[en] FSFLA News Issue #11

Beatriz Busaniche bea at fsfla.org
Thu Jun 1 19:46:28 UTC 2006

Issue #11
June 2006

1. The "L" in LUG stands for "Free Software"
2. FSFLA responds to Veja Magazine (Brazil) 
3. GPLv3
4. Work in progress
5. Events

1. The "L" in LUG stands for "Free Software"

When what was going to become a very active Free Software user group in
Colombia were looking for a name, what came naturally to them was
"COLIBRI --- Comunidad de Usuarios de Software Libre en Colombia". You
will notice that the acronym doesn't match the name, probably owing to
the fact that the word "colibrí" (hummingbird) was just too beautiful to
be sacrificed to the need of actually meaning anything.

At the moment of their founding, not all user groups were as insightful,
or maybe as lucky, as COLIBRI was. In most cases, they were built by
groups of people who had discovered something truly wonderful: software
they could study and tweak to their heart's desire, programs they could
share freely with their friends, and which they could use without having
to submit to restrictive conditions unilaterally set by its author. Very
often, they had gotten to know this software through a Unix-workalike
operating system many people referred to as "Linux", so when they set
out to tell the world about it, most of them formed a "Linux User
Group", or LUG.

Only after their members had become better acquainted with Free
Software's philosophy and history did many of the LUGs become aware of
the GNU project's importance. Some of them felt strongly enough about
their original mistake as to change their names. Sometimes they changed
the meaning of the acronym (Mendoza's LUGMen became "LUGMen Usa
GNU/Linux en Mendoza", mirroring GNU's recursion), sometimes they
changed the name to something that didn't fit the acronym at all
(Rosario's LUGRo became "Grupo de Usuarios de GNU/Linux de Rosario").
Others felt that both solutions were awkward enough, or that the issue
were not worth the trouble.

Recently, however, more and more LUGs are realizing that keeping the
emphasis on "Linux" is not the right thing to do, that even broadening
their focus to GNU/Linux is still not good enough, and that nothing
short of "Free Software" will do. This follows from three observations
that are becoming unavoidable:
      * the topic of the LUGs is much broader than Linux, even than
        GNU/Linux. Asking for help with a BSD system on a LUG's mailing
        list is not considered offtopic, but asking for help with
        non-free Unix-workalikes such AIX system is. Solaris used to be
        just as offtopic, but OpenSolaris is not. From a technical point
        of view, these OSes have lots in common, yet their are
        irrelevant to the LUG's topic. This makes it apparent that it is
        freedom, and not any technical feature, that makes software
        pertinent to a LUG's work.
      * a large portion of the work of LUGs is telling people about Free
        Software. If they do so concentrating on "Linux", they are not
        only driving attention away from the important issues, they are
        even putting a large portion of their work at risk. Just as any
        other free program, the Linux kernel will not be with us
        forever: it may become obsolete, or a legal challenge may be
        successful and take it away from us to some extent. This would
        certainly affect Free Software, but it would not be a
        catastrophe: there are other free kernels, and Linux could be
        replaced without too much effort. The effect on communications,
        however, can be much larger: if LUGs have been telling people
        that "Linux is good for you", and all of a sudden Linux is no
        longer there, they must redo all the communication again.
      * the topic of LUGs is not at all restricted to operating systems,
        or to the GNU project. Questions about using non-GNU free
        programs such as OpenOffice.org or Mozilla on proprietary
        operating systems are welcome, and LUGs often help people start
        the way towards Free Software by installing free programs on
        whatever OS the user has on his or her machine.

By and by, LUGs in Latin America are coming to realize this, and
changing their names and communications to reflect the fact that they
are actually gathering around the Free Software concept, and not any
particular program or collection of programs.

