About Free/Libre and Open Source Software...

Friday, March 03, 2006

RSS feeds from India

What are techies and geeks in India saying about Free/Libre and Open Source Software? Take a look at... http://feeds.goa-india.org/

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Simputer, why not free hardware too?

This note to the GNU/Linux-driven Simputer mailing list comes from Bazil and from Victor Rocha who makes a series of key points.

He says that currently it is not possible to download hardware specs from the Simputer site. The ".tar.gz" file is not available, he notes.

Says Victor Rocha:
"I guess a wider spread of the specs, in a true "open-source" spirit, would encourage design-houses and contract-manufacturers around the world to join the Simputer effort, to some day achieve the intended 'critical mass'.

I am particularly interested in studying the simputer as a basis for low-cost industrial PLCs, for use in developing countries like Brazil, where the cost of industrial automation is still prohibitive for small

Chris Glur earlier wrote reminded all about the issue of licences and the 'open hardware Simputer'. Glur said he had confirmed by newsgroups traffic [arm & embedded etc],
that there are an increasing number of people who would like to do some arm hardware hacking/experimentation.

Said Glur: "Apparently there are several boards available for this, but many would prefer to pay more and start from a running system. Like in the old-days when you wanted to develop/investigate some new pc-based hardware
device, you would do so on your standard pc. With all the advantages of the running/proven system available for conventient I/O."

"So also a version of the simputer: open box, with convenient external PSU connector[s] and 'extendable facilities' would be of great value to many and involve negligible additional development cost to the Simputer marketers," the earlier poster wrote.

Or do the existing I/O connectors suffice? Apparently not, if the developer wanted to eventually develop his own arm-based product, he wouldn't be comfortable with a 'black-box' simputer, because the conceptual distance to his intended product would be too great.

For example, my prefered OS/lang is ETH-S3/Oberon and there's apparently an arm port, which I'd like to investigate. The handheld Sharp Zaurus started collecting a number of open-software contributions [these things take a few years to evolve] but now it's out of production. I still maintain that Simputer's failure to reach critical mass is caused by the Indian society/tradition failure to understand the dynamics of free/open contributor=based software or applications.

The Korea Times : Korea Plans to Build Linux City, University

The Korea Times : Korea Plans to Build Linux City, University is a report which says:
The Korean government plans to select a city and a university late next month where open-source software like Linux will become the mainstream operating programs. The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) Wednesday revealed the scheme of building up the city and university, which will operate as test beds for the open-source programs.

Some more figures:
In fact, Korea is not a world leader in adopting Linux and other open-source programs. Currently, less than 1 percent of desktop PCs are based on Linux in Korea, much lower than the global median 3 percent. For servers, Linux accounts for about a fifth of the market here. The Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency wants to increase the rate to 5 percent for desktop PCs and 40 percent for servers by 2010.

And, this is inteesting:
``In order to become a genuine software powerhouse, Korea has no choice but to secure source technologies. We cannot achieve the goal under the command of dominant closed-source programs,’’ said Ko Hyun-jin, president at the state-backed agency. To do so, the government will stage a campaign to use Linux. Korea Post, the nation’s postal service provider, last year embarked on a four-year program to install a Linux-based operating system on 4,748 PCs in its 2,800 branches. The Ministry of Planning and Budget plans to launch 37 state informatization projects with Linux this year, which would cost approximately 80 billion won. A new online information system for schools, dubbed the National Education Information System (NEIS), also fixed Linux-empowered platform on its 2,331 servers.

TECTONIC: Free software developers do it to learn new skills

TECTONIC: Free software developers do it to learn new skills might seem off-topic for a blog on FLOSS and Asia. It comes from Africa. But the researcher, Rishab Aiyer-Ghosh, is of Indian origins, and has been doing some interesting work.

A quote from my e-friend and editor Alastair Otter, which explains things in context:
"Ghosh, FLOSS programme leader at the Maastricht Economic Research Institute Innovation and Technology, said that in a recent survey of 3000 free software developers it was found that 80% of them said they participated in FOSS projects because they wanted to learn and develop new skills. 70% of them cited wanting to share knowledge and information as a reason to participate in developing free software."

FLOSS breaks many walls.. but not gender ones?

Mute magazine - Culture and politics after the net contains an interesting essay on gender and FLOSS, written by a lady from Taiwan.

FLOSS, or Free/Libre and Open Source Software, has
dramatically changed the way software is produced,
distributed, supported and used. It has a visible impact on
enabling a richer social inclusion.

But how has it allowed the gender problem existing in the software industry to be replicated in the world of FLOSS?

Amsterdam-based Taiwanese researcher Yuwei Lin lists seven reasons why women stay off FOSS -- including its strong long-hour coding culture, a lack of mentors and role-models, discriminatory language (including in documentation), a gendered text-based environment, a lack of women-centered views in FOSS-development, a male-dominated competitive worldview, and the lack of sympathy from woman peers.

Very interesting... and convincing too.

planet.foss.in : where the geeks hang out

Planet.foss.in is a place where you can find a lot of blogs by Indian (and some not-so-Indian) techies brought together on one platform. Interesting to see what they're talking about.

Vikranth Aivalli is talking about the merits of the Wind(bl)ows Starter edition, priced Rs 399 per *month*. And Vikranth isn't impressed. Gopal V has a review of his first year at Yahoo! Says he: "I've truly enjoyed working on it - it's been a fun experience to just jump in and fixing it up for php5."

It usually takes time to understand what this young man called Philip Tellis is talking about. Our Gujarati friend Kartik Mistry has recently got married, and a blog on his post takes us to the GujaratLexicon.com. But that's only the start...

A great way of networking people by bringing their blogs all on one page. I recall Malaysian friends saying a similar strategy had actually kickstarted Malaysia's FLOSS movement, after a lull.

.:ext3mist:. » BangPypers Meet : Minutes

This is a brief but useful blog entry about a recent Bangpipers meet in Bangalore. The group promotes programming in Python.