers? There’s a number of reasons, but comments like:

“I am proud to be a linux user and i’ll die as a linux user.”

“MS is like a drug dealer”

And then moaning about ethics. Come on – this is business.

5) No. François is not talking only about ethics. Bribing someone to dump the option that won in a public competition and choose the loser option is illegal and unfair. Besides, it is also unethic, and your lame ad hominem attack on Linux users doesn’t “prove” otherwise. What you accuse Linux users of is not unethic, and even if it were, it doesn’t disprove our arguments (read what an ad hominem is, please).

Maybe, just maybe Microsoft presented a really good business case, stating the TCO on a volume licence agreement compared to the Mandrivia option. The cost would be reduced due to the volume licence agreement anyway, and that also includes free technical support to MS.

6) This line of argumentation is irrelevant. Obviously MS might have a better offer than Mandriva. But the public competition was made just for that! Both Mandriva and MS made the offers they considered fit, and Mandriva won. How many times does this need to be said? Mandriva won the competition and MS lost it. If the Nigerian government changed their mind afterwards, it has nothing to do with MS’s merits, because such merits were judged in the public competition that Mandriva won.

Whilst Linux is a great platform, it’s still nowhere near Vista or XP level yet. Whilst Linux is free or very cheap this is OK – but if you compare Vista against Linux and remove the cost out of the equasion then the worlds most popular OS is probably going to win it.

7) You have obviously not used Linux much. The technical competition was lost for Windows long time ago. The only advantage of Windows is that it is more widely used and that more commercial software is made for it, and this generates a vendor lock-in effect. Both effects are external to Windows. Intrinsically, and leaving the price aside, Linux is miles ahead of MS Windows.

That’s just business, we’ve had the same thing happen to us (our company is a web development company. Got Phase 1 done, but support went as they got their system redone by a competitor before we even finished development) Get over it, stop whining like children and start working as a commerical entity rather than hobbyists.

8 ) This is not “business”, this is breaking the law (see point 2 above).

chineme said,

November 4, 2007 at 8:28 pm

I don’t understand what all this fuss is about,Someone buys a laptop or PC that comes pre-installed with windows (also paying for the software) then remove windows and install mandriva no one complains.

Then he do the opposite and everyone takes up arms.

9) You are wrong. If I buy a laptop privately, I can do with it whatever I see fit. But the Nigerian government bought 17k computers with public money. Whenever you do something like that, you have to make (if you live in a democracy) a public competition, to see which provider makes the best offer (to guarantee that public money is spent correctly). This competition was made, and Mandriva won. If, afterwards, and with no further public competition, the government decides otherwise, they are misusing the public funds.

Lets face it the Nigerian government wanted a good cheap hardware deal and they got it and they probably also got a good deal on OS from Microsft as well. So they went for it. What is this Francois complaining about? Wasnt he paid or did they violate a contract that he can sue them for? If they did he can go ahead ad sue and stop whinning.

10) See point 9 above.

Did he ever go to Nigeria to protect his investment? Or did he just read up all the drivel and nonsense about Nigeria being a corrupt country full of spammers like the rest of you and decide to stay away as far as possible.

11) No. What François did was to win the public competition with his better offer. Period. Mandriva’s offer was better, it won, and any other use of the Nigerian money is a misuse on the government’s side, and illegal actions from MS’s side depending on what they did to get the deal.

On spam: I recieve more spam on people trying to sell me viagra or sell me a home ownership loan or even winning a lottery than Nigerians trying to get me to move millions out of the country and I treat them all the same way: I trash them.

Lets concentrate on the real issue being poor marketing and follow up and leave Nigeria’s ethics or lack of it out of the issue

12) The “real issue” is not poor marketing. It is improper assignation of public funds. Read points 9 and 11 above.

Alex said,

November 3, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Dear François,
Your letter show ignorance on your part about black people in general and Nigerians in partucular. Nigerians may be poor now- but they are certainly not stupid!
Your assuption- even though you have dealt with nigerians is that they are ignorant about both business issue and they do not have they technical savvy to make their own decisions- it’s nothing but pure racism. Not racisim out of malice- you seem to demonstarte a sincere ignorance about the abilities of africans.

