Subject: Re: free software parallel - environmentally friendly sector?
From: Phil Hughes <>
Date: Sat, 9 Nov 2002 13:11:19 -0600

On Sat, Nov 09, 2002 at 10:41:45AM -0800, David N. Welton wrote:
> A random thought occurred to me: 
> It might be worth looking into the progress of the "environmentally
> friendly" sector for marketing ideas and approaches.  They also deal
> with the issue of how to turn a profit on an ethical choice that may
> put them at a disadvantage economically.
> They may have things a bit easier, because they are still selling
> products, but maybe there is inspiration to be had, or marketing
> methods to be copied.
> Maybe you'll find Redhat in the "organically grown" section of the
> supermarket next week;-)

This makes me think of the advantages of "buy local". When I lived in
Seattle, people would point out that a Boeing layoff of 1 person would
end up causing 2.5 to 3 people to lose their jobs. The reason is that
the Boeing salary meant money spent at the grocery store, hairdresser,
daycare, ...

While Seattle is a bad example because the local computer company is
Microsoft, my point is that if you use "environmentally friendly
software" meaning something with source code, then your support dollars
can be spent locally. That is good for your local economy.

A specific example here in Costa Rica is the "Caja" which is the
equivalent of the US Social Security Administration. (Yeah, if you know
Spanish you know caja means box. What can I say. :-) ) To add
perspective, the population of Costa Rica is less than 4 million people
and the average income, while high for this region, is miniscule
compared to the US. 

A real number related to this is what you pay into the Caja each month.
Something like $20. A little different from payments in the US. Well,
the Caja uses Microsoft software on its systems. I am not sure about
specific software and number of systems but I am guessing it is mostly
Windoze desktops with Word and such. Well, the Caja pays over
$1,000,000/year to Microsoft for support.

That $1M doesn't mean squat to Bill Gates but it is a lot of money down
here. With bananas being a huge export crop here, even at grocerystore
prices we are talking around 40,000,000 bananas/year.

The "environmentally friendly" option (which some of us are working on)
is to get systems such as the ones at the Caja moved over to Linux.
Even assuming support costs would be the same, that money could be
re-invested in the local economy by training locals to do the support.

Will this work? Sure. All the servers (over 100) at the Ministry of
Science and Technology are now running Linux and local people supply
that support. Linux use continues to grow here.

At first I thought not having extra money would hamper Linux adoption as
you are trying to get people to "buy" something new. But, it is actually
an advantage. People have more time than money are are willing to listen
to a proposed solution just because it is a solution--not because it has
a big M on the box.
Phil Hughes,  Phone/FAX: 506-483-1265 
Aptdo. 89-4060, Alajuela, Costa Rica