Tracking the shifts in technology
27 February, 2006
AFRICAN FREE SOFTWARE ON A FIRM FOOTING
This week's newsletter is a little late because I have just returned
from a few fantastic days in Nairobi, Kenya. I was there for the
FOSSFA Idlelo2 conference which was a great opportunity to gauge how
the free software movement on the continent has fared over the past
two years since Idlelo1 in Cape Town. (Read more at
The good news is that African free software looks to be in robust
health and it was heartening to see the links being developed between
groups around the continent, in particular those with West Africa.
As with any continental movement there are challenges of course - of
language, experience and expections - but on the whole the trip well
worth the time and an encouraging precursor to what we can expect
over the coming year.
Here's to a good African free software year,
SITA TENDER WINNERS NAMED
Eight companies have been selected to be the suppliers of open source
software and support services to the government and the State IT
Agency over the next three years. News of the winners of potentially
South Africa's most lucrative open source deal ends months of
nail-biting for tenderers involved.
FREE SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS DO IT TO LEARN NEW SKILLS
Despite an increase in the number of corporates involved in the
development of free and open source software applications, the
majority of FOSS code is still being developed by individuals and the
vast majority of these do it primarily to learn new skills. Rishab
Ghosh of Maastricht University said this during the opening of the
Idlelo 2 conference in Nairobi, Kenya this morning.
SHUTTLEWORTH URGES TELECOMS REFORM
Entrepreneur and Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth yesterday hit
out at the African telecoms sector saying the existing monopolies in
the sector were not able to deliver effective and affordable
bandwidth to the continent. He urged national regulators to unbundle
their wired networks and develop competitive strategies to improve
broadband access to Africans.
SA TAX MAN EYES DESKTOP LINUX
The South African Revenue Service has issued a tender for a proof of
concept Linux desktop solution for the tax-collecting government
department with a R355 billion ($58 billion) revenue. While SARS
admits that the challenges of moving to Linux on the desktop are
numerous, a successful proof of concept could see 14 000 desktops
running Windows migrated to Linux.
FOSSFA RATIFIES CONSTITUTION, ELECTS COUNCIL
The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa last night
formally adopt its constitution and elected a new council to take the
organisation forward for the next to years.
TECTONIC SURVEY 2006: TELL US WHAT YOU THINK AND WIN
What do you think of Tectonic? What are you interested in? What do
you want to see us write about? Now it is your turn to tell us by
taking part in the Tectonic 2006 reader survey.
All we need is five minutes of you time and in return we'll enter
your name into a draw for a box of Linux goodies kindly sponsored by
Obsidian Systems. There are also a handful of Tectonic Magazine
subscriptions up for grabs.
UBUNTU GOES SMALL
The family of operating systems based on the Ubuntu platform
continues to expand – this time to the ever-growing embedded
world of small, light devices like PDAs and Internet tablets. A new
Ubuntu project, Embedded Ubuntu, hopes to bring Ubuntu down to size.
LENOVO BRAND LAUNCHES IN SA
Lenovo South Africa launched its products officially on Friday, with
desktops and laptops that look distinctly non-IBM. The new company is
hoping to capture a slice of the lucrative home user and SME markets
with its 3000 series, while the Think brand continues to play in the
PROJECT HIGGINS FOR USER-CENTRIC ID MANAGEMENT
IBM, Novell and Parity Communications today announced that they are
contributing code to an open source initiative -- code-named 'Project
Higgins' -- that will spawn a new generation of security software,
giving people more control over their personal online identity
information. Project Higgins builds upon a concept developed by
Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
FREE SOFTWARE MOVEMENT HEADS FOR NAIROBI
Free software developers and advocates from across the African
continent will be heading for Nairobi in Kenya this week as they
gather for the second Free Sofware and Open Source Foundation for
Africa conference. Keynote speakers during the opening day of the
conference will include Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth as well
representatives of Google.
INNOVATION HUB HOSTS OSS SHOWCASE
1 April is the date set for an open source event to be held at the
Innovation Hub near Pretoria. The event will include LPI
certification exams, guest speakers and an open source technology
THE STATE OF AFRICAN FREE SOFTWARE
A trip to Nairobi, cocktails with Microsoft, and a conference room
full of African free software advocates. Alastair Otter checks in
with the growing African free and open source movement to see how
things are going.
PANDA SECURES DESKTOP LINUX
REDHAT'S ANSWER TO NOVELL'S EYE CANDY
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Hi guys,Coming Sunday (Feb. 26) Linux Demo Day in MIT is jointly organized
by ILUGC & NRCFOSS.This demo is dedicated to all newbies,advanced
programmers,hackers,Geeks,addicts,This demo also explore future of open
source & Linux,and lot more....
So i request everyone participate and make really a fun & joy.All your
queries are clarified by eminent persons from ILUGC &AU-KBC.
