---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Sullivan <johns(a)fsf.org>
Date: Oct 26, 2005 8:30 PM
Subject: Call to vote against software patents in "European of the Year" poll
FREE AND OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE LUMINARIES CALL ON WORLDWIDE COMMUNITY
TO VOTE AGAINST SOFTWARE PATENTS IN THE "EUROPEAN OF THE YEAR 2005"
Richard Stallman, Tim O'Reilly, Alan Cox, Rasmus Lerdorf and Monty
Widenius endorse Florian Mueller's candidacy "because he runs on a
NoSoftwarePatents ticket, and that is the message we want to
Brussels (20 October 2005) -- A group of Free and Open-Source Software
(FOSS) celebrities has weighed in on the election of the "European of
the Year 2005" by calling on "software developers and users around the
globe" to vote for Florian Mueller, the founder of the
NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, in a public online poll. The
illustrious consortium consists of--in alphabetical order of last
name--Alan Cox, Red Hat Fellow and Linux kernel maintainer; Rasmus
Lerdorf, creator of the PHP programming language; Tim O'Reilly, book
publisher and conference organizer; Richard Stallman, President of the
Free Software Foundation (who in 1984 began the work that produced
today's popular GNU/Linux operating system); and Monty Widenius,
creator of the MySQL database.
In a NoSoftwarePatents press release, the community leaders today
expressed their support for the voting recommendations that
NoSoftwarePatents.com has published in more than a dozen languages:
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/ev50/vote.html Participants in
the poll are required to make a choice in each of ten categories, and
the voting list provided by NoSoftwarePatents.com explains the role
that various candidates played in the software patent debate so that
voters can reward the opponents of software patents and penalize
On 22 September, Florian Mueller was nominated for the most
prestigious award in EU politics, the "EV50 Europeans of the
Year". The jury thereby recognized his political efforts against a
legislative proposal that in his opinion would have legalized software
patents in Europe. The European Parliament rejected the bill on 6 July
by a landslide of 648-32 votes. Mueller, who stressed that he owes
this nomination "to our entire community and especially to the
Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)", is credited
with founding a multilingual campaign website, speaking out in the
media and at public events, and lobbying MEPs (Members of the European
Parliament) as well as governments and parliaments in select EU member
The European Voice, a major EU-focused weekly, is now conducting an
Internet poll in which Mueller runs against such famous contenders as
U2 frontman Bono, Bob Geldof, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, and
political leaders including British prime minister Tony Blair, the
outgoing German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and Schroeder's
successor designate Angela Merkel. The poll is open to the worldwide
public until 11 November.
Mueller's endorsers pointed out that the FOSS community has played a
particularly active role in the fight against software patents, but
that software patents "threaten us all because they don't discriminate
based on programming language, operating system, or licensing
model". The group is "disconcerted by early reports" that the EU is
now looking at alternative ways of giving software patents a stronger
legal basis in Europe, such as an EU community patent regulation.
The press release underscored the fact that "this is a campaign for a
cause, not for a person": People are asked to vote for Mueller
"because he runs on a NoSoftwarePatents ticket, and that is the
message we want to reinforce". The NoSoftwarePatents.com label is
right next to Mueller's name on the ballot (http://www.ev50.com/poll).
The endorsement furthermore stated: "Some other nominees also stand
for valid concerns and noble causes. However, those issues and
individuals have already received a lot of coverage in the mass media,
while the implications of software patents to the whole world,
including developing countries, still require much more public
awareness. In the sense that software patents monopolize mental steps,
they are also a human rights issue."
Mueller is confident that he can win the title of the "European of the
Year" against his famous competitors in the light of the "indisputable
e-campaigning power of the anti-software patent movement". In addition
to a campaign statement and voting recommendations, the website
provides an email form that allows supporters to spread the
(http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/ev50/banners.html). The two
main slogans of the electoral campaign are "Vote against software
patents" and "Vote for your right to program".
Should he win the popular vote, Mueller said that "everyone is a
winner". He promised "to donate the Microsoft-sponsored prize money to
the FFII", without which he says he "probably wouldn't have become
involved, let alone succeeded, in this political battle".
