St Xavier's College at Mapusa wants its college students to work with
the GNU/Linux operating system and popularise it. This was stated by
Principal Newman Fernandes, at the launch of the Xavier's Open Source
Club, at the college premises recently.
Principal Fernandes also suggested that students should use IT more
widely, and said efforts were underway to ensure every student had his
or her own email address, which was then effectively utilised.
"Last year we initiated (our activities on Free/Libre and Open Source
Software). This year we plan to go deeper into it," said Fernandes.
"Our college has a principle of offering students all they way. We have
1850 students and 40 clubs. We have a Rainwater Harvesting Club, a music
club, an e-centre where the class notes which teachers used to dictate
are shared via the intranet. We also have a Centre for Traditional
Knowledge," said Fernandes.
Nelson Lobo, the lecturer of IT, said that FLOSS was based on the
principle that everyone gains when everyone shares. "Our aim is to
understand and promote FLOSS. This is software whose source code is
available to modify, rebuild and share. We need to ask what Open Source
can do for us," he added.
This newly-launched club would be planning more activities in the
coming months, he said.
St Xavier's also wants its students to experiment with Free/Libre and
Open Source Software (FLOSS). Dr Albert Gouveia, head of IT at the
National Institute of Oceanography and an alumni of the prestigious IIT
Bombay, was the keynote speaker at the launch of the club. Gouveia was
an alumni of Xavier's from the 1968-1970 batch.
He began by challenging students: "Why do Linux at all?
Will it get me a job?"
Gouveia called for looking beyond the traditional arguments that FLOSS
is "freely available" and also less prone to hacker attacks.
Gouveia argued: "It's not safe to stay with just one technology. You
need to be exposed to all.... Open source gives you the freedom to
experiment. With proprietorial software you don't have the source code
to experiment with."
He said that students joining the world of work would get "three weeks"
in which to learn a new technology and deliver. "In other fields, what
you learn in college will stand you in good stead for quite some time.
In computing it's different. You need to broaden your horizons now,
while you have the time," he added.
A Debian user since 1994 and its 0.94 (pre-stable) release,
Gouveia adviced students: "If you want an easy way you, you're
not going to learn much." He added, "I never once felt the need
to shift back to Windows... I can do whatever I want in Linux."
He adviced students to read Eric S Raymond's essay called 'The
Cathedral and the Bazaar'.
"You'll are the technical people who should try out every flavour (of
GNU/Linux). Would you respect a mechanic who can only repair one type
of a car?" he asked.
"If you read the instructions and questions thoroughly while installing
Debian, you will succeed in installing it the first time," he felt.
Gouveia pointed to the number of jobs in GNU/Linux network and security
aspects. He felt the world was moving to a situation where "all
software is free". "Maybe five years from now, you will get no
proprietary software. Look at everything besides Open Source too. But
using Open Source is the easiest, because it is open to use," he
He said countries like Australia and New Zealand had a large
number of projects for students on the Net. Later in the
session, he interacted with students and others, and also
shared copies of Ubuntu (another Debian-based distro, like
Knoppix) with students and lecturers.
Contacts: St Xavier's College: xavierscollege(a)sancharnet.in Dr
Albert Gouveia: albert(a)darya.nio.org
_/ Frederick Noronha | Independent Journalist | Ph 832.2409490
_/ 784 Saligao 403511 Goa India | fred(a)bytesforall.org