I have seen your work on dotgnu project. Its good work. It feels great to
know that we all are thinking ahead of time. I am sure some MS people who
keep a tab on our mails are wondering what we are upto.
I support porting of .NET (C#) on linux but remember, we get less mileage on
porting it to linux. I mean, .NET web services can be accessed from Linux
anyways, due to XML-RPC n SOAP standards. Getting C# clients running on
linux should be made integral part of such an endeavor but should not take a
centerstage. The edge lies in integrating the linux environment such that it
provides all the .NET funtionality (not .NET) in linux. We have a beautiful
langauage in Java at our hands. If we can get togather to promote java as an
alternative (matching or superseding .NET), infact C and C++ are good enough
with a strong developer base.
The key to beating .NET seems to be how well we can integrate the services
available on linux to provide an equivalent if not more functionality. If we
can create an integrated environment that is easier to use than .NET .. i
believe we are on.
Arun/Gopal its great work that you guyz are doing. Guyz like you really make
it all worthwhile. Please let me know on who is managing the project and
whether you guyz are on for adding some new concepts into the project ?
Free software for the brave GNU World.
With regards to all,
>From: Gopal V <gopalv82(a)symonds.net>
>To: Tarun Gaur <gaur_tarun(a)hotmail.com>
>CC: Fsf-India Mailing List <fsf-india(a)mm.gnu.org.in>
>Subject: Gnu and the dot (was: (no subject))
>Date: Sun, 1 Dec 2002 23:19:39 +0530
>If memory serves me right, Tarun Gaur wrote:
> > The project i am working on is not just a replacement/porting of .net on
> > linux. It is much more than that. It intends to provide a highly
> > web services environment of which C# and other microsoft technologies
> > small part. Some languages that are taken care of by our environment are
> > C++, C, COBOL, Java, C# and some things that we are keeping under wraps
> > it completes. We will be releasing the sofware under GNU LGPL.
>Even though I don't understand why you'd need to keep it under wraps ...
>I do think DotGNU has a lot in common with what you suggest ... We started
>off to provide a Microsoft compatible webservice framework .. later Rhys
>Weatherly came in with Portable.Net the C# compiler and runtime , and I
>jumped in (sort of pushed in by Arun) ...
>I'm working on the codegen, SemanticAnalysis and flow analysis of the
>compiler .. And I have done my bit on the runtime engine , and am currently
>the lead developer of the pnetlib standard libraries ....
> > We are creating a Global Naming and security architecture that can boast
> > some interesting unique features. We have options of using triple DES /
> > as cryptosystems for the environment. And the environment makes it
> > easy to Write distributed code.
>Hmm... our ideas of distributed execution have been put into the pipeline
>and Chris Smith has promised a release by next year Mid-Jan ... It will
>use a CIL sandboxed engine for execution , and other engines like Parrot
>are being kept open for inclusion...
> > Now, Please tell me on how can i contribute in your endeavor.
>http://dotgnu.org/ or http://dotgnu.info/ or
> > Anyways, Arun and Gopal, please let me know how can i contribute. I
> > love to and i have got a good following of a handfull of good
> > who will be willing to pitch in too.
>Visit http://savannah.gnu.org/projects/dotgnu-pnet/ for the C# side of
>Get the CVS , hack in a few features ... submit a patch ... and all that..
>We're on a stabilizing run for the 0.5.0 release , so we're keeping hands
>off the CVS repository and testing the patches hard ..
>The hackers on developers(a)dotgnu.org lists will be more helpful for further
>The difference between insanity and genius is measured by success
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The Economic Times
Should governments use open source software?
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2002 01:28:06
The Linux versus Microsoft tussle over open-source software as against
proprietary software has all the romance of a David versus Goliath battle.
What is the reality? We present three views, two from industry and one from
Javed Tapia, Director, Red Hat, India
Linux is an operating system, much like Microsoft Windows, Solaris or MacOS
X. What sets Linux apart from most other operating systems is that it is an
open source. This is generally taken to mean simply 'free'.
What this actually is much more than that and in practice means that the
source code is available to all for modification, customisation, and
The use of Linux lowers the total cost of IT very significantly. The first
advantage is the upfront price. A single fully supported package would cost
significantly less than any proprietary alternatives.
