A young friend from Goa has circulated his views. If you have any
comments, please free to send them to him. Thanks, FN
On Sat, 7 Dec 2002, Sanil Talaulikar wrote:
> Dear ilugers,
> There have been a no. of arguments put forth and back
> on the issue of IP and its implications.My
> understanding of these issues is very limited.This is
> a humble attempt by me to improve my understanding of
> these issues.What actually happened was i was trying
> to study for my exams when all these thoughts occured
> to me and the only way i could clear my mind of them
> was to type them down.
> Feel free to comment/critisize the various points i
> have raised because thats the only way i can further
> improve my understanding of these complex
> topics.(invitation to crucify me ;-) )
> My thoughts on the IP and Software
> The question i feel should be asked is not whether
> knowledge should be proprietory or free
> but whether the possesion of that knowledge puts that
> person in a position to exploit society.
> I see nothing wrong in a person making money out of
> intellectual property that he has created as the
> person who creates IP is creating value which did not
> exist before.The idea is similar to a farmer who uses
> land and freely available rain and sunlight to grow
> new crops.
> The real issue here is whether the possession of IP
> puts the person in a position to exploit others.
> For example,An Operating System such as Windows makes
> a computer usable,It is a driver for productivity in
> the modern world.computer knowledge is becoming almost
> a necessity and something one cannot almost do
> without.Thus by selling proprietory windows(and
> restricting freedoms) at a price which people of
> developing countries cannot afford The gap between the
> haves and havenot's further increases
> This the society should not allow to happen.The GPL is
> a great way to prevent this exploitation.The great
> thing about GPL(GNU Public Lisence)
> is that it assures contributing members that their
> contributions remain protected.People will only
> contribute freely when they feel that their
> contributions will not be commercially exploited.I
> consider GPL an ingenious tool in the hands of the
> society to prevent its exploitation(and its creator a
> But i dont subscribe to the extreme view that all
> software should be GPl'ed.This is because the only way
> a person can make money from GPl'ed software is by
> 1)training people to use it and
> 2) distributing it .
> As regards to 1), according to me software should be
> so easy to use that it should not require training at
> all.If i want to make money out of GPL'ed software i
> have to make my software
> difficult to use so that i can earn from it.This again
> puts the creator and contributors of Gpl'ed software
> in a unique position to exploit user's by charging a
> high fee.
> Ideally GNU/Linux should be so easy to use that it
> empowers people so that more and more people can take
> part in the digital revolution and contribute to
> it(and we are getting there).
> As regards to 2) How much money can you actually make
> by distributing GPL'ed software?The problem is that it
> costs nothing for a person who has obtained the
> software directly through me to make one copy of it or
> a million copies of it or distribute it on the
> Internet. This is a crucial point on which software
> differs from other products.If have bought a car or
> any other tangible product i need to own the means to
> produce/modify it before i can think of reproducing
> it.Even then i will incurr a cost on every item i
> The only way the software creator can earn from his
> creation is by restricting certain freedoms The Open
> source licensces allow this.
> According to me even creating proprietory software is
> not bad as long as the creator does'nt intend to
> exploit users or divide society.for example,i need not
> provide the source code for software i developed for a
> commercial store because the owner of commercial store
> is unlikely to be interested in it as long as it
> increases his productivity.In fact, the commercial
> store is in
> a position to exploit me if i provide provide him with
> freedoms to distribute, copy and modify the software
> and its source.
> One may point out,if i have bought a car i am not
> forced to go to the car manufacturer for service or
> modifications, i have the freedom to choose to who
> services or modifies my car.
> But again it is the nature of software that forces its
> creator to put these restrictions.When i go to a
> service station i dont provide the blueprint of the
> car to him.Even if he has the blueprint he still does
> not have means to reproduce it.
> Finally it all comes down to what purpose the software
> is being used and the intentions of its creator.
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Non-free software is wrong says Stallman
By Mark Ward
Every time you buy software from companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Sun and Adobe you hand over much more than just money, you also give up basic freedoms and human rights.
So says Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation, and long-time campaigner against the proprietary programs produced and owned by many software companies.
