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International Herald Tribune: An Alternative Voice: How the Tech-Poor Can Still Be Software-Rich

Jul 04, 2001, 15:00 (4 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Ron Shatzmiller for this link. ]

Andrew Leonard opines on something that we've known all along: that Open Source software makes economic sense for tech-poor countries that cannot afford the price of most commercial software.

"There are other reasons for endorsing open-source software internationally - in China, for example, government statements in favor of open-source software seem to stem as much from nationalist sentiment as they do from pragmatism. But for developing countries, ranging from Malaysia to Mexico, open-source software is seen neither as socialist nor silly; it is seen as just, well, sensible."

"Take, for instance, India. In a country where annual per-capita income averages about $450, state-of-the-art software programs such as a Microsoft operating system or an Oracle database are prohibitively expensive. Whether you are a small business purchasing a computer or an entire government bureaucracy intent on computerizing operations, from a straightforward cost-basis perspective open-source software, also often referred to as 'free software,' is attractive."

"Not only can software such as Linux-based operating systems, Apache Web servers and POSTgres SQL database programs be obtained for free from the Net (or purchased at very low cost), but thousands of skilled programmers are working all the time to improve the code."

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