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GNU is Not Unix

Indian Government Goes For Free Software 319

Geekonomical writes "Economic Times has an article that says Indian Government's Department of IT is going to encourage Linux and OSS on all fronts including college education! The article has more details (eventhough it has a misleading title!) The reasoning being more of plain economics than security or other reasons."
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Indian Government Goes For Free Software

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  • so... (Score:2, Funny)

    by AvitarX ( 172628 )
    Is this where I post a, government should not lean to free software, it hurts the community's reputation troll?
    • A *government* wants to help itself to the fruits of the people's labor without compensating them? Wow, say it isn't so!

  • The popularity of these "special offers" must be getting expensive for Microsoft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @03:27AM (#4415383)
    I suppose they won't be downloading software from Tucows or Freshmeat, ne?
  • by OmniVector ( 569062 ) <see m[ ]omepage ['y h' in gap]> on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @03:34AM (#4415398) Homepage
    Is that India has one of the highest number of programmers in the world (i'm not going to question their education in comparison to some of the programmers in the US, because i think that is irrelevant. good coders are good coders). The fact that they made this push in colleges, where people LEARN to program in the first place, might put a spin on the number of applications being released Linux. I've browsed sites like planet-source-code and rent-a-coder, and it's amazing the number of indian programmers i see on those sites.
    • by BaronVonDuvet ( 612870 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @03:52AM (#4415442)
      Originally Unix became so popular because it was provided to colleges and students.

      Programmers that had been using it at colleges were keen to use it in the workplace. I think it's likely that Linux will follow this pattern.

      The things that have kept Micro$o£t so popular are that people tend to pirate a copy and that it is installed on just about every new PC. Arguably making their software harder to copy will damage them in the long run.

      • by Ravenn ( 580407 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:31AM (#4415526) Homepage

        Arguably making their software harder to copy will damage them in the long run.

        Which is why M$ cd's are able to be copied, even when the game industry has proven that copying can be made so much harder. Sure, all games can (and will) be cracked. But it is so much easier to just copy the windoze *cough* OS *cough* because they want people to be using it. They make the money not from the average user, but from businesses, governments and universities that use hundreds or thousands at a time.

        Having Joe Average use it at home means that he is less likely to want to change the work policy. Have it installed at work, and it's too much hassle for him to change his home system.

        Fortunately, this can work both ways now.

      • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @05:33AM (#4415640) Homepage Journal
        One potential future has the rest of the world going to open source products and ditching proprietary code.
        The good news about this, one would think, is that countries are less likely to screw around with compatibility in the name of market share.
        The bad news is that the US love affair with Redmond starts to look like a highly protectionist trade policy. OOPs.
    • Indian programmers have been an excellent source for at least the last ten years. Problem is, everyone knows this, and as such they'be become a commodity...meaning they are no longer the least expensive of this type of resource. Since everyone is using them, the price is no longer rock bottom.

      Interestingly enough, the NBT in low-cost programming resource will be none other than North Korea. China and South Korea stand to take best advantage. Film at eleven...
    • good coders are good coders


      You obviously know nothing about the difference between a "coder" and a "software engineer".


      Yes I'm serious - and I'm both a Mechanical Engineer and Software Engineer. The actual time "coding" is almost the smallest part of a well designed project. You need engineers to take care of the rest that if(5!=duh) doesn't really do well.

      • i'm a cs major, and good programmers are good designers. software engineering is more of the corporate world's attempt to produce more software in less time with fewer bugs that cram more features in. it doesn't focus on the structure of alogirthms, the effiency needed to produce realtime and embeded systems like computer science might emphasise more.

        I'm not trying to troll, i'm just saying that most my CS friends are in it for the fun, the knowledge, and getting computers to crunch bits. where most my software engineering friends are microsoft praisers who think that c# is the greatest invention since the stone age since it has delegates and get/set{} operators now (to make their design better?).
        • where most my software engineering friends are microsoft praisers who think that c# is the greatest invention since the stone age

          I couldn't agree more. I'd distinguish between the "software engineers" and the "CS folks" by saying that the former are soulless code grinders who slave away and fuel the "software industry" which is not too hot in itself (as Jamie Zawinski rightly pointed out, "whole sick, navel-gazing mess we called the software industry"). The latter people on the other hand are the people that keep the earth spinning. Whether their percentage is dwindling or growing is anyone's guess.