The EV50 winners will be announced on 29 November. A gala evening at
the Palais d'Egmont in Brussels will be hosted by former European
Parliament President Pat Cox, who was hired by US corporations to
lobby for software patents in the build-up to the 6 July vote. The
EV50 awards are supported by Belgian Prime Minister Guy
Verhofstadt. Sponsors include PR and lobbying firm Burson-Marsteller,
software maker Microsoft Corporation (a major owner and backer of
software patents), and pharmaceutical giant Novartis. The European
Voice is a publication of the Economist group.
NOTE: Florian Mueller founded the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign in
2004 with the support of three corporate sponsors (1&1, Red Hat, MySQL
AB), and managed it until March of 2005. He then gave his website to
the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), the
leading European pressure group that opposes the patentability of
Florian Mueller florian.mueller(a)nosoftwarepatents.com
Program Administrator | Phone: (617)542-5942 x23
51 Franklin Street, 5th Fl. | Fax: (617)542-2652
Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA | GPG: AE8600B6
info-fsf mailing list info-fsf(a)gnu.org
Knowledge is power... share it equitably!
>I had posted a message on the foss.in discussions
>list regarding the Phoenix project yesterday - have
>you seen it? I think it's a nice project which we can
>up as part of the FSF stall .. let me know what you
>think about it.
i could not make out the license for the software part of Phoenix project.Opened the code files as well.
As a project Phoenix is very exciting.
I would encourage you to put it as a separate demo on its own.
Note: I do not represent views of FSF-India.These are my personal views.
You could engage gnu(at)gnu.org.in for details
Enjoy your Freedom,use GNU/Linux.
On Sun, 30 Oct 2005 Pramode C.E. wrote :
>I would like to know who is coordinating the FSF's
>participation in FOSS.IN?
We were discussing participation sometime back.
At that time the format for FOSS.IN was not know.
As per latest info available the format of the
"--- In linux-bangalore-2005(a)yahoogroups.com, Atul Chitnis <listadmin@l...> wrote:
> Project groups wishing to participate in the FOSS projects Expo (projects
> could be FOSS projects or groups) should let us know ASAP, so that space
> can be allocated to them. Note that we are following the IT.COM 99 format
> for this expo - there are no separate stalls for each project, but the
> entire pavilion is one huge stall, and all projects will demo within that.
> No sales are allowed (sorry guys, but we really dont want sales tax people
> raiding this place), but any free giveaways are cool.
Now am not too sure what we (Volunteers of FSF-India) would have as a demo.
A stall or booth would have given us space to put some posters and handouts.
A GNU/Hurd demo could be done , but i do not think that adds something here as FSF-India.If any ideas are there , please add up
Thanks and Regards
>Thanks and Regards,
>Enjoy this Diwali with Y! India Click here http://in.promos.yahoo.com/fabmall/index.html
>Fsf-friends mailing list
Enjoy your Freedom,use GNU/Linux.
I would like to know who is coordinating the FSF's
participation in FOSS.IN?
Thanks and Regards,
Enjoy this Diwali with Y! India Click here http://in.promos.yahoo.com/fabmall/index.html
New guidelines to beat spyware
[ Friday, October 28, 2005 11:15:59 pmAP ]
NEW YORK: A coalition of anti-spyware vendors and consumer groups
published guidelines on Thursday to help consumers assess products
designed to combat unwanted programs that sneak onto computers.
The Anti-Spyware Coalition released the guidelines for public comment
and also updated a separate document that attempted to craft uniform
definitions for "spyware" and "adware" in hopes of giving computer users
more control over their machines.
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Internet users
have become more cautious online because of worries about spyware and
adware, which can bombard users with pop-up ads and drain processing
power to the point of rendering computers unusable.
Nearly half of adult online Americans have stopped visiting specific
websites that they fear might infect them with such unwanted programs,
and a quarter have ... ceased to use file-sharing software, which often
comes bundled with adware.
In addition, 43% of Internet users say theyhhh’ve been hit with spyware,
adware or both, with broadband users generally at greater risk. The new
guidelines from the coalition assign risk levels to various practices
common with spyware and adware.
High-risk practices include installation without a user’s permission or
knowledge, interference with competing programs, interception of e-mail
and instant-messaging conversations and the display of ads without
identifying the program that generated them.