The assumed ownership of software by Microsoft and many others irks Mr Stallman and is something he wants stopped.
"Non-free software is wrong and we do not want it in our lives," he told BBC News Online.
He has been campaigning since 1984 for the end of proprietary software.
As an alternative the Free Software Foundation he heads is developing an operating system, called Gnu, that can be used without restriction.
A whole generation has grown up with the idea that it is normal for them to have no freedom
His tireless campaigning has inspired the open source movement which gives people more freedom to tinker with software, albeit not as much as Mr Stallman would like.
For him the FSF is the "militant wing" and open source advocates "spineless" because they forget that using software is a matter of ethics.
The Open Source movement owes a huge creative debt to Mr Stallman.
How much do you know about Gnu/Linux?
Take the quiz
Linux, the operating system many people associate with Open Source, should properly be called Gnu/Linux to properly reflect its heritage.
The Free Software Foundation stands in opposition to forces of software ownership. The sense of "free" it believes in does not mean that people cannot charge for their work to produce programs.
Instead "free" means the liberty to tinker with software, find out how it works and share it with other people without restriction.
Unlike many other countries the US has laws permitting the patenting of features in software. As a result, says Mr Stallman, the freedom that programmers have to tinker, experiment and innovate is gradually shrinking.
Often, he says, patents are used to protect markets software companies dominate and shut out competition.
So far almost 100,000 software patents have been granted in the US, he points out.
Patents protect Microsoft's ASF streaming file format and others protect colour separation techniques, widely used image and music formats and many other features and programming techniques.
But the problem with proprietary software does not stop with its stunting of innovation or with helping maintain monopolies, says Mr Stallman.
If I cannot share it then I will not install it. If it requires me to mistreat others I would say no to it
The larger point, he believes, is that these companies trample over basic human freedoms and force people to trade cherished autonomy for convenience.
"Proprietary software is not designed to serve you but it is designed to control you," he says. "It is designed to serve someone else."
And it is not just software companies that are trying to limit rights to tinker and copy.
Record companies and film makers are joining in and stopping people freely copying music and movies.
"A whole generation has grown up with the idea that it is normal for them to have no freedom," says Mr Stallman.
"We should destroy the record companies and put an end to institutions that are this arrogant and trying to take away our freedom," he says.
All that musicians get from signing up with a record company is publicity, believes Mr Stallman. While agreeing that record companies are effective marketers of music, he says the social costs of this are very high.
"It's better if we have a little bit less effective publicity and freedom to share with each other," he says.
"The end point is that all published software should be free, you should always have the freedom to study, change and share software," he says. "These should be inalienable rights."
"If I cannot share it then I will not install it," he says, "if it requires me to mistreat others I would say no to it."
Posted by N.S. Soundara Rajan, freelance IT journalist and Knowledge networker, based at Mysore, India
...connecting people to people, and people to knowledge
Its an interesting discussion that you have initiated.
In my view, Open source movement gives a whole new meaning to IP and
software. Yes, i agree with you that there is no need to GPL all the
software of the world, but it really helps to have good quality software
available that can be moulded and modified to meet your solutions.
Computer industry is still in its first phase of evolution along with
internet. What the industry has been creating is operating systems, graphics
capabilities, communications, open standards, multimedia, data storage,
network architectures etc etc. Now, all these tools are basic ingredients to
provide solutions to the connected world.
my point of view is that all these basic capabilities and tools should be
GPLed. now you can pick up these tools, modify them to your requirements and
provide SOLUTIONS. If these basic tools are properietary, then you are not
in a position to match the might/muscle and money power or the megacorps
riding high by charging (rather duping people for basic tools) heavy amounts
for these tools.
Look at what GPLed software has given to you. Tools as good as properietary
tools (if there is something left, we all are closing in fast), now you are
free to create your solutions and charge for the services. Thats how it
should be: carpenter does not charge for his tools, he charges for the
solutions he gives you. doctors dont charge for a stethoscope but for what
they do with it. Time is not far away when we will have very easy to use
tools at hand that can be taken for granted, then the focus is bound to
shift to SERVICES and SOLUTIONS.
