IBM, Brazilian government launch Linux effort

Letter of intent signals start of open source project

SAN FRANCISCO - Brazil has become the latest country this week to show its support for Linux. Following moves by the U.K. and Russia, the government of Brazil announced Friday that it has signed a letter of intent with IBM pledging to develop initiatives that will promote the use of Linux in the Latin American country.

"This is basically a first step. What this document means is that we will work together, both the government of Brazil and IBM, on developing Linux in the public sector," said Sebastian Mocorrea, IBM's vice president of government relations for Latin America.

The letter of intent was signed by José Dirceu, Brazil's chief of staff, and applies to all the departments of the Brazilian federal government, according to Mocorrea.

IBM and the Brazilian government are now assembling a small team, including about a dozen IBM employees, to create initiatives to promote the use of Linux, the first of which will be announced at the beginning of 2004. The efforts are expected to address Linux training for government staff as well as programs to promote Linux among small and medium-sized businesses, Mocorrea said.

Brazil's government already has a number of Linux pilot projects in progress, said Mocorrea. For example, the country's Ministry of Science and Technology is converting its print servers to the free operating system. But Friday's agreement involves all government agencies, he said. "It's an overall commitment, across the board," he said.

It's been a busy week for IBM's international Linux staffers.

On Wednesday, the British government's Office of Government Commerce announced plans to launch nine trial projects to study the cost-effectiveness of Linux and open source software. The trials, which are expected to take six months to complete, are being conducted with the help of IBM.

Also this week, IBM and the Russian Ministry of Communications and Computerization announced plans to launch a Linux Competency Center in Moscow. This center will be similar to centers that IBM has already established in a number of other cities, including New York, Beijing and Sydney.

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