Changing a browser’s home page or search engine setting is deemed a
medium risk, while using cookies to collect information is considered a
low risk. ENDS
-------- Forwarded Message --------
From: Frederick Noronha (FN) <fred(a)bytesforall.org>
To: LIG <linux-india-general(a)lists.sourceforge.net>
Subject: FN'sEyeOnFLOSS *** Oct 28, 2005 * IOSN booklets... FLOSS and
disaster... five reasons... Yash from Mauritius... BytesForAll...
Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2005 12:36:07 +0530
FN's Eye on FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software ........
IOSN's BOOKLETS AVAILBLE FOR DOWNLOAD
Free/Open Source Software: A General Introduction by Kenneth Wong and
Phet Sayo is a 60-page booklet, part of the Asia-Pacific Development
Information Programme's e-Primers series. What makes it interesting is
not just that it is written in a simple and easily-accessible style,
but also the fact that it is freely downloadable. (From www.iosn.net)
Its preface calls the Free and Open Source (FOSS) movement
one of the "new technologies and ... new opportunities...
that is playing out before us today". It also calls it many
things at the same time. Including, a "revolutionary
development process, disruptive technology, ideological
movement, new knowledge and standards, and more".
This primer launched the series which is focussed on the FOSS movement.
One would prefer the use of the term FLOSS, since the "libre" concept
is obviously a crucial one here. But then, the power of the corporate
world is such that they define concepts and one has little choice on
whether it should be Linux (rather than GNU/Linux), Open Source rather
than Free Software, and FOSS rather than FLOSS.
That apart, this book contains some useful material.
It starts off with definitions: about the Free Software Foundation, the
Open Source Initiative, the FOSS development method (reduced
duplication of effort, building upon the work of others, better quality
control, and reduced maintenance costs), and a brief history of FOSS.
Then we go to the meat of the issue: why FOSS?
Also: Is FOSS free? How large are the savings from FOSS? What are the
benefits of using FOSS (security, reliability and stability, open
standards and vendor independence, reduced reliance on imports,
developing local software capacity, reduced 'piracy', localization
There's the other side of the balance-sheet presented too: what are the
shortcomings of FOSS?
This primer admits to the lack of business applications, hassles when
it comes to inter-operability with some proprietary systems, and
limitations on the availability of documentation and the 'polish' with
which products are presented.
From there, we go to FOSS success stories. These are pointers
to projects where large governments (or supra-governments
like the European Union) took strongly pro-FOSS policies.
There are studies from The German Bundestag servers, the city
of Munich, the experiences in France, UK's policies on FOSS
procurement, and the migration to FOSS in the city of Turku
>From the Americas success storiasia, es come from California, Texas and
Oregon -- even if the pro-FOSS laws were still to be passed at the time
of writing. Then, there's Peru, Brazil, and, in Asia, China, India,
Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan.
Wong and Phet, who obviously have a good overview of the subject
they're writing about, shift to some successful FOSS projects. These
include Bind (the DNS server, without which internet addresses such as
yahoo.com or even microsoft.com would not function), the Apache web
server, the Sendmail email server, the secure network administration
tool OpenSSH, and the Open Office productivity suite.
Richard M Stallman, the father of the Free Software Movement and a
guest of the International Open Source Network, would probably be happy
with a section of this book(let) that explains the difference between
the "Linux" buzzword, and the concepts like GNU/Linux. Newbies to this
entire idea are told about where they can download GNU/Linux from --
don't try unless you have a fat pipe to the internet, it's just easier
to very-legally make copies of a distro that someone else has. Issues
like download time, installation and compiling time, quality assurance
and learning time are also very briefly touched on.
With so much packed in a small book, you might just realise that we've
still only reached half-way through the title.
Quite rapidly, the authors shift to more complex issues -- licensing
arrangements, the GNU General Public License, BSD-style licenses, and
issue like whether FOSS can be combined with proprietary software.
We move on to localisation ("the process of creating or adapting a
product to a specific locale, i.e. to the language, cultural context,
conventions and market requirements of a specific target 'market'),
methods for localizing, and a case-studies of FOSS in government and
Having seen how some of this works on the ground, it might be risky to
rely solely on the printed word to judge how things work in this field.
For instance, a more thorough evaluation of the Goa Schools Computer
Project (or, Goa Computers in Schools Project, as it has also been
called) stills awaits being done. And it would be best done by someone
who has empathy and appreciates the potential, without necessarily
being a close observer-participant as this reviewer has been.
