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TN may shut door on Microsoft

Posted by egovernance on January 4, 2007

TN may shut door on Microsoft

Chennai, Dec. 31: The Tamil Nadu government, which is on a fast-track
pushing the state to the top in the Indian IT sector, has almost shut its
door on the software giant, Microsoft, preferring the Open Source Systems
(OSS) for reasons of costs and easy migrating capabilities.

“Initially, 99 per cent of government systems have been running on
Microsoft systems but then 2007 will be a watershed year for the state IT
sector. We are fast migrating to Linux operating systems which are so much
cheaper and can be operated at low cost, besides offering continuous
updates and freedom from viruses,” says Mr C. Umashankar, managing director
of state-owned ELCOT, vested with the responsibility of overseeing such
ambitious government projects as e-governance, enumerating the
beneficiaries of the free TV scheme, family ration cards and the free
sari-dhoti distribution.

“We have already dispatched 6,500 Linux systems to village panchayats and
another 6,100 Acer desktop systems with Suse Linux operating systems are on
their way. We are procuring 20,000 desktop systems for schools, which will
run only on Suse Linux. Remaining 30 desktop systems will also migrate as
and when the new machines arrive,” Mr Umashankar told this newspaper. He
said all the ELCOT servers were on Redhat Linus and the government IT
company’s 28-seater software development wing was fully on Suse Linux.

“We will train over 30,000 government officials in Linux Operating Systems
and Open Office. A contract has been already finalised with the government
departments and we have set up a Linux support centre with two
Linux-certified professionals to assist the state officers. This number
will go up to ten or more in 2007, which will be a path-breaking year for
government on migration to Linux Operating System,”  Mr Umashankar said.
“India can live without Microsoft packages and even progress but Microsoft
will find it tough without a huge country like India buying their software
packages,” he said.
He said a top official from Microsoft India had met him twice to convince
him to continue with MS products. The official offered the XP operating
system for about Rs.7000 while he quoted Rs.500. “I explained to her that
for a mere Rs.300, I could get the entire operating system, office
productivity software and a wide range of utility tools, such as DVD/CD
writing software, database software, multimedia editing software, vector
map-drawing software plus a whole range of software development tools.
Also, I have the option of downloading this entire package in DVD media and
not even pay that Rs.300, which is the media cost and not the software
charges,” said the ELCOT chief, an IT expert himself besides being a senior
IAS bureaucrat.

He said he had also pointed out to the Microsoft official that MS Office
did not allow saving of documents in open document format. While it was
possible to open all MS Office files using, the vice versa
cannot be done. “I asked her why ELCOT should buy such an inferior product
when is available free of cost for Windows as well as Linux.

She said Microsoft are working on open XML format,” he added. Mr Umashankar
said he had written to state finance secretary enumerating the “huge
financial and working advantages” of shifting to Open Source Environment in
all government departments. “I have been receiving great support from all
the senior IAS officers here, from the chief secretary downwards. It is
very encouraging.

ELCOT is not the loser when Microsoft did not accept our price of Rs.500;
on the other hand, Microsoft loses out due to our big volumes involved,” he
said. “There is a gross misconception among the governments and officials
that if they migrate to Open Source platform, Microsoft would get angry and
the entire software industry could come to a grinding halt. This is totally
misplaced fear,” Mr Umashankar said.

“Within the next five years, it is going to be the IT services which would
dominate the revenue share of the IT companies, because more and more
users, governments and the corporate sector have started migrating to OS
software, thus removing the scope for more revenues from products. It is
time that the users understood this scenario and start saving their
precious revenues,” Mr Umashankar said.
Talking of the changes happening in this direction, he said he had ordered
43 rack servers for ELCOT to host various government applications. “All the
applications are to run under OS software. I would have paid Rs.20 lakh per
server if I had adopted proprietary software but now I have saved over Rs.8
crore from this one transaction.

We intend to procure 1000 servers in the next two years. Imagine the amount
of savings we are getting out of this,” the ELCOT chief said. “In my view,
a state government of TN magnitude would be able to save Rs 200-500 crores
every year, when the National e-governance action plan gets implemented,”
he said, adding that school children too could get the benefit of “more
robust, secure and economical Open Source software for their work,” he
added. “Today, there is more demand for OSS trained engineers. I require at
least 500 trainers to train 30,000 state officials across Tamil Nadu in the
next six months.