          It's a mistake IMO to think that "standard software engineering practices" are some kind of panacea that can correct bad coders and produce good code.

      • by smithwis ( 577119 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:49AM (#4415557) Journal
        You obviously know nothing about the difference between a "coder" and a "software engineer". Yes I'm serious - and I'm both a Mechanical Engineer and Software Engineer. The actual time "coding" is almost the smallest part of a well designed project. You need engineers to take care of the rest that if(5!=duh) doesn't really do well.
        Arguably, a majority of the time is spent in debugging and support. Both of these are helped a great bit by the quality of the code in the first place.

        BTW, you come off as really condescending, you might want to work on that;-)

        Steve
        • Arguably, a majority of the time is spent in debugging and support.
          Well, on basically all the projects I've worked on, where design has come first, second and third, we've had to spend maybe 1 or 2 percent of the time on debugging, simply because we've removed 99% of the bugs before the program left the drawingboard so to speak. Yes - support and Q&A weigh in as well, but most of the support is for bugs in the software (wether they're code bugs or inconsistencies in the UI), and that's not a whole lot of support.

          If done properly, it is possible to spend 85% of the time designing the stuff, 14% on testing it, 5% on coding it and 1% on support. At least in my experience, but then again, I've never really worked on huge projects with idiots running the sub-projects and thus screwing things up.
          • Where do you work?

            I'm so fed up with the single-digit percentage of time alotted for design where I work that I seriously consider finding another job.

            Is this as common as I think, or have I had rotten luck with employers three times in a row?
            • Being engineers, they understand the need for ACCURATE and COMPLETE blueprints, before you as much as lay the first brick. Which is more or less what they told me quite early on in the process.

              I think working in a company where they are from a culture that are proponents of blueprints is a VERY BIG advantage compared to the regular IT industry.

              And yes - it is apparantly as common as you feel; at least that's the concensus from the people I graduated with - and that TRUELY sucks.

              I'm considdering starting an OSS group called "The Lazy Procrastinators - too lazy not to design!"

              Unfortunatly I'm too lazy and unmotivated to actually get it up and running. But hey ... I'll do it tomorrow.
      • Oh, for Chrissake.

        And obviously, a "sanitation engineer" is higher up on the food chain than a "trash man"?

        No one where I've ever been expects a "coder" to do nothing but code. Everyone does some design, and unless they're strictly project management only, probably some coding and debugging.

        "Coder" is just an informal term for "software engineer", which could be someone with a computer science, math, or hell, physics degree.

        Seriously, do you know anyone that does nothing but "coding", that would qualify to be a "coder" under your definition? That does absolutely no design at all?

        Technicians think engineers aren't in touch with the real world and are overpaid. Engineers think that scientists aren't practical. Scientists thing that engineers are a bit too dim-witted to do something lofty like "advancing their field".

        It's all semantics, and if you let it go, you wind up a lot happier and getting along those "other classes" quite a bit better.
    • by ma_sivakumar ( 325903 ) <siva@leatherlink.net> on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @07:06AM (#4415829) Homepage Journal
      True. Exposure is the key. I am not a programmer, but having exposed to open source through slashdot for a year or so, when I set up my business recently decided to use Linux etc.

      All the companies I talked for assistance in development work only with Microsoft solutions and were not willing to consider my project. Finally I decided to hire two fresh graduates, they are bright guys fresh out of college (no prior Linux exposure) with a little Unix usage.

      They saw my system, there were immediately hooked and installed Linux in their home computers also to play around. Initially they could not write html by hand. After a couple of days they were comfortable

      The government promoting open source will have broader implications, since the middle class in India puts a great faith in everything Government. If the government says it will be good. When a boy/girl wants to do a course on Linux, the parents will be more willing to spare the cash, if there is a government label on it.

  • by jukal ( 523582 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @03:59AM (#4415455) Journal
    I have been following closely the adoptation of open source within European Union lately. It seems they are working, studying and experimenting this in many fronts. Here is some of the European Union efforts related to open source [cordis.lu]. Openchallenge [openchallenge.org] (which I am related to) has also received very positive feedback from European Union officials.

    It is interesting to see where we are in say after 10 more years.