Finally, we end with a glossary... much-needed for a subject
as geeky as this. There's also a list of interesting URLs of
different GPL compatible and incompatible software licenses.
As noted above, what makes this book different is not just that yoiu
are free to "copy, distribute and display" it, but also make derivative
works from it and make commercial use of this work. Further, the
authors are generous in crediting all the persons whose work, comments,
feedback and copyedits went into creating this work. We are reminded at
the end about the agendas of the two UNDP-linked institutions that
brought it out (www.apdip.net and www.iosn.net).
Clearly, there's no reason why this needs to be read by both those
gung-ho and those skeptical about the potential of FOSS. You can't
claim that the costs (there's none) or lack of access (it's just a URL
away) kept you from reading it. -- Frederick Noronha, October 2005.
PROMINENT SPEAKERS EXPECTED FOR FOSS.IN:
Atul Chitnis <listadmin(a)linux-bangalore.org> announces that
the overseas speakers will include: Jonathan Corbet,
co-author of "Linux Device Drivers", and editor of LWN.NET,
aka "Linux Weekly News"; Andrew Cowie of Linux Australia;
Harald Welte, who's chairman of the netfilter/iptables
project, and the man behind GPLviolations.org;
"Mr.Wizards-of-OS" Volker Grassmuck; the man behind the
Apache project, COLLAB.NET's Brian Behlendorf; "Mr.PHP"
Rasmus Lerdorf; the Diva of Open Source, Danese Cooper;
Yahoo!'s Jeremy Zawodny; the man behind Linux Sound and Audio
Dave Phillips; and the legendary hacker Alan Cox.
FOSS.IN/2005 is a major Free/Libre & Open Source Software
Event Nov 29 to Dec 2, 2005
Bangalore Palace. http:// foss.in/2005
FIGHTING DISASTER, THE FLOSS STYLE:
Chamindra de Silva <chamindra(a)opensource.lk> informs that
Sahana phase I is currently being deployed in Pakistan
together with the support of NADRA (National Database and
Registration Authority) of Pakistan, IBM Crisis Response Team
and IBM Pakistan. NADRA has a comprehensive people database
as they build and maintain the central system that maintains
the registration of people (identity card, passport, etc). In
Pakistan, however the system is not web based and under tight
security controls. Thus Sahana fills the gap of making the
data accessible to the other organizations involved in the
relief effort such as the NGOs. Apart from that NADRA does
not have the equivalent of the request management system and
organization registry which is built into phase 1. This is
what the integrated system should look like this:
The deployment model presented by us can be found at
Chamindra is keeping notes and lessons learned on this
deployment at the Reliefsource wiki at
* * * * * * * * * *
Shahzad Ahmad <shahzad.ahmad(a)isb.iucnp.org> writes: "Just
sharing this news item. The Tsunami fame, [Free/Libre and]
Open Source Software product SAHANA is already almost
deployed by Chamindra de Silva with support from the IBM
crisis response team and NADRA (National Database Registry of
Pakistan). PSEB was also extending support to them I
remember. The difference here... SAHANA yet has to hit the
media while Microsoft is already getting coverage."
> Microsoft offers technological assistance in quake-affected
> Representative hands over monetary assistance to PM and
> MKRF By Schezee Zaidi, The News, 21/10/2005
* * * * * * * * * *
Irfan Khan <khania(a)super.net.pk> says: For updates on the deployment of
Sahana in Pakistan, check recent entries in
Sanjiva Weerawarana's Blog
Geek with an attitude (Buddhika Siddhisena's Blog)
FIVE REASONS WHY: 5 reasons not to use GNU/Linux,
especially when compared to Windows.
[Thanks for the link to Justin Joseph <justin_joseph007(a)yahoo.com>
THIS ISSUE'S PROFILE: Yash <yash(a)vfemail.net> is a Systems
Engineer with an entrepreneurial spirit based in Mauritius.
He founded the first and only Ruby User Group locally --
Rubidius. Earlier this year he "predicted that the future of
web apps will be based on Ruby on Rails."