Source: DECCAN CHRONICLE : 01-01-2007

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IT TRENDS- The Indian Summer of Linux

Posted by egovernance on October 26, 2006

IT TRENDS — The Indian Summer of Linux


The Indian Summer of Linux
Hindu, India – 7 hours ago
Mishra writes in the September 30 issue of CTO Forum that 18 of 28 Indian states have embraced Linux in some form or are running pilot egovernance schemes.  

The lack of a compelling desktop client version may stall the progress of Linux




THE LEADER: Dataquest’s annual survey of the Indian Industry suggested that Red Hat was the giant of the Linux space.

MOBILE PHONE in hand and Blackberry peeping out of a pocket, a penguin in a lounge suit is seen taking a call: “Hey, Yahoo, Disney’s on the other line. Call you back.” Below the illustration, the blurb on the cover of Information Week magazine reads: `Open-source software, led by Linux, is barrelling into big business….’

That was a year ago when major corporates from, Yahoo and Walt Disney to ABN Amro Bank and Continental Airlines, were in the news for having ditched their legacy computer systems and hitched their corporate wagons to the rising star of Open Source operating systems.

With the largest technology service and software companies — IBM, Oracle, SAP — now offering two parallel streams of application platform: proprietary and open, corporations around the world now have a real choice.

Fast growing markets

Stick with what has worked well for them in the past, or make a change to a newer, more `open’ environment, which seems to offer significant cost saving without sacrificing anything significant by way of security, speed or reliability.

In recent weeks attention has focused on rapidly growing markets in the developing world where the relative absence of legacy computing systems, makes the choice more interesting. India is on the radar of dozens of software service providers, waiting and watching, which way large spenders will jump. And the media has caught on to the excitement:

`Linux spreads its wings in India’ reported Business Week earlier this month, with Nandini Lakshman reporting that eight state governments here have put their treasury operations on Linux systems, while Maharashtra is fuelling its revamped health care system on Open Source systems.

Pankaj Mishra writes in the September 30 issue of CTO Forum that 18 of 28 Indian states have embraced Linux in some form or are running pilot e-governance schemes.

The `Open Source Symposium’ and Red Hat Developer Day on successive days in Bangalore last week, provided another opportunity to assess to what extent the Penguin’s Progress across India is the unstoppable march many watchers seem to suggest.

Dataquest‘s annual survey of the Indian Industry (July 15, 2006) suggested that the Linux market in India is around Rs 144 crore and that Red Hat was the giant of the Linux space garnering 95 per cent of the (distribution) pie while others included SuSe ( Novell), Debain and Knoppix.

What is often forgotten is the fact that the Linux flavour or distribution is merely the tail that wags the dog… in this case a large dog worth Rs 128 of the Rs 144 crore and accounting for support, training, services and consulting.

System integrators like Wipro, TCS, CMC, HCL and PCS have all discovered good business opportunities in building a layer of application on top of a distribution like Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Implicit message

Indeed, Iain Gray, Red Hat’s Senior Director for Global Support Services told development engineers at the Bangalore meet: “Altogether too much time is being spent on the infrastructure or the `middle’ layer, when it should be spent on the application layer, which drives profit instead of eating into them.”

The message was implicit: Let Linux fuel your infrastructure, while you drive the lucrative applications riding on top of this stable system.”

Neat. But when states like Kerala talk of migrating their entire school systems to Open Source — it is time to examine whether idealism (and ideology) is not perhaps clouding the logic of cool common sense.

The reason is simple: Open Source operating systems for the server-end of the enterprise — whether it is Red Hat or Suse or even the ubiquitous Java which Sun Microsystems is committed to make completely open-source by 2007 — are well evolved, with proven stability and security features.

Open Source at the client end — particularly on the consumer desktop — is at best, a `work in progress.’

Distribution leaders are the first to admit that their desktop Linux offerings are nowhere near as robust and user-friendly as the industry leader, Microsoft’s Windows.

PC and TV

Maybe that is why nearly 97 per cent of Indian desktops still run a version of Windows. The new version, Vista, that is expected in early 2007, will feature even closer integration between PC and TV; will call for even more seamless mating with a host of digital devices.

The right device drivers for every thing on this ever-growing list (and backward compatibility with last century’s dot matrix printers) … that is the true Achilles’ heel of desktop Linux.

“We are not yet there,” Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik told me three years ago when he visited India, “I don’t want to announce a desktop Linux unless our guys have got the user experience right.” They’re still not quite there, Red Hat’s India President and Managing Director Nandu Pradhan told me … but they are getting very close.