The list of topic's are, http://carteblanche.in/Demos.html
For more Details http://carteblanche.in/
Entry is Free... Open To
Thanks & Regards,
"It does not matter what your computer can do;But what you can do with
FLOSS, or Free/Libre and Open Source Software, has
dramatically changed the way software is produced,
distributed, supported and used. It has a visible impact on
enabling a richer social inclusion. But how has it allowed
the gender problem existing in the software industry to be
replicated in the world of FLOSS? Amsterdam-based Taiwanese
researcher Yuwei Lin lists seven reasons why women stay off
FOSS -- including its strong long-hour coding culture, a lack
of mentors and role-models, discriminatory language
(including in documentation), a gendered text-based
environment, a lack of women-centered views in
FOSS-development, a male-dominated competitive worldview, and
the lack of sympathy from woman peers.
Frederick 'FN' Noronha | http://fn-at-google.notlong.com
Goa, India | fred(a)bytesforall.org
Co-Founder, BytesForAll | +91(832)2409490 Cell 9822122436
"The Korean government plans to select a city and a university late next
month where open-source software like Linux will become the mainstream
operating programs. The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC)
Wednesday revealed the scheme of building up the city and university, which
will operate as test beds for the open-source programs......" read
Disclaimer: These are my opinions and doesn't reflect that of FSF in
particular. Also, this was my first time at Linux Asia 2006, so I am not
aware of tradition and expectations towards the event.
Thanks to the good people at FSF, Kerala, we got handouts for SPACE and
FSF in time (one day before the show). The SPACE handouts are all out,
the FSF one's are still remaining. Sameer had gotten the posters and
stickers printed well in advance. There were plans about T-shirts and
CDs... but they remained plans. Well, next time.
FSF India had 2mx2m space in the Org mela. The Org mela itself was
unconveniently located at an unsheltered area; well away from where
the main events were taking place. However, as early birds on Feb 8,
we got ourselves a stall that was very visible from the entrance. This
had its own benefits... Quite a few people, three to be precise, asked
me whether the Org mela was a part of the main event.
Besides that, our stall was an easy target for freebie mongers. There
was a small card that was circulated with stall numbers on it. Get it
signed/stamped at at least 15 stalls and get a freebie. Guess what?
Stalls in the Org mela had no stall numbers at all! They weren't fetured
on the stall directory or the stall map.
General visitors to the stall included young students who wanted to do
something on Linux but had no idea what; and middle-aged to old managers
who knew that Linux runs somewhere in their organization but no idea of
exactly where. I'd say 95% of people that came fell into these
categories easily. People who knew about FSF was quite surprised to find
an FSF stall. These guys got the GNU sticker.
The rest 5% were uber-clever people from the Fedora stall... with the
general opinion that FSF is all advocacy, and that we should do some
projects for community benefit. They were right, but had no reason to
cry about it. There is still quite a lot of confusion around. I'll
clear it for one last time: FSF _IS_ advocacy. And yeah, we do
projects... please head to http://gnu.org.
Rahul Sundaram (Fedora) in particular gave a good suggestion of
keeping a list of ongoing projects on a very visible URLs where people
can get engaged. Someone (sorry I don't remember who) said that we
should keep printed manuals for sale.
I guess we were quite succesful in showing the 95% of the audience the
differences between Open Source and Free Software. It was a good
opportunity to tell how the GPL works, why there so few software
companies for India's one billion+ population and how a few people got
filthy rich. As far as fellowship and donations go, two people wanted
to hand over cash... we asked them to go the URL at http://fsf.org.in/
instead. Cash corrupts!
The FSF stall had quite a lot of people behind it: Sameer Ingole
(_strike_), Vinod Ganjre, Bir Chandra Sanasam and Milind
Paralkar. These guys stuck to stall even after being sponsored to
attend the Tech Talks at the event. A special mention goes to Nikhil
Prabhakar (nipra). He took a lot of effort to start the show early in
However, there were a few times when the stall did get left
unattended: lunch and private sessions with the Gurus (Knopper and
Shuttleworth) with the rest of the guys from ILUG-Delhi.
We were expecting Bhaisampayan to come and talk on Django. His last
minute ditch wasn't going to go down well. Ramki and I made sure that
Indranil Das Gupta utilized that space and gave a talk on the Free
Software Philosophy. Unfortunately, I got stuck in traffic and
couldn't attend the talk personally, but people spoke highly of
it. Indranil and Ramki deserve kudos for being available at the last
moment and saving the day.
I was expecting to talk on Free Software in Education. Things turned bad
at the last moment... made a presentation in distress and tight
schedule... got no intimation of when and where the talk will be held...
concluded no talk better than a bad talk... shelved the talk.
Due to the event's extreme commerical nature I had a set kind of quality
expectations in my mind. Many people (including me) felt it was a let
down. It probably didn't get the audience for the hype. If there was
any, only a few came down to the Org mela.