Says Yash: "My interests lie in Business, Free and Open
Source Software, Optimizing Business Processes and
Investments, Music and technology in general. Favourite
GNU/Linux distro: Yoper. Favourite programming language: Ruby
(you'd have guessed that). I started programming with an Oric
Atmos using self-taught BASIC. Today I'm more interesting in
the strategic management issues of I.S. and Business
HELP FOR A WEBSITE, IN HINDI: Shubhranshu Choudhary
<smitashu(a)gmail.com> is working on a People's Website of Chattishgarh,
and he got useful for some of his technical problems from Indic
computing guru G Karunakar.
"Shu" has been trying to put in "as much matter in Hindi as
possible". They use the Hindi Mangal Unicode as font for the
www.cgnet.in site, due to go online in early November. Shu
says: " I am having huge difficulty with content in various
different fonts in Hindi. My friend Sudhir Gore of India
Today Delhi had sent me a TBIL converter from Microsoft which
is working for few fonts. I also trying to work with
Parivartan which came with the CD given by Govt of India. But
I have not been able to make it work yet."
I assume you are trying to convert texts composed
in different fonts to Unicode, so what would be
first needed is which fonts are those texts in.
There exist few convertors
There is one here, which converts to ISCII
ISCII can be converted to utf-8 (the encoding in which you
have to keep webpages) using the attached script. There is
also more convertor scripts at
(I am cc'ing to the developer Swapnil Hajare - he could help
with specific issues).
For info on using Hindi on internet read
Typically if your users are sending content in lots of fonts,
maybe better to identify a small set (5-6) fonts in which you
could accept contributions in. Most of the above scripts are
[GNU]Linux based, I guess we need to do a simple app. which
can do the conversions without users having to fiddle with
scripts (will try to get someone volunteer for that).
Karunakar's links: * Work: http://www.indlinux.org
* Blog: http://cartoonsoft.com/blog
NEWS FROM BELGAUM (NORTH KARNATAKA)
Nitin Bilgi <nbbbgm(a)rediffmail.com> writes from GITLUG: "Hi
Fred, We have not got in touch with you since long time. I
saw you article in Linux For You October 2005 issue about the
LUG and about Goa lug. We at GIT, as you know started the
LUG in 2002 by me with dedicated students. In 2003 we
conducted a meet which you attended. In 2004, there was a
lull. In 2005, we have activated again with help of dedictaed
student friends. On October 22, 2005 we conducted a one-day
workshop on LAMP by Dr Satish Annigeri of BVB College Hubli.
It was attended by nearly 200 participants. I will send ...
details about our future events." Do keep in touch, Nitin and
others. Also see this network for small GLUGs/LUGs/FSUGs in
BATTLEGROUND OF IDEAS:
Battleground of ideas: FLOSS debate raises tempers at BytesForAll
BytesForAll's mailing list recently played host
to a strong, and at times polemical, debate on
proprietary-versus-FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source
Software). In this debate, there were these couple of great
posts here  and here , that put things neatly in
perspective -- thanks to David Geilhufe who is co-founder of
the SocialSourceFoundation.org  and Sunil Abraham of
It all started with a rather critical-of-FLOSS post by
University of Manchester's Dr Richard Heeks  offering a
link to an eDevelopment Briefing titled "Free and Open Source
Software: A Blind Alley for Developing Countries?" .
It calls the 1980s shareware "FOSS forerunner" to have had
"zero" impact, says data from Africa shows only five percent
of computers "in developing countries" have any Open Source
software running on them, and notes that proprietorial
software dominates "even in Cuba... where the US embargo
should make conditions highly propitious".
Besides, the briefing says that "piracy" and the "limited
size of initial purchase price within total cost of software
ownership" there is actually no "evidence of FOSS delivering
Says the briefing: "In particular, proprietary software may
not be open source but it is certainly free for the great
majority of developing country users, thanks to piracy." It
points to the lack of awareness of FOSS in Africa, and the
lack of international links needed to be part of an "active,
global community of like-minded developers".