And more interestingly, he added, a lot of the work to create a user friendly, dummy-proof desktop Linux, not just in English but in Indian languages, is being done by the company’s Indian engineers in Bangalore.

When Kerala launched its path breaking Akshaya programme of e-literacy, it created Malayalam language tools tailored to run on Windows XP. When Open Source advocates and lay fans asked why the training was restricted to the Microsoft platform, the state’s Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (CDIT) was quick to replicate the same learning packages for a Linux PC.

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LINUX NEWS:: News from Sep 22, 2006

Posted by egovernance on September 24, 2006

Linux Spreads its Wings in India, Sep 22 2006

EducationWith 4,000 students and just 21 computers, the Cotton Hill Girls High School in the south Indian city of Trivandrum wouldn’t appear to be at the vanguard of anything related to information technology. Yet the 71-year-old school is abandoning Microsoft (MSFT) Windows software in favor of its free, open-source rival, Linux.

- Stallman: OSDL patent project ‘worse than nothing’, Sep 22 2006

LegalAn effort by the Open Source Development Labs to help developers defend themselves against software patents has come under fire from Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman, who believes that the plan could backfire.

- Google eyeing up Sun OpenSolaris, Sep 22 2006

GoogleGoogle is reportedly experimenting with the open source version of Sun’s Solaris operating system as a possible long-term prelude to replacing its massive global network of Linux servers.

- Munich Begins to Switch Windows Out for Linux, Sep 22 2006

GovernmentMunich has begun its migration to Linux on the desktop, a year later than planned and nearly three years since the city announced its move to open source software.

- Teeny Linux PCs proliferate, Sep 22 2006

EmbeddedA small company has begun building its line of tiny, gumstick-sized single-board computers (SBCs) into miniscule packaged PCs that displace around 68 cc of volume and come with Linux pre-installed. Suggested apps for the teeny “Netstix” Linux PCs include webservers, printer servers, IP-telephony servers, security appliances.

- Novell’s NASDAQ headaches, Sep 22 2006
NovellWhen it rains, it pours. Novell Inc. announced on September 20 that it had received a staff determination notice from the NASDAQ Stock Market stating that the Linux common stock is in danger of being delisted from the market.

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Linux Spreads its Wings in India / Windows is still No. 1, but open-source software is moving into schools and government offices

Posted by egovernance on September 23, 2006

Linux Spreads its Wings in India

Windows is still No. 1, but open-source software is moving into schools and government offices globalbiz/ content/sep2006/ gb20060921_ 463452.htm? chan=top+ news_top+ news+index_ businessweek+ exclusives

With 4,000 students and just 21 computers, the Cotton Hill Girls High School in the south Indian city of Trivandrum wouldn’t appear to be at the vanguard of anything related to information technology. Yet the 71-year-old school is abandoning Microsoft (MSFT) Windows software in favor of its free, open-source rival, Linux. So when students — typically eight to a machine, seated at two benches — turn on their PCs they see Linux desktop software that helps them navigate their way to all manner of math, graphics, and writing programs. “We’re using something called Linux,” says 12-year-old Arya VM as she plays with Tux Paint, a Linux drawing and painting application. And Windows? “Never heard of it,” she says.

The school is one of 2,600 in the state of Kerala making the shift. That means each of the state’s 1.5 million high school students will grow accustomed to working not in the Windows environment familiar to computer users worldwide, but in Linux. And over the next two years, computer science based on Linux software will be made mandatory in all of the state’s high schools. “As a government that keeps the interest of society over corporations, we are committed to the use and development of free software,” says V.S. Achutanandan, Kerala’s sarong-clad chief minister.India is shaping up to be a key battleground in the global assault of Linux. The country’s long history of snarling at corporate interests, its widespread poverty, and its nascent PC culture make it fertile territory for the communitarian ethic of the upstart computer operating system. Two years ago, New Delhi said the best way to improve computer literacy in India was to adopt open source software in schools. Although Kerala is the first to introduce such a program statewide, 18 of India’s 28 states either are using Linux or have pilot projects for its use in various government departments and schools. The education ministries in most states, and in Delhi the federal ministries of defense, transport, communication, and health, are all using the software on server computers. And eight state governments have put their treasury operations on Linux, while the western state of Maharashtra is using it to revamp health-care systems. India “is one of the key countries I have been focused on,” says Scott Handy, IBM’s (IBM) global Linux boss. “India has been a star.”