Secondly, since Linux is under a general public licensing model it can be
installed on many computers without any restrictions. Thirdly, a typical
Linux CD contains not only the operating system, but a large variety of
other software products that can be installed if needed.
Thus, without buying or downloading anything else, the user already has
simple office suite, all the software needed for internet access, advanced
networking capabilities, and so on.
Fourthly, a major argument against the implementation of proprietary
software in the government sector is the dependency on proprietary software
Even in an open tender acquisition system, this requirement for
compatibility with proprietary standards makes the system biased towards
specific software vendors, perpetuating a dependency.
This dependency is perpetuated due to two reasons: first of all software
owners have to upgrade the software, even if there is no internal reason or
interest in doing so. Otherwise they risk facing a situation where their
programs are not capable of process documents and files, created by newer
versions of the same product.
The second coercion to upgrade evolving from this dependency situation is
the ending of support for 'older' versions. This situation thus has major
consequences for the cost side of IT management.
Through the passage of time, the proprietary software vendor does not have
to fear competition, since the client has to take its product irrespective
of any choice.
A typical, at least de facto, monopoly evolves in which the vendor dictates
prices, conditions and quality. Open source provide liberation from such a
situation as it offers no proprietary lock-in to any one vendor.
Fifthly, apart from the cost advantage, in a large installation such as
government ministry or department, administration of all the computers in
all locations can be a logistical nightmare. Linux provides many features
that can make this administration much easier. Linux is a multi-user system
which means that each file belongs to a specific user, and one user cannot
alter another user's files unless latter assigns appropriate permissions.
Linux has a number of features that make its use on a network much more
Examples include a built-in firewall, the ability to allow certain services
(e.g., file sharing) to be accessible only from within an internal network,
software to detect attempted hacking, encrypted protocols for remote
administration, file transfer, and so on.
An important selling point of Linux is its stability. Barring hardware
malfunctions, Linux is highly stable. Operating system crashes are almost
Proof of this being that today large enterprises and government bodies are
adopting Linux in a big way for their mission-critical applications. For
instance NASA and the ESA are using a customised version of Linux in a
number of highly-sensitive space missions.
While it is possible to download Linux for free, make copies of the
downloads and distribute them freely, this option includes no support from
the supplier, although one can always make use of peer support groups and
other self-proclaimed gurus.
To benefit from professional telephone or email support from the suppliers
like Red Hat, one has to buy the operating system. This option normally
includes more software than the free version, printed manuals, a number of
days of support and software provided ready on CDs.
Finally, the situation after the migration to open source software will lead
to lower life-cycle costs. Service, support and maintenance can now be
contracted out to a range of suppliers, being placed in the competitive
environment of a functioning marketplace.
The money saved in the service-oriented model of open source is then also
normally spent within the economy or the governmental organisation. Unlike
proprietary software situations where they are paid out as pure licence fees
to large monopolistic multinational organisations.
The cost of the service oriented model of open source has a positive fallout
on the domestic economy through the generation of local employment, spurring
of local investment and ensuring local technological upgradation.
Sanjiv Mathur, Head of marketing, Microsoft, India:
To begin with let me first clarify the term 'Free software.' The word 'free'
here specifically means what you can do with the software, not the price.
While you can obtain the basic software free, it is distributed and sold for
a charge by companies who develop applications on it.
As a result, the pricing structure becomes very similar to commercial
software as companies promoting free software charge for initial
installation, support, training, etc.
Though the price debate is still under the microscope, the total cost of
ownership underscores the fact that when you invest in software or hardware,
there are a number of hidden costs that come into being. In the commercial
and free software debate this element becomes of critical value as studies
reveal that TCO of free software is quite high.
Microsoft believes in the overall benefit of the software ecosystem -- one
that recognises the roles of government, education, private industry and end
users to develop a healthy interaction that advances the public knowledge
base, protects IP rights, furthers innovation and spurs further growth.
Our primary concern is not with open source as a whole, but with the GNU
General Public License.
Its role in discouraging the development of commercial software threatens to
undermine intellectual property, stifle innovation, and limit
entrepreneurism while reducing choice in the market.
The best catalyst for software innovation and industry growth is the market
place, supported by a strong regime for intellectual property protection. If
an organisation is looking at moving over to free software, it is attracted
by the short term benefits where the initial investment may be less than
what they would need to do for commercial software.
However taking into account the longer term implications; they definitely
need to think of the overall value proposition that a platform offers
vis-a-vis the other.
They need to evaluate the basic acquisitions costs of free software
vis-a-vis the long term costs which include integration costs between
various components, backwards compatibility costs, collaboration with the
partner community, trained manpower.
These costs are absorbed by the commercial software companies and the value
is passed onto the customer. Moreover, once free software is installed, it
also becomes a source of elevated security vulnerabilities for IT buyers,
because the source code is freely available: no one person is responsible
Microsoft's investments in e-governance in particular go back several years,
and we were amongst the first IT companies to strike alliances with the
central and state governments.
Today, we have MoUs with 18 state governments in India, and are doing
pioneering work in developing e-governance applications and solutions. Some
results of our successful partnerships include the Gyaandoot Project with
the government of Madhya Pradesh, the Bhoomi Project in Karnataka and work
with the Treasuries department of the government of Haryana.
We at Microsoft believe that a healthy software ecosystem is one built on
choice with government agencies and all entities having the ability to
select which software model fits their needs.
We believe that an open market approach where software products compete on
their technical merits is the best model for the long-term growth of the
software industries in all countries.
Software companies make heavy investments in R&D and if they do not have a
chance to be compensated for their R&D spends, the cycle of sustainable
innovation is disrupted and the health of the local software industry is
As a result, it would discourage any organisation to take on the effort of
expensive R&D to improve upon the same as they would not see any benefit in
This would lead to a disruption in the software ecosystem. Both open source
and commercial software are integral parts of the broader software
ecosystem, and the two models have co-existed within the software ecosystem
We are not averse to sharing our source codes with our customers if it will
be beneficial for them, however we are concerned about the potential
implications of GPL.
The problems created by GPL result from the onerous licensing terms that it
contains. The GPL requires that all third parties must have the right to
make unlimited copies of GPL-licensed software and distribute them free of
Obviously, it is extremely difficult for a software company to generate
revenue by distributing a program if everyone has the right to distribute
unlimited copies of the same program free of charge.
We believe that software has commercial value and attempts to render
software free will ultimately undermine the software industry, causing less
R&D to go into software development and ultimately less innovation for
R Gopalakrishnan, Secretary to chief minister, Madhya Pradesh:
A more appropriate query would be why haven't governments done it earlier.
The implications for public policy are fairly obvious. First is cost.
Commercial software costs money and open source software is free. Even after
accounting for training and installation costs of open source software, it
may still cost anywhere between one-half to one-tenth of commercial software
depending on the application.
The ocean of unnecessary features in commercial software makes hardware
expensive and obsolescence cycles shorter. Getting locked into all future
upgrades again becomes serious issue.
By going along the open source path, a government will spend less money and
receive the same or better features, functionality and performance.
Even the money that they spend will not be invested in product prices, but
in training and developing tens of thousands of their own people creating a
competence that will become a long-term asset for the state and its people.
The issue of cost is vitally tied to liberating India to become a land of
one billion opportunities.Digital inclusion will become possible only with
low-cost computers combined with open source software and broadband
Some experts feel that even at a conservative estimate, the
hardware-software savings with an open source based thin client can be 75%
or more as compared with MS Windows-office fat desktop.
This is perhaps the reason why countries like China, Brazil, South Africa
and Germany have chosen open source software and why it finds endorsement in
major emerging markets.
The good old standard operating procedure of bureaucracies, when confronted
with the unknown, was to ask a question "what is happening in other places"?
In this case we seemed to have missed that question.
The issue of security is important for public policy. It is practically
impossible to prove proprietary software is more secure than free software.
Public systems will need to enshrine security and proprietary software that
guards source codes inherently have a problem with governments that would
not want their core systems to be dominated by external monopolies.
We must admit that e-governance, so far in India, has been a play in the
margins, the eulogising of the cow that got sold on the internet. As we
begin to put more citizen-services in the public domain the issue of costs
and security will need to be squarely faced.
In the area of education, governments will need to enlist the computer as a
tool to push the frontiers of learning to improve quality. We need to
transit from the current obsession with mere computer literacy to generate
cyber coolies for the market but see the potential of the medium to
stimulate the inherent creativity of the human mind. Open source software
has been the preferred medium in learning institutions because here students
can investigate the medium they work with and construct knowledge.
