Chapter 1. Case studies

Marcelo D'Elia Branco

Mónica León Martínez

Alejandro Novo López

Alberto Otero García



Table of Contents

preface. preface
objectives. objectives
Development and implementation of free software in Extremadura: a proposal with firm backing from the regional government
Context. The socio-economic characteristics of Extremadura
The framework of the gnuLinEx (free software) project.). The global information society project of Extremadura
Events, initiatives and situations
Spread and transferability of gnuLinEx ( free software ) services website
gnuLinEx from a technical perspective
Free Software in the Brazilian Government
Preface. Tentative steps on a long road
Free software in the Brazilian Government
Porto Alegre, a free thought factory
Telecentres in São Paulo
Municipal authorities of Río das Ostras
The Brazilian Parliament and the information society
Brazil at the Summit on the Information Society
Sun Microsystems
Business analysis
The private sector and the role of the free software community
Sun's free software positioning
Study of free software applications implemented inside the company
Development and worldwide launch of the platform
Product support
Corporate training
Cometa Technologies
Company presentation
Use of free software at Cometa Technologies
Solutions offered by Cometa Technologies
Use of free software within Cometa Technologies
Case studies
abstract. abstract


In this module we will look at various public and private institutions that have chosen free software, either as the basis of their business, as in the case of private enterprises, or as an institutional policy, in the case of the public institutions. These case studies do not attempt to give a comprehensive picture of free software implementation as this would be impossible in a subject of this limited duration. The basic idea of the module is to show that is possible to put free software into practice beyond the specific aspects you may have seen over the course of these studies. This module therefore attaches special relevance to all aspects concerning the integration of diverse elements, from technological and practical to financial and management-based, ethical and social.

To summarise, the main aim of this module is to provide an overview of the practical implementations of free software that is somewhat different to the more specific approach used in the other subjects of this course and even in the first module of this material.

After explaining why it is impossible to describe every possible case of free software systems implementation, the following units will look at four specific cases of implementation: two from the private and two from the public sector. The first case looks at a relatively small government body: the Junta (regional government) of Extremadura. The second describes another, much bigger government body: the Federal Government of Brazil. The third case looks at the multinational Sun Microsystems. And lastly, we describe a small business in Barcelona: Cometa Technologies. We will then offer a brief summary of the features of the four case studies.

The Junta of Extremadura

In 1999, the Junta of Extremadura launched a global information society project that included a series of actions concerning the information society. These included the spread of the Internet, the development of e-government, web learning, support to SMEs in practices relating to the new economy and incorporation into the information society, and the support and integration of disadvantaged areas in the region and socially marginalised groups. As part of an attempt to provide a Debian-based Linux distribution tailored to the needs of the education sector, the project created LinEx. Within a few months, LinEx became one of the most successful examples of GNU/Linux use in Spain and in Europe.

The Federal Government of Brazil

Twenty-two percent of the population of Brazil lives in poverty. This, along with the fact that Brazil is such a large country, means that communication between the different parts is difficult and some communities can be isolated. This combination of factors led the Brazilian government to launch a series of parallel projects for digital inclusion in a range of areas. The projects involved setting up telecentres to reduce digital exclusion by improving professional skills, spreading the use of free software and encouraging people to take part in new technologies. Free software played a key role in the creation of these telecentres because it enabled the digital inclusion of individuals through the use of legal software.

Brazil has been pioneering in the use of free technologies around the world and is a point of reference for other countries in South America.

Sun Microsystems

Sun is a large multinational with offices in over a hundred and seventy countries on all seven continents. The company has adopted a clear stance in favour of open standards: the promotion of free competition through the publication of protocols and interfaces is an intrinsic part of Sun's philosophy, which has led it to work closely and actively with the free software community, contributing both source code and human and financial resources. Through this collaboration, the free software community improves or adapts programs so that Sun Microsystems can market the products with additional services, such as support and training. Sun's biggest contributions include the release of the office productivity package or suite,

Cometa Technologies

Cometa Technologies is a private sector company that provides information technology solutions based on free software tools and standards. This case study will thus describe an example of an SME a significant part of whose business involves the use of free software. The activity of Cometa Technologies revolves around two main lines of business: the development and integration of technology solutions, and consulting and training.

Given the differences between the four situations, the format in which each case is described is also unique. We have not set down common guidelines for the four case studies, preferring instead to give the authors free rein to describe each example using their own criteria.

We hope that these examples will give you an idea of the subtleties involved in creating free software solutions in the real world.



Acero, F.; Hontoria, L.. 2000. Manual de LinEx (GNU/Linux): Guía de referencia para trabajar con este sistema operativo. . Madrid: EDIT-IN.

Asociación de Usuarios Linux/Unix de Extremadura (GULEX) [online]:

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Asociación Regional de Universidades Populares de Extremadura (coord.). 2001. Alfabetización Tecnológica: Manual de Buenas Prácticas de Alfabetización Tecnológica en Extremadura. . Mérida: Consejería de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología.

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Danish Board of Technology. 2002. Open source software in e-government. .

Fueyo Díaz, J.. et al. Manual en español de Squeak. [online]:

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Vivernet project [online]:

Technological Learning Network of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura [online]:

Robert Frances Group Inc. (2002). Total Cost of Ownership for Linux in the Enterprise.

Department for Planning, Statistics and Financial Analysis of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura [online]:

Small-Land [online]:

Soreon Research. 2004. Saving Cash: A Comparison of Open Source and Proprietary Software. .

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Further reading

Abella, A.. et al 2004. El libro blanco sobre el software libre en España 2003: la informática libre en nuestro país. . Mérida: Consejería de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología.

Álvarez Franco, P.M.; Martínez Montero, F.. 2004. Teseo Linex. . Mérida: Consejería de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología.

Ball Satate University. 2002. Squeakers. [DVD]. [s.l.].

Centro de Fomento de Nuevas Iniciativas (coord.). 2004. Aprender con gnuLinEx: experiencias docentes curso 2002-2003. . Mérida: Consejería de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología.

Consejería de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología. 2004. 5 años de Alfabetización Tecnológica en Extremadura: 1999-2004. [DVD]. [s.l]: Consejería de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología.

Gómez Deck, D.; Redrejo Rodríguez, J.L.. "Squeak en España como parte del proyecto LinEx" [online, in Small-Land's Swiki. )

González Sánchez, J.L.; Gazo Cervero, A.. (coord.) 2004. Sociedad y software libre: Curso Internacional de Verano de la UEX sobre Software Libre. . Mérida: Consejería de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología.

Guerrero Alonso, D.A.; Ortiz Durán, J.S.. 2003. Camino hacia Itaca. . Mérida: [s.n.].

gnuLinEx v.2.0 manual [online]: