Open-Source Software Opens New Windows to Third-World

OSS is helping people around the globe escape the crime of software "piracy".
Philippines and Thailand

Says Emmanuel Lallana of the E-ASEAN Task Force based in Manila: "It makes sense to use open standards and open source. We don't want to get locked into proprietary software. You can use Open Source also because it's cheaper. Why pay for an operating system and office suite, when you have people giving it out for free?"

In Thailand, the ambitious SchoolNet experiment--an initiative that seeks to provide universal access to teachers and students in schools in that East Asian country -- also taps into the power of GNU/Linux.

It has developed a Linux School Internet Server (Linux SIS) to be promoted and distributed to schools "as a cheaper alternative to using an expensive server software".

"Since its introduction, Linux-SIS has been very popular in Thailand due to its excellent documentation in the Thai language, its simple-to-install CD-ROM and web-based server management without the need to know UNIX commands," says Dr Thaweesak 'Hugh' Koanantakool, director of Bangkok's National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC).

SIS training courses are always in constant demand from schools looking for a reliable Internet server at the "lowest cost", says he. (More information on the Linux-SIS is available at www.nectec.or.th/linux-sis/ ) Some of the pages are in the Thai language.

South Asian Shcools

News reports have recently focused on GNU/Linux initiatives in classrooms from different corners of the globe.

Of particular interest are those coming up from the Third World. Including Ganesha's Project in Nepal, a plan using donated machines and open-source software like Linux, in a move to cut the costs of acquiring software licenses for "an already impoverished school system".

In Goa, a former Portuguese colony on the west coast of India, after struggling for years to get discounts from Microsoft software for use in their schools, the Goa Schools Computers Project (GSCP) got a windfall. Red Hat offered not just a chance to reproduce their software over any number of computers, but also some training for school-teachers on the basics of GNU/Linux. Goa's unit of the India Linux Users' Group has also volunteered to support this project. (See the group overcoming their teething trouble at www.groups.yahoo.com/group/gscp or visit the background details of the project.)

Goa is one of India's smallest states (population 1.35 million; area 3700 sq.km). But this small experience showing what can be done inspired other GNU/Linux networks in other parts of India, where some groups are rather active, particularly in the bigger cities.

These are all significant ventures. Some are small; others are more ambitious. But there are lessons for everyone who can emulate and adapt some of these interesting ventures from all across the Third World.

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Alex930's picture

Excellent, iv always liked linux.

Actually, Malaysia is

Anonymous's picture

Actually, Malaysia is evaluating open source software. In the final report by PIKOM (Malaysian Computer Industry Association), the government should place OSS software in the same light as closed ones and make proper decissions. (I'm a Malaysian). The government won't be moving to something OSS unless it's better than what they are using now. methoo.com

open source software

dawa tsering's picture

i am a user of open source soft ware and i have find lot of good advantage in working with this software. i suggest to use some of my friend about open source sofe ware and i have install some word processing (open office.org)in my friend laptop they are very satisfied with the use of open source soft ware and operating system (ubuntu.o8).

Software as a service

James Hrubes's picture

I think that software as a service and hardware leasing is the best way to solve this issue since it enables a hierarchical approach that will encourage people to improve their level of performance through incentives (improved technology choices with greater productivity aka they make more money so they buy faster stuff). That being said I believe that the state has a role to fill for transportation and the tax plan should include a basic hardware and services voucher so that distance learning is available for all people. I am a free market capitalist who believes in productivity as the solution for gaining higher yields worldwide. The $100 laptop is a good start and created market awareness, but I would prefer distributing refurbished technology so that users have greater access to higher quality components that won't cause cancer or eye strain. The $100 laptop is a good example of how the cost of hardware can be affected by a free market and a mandate from scientists to create an inexpensive product, but ultimately it comes up short when it is compared to a refurbished 1st world laptop.

Ultimately, it is software that will decide the fate of the project and a public data utility should be able to handle that issue since they are built on supercomputers which are almost exclusively Unix. Of course that little upstart Linux is going to dominate this sector in the future as the next generation propellor heads start to churn out the Linux Supercomputing codebase.

No money in class...

Mary's picture

I thing very well that GNU/Linux was used in classrooms.

I saw one of these $100

Kahuki's picture

I saw one of these $100 third world laptops the other day, and I think this is a great idea to bring these countries one step ahead!