What can be the down-side of a policy shift to open source software in
India? The standard fear is about who will provide maintenance and support.
This fear is negated by the fact that there is a blooming support service
industry which is set to grow as policy gets proactive on open source
Why has not there been a national policy as yet on promotion of open source
software? Part of the reason is the policy leadership of southern Indian
states where the issues were focused more on IT production than on IT use.
Another part of the reason is fragmented bureaucratic turf. Given the poor
penetration of information technology in India, there is now a growing
realisation that India will need to move to a more comprehensive "ICT Policy
for Development". While formulating such a policy through a multi-sectoral
forum that brings together the ministries of planning, finance, HRD, CIT,
etc., the ministry of science and technology may need to comprehensively
address the question as to whether the "technology framework of a
government" can be based on proprietary standards. That will hopefully
settle this issue.
Public policy cannot be authored on the basis of freebies or initial
sweeteners in terms of discounts offered by monopolies. It has to be
informed by a long-term vision. The decision of the government of Madhya
Pradesh to prefer open source software of Linux for its computer-enabled
education programme was, like the chief minister stated, a matter of
"choosing between a free software and a monopoly".
It ought not to be seen as a vote against any particular company. Inherent
in the debate on open source software are issues of freedom, monopoly and
choice of the buyer. The internet itself is premised on freedom, sharing and
decentered activity. And freedom, is as of yet, one of the best ideas that
humankind has produced. (ENDS)
The project i am working on is not just a replacement/porting of .net on
linux. It is much more than that. It intends to provide a highly scalable
web services environment of which C# and other microsoft technologies are a
small part. Some languages that are taken care of by our environment are :
C++, C, COBOL, Java, C# and some things that we are keeping under wraps till
it completes. We will be releasing the sofware under GNU LGPL.
We are creating a Global Naming and security architecture that can boast
some interesting unique features. We have options of using triple DES / IDEA
as cryptosystems for the environment. And the environment makes it amazingly
easy to Write distributed code.
Now, Please tell me on how can i contribute in your endeavor. I will be more
than willing to contribute ENERGETICALLY. Lol (One of our friends called me
Anyways, Arun and Gopal, please let me know how can i contribute. I would
love to and i have got a good following of a handfull of good programmers
who will be willing to pitch in too.
Free software for the brave GNU world.
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Brother, i honour your opinion. Now, what you call over-energetic behaviour
is my interest in the list that belongs to my countrymen. i am currently
part of 1 gnu and 2 non-gnu projects. But i am as patriotic as i am
energetic. Maybe thats the reason i have been trying to create an
environment along with others to promote fsf-india's mailing lists. I have
been relentlessly talking to my collegues and people i know. I take seminars
on distributed computing myself. i have a good following amongst students. I
have been asking them to join the mailing list and take active part in
development of the projects.
I have been a member of linux, oracle, novell, ibm, hp , MIT etc forum for a
long time. But never i have seen people behaving like this.
Dont forget there are others (at GNU) watching us outside FSF-India.
Ah what an impression ! and friend, if you find it ok to be insulted by
strangers. Though i honour your viewpoint, i am not in for it. And be sure i
am as energetic at pursuing problems as i am in fsf mailing lists. i will
talk to administrators to monitor the discussions here,. If things are the
same, i know where to write.
friends, i am just plain pleading to be a sport and create some synergy. We
are all brothers after all. someone says i am overenergetic another writes
"Without respect". We have been silent spectators always and believe me
friend it is nothing great in being a silent spectator.
Now look at your statement. "This is a forum for FREE SOFTWARE, FREE
IDEOLOGY, FREE EXPRESSIONS and should i add FREE ABUSES ? Does that make
your statement complete. Intellectual forums are meant to share knowldege,
not hurl abuses.
anyways i dont see a point in discussing if you folks think otherwise. I
will prefer GNU america forums rather.
Remember friends, EXPRESSIONS ARE AN INDEX OF MIND.
Mr. Arun and Gopal have asked me to give the details of the project related
to .NET that we are pursuing.
i am a bit busy with work. I have asked someone to write some stuff on the
project. I will be posting it soon.