That’s not to say Linux will be knocking Windows off the desktop anytime soon. So far, most of its progress has been in server software, programs that government agencies and businesses use for their Web sites, payroll, and other key tasks. In June, Microsoft Corp. had 68% of the server market, vs. Linux’ 21%, compared with 70% for Microsoft and 11% for Linux two years ago. The desktop is a different story: Just 3% of India’s PCs use Linux. Still, that’s about triple the level in the U.S. “We expect India to be the first country to use Linux extensively over a large user base across many sectors by the end of the decade,” says Deepak Phatak, an open-source evangelist from Bombay’s famed Indian Institute of Technology. Two years ago, he took a yearlong sabbatical to travel across the subcontinent and make a push for Linux.

Unlike proprietary software from companies such as Microsoft, Linux is based on an open-source model. That means its code is available to developers worldwide, who can tweak it to make it better or adapt it to their own needs. Since the software itself is often given away for free, revenue numbers for Linux don’t add up to much. Researcher IDC (IDC) estimates that the Indian Linux market will grow by 21% annually, to $19.9 million in 2010, mostly for services provided by companies such as Red Hat (RHAT), IBM, and locals like Wipro (WIT) and Tata Consultancy Services. That’s a modest amount compared with Microsoft’s Indian sales of nearly $200 million last year. But Microsoft’s lost opportunity is still substantial, since it sells Windows at $50 or more per copy to makers of PCs and servers, and then it typically sells other programs that run on top of it. And if students in the emerging tech powerhouse never get any experience with Windows, the damage a decade from now could be far greater.

The shift in government has spurred more businesses to use Linux, too. One convert is state-owned Life Insurance Corp. of India, which in 2005 switched its servers to Linux. With the $2 million in savings from using the free software, LIC is adding more computers. Today it has 70,000 PCs, all running Linux, and by next year it expects to have more than 100,000. Others are taking a more measured approach. Eighteen months ago, when Bombay-based Unit Trust of India wanted to set up a call center, the bank settled on Linux for its servers even as it continues to use Windows on its PCs. “The openness of the system appealed to us,” says UTI President V.K. Ramani. Now, he says, the bank is putting its credit-card system on Linux as well.

Microsoft is fighting back. The company has been working on India-specific products at its development center in the southern city of Hyderabad. One of them is Windows XP Starter Edition, a scaled-down version that can only open three programs at once and doesn’t support advanced networking. But it sells for just over $20, or less than half the price of the original. And unlike the full Windows it comes in 10 Indian languages rather than just English and Hindi. While “it’s too early to say” whether Linux has hurt sales, “we are concerned” about its rise, says Radhesh Balakrishnan, Microsoft’s director of platform strategy for India, who moved from the U.S. in July. “We need to demonstrate superior value to our customers,” he says.

SERVICE TROUBLE. Linux, meanwhile, is having some growing pains. One issue that has slowed its spread is counterfeiting. Since software is widely pirated in India, many users pay nothing for the Windows operating system and other Microsoft applications that they use. Also, since Linux is distributed free, it’s not always obvious whom to call for service. Companies such as Red Hat and IBM support the software — for a fee — but they’re having trouble finding Linux-trained engineers in India.

Those issues have led some companies to abandon Linux. For instance, North Delhi Power Ltd. started using Linux both in its servers and on the desktop in 2002. But the Linux e-mail program it was using, Sendmail, never quite worked right. The company soon switched to Windows and Microsoft’s Exchange e-mail server, and it has no plans to go back. “There were immense maintenance, service, and upgrade issues,” says Akhil Pandey, NDP’s principal executive officer. The good news for Linux? As all those girls from Cotton Hill — and millions of other students — grow up using the software, those issues may no longer loom so large.


By Nandini Lakshman, with Steve Hamm in New York and Jay Greene in Seattle

All comments:
Linux Spreads its Wings in India

Return to Story

Nickname: snoyberg

Review: Too bad they used Sendmail. Qmail is much more stable and infinitely easier to set up. Oh well, I guess there was no one there to help them realize that!

Date reviewed: Sep 22, 2006 9:35 PM

Nickname: Andry Libre

Review: I think that they only want to change because of the license price. Imagine the price of the license with 21 computers. In my point of view, India is known to be a sort of “avant-garde” country in computer science. It’s then logical that they use the Linux operating system.

