Open and popular
An open-source suite of Tamil applications for the Windows
operating system is the first of its kind for the platform.
PANACEA DREAMWEAVERS, a Chennai-based software company, has
released an open source suite of Tamil applications and tools
into the public domain. It includes an accounting package,
two dictionaries, a management software for self-help groups
(SHGs), a simple text editor and a feature-rich word
processor, and about 250 free fonts. Most of the products
ship with the source code.
It is claimed that this is the first such initiative by a
company or organisation in the area of public domain Tamil
software. A similar effort was sponsored by the Central
Government, in which a collection of tools was acquired from
private players and released for public consumption in a
compact-disk form by Minister for Communications Dayanidhi
Maran. However, none of the software included in the package
was in open source format.
Besides, the company claims that its efforts are a first in
the Microsoft Windows-based Tamil computing environment. Most
open-source Tamil applications are developed for the Linux
Open-source software is software whose source code is made
available to the public, enabling anyone to copy, modify or
redistribute the source code without paying royalties or
fees. Open source is associated with collaborative
development, wherein developers who have access to the
product's code correct any problems or deficiencies in it or
add additional features, thereby helping the software to
evolve. Many such applications are backed by a large number
of developers from all over the world and have evolved into
Some well-known examples of open-source initiatives are the
Linux operating system, the Integrated Development
Environment Eclipse, the Apache web server and the Mozilla
suite, including the web browser Firefox, which recorded its
100 millionth download recently.
One of the most prominent advocates of free software is the
Free Software Movement started by Richard Stallman in 1983.
The movement is also active in India, but its adherents focus
all their energies on writing software for open-source
operating systems such as Linux and not for the commercial
In the CD under review, the products are neatly divided into
sections: Panacea Apps (short for applications), Panacea
Desk, Panacea Valaiyodi, and Source.
Panacea Apps comprises Mugavari (Tamil-English address book),
Sangam Pro (SHG management package), Selvam (accounting
software), Valluvan (documentation software), and
The Panacea Desk folder comprises Pathippu-250 (collection of
250 fonts), R4U (English-Tamil word processor), Saarathy
(keyboard driver) and Tamil Olai (simple Tamil text editor).
The Source folder includes the source code of all the
products except R4U and Valaiyodi.
According to the company, Sangam Pro is meant for
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to assess and evaluate
the performance of SHGs. Some of the features are the ability
to enter and save details of loans, repayments, meeting
schedules, deposits and membership.
Selvam, the software for maintaining accounts in Tamil, is
aimed at small and medium enterprises and is also suited for
home users. R4U, a Tamil-English word processor, easily
creates Tamil and even multilingual documents. Users can
easily switch between English and Tamil typing.
The other products in the suite are also useful and easy to
navigate. The company's stated mission to develop the
Valaiyodi browser into one that can translate English Web
pages into Tamil is something to look forward to.
Th applications have a few bugs, but they are minor and
should not stand in the way of encouraging such attempts. The
country sorely needs free software and open-source
initiatives for the Information Technology revolution to
reach most segments of society. And it is widely accepted
that the best way to go about achieving this is to write
software in the language of the people and make it available
free of cost.
Nevertheless, a few points need to be made. The collection of
fonts in TAB and TAM formats is no doubt excellent but run
the risk of obsolescence in a world that is quickly adopting
Unicode as the standard for recognising non-English textual
In text processing, Unicode takes the role of providing a
unique a number for each character. In other words, Unicode
represents a character in an abstract way, and leaves the
visual rendering (size, shape, font or style) to other
software, such as a Web browser or a word processor.
Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP make extensive use of Unicode as
an internal representation of text, while Unix-like operating
systems such as Linux, BSD and Mac OS X have adopted it as
the basis of representation of multilingual text.
Secondly, the dictionaries - both of which are
well-structured and simple to use - need to be updated. The
Tamil language has kept pace with the modern world and a
dictionary with contemporary words and phrases and their
usage will be most handy.