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This is the schedule of the programme for LinuxBangalore2002, an Open
Source event being organised in Bangalore, South India:
Development SysAdmin Users Business Emerging Govt/Edu Kernel Special
Date 3rd Dec 2002
Time JN Tata (750) Hall A (120) Hall B (90) Hall C (60) CSIC (250)
10:00am-11:00am Welcome and Opening
11:00am-12:00pm Linux - Open for
12:00pm-1:00pm Linux is ready for
2:00pm-3:00pm Linux C programming TCO Using OpenSource Linux Potential
Supercomputing under Linux Linux Servers for for Embedded and
Clusters with HP eGovernance: Real Time
Itanium2 - Early Naba Kumar K.Siva Koti A Business Applications
experiences Belzabar Reddy Case
Software Wipro K. Sebikumar
R. Balasubramanian Development Technologies Dr.Mary Wipro
Hewlett Packard India Pvt Ltd. Mathew and Technologies
India Gopi Krishna
3:00pm-4:00pm Penguin on Big Iron GUI An EGovernance: Programming For
- Linux on IBM Programming Introduction OpenSource the
S/390 using XLib. to Open Solutions Encore-Simputer
Srikrishnan Karthik N Software Atul Chitnis Samyeer Metrani
Sundararajan Parashar Licences Exocore Encore Software
IBM Global Services Larsen & Consulting Limited
India Limited Toubro Biju Chacko (P) Ltd.
4:00pm-5:00pm Carrier Grade Linux Introduction Licensing Tux goes to Experiences with
for to Qt concerns in school embedding Linux
Networking/Telecom programming reuse of on a handheld
Platform Free/Open Arvind Yadav device
Nitish Jaisoor Source Online
Manoj Dey Infosys Software Productivity Srivatsa
Intel Corp, NSD Technologies, Solutions IBM
Ltd. Gopi Krishna Pvt. Ltd.
5:00pm-6:00pm Linux in Robotics Introduction Implementing Geographical An Introduction
to GTK Linux/Exim Information to Network
Mrinal Kalakrishnan Programming based system System(GIS) Security in
and Jnaneshwar Das for Banks 'GRASS' on Embdded Devices
PES Institute of Naba Kumar Mail Gateway Linux
Technology Belzabar Platform Chitra
Software Varadaraja Balakrishnan .
Development Iyer Bijon B Shaha Hema Bhargavi
India Pvt Ltd. IDRBT Electronics M.S.
Test & ERNET/IISc &
Centre Technologies Pvt
6:00pm-7:00pm Discussion: Discussion:
GUI Embedded Linux
Date 4th Dec 2002
Time JN Tata (750) Hall A (120) Hall B (90) Hall C (60) CSIC (250)
10:00am-11:00am Keynote 3 (TBA)
11:00am-12:00pm Shared Source Security and Shell scripting Weitse Venema's Security --
Implementation of Privacy with IPv6 in Linux Postfix An
Jayachandra K Kartik N Suraj V. Shankar
Tarun Anand Hewlett packard IBM GSI Yukthi Technologies Devdas Bhagat
Microsoft Pvt. Ltd.
