Brazil's federal government took its first steps towards embracing open-source software last week with its "Legislative Free Software Week".
Since Luiz Inaco Lula da Silva of the left-wing Workers' Party (PT) took office as Brazil's president in January, the government has been very clear about its bias towards open-source software.
Party members argued that Brazil pays $1.2bn a year in royalties and licences to use proprietary software, and that open source would allow transference of programming knowhow to Brazil.
"The event served not only to deepen the discussions about the use of free software in the government, but also to take practical steps," said congressman Walter Pinheiro, a well-known enthusiast of free software adoption in the public sector.
"The Congress ... will show that Brazil's largest software buyer - the government - uses free software and this may be a good example for smaller buyers."
Pinheiro said Brazil's House of Representatives decided not to renew licences for Microsoft's Office suite, which would cost around $1.3m, and is studying free software alternatives. The e-mail system is being replaced by freeware and other open-source applications could follow soon.
The event gathered almost 2,000 people, including IT managers, politicians and companies such as IBM, Oracle and Intel.
Ricardo Cesar writes for Computerworld Brazil