    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @06:52AM (#4415787)
      I have been following closely the adoptation of open source within European Union lately. It seems they are working, studying and experimenting this in many fronts.

      This is indeed good news.

      The fact of the matter is that if the world wants to free itself from the American hegemony and economic dominance in the 21st century, one of the critical things it must do is free itself from dependence on American Proprietary software, particularly operating systems, with all of their NSA backdoors, NSA-inspired weak cryptography, deliberate incompatabilities, moving development targets, subscription pricing, and so on. Probably the smartest and best approach is to leverage software freedom by using Free Software and developing home-grown talent and expertise in customizing it for local or regional use. Not only does that allow a solid audit of existing code (and help insure against malicious code a la Microsoft's NSA_KEY), but it creates a breeding ground for local expertise and a local software industry.

      Of course, Europe is already on par with the United States in this area despite our home-grown software monopoly, but for the developing world this is a tremendous boon, and it is exciting to see countries like China and India embrace software freedom.

      China: ~1 Billion
      India: ~1 Billion

      That is already about a third of humanity. Add to that Germany, Brazil, Colombia, etc. and you have a ground swell that must boggle Bill Gate's mind. Even if Palladium and DRM were to do their worst, effectively banning Free Software in the United States, it would only be the United States that suffers ... the bulk of the rest of the world seems to already have made their choice for freedom, and are poised to sprint right past us into the information age if we are foolish enough to cripple ourselves in the way Microsoft and Hollywood are lobbying Washington to do.

      Next time we feel depressed, or run down, in hearing the latest bad news from Washington we can take heart that, at worst, it is only the United States emasculating its own information industry, not humanity as a whole. I, for one (despite being an American who will undoubtably suffer both economically and intellectually if the battles against Palladium and DRM are lost), take heart in that.
  • by Megasphaera Elsdenii ( 54465 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:02AM (#4415461)
    When I was in India a year ago, I was surprised
    at how strong the presence of Microsoft was in
    science. Virtually none of the people
    I spoke to had had any Linux exposure, let alone
    Linux experience. This is in stark contrast with
    'the West'; Linux prospers in most of the sciences.

    This makes this movement all the more remarkable.
    • by popeyethesailor ( 325796 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:19AM (#4415502)

      However, things are changing now. There is a lot more media coverage on "Free" software and its advantages. Computer Magazines in India have been distributing Linux CDs for a long time now, so the level of Linux knowledge is increasing. There are LUGs in a number of cities in India.

      The reason to be skeptical of this initiative is that Microsoft has traditionally invested heavily in India, and Indian politicians love to be seen with Bill. And the widespread corruption doesnt help either.

    • When I was in India a year ago, I was surprised
      at how strong the presence of Microsoft was in
      science.


      Hardly surprising considering Microsoft's active sponsorship of the IITs. I don't doubt that if Red Hat start funding research, professorships, scholarships etc that Linux will become equally as popular.
    • by orcaaa ( 573643 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @06:33AM (#4415747)
      I completely agree with you. I hail from India. Almost all my friends back home in India are doing CS as a major and i am sorry to say that Linux/*NIX has hardly made any inroads. Infact, i will go one step further and say that computers themselves are not as widely used as they ought to be for obvious monetary reasons.At a college rated amongst the better engineering colleges of Mumbai(new name for Bombay), one of my friends, went through an entire semester of C programming without sitting at a computer. With such money crunches, colleges should consider Linux as a blessing at it cuts them a lot on licensing costs. However, most colleges in India dont have professors knowledgeable about *NIX to be able to conduct courses in that environment. It will be some time before Linux makes any significant inroads in India, but once it does, India does have the potential to become a very large linux user base.
    • Not my experience, and I did my PhD in India. Theoretical physics people are pretty much standardized on linux. So are many engineering and mathematics departments. Experimental physicists, chemists and biologists on the other hand tend to use windows. It's exactly the same situation in the US. The physics group I was with in India had been using linux since around 1993 (I joined in 1994). Back then they still had a lot of msdos/windows 3.1 machines, but by around 1997 windows was almost extinct in my group.
  • by Jeppe Salvesen ( 101622 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:08AM (#4415472)
    In countries where the wages are lower, the licensing/hardware portion of the TCO will be larger. Linux runs on smaller iron, without licensing costs. It's very simple math.
    • In countries where the wages are lower, the licensing/hardware portion of the TCO will be larger. Linux runs on smaller iron, without licensing costs. It's very simple math.

