Lesson from Uruguay
22 July 2013
A bill now under consideration in Uruguay showed the Free Software Foundation an important point that was missing in our list of recommended government policies to promote free software. The bill says that when the state develops or contracts for development of software, this software must be developable in a 100%-free-software environment.
This requirement avoids problems that can really happen. Even if the source code of the solution is delivered as free software, and can run on a 100%-free-software GNU/Linux system, it could be trapped in other ways.
For example, compiling its source code could require a nonfree program. Even editing its source code could require a nonfree program. Both of these problems can occur when a nonfree IDE is used, and this would create additional obstacles to migrating the state to free software. It is wise and proper for the law to reject these methods of developing computing solutions for the state.
Taking this into consideration, the FSF has updated its recommendations for government policies to suggest that contracts require that solutions be developable in 100%-free-software environments. (See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/government-free-software.html.)