One early response to this brief text came from BytesForAll
co-founder Frederick "FN" Noronha and is here for viewing
It argues, "The "5% of computer systems" overlooks the role
played by FLOSS in servers, in keeping the Internet running,
in giving unprecedented access to developers of the Third
World to take part in a global movement, and more." This
study, argues this post, overlooks the potential of FLOSS in
large 'developing' countries like India, China, Brazil and
South Africa. It points to another study -- from Finland --
which it says is more open to the benefits of FLOSS in the
"developing" world. See
FN also adds, "By saying 'proprietorial software is free' for
the bulk of the 'developing' world, the study is guilty of
both tolerating/encouraging the illegally copying of software
('piracy' is a loaded term, unfortunately accepted by
academia too) and missing the essence of what Free Software
is all about (offering the freedom to be used, copied,
studied, modified and redistributed). We are not fighting
just for the right to remain 'pirates'...."
Richard "RMS" Stallman, founder of the Free Software
Foundation joining in the debate with these comments. 
There was a longish debate on benchmarking FLOSS. Javier
Sola, a Spanish-Chilean working on Khmer language
localisation in Cambodia, added some interesting points .
Javier, who works with APC member the Open Forum of Cambodia,
argues: "Academics should make sure that they look at all
factors when they write something like this. In this case the
author has not come even close to it. He has, among others,
completelly ignored the power of localisation, diminished as
"techies and amateurs" some of the people that have clearer
ideas of what is needed for real migration and used
anectdotal data for his conclusions."
Sunil Abraham argues how proprietorial software could kill --
no exaggeration, due to its delays and restrictions -- in a
post-Tsunami situation. He also argues that "because Sahana
(a Free/Libre and Open Source Software project to cope with
disasters) is FOSS, the earthquake stricken people from
Pakistan and India don't have to spend money earmarked for
food on software." Then, in an almost tongue-in-cheek Sunish
manner, he argues that FLOSS "increases the responsiveness of
an organisation. This is important whether it is peoples
lives or greater profits." 
David Geilhufe has this very interesting response to argue
that FLOSS offers "viral diffusion" (to enable its
uncontrolled spread, of course in a positive way), local
control and lower barriers to entry. Well put, and very well
Here's  what David argues eloquently: "There is no
religious war here, but I think the staunch defenders of
proprietary code get stuck on analyzing the software... this
isn't the important part. One needs to analyze the innovation
and use of software... that, I believe, is where the real ICT
David's Social Source Foundation  is here. It is "a
nonproft organization that exists to create open source,
mission-focused technology for the nonprofit and NGO sector."
Another link is the OpenNGO.org  network. OpenNGO calls
itself "an open source project to create a set of web-based
tools designed to meet the needs of small U.S. nonprofit
organizations and non-governmental organizations across the
Meanwhile, another strong debate continued at the Global
Knowledge for Development mailing-list, visible at the
archives here . Some supported Heeks views, while others
said academia was missing the point on FLOSS.
Said Mark Davies (mark(a)busylab.com): "As an African business,
and as an African software development business, I still
don't get it. There's so much enthusiasm for FOSS, there's so
much conference mind-share spent on this topic, and yet I
don't see an illuminating discussion about the opportunities
for risk/reward for people like us." 
After facing a lot of counterpoints, Heeks responded: "You
can read this message in two ways: either that FOSS will
never deliver; or that the FOSS community needs to rethink
its strategies. Or, of course, if you've devoted months or
years to FOSS and don't like the message, you'll try to
denigrate the writer, deny the data, and so forth." 
Klaus Stoll the president of Fundacion Chasquinet  in
Quito, Ecuador also swam against the tide. He wrote: "...yes,
my organization Chasquinet Foundation works with Microsoft
and yes it is the same organization that produced and
published the Open Source tollbox for Telecenters in Latin
America  and yes we have as a policy in our organization
that people should have a right to choose. What counts for us
here at the grassroots are real ICT tools for Development, be
they open source or otherwise, what counts is if they make a
real positive impact in improving peoples lives."
African NGO Kaibassa argued here: "We at Kabissa have a
very practical orientation and don't really push Open Source
in our trainings or through our services and Web site unless
it's just staring in our faces as just plain better. Open
Source Content Management Systems and other server-based
tools and desktop applications like Firefox and Thunderbird
spring straight to mind. In the meantime, I hope you and
other software developers in Africa are aware of and
considering attending Africa Source II."
But one key perspective came from Richard "RMS" Stallman,
founder of the Free Software Foundation . He commented:
"The choice between free (freedom-respecting) and proprietary
(user-subjugating) software is not a technical choice. It is
an ethical and political issue about people's freedom. To be
neutral on issues that merely concern technology is fine. To
be neutral on ethical and political issues about freedom is
nothing to be proud of."