For the above to be true we need to have a distinction between SOFTWARE and
SOLUTIONS. It is anybody's guess. Believe me, today because of what i have
learnt from open Source software has enabled me to dream of outwitting the
megacorps with GPLed software. GPLed software also helps us move ahead fast.
We cant sit on the IP that we have created, we have to innovate else our
work is rendered obsolete by another genius from the brave GNU world. IT
LEADS TO AN ENVIRONMENT OF CONSTANT INNOVATION.
And innovation is good for the world.
I would close with this: ALL THE SOFTWARE SHOULD BE GPLed, ALL THE SOLUTIONS
MAY OR MAY NOT BE, ALL THE SERVICES SHOULD BE CHARGED FOR.
leave you with this thought,
In support of Sanil's view !!
STOP MORE SPAM with the new MSN 8 and get 2 months FREE*
Any reports on how this is progressing? FN
Free Font For Malayalam
The role of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) in common man^�s
life is increasing. However, only a small fraction of people are able to
utilize the benefits. A major barrier in the promotion of computer usage in
a country like India is largely due to the fact that there are hardly any
software in any of the Indian scripts. In a country where nearly one third
of the population lives below $1/day, the cost of ICT applications is still
prohibitively expensive. The cost of ICT applications is primarily due to
two costs; the hardware cost and the software costs. While hardware costs
have been coming down and are inevitable to a certain extent, software
costs have not acted as a major constraint in applying ICT applications in
The free software movement has been addressing the issue of making
available information to all as a basic right. While some basic software
are today available in free downloadable forms over the Internet, these
software do not cater to the fonts in Malayalam, which is the language of
30 million Keralites in Kerala and at least 10 million outside.
The project proposes to create free software with local language
(Malayalam) support in accordance with the established standards so that
ICT applications can be made available at low cost in the language of the
people. Further, the developed codes are proposed to be made available on
the Internet so that people can not only freely use them but also develop
Specifically, the project aims to create Free Font for Malayalam, create
toolkit (toolkits are basic building blocks in creating Graphical User
Interface based applications) with Malayalam support, and create a
localised desktop and office productivity applications and documentation in
Malayalam. This will surely help in ICT penetration in Kerala, spur
development of similar fonts on free software for other local languages in
India and other parts of Asia Pacific, create the base for further
development in software with local language support thus enabling a larger
segment of the population to enjoy the benefits of information technology.
Background and Justification of the Project
ICT has potential to play an important role in improving the life of common
man in a developing country. Many initiatives have already been taken in
this regard. At the same time it is also true that only very few people are
able to take advantage of ICT and the high costs of hardware and software
are in certain ways perpetuating the development divide through a digital
divide. A minority population, that is able to afford the high cost, are
able to benefit from the ICT revolution and a large majority is getting
further marginalized in the process.
Two major reasons for this digital divide are:
Non availability of content in regional languages
The high cost of software.
Kerala is one of the southern states of India lying nearly 9 to 13 degrees
North and having a population of nearly 30 million out of which nearly 74%
live in rural area (2001 census). It is important to note that the rural
population has gone up from 73.5% to 74% during 1991 to 2001. Apart from an
elected State Legislature, the State also has multi-layered elected local
bodies. There are 992 Grama Panchayats (Village level councils) and 58
Municipal Councils and Corporations representing the rural and urban areas
respectively. Kerala, known as ^�God^�s own country^� for its natural beauty
and which makes it one of the top tourist destinations of the world, has
also initiated various programs/steps to make the benefits of information
technology reach common people through innovative projects. Although Kerala
has a literacy level of 90.92% (2001 census) (male 94.20% and female
87.86%), the population connected to Internet remain shockingly below 1%,
the issues relating to lack of connectivity remain a big problem.
Today, Malayalam enabled software is scarce. Those available are for Word
Processing alone. Malayalam usage in computers is limited to using the
computer as an electronic typewriter and for publishing. The major reason
for this is the lack of Operating Systems supporting Malayalam. To add to
this, the Malayalam font system for the global standard ^� the Unicode - has
not been built. As a result, it is not possible to have an ICT
infrastructure with Malayalam support.
