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Re: Open letter to Debian community

On Tue, Jan 30, 2001 at 11:20:11PM -0600, David Starner wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 31, 2001 at 03:42:55PM +1100, Brian May wrote:
> > >>>>> "David" == David Starner <dstarner98@aasaa.ofe.org> writes:
> > 
> >     David> Where are you buying your CDs? You can get Potato for less
> >     David> than $10 from some of the CD places. If that's too much,
> >     David> you can buy just the first CD.
> > 
> > Careful here (unless you know better then I do), it might be different
> > in Russia.
> Going to the CD list to the Russia distributer, they offer the 6 cd set of
> Debian for 500 p, and the 1 cd for 75 p. If I'm right in assuming p=ruble, then
> that's $18 for the 6 cd set and $3 for the 1 cd, according to Yahoo's currency
> converter. (Which corresponds to what I saw in America - I somewhat mispoke on
> $10, which was for binarys only.)

Let's compare this with the first useful data I got with a google search on
"average income in russia":

   The majority of the population has a very low income.  According to
   recent data from the Sakhalin Regional Administration for Labor, the
   average necessary minimum monthly income was calculated to be about
   US$ 55 (the national average subsistence income for Russia during
   January - September 1999 was approximately $34). One out of three
   inhabitants of Sakhalin and the Kurils lives on less than that amount
   (roughly the same as the Russia-wide figure). Ten per cent of the
   local population have incomes that exceed the calculated minimum
   by ten times or more, but the number of such people has not grown
   recently because of 1998 economic crisis and resulting inflation.

It also says:

   Though legally classified as an "Extreme North" territory (denoting a
   remote region with extreme natural conditions that make for difficult
   living conditions and economic activity), the Sakhalin region is
   currently the most promising region in the Russian Far East.

So only ten percents have monthly income of US$ 550 or more in this region.
Even that is not a big leap, isn't it? You don't need much to survive, only US$ 34,
but if you have only < US$ 34, you are not going to spend US$ 3 on a CD you
can't eat (and burning it doesn't give much heat either).
It is obvious that for the overwhelming majority of people in Russia (also
if you restrict that to those interested in a Debian CD), the price is very
much an issue.

Nothing of this means anything for us. But for people interested in the
social aspects of free software, it means a lot. I have a couple of slightly
out of date Debian CDs which are rotting here. I am sure that there are
thousands of such CDs in Germany, and probably ten thousands in the states
(or more). The trouble is getting them to the place where they can be
useful. (It's probably more expensive to collect them than to produce new
ones, I don't know).


`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' Debian http://www.debian.org brinkmd@debian.org
Marcus Brinkmann              GNU    http://www.gnu.org    marcus@gnu.org

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