Helio Chissini de Castro of Conectiva recently gave a KDE speech at Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and was kind enough to write up his experiences for the rest of us. In recent years, Rio Grande do Sul has become a GNU and consequently GNOME stronghold, so prepare yourself for an entertaining if not graphic read! Update: 06/13 20:20 by N: Only fair to point out Miguel's comments on this article.
Report: Forum Software Livre 2003
by Helio Chissini de Castro
I'm just back from my arduous journey (closed airports, endless
delays, no food, and so on...) to the Open Software
Conference at Rio Grande do Sul, where I did a speech on the
Corporate Desktop and KDE.
First, a little explanation on what this conference represents to
Brazil itself. Since the collapse of Comdex Brazil and Fenasoft, this
conference has become the major computing conference in Brazil, and in
the last two years has gained strong political backing, ever since
Brazilian government made a serious turn towards Open Source Software.
The conference happens every year in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul,
a strong GNU/Linux nest, and extremely GNOME-centric... Just so that
you know what I am up against, let me just mention that the guy who
leads the local Rio Grande government software project and now
promoted to spearhead the government's open source effort for the
whole of Brazil, Mr Marcelo Branco, is a "Just GNOME" kind of guy.
So, after 4 hours of delay in my flight, I arrive at Porto Alegre and
barely have time to grab a bite before hauling off to the
Today, the last day, is considered "GNOME Day" since Mr Icaza is
scheduled to do two speeches in the main room (seating 600). The
first speech started just an hour before I arrived. Not a single seat
is empty. Miguel de Icaza is kind of a mythical God here. He really
is a star to this people.
Once I obtain my ID card, I head off to the VIP room accessible to all
the speech guys. I turn on my notebook, and start to read my mail...
and to my surprise Mr Icaza sits beside me and does the same thing. I
try, I really do try to exchange a few courteous words with him, but
you must understand how hard it is speak to a God, especially when the
guy really acts as one...
For a few moments I'm feeling a bit unpleased with everything, despite
the good treatment given to me by the staff, but after the harsh talk
with Miguel ("KDE is not interesting", "GNOME will win in the next
iteration", "Mono is seven times better than .NET", yada, yada, yada),
it is time to confront the real treat -- government guy Mr Marcelo
Branco. Although I barely chat with him, I begin to realise that to
push our beloved KDE in, I will need to take a different
approach... on hand demonstrations.
I am equipped with a small and old notebook, a P2-300 Mhz with 64Mb,
with a brand new Conectiva
Linux installed, if only to prove to everyone that is indeed
possible run our distro, and most of all, KDE on a simple machine. To
show off new features, I also packaged material from CVS HEAD
4/06/2003, including Gideon and
When I arrive at my speech room, imagine my surprise that almost all
of the 100 seats are taken, and only a handful leave during the speech
itself. Feeling the pressure of responsibility, I hope for the best.
One thing is for sure, with the many rabid GNOME supporters in the
audience, I have to tread carefully by just demonstrating KDE itself,
and avoiding any direct comparisons. Thank God, everything goes all
right, with nothing crashing during the hour long speech -- despite
some slowness due to lack of memory. Surprisely, I even get some of
the crowd to participate in the speech.
I take care to mention which steps we (Brazil) will need to take to
deploy KDE in our government both at the beginning and the end of my
speech. At the beginning when introducing myself, I also note that
there are only three Brazilian KDE developers (myself, Roberto and
Thiago), and mention that we have a lot of difficult reaching the
developers here for help. It seems I really touch some guys at that
moment, but the "piece de resistance" comes at the end of the question
A corporate guy at the speech asks me this question: "The government
has stated at this conference that 2004 will be the year of Open
Source Software in Brazil. I want to know if KDE will be there at this
time." This was the cue that I was waiting for. My response is
frank and direct: We are three and some translators, we want to be
there but we really need help. We are willing to make the effort to
walk with this moment, but if we don't have more local help, it will
Afterwards, many people came to me to ask more direct questions about
my speech, but I was especially pleased to overhear a lot of people
talking positively about my speech across the conference showroom
floors. I believe that we may have gained at least one or two new
developers. My satisfaction will be complete when the news of KDE
reaches the Government guy's ears... And all this accomplished
without even using any of the usual anti-Windows/GNOME tactics that
some people resort to!