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Mayoral candidate uses Linux as a running mate

Bill Clinton tooted the sax -- Juan Alberto Belloch is tooting Linux's horn. The mayoral wannabe in Spain loves Linux so much, he's making it a campaign platform.

Imagine G.W. Bush hitting the rails of America next year and campaigning for a return trip to the White House and...

singing the praises of Linux and open-source software at every whistle stop.

Now imagine a very cold reception when that train stops in the Seattle area (except for a few cheering Lindows employees).

But Juan Alberto Belloch, mayoral candidate in the city of Zaragoza, Spain, is really taking his love of Linux to the campaign trail.

Belloch admits to an infatuation with Linus Torvalds' favorite operating system after he was introduced to it by a Linux user group in Zaragoza. He met a man (and potential vote) who coded the Augustux Linux distribution, took home a copy, and was hooked. He immediately joined the ranks of Linux evangelists.

First, he took the message to local businesses -- now he's taking it on the campaign trail.

Belloch is expected to take his beloved Linux to Spain's parliament this month with a proposal to build a network of "Open Cities" in Spain. Each city would have its own team of experts who would develop open-source software for use nationwide.

Belloch is not only an influential politician in Spain -- he's the country's former minister of justice -- but he's already transformed himself into an effective Linux lobbyist. Reportedly, the mayors of Madrid, Seville, Gijon, Lleida and Mataro are sold on the Open Cities network.

The user group sold Belloch on the open access to Linux source code, the operating system's reliability and security. In turn, he's sold businesses and other government officials on the cost savings and the opportunity to establish Spain as a technological leader for the European open-source market.

He's also making Augustux a feature in many homes in Spain. He hands out Augustux CDs at political events and meetings and has assembled a collection of hackers as technical advisers.

As for his local campaign in Zaragoza, Belloch said that he wants to make the city and the province of Aragon a showcase for the benefits of open-source development. You have to wonder, however, if Belloch entirely understands the platform (pun intended) upon which he is campaigning when he says he wants to make Zaragoza and Aragon the "Redmond of the European free software world."

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