Incidentlly, only French young people spend more time in education than Nigerians in the whole world- you can check that out
Do you seriously Think Nigerians- some of the best educated people in in African , if not in the world are not clever enough to change from your OS to microsoft’s.

13) You are using a laughable straw man argument. François is not implying that Nigerians are stupid. He (if I understand correctly) is implying that a) MS behaved illegally, bribing the Nigerian government to make it choose an option that had lost in a fair and public competition, over the one that had won, and b) it might be a case of corruption in the Nigerian government side, by knowingly choosing the loser in the aforementioned competition, and hence misusing the public money assigned to buy computers. To “change their mind”, the Nigerian government would have had to repeat the public competition, so that MS could win in a second round.

As a person of Nigerian parentage, when i first read about your deal I was alamed about you supplying your OS to nigerian schools. From what I know about Nigerians everybody used microsoft anyway- Every Nigerian I know- including the teachers who would be using this machnines use microsoft.

The delivery of machine s that are rugged by your company is just the perfect thing for nigeria and her schools.
To me it sounds like the best business outcome- from the point of view of the customer.
They get rugged machines good for their situation, and an os they are used to

I think for once Nigerians have let common sence rather than money to prevail.
Maybe you should press our advantage that they loved your machines to keep your relationship with the Nigerian govermenmt going, so that you get more contracts from the country- Nigerian is a huge country with millions of young people eager to learn. A well considered stategy and long term view by your country in a frican may in the end popularise your OS there as well- believe me there are ways to beat microsoft in a country like nigeria- I mean software design wise

14) Getting computers with Windows is about the worst possible outcome for Nigeria. You say that Nigerians are eager to learn, but on the other hand you say that getting Windows is better, because they are used to it! Staying with the known “bad” thing, not to have to learn the new “good” thing is very bad politics for a developing country.

GvS said,

November 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Maybe because Mandriva is just one of 10.000 linux distro’s, and Windows is the defacto industry standard.

15) Windows being the de facto standard is really really bad for the computer users. What this means is that instead of software makers following the standards agreed upon by all agents (makers, users, governments…), it’s the other way around: users, governments and other companies have to follow the decisions of MS. Decisions that are taken to benefit only MS, regardless of how negative they might be for the users. Do you really think this situation is good for you?

If you are running a government, and you have to choose between:
a. A linux distro that my students have a 1% (a very very high estimate) of using in real life (that is working for a company)
b. A M$ solution, they will use in at least 50% (a very very low estimate) of the companies they will ever work for.
Now what do you choose to best prepare your students?

16) Your argument is that people shouldn’t use Linux because people don’t use Linux. Reread it, an realize what a nonsense it is! The correct reasoning is the following:

a) Windows binds you to a vendor (MS) / Linux doesn’t
b) Windows restricts your rights to use, modify and redistribute it / Linux doesn’t
c) Windows artificially restricts (DRM) what kind of media you can play on it / Linux doesn’t
d) Windows encourages you not to learn how the computer works / Linux does the opposite
e) Windows makes you dependent on proprietary formats / Linux doesn’t
f) Windows is bug ridden, unstable and subject to malware / The incidence of these is infinitely smaller in Linux
g) Windows encourages following the beaten path / Linux encourages finding your own way
h) Windows makes you fall in a dependency loop that is hard to get out of / Linux gives you freedom
i) Windows means more money to the already rich / Linux means more power to the user

Now, as a teacher in a developing country, eager to break the chains with the First World domination, to give the most freedom and power to your students, to educate them to learn, and not just repeat what others do without real knowledge… what would you choose to provide your students?

Anonymous said,

November 1, 2007 at 4:02 am


Why are you assuming that Microsoft did something underhanded? It could very well be the case that a deal with Microsoft is more viable for the Nigerian goverment in the longer run –
– Their products are tried and trusted. Yours is still an unknown quantity.
– Their customer support is supposedly very good. How about yours?
– Maybe the TCO for Microsoft’s solution is lower than your solution.

I’m in no way taking sides. But you must be willing to accept the possibility that Microsoft could have presented a better long term deal for them.