Date reviewed: Sep 22, 2006 6:03 PM

Nickname: jay

Review: Windows is free in India due to rampant piracy, so I wonder why someone would move to Linux whose only advantage is that it’s free. Even in countries like the US where Windows is super expensive, people would rather pay for the benefits of Windows than deal with the complicated Linux. Wait, isn’t Linux being forced on these poor people by the idiotic government which is just playing politics? One they’ll scare people off computers, on the other hand Linux skills won’t be worth anything when they go looking for jobs. Get real India!

Date reviewed: Sep 22, 2006 5:44 PM

Nickname: moses

Review: Interesting article. If student Arya VM hasn’t heard of Windows, then isn’t it worrisome for Microsoft? India is supposed to have the largest youth population in the world below 20. If Microsoft doesn’t do something fast, it could end up alienating an entire generation of users, reflecting on their topline in the future.

Date reviewed: Sep 22, 2006 5:42 PM

Nickname: zerobeat

Review: There are good GNU/Linux engineers who have completed BSC courses but not BTech/BE in computer science/engineering. The IBMs and HPs are only wanting engineering guys. The guys who have certifications and no experience are no good, they fail miserably in real-life skills. Please ask these companies to instruct their HR staffs to recruit guys with aptitude and experience, instead of going by fancy certifications or MBAs.

Date reviewed: Sep 22, 2006 2:26 PM

Nickname: Ashish

Review: I run my own technology consulting firm based in Dubai and this is an issue I have come across very often. The problem that business owners have is that they (especially small businesses) do not have the money to buy a new PC every four years (typical Microsoft cycle). So how do you solve the problem or do you continue to use old, outdated PCs that are riddled with flaws? By working with small businesses I can use Linux along with Open Office on the same hardware that would have been obsolete to run advanced (next generation) software from Microsoft. The problem boils down to the fact that Microsoft integrates all its programs very tightly together, unlike Linux where everything is nice and clean and so beautifully differentiated.

Date reviewed: Sep 22, 2006 12:43 PM

Nickname: muxie

Review: I am pleased to note that Linux has finally taken center stage. I am a health care practitioner from Uganda, East Africa who is very interested in computer science and definitely prefers Linux to Windows. Way to go!

Date reviewed: Sep 22, 2006 11:40 AM

Nickname: Indian Guy

Review: I am a Linux developer, a Linux fan, and Fedora 4 is my main desktop. I take pride in the growth of Linux. However, I have to say that switching entirely to Linux is a bad move that could hinder the prospects of new graduates. In the real world the percentage of Linux desktop users is less than 5% globally and the amount of people actually fiddling with Linux servers should be even less. The above move makes the students unaware of the desktop used by more than 95% of the IT literate world. I think the curriculum should include lectures on both OSes. I, too, want to see Linux grow but I disagree with its growth at the expense of someone’s future.

Date reviewed: Sep 22, 2006 1:37 AM

Nickname: bharathi

Review: Way to go! Kudos to the communist government in Kerala.

Date reviewed: Sep 21, 2006 7:19 PM

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Linux v. Microsoft: Third World Showdown

Posted by egovernance on September 15, 2006

Linux v. Microsoft: Third World Showdown

On Monday, CNET had an interesting profile of South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth who, not satisfied with being the world’s second space tourist and the first African in orbit, has created Ubuntu, the most user-friendly version of Linux yet available for desktop and laptop computers. Shuttleworth is using Ubuntu to take on Microsoft globally, but especially in places where low incomes make paying Microsoft’s licensing fees impractical.


Linux v. Microsoft: Third World Showdown

Wednesday September 13, 5:00 am ET

David Wolf submits: On Monday, CNET had an interesting profile of South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth who, not satisfied with being the world’s second space tourist and the first African in orbit, has created Ubuntu, the most user-friendly version of Linux yet available for desktop and laptop computers. Shuttleworth is using Ubuntu to take on Microsoft globally, but especially in places where low incomes make paying Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFTNews) licensing fees impractical.


The horse is too small, the jockey too big, the trainer too old, and I’m too dumb to know the difference.”
— Charles Howard, Seabiscuit

First, Crow is On the Menu Tonight
Those of you who have followed Silicon Hutong for a while will know that I have long been a Linux-skeptic, believing firmly that despite its obvious advantages on servers, Linux would never be in a position to displace Windows on the desktop.

Well, I was wrong.

