FOSS Around the World: Latin America

Too often coverage of free/open source software news and commentary tends to focus on either developments and activities in North America or in Europe. While much of the news is made on these two continents, there’s a wider world out there where folks are doing some substantial things, and promoting FOSS in their own way in their own areas.

Periodically, we at FOSS Force will be looking at areas of the world which have been either overlooked or neglected in digital news coverage. Today we’ll start south of the U.S. border with Latin America — Mexico, along with Central and South America, for those of you keeping track on maps at home.

We start this with a quick overview of the region itself, and the canvas is a large one.

Jon ‘maddog’ Hall travels extensively as executive director of Linux International and is likely the most well known de facto ambassador for all things Linux and FOSS. A world traveler, he regularly speaks in South America where he says the use of FOSS is varied.

“Central and South America is a very big region,” Hall said. “The spread of FOSS is uneven, as you might expect. Likewise, FOSS is more than just GNU/Linux, so the use of FOSS is also uneven.”

Who is the top FOSS user in this hemisphere south of the equator?

“Brazil continues to be the biggest user of FOSS, due to both laws and attitudes of its government,” he said. “However, in some places where FOSS was used, proprietary software has reasserted itself due to changes in management, usually management that is friendly to closed-source companies.”

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