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Venezula Producing Its Own Linux PCs 387

Posted by kdawson
from the another-stick-in-the-eye dept.
christian.einfeldt writes "The Venezuelan Government announced the roll-out of four different models of Linux-powered consumer computers, three desktop models and one notebook. Branded 'Bolivarian Computers,' they will be will be produced by a joint venture of the Venezuelan Ministry of Light Industry and Commerce and a Chinese company named Lang Chao. The goal of the project is to jump-start a domestic IT industry and become an IT exporter to the rest of Latin America. At the ceremony introducing the program, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez claimed that the Bolivarian Computers cost 40% less than other commercially available models and come with a 3-year warranty."
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Venezula Producing Its Own Linux PCs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2007 @09:55PM (#19537149)
    All Bolivarian computers come fully equipped with a wide selection of inflammatory anti-Bush screensavers
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:07PM (#19537251)
      All Bolivarian computers come fully equipped with a wide selection of inflammatory anti-Bush screensavers

      It's sad how Chavez will be remembered around the world for the one thing he's been consistently right about, rather than an honest critical assessment of his achievements and methods. Hell, even Saddam Hussein, who used to be reviled throughout the Arab world, managed to resuscitate his historical legacy a bit through his opposition to Bush. Apparently if you oppose the biggest threat to peace and democracy in the world loudly enough, everyone forgets you're a slightly smaller threat yourself.
    • Politics aside, this shows great promise.

      It's far too early to tell how long the Chavez regime will last, but I hope the next government keeps the program alive.
    • by MsGeek (162936)
      !Anti-Bush screensavers, keyloggers for the Venezuelan Secret Police, and a nice big fat backdoor so that Chavez can launch his super 'leet bot army to DDOS the Yanquis! !Que bueno!
    • The downside: any blog you maintain with one of these computers is automatically shut down and replaced with Chavez's own blog, known as "Fluffy Bunnies".

  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @09:55PM (#19537155)
    But seriously, sometimes govenment direction can result in good stuff. Just like Brazil and energy selfsuficiancy. They say a problem, no oil, and the govenment of the day said OK, we will go ethynol. Ans now they do not have a relience onf foriegn oil.
    • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:22PM (#19537359) Homepage

      Government direction can be a good thing. Government intervention will never be.

      This project is doomed from the start — take the pink glasses off for a second, and imagine the US government trying anything like it. This very forum would've been all mad about it — and justifiably so.

      For example, consider the expected quality of support. We all complain about the poor Indians, who can't properly troubleshoot Dell computer problems. That's with English being the official language in India.

      Now imagine the Chinese supporting these "Bolivarian computers". In Spanish...

      • by fsmunoz (267297)
        I understand you point but the way I read it the Chinese are in it for the technological and industrial part... the support will likely come from Venezuelans themselves, who are the other half of the "joint venture".

        Although the image of a callcentre in Beijing helping users in Venezuela in spanish on how to install a TrueType font is interesting in it's own right :)
        • by mi (197448)

          the support will likely come from Venezuelans themselves

          I'm an active FreeBSD contributor. In my over ten years of involvement with the project, I can't recall a single person from Venezuella.

          Maybe, they are all in the Linux camp — preferring the Bolivarian GPL over the capitalist BSD or something. But somehow I doubt, there is enough Linux expertise in Venezuella to support an "IT industry", that could possibly supply the rest of Latin America with computers.

          My other point — about the inh

      • by mshurpik (198339)
        >This project is doomed from the start -- take the pink glasses off for a second

        Actually, I'm surprised that you're surprised by this. Latin America is the next North America in terms of size, economy, and growth potential. It was only a matter of time before cheap, reliable PC's became part of the Latin American economy. Ever been on Battle.net (Wc3)? DOTA BRAZIL ONLY.

        The only pink vision I have, is that someone like me would move down there, and do it myself. I guess I'm disappointed that Latin Am
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Brotherred (1015243)

        This project is doomed from the start — take the pink glasses off for a second, and imagine the US government trying anything like it. This very forum would've been all mad about it — and justifiably so.

        For example, consider the expected quality of support. We all complain about the poor Indians, who can't properly troubleshoot Dell computer problems. That's with English being the official language in India.

        Now imagine the Chinese supporting these "Bolivarian computers". In Spanish...

        Still it is a perfect example of how GNU+Linux will survive out side the US if not in it. RMS has even suggested that they MIGHT have to move the FSF overseas. We all have heard him say that the US government is just a tool for MS and he is not that far off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phil-14 (1277)
      Funny you should mention that, the last time I checked Brazil didn't solve its problems with ethanol alone, they also expanded onshore and offshore oil drilling a great deal. Of course, that doesn't fit the "story" everyone wants to tell.
  • we have to recognize that *THIS* particular action is good.