It is hoped that the budding entrepreneurs behind the venture
will do what is needed, for the collective good of the Tamil
computing world. Panacea Dreamweavers, which is hardly a year
old, is the brainchild of a group of entrepreneurs whose goal
is to develop solutions for the Tamil language computing
space, according to the founders. Their corporate philosophy
is that Tamil language software must not place any financial
compulsions on the end-user.
The software developer community in India and abroad would do
well to emulate this endeavour and come out with more such
products so that the divide between the digital haves and
have-nots is bridged.
Localization as a movement in India
by Rajesh Ranjan
A few days back, a famous writer from Kannada, India, U R
Anantmurthy, mentioned in an interview that languages are the
repositories of culture. The importance of enabling this
culture of languages to not merely survive but flourish in
this digital age cannot be understated. If a language is not
becoming part of digital advancement then the language will
become outdated and endangered and in some cases might even
become a thing of the past. End of a language means end of a
culture. Thanks to the free software ideology and
contemporary open source development methods that have given
a new lease on life to many different languages, no matter
how small we are, we now have the potential to fix this
fundamental issue. Free and open source software, unlike
other bureaucratic processes, enable each individual,
including you, to contribute toward enabling local language
computing and thereby expediting the process of adoption of
technologies enabled by computers in rural India. We all can
cherish Mahatma Gandhi's quote "Whatever you do will be
insignificant but it's very important that you do it." That
is why the free software movement enabled by collaborative
peers in the community is of paramount importance here. It is
a fact that proprietary groups cannot afford to fulfill the
needs of the masses, especially in an economy with limited
purchasing power, but we in the community of open source
computing can rise to the occasion.
In India, so many groups are working to have their languages
enabled on computers. "Localizing free software for a free
country" is the slogan of IndLinux, a major and popular group
having enormous success with this work. IndLinux is a group
of people who believe, not so surprisingly, that the benefits
of information technology must be widely and freely available
to the Indian masses. They are a group of people who combine
skills in written scripts, free/open source technologies, and
technology journalism to make this happen.
This organization has inspired so many new groups to come
forward to work together. Punlinux is one of the most
successful examples. Within two years, this group has
localized an enormous amount of content in Punjabi, a vibrant
language and culture of India. Everything from Fedora® to
GNOME to KDE to OpenOffice and all! A great success story
from an organization based in rural India! None of the
Punlinux members has any urban base! Mix of love for language
and open source has produced unbelievable results like this
There are several other efforts being made to Indianize
Linux®. One major effort, the Ankur Bangla Project, is a
collaborative initiative aimed at bringing Bangla to the
FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software) desktop. The core
objective of the Ankur Bangla Project is to make available a
completely localized GNU/Linux OS and they have received
notable success in this field.
Open source contribution of Utkarsh in giving the power of
computers to the Gujarati speaking populace is also immense.
It is one of the most professionally managed organizations.
IndianOSS is another one committed to the cause of Gujarati
Tamil has several active communities.
http://sourceforge.net/projects/zha is one of the major
efforts. TAMIL-LINux is another group involved in the
development of Tamil on Linux/Unix. The BharateeyaOO project
is an initiative to bring OpenOffice to India in Indian
languages by the ICT Research and Training Centre (India). It
is being done as part of the activities of the Development
Gateway Foundation. Project Malayalam for the Malayalam
Package offers a set of macros and fonts for typesetting
Malayalam, which is the primary language of an estimated 33
million people in the South Indian state of Kerala. The Linux
in Oriya project is the initiative for making Linux available
in Oriya. The GNU/Linux Telugu Localization Effort aims at
localizing most common applications on GNU/Linux to Telugu
including GNOME, KDE, Mozilla, and OpenOffice. Swathantra
Malayalam Computing at present is focusing on
translating/localizing GNU/Linux GUI into Malayalam.
Swathantra Malayalam fonts is a sub-project of Swathantra
Malayalam Computing. Their aim is to make enough free
(Swathantra) Malayalam fonts. Indic Trans also works in the
field of Linux localization in Indian languages. The
Indic-Computing Project is providing technical documentation
for Indian language computing issues.