      That's assuming that Microsoft only sell in USD and require local currencies to be converted to dollars and US prices to be paid before they'll make a sale. However, MS, like McDonalds, Sony, Pepsi and other global corporations, tailor their prices to the local markets. Products of these corporations are generally as "affordable" wherever you are.
      • by fishbowl ( 7759 )
        So how do they stop us from converting USD to the lesser currency, purchasing in a foreign market, and shipping it to the US?

        This won't work for McDonald's, because a cheeseburger is stale if you ship it (and because the shipping is higher than the difference), but why not for software or consumer electronics? I'm surprised this hasn't become the standard way to buy stuff.

        I'd like to get some of the gadgets they get in Asian markets that never make it to the West; if you could get them at bargain prices because of currency exchanges, so much the better!

        • > I'd like to get some of the gadgets they get in Asian markets that never make it to the West; if you could get them at bargain prices because of currency exchanges, so much the better!

          Well, many things are cheaper, some are not. The last time I was in India (this summer), things like cell phones, mobile phones, printers, and speakers were extremely cheap. CPU's and memory were also somewhat cheap.

          Other things, like monitors and video cards were extremely expensive (there were no Geforce4's out even).

          If you tried to bring something like a whole packaged set of computers from there to the US, customs would likely stop you. But of course, if you have the right connections, the import/export buisness can be very *profitable*. I was on a flight from Calcutta, India to Bangkok, Thailand, and nearly 80% of the people on the plane were smugglers of electronic/commodity goods. It was funny because when they landed, they had about 7-8 suitcases each. They obviously knew the airport people. In Bangkok, there were people there to help collect the suitcases. I'm not sure if the final destination was Bangkok or not, but the process seemed to be pretty efficient.
        • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @09:14AM (#4416450)
          This won't work for McDonald's, because a cheeseburger is stale if you ship it (and because the shipping is higher than the difference), but why not for software or consumer electronics? I'm surprised this hasn't become the standard way to buy stuff.

          People do do this, it's called the "grey market". The EU say it's illegal, but retailers are doing it anyway [bbc.co.uk].

          I guess with software, you might only sell localized versions overseas which would be useless in domestic markets. IIRC, the licence you get with certain products only allows it to be used in the territory in which it was bought (someone told me this when we were thinking of going into the grey market to supply just-released Apple Powerbooks to Europe).

          I'd like to get some of the gadgets they get in Asian markets that never make it to the West; if you could get them at bargain prices because of currency exchanges, so much the better!

          There's no reason you can't do this, unless import tarriffs make it economically unfeasible. If there was a good economic case, I'm sure the Asian companies would be doing it already.
      • I spent a bit of time looking for quotes on Microsoft Software in India. I finally found something. Let's say you want to buy Microsoft Office XP Professional. That's 21000 rupies. [ciolshop.com] Convert [xe.com], and you've got 435 USD - while Microsoft USA think 580 USD is what US customers should pay. If we use the McDonalds scale, we can compare US to Mumbai, India. Mumbai is a large city, so we'll assume it's relatively expensive. In McDonalds in Mumbai [mcdonaldsindia.com] - 49 Rupies for a Chicken McGrill value meal. That's about a buck, give or take. You'll need to check your local McDonald's to compare. I bet the India one is about the third the price. So - with all due respect, you appear to be wrong. We could of course cooperate on a more thorough comparative study if you wish.
  • Free software? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bas_Wijnen ( 523957 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:15AM (#4415490)
    "The reasoning being more of plain economics than security or other reasons."

    Sounds like their going for open source software, not free software. A nice coincidence is of course that they will end up with free software anyway, but "going for free software" is more what the people in Peru are trying to do IMO.
  • by codekavi ( 459992 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:16AM (#4415494) Homepage
    What the government needs to make those college students do is develop applications in the local languages. Just 2% of the 1 billion in India understand English. That's only 20 million if my arithmetic is correct.