Shuttleworth and his team at Ubuntu have done something amazing – they’ve created a truly usable desktop operating system that rivals WindowsXP in ease of use and features, accomplishing finally what many of us so long felt impossible – they’ve mirrored the simple elegance of the underlying system with an interface and applications that make it a delight to use.

Personally, if I were setting up a company, a school, or a non-profit organization tomorrow I would use it on nearly every desktop and laptop. In fact, I’m running it on my MacBookPro alongside Mac OS X. It’s that good. (I’m not ready to replace OS X yet – I rely far too much on software like NoteBook, DayLite, CopyWrite, Visual Thesaurus , the iApps and a host of others to change. But I’m having fun tinkering, and if I had to give up the Mac for any reason, I’d feel a lot better about it now than I did before.)

Shuttleworth v. Microsoft
So, in the brewing battle of Windows vs. Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth’s stated belief that “software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local languages and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit.”

If you think that’s all standard Linux/Open Source talk, you’re right. The difference is that instead of trying to convert school systems, governments, and enterprises in the developed world, Ubuntu is attacking Windows in it’s soft underbelly – Africa, Asia, Latin America, and those places around the world where the money for a software license is more urgently needed to feed a kid a hot breakfast every day for six months.

Shuttleworth talks a good game, and I for one wish him well. But the thought that Microsoft will sit idly by and allow something as trivial as a free operating system get in the way of world domination is probably wishful thinking.

Linux generally and Ubuntu specifically may well be sidelined by Microsoft’s newfound largesse in many parts of the world. Suddenly, those license fees get real flexible when governments, school districts, and non-profits start to vocally consider open source. Threaten to go Linux, and watch the folks from Redmond get really, really nice.

Microsoft is now pledging money for IT centers, donating licenses for schools, and providing NGOs with whatever they need. Because this is war, after all, and in Microsoft offices around the world – and here in China- Linux is the enemy.

Can Windows Become Obsolete?
In some sense, all of this is good. After all, if there is a definition of “justice,” it is seeing Microsoft break down and give away that for which they have charged so dearly, manhandled in much the same way their competitors and others have alleged they were treated by Microsoft. And if it means that there are schools, foundations, and government offices with computers that would never have had them otherwise, so much the better.

If, in the end, Linux finds its way onto the same plane occupied by the Ghosts of Operating Systems Past, if nothing else we can say it put pressure on Microsoft to moderate, for a while, its highhanded ways, and to cough up billions of dollars in software and cash ($250 million in China alone) to help make owning and using computers a little less costly for a lot of people.

But I wonder how long Microsoft can stick with this strategy. Call it what you will, Microsoft is fighting a war of attrition against Linux, throwing money around the battlefield every time Linux appears to be making a significant inroad someplace. Up to this point, the battles have been few enough and small enough that the costs have not been significant.

At some stage, this is likely to start getting very, very expensive, and Microsoft’s costs are too high to sustain a wide effort for long, and that stage will come when several things happen at once: perhaps when Microsoft gets a bit too aggressive with its “software asset management” program, where companies and institutions are “persuaded” to allow Microsoft auditors into their IT systems to figure out how much more cash Microsoft can get out of them.

Perhaps when computer manufacturers are tired of the hassles involved in pre-loading Windows on their products.

Or, perhaps, when one of the distributions of Linux – possibly Ubuntu, possibly another – catches and surpasses Windows in usability to such an extent that for a broad base of the computing population Windows is just so old, clunky, and so uncool , that it gets set aside and forgotten. In the wake of the delays and feature-shrinkage surrounding Windows Vista, is that so inconceivable?

I think that’s what Shuttleworth is working toward. And that’s when the world will have the “free choice” Steve Ballmer likes to talk about.

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India State to Dump Windows for Linux

Posted by egovernance on September 3, 2006

India State to Dump Windows for Linux,4670,IndiaWindowsvsLinux,00.html
India State to Dump Windows for Linux
Thursday, August 31, 2006

COCHIN, India — A southern Indian state plans to switch all school
computers from Microsoft Windows to the free Linux operating system,
an official said Thursday.

The changeover on computers used in some 12,500 high schools in the
state of Kerala is set for Friday, and teachers are being trained on
the new software, said the state's education minister, M.A. Baby.

The state is ruled by communist politicians and its top elected
official, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, has long been a supporter
of free software, railing against the dominance of Microsoft's Windows
when he was a state legislator.