There are several more names: Kannada Localization Initiative
works for Kannada language and Thamiz Linux is yet another
effort from the Tamil language. Free software localization in
Assamese works for Assamese, MarathiOpenSource works for
Marathi language, Swecha is a GNU/Linux Telugu localization
effort for Telugu language, and http://thamizha.com
encompasses multiple projects such as localization of Firefox
and OpenOffice among others. A project has even started for
minority languages like Maithili, which is spoken in a
particular part of a state of India and was incorporated in
the schedule of the constitution of India in recent years. It
is a fact that in some projects, the pace of work may not be
as rapid, but the above examples show there is great
awareness and response towards transparent and collaborative
open source localization and its methodology.
If the subcontinent of India could be described in a single
keyword, diversity would be it. There are about 500 languages
in India in which 22 of them are considered official. It's
easy enough to imagine the situation merely by knowing that
in a small country like Nepal there are more than 50
languages. Sooner or later these smaller languages can hope
to go hand in hand with information technology but only
through the free software philosophy. The localization
movement in the neighboring countries of India has also
started. The language of the mountains of Gorkhali, a.k.a.
Nepali, has only 1.6 million speakers. A group working with
Madan Puraskar Pustakalay has shown a significant momentum in
the field of localization in Nepali language last year. This
group has completely localized the Gnome desktop. Dzongkha,
sometimes called Bhutanese, is the national language of the
Kingdom of Bhutan. The goal of Dzongkha Localization Project
is to incorporate Dzongkha script into Linux to enable
computing in Dzongkha to provide the benefit of information
and communication technology to the Bhutanese masses. This
project is implemented by the Royal Government of Bhutan and
is being funded by International Development Research Center
(IDRC), Canada, through its Pan Asia Networking (PAN).
The Sinhala Linux Project is another project to localize
Linux in Sinhala. This was started by Lanka Linux User Group
(LKLUG). The PAN Localization Project has a broader reach. It
is a regional initiative to develop local language capacity
in Asia. This organization is working for the following
languages: Bangla, Dzongkha, Khmer, Lao, Nepali, Pashto,
Sinhala, and Urdu. Generally, dominant languages suppress
minority languages. But in the case of Punjabi in Pakistan it
is different. In Pakistan, Punjabi is spoken by the majority
but the government there does not seem to support this
language. So Punlinux has planned to start the localization
of Punjabi in Shamukhi script and already filed an
enhancement request to create a separate locale for it. This
can only be possible in the world of open source! Just like a
democracy where every person is equal, in the eyes of open
source, every language can be made equal in computing!
Localization of open source software is a transparent and
community-driven process. That is why it is easier to
customize the software according to local needs. Sometimes,
due to cultural differences, people may not be comfortable
with western user interfaces. But the difficulty does not
stop there. Imagine the struggle of the typical rural Indian
to understand metaphors like folders and recycle bins! You
might as well as speak Greek, no offense to the friendly
folks from Greece. It is particularly true in the case of a
major language like Hindi and languages like Bengali and
Punjabi that are spoken in two different countries that the
whole language is basically split into different zones in two
neighboring countries. Hindi is spoken and understood by more
than half of the Indian population and has innumerable
dialects. In the open source environment, it is easier to
modify things according to specific needs irrespective of the
profit-loss theory so very typical of the proprietary world.
The open source model is not only helping to achieve the
local need but also maintains respect for the local emotions.
For example, Bengali is now divided into two separate locale
(bn_BD and bn_IN) in Fedora and Mozilla after the demand from
the community. Basically, localization in open source alone
has the power to represent futuristic language computing.