Another issue is the very high cost of proprietary software. If Malayalam
font is developed in proprietary software, the cost of the same will make
it prohibitively costly for using it on a larger scale. Low income
populations will in particular, find it exceedingly difficult to use the
resulting system, thus making the digital divide even more dominant. The
alternative proposed is the development of local content in free Software.
Freedom associated with free software enables one to make modifications to
it (to support Malayalam) and make it available to people around the world.
The benefits of Information Technology are reaching only a very small
minority, thus creating a digital divide. The two major issues here are
lack of availability of software with local language support and the very
high cost of software.
This Project aims to reduce this digital divide by creating localised
versions of free software. This project will create Free Font for
Malayalam, create a toolkit (toolkits are basic building blocks in creating
GUI based applications) with Malayalam support, create localised desktop
and office productivity applications and documentation in Malayalam. This
will create the base for further development in software with local
language support, thus enabling a larger segment of the population to enjoy
the benefits of information technology.
Further, the developed codes are proposed to be made available on the
Internet so that people can not only freely use them but also develop on them.
Project Benefits/ Beneficiaries
The project foresees various benefits arising out of it. The direct impact
arising out of this would be large-scale development of content in local
language. Additionally, the content would be more participative and,
therefore, more localized in terms of needs and requirements, issues and
solutions etc. Inspite of having more than 90% literacy for over one
decade, the Kerala state continues to remain low on PC and Internet
penetration in the country. Development of local content for a state like
Kerala, with high literacy will lead to change in the society and economy.
Some important aspects are
Usage: Tools in ICT will become more and more accessible to people who
don^�t know English but know to read and write Malayalam. This implies
access to majority of people in Kerala.
Education: Education for majority in schools is in Malayalam language. This
will be enable development of educational software in local language.
Date archiving: Archiving of vast amount of data available becomes
possible. The knowledge archiving and retrieval is the major application of
ICT. Till now we are forced to use English language to archive our
knowledge, our history. This has inherent limitations.
Economic: This will also help in development of new ICT enabled services in
local languages etc.
e-Governance: Support for local language becomes easy for all the
e-governance programs of the Government.
Apart from benefits arising to Kerala, the project will have lessons for
developing similar fonts in other local languages. Asia Pacific, rich in
culture and languages cannot be dependent on English alone. Indian alone
has 17 official languages. The experience gained through this project will
encourage other similar efforts in other languages.
The software developed by the Project will be loaded free on the Internet
enabling anyone interested to download it and use it. It will also enable
others interested in it, to develop it further so that there is an ongoing
mechanism to upgrade the software. This would ensure continuous ongoing
upgrading of software and its long-term sustainability.
The aim of the project is to create a comprehensive set of software for
computing in the local language. The Project involves the following tasks:
Font: The first step in bringing a new language to computers is creating a
font for that language. The font contains information about shape of
characters in that language. This project aims to create a font based on
Unicode character encoding scheme. Unicode is the new standard to encode
data from languages around the world. It is the most accepted standard now.
During the development of this font, creation of font encoding scheme for
Malayalam is also necessary. Lack of a font-encoding scheme is now an issue
for development of more fonts for Malayalam.
Toolkits: Indian languages have got a special property of change in shape
of characters depending on context. Hence, these languages are referred to
as complex ^� text languages. All the software using graphical interface are
built using some Toolkit. Toolkits are basic building blocks in creating
software. Localisation of the toolkits will make the creation of Malayalam
supported software easier. The work will be on a cross platform GUI toolkit
called GTK. A major component in this is to create a renderer for Malayalam
and adding Malayalam support for freely available toolkits.
Localisation of Applications: Localisation of software involves developing
localized applications on common utilities like Office suite, Desktop, and
other productivity applications.
Localising Desktop + Basic Applications ^� Involves packaging and
application translation. This task can be started only after making toolkit
Localisation of Office Applications ^� Involves localizing office
productivity applications like Word processor, Presentation application,
Spreadsheet, Groupware. Additional packages like Vector and Raster Graphic
tools, Plotting, Project Management, Finance, Diagramming, Communication
etc. can be added.