Copyleft -- verbatim copying, with credits -- allowed/encouraged.
We invite you to join ILUG-Goa, the friendly GNU/Linux user group
Seen on a mailing list:
The following excerpt is from the article above:
"Chairman Bill Gates said on Wednesday the software
giant faced growing competition from companies in
China and India but, for now, the strength in those
countries lies in software services.
Gates, on his first visit to Israel, said Israeli
companies would also confront increased competition
from China and India.
"There will be competitors for Microsoft and for
Israeli companies coming out of those countries
although today the success, particularly in India, has
mostly been in the software services area, outsourcing
work, doing call centers and things like that," Gates
told a news conference."
Computers Alone Can't Bridge Digital Gap
BUENOS AIRES, Oct 17 (IPS) - "With these three computers and Internet
access, it's as if we could reach up and touch the sky," exclaimed
Analía Bonesso, the principal and teacher of all eight grades in a rural
primary school in Argentina with no telephone, no radio, and only 14
Tomás Espora primary school is in Campo Durango in the province of Santa
Fe, some 400 km northwest of Buenos Aires. This former dairy farming
region has now been taken over by soybean plantations, and the school's
students are the children of migrant farmers who travel from one source
of work to another, Bonesso explained to IPS.
Since 2002, the school has formed part of a network of 17 rural schools
located throughout Argentina that have been provided with computer
equipment and a broadband or satellite Internet hook-up though the
Ministry of Education's Educ.ar Programme.
The programme is also meant to encompass training and technical support,
although certain shortcomings come to light during the interview with
She said that she had learned to use the computers "partly on my own and
partly with the help of friends." And while everyone at the school uses
the equipment "to read the news and search for information," e-mail is
used only by the staff, not the students, because "they don't have any
relatives to write to," said Bonesso.
"Don't they connect with children in other schools?" asked IPS. "Yes,
sometimes, and I try to get them to write e-mails to the relatives that
some of them have in other parts of the country," she responded.
The unbridged distance between the provision of equipment and genuine
assimilation of these new technologies on the part of the programme's
beneficiaries is regularly stressed by non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) working to close the digital gap by familiarising the poor,
excluded sectors of society with the latest information and
The problem is not limited to isolated rural schools. In the city of
Buenos Aires, there are primary schools that are well equipped with
computers, but the teachers do not know how to use them.
"The parents decided to put up the money to hire a computer teacher who
goes to the school twice a week," Silvina Márquez, the mother of a
student at one of these schools, told IPS.
This is what happens when the equipment "comes as manna", without the
needed preliminary groundwork.
"The state and private sector work hard to provide computers and
Internet access, but the challenge that remains unfulfilled is for the
community to feel a sense of 'ownership' of the equipment and to use it
to meet their needs," Angélica Abdallah, director of the Argentine
Telework Association, commented to IPS.
A survey conducted by the software giant Microsoft found that almost
eight million people in Argentina, a country of 37 million, regularly
surf the Internet and use e-mail, a higher proportion than the majority
of Latin American countries.
However, the use of this technology is overwhelmingly concentrated in
the country's cities. In Buenos Aires and its outskirts alone there are
roughly 9,000 cybercafes with more than 52,000 computers connected to
the Internet, according to the same survey, carried out in 2004.
While some are privately owned and others are run by telephone
companies, the affordable rates they charge have made Internet use a
widespread phenomenon in urban areas.
Another survey, conducted this year by the Argentine newspaper Clarín
and the market research firm D'Alessio IROL, revealed that 60 percent of
Internet users go online in cybercafes, 41 percent in their own homes,
14 percent at work, and a mere three percent in educational facilities
at every level, including public and private universities.
It is this last category that is key to expanding access in impoverished
sectors of society.
As part of the process leading up to the second phase of the World
Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), taking place Nov. 16-18 in
Tunisia, the governments of Latin America have pledged to double the
current number of schools, libraries and community centres hooked up to
the Internet by the year 2007.
The Argentine government of centre-left President Néstor Kirchner, who
took office in May 2003, has placed heavy emphasis on the provision of
the needed equipment.
In addition to ensuring that schools in slum neighbourhoods are
connected to the Internet, the Ministry of Education launched a National
Digital Literacy Campaign this year, which will distribute 100,000
computers to 12,000 schools.