    OTOH 900 million people *worldwide* (not just in India) understand Hindi. However there are very few applications and operating systems that do support Indic scripts.
    http://rohini.ncst.ernet.in/indix/ , http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Indic-Fonts-HOWTO/ , and http://www.geocities.com/hanu_man_ji are some efforts in this direction.
    Instead of making them dream about making dough in the US, the Indian college students and programmers should be encouraged if not forced to develop tools, utilities and applications in the Indian languages. Not only will it boost the demand for PC's - many Indian homes have white goods in the range of $400 or so, but no PC's - who'll use them if you don't know English? - it will give a big boost to the quality of programming; there are many smart people in India but they are limited by a lack of knowledge of English.
    • by Somnus ( 46089 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @05:29AM (#4415629)
      CAVEAT: I'm of India descent, but I don't live in India, and the last time I was there was 1996.

      I'd say most of the people who can read and write, and certainly those wealthy enough to have access to a computer, know English.

      Local language support (Hindi is one, don't forget the other major languages like Bengali, Gujarati, Telugu, etc.) seems more appropriate when Linux usage extends beyond gov't/academia to home and commercial situations.

      I skeptical that social change (i.e., adoption of computers/internet across the population) can be effected by supply-side pressure when there are such high barriers to adoption ....

      • Let me give an example:
        In order to get a railway reservation in India, you have to go to the Booking office, stand in a line, wait for your turn(could take anywhere from 30 to 120 min), and get your ticket. Yes, the ticket system is networked nationwide, you can buy a ticket from A to B from any booking office, that may be located in C.

        Recently the government(owns the Railways in India, and it happens to be the world's 4th largest network) started online railway ticket booking.
        The people who book online, have an advantage of 30 to 120 minutes over the ones who don't - they don't need to stand in the line and wait, while someone ahead of them can book on the same train and deny them a ticket.

        The trouble is, the website's interface is in English; whereas in the booking office, the forms can be filled in the local language - they're bilingual.

        So, the English speakers not only get the ticket without having to stand in line, they also get an (unfair) advantage because they know English, they're more likely to get the ticket, or will have a earlier position in the waiting list.

        Now, if the same interface was also there in the local languages, wouldn't people be eager to use it? You don't need to buy a computer to access the web, cyber cafe charges are ~40c an hour, so on spending 15 minutes in the cybercafe, you would spend the same amount as for when you go to the booking office.

        So, a supply side pressure, as you rightly put it, may not always increase demand, but it's things like these ...
        • So, the English speakers not only get the ticket without having to stand in line, they also get an (unfair) advantage because they know English, they're more likely to get the ticket, or will have a earlier position in the waiting list.

          Why is it unfair? There are no barriers to learning English, after all. And given that English is the de facto lingua franca (yes, I am aware of the irony of using that phrase), anything that encourages more people to learn English can only be a good thing.

          I don't know much about Hindi, but can it be represented and manipulated by a computer as easily as US7ASCII? That is a crucial advantage of English over non-ASCII (or EBCDIC) languages, Unicode or no.
          • There are no barriers to learning English

            Huh? Moderated as Interesting? It is highly ignorant. Have you ever tried to learn foreign languages yourself? As a person who is not English native I can say that it is simply not true. Learning foreign languages beyound simple "How are you? Thanks, I'm fine" requires noticable effort and for most people who have no special talent for learning languages means spending a lot of time and/or money on studying. This is the barrier.

      • Remember, the Linux PDAs are being targetted at the rural population, who are not comfortable with English. Moreover, even though many people can understand English, most of them are not comfortable with the interface.

        Take for example, my mother a retired high school teacher and my father a retired government employee, both are educated (post graduate/graduate), but are not willing to start using the computer because of the language barrier. Once there is a popular, tamil interface conveniently available, they and many more will start using computers.

    • Just 2% of the 1 billion in India understand English. That's only 20 million if my arithmetic is correct.

      I find that number incredibly hard to believe. India has IIRC, some 14 official languages and 8 official alphabets. (And we in Canada complain about bilingualism.) As a result of the fact that nobody really wants to help make their neighbor's language dominant, and the fact that England ruled India for many years, English is the second language of most.

      I still remember driving (okay, being driven :-))through South India and stopping at a small town when the car broke down. I was the first westerner there in many years according to the townspeople, yet a significant fraction spoke English well enough to hold a conversation with me. (And all were eager to practice their English with a native speaker.)

      It was taught at the nearby school.

    • Indian language computing on linux(atleast on gnome) will become a reality in about 3 to 5 years, provided the below problems are ironed out.