12:00pm-1:00pm .NET on Linux IPv6 Routing in Introduction to Intranet - News DDos -
Linux Berkeley DB Server Detection and
Vinod Unny Prevention
Enterprise InfoTech Mahendra M Raj Mathur karthikeyan.N
Infosys Kandalaya Devi Information Kalyan Varma
Technologies Ltd Systems Alluri
2:00pm-3:00pm The OpenSource Developing a DHCPv6 Porting STREAMS Accessibility - Email server
Corporate Desktop server & Client on Driver to Equal Access to Free security
Linux Linux. Software
Atul Chitnis Devdas Bhagat
Exocore Consulting Swaroop Sanjeeva Manvi Hema Seetharamaiah
(P) Ltd. Krishnamurthy, Hewlett Packard Wipro Technologies
Nikhil U Moorthy,
VIT & DSL
3:00pm-4:00pm Corporate Security: Developing a Tiny Artificial Internationalization Security With
Do you know where IPv6 stack for The Neural Network (i18n) in Linux SSH
your data is? Embedded Linux for Image
Classification Karunakar Guntupalli V S
Raj Mathur Pooja Nagpal using GIMP IndLinux.org Somasundaram
Kandalaya Oracle Webstix
Naresh Jain Design Pvt
DSL Software Ltd
4:00pm-5:00pm Content Management Secure Supercomputing Localization of Linux VPN
Systems in Linux Coding/Programming and Linux Linux in Indian solutions for
in Linux/Unix languages - Current SME
Kishore Bhargava Manu Konchady Status and Future
and Gurunandan Bhat Kalyan Varma Alluri Self-Employed Chetan Kumar
Linkaxis Yahoo! Inc Karunakar Guntupalli S
Technologies/Goa IndLinux.org Wipro
5:00pm-6:00pm Education SIG Meet Localization SIG Discussion:
Date 5th Dec 2002
Time JN Tata (750) Hall A (120) Hall B (90) Hall C (60) CSIC (250)
10:00am-11:00am Oracle on An introduction Network Is the Linux Analysis of Kernel
Linux to Python Management/Monitoring Desktop for Locking Mechanisms for
Systems you? Linux Kernel
Gurunandan R. Biju Chacko Programming
Bhat BC Consulting Ravi Ananth Giri K Swati Sani
Goa Ishoni Networks SANIsoft Dr. B. Thangaraju
University & Wipro Technologies
11:00am-12:00pm PostgreSQL an Zope - A Implementing 'Single Running Win32 Memory Management in
Introduction complete Sign On' (SSO) applications the Linux Kernel
insight Solution using Linux under
Mohan and OpenLDAP Linux.(using A.R.Karthick
Ze Omega Debojit Wine) Infosys
Infotect Pvt Hazarika Shanker Balan Technologies,Bangalore
Ltd Ze Omega Exocore Consulting Kingsly John
Infotect Pvt Kingsly Dot
12:00pm-1:00pm Advanced Opensource in Automating Linux Mass LaTeX : Read-Copy-Update mutual
Server Side bioinformatics Installs with Document exclusion - in Linux
Programming Kickstart Preparation Kernel 2.5
with vineeth shiva in Linux
PostgreSQL sandeep Vinod Unny Maneesh Soni
Institute of Enterprise InfoTech Manu Bhardwaj IBM Global Services
Gurunandan R. Bioinformatics and Hareesh India Ltd
Bhat (The Genomic Nagarajan
Goa Research Trust) PESIT,
University & Bangalore and
2:00pm-3:00pm Linux PHP for the first An Design of Dynamic
Distributions & timer introduction per-cpu kernel memory
Standards to Forth allocator
Kishore BMS College Of Praveen Ravikiran G Thirumalai
Bhargava Engineering Wipro IBM
3:00pm-4:00pm Using anjuta Implementing web Linker and Portable approach to
for C services using PHP Loaders dispatching machine
programming contexts in user-level
Dr Tarique Sani Sandeep in Linux
Naba Kumar SANIsoft Grover
Belzabar QuickLogic Ganesh S
Software India Wipro Technologies
India Pvt Ltd.
4:00pm-5:00pm Kylix 3 Open Programming Dual Journey of a Thread scheduling in
Edition - First Interface Applications packet the Linux Kernel
C++ RAD Tool in Perl
For Linux Mahendra M Patanjali Somayaji
Kenneth Gonsalves Infosys Codito Technologies
Nitin Stephen xlquest Technologies
6:30pm-8:00pm Rock for
This is an RFC 1153 digest.
Subject: [LIG] Link to article in The Hindu on Bill Gates/Linux
Date: Sun, 1 Dec 2002 13:35:44 +0530 (IST)
below is the link to a column in The Hindu, "Selling India to Bill Gates"
End of this Digest
Raju Mathur raju(a)kandalaya.org http://kandalaya.org/
It is the mind that moves
Online edition of India's National Newspaper About Us
Sunday, Dec 01, 2002 Contact Us
Magazine Published on Sundays
Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Select Articles
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Selling India to Bill Gates
C. RAMMANOHAR REDDY * Datewise
IN 1997, on his first visit to India, Bill Gates * Cuisine
met Prime Minister Deve Gowda in New Delhi. A * Travel
couple of days later, Mr. Gowda flew to Mumbai to * Gardening
attend another function in honour of the
Microsoft chief. In 2000, during Mr Gates' second News
visit, more than half a dozen Chief Ministers News Update
queued up to plead for investment by the software Front Page
giant. Now, in 2002, the coronation of Mr. Gates National
as the most preferred visitor from abroad has Regional:
been completed. * Southern States
* Other States
The way we fete and fawn on Bill Gates each time International
he visits India should make any self-respecting Opinion
Indian wince with embarrassment. At the same Business
time, we are quick to show our displeasure Sport
towards Mr. Gates for speaking about AIDS in the Miscellaneous
country. We are naturally equally quick to accept Index
the money his Foundation had to offer, and want
The AIDS mission apart, why was Bill Gates here?
