India Gets Its First Linux Publication

by Fred Noronha

It costs a dollar, is almost a hundred pages thick and comes with a wide range of information on the world of free/libre and open-source software, as some term it here.

India's first Linux magazine recently hit the stands, and free software enthusiasts are looking to the Delhi-published magazine to help build interest in non-proprietary software in a country that likes to call itself a (potential) software superpower.

Titled LINUXForYou, the magazine claims to be "the complete magazine for Open Source". It is just drawing the attention of FLOSS enthusiasts scattered across the many LUGs across the country.

By late February, LFY claimed its first issue "completely sold out", with a print run of 20,000 copies. A letter to advertisers said LFY's subscriptions "crossed the 1,000-mark even before the magazine was launched", and it promised advertisers that the free-software enthusiasts who read the magazine "are IT savvy and...the most influential segment of IT buyers".

India has a number of computer magazines that are read beyond the country's borders, including PCQuest, Digit (formerly CHIP), DeveloperIQ, Computers@Home and others. But this is the first magazine entirely dedicated to GNU/Linux.

LINUXForYou comes from the same people who publish Electronics For You, a 34-year-old magazine for the electronics hobbyist and professional that already has a strong anchor in the home-grown technical publications market.

"We believe that Linux, not just the main operating system, but the entire gamut of open-source software and allied concepts, have now reached the stage where these can be deployed across businesses and even homes," commented LFY editor Rahul Chopra while introducing the maiden issue.

This, he clarified, did not mean a shift into the no-money zone for a magazine that has been in business for three decades.

"We believe the best way of making some money is by helping others save their's", said Chopra, who added that the launch of a Linux magazine has "nothing to do with Microsoft" but meant reduced costs, higher RoI (return on investment) and better technology.

LFY's launch has been in the news for some weeks now. It was expected to come out in January, but the first issue is dated February 2003, understandable given the pressures of launching a new magazine.

Some other magazines have been toying with venturing into covering GNU/Linux in a more encompassing manner. (Local mainstream magazine PCQuest gave a boost to GNU/Linux in the mid-1990s by putting out CDs with free software.) But lately, plans for special issues or special supplements have been scaled down, as doubts have been raised about the viability of such a venture in the market.

LFY, however, seems to have few doubts on this score. The first issue contains a CD of the popular load-it-from-your-CD Knoppix distribution and news inputs come from a wide range. Responses to the magazine seem to have been mostly appreciative, apart from a few questions asking why it was not being named GNULinuxForYou or something similar.

So far, the magazine has reported on a couple of schoolboys, who having won a fonts-creation contest, "spurned Microsoft" and opted for the LGPL license. Likewise, it mentions plans for two GNU/Linux-based handhelds from the South Indian city of Bangalore. (The Simputer, delayed in hitting the market in a big way, has gained much attention, but few here have noticed the Kaii.)

For techies, there's a tutorial on how to create an apnalinux (Hindi for "our Linux") distribution by using Anaconda and tweaking a Red Hat distribution.

There's also TechnoInfosys' GNU/Linux-based net management system from Bombay (see; storage strategy software for GNU/Linux from Veritas, Delhi; Websight's Dodobase, instant web catalog publishing product ( and Rolta's security and messaging products for Indian corporate networks (

Bicnet, another Indian firm, announced its eBiz integrated solution (pre-sales management, sales catalogue, shopping cart, auction floor, general ledger and financial accounting, inventory, e-recruitment, and customer relationship management).

Octopus (Bombay) promises a complete enterprise management system. There's an e-mail manager from Data Impex (Delhi). The Indian government is reportedly moving to "let in Linux", even as RTLinux is gaining support in India.

LFY has announced its own plan for certification that could help "sell your products to the Linux community". This certification plan is "free, as of now". Under it, GNU/Linux-based products, tested and tried by LFY Lab, will earn Linux Friendly certification. Other common IT products that work without any hassles to get a Tested OK mark. More details can be obtained from

In the past, there has been some discussion about reprinting the China-published international edition of the Free Software Magazine in India. Likewise, GNU/Linux enthusiasts here are keen to republish some technical books with non-restrictive licensing policies, in order to help boost knowledge about non-proprietary software in this part of the globe.

Computer magazines generally are priced around Rs 100 in India (around $2 US). These come with at least one CD each month that, in turn, perhaps pushes up costs. LFY is pricing itself at only Rs 50 ($1 US), and subscribers in India get the magazine for about three-fifths that price.

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