Still, I'd say it was worth the effort as what the FSF and we had to
say did change quite a few opinions. Also most of the 95% had a
misconception of Free in Free Software equals Free Beer. Some had used
GNU/Linux without knowing a thing about GNU or FSF for that matter. So
our, handouts, discussions and talks did have a shattering
effect. From my personal experience, this is a good thing. A
paradigm-shift in one persons thinking goes on to affect at least 10
With this, I'll repeat Dr Nagarjuna's words: "We'll go wherever we get
a chance to tell people about our efforts". Our participation in the
event wouldn't have been possible without his encouragement at the
right time. Further, we should always keep events like FOSS.IN, GNUnify
and Linux Asia 2006 in our radar and participate regularly with even
better planning and preparation.
Stall Pictures (thanks to Karunakar):
0. http://www.cartoonsoft.com/gallery/linuxasia06/271_7153 (Org Mela
1. http://www.cartoonsoft.com/gallery/linuxasia06/271_7156 (FSF Stall -
Bir and Vinod)
2. http://www.cartoonsoft.com/gallery/linuxasia06/272_7273 (Me, Sameer,
Vinod and Milind)
A recent talk by Honb'le Mr.Justice Yatindra Singh on Leveraging Open
Source Software was delivered at 9th e-Governance held from 2-4th
February 2006 at Kochi Kerala and is available at
I should invite attention to the Q & A session mentioned therein,
between the President and the Author, which brings out the benefits of
spontaneity that is free, open, natural and relaxed:
16. Last year I was at Bhopal attending a colloquium on 'Law, Science
and ethics'. The President of India also addressed us through video
conferencing. During the question session, I asked him, 'Computers
and information technology have an important role in reducing the
arrears in the court as well as in helping in other areas. Broadly
there are two kinds of softwares to do that. Proprietary and Open
Source. Which one is better?
17. He answered, 'First of all, I would like to clarify that the
choice of proprietary vs. Open software is driven by the usage and
requirements of the user at the operating system level. Since,
proprietary software is predominantly used at the client level; many
users are familiar and confor table with this. However, at the server
level mature users choose the software as per their requirement. Open
source operating system enables the development of language
independent software's and also building one's own security algorithms
to suit his requirement. Indian IT industry is capable of providing a
solution for the justice delivery system and its eGovernance to the
justice administration on top of any proprietary or open source
systems. What is important here is justice delivery system should be
interoperable system built on top of open standards such as web
18. The challenges and difficulties in shifting over to OSS are
apparent from the answer. The majority is used to proprietary
software and is trained in it. The main challenge is,
· in changing over;
· getting used to the new environment; and
· training the staff.
19. This is vicious a circle. If you don't shif t then you rely more
on the proprietary sof tware and more you have to pay. Perhaps what
is required is to change our perception regarding OSS and increse its
awareness. We may consider the following points:
(i) The awareness regarding OSS should start from the school level:
Computer education is already in curriculum of the schools
and colleges. There is hardly any representation of OSS in
their curriculam. Most of the topics that are there belong
to proprietary sof tware. The operating system of computers
are in proprietary sof tware. Curriculum of schools and
colleges should compulsory have topics on OSS and the
computers should leave operating system in OSS.
(ii) Utilisation of grant: The government gives grants for purchasing
computers and for different projects. The government grant
may be utilised for purchasing computers having OSS
operating system. Apart from operating systems there are
applications. Many applications are on OSS and run on all
kinds of operating systems including the proprietary ones.
Even if the operating system is the proprietary one, then at
least it should have applications that are on OSS.
(iii) Exclusive OSS cell: It is ture that we are leading IT community
in the world but many IT exper ts in government organisation
work exclusively with proprietary software. It will be good
idea to create separate cell in government and semi
government departments to develop applications exclusively
(iv) Solution in OSS first: A policy decision may be taken to find
solutions of projects first in OSS and in case it is not
possible only then it may be sought in the proprietary
20. The Allahabad High Court has taken a policy decision to work in
Open Source Software and store documents in open document format. All
new computers have linux as operating system. Apart from it,
OpenOffice.org suite, Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird have been adopted
as applications software. A chart mentioning others details and the
projects under taken is appended as Appendix 1.
If the observations are taken seriously by the policy makers here,
it could ensure a certain victory for all.
A man to whom it has been given to bless the world with a great
creative idea has no need for the praise of posterity. His very
achievement has already conferred a higher boon upon him.
-Albert Einstein at the Max Planck Memorial Services, 1948.
yes youre absolutely right in your view about lawyers but dont forget i am a lawyer too though very new to all this but isnt prof moglen and his team already an inspiration.but yes you re right it could be boring for the free software community to hear things like whats a source code and things of the same genre.thnx a ton for this positive response and i'll be greatful if you could suggest what kinda topics we should cover apart from a basic key note address telling them about what we re talking.it will be of tremendous help.april is when i plan to hold this conference and would look forward to all of you guiding me through this with ideas ,suggestions, orders and participation ,i really think this can work out
thnx for the recommendation,i havent read it so far but i shall grab a copy soon.can you tell me who these coveted free software hackers in india are? i'll be delighted to know them the only one i am aware is MR ramanraj as for now.since you expressed your interest about the onference,can i request you to sparetime and attend the same,i'll forward details once things re aa lil settled and finalized