However, Baby insisted that the state government has no grudge against
Microsoft specifically.

But Achuthanandan was keen to develop the state as a"free and open
software systems destination,"Baby told The Associated Press.

"It is our stated policy that only free software should be used for IT
education in Kerala's schools. The government is introducing Linux
based software as tools to teach various subjects,"Baby told the
Associated Press on Thursday.

The decision to switch to Linux came after free software guru Richard
Stallman, founder of the open-source GNU software project, visited
Kerala two weeks ago, and persuaded officials to discard proprietary
software, such as Microsoft, at state-run schools, Baby said.

Despite the denials that Microsoft was the target, opposition leader
M.A. Shahnawaz, of the Congress party, said he believed the decision
was based on the communists'opposition to the software giant's

He cited the communists'opposition to a Microsoft-supported computer
training program that the Congress party enacted in 2002 when it ruled
the state.

"I think schools should be given the option to choose whether teachers
are to be trained in Linux systems or Microsoft,"Shahnawaz said.

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Why is Linux Successful?

Posted by egovernance on August 20, 2006

Why is Linux Successful?

August 17, 2006
By Sean Michael Kerner

SAN FRANCISCO — The success of Linux over the past 15 years boils down to a few key factors, according to a panel of Linux luminaries.

Larry Augustin, chairman of VA Software, Eric Raymond, founder of the Open Source Institute, Jon maddog Hall of Linux International, Chris DiBona of Google, and Dirk Hohndel of Intel regaled the capacity crowd with tales of their first experiences with Linux and Linus.

They also made some strong statements as to why Linux has succeeded where BSD failed, as well as noted the conditions required for Linux to succeed in the years to come.

Dirk Hohndel noted that timing was key and that Linux started off as a purely European phenomenon.

For Hohndel three key factors that fostered the rise of Linux: 386 chips, which provided enough power; rise of the Internet, which permitted the collaboration necessary to build Linux; and the GNU toolchain, without which none of Linux would have happened.

Hohndel also noted that Linus Torvalds is also obviously of critical importance.

“Linus is able to take people who vehemently disagree on architecture and get them to agree,” Hohndel said.

It is that ability to agree that made Linux different from the BSD community.

Larry Augustin noted that in the early days, BSD was clearly more functional than Linux, but by many measures has not exceeded it.

Eric Raymond said the cause for BSD’s failure could be summed up in one word: “overcontrol.”

Hohndel responded by throwing out one word of his own: “fragmentation.”

“Overcontrol leads to fragmentation,” Raymond retorted. “Linux’s strength is that it is more loosely coupled.”

Maddog Hall said he thinks the success of Linux had a lot to do with the marketing of Linus Torvalds

“Here’s this nice young man wearing sandals and with a funny accent, as opposed to other people that weren’t quite as nice.”

Over the last 15 years there have been a number of “tipping points” for Linux.

Hohndel recounted that one such tipping point occurred in July 1998 when Oracle said it was going to port to Linux.

“It was on the day of the naming of Linus’ daughter, our god-child,” Hohndel said looking at Maddog.

Hohndel also cited the IPO of Red Hat (Quote, Chart) as a critical tipping point.

The fact that a company could credibly tell people they could make money from Linux was a big deal.

Raymond noted that a big turning point for him was the open sourcing of Mozilla by AOL, an event that ultimately led to the creation of the open source label and the OSI, which he founded.

DiBona cited the availability of decent installers for Linux, as well as the rise of the Internet as tipping points.

He also noted the deficiencies of other competitive platforms to Linux.

“If Mac and Windows didn’t suck, people would’ve used them,” DiBona said.

The panel also tackled the issue of where Linux will be in the next five years and what needs to be done to get there.

Hohndel predicted that the embedded market will be 80 percent Linux in the next five years.

For the desktop, market share in mature markets will be single digits in five years; in emerging markets it will be in the 15 percent to 20 percent range.

“Adoption of the Linux desktop is more likely in emerging markets where there is no legacy,” Hohndel said.

Raymond got riled up as he proclaimed what he thought was necessary to be done for desktop Linux to be successful.

“We need to do whatever compromise is necessary to get full multimedia capability on Linux so non-technical users don’t dismiss us out of hand,” Raymond shouted.

A somewhat more relaxed DiBona advised the audience to tell people to use Mozilla Firefox on their desktops.

“Develop for the Web,” DiBona said. “People can switch to Web applications from their desktop more easily.”

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