The contribution of Red Hat making the localization effort
successful and lively is enormous. By selecting five Indian
languages (Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Punjabi and Gujarati), Red
Hat has given great impetus to l10n and i18n works related to
Indian needs. Working on a computer with local languages was
never so easy. Red Hat launched Red Hat Enterprise Linux and
Fedora in those five Indian languages and localized them at
not only the application level but at the operating system
level also. Red Hat is going to launch similar efforts in
eight more languages: Assamese (as), Kannada (kn), Malayalam
(ml), Marathi (mr), Oriya (or), Sinhala (si), Telugu (te),
and Urdu (ur). This is enough to demonstrate Red Hat's
compassion and commitment to India and its local language
The President of India, Abdul Kalam once said, "In India,
open source code software will have to come and stay in a big
way for the benefit of our billion people." In a poor country
like India where per capita income is much lower than the
average, words of our president and visionary Mr. Kalam
should be an important bottom line. These localized computers
will be very useful in the field of rural computing. The
people of real India only speak their native languages. For
them, English represents the language and culture of British
domination and exploitations. In analyzing why radio and
television has a deep-rooted impact in India, especially in
the rural areas, we can understand that the main reason is
the availability of television programs produced in local
languages. The localization movement in India has made
'alien' computer 'desi' one--hamara computer, tumhara
computer. The Local Language IT market is in a development
stage and it is rising with exponential growth. E-governance
is one major field where localization of software is a must.
The cost of hardware is going down very fast and in this
context, the future of localized open source software is
Last year the government started a program to launch
localized CDs in all 22 official languages. Hindi, Tamil, and
Telugu language CDs have already launched. Many of the
applications available on the CD were released under the GNU
General Public License (GPL). This is a success story of the
localization movement in India. The initiative has been
funded by the Indian government. It has planned to distribute
3.5 million copies of the Hindi Language CDs after the
popularity. IndiX is a project funded by TDIL working on
Indian language support for Linux. CDAC, a government
organization, has also done important work for supporting
open source software localization.
There are many people and several organizations in India that
support the open source ideology. A strikingly unique example
of this is the establishment of Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya
Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi
University) in 1997. An eminent Hindi poet and former
Secretary in the Ministry of Culture of India, Mr. Ashok
Vajpeyi was the first vice chancellor of the university and
he made the decision to run the university completely on open
source. During his tenure, two books (in Hindi) and a
bilingual magazine (in Hindi and English) were published
completely on open source technology. Having open source
computer based technology which works in a native language,
particularly in Hindi, was the main target of the university.
(On the website it is still the same!!) It is unfortunate
that the situation hasn't been so positive after the
completion of his term!
The Delhi-based non-profit organization Sarai is fully
committed to the use, propagation, and development of free
software. Sarai has played a key role in the localization of
some of the Indian languages. According to Sarai, free
software emerged as a democratic alternative to proprietary
control over code. Sarai has encouraged so many people to
engage and enlarge this domain by giving fellowships and
having several workshops.
The work of localization started long before and now it has
taken the form of movement. Internet availability, lack of
resources, and illiteracy are some hindrances in the path of
local language computing. The major hurdle is the mentality
of the English speaking elite who sneer at the local language
computing efforts. The elite have not had any grass-root
experience, but they are still controlling the major
positions within administration and finance. But ultimately
they have to stumble down against the force of the local
language computing market. Two decades ago, the condition of
the television industry was similar to the present computer
industry in India. Positive changes are inevitable and also
not very far off in the field of computers.
Poet Mr. Ashok Vajpeyi once wrote that the Indian tradition
of selfless distribution of knowledge is very old and
universal. We can say that the free software movement is the
western version of the old Indian tradition. Mr. Vajpeyi's
statement is very right and so, in the long term, Indian soil
will prove itself very fertile for open source software.
"Where knowledge is free" was the dream of Nobel laureate
Rabindranath Tagore for his nation and now the time is moving
ahead toward his dreamland
About the author: Rajesh Ranjan is Language Maintainer, Hindi
at Red Hat. He is working with several localization projects
including Fedora, GNOME, Openoffice.org, and Mozilla. He is
the Indic Language Co-ordinator for the Native Language
Confederation of Openoffice.org. Before joining Red Hat, he
worked with The Indian Express Group and Literate World, Inc.