Internet Applications ^� This task consists of localizing basic Internet
tools like Browser (Translation), Mail client, IRC, Instant Messenger.
Database ^� Localised sorting support will be implemented. Postgre SQN will
be used as the database and modifications will be made in to it.
Localising terminal applications ^� This is mainly for people who want to
use machines with low resource and without graphic interfaces.
Documentation: Manuals are essential for suitable documentation and for a
new user to get started with the application. These Manuals will be
developed in both English and Malayalam. Translation of these manuals will
help a lot of people who want to learn and use computer themselves.
K-BIP & FSF India has initiated some work in the aforesaid direction. The
present work includes work on customizing the GNU/Linux (Free Operating
System) to support Malayalam.
Project Timeline/ Phases/ Team
Nine months encompassing font development, toolkits, localization of
applications and project documentation.
The Project is divided into four phases. The first phase is Font
development and this activity involves 1 Programmer, 1 Graphics Expert and
1 Draftsman. The second phase is the building of Toolkits and this involves
3 Programmers. The third phase is the Localization of Applications in which
9 Programmers, 1 Translator and 3 Data Entry Operators will be involved.
The fourth phase is the Documentation and 1 Language Translator, 1 Proof
Reader and 1 Data Entry Operator will be involved in this phase.
This Project will create a Free localized GNU /Linux Desktop system. The
components of this will be:
A Malayalam Font
Localised Toolkit for Malayalam
A collection of commonly used Applications (Word Processor, Email client,
Browser, Database etc.)
Documentation for the software in Malayalam
The Output of this project is a collection of software. The evaluation and
monitoring will be done with the help of National Informatics Centre, which
is the apex institution in the area of Computing and Information Technology.
The Font must contain all glyphs from the ISFOC Standard for Malayalam. And
the encoding will have to be Unicode based. The Toolkits will be verified
by creating sample graphical applications using the same. Usually the test
code will be available with Toolkit. The test programs will be in 'C'
Localization of Application will be verified by looking through all the
messages of the application in the message database.
Documentation will be verified with help of a language expert by comparing
it with the original document in Malayalam. Random Samples will be taken
Implementing Organisation ^� Kerala Bureau of Industrial Promotion (K-BIP)
is a non-profit autonomous body under aegis of the Industries Department of
the Government of Kerala. It is envisaged for promoting the potential
industrial activity in the state of Kerala. It is the state level agency
for Asia Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (UN-APCTT), responsible
for transfer of technology for SMEs. It is also involved in promoting
e-governance in Kerala through various initiatives like online applications
for various Government applications, online payment for Government payments
etc. The project is being carried out in close coordination with Secretary,
Information Technology, Government of Kerala.
Partner Organisation - The Free Software Foundation is a world-renowned
organisation founded by Richard M. Stallman in the USA in 1984. FSF
believes that all software should be free as software is information and
the withholding of information is wrong and a denial of a human right. The
first FSF Chapter in India was started in India in Trivandrum, Kerala.
The Project Team will be headquartered in the State Capital,
Thiruvananthapuram. The Project Director and Coordinator is the Chief
Executive of K-BIP and Secretary (Industries) Government of Kerala. The
Project Director will oversee the work of two Project Managers who, in
turn, will steer the other members of the Project Team. The Chief Executive
of K-BIP is Secretary (Industries), Government of Kerala.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Ajay Kumar
Secretary to the Government of Kerala Industries Department/
Executive Director, Kerala Bureau of Industrial Promotion
Sri Ganesh', T.C. IX/2197
Kurup's Lane, Sasthamangalam
Trivandrum - 695010, Kerala, India
Tel: 91-471- 333028
Fax: 91-471- 311883
Margao is the main headquarters town of South Goa. When someone suggested
setting up a LUG there, the response was: why not? Today, this LUG is
doing well for itself, attracting more people to GNU/Linux in Goa, and
bringing in those who would have probably not made it for the main group's
meetings in Panjim. This is a small note from them... FN
PS: Goa is India's smallest state on the west coast....