    Too bad he's choosing Free Software to promote his government where personal freedom is gone.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by daeg (828071)
      Government computers probably come with government spyware (not the annoying kind the rest of the world deals with). When someone discovers it they won't be able to say anything through the government-owned media and will be thrown out of their job and be on government blacklists and be unable to obtain government food rations...

      I wonder if they will follow the GPL when they introduce nastiness into the kernel?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fsmunoz (267297)
        Following your logic - which is indeed a possibility - isn't it OK to assume that the USA will do the same with software made by US corporations and sold to Venezuela? And in that light, and not taking into account the liking or disliking of the respective governments, isn't it a matter of national security to stop using US made software in government computers?

        I'm mentioning this because I think this is the first concern they have, having their own brand of spyware can be a nice after effect. The second
        • by Kadin2048 (468275) *
          Following your logic - which is indeed a possibility - isn't it OK to assume that the USA will do the same with software made by US corporations and sold to Venezuela? And in that light, and not taking into account the liking or disliking of the respective governments, isn't it a matter of national security to stop using US made software in government computers?

          To be honest, I've always wondered the same thing. Not so much recently, because I don't think the CIA and the NSA have the influence in big busine
      • by donaldm (919619)
        While it is not difficult to put spyware in the Linux kernel it is also very easy to replace or recompile that kernel from source unlike other proprietary software.

        Any government contemplating putting spyware in the Linux kernel would have to be very stupid because to be found out and they will, would effectively result in a ban on all their computer exports, not to mention the embarrassment. I would not be surprised if Microsoft was one of the first companies to provide support to the GPL to actually ac
    • by Espectr0 (577637) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:20PM (#19537347) Journal
      Venezuelan here...

      Another "good" thing he is doing. 53 million lightbulbs have been replaced to fluorescent versions. An agreement with Vietnam was reached to start manufacturing the philips lightbulbs here. Vehicles will be able to run on natural gas soon, and the conversion will be free to users. They are testing solar panel use.

      I hate the guy, but i want those programs to succeed.
      • by Medgur (172679)
        ... So why do you hate him?

        I know why Americans hate him (ZOMG, Socialist Dictator, Low-Class Ethnicity), why do you hate him?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Penguinisto (415985)

          ... So why do you hate him?

          I know why Americans hate him (ZOMG, Socialist Dictator, Low-Class Ethnicity), why do you hate him?

          Because not everyone wants to live under what many consider to be a borderline dictatorship?

          It's not as if you're allowed to oppose the guy if you're Venezuelan w/o repercussions. At least in North America and the EU, speaking out against political figures and government is not only legal, but gets you cred among ideologically like-minded people. You can still go to work the next day confident that you won't lose your job by government mandate. You can kick back in your house confident that someone wo

      • Great, now the mercury in those flourescent bulbs will poison Venezuela...
    • by fermion (181285) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:50PM (#19537509) Homepage Journal
      The thing about personal freedom is life, liberty and the opportunity to peruse profit. Certainly, for what I have seen, the later is the missing part of the equation in south america, while the other two items are increasingly missing in a large part of north america. The ability to travel freely, to read what one wants to read, to engage in legal acts without being harassed are quickly falling to a populous that is more fearful of microrisk than concerned about macroliberties.

      OTOH, as I have seen time and time again, acess to technology increases ones ability to persue profit, i.e. happiness. The ability to use machines, and thus improve personal productivity, is the greatest asset one can have. The problem is that in many parts of the wold capital to acquire such technolgy is limit. There are no credit cards, or banks loans, or anything. Therefore anything that can be done to reduce the costs of technology to the point that an individual can purchase said technology from existing liquid assets means that the technolgy will not be just a toy for the rich, but a mover for the masses.

      And this is the reform that many in south america are trying to make. Many countries in south america are at the place where the US is moving toward. Money concentrated at the few, gated communities, aggressive police presence, inadequate medical service. It may be that 10% of the people in Venezuela controls 50% of the capital,which and 40% live in poverty. Just like in the US, if you can train a person to catch fish, and not just give him a fish, and also make the fishing pole affordable, then we can begin to help people pull themselves up by their own bootstraps without the dole. If a computer costs $200 instead of $400, then more people can save that over a year.

      Of course, US officials who have been on the dole and the take for their entire lives find this very scary, as the United States interests are going to be threatened by an educated and technical savvy population. Of course, if the US were not so afraid of an educated and technical savvy population, perhaps we would not have the trade deficit from which we currently suffer.

