Sunday Jul 05, 2009

Lula's Free Java Ring

Lula's Java Ring

The Brazilian economy is powered by the Java platform - even their new Free digital TV standard uses it. They took the decision to use Java for so much in part when we (Bruno, myself and a number of others) assured them, a number of years ago, that there would be Free implementations. The story ever since has been snowballing investment in Java skills and an economy capable not only of supporting its own needs but also of exporting skills - they've been making Java a priority for years.

When I was honoured to be invited to meet the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, at this year's FISL event in Porto Alegre, I naturally accepted. I decided to give him a Java Ring, a wearable Java-powered computer, as a symbolic token of the deep symbiosis between Brazil, the Java platform and Free software.

He took it enthusiastically, put it on straight away - and it fit him. He said that having a computer on his finger made him feel like James Bond and he posed for photographs with it.


The visit by the President of Brazil to (probably) the largest Free software event in the world is a landmark for the Free software movement. In his speech at the event, Lula recognised especially the work of Sergio Amadeu (once Lula's advisor on IT and the man Microsoft tried to sue for being honest about their strategy) and commented on the years of work that had been involved "preparing the meal" on which the country was now able to feast. In response to Marcelo Branco and the many others who had been lobbying him since he arrived at the event, he also too the opportunity to set his face against the terrible internet laws being proposed for Brazil.

The visit was a landmark in at least three ways:

  • It represented the first visit I'm aware of to a Free software event of a head of state - in this case the head of the 14th largest economy in the world
  • The speech demonstrated the key role Free software leaders like Sergio and Marcello have had in shaping the IT strategy in the country;
  • The deprecation of the internet laws demonstrated that the Free software community actually has a powerful lobbying voice.
Stallman Honoured in Brazil

What was also fascinating was the regard in which Lula - and his ministers - held Richard Stallman. When the Finance minister came along the line-up before Lula arrived he commented on seeing Stallman "I know you!". Lula himself gave a warm and firm welcome to Stallman. Free software has been over 25 years in the making, but in Brazil it took place as a recognised force in affairs of state, in a way I am sure will be repeated globally in coming years.

Thursday May 28, 2009

☞ Semantics, Ancient and Modern

Thursday Apr 19, 2007

Full Java Stack In Ubuntu

Sun at FISL in Brazil

I just got back from Brazil, where I was honoured to be a speaker at FISL 8. Attended by over 5,000 people, FISL is one of the world's largest Free software events. I gave them an update on progress making the Java platform Free software in an open source community. The reaction was overwhelming - I kept having people come and thank me for Sun's contribution to Free software.

I wondered why so many people were so grateful, and once it was explained I understood. In Brazil, almost all the banks have online banking interfaces written as Java applets; the tax authorities have a tax filing applet; the use of Java is pervasive. This was great - except for people on GNU/Linux. It turns out that making the JDK available in Debian made an enormous difference to the Brazilian Free software movement, since they were finally able to gain the same access to the necessities of modern online life as those trapped on proprietary operating systems.

So I assume they will be delighted with today's announcement, made a little while ago by Sun software EVP Rich Green in a speech in São Paulo. The news is that a full Java developer stack with tools is available from today in the Multiverse repository for Ubuntu 7.04 (that's Feisty Fawn). It includes JDK 6, the Glassfish Java EE server, the NetBeans development environment and the Java DB database. From today, Ubuntu becomes a first-class Java developer platform (just like Solaris Express already is). That also makes deployment easy - having Glassfish or Java DB as a dependency becomes almost trivial. More details on Sun's GNU/Linux page. Ubuntu gets a new colour!


Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


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