17) Did you actually read François’s post? MS lost the public competition. Mandriva won it. MS’s offer could have been better, but it actually wasn’t. Read point 6 above.

djbon2112 said,

November 2, 2007 at 11:37 am

Wow, more bitching from a Linux distro because Microsoft won a deal? Unheard-of!

18) Again the same nonsense! Microsoft LOST the deal. There was a public competition, and Mandriva won. Mandriva and MS had the opportunity to make their best offers, both did, and the government chose Madriva. MS didn’t win the deal: they bribed their way into it. Read points 2, 6 and 9 above, please.

Sorry, but Microsoft makes a better product. You know why? It doesn’t abuse my time.

I’ve tried to use Linux. I’ve tried Ubuntu, and Debian, and Fedora, and countless other distros (yours included) throughout the years. And every time, I’ve run into problems which are so simple to fix in Windows, but take HOURS of my time to attempt to fix in Linux. And I say “attempt”, because 90% of the time, the “solutions” don’t work, and I’ve wasted another hour of my life trying to make something simple (like, a Flash plug-in for Firefox in x64?, to name one of MANY!) work.

A friend of mine said, “Linux is only free if your time is worthless”. Microsoft products work easily, the first time, and don’t waste my life with trivial issues and setup. I can get a Windows Vista box up and surfing the internet, playing games, watching movies, doing ANYTHING you want, in under 2 hours. I’ll take a little “insecurity” (and Windows is only insecure if you’re an idiot) for that!

19) This rant is more tech-related than about the Mandriva vs. MS issue at hand. Anyway, I will comment something: your experience is anecdotal. Windows is easier than Linux if you are an expert in the former, and an ignorant in the latter. I have a long experience in both, and for me Linux is easier. When I an forced to use that pile of crap called Windows I keep finding that I don’t know how to do the simplest things. Maybe it’s because I am more used to Linux… so this proves my point. And there are a lot of things that are really simple in Linux, and are really annoying, or impossible to do in Windows.

You say that “Linux is only free if your time is worthless”. It’s a good point, but rather false. You are assuming that you already know how to use Windows, and that you have to learn how to use Linux. But if you know neither, learning Linux does not necessarily require more of your valuable time. Moreover, all the time I have spent figuring out how to do things in Linux was not wasted time for me. I learned a lot, not about Linux, but about how to do stuff, and how computers work, and how the Internet works, and about security, and about programming, and about an awful lot of things. Linux gave me the marvelous opportunity to learn a lot!

Update: Nigerian government moves back to Mandriva

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Microsoft and Creative Commons

Posted by isilanes on July 1, 2006

I have come to know that Microsoft has planned to add to MS Office a plug-in for licensing the documents thus produced under one of the Creative Commons licenses (if the author so wishes, of course).

You can read about it in Slashdot, C|Net and Lawrence Lessig’s blog.

Now, a lot of people see it as something possitive (including Enrique Dans[es]), but I don’t see it completely clear. It seems to be a big boost to the popularity of CC licenses, no doubt about it.

But, is it good news to the freedom of the culture?. It would seem so, since more people will license their works under a CC (many even unwillingly, because they hit the incorrect button in their toolbar, or have the defaults of their Office wrongly configurated), but it is not. They key point is twofold:

1) What the hell is this plug-in good for? What can the author achieve with it that is not promptly achieved just adding a “This work is licensed under blah-blah-blah” manually (keyboard-lly)? It is implied that someone will write a 500-page book, but is too lazy to manually add a statement that could be inserted clicking the ultra-mega-kewl MS Offiz plug-in button…

2) What good is it to free one’s artistic (or otherwise) work under a permisive copyright, if it is burdened by a proprietary format such as those MS Office saves under?

These two facts (doesn’t benefit the author, doesn’t benefit the freedom) make it clear that (as all the steps MS takes) it mainly benefits MS. It effectively helps the author refrain from controling her work too tightly, but moves this “control” into its (MS’s) own hands. Free distribution of important, interesting, popular CC documents will make it even more important to have MS Office if these documents are DOC or similar. More so, MS could threat to cut support for the readers of such documents, increase their price, tighten the piracy controls for MS Office, and/or legally prosecute the compatible readers (OpenOffice.org)… all that supported by a more tight grip in the freedom of choice of the public.

