by Miguel de Icaza

In the morning I met with Federico Heinz (from Via Libre) and Enrique Chaparro, both representing the FSF and the GNU project. We had breakfast (and I spilled coffee all over my brand new IBM Thinkpad) and headed over to the Peruvian Congress.

Federico and Enrique are part of the group in Argentina that drafted the law that is being discussed in Argentina, and is the foundation for the law that was submitted by Edgar Villanueva and is being discussed by the Peruvian Congress.
Here I am with Congressman Edgar Villanueva in the Congress meeting, he has introduced the free software project of law. He became internationally famous after his reply to Microsoft's comments on the law (the text is available in Spanish and English).


After the meeting in the Congress with the congressman and the commission evaluating the project of law we went for lunch in Lima and got to try the ceviche from Peru. Different style, but just as tasty as the mexican version.

Linux and Free Software in the State

In the afternoon I participated in the `Linux and Free Software in the State' conference. There were six hundred registered people for the conference. It was inaugurated by Edgar Villanueva.
During this trip, I arrived to an interesting conclussion, nothing really new, but it finally "clicked" for me. It is interesting to note that different groups of people have very different reasons for adopting free software/open source software. Not everyone agrees on the needs for it.

For instance, recently we learned that the US administration is interested mostly in free software for its reliability and security. Third world countries and US corporations want to reduce their licensing costs. Other countries consider the use for free software a matter of national security; others a matter of technological independence.

Some groups want to have the four freedoms promoted by the free software foundation; some others only care about the particular technical benefits, others want to use it as a vehicle to distribute their software.

We all converge on the licensing and the basic guidelines for what constitutes free software/open source software and we agree to cooperate, because open source/free software has the pieces required to have multiple parties participate. But the different parties might not necessarily agree on the objectives.

And I do bring this up, because I was asked a few times whether I was an `Open Source' person or a `Free Software' person and what was mi position on the debate.

I personally think that the distinction is silly and a complete waste of time. I do have many different reasons for using and developing Linux, Gnome and Mono, and they are not the same as everyone else. Sometimes I care about freedom, sometimes about security, sometimes about innovation, sometimes about the gadget factor, sometimes it is nice to be part of a community.

A group of Ximian users greeted me at the entrance of the conference.


The next step in the Gnome en el Sur was Montevideo. To go from Lima to Montevideo I had to take a number of planes: Lima to Santiago de Chile (2am); Santiago de Chile to Buenos Aires (5am) and then Buenos Aires to Montevideo.

I did not get a lot of sleep that night, but being very tired from the activities in Lima helped me get to sleep for a few hours.

I traveled with Enrique's wife which happened to be heading to Buenos Aires on the first two airplanes. She researches Asian cultures. Since I had been reading Saramago's Gospel according to Jesus Christ and pondering who exactly are the Palestinians in Israel, I had developed a theory of mine: the Palestinians are the same people that populated the area two thousand years ago, but have switched religions as invasions came and went.

She confirmed my theory: both palestinians and israeli decendants are semites (surprise!) and gave me some details on the origins of words that both populations use. Very interesting.

Posted on 24 Jun 2002