From the Editor
It's that time of year again, folks. The Readers' Choice awards results are in, and who's your favorite Linux Journal columnist? Marcel Gagné, bien sûr--the virtual French chef who takes you on explorations of fascinating Linux software (and a little vin rouge) every month. Marcel, nous vous aimons. Check out your other favorites on page 72.
Even though our journal is (mostly) in English, we see that Linux development for users who speak other languages is just as popular around the world as Marcel's cuisine is in our pages. In some areas, we English speakers need to catch up.
In our September 2002 issue, Jon “maddog” Hall mentioned the SAGU Project for university administrative software, headquartered at the public university UNIVATES in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. At Linux Istanbul, a conference held as part of the Bilism 2002 computer tradeshow in Istanbul in September, Cesar Brod, who works on SAGU and, among other things, on the GNUTECA free library software, said that the project has already exceeded its goals financially. By developing a homegrown solution, UNIVATES saved $130,000 US on software licenses up front. And the annual $70,000 that would have gone to software upgrades and maintenance is more than enough to pay the development team. The university comes out ahead even before they release any free software at all—contributions from outside, educational value and the benefit of having a custom solution are purely bonuses. UNIVATES actually added free software development to its institution-wide mission statement.
For how many places on earth do shrink-wrap software economics make sense anymore? Also in Istanbul, maddog brought up the economic multiplier effect. Develop locally, whether on your own or as part of a global project, and developers spend money locally. Send the money away, and you'll never see it again.
Look for SAGU, GNUTECA and the other projects hosted on the SourceForge descendant codigolivre.org.br, and you'll find a lot of cool software. The original web screens and docs are all in Portuguese. However, SAGU is in the process of being internationalized: “A Japanese guy who lives in Sweden is doing an English version for schools in South Africa”, Cesar said at the Istanbul event.
There is plenty of information on how to make your software work in different languages in this issue. Check out “Introduction to Internationalization Programming” (page 52) for how to do things the standard, GNU, way. And, “Indian Language Solutions for GNU/Linux” (page 46) covers the status of support for the widely spoken but under-supported languages of that area.
We hear that the skeletal creature on the cover is cute with his hide on, but you'll have to wait for the next movie from Jim Henson's Creature Shop to find out. Meanwhile, learn how Linux can drive their creatures on page 28.
As you might already have heard, I am the new editor in chief of Linux Journal. Since LJ is already my favorite magazine, I don't plan on changing much. So if there's something you'd like to see in LJ, or something you're tired of paying for, please send me some mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don Marti is editor in chief of LJ and number eight on pigdog.org's “list of things to say when you're losing a technical argument”.