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Software Freedom Day struggles in Europe

Intended to highlight the virtues of open-source and free software, the worldwide event is most popular in developing countries.

Many events are planned for this Saturday's Software Freedom Day in the developing world, but one of the co-founders is disappointed with the lack of activity in Western countries.

Events are scheduled worldwide for Saturday to celebrate Software Freedom Day, which is intended to tout the virtues of open-source and free software. But most of the buzz is in the developing world, according to one of the organizers.

Henrik Nilsen Omma, one of the co-founders of Software Freedom Day, said on Wednesday that there are a lot of activities planned in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but things are a lot quieter elsewhere.

"In the U.K. there's not much happening. In fact, many Western countries are not doing very much at all," said Omma, who is based in the U.K.

One exception is Australia, which has about 15 teams doing different events around the country. He said there were various possible social reasons why developing countries have become more involved in this initiative.

"I have been wondering about why that is," said Omma. "It could be because there is more of a social profile to open-source in Africa and Asia--it's about empowerment. Also, open-source communities are more fluid in developing countries, while in the West they're already quite established."

Omma said it was a shame that more wasn't happening in Europe because it is important to educate the public about alternatives to proprietary software.

More than 200 teams around the world have registered to take part in Software Freedom Day. Activities include handing out free software CDs, lectures and demonstrations on free software.

Some teams have planned more-interactive activities. On the Thai island of Phuket, for example, members of the public will be able to take part in a Tux painting competition.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.