*Microsoft has said it will allow rival software companies access to license
parts of the source code for its Windows operating system.*
The concession was made in response to a 2004 European Commission anti-trust
ruling, which ordered the company to be more open to competitors' needs.
It came three weeks ahead of the EU's compliance deadline, which threatened
fines of 2m euros (£1.4m; $2.4m) a day.
The commission said it was not sure the offer would help resolve the
Microsoft's legal chief, Brad Smith insisted "the source code is the
"It should have the answer to any questions that remain."
But competition commissioner Neelie Kroes disagreed.
"Normally speaking, the source code is not the ultimate documentation of
anything," she said.
"[This is] precisely the reason why programmers are required to provide
comprehensive documentation to go along with their source code."
*Needle in a haystack*
Microsoft said the code will help rivals make their software compatible with
"We will ... license the Windows source code itself," said Mr Smith.
"Today we are putting our most valuable intellectual property on the table
so we can put technical compliance issues to rest and move forward with a
serious discussion about the substance of the case."
Rivals were not impressed.
"Even the most sophisticated software engineers would be lost," said Thomas
Vinje, a lawyer who represents some Microsoft opponents, dismissing
Microsoft's move as a PR stunt.
"They would dump millions of lines of code and finding what competitors need
to interoperate would be like looking for a needle in a haystack."
The compliance deadline was set in December when the European Commission
said that Microsoft's offer of 12,000 pages of documentation and 500 hours
of free technical support was not adequate.
The landmark 2004 ruling said the world's biggest software company was
guilty of abusing its position and hit Microsoft with a record 497m euros
fine, telling it to open up its operating systems.
Microsoft said that the latest concession went "far beyond" the 2004
It maintains that it has tried to comply with the EU's demands, but says
that Brussels keeps changing its guidelines.
The EU's second highest court, the European Court of First Instance, will
hear Microsoft's appeal against the 2004 ruling in April.
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?
Is is neither able nor willing, Then why call him GOD??"
Thanks Haidut, I'll pass the word around. FN
-------- Forwarded Message --------
From: Haidut <haidut(a)metawire.org>
Subject: NetBSD live CD
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2006 23:14:24 -0500 (EST)
I am one of the developers of Arudius - a live CD Linux distro
targeting information security professionals. The CD has a large
collection of security tools and a very small footprint (210MB) so it
fits on a mini-CD, thus it can load its tools completely into RAM and
run them very fast.
In addition to this security-related Linux distribution, we also
developed a NetBSD live CD focusing on the non-security community. It
is called NeWBIE (or simply Newbie). This acronym is pronounced just
like the word "newbie" and stands for (Ne)tBSD (W)are (B)urned (I)n
(E)conomy, a naming convention similar to the one used for the
well-known FreeSBIE CD. Newbie caters to the desktop-user (i.e. with
applications for web browsing, chat, multimedia, document editing, etc)
but will also serve as a core for creating a NetBSD-based live CD for
network security auditing just like
Arudius (see the website). We are also in the process of developing a
DragonflyBSD version of NeWBIE.
The goal of both CDs is to promote the usage of Linux/BSD and hopefully
serve as useful tools for people who need that kind of software.
We would appreciate it if you try out the CDs and give us some feedback
on how we can improve them (i.e configuration, install additional
software, etc). If you find any of the CDs to be useful, please mention
them on your site or post a link to the homepage -
Thank you very much for your attention and if you have any questions
feel free to send an email to haidut(a)gmail.com
Samba on its maturity path.
"Q: For how long has development on Samba 4 been going on now?
Jeremy Allison: I think it started about a year ago, maybe longer. And it's big, it's biting off a lot of stuff. Right now the Kerberos Domain Controller and the LDAP server are less well developed than other areas, and that's where a lot of the work is going on with now...
The problem is, people tend to trust their LDAP server; the one they have. So there are some tensions in Samba 4. One of the things is, there are many many people who have - let's say - they've got a small office with 50 computers or whatever. They don't have an LDAP server, they don't want an LDAP server, they don't know what an LDAP server is, they just want something that will standardise all their accounts in a single file. So for that, a built-in Samba 4 LDAP server is great, is exactly what they want...."