    • by Frankie70 (803801)
      Why do you hate Chavez?

      Is it because of American propaganda against him
      or is there any other concrete reason?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by couchslug (175151)
      " where personal freedom is gone."

      It really depends on the end result.
      For example, there would have been no way to oust foreign influence and weld China beck together without something like Maoism. Processes to build a modern nation from divided countries with backward populations are often bloody. Old structures must be smashed and unity forged by force.
      In the very short time since 1948, China went from warlordism and anarchy to economic and military powerhouse. Revolutionaries understand this. (I am NOT p
  • Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gryle (933382) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:03PM (#19537211)
    While my personal feelings regarding Mr Chavez are mixed, this is a great idea. He's attempting to grow an industry within his country and using open-source software to do it. It's always good to see Linux moving beyond the nerds into the hands of (for lack of a better term) common people.
  • by keyed (560115) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:05PM (#19537237)

    The price of other similar brands is US$ 930, and the price of our computer is US$ 690, almost 40% less

    $690 is nowhere near 60% of $930. It's closer to 75%.
    Of course, 25% wouldn't sound impressive to the masses.
  • by Space Coyote (413320) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:29PM (#19537401) Homepage
    Here: Chavez Hatred Explained to Americans [brainshrub.com].
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      So the reason a lot of Americans hate him is because of neo-cons' lies as usual? Man, what the fuck is going on here?
      • It is the job of Venezuelans to love or hate him. It is the job of Americans to pity Venezuela for letting its democracy be hijacked by this guy.

        Fortunately, it seems that the destruction of RCTV is beginning to cause some good political processes.

        -- greg
        • by NeMon'ess (160583) *
          It's not like the previous government was doing so well. There's good reasons that he came to power.

          The station supported the coup attempt. If Fox and Fox News supported an illegal attempt to overthrow the US government, they might get in trouble with the FCC.
    • by PapayaSF (721268)

      Well, no, that doesn't explain everything about Chavez hatred.

      1. Chavez is best buds with the dictators and thugs who rule Cuba, China, Zimbabwe, Iran, etc. If your country is a human rights nightmare, an economic backwater, and/or a one-party state, Chavez will speak well of you, while blaming all problems on the USA. Is it any wonder Americans don't like him?
      2. Chavez began hating the USA long before anyone here had ever heard of him. Is it a surprise if there's hatred directed back at him?

      But regardles

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Chavez is clearly ignorant of the fact that in the 20th century, central planning failed everywhere and produced 100 million corpses in the process

        Central planning failed everywhere? Singapore? Nordic countries?
        • by PapayaSF (721268)

          Central planning failed everywhere? Singapore? Nordic countries?

          They are not centrally-planned economies, not by most standards, at least. They have meddled with the market as all governments are wont to do, but not on the scale of nationalizing entire industries, etc.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @06:14AM (#19539541)

          Central planning failed everywhere? Singapore? Nordic countries?

          Eh? Read up a few things. If you're calling Singapore a planned economy [wikipedia.org], that is rather daring, to say the least. And scandinavians would simply shake their heads about such an assertion. Don't mix up high levels of government expenditure as percent of GDP with the absence of market economy (background [imf.org]).

      • by NeMon'ess (160583) *
        Chavez is just following the policy of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Sound familiar? [crooksandliars.com]

        I don't like either case, but Chavez has less power and fewer options than the USA.

        As for central planning, it will never be as efficient as free markets. But consider how the USSR's central planning would have gone if it had Walmart's computing power, data analysis, demand prediction programs, and supplier controls and communication. Walmart does a tremendous job of centrally planning its stores. It has to forec
    • by cooldev (204270)

      Whenever you vote for something, there's one thing you should keep in mind: someday people with a different opinion will be in power. Therefore, before you grant powers to a government you may be favorable to, consider that a few years or decades later, those exact same powers may be used against you.

  • Inside the Coup (Score:3, Interesting)

    by essence (812715) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:34PM (#19537429) Homepage Journal
    For more information on the context of whats going on in Venezula, check out the docco Chavez - Inside the Coup [imdb.com]. It shows how the oil corporates attempting a coup manipulated the public. This is the people that lost their broadcast license not long ago.

