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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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  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:05PM (#19537227)
    You are delusional, I'm afraid. These "US and European businesses" you refer to do not exist -- multinational corporations have no national allegiances, they do what is best for their quarterly profit.

    Besides which, how is a Chinese corporation operating in Venezuela the same as the Chinese government meddling in the oil supply? Furthermore, since when did the Monroe Doctrine apply to Asian nations? And third, where the hell do Americans get off claiming Venezuelan oil for themselves?
  • 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 Seakip18 (1106315) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:06PM (#19537245) Journal
    it will be till somebody pokes around the prepackage and finds it able to only load approved state software, calls home, etc. It is good to see a government spreading technology at an affordable price and not entirely gimping them. Even better that they are encouraging a good OS. The site with TFA is also a bit too, um, "orientated" to support whatever Chavez's Gov't spits out. Take a look at the article
    "Venezuela, RCTV, And Media Freedom: Just The Facts, Please".
  • 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.
  • 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 Phil-14 (1277) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:32PM (#19537419)
    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.
  • 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.
     
  • 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. :(
  • Then they're lucky (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:51PM (#19537525) Homepage

    it will be till somebody pokes around the prepackage and finds it able to only load approved state software, calls home, etc.

    Then they'll be lucky to be running Linux. They can download a clean install from almost anywhere, blank the state software and start over. Download free tools to monitor their network traffic and watch to see if the hardware or BIOS has been borked.

    But their plan was foiled by loading OSS on that machine, otherwise they would have gotten away with it. A fortunate oversight, don't you agree?

  • by Score Whore (32328) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:52PM (#19537541)
    You're applauding a government that nationalized oil companies, food producers, media, etc? Gave dictatorial powers to a lame duck president? Well, not so lame duck anymore since he's aiming to abolish term limits. Oh and that nationalization of their industries have gone really well, unless you like to eat meat. Or have freedom to speak out against the policies of the government. Or want your quality of life to increase. Sure.

    Government has no place in business, you always end up with cronyism, corruption and an entrenched pile of criminals pillaging the rest of the country.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @11:03PM (#19537589) Homepage Journal
    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 ja (14684) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @11:20PM (#19537663) Homepage

    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!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2007 @11:22PM (#19537677)
    Exactly the point of the original post. His anti-Bush rhetoric is whitewashing his other policies, making him seem like a good guy when he's not.

    Although one of those TV stations provided material assistance to the anti-democracy coup, so they got off easy by losing their license to broadcast. Other countries deal with treason more harshly.
  • by Brotherred (1015243) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @11:27PM (#19537715)

    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.
  • Fair Game. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by twitter (104583) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @11:28PM (#19537717) Homepage Journal

    So I am torn on this topic. I love Linux and free open source software and I want M$ to die a fast death, yet I want U.S. exports to remain high.

    Eventually, you can only make money by providing a real service. The chips are still Intel, so where there is US excellence, there is US income. There might be more if it were not for M$ proping up Intel at the expense of other US companies like AMD and IBM. Remember DEC and DR? They had some nice export income too. The US might be more competitive at electronics assembly if we could convince the world not to use Chinese slave labor, but we can't so that market has gone.

    Money made based on the Windoze monopolies is a pipe dream. M$ really thought they could corner the word's market for something as ethereal as software? Give me a break. The only thing that's interesting about the M$ story is that they pulled off their little scam for so long. It's over because others can and will do better.

  • by Simon80 (874052) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @11:32PM (#19537741)
    You reading comprehension is severely deficient - I'm pretty sure you just repeated the parent's point. That being said, he's probably not all that bad. The US government just hates him because he's acting in Venezuela's interests, at the expense of foreign (US) interests.
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @01:13AM (#19538191)
    I believe this is only a political action an not a good thing, because in Venezuela the government said "Use free software"... but when you try really to use it, they put a lot of obstacles, by example I know that Venezuelan universities are forced to buy this machines even if they prices are higher than other ones, this is good for a country? o worst ever, I see that they are deleting linux on this machines and installing pirate version of Windows.

    I know this is a good thing, but Venezuela must to do more than just saying everywhere that they support free software, and not doing really efective actions to promote free software, because if you travel to this country you will see a lot of lies that are telling the government about his archiviements and you can contrast reallity with the fantasy in the mind of Venezuelan politicians.
  • can u say subsidy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by uimedic (615858) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @01:22AM (#19538245)
    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.com/wp-dyn/content/arti cle/2007/02/08/AR2007020801240.html), and more expensive computers than propoganda, state-owned industry, price controls, and cheap computers.

    I'm all in favor of FOSS and cheap hardware, but anyone who can't see through this guy's cynical bullshit is blind, stupid, or willfully ignorant.
  • by Silkejr (856308) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @01:53AM (#19538397)
    Profit does not equal happiness.
  • 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 slarabee (184347) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @02:10AM (#19538485)
    * You mean like using a power that every other president in Venezuela has used?

    Five times. During specific crises.

    * You mean where "decree" is in an incredibly limited scope, a fact rarely reported by the media?

    Limited? This is the broadest use of the decree power ever granted. "This law applies to eleven key sectors including the economy, the central bank, telecommunications, food security and energy security." Previous uses of this power focused narrowly on single subjects.

    * You mean where any act he legislates, no matter the method, can be rescinded by the popular vote? * You mean where normal laws take 10% of the population to rescind, decree laws take only 5%?

