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Despite existence of open source products, many still use pirated software: CICT secretary

THE Philippines still lacks awareness of and support for free and open source software (FOSS), Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) Secretary Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III said yesterday.

Chua, in his speech during the opening of the Philippine Open Source Summit at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) early today, said that despite the existence of FOSS products, many Filipinos still use pirated software.

Philippine Open Source Summit OPEN SOURCE SUMMIT. The Philippine Open Source Summit at the Cebu International Convention Center. Click on photo to enlarge image.

“Regrettably, however, the more common option for many users is the purchase of pirated copies of proprietary software. There is, therefore, a need to bring open source to the awareness of users as a legitimate option and to provide the required support for its implementation,” Chua said.

Open source software are those released under a license that legalizes sharing of the application and building up on it. It got its name from the requirement of making the source code available with the software.

Unlike some countries that require its government agencies to use open source software, Chua said the policy of the CICT “has always been freedom of choice.”

“We believe that the marketplace should decide the use of proprietary software versus open source software. We just need to make sure that there exists a fair marketplace and that the consumer is fully informed of the available choices,” he said.

Chua said the CICT uses FOSS in several of its projects. He said the eGovernance Center of Excellence in Quezon City “is a showcase of open systems technology and solutions.” The CICT, he said, is also introducing FOSS through education-related projects such as the iSchools and eSkwela. The projects provide students with Internet-enabled personal computers (PCs).

Chua said they decided to use open source software for the projects because of its “cost effectiveness relative to proprietary solutions.”

Ubuntu CDs UBUNTU HEAVEN. This booth at the ground floor of the Cebu International Convention Center gives away free Ubuntu CDs. The Ubuntu shirt at the back, however, isn’t for sale or giving away. Bummer. Click to view larger image.

“Put simply, cheaper computer labs means more computer labs that we can roll out,” he said.

Chua also said that the Nettop ng Bayan, a project that aims to provide low-cost PCs to the public, was able to meet its target of less than P10,000 for an Internet-centric PC because of the use of open source software.

CICT urged members of the open source community to work together to “make Filipinos aware of the many benefits that (open source software) has to offer and that they have a cost-effective alternative to proprietary solutions that does not involve software piracy,” he said.

Ready for prime time

Global Gateway Venture Capital (G2VC) chairman and founder Winston Damarillo, meanwhile, said key indicators show “open source is ready for prime time.” Damarillo is the founder and chairman of Exist Global, Inc. He is also the executive chairman of Morph Labs, a company that offers software as a service.

Morph, Exist booths MORPH, EXIST. The booth of Morph, G2VC, and Exist. Open source in Cebu got a huge boost with the opening of these companies here.

Damarillo said that among these indicators are open source products that have become market leaders, notably Apache, the dominant web server in the market.

Open source products, he said, have also become models for collaboration and drivers of software entrepreneurship. They also boost the compensation of developers by as much as 30% to 40%.

Open source has also been recognized as “de facto point of innovation,” Damarillo said.

By Max Limpag

Max is a journalist and blogger based in Cebu City, Philippines. He is co-founder of the journalism start-up InnoPub Media.