    Chavez may seem like a bad man to some, but really is a result of the grass roots organising - aka The Bolivarian Circles [wikipedia.org].
  • That seems high. I could probably get a machine from Tiger Direct for what Dictator for Life Hugo Chavez claims his Bolivarian machines cost. You could check the prices from Tiger or CDW or Dell or HP as do as well.
    • by Simon80 (874052)
      Why don't you stop and think for a second about how you're going to get a machine from Tiger Direct into Venezuela? All of a sudden, it's not so cheap anymore.
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:39PM (#19537445)
    "The goal of the project is to jump-start a domestic IT industry and become an IT exporter to the rest of Latin America."

    So they're going to put free (as in beer as well as in "RMS-speak") on commodity hardware that they won't be able to manufacture any cheaper than US companies do. It doesn't sound like a big winner to me.
     
    • Left off the word "software".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ja (14684)

      hardware that they won't be able to manufacture any cheaper than US companies do.
      Please ... Companies in the USA do not produce any cheap computers, Chinese companies do!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by griffjon (14945)
      They also have a goal to increasingly manufacture the components they are importing, domestically. Sounds to me like one of the unsung development models (often championed by Jane Jacobs) that has actually worked, where you involve FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), but produce locally, training your citizens in the tacit skills of manufacturing, and slowly taking over from the foreign firm, producing domestic competing firms, with a final goal of international markets. I dunno, but it worked pretty damned
  • ...Oriental knowhow and cheap (South) American labour.
  • Oh no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JoshJ (1009085) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:49PM (#19537499) Journal
    Cue the FUD comments about Linux and Communism now. :(
  • Venezula? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bestiarosa (938309) <( agent59550406) ... mcorptastic.com)> on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:51PM (#19537517)
    Venezuela [wikipedia.org] is in South America but where is Venezula?
  • Volksempfänger (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tenchiken (22661) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:52PM (#19537535)
    I love the Chavez apologists. At the risk of invoking a law that no doubt everyone on Slashdot is familiar with, I wonder if this will end up being the TCP/IP equivalent of Volksempfänger complete with filters to keep comments from more then 100-150 miles away.

    It's amazing what people are willing to forget because someone is a enemy of their enemy. Chavez is rapidly militarizing, is the only leader in the entire world who seems not to have gotten the Communism is dead memo, and is now ruling by fiat.

    Not good things.
    • by Temporal (96070)
      My favorite Chavez-ism: He set price controls on various food items in order to stop inflation and "protect the poor". Naturally, as any economist could predict, this had no impact on inflation but did create food shortages. How did Chavez respond? He accused people of "hoarding" food and sent his police off to seize whatever food supplies they could find. source [washingtonpost.com]

      If Venezuela weren't swimming in oil, its economy would already be in ruins. Unfortunately the oil money is just buying Chavez time to build
  • And it lead to thousands of sick and dying people, when they tried to team up to make medicine. Let's hope they actually attempt "quality control" this time, something communism has always been awful at.
  • by mad zambian (816201) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:04AM (#19537921)
    I am not surprised at the quantity of anti-Chavez invective from the republi-trolls that seem to infest slashdot now. Regurgitating US propaganda as fact.

    One or two points.

    Venezuela is a Democracy. They have elections every so often so the people get to decide who gets to run the place. They have decided that they prefer Chavez to the alternatives.

    Chavez was democratically elected. And re-elected. Something like 60% of the populace want him as leader rather than the traditional oligarchies that used to run the place for their own benefit. They of course hate him for this. Almost all of the media in Venezeula are owned by the wealthy elite.

    Chavez is not a communist. He is a socialist. There is a huge difference.
    His socialist view is that *all* of the people of Venezuela should have affordable healthcare, at very low cost, if not free.
    His socialist view is that *all* of the people should have low cost /free education.
    Ditto with affordable decent housing for all.

    And he is well on the way to achieving these aims.

    His policies are meant to benefit the whole country, and not just the wealthy elite oligarchies.
    So yes, Washington hates this, and him as a result.
    Washington is having conniptions with this because I suspect they are frightened that the rest of the world might look at this socialist, benefit the maximum number of the population thing, and think "Hey, maybe there is something in this." Affordable healthcare for all? Affordable Education for all? Affordable Housing for all? Why haven't we got this?
    This is why they have tried to back a coup to remove him from power, Against the democratically expressed wishes of majority of the country.

    So, for trying to raise the standard of living of the population, he is automatically reviled and vilified. All this crap about spyware installed by the government on Linux, anti-Bush screensavers and the like is ignorant spite.

    And one commenter compared him to Satan?
    More than one "hate his guts".
    I would be interested to know why exactly.

    For those with an enquiring mind, there is a good book called "Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope" by Tariq Ali. It is about Chavez in Venezuela, Castro in Cuba and Morales in Bolivia. ISBN 978-1-84467-102-1. Published by Verso 2006. Read it and you may learn something.