    Those 5 and 10 percent numbers are for percentages of registered voters to request a referendum on that particular decree. Once that hurdle is passed, fifty percent is the target number. The killer, though, is the provision that 40% of registered voters must vote or the referendum is invalid. Venezuela has had the most ambitious voter registration campaign in the Americas the past several years. When looking at historical voting percentages, this means that repeal of any decree is highly unlikely.

    * You mean where the legislature can rescind or modify said decrees -- quite unlike the US "Fast Track" legislation?"

    What? Congress gets a yes/no vote on a treaty with no ability to make changes. Very narrow scope. I would not expect the Venezuelan legislature to modify anything. Something about one hundred percent Chavez supporters in the legislature makes that quite unlikely. Makes it even stranger that he would need decree powers in such a situation.

    * You mean TV stations that helped organize a bloody coup against him? * You mean TV stations that even most of their backers admit broke the law?

    Helped organize? The worst accusations I have heard were more in the range of lent support to. Even that has been denied by the station personel. *shrug* I have no firsthand information, but every single media watch group in the world that I have come across has opposed this shutdown. I am more likely to put my faith in them, than the claims of Chavez and his government.

    Same with the world's democracy watchgroups. Downgrading Venezuela's status under Chavez. Same with economic organizations. Downgrading Venezuela's status under Chavez. Same with human rights organizations. Downgrading Venezuela's status under Chavez.

    But nah, let's demonize Chavez!

    But nah, let's canonize Chavez! There are postitive and negative numbers in abundance for pro and anti Chavez folk to argue from here to eternity. What do you think of his long term future? Right now record oil prices are keeping his head above water. If those ever slack off, his happy ride with the people is going to get rough.

    and once overthrew him in a coup,

    I wouldn't play up coups as being justification for his actions. People might start to remember that Chavez was a coup leader himself back in the nineties -- one considerably more bloody than the one he survived. I believe the only dead in this coup were anti Chavez protesters shot down in the streets a couple days before the coup attempt.

  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @03:34AM (#19538851)
    Here [slashdot.org] and here [slashdot.org] you can see comments from Slashdotters in June 2002 supporting Robert Mugabe's forcible redistribution of land from white Zimbabwean farmers to his political supporters and cronies.

    Why did the Slashdotters support dictator Mugabe's actions? From their comments, it seems that they dis-believed the coverage of the issue in the international press and instead bought into Mugabe's propaganda: that the press was biased against him, that he was motivated only to correct a historical injustice and that the land would go to poor people who would know how to farm it efficiently.

    In fact, the most critical stories were true: the land was seized from some of the best farmers in the country, and given only to Mugabe's wealthy supporters who did not even know how to farm, and a disastrous famine was the predictable result.

    These Slashdot comments stuck in my mind because, as I was reading them, I was dismayed that anyone would fall for the propaganda of a corrupt and oppressive dictator. But in truth, the kind of technical know-how which is common at Slashdot doesn't give any kind of economic or geopolitical insight.

    That is why many people here are supporters of Chavez. They serve the role of Lenin's "useful idiots".
  • by TeXMaster (593524) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @03:54AM (#19538953)

    Those 5 and 10 percent numbers are for percentages of registered voters to request a referendum on that particular decree. Once that hurdle is passed, fifty percent is the target number. The killer, though, is the provision that 40% of registered voters must vote or the referendum is invalid. Venezuela has had the most ambitious voter registration campaign in the Americas the past several years. When looking at historical voting percentages, this means that repeal of any decree is highly unlikely.
    Guess what, that's the definition of democracy: people get to choose on the issue. If the majority of registered voters LIKE the president's decree, they keep it, if they don't they can repel it. And it only takes 5% of the registered voters to call for a referendum on it. Does the "hated for its demakrassy" "democracy-exporting" US have any similarly democratic way to repel laws?
  • by rajafarian (49150) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @04:20AM (#19539059)
    I stopped reading your post after I read, "... acess to technology increases ones ability to persue profit, i.e. happiness." Not that you care anyway, I'm sure.
  • by ThiagoHP (910442) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:13AM (#19540307)
    1) The Amazon rainforest land is not good for agriculture.
    2) Brazil uses sugar cane, not corn, to produce ethanol.
    3) Sugar cane is grown in places far from the Amazon forest.
    Get your facts right before writing horseshit here. ;)
  • by ggambett (611421) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:08PM (#19541433) Homepage
    Bad numbers, and certainly worse than it was before. But, sadly, that's Latin America for you.

    That's some parts of Latin America for you. In Uruguay I think there are about 300 murders a year, I'm not sure if in all of Uruguay (3.5 million people) or just Montevideo (1.5 million people), that's 8.5/100K or worst case 20/100K. Not all of Latin America is Colombia, Mexico or Bolivia, you know...
  • by Usquebaugh (230216) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @01:08PM (#19541883)
    CIA is the usual translation for KGB in latin america
  • by Mover (723856) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @03:48PM (#19543295)
    I hate to be a poopy head, but the US interests include jobs, food and clothing for Americans (and anyone else who can find the border).

    Everything that the USA is depends on energy. That would be oil. The USA's "elites" used to own oil wells in Venezuela that helped many Venezuelans and Americans proper, but the communist government "nationalized" them (that's a polite term for stealing them).

    Did it help th people of Venezuela? Nope. They don't see much, if any, of it.

    That should be the real problem the USA has with Mr. Chavez and his supporters. His foul mouth is easily ignored.

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