2. FSFLA responds to Veja Magazine (Brazil) 

Veja, one of the widest-circulation news magazines in Brazil,
published an article criticizing the Brazilian government's adoption
of Free Software.  An on-line copy of the article is available at:

http://veja.abril.uol.com.br/170506/p_068.html (subscribers only)
(both in Portuguese)

FSFLA responded as follows: 

"Criticizing good government positioning does not seem to be a sensible
position, even if you want to oppose the government.  The adoption of
Free Software, for example, is presented in issue # 1956 (May 17,
2006) as a party stance, in spite of the convergence of forein and
national, right- and left-wing initiatives with the same goal.  Quite
the opposite, the quest for technologic and economic sovereignty,
independence and development in the country, instead of accepting the
position of mere software consumers, should be independent of

Our initiative is not as successful as in so many other countries,
that is a fact.  Putting administrative mistakes aside, there's
certainly negative contribution from the impunity to corruption, that
makes it easier for lobbies for proprietary software that seek to
maintain their monopolies.  By listening only to the voices favorable
to the monopolites, mistaking freedom with zero cost and presenting
the creation of jobs to replace royalty payments to foreign companies
as a bad thing, the magazine placed its credibility in check, even
more so if you take into account the journalistic presentation of
fallacies present in ads and "studies" funded by advertisers in the
magazine itself.

Some other URLs that refute with more information the position taken
by Veja's article (in Portuguese):






Alexandre Oliva
Secretary for Free Software Foundation Latin America"

3. GPLv3

The Free Software Foundation continues leading the process of update
and commentaries on the GPL license to its version 3. The third
conference of the annual cycle of public consultation will take place in
Barcelona, Spain, on June 22 and 23.

For this event is confirmed the presence of Richard M. Stallman,
founder and President of the Free Software Foundation, Eben Moglen,
President of Software Freedom Law Center and Legal advisor of the FSF
and Georg Greve, president of FSF Europe.  On behalf of FSFLA, will be
Federico Heinz, who will maintain us informed on what happens during
the two days of the event.

As it happened few months ago in Brazil, the third GPLv3 conference
will count with expert panelists of Europe and the rest of the world
in sessions that will discuss the internationalization of the license,
the problems involving DRMs and software patents, and the license
adoption by Free Software projects and developers.

More information on this event in the site of our sister organization
FSFE in  http://fsfeurope.org/projects/gplv3/europe-gplv3-conference

4. Work in progress

The FSFLA [translators] team is working in the translation of several
At the moment we are elaborating the Spanish version of the Richard M.
Stallman speech in the event of GPLv3 during the Second International
Conference made in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

The draft of the material, not yet corrected, is in our wiki in
It is open the invitation to collaborate in this and other
translations. For this, we counted with the [translator] list where it
is possible to review the daily work and to subscribe in

Some interesting discussions on legislation on use of Free Software in
public Administration are taking place in the [legal] list. One of the
central subjects discussed at the moment has to do with the Free
Software Law in Rio Grande do Sul and the controversy about its

Public files and invitation to add contributions to the discussion in

With the objective to support public administrations and governmental
entities that are already working in free software or are evaluating
the political decision to incorporate it to their agendas, FSFLA
inaugurates the list of Public Administration.
If you are member of some governmental organism, you can join this team

If you work in press and diffusion area, and would want to collaborate
with the work of FSFLA communications, we count from now on with a
list for this aim in http://fsfla.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/prensa

As always, more information on how to participate in FSFLA in

5. Events

By the end of April, Federico Heinz was in Dublin, Ireland, working
next to colleagues of our sister organization FSF Europe and Irish
Free Software Organization (IFSO). The audio archives of the
conference on Free Software in Education and in Public Administration
is in the IFSO site in

FSFLA participated in the Education World Forum 

FSFLA joined the Gleducar project in their presentation in the Education
Forum, made in Buenos Aires, on May 4, 5 and 6. Beatriz
Busaniche, of FSFLA, accompanied the presentation by Gleducar, that
was in charge of Carlos Toledo, Roman Gelbort, Franco Iacomella and
Bibiana Bocolini. Gleducar and FSFLA presented together the principles
of Free Software, the main directions for the use of Free Software in
Schools whereas Gleducar specially made focus on the concept of
Cooperative Construction of Knowledge, that is the base of the
pedagogical work of this educative project. More information,
presentations and stories of what happened in the World Education
Forum in the Gleducar site in

Beatriz Busaniche
Consejera FSFLA                             http://www.fsfla.org
Fingerprint    57F9 21EF B0C3 2A69 9EA0 D698 28D6 B8AE 2A7D 7321
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