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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Colonial cousins... of the Luso sort

The Portuguese were the first European power to set up base in Asia, and by the 20th century, had just a few pockets of influence left. Goa, where this writer lives and works, was once the headquarters of the strategically-situated but small string of colonies.
So how's FLOSS doing in some of the remnants of this Empire?
If you're Portuguese-speaking, then consider helping with some initiatives in these areas.
Rui Alves from Macau, the former Portuguese colony now again part of mainland China, recently narrated what's happening there on the FLOSS front. MacauLinux like some other smaller volunteer-driven LUGs, lost its website and domain name -- macaulinux.org
Says Alves: "Coordinating efforts is quite hard in such a microscopic place as Macau. Some of my colleagues are working on restoring the site (and related activities), but honestly it has been a while without any news from them. I hope we won't let macaulinux die."
In the meantime, Alves hopes his site could be a temporary stop-gap location at which to announce any developments.
Incidentally, Linux Counter's page for Macau is here. Fourteen Linux users counted. There are some four to five personal site links here too, with some FLOSS-interest embedded in some of them.
From Timor Leste (or East Timor, as more of us would know this young nation) Elizabeth, is doing an intern-ship at the Open Forum of Cambodia, with the KhmerOS (Khmer Open Source) network. The latter is itself localising software to the Khmer-Cambodian language.
Elizabeth is "learning from them while also preparing a localisation document for Tetum". That, one could be excused for not knowing, is one of the national languages in East Timor.
Tetum uses the Latin script with some accents, since many words have been imported from the Portuguese. Says Elizabeth : "As far as I know, there's no centre for promoting FLOSS yet in East Timor. Some people have started using Open Source products.
By the way, Linux Counter shows the number of FLOSS users there as zero!

Road to Damascus

FOSS2005.org is an announcement of a Free and Open Source Software to be held in Damascus from March 2-4, 2005. Speakers will include Richard 'RMS" Stallman, and participants from Europe and the UNCTAD too.
Organisers also announced that they've completed the translation of the LPI LinuxIT course into Arabic, and the GNU FDL has been translated as well.
This event has the patronage of the Minister of ICT Dr. Mohammad Bashir Al Munajjed, and the involvement of the Network of Syrian Scientists, Technologists and Innovators Abroad (NOSSTIA) in addition to the Syrian GNU/Linux Users Group.
Early announcements listed among the participants Linux Professional Institute Canada vice president Glenn McNight, UNCTAD Switzerland economic affairs officer Dimo Calovski, Bridges.org program manager Philipp Schmidt of South Africa, FSF Europe vice president Jonas Oberg, Saudi Computer Society president Dr. Khaled Al Ghoniem, Saudi Linux president Dr. AbdulRahman AlJadahi, and Freesoft (Jordan) project manager Isam Bayazidi.

Sufyan's update from Pakistan

From Pakistan come the plans for promoting FLOSS in that part of South Asia. Under their Open Source Resource Centre, the team there plans to start migrating government departments to FLOSS.

Said Sufyan, discussing this issue online: "We have kicked off with one. Following is the action plan. Phase I -- Linux and other OSS for users who don't think their work may get disturb by switching to Linux. Two, Open Source Software on Windows for those who are using any software whose exact replacement is not available with open source (though there is hardly any, but there are people who can't absorb this change at once)."

In Phase II, Pakistan is looking at financing FLOSS replacements for proprietary software, and "migrating all left-overs".

Says Sufyan: "This plan is for client side only. 90% of the server side of the first organization is already on open source (Apache, Squid, sendmail, Samba). Those who are using windows and dont want to shift to Linux at once are provided with Firefox, Openoffice, AMSN and Thunderbird (with the scheduler). We want them to get used to these OSS tools before their systems are migrated. There is a good response. People are inspired by tab based browsing of Mozilla, font control and in-built pdf writer of OpenOffice.