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Foss (Free open source software) time in India

The world is moving towards free and open source software, cost being the primary advantage. In India, Kerala stands out as an example. What are the chances in other parts of the country?

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February 27-March 10, 2008. As the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (Class x) exams unfold across government schools in Kerala, students appearing for ‘it Practicals’ key in their answers into a computer that runs on foss, acronym for free and open source software. These students are comfortable with foss usage. As 13-year-old Nalin Sathya, who will sit for these exams next year, puts it, “The system is very easy to use and I can now use it even without seeing the monitor. Python programming language is very easy. I am trying to learn it.” Read more >>

The Left Democratic Party (ldf), then in opposition, took up cudgels. It berated Microsoft for the raids, and for derailing friends. Kerala State Teachers Association (ksta) in collaboration with the Free Software Foundation began a campaign to sensitize teachers on the costs and restrictions of proprietary software, and to encourage schools to shift to open source software. Read more >>

When we buy a proprietary software, we are only buying the licence to use it under certain conditions. The conditions of use are explicitly laid out in the end user licence agreement.

But very few of us go through the elaborate licence agreement because it doesn’t make much of a difference to a non-technical user (who is not into programming, for example). The licence agreement prohibits users from taking a part of the software to study how it works, modify, improve or even copy it. Read more >>

Kerala’s conversion comes at a time when free and open source software (foss) acceptance is upscaling. Consider, first, other states. As early as 2002, Madhya Pradesh introduced foss in its e-governance (Gyandoot) and computer-enabled school education (Headstart) initiatives. Read more >>

While about 65 per cent of servers use foss, about 90 per cent of personal computer users still use Microsoft in India,” says Sunil Abraham, director of Mahiti, a small-scale software enterprise in Bangalore, pointing to a skew in the culture of computer use. What explains it? “It is still difficult to get services for such a software. Read more >>