Software Freedom for Macedonia?

David Sugar, maintainer of GNU Bayonne, pushes a Russian car into the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, and reports on the state of the free software movement there.
Microsoft makes Expo vendors an offer

My trip was sponsored by the Macedonian magazine publication, [PCInfo+], and I was invited to speak at an event they called ExpoCom. This event was originally expanded to be a full week long. However, when it was announced I was coming to speak on software freedom, a number of vendors and speakers withdrew and ExpoCom was shortened by a few days. I learned this was because the Microsoft Adriatic representative and the local Microsoft reseller in Macedonia had contacted the speakers and vendors who were going to attend, and requested they withdraw from ExpoCom and offered other considerations if they would do so.

[PCInfo+] had at one time been a more traditional PC magazine much like [PC Week] or similar publications that cover proprietary software and hardware. When Igor become managing editor, and I think it was some two years ago, he focused attention and coverage on GNU/Linux, and the local hacker community. The immediate result of this was the Adriatic Microsoft rep asked their Macedonian reseller to stop future advertising in [PCInfo+.]

Very recently they had an amusing cover for PCInfo+ where they had a "Tux" penguin suck a "Microsoft" juicebox dry. This prompted the Microsoft Adriatic offices to phone each and every one of the local advertisers of [PCInfo+], and any that would withdraw from further advertising were offered "special" software licensing terms. Most recently, they had contacted the the printing house that [PCInfo+] uses. However, Igor will be telling his story for the world press directly, so I will leave it to him to fill in most of the details first hand.

I suppose in a country with a stronger civil history this would be scandalous. In fact, Macedonia has a poor history for enforcing laws and certainly, especially considering the short history of independence, less strong a connection between civil law and constitutional ideals than we enjoy here. Copyright, as a concept in Macedonia, is actually practiced somewhat on the French model. Authors have permanent and non-transferable "intellectual" rights, but can severably transfer "commercial" rights to others. In practice, actual enforcement on copyright restrictions has been very minimal in Macedonia to date.

Neighboring Serbia passes software audit law

With their low experience and civil history, there are many risks that they face. I was told that in Serbia, a separate and specific "software licensing" law was passed last year after much lobbying of that government which are neither based on constitutional, contractual, or civil law as it existed before. These laws permit private software companies to directly audit commercial firms in Serbia at will and permits the state to then close commercial businesses if the business is not in full software license, with "compliance" as defined by the firm initiating a software "audit". This also seems to be a slap to the concept of due process. There is some fear that similar laws may be passed in Macedonia.

As it was, ExpoCom was a much smaller and more intimate event than I had originally anticipated. It was held in a very small convention center. But, while most small Macedonian companies were discouraged from participating, many well known foreign companies unlikely to be effected by pressures choose to attend and present at it anyway. Most of these presentations were actually, for me, rather boring traditional marketing presentations. Most were, for me, somewhat boring, and I have little interest in mostly proprietary products or services from companies like Fujitsu and Assman.

The most heavily attended presentation

My talk was at the end of the event, the "footnote", if you will. Even so, it was the most heavily attended presentation, even though I actually required the audience to actually think and ask questions rather than just listen to some slick video or slide presentation. I mostly spoke about software freedom and the right to study, and a little about GNU Bayonne. The audience was very receptive and much more energetic than I saw at the other presentations.

Later I had the chance to meet with a number of members of the Macedonian hacker community. I would say there are probably about 200 free software hackers in Macedonia as a whole, with the vast majority being in Skopje itself. While some Macedonian hackers are are in similar circumstances and viewpoint to many we have in the US who work part or full time in various commercial companies, a vast majority of Macedonian hackers are under 20, and perhaps a majority are under 18. It is this latter group which is most visibly prevalent and highly cohesive. I think the small size, uniformity of experience, and geographical proximity (being in one city) of Macedonian hackers accounts for this uniformity of viewpoint and goals and high level of social integration that they share.

Among this group of Macedonian hackers is Angov Arangel. While I would never suggest getting in a car with him, as such cars seem to have a natural tendency to crash into other cars even though he never drives, he is involved in getting this Macedonian hacker community together under a new Macedonian national Free Software organization. This organization was originally going to be formed and announced during ExpoCom itself, but they had not completed everything necessary by that date.



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Brain washed people

Anonymous's picture

Slavonic FYROMians, as you call them, previously Vardarians and before that pure Bulgarians should not be blamed because they were brain washed by communist Tito and now days by fascist VMRO. You should pity them because they are Bulgarians who due to brain washing are ashamed to admit it. Except of course all these free minded who redescovered their origins and got Bulgarian passports.

As for Alexander, FYROMians, except those in Pelogonia, live in the country of Dardanians and Illyrians and other enemies of the ancient Macedon, which clearly was Hellenic and created the Hellenistic world and spread the Greek language all the way to Asia and Egypt.