Laura Serra, director of projects for the Educ.ar programme, admitted to
IPS that difficulties have been detected in the schools that make up the
network, and that efforts are being made to resolve them.
The main focus now, she added, is on the digital literacy campaign,
which will include curriculum content and training for the teachers
"What is needed to reduce the digital gap is to work on all aspects at
the same time," stressed Serra. "It's not enough to simply hand out
computers and Internet connection, without training or course content."
So far, half of the computers to be provided through the programme have
arrived in the schools, while the remainder will be distributed by the
end of next year.
To ensure the necessary training, the ministry has signed an agreement
with the country's public universities, which will offer courses on
classroom use of new information technologies to some 15,000 primary and
secondary school teachers.
The Kirchner administration also continues to sponsor another project
that was enthusiastically launched in the late 1990s but has only
partially survived, namely the Community Technological Centres (CTCs),
which are funded by the Communications Secretariat of the Ministry of
Federal Planning, Public Investment and Services.
There are 1,350 CTCs throughout the country, which the state has
supplied with both computer equipment and training for technical and
teaching staff. The host institutions include schools, churches,
libraries, fire halls, municipal authorities and NGOs.
In the case of the CTCs, the state pays for Internet access with a
monthly limit on connection time. But once again, the success or failure
of this initiative does not depend solely on the technology implemented
or the bandwidth used.
"In order for the CTCs to have an impact on the community, people have
to be trained to properly manage them, to ensure that they remain
sustainable in the long term," said Abdallah.
Serra, for her part, commented, "What is a centre good for if it can no
longer acquire paper or printer cartridges?"
Similar concerns are voiced by Nodo Tau, an NGO founded to train social
organisations, including trade unions and schools, in the use of new
information technologies like the Internet.
"In order for this technology to be used, it is essential to provide
training, create networks among organisations, and promote access for
the most marginalised sectors as well," Nodo Tau training coordinator
Carolina Fernández commented to IPS.
Nodo Tau and other civil society groups have promoted the establishment
of community computer facilities or "telecentres" in social
organisations, and some of these have joined with the UNESCO (United
Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation) network of free
telecentres, which promote the recycling of computer equipment and work
with free or open-source software.
"We reach out to entrepreneurs and professionals to try to get them to
use the telecentre as a tool for marketing their products and services,"
"We also want to generate demand in the private sector for the services
that could be offered by the telecentre, in order to make it
sustainable," she added.
But in order for this to be viable, there is a need to "train people to
manage." Abdallah stressed that instead of waiting for technology to
"come from above," work should be done at the grassroots level,
listening to the needs of the community and providing training for the
appropriate use of technology.
Nodo Tau has supported the creation of seven telecentres that offer
services at an extremely low cost in social organisations. "There are
users of all ages, but mainly adults who are uncomfortable with the
modern aesthetics of cybercafes," said Fernández.
Fernández believes that the digital gap is not isolated from the other
social, cultural and economic gaps typical of a developing country.
"In order to bridge this gap, the solution does not lie in the
acquisition of equipment, but rather in the assimilation of this tool by
the members of the community, since this is the way to ensure that its
use will contribute to transforming reality," she said. (END/2005)
After the roaring success in introducing researchers, faculty and staff to the philosophy and practise of GNU systems at School of Social Sciences, MG University (thanks to Dr V Sasi Kumar, CESS) its now the turn of the Mahatma Gandhi University.
Dr Rajan Gurukkal, Director, School of Social Sciences, after holding discussions with the Vice Chancellor, is requesting help for training the staff at the University Campus to embrace Free Software.
This time we need more concrete help. Dr Sasi, how do we proceed ?
That's a nice idea. I think Foss.in will be calling for community
participation, and we should be ready for that when it happens. ILUGGoa
would like to participate too. We have picked up a lot of members from
outside Goa and would like to grow by building awareness about our
More techies should get a chance to discuss the politics of
proprietorial and Free Software. FN
On Tue, 2005-10-25 at 06:03 -0400, fsf-friends-request(a)mm.gnu.org.in
> I am NOT in favor of giving out free cds - mainly because the
> freeloaders will have a free day. Maybe we can sell the complete
> DVDs (testing/stable/unstable)