Unfortunately, Polish government behaves like Microsoft agent:

Anonymous's picture

we are probably the only country in the world where MS Windows is obligatory! State rules that business with more then 5 employees has to sent special monthly social security rapport via "free" software which runs only under MS Windows! Government has a few more bright ideas: it tries to tax free software (22% VAT) again!

Re: Unfortunately, Polish government behaves like Microsoft agen

Anonymous's picture

For the 'must use MS Windows', go to the court, IMHO. Theoretically :-(

But: how to tax free software if you don't pay for it? Or is it for buying a distribution? Is the tax different for propritary software?

Re: Open-Source Software Opens New Windows to Third-World

Anonymous's picture

The '3rd world' (stupid term, IMHO) will gain - using open source is learning how to use computers efficiently.

The 'open source world' will gain much more brain power any monopolistic megacorporation can afford to pay.

Using MS Windows is to pay a lot for being kept stupid.

Re: New Windows to Third-World : a not well known benefit

Anonymous's picture

"We're considering using open source. What really matters is the total cost of ownership, including the other costs that come along with it. Wherever possible, we would like to use it," says Peng.

---------------------------------------------------------

One aspect I don't see emphasized is the fact that a LINUX machine asks for very low maintenance cost :

MS:

-----

how often a MS-Windows maintainer is called to reinstall all the stuff (corrupted dlls, viruses...) ???

Linux:

-------

Usually we are just happy to upgrade our Linux to enjoy a full bunch of new applications, not to correct something.

A dedicated workstation may be installed and let running for months or years. It is very cost effective !

I demonstrated that at the National Botanic Garden of Belgium, even using a set of old 486 working remotely on an application server (very effective for the maintenance : only the server is to be regularly upgraded for the benefit of everyone)

See the state in 2000 : (with some pictures)

http://www.br.fgov.be/RESEARCH/INFORMATICS/tutorial/intro/history/state2...

See the presentation of our 'crisis' and its resolution owing to LINUX (Table of content) :

http://betula.br.fgov.be/RESEARCH/INFORMATICS/tutorial/intro/history/sur...

Alain EMPAIN : alain.empain@ulg.ac.be

Thailand and Open-Source

daengbo's picture

SIS server has been around for years in Thailand, but the really big news is on the desktop front. The National Electronics and Computer Technology Commission (NECTEC) has produced both SIS and, now, Linux TLE (pronounced "talei" meaning sea). While Mandrake et al have had the ability to display and type Thai for some time, the support has been less than 100%. The big stir about all of this is that the new OS is entirely in Thai, down to the install, the menus and help. This was released virtually at the same time as another product, Pladao (meaning Star Fish), by Sun. It is Open Office 638 modified to be completely in thai, down to the mouse-overs. Pladao is free (beer) and copies, reviews, and tutorials were in every major computer magazine last month. This month, the number one selling computer magazine has thirty pages devoted to Linux TLE, and how to use it to replace the illegal copy of windows on your computer.

NECTEC has produced a standard for computer manufacturers for entry-level Linux TLE machines that are now being sold by the five major computer manufacturers in Thailand at every outlet. Things are changing here... I am typing this on my Linux TLE/Pladao machine right now. The only drawback is that the Thai menus are difficult for me, a westerner.

Re: Thailand and Open-Source

Anonymous's picture

I am very happy to hear that this is going on well. NECTEC is making a lot of changes. As a software engineer outside the country, I am really glad to see the country moving in an admirable direction. Thanks to the folks back home.

Re: Open-Source Software Opens New Windows to Third-World

Anonymous's picture

I can't bother signing in... I was speaking with GeekCorps while at LinuxWorld -NYC this past March....

I was wondering what kind of Open Source software they were installing in the developing world. The intelligent and down to earth woman working the both started to whisper to me that they really aren't concerned with what the software is.

Interesting!, I thought. Why? The answer she gave me made incredible sense. They were trying to primarily teach people to use software & it made the most sense to use "whatever most people use" hence they could help each other too.

When push comes to shove piracy isn't a big deal in these countries anyway. No one enforces piracy laws, good or bad.

I will email GeekCorps to let them know what I've posted here & let them respond. I don't disagree with them. I just thought it was an interesting take on software in the developing world.

-Steve@ Open Source Directory

Linux is cheaper than pirated Windows.

Anonymous's picture

Even when using Windows in open violation of Microsoft's draconian license terms, it is more expensive to run Windows than to run Linux. Third world governments, in particular, should note that modern, up-to-date, Linux distributions exist that exploit even pre-Pentium processors and machines with far less than 32 MB RAM. With the right networking model, performance is on a par with far more modern, and more expensive machines.