Complete story at
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Sullivan <johns(a)fsf.org>
Date: Jan 26, 2006 12:53 AM
Boston Massachusetts, USA - Wednesday January 25, 2006. At the
ceremony for the 2006 Free Software Awards, Richard Stallman presented
Andrew Tridgell with the award for the advancement of free software.
Andrew "Tridge" Tridgell was recognized for his work as originator and
developer of the Samba project. Samba reverse-engineered Microsoft's
version of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, which is used for
file-sharing and print services. This software enables free operating
systems to fit into Microsoft-based environments, encouraging greater
use and adoption of free software. Samba has been implemented on
millions of servers throughout the world. Tridge also released rsync,
a highly respected remote file-distribution system, and contributed
code to the Linux kernel.
During 2005, Tridge wrote a free software client to interoperate with
BitKeeper, a proprietary revision control system used at the time by
the Linux kernel developers. His reverse-engineering efforts led
BitMover Inc. to remove permission for the use of BitKeeper, paving
the way for a free software replacement. The Linux kernel is now being
developed using a revision control system called Git, begun by Linus
Torvalds and licensed under the GPL.
Every year, three finalists are nominated for the award by the free
software community. This year's other two finalists were Harmut Pilch,
recognized as founder of Foundation for a Free Information
Infrastructure (FFII) and for his leadership during the fight against
the Software Patent Directive in Europe, and Theodore T'so, recognized
for his work on file systems and the Linux kernel. Previous winners
of the Free Software Award
* 2004 Theo de Raadt
* 2003 Alan Cox
* 2002 Lawrence Lessig
* 2001 Guido van Rossum
* 2000 Brian Paul
* 1999 Miguel de Icaza
* 1998 Larry Wall
This year's Award Committee: Peter H. Salus (chair), Richard Stallman,
Alan Cox (winner 2003), Lawrence Lessig (winner 2002), Guido van
Rossum (winner 2001), Frederic Couchet, Jonas Oberg, Hong Feng, Bruce
Perens, Raju Mathur, Suresh Ramasubramanian, Enrique A. Chaparro, Ian
The Free Software Foundation sponsors the annual Award for the
Advancement of Free Software, to recognize and honor those that have
made a great contribution to the progress and development of Free
Software (free as in freedom as defined in the Free Software
Definition), through activities that accord with the spirit of
Any kind of activity could be eligible---writing software, writing
documentation, publishing software, even journalism---but whatever the
activity, we want to recognize long-term central contributions to the
development of the world of software freedom. "Accord with the spirit"
means, for example, that software, manuals or collections of them
(online or on CD) must be entirely free. Work done commercially is
eligible, but we give this award to individuals, not to companies,
organizations, or teams. You can support the award and the work of the
Free Software Foundation here.
Program Administrator | Phone: (617)542-5942 x23
51 Franklin Street, 5th Fl. | Fax: (617)542-2652
Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA | GPG: AE8600B6
Knowledge is power... share it equitably!
-------- Forwarded Message --------
From: V Vivek <viyyer(a)sarai.net>
Reply-To: Free/Libre and Open Source Software Project List
To: Free/Libre and Open Source Software Project List <prc(a)sarai.net>
Subject: [PRC] FLOSS fellowships announcements
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 17:01:40 +0530
Happy New Year! We're excited to announce this year's Sarai-CSDS FLOSS
Fellows, and we look forward to hearing more about their
The Sarai- CSDS FLOSS Fellows 2006
Implementing/ Porting Hindawi, Romenagri, APCISR etc. to Linux / FLOSS
Baishampyan Ghose/Kenneth Gonsalves
Panini - Integrated Translation Management System.
Hindi Localization of OpenOffice.Org2.2 Help Contents
Open Source Parallel Database.
Newsrack - Automating News Gathering and Classification
Search Interface Driven Archive
Surekha Sastry/ Srinivasa Raghavan
"Indic B2B" Localization Modules
Knowlege is power... share it equitably!
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