|By Java News Desk||
|June 14, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
Reporting in his popular Webmink blog from the annual FISL conference in Porto Alegre - that's FISL as in "Forum Internacional Software Livre" - Sun's chief technology evangelist Simon Phipps noted: "This is the first F/OSS event I have ever been to that has included the Java community."
He was much energized by the role played by Brazilian Java activist Bruno Souza:
"To anyone who has attended JavaOne, Bruno Souza will be a familiar figure - he's the one with boundless positive energy and enthusiasm, serving caipirinhas and wrapped in the Brazilian flag. What people outside Brazil may not realize is that, as well as being the co-ordinator for Java User Groups (JUGs), he is a tireless advocate of open source and has been championing the use of the Java platform for open source projects."
The significance of Souza's presence became particularly clear to Phipps when he discovered that Souza's name was included with those recognized as leaders of the open source community by the Brazilian government at the launch of their 'Free Software Migration Guide.'
"I have never seen a Java advocate counted among the champions of free software and this is a very encouraging step," observed Phipps.
What many Software Livre (Free Software) activists hope for is a world in which companies, governments, and individuals pay people to write good, quality software - maybe not a whole project, sometimes even just for minor improvements and bugfixes.
The fundamental belief is that the value of software is created when the programmer programs, so to make free software succeed and supplant the commercial model, it will be necessary to find ways of rewarding this activity. For programmers to survive, Free Software proponents need to find ways for them to be rewarded for their time.
There were a number of Java-related sessions on the conference agenda. Phipps's conclusion was as follows:
"While the aims of FISL and the F/OSS movement in Brazil are liberty not (necessarily) economy, the people are open-minded, reasonable and friendly and recognize the value of platform independence as a vehicle of freedom."
When he next returns to San Jose, UK-based Phipps will doubtless evangelize at Sun's headquarters that a parallel path to "software freedom" is possible, such that Sun can help the software development industry find the happy medium in which standards, source access. and compatibility can all co-exist and complement each other.
"That's clearly not easy," he admits in his blog. But it sounds as if his experience of attitudes in Brazil may have strengthened his belief that it is indeed possible.
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