I note that Pakistan is getting PIIs at $100 (USD?). We westerners tend to sneer at the idea of running older hardware, but even a savings of $50USD per machine is significant in local economies where average wages are often only a few hundred dollars per year. The ability to provide essential services without increasing risk to data on even cheaper 486 and low memory first generation Pentiums is too often overlooked in these discussions.

Later,

Colin Mattoon

Re: Open-Source Software Opens New Windows to Third-World

Anonymous's picture

In other ways too, Malaysia is giving open-source and free software a close look. Take the case of MIMOS (www.mimos.my), the Malaysian Institute of Micro Electronic Systems, which is intended to grow into a premier R&D powerhouse in this South-East Asian country.

Things like this will help Linux everywhere. As devices (PCI, USB, Firewire, etc.) come out of development shops where Linux is the OS they use for development, it seems quite likely that the Linux kernel and userspace programs will make the devices work at least as well on Linux.

Perhaps they can save packaging costs by having the stamp that says "Made in Malaysia" also say "Designed for Linux".

The South African Perspective

Anonymous's picture

Peru is doing the same thing!

Anonymous's picture

Just look at Peru, where the congress is discussing a law proposal to 'force' the government to use Software Libre/Open Source for ALL of its institutions.

Their basic premise? It lets the government maintain ownership of their data!

That's the key of the whole thing, who owns your data?

Cheers!

Check the site here http://www.gnu.org.pe (it's in spanish though, but if you can read it, check the conversation between the congressman who presented the proposal and Peru's Microsoft CEO. Very interesting)

Re: Peru is doing the same thing!

Anonymous's picture

for links to the MS and Villanueva documents in English, see:

Peruvian Activism

http://www.pimientolinux.com/peru2ms/

Regards to all,

W.

Re: Peru is doing the same thing!

Anonymous's picture

Here's the English translation:

http://216.239.51.100/search?q=cache:TvfSi6UFJpQC:www.gnu.org.pe/resmsen...

Excerpt:

"The inclusion of the intellectual property of others in works claimed as one's own is not a practice that has been noted in the free software community; whereas, unfortunately, it has been in the area of proprietry software. As an example, the condemnation by the Commercial Court of Nanterre, France, on 27th September 2001 of Microsoft Corp. to a penalty of 3 million francs in damages and interest, for violation of intellectual property (piracy, to use the unfortunate term that your firm commonly uses in its publicity)."

Thanks for the translation,

jason's picture

Thanks for the translation, just was messing with google translate :)

Re: Open-Source Software Opens New Windows to Third-World

Anonymous's picture

GNU/Linux, and tons of useful software that comes along with it, is clearly attracting interest from a range of quarters. From Pakistan to the UNDP, from Africa to Malaysia, and even in the Philippines or Thailand and Nepal, GNU/Linux is being closely watched, studied and adopted in a range of interesting experiments.

Actually, Malaysia is evaluating open source software. In the final report by PIKOM (Malaysian Computer Industry Association), the government should place OSS software in the same light as closed ones and make proper decissions. (I'm a Malaysian). The government won't be moving to something OSS unless it's better than what they are using now.

Re: Open-Source Software Opens New Windows to Third-World

Anonymous's picture

Sounds like it's a done deal to me then :)

Re: Open-Source Software Opens New Windows to Third-World

Anonymous's picture

welcome to the exciting world of Linux. and

dont forget Mandrake Linux 8.2 is THEE

Linux for the people.

Re: Open-Source Software Opens New Windows to Third-World

Anonymous's picture

Anonymous: Mandrake is an uninnovative load of crap and that statement is the statement of an embarressing product of the opensource community.

Latin America is also doing the exact same thing!

Anonymous's picture

Just look at Peru, where the congress is discussing a law proposal to 'force' the government to use Software Libre/Open Source for ALL of its institutions.

Their basic premise? It lets the government maintain ownership of their data!

That's the key of the whole thing, who owns your data?

Cheers!

Check the site here http://www.gnu.org.pe (it's in spanish though, but if you can read it, check the conversation between the congressman who presented the proposal and Peru's Microsoft CEO. Very interesting)

Re: Latin America ... links to Peruvian docs in English

Anonymous's picture

for links - still working - to the documents (the MS Peru letter as well as the reply by Congressman Dr. Villanueva) in English translation, see

Peruvian Activism

http://www.pimientolinux.com/peru2ms/

(The URL posted elsewhere in this thread does not work anymore.)

Regards,

W.

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