OSS community should be careful in adopting country names not recognized by UN in order not to contribute further to this conflict between FYROM and neighboring countries.

By the way, as long as 3 mil people in Northern Greece live in the region of ancient Macedonia and call themselves Macedonian Greeks, Greece will be unable to recognize FYROM, which truely is Western Bulgaria previously occupied by Yugoslavia, under another name, much as it will not be able to recognize a Peloponnesian country or a Thessalian country outside its borders.

Re: Software Freedom for Macedonia?

Anonymous's picture

I think it's nice of your side to describe your trip to Macedonia or FYROM if you prefer as a nice thing. Altough I am for software freedom for Macedonia,FYROM, I think while we argue about the historical matter with our neighbours, we should concentrate on the matter which was brought up by somebody who has interest to bring some of its knowledge on the Balkan. Thank you for your interest in this matter and greetings from SmartFreak form MAcedonia(FYROM).

Re: Software Freedom for Macedonia?

Anonymous's picture

Interesting and for sure more than good that our neigbhoors are interesting for us so much.

We have here one saying like this:

Behind the good horse (or car if u want) there is lot of dust

So, Go Greek ppl, make allways a coments against us, finnally the time will show who is wright.



BTW Do u know that Greek on thair own lenguage means "GAY", so they preffer to call them selfs Hellas


You manage neither English

Anonymous's picture

You manage neither English not the Greek language vey well. You only show your ignorance and stupidity. Moron is a Greek word and fits you perfectly.


Anonymous's picture

Read The F(riendly) History...

ask your B.P(rofessor)F.H.

Re: wrong subject

Anonymous's picture

The subject should be "My trip in Bulgaria and Macedonia"

Re: Software Freedom for Macedonia?

Anonymous's picture

I can tell that there is two options about Greek-Macedonian conflict:

1. They dont have much education about their history and history on the Balkan people at al.

2. They know everything perfect but they dont want to believe in that so they tell facts just to profit from that.

I think that is enough.

born Macedonian living Macedonian

Re: Install the history

Anonymous's picture

"... if you think that Bulgarian version of the history is free ok, just share it with us, but don't try to force us to install it ..."

This explain a lot. That's what you do Macedonian: just install

the new version of history (if the history has a bug - e.g not writen appropriately). That's what you study in shool:

to install the history.

Note that patch for history is distributed by your government :))

Freedom: software, knowledge, mind

vladimirg's picture

On knowledge: I'm afraid only the future would allow the opinions about history on all countries in the region (Macedonia, Trukey, Greece, Bulgaria) to converge on simple facts. I hope historians and people who write school textbooks on history will become conscientious enough.

On mind and software: Because the future is in the future, and we need something to happen _now_, we must concentrate on the things that stick as together and are moving us into a better future. The point is the free software development (in wide sense).

Simple history facts: Cyrillic script was modelled on the Greek upper-case letters in the early Middle Ages and was first introduced in Bulgaria in the 9th century(!). Much later, it became the

Re: Software Freedom for Macedonia?

Anonymous's picture

1. There are very few USA citizens whoever actually leave their country, never mind their continent. Cool that you traveled, and cool what you went for.

2. Microsoft is currently getting grief from the European Union over monopolistic behaviour. The things that they did are currently described as "restraint of trade." I'm not sure of Macedonia's status as regards the EU (to my shame...) but It would be worth anyone who was and is being affected by this to contact the EU Monopolies Commission.

3. The free software movement should contact every company that was affected by M$'s behaviour. Showing the simple financial benefits of using Open-Source Software, as well as the ability to avoid the software audit problems, will convince most. Especially as they won't have to worry about a large multi-national dictating terms of trade.

4. Since the Open-Source Software/Free Software philosophy is based upon an accurate measurement of the energy costs of software developement, the computing service industry could be incredibly strong. This would give a large number of employment opportunities for the Free Software programmers.

4. The Macedonian Govt. should be involved immediately. A large multi-national Corporation has just tried to bully/bribe a number of their local companies to the detriment of their local industry.

5. The Macedonian Dept. of Industry should be involved as this is an ideal opportunity for Macedonia to develope an indigenous Software industry.

6. The EU is considering the wholesale adoption of Open-Source Software. This would also be an opportunity for the Macedonian Govt. to not only bolster their indigenous software industry, but also to cut their software costs by up to 70%, while ensuring that the money spent stays inside the Macedonian economy, rather than going to their trade deficit.

7. Considering the age-range of the local Free-software advocates/programmers, there is also the opportunity to cost-effectively develope an excellent Graduate/Post-Graduate university research program, which would translate, long-term, into a large amount of foreign capital and trade flowing into Macedonia.

Go Free Software. By behaving like that publicly Microsoft have completely screwed up. Use the opportunity wisely and well.

Meaure Twice.