Blinded by his fame and wealth, we failed to see
the pure commercial motive of advancing the
interests of Microsoft. With our uncritical
adulation, we may have ended up selling our
software market, our software talents and perhaps
even our soul to the world's biggest software
company. Hook, line and sinker.
The company Mr. Gates has built up is the biggest
and most profitable software firm in the world.
But it is also facing a threat from the most
unlikely of competitors - the GNU/Linux operating
system which has been developed by the larger
Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) movement
across the world. This "free" software has long
since ceased to be a cult operating system meant
for geeks. In terms of cost, reliability and
security, GNU/Linux has proved itself far
superior to the proprietary Windows in the market
for software that runs the internet. Some
independent estimates suggest that GNU/Linux has
even overtaken Windows here. The back offices of
several global companies are also increasingly
being run on this alternative operating system.
Businesses selling FLOSS are making money, and
organisations switching to FLOSS are saving
enormous amounts. (For a comprehensive survey on
GNU/Linux versus Windows usage on the internet,
in back offices and on the desktop, see
Governments too are increasingly looking at
GNU/Linux as an alternative to Windows. Cost is
obviously one factor. For example, the United
States Census Bureau found that launching a web
site for provision of data, which cost $47,000
with Linux, would have cost as much as $3,58,000
had the proprietary Windows been used. A complete
dependence on proprietary Microsoft software also
raises security concerns. China recently launched
a version of GNU/Linux to eventually replace
Windows on all government computers. (That did
not prevent Microsoft from announcing a $750
million investment in China. This, incidentally,
is considerably more than the $400 million that
Mr. Gates has planned for India.)
During his visit last month, Mr. Gates bamboozled
uncritical reporters with jargon about GNU/Linux
not being a threat to Windows. The total cost of
ownership (TCO), he said, was higher for
GNU/Linux than for Windows. TCO is the cost of
software, training, maintenance and upgrades.
Now, most independent surveys say that the TCO of
GNU/Linux is a minimum of 25 to 30 per cent lower
than for Windows - quite the opposite of Mr.
Gates' claim. The world's richest man also
asserted that GNU/Linux is affecting software
companies like Sun and not Microsoft. This is
only half correct. GNU/Linux, positioned in the
middle, is rapidly eating into the market share
of both Sun and Micrsoft in server software.
From Peru to Japan, from China to the U.S.,
governments all over the world are looking at
GNU/Linux. There is one government though that is
missing in this list. In spite of India being
home to many of the writers of software who have
contributed to the development of GNU/Linux, the
Centre and the States seem to be more busy
chasing Microsoft than exploring the use of this
superior software. There have been reports of the
Centre launching a Linux India Initiative to
encourage universities and governments to move
away from Windows. But the Government seems too
scared to confirm such press reports. And of the
State Governments, only Madhya Pradesh and West
Bengal have been making some noises about
exploring the use of GNU/Linux.
Mr. Gates' interest in India is obvious. Computer
use in India remains very low, but is growing.
E-governance is just beginning to happen. Imagine
the future, as e-governance and other government
computer-linked services increase rapidly.
Imagine all government computers running on
Microsoft software - a potential market of
hundreds of thousands, eventually even millions.
No wonder it is so important to tie India to
proprietary software. There is another reason for
the Gates interest in India. Though a lot of
application software - like word-processors or
spreadsheets - is available for GNU/Linux, much
more needs to be written if open source software
is to completely replace Windows on the desktop.
India is believed to be home to 10 per cent of
the world's developers of software. If India's
software community can be chained to the
development of proprieatry software, then one
source of GNU/Linux-based applications will dry
Bill Gates needs India more than India needs Bill
Gates. But we don't seem to want to see that.
E-mail the writer at crr100(a)india.com
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