    Sigh. Bye bye karma.
    • by homer_s (799572)
      Chavez is not a communist. He is a socialist. There is a huge difference.

      The difference is a difference in degree - not a difference in quality.
      Both systems need to use force to take from productive people and give to people who are not productive. They also need to restrict what people can produce so that they do not compete with the inefficient state provided service.

      We also have democratically elected communist regimes in India in 2 states - both of those states (Kerala and WB) are economic bas
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ultranova (717540)

        Both systems need to use force to take from productive people and give to people who are not productive.

        Also known as taxes. Something any government must collect, if it wishes to defend its people from other governments.

        And I, for one, really like the concept of welfare - makes life a lot less stressing when I know that financial difficulties don't lead to starvation.

        They also need to restrict what people can produce so that they do not compete with the inefficient state provided service.

        Please

    • by bjourne (1034822)
      And one commenter compared him to Satan? More than one "hate his guts". I would be interested to know why exactly.

      He once said that it was right for a starving man to steal bread. That is all it takes to be hated by the "civilized" world.
    • Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bombula (670389) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @02:50AM (#19538617)
      Superb post. I was going to write a reply, but I see you've already covered just about everything I was going to mention. The only thing I would add is that it is important to recognize the agenda behind the vilification of any system that is not strictly plutocratic market capitalism:

      Socialism CANNOT be allowed to be a successful sociopolitical system because it would represent a threat to the profit-making machinery of plutocratic market capitalism. The uber-wealthy folks LIKE being able to game the system for profit. While America's economy is growing and corproate profits are at record highs, the middle class is evaporating and life for the poor is fast heading into the toilet - crappy healthcare, crappy education, and on and on.

      Now if someone ever actually manages to prove that there's a better way to do things, well, it could all turn very ugly for guys like Dubya. They can't vilify countries full of successful white people - like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, etc - where socialism really works. But a country full of poor brown people is an easy target for their brand of rhetoric.

      • That's not socialism (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @05:02AM (#19539241)
        It seems that in Slashdot many people have some what strange idea on what socialism is and where they think that they are seeing it.

        In socialism the people via government own and control the means of production. Communism is not alternative to socialism, but a way to enter socialism via armed struggle. Social democracy is an alternative way to achieve socialism by transforming the state peacefully into socialism step by step. In the world where we are living, there is no country that is practising socialism.

        You said that countries like Sweden, Norway and Denmark are socialist, that's dead wrong. The countries you cited are free capitalistic market economies. The only difference in Nordic and usually in European countries is that they have set up safety nets for their citizen: i.e. well-fare, public education and health-care etc.. Having these things doesn't make a country socialist, it makes it a well-fare state.

        When we look at south America and especially what Chavez is doing to Venezuela, they are more or less committed on idea of national socialism: using the economy of a country and it's means of production to further national agendas and it's manifested destination. That is wrong and stupid. They are only going to wreck their economies and after they have used their national resources like oil and gas, their economies will crumble down. The only way to achieve prosperity is to invest in infrastructure, means of production and to abilities of citizens. Nordic countries nor Europe weren't build in a decade, the prosperity that we have and that takes care of welfare state is the product of hundreds of years work and investment into infrastructure and means of production.
      • It actually comes from the concept of personal freedom; the freedom to do as you wish as long as it doesn't harm another. i.e. liberalism, which is ironic because the US have redefined liberal to mean socialist.

        You see, you cannot have freedom without responsibility, they are the same thing. If you take away someone's responsibilities you are also at the same time taking away their freedom. A socialist state removes the personal responsibility from the individual and at the same time removes those same free
  • can u say subsidy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by uimedic (615858)
    Large hardware makers have consolidated like crazy, been spun off/sold, and/or gone out of business because the margins in computer hardware manufacturing are notoriously thin. Now Venezuela comes in offering computers for 75% (not 60% as Chavez innumerately claims) of the cost of the big manufacturers. What gives?

    Frankly, they're not really "cheaper" so much as they're just subsidised. If I lived in Venezuela, I'd rather have press freedom, foreign investment, affordable food (http://www.washingtonpost.
  • He is lying about the pricing of the PCs. You can get the same machines for the same or better prices for Dell.

    Further, guess what happens if you are trying to start the Venezuelan equivilant of Dell in your garage and you start cutting in on the government's new monopoly.

    Most morons here are not going to recognize this but their failure to recognize the disaster of this policy does not change that the policy is a disaster that will be realized.

    It's like Chavez and Lula are in a race to be the South Ame

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.

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