---------- Forwarded message ----------
** www.ilug-margao.org is the first GNU/Linux related site in Goa..
** The contributions section contains easy to read how-to's contributed
by members..one dosent have to go through tonnes of material to
install/configure the stuff. A quick read should do the trick!
** A chat channel for GNU/Linux enthusiasts. Impatient geeks could get
their queries answered instantly! (Perhaps, Saturday night could be
fixed to hold virtual discussions?)
** Project section will hold projects that have been coded by members.
** A neat and slick Photo Gallery to show off GNU/Linux activities!
** Tutorials section for other resources/tutorials found around the web
** CD/Book management will be added by the end of JAN to facilitate
borrowing of Books/CD's around South Goa.
Have anyone done through this link ?
Open Software Solutions makes pro-free software
31 October 2002
Kochi: Open Software Solutions (OSS), the first
software development industrial venture in the
cooperative sector that has gone official today, has
made a pro-free software definitive statement in the
ongoing Linux versus Microsoft debate in Kerala.
Based on the philosophy and politics of the
copyleft, as opposed to copyright, the society is
already into developing and marketing products in Open
Source Software Platforms like the Linux OS and the
PostgreSQL RDBMS, providing the much-needed price and
reengineering buoyancy to its clients.
Already the flagship product of OSS Sanghamitra, the
online banking software for cooperative banks is
making a silent wave in the sector. This cooperative
banking tool is currently being implemented in 14
locations in six districts of Kerala and is growing at
the rate of two-to-three installations every month.
The tool, which took more than 27,000 man-hours to
develop, is expected to revolutionise the way primary
service cooperative banks work as it will help in
inter- and intra-bank transfers. The users need not
have to pay for licences, version upgrading or adding
new users. The cooperative sector in the state will
be able to save up to Rs 80 crore by using the free
software which otherwise goes out of the national
wealth, says OSS social entrepreneur and chief
technology officer K V Anil Kumar.
Social entrepreneurship is also the motivating force
for the society, which currently has 36 members mostly
with techie background. The seed for this unique geek
tree was sown in 1999 when Kumar, along with three
other youngsters currently with the OSS (Joby John,
Krishnadas M and Joseph Thomas), were actively
involved in a study for a total e-governance strategy
development for the Ernakulam District Panchayat as
part of the Electronics Industrialisation
Infrastructure Development (EIID) Society. The
argument then was that projects like e-governance can
be done only by bigger agencies and with the help of
companies like Microsoft, says Kumar.
The study recommended that free software should be
used to cut on the massive licensing fee that the
state would have to pay year after year, says John,
an IT consultant and honorary member of the
Appropriate Technology Promotion Society, which
promotes and guides OSS.
We stand for a cause. By providing cost-effective
appropriate technology, the state will be able to save
crores of rupees that would otherwise go out of the
country. It is also a unique experiment of social
entrepreneurship where a bunch of like-minded
individuals have come together to create opportunities
in jobs and learning, adds John.
The politics of the venture is to take on the
unscrupulous market forces that have got into
patenting knowledge and using them for monopolistic
gains based on the philosophy of greed. It is almost
similar to the new capitalism that no more claims the
ownership of land, but has usurped the technology of
the seed. The murky world of Intellectual Property
Rights is helping transnational corporates gain more
than 40-per cent profit, says John.
OSS with its unique philosophy has attracted a lot of
youngsters and has a good gender balance. I became
attracted in the philosophy while doing a project at
EIID as part of my postgraduate studies in Cochin
University of Science and Technology (CUSAT). I feel
free software is the most appropriate technology for
the software community, says Sindhu Jerson, an MBE
from CUSAT and an OSS honorary secretary.
Kerala State Minister for Tourism K V Thomas
inaugurated OSSs office at Subhash Chandra Bose Road,
Kadavanthara, Kochi, today. Four other products
developed by OSS, including a cheque printing
software, interactive voice response system (IVRS),
jukebox and a chitti software, were also released. OSS
can be reached at eiidp(a)vsnl.com.
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