And remember: all the aforementioned attacks to the users’ freedom can only be done from a power position… power given to them in first place by the users. Don’t fall for it!

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Windows XP license explained

Posted by isilanes on June 18, 2006

[Update: (Nov 19, 2007) The LinuxAdvocate.org link seems to have disappeared. You can find a related analysis in PDF format at cybersource.com.au]

You can find a nice explanation, in everyday english, of what the different clauses of the Windows XP EULA (End Use License Agreement) mean at: LinuxAdvocate.org.

The original EULA can be found at the Microsoft site, and below is a comparison with the wonderful xxdiff graphical file (and directory) comparator. It proves that the EULA given at LinuxAdvocate.org is correct, because the grey text (the quoted EULA) is equal in both sides, and the only difference is the added (green) sections in the LinuxAdvocate.org side, which correspond to the explanations.

Figure 1: xxdiff of WinXP Eula (right), and LinuxAdvocate.org explanation (left). Click to enlarge

Interesting excerpts:

You agree that at any time, and at the request of content providers Microsoft may disable certain features on your computer, such as the ability to play your music or movie files.

These restrictions apply to all software that you get from Microsoft in the future. Future software may contain further restrictions.

Microsoft may cancel any service that they provide to you at any time and for any reason.

You agree that Microsoft can automatically and without your consent put new software on your computer.

Microsoft assures you that Windows XP Home will work correctly for the first 90 days. They do not assure you that Windows XP Home or any service packs or hot fixes will work correctly after this time.

Uff, follow the link above and read it yourself, because all the clauses are juicy.

Think of the kind of subjugation commercial software asks from you. Think freely. Think free. Think FLOSS!!

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The Censurator

Posted by isilanes on May 6, 2006

Read in Kriptópolis: Microsoft patents an automatic censoring machine.

That machine would, allegedly, detect “phonemes and/or words derived from phonemes for comparison against corresponding phonemes or words included in undesired speech data”, and then “the input audio data stream is altered so that the undesired word or a phrase comprising a plurality of such words is unintelligible or inaudible”. This capability is available for recorded speeches (of course), and even in real-time.

I bet Franco, for one, would have loved this precious thingie, back then. And I bet that some governments today will put it to *cough* good *cough* use.

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Firefox 2 – Microsoft 0

Posted by isilanes on March 28, 2006

I am shocked to read this article in El Pais, regarding yet another bug in Internet Explorer, for which there is no official patch as of now.

What shocks me is that, in the same line, they go bash Firefox because “it also has its issues”. The example they give is the following: a guy browses to some date-finding web pages, instructing the browser not to save the passwords. Next, his girlfriend uses the same computer, but from her account, to surf the web (with Firefox), and apparently, when setting herself some password-related options, she comes across a list of sites that had the option “Do not save the password for this site”… the sites her boyfriend had visited. Result: a) they split up, and b) a bug gets reported (by the woman) to Firefox, regarding a user privacy breach.

Now, the reputed bug consists in the fact that the privacy settings (list of sites for which passwords are and are not saved) for a user (the guy), was supposedly accesible for another one (the gal). This would indeed be a security hole, and worth a big fat bug warning.

However, this was not the case. First, what seems to have happened is that the guy actually used her gf’s account to surf the web (when he set up her account), so there you are.

Second, they were running Firefox under Windows. If somehow the private settings of one account were accesible by the other one, it would be Windows’ fault, not Firefox’s. When running under, e.g., Linux, the privilege separation of users would not allow for that, no matter how wickedly wrong Firefox would have been made!

In short: the journalist reports a grave bug of Internet Explorer (product of Microsoft), and then tries to level the MS/Open Source battlefield by charging Firefox with another “bug” that is either due to user incompetence, or the OS’s fault (Windows, which is a product of… yes, Microsoft again). In my view, it’s a 2-0 victory for Firefox/Open Source movement, trying to pass as a 1-1 draw for IE/MS.

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