Computing Profession

Open Source in Latin America

Drummond Ltd. Systems engineer Carlos A. Brewer R.

Latin america has been considered as part of the "third world" for a long time, i personally belive that there is no such thing as "first" and "third world"; what really exists is a series of differences and disadvantages in many aspects, specially in one that is being addressed by this blog and is the technological aspect.

The so called "technological breach" that existed for many years in these countries now is being closed thanks to the open source alternative chosen by almost every single one of them. This alternative has proven to save money, which is a critical factors in our countries, increase technological skills among many engineers, make computers and technology more accesible to the citizens of these countries and more.


Many studies has been made about the benefits of open source for latin america, to find them just go to any search engine and type keywords as "Open source + latino america" or "linux+southamerica".


All these studies were necessary to define the real status of technology in our countries and how the choosen path of open source will affect every single person.


Almost every south american country has impresive advances in the open source alternative, however Brazil has some of the most important projects in this field. This country has been able to create among others its own linux distro which is recognized as one of the most important distros in the linux world (check out conectiva). It also has a great base of development of open source apps and its servers are listed as download sites in pages as, in following blogs more detailed info of these projects in Brazil and in other countries will be addressed.


Why open source is so important?, well, open source provides a very good training base for future engineers at universities, colleges, training centers, etc. because its training material is available every where and with low or no cost at all; also open source creates a new way in the development of software and even hardware solutions because it requieres more attention to the detail and quality both by the developer or the designer. Even mature engineers will benefit; the learning path of open source development packages guarantees that fresh knowledge and new technical skills will be absorbed, thus this keeps the engineer’s mind in constant training.


Open source solutions used by governamental entities reduces licensing cost, allows for better technical support, and are totally designed almost from the bottom to fit each entity requirements which translates in better end user service for the public in general and the technical support for these apps gets easier and better ;it also reduces the chances for corruption among many other benefits.


Because open source solutions can be used on modest computers, it allows to be installed on second hand machines and then distributed to schools located in distant zones of these countries (colombia has a pioneer program called "computadores para educar", and it is supported by several software and hardware vendors), once installed these computers can connect and surf the internet using low cost connections, by being open source no license is required to install application development packages, this situation allows kids to create their own solutions that may help solve particular problems of their zones.


There is no single strategy in the adoption of open source solutions for a given country, there are many ways and options, and is up to every country which one to choose, but no matter what option is chosen, open source has proven to be one effective way to increase the technological level and skills of those involved.

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