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Comment: Open source in South Africa (Score 3, Interesting) 357 357

by debio (#10622885) Attached to: Ask Ubuntu Founder (And Astronaut) Mark Shuttleworth

I'm a South African ex-pat currently living/working in the US. Still, South Africa is never all that far from my mind (particularly as a northern hemisphere winter rolls in), and I try and keep an eye on developments back home as much as possible. Certainly, your impressive achievements inspire me with no small amount of pride. Very well done, oke!

I know that many slashdotters might be inclined to ask you about Africa, and its myriad problems, as a whole. Perhaps this is somewhat unfair... Although there is an indefinable common African spirit that infuses the whole continent, a more diverse region politically, economically, and technlogically one would be hard pressed to find. South Africa has a GDP of US$456b which is more than 10 times that of the sum of its four neighbouring states, and is comparable to that of the Netherlands at US$461b. Talking about Africa's problems *as a whole* is like asking an American to talk about the problems of North and South America taken *as a whole*.

Still, South Africa is very much a part of Africa, and presents I believe, a glimpse of what the continent can achieve.

So, my question: what is open source adoption like, *really*, in South Africa? I remember during my most recent visit back home, walking into "Incredible Connection" (the South African version of say "Frys Electronics" or "Microcenter" here in the US), seeing row upon row upon row of Microsoft software. When I asked one of the sales people about RedHat Linux, he was totally confused. "I'm not sure about that. Isn't that like an Internet browser for Windows?" was his response. I did manage to find a bundled RedHat hidden away at the bottom shelf at the back of one of the aisles. It was also a major release behind the at-the-time freely available download.

With an attitude like that in one of *South Africa's* leading computer retail stores, what hope OSS for the rest of continent?

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