      The problems faced are lack of free opentype fonts(preferred for handling numerous ligatures & glyphs & their substitution), support for opentype fonts at the X-level. No, indix(linked by another user) won't solve the issue atleast in the present form, since it breaks a lot of X-protocols. Pango [pango.org] holds promise, but it is not being adopted by QT & it will take some time for rendering engines of all indic languages for Pango to be developed.

      The plus side is serious efforts are being made to resolve the issue. OT Fonts are available for a few indic languages & existing ttf's are being converted into otf's,Gnome & KDE translation work is going on (some like my own mother tongue 'kannada' is being translated on WinXP) for some indic languages like hindi,kannada, tamil(one of the first indic languages to be translated), etc.,

      The things that we should be alarmed is Microsoft's is on the upper hand: It has OT font's for all indic languages besides input engines, OTF rendering support & BillG who is making his 3rd visit to India has already signalled the need for localisation. And if i am not wrong the fonts have been developed with the aid of the local govt. And they are not in public domain or atleast freely usable on linux.

      For more details, see: Indic computing mailing lists [sourceforge.net]-search the indic_computing_devel mailing list for extensive criticism of indix & also the kde 18n mailing list. indlinux,kannada mailing list [sharma-home.net]

      Btw, here's another example [kar.nic.in] of MS cosying upto the karnataka govt. The bhoomi s/w(up for this year's stockholmn tech award) may cost nearly 40 lakhs per taluk. A NGO, I currently am in touch with was successful in persuading the officials to look at the possibility of developing it on linux. And projects like this need indic support urgently.

      • The things that we should be alarmed is Microsoft's is on the upper hand: It has OT font's for all indic languages besides input engines, OTF rendering support & BillG who is making his 3rd visit to India has already signalled the need for localisation.

        It has these things because it spent time and money to make them. Even tho' it can be reproduced for negligible cost, information of any kind is not free.

        The ethos of the Open SOurce movement was always that if you needed something and it didn't exist, you had the tools and simply made it. Nowadays if it doesn't show up on Google stright away, people just give up or worse, complain without actually doing anything themselves.
    • That is right. Take for instance the localisation of KDE and Gnome. The translation for Tamil (a south Indian language) is mostly done by software engineers living overseas (in US etc), usually maintained by a handful of persons. As a result the translation is only partially complete any given time.

      If the awareness about such projects spread in colleges and schools, the students can be organized to keep the translation of these two and mamy other open source application complete and current.

      The status of other Indian languages are still worse.

    • Indian Linux [indlinux.org] is your answer. The website says it will be developed in all 18 official Indian languages.

      Might be slightly misleading of course; I'm presuming they really meant all 10 ISCII ("Indian Standard Code for Information Interchange") alphabets in transmutation to give, I don't know, 12 or so languages. Will be interesting to see if they later provide for transcribing the Arabic script as well; the website at present seems to be suggesting only native Indian scripts. Not to accuse them of ethnic bias; I'm pretty sure it's plain intellectual laziness.

      A More Detailed Explanation:- Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi and Nepali use the Devnagri script; a few languages such as Konkani, Manipuri use the Roman script and scripts of other languages. Sindhi, Kashmiri and Urdu use the Arabic script (or modifications of it thereof). Unicode [unicode.org] doesn't recognise the Assamese script to be different from the Bengali one, but provides for two additional Assamese-only characters [ntlworld.com]; not sure if ISCII does that as well. (IndLinux's page gives seperate keymaps for Assamese [indlinux.org] and Bengali [indlinux.org]; I neither speak nor read these languages, so I don't know if they are significantly distinct.) All other languages, namely, Gujarati, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada have their own unique scripts.

      Tamil is way ahead in implementation though; the Tamil Linux [tamillinux.org] group is very active; the website says you can use Tamil in Mandrake 9.0. Can't read Tamil myself, but the KDE snapshots [tamillinux.org] provided look extremely cool to me.

    • I'm not arguing with the 2% number you mention for English-speaking folks - that seems about right. I think your numbers about Hindi speaking is way overinflated. The three South Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu speak little or no Hindi at all. Lets factor in the fact that the literacy rate stands at around 55% and therefore it can be reasonably assumed that 45% of the population know only one language. Now add in the fact that there are 21 major languages in India, and you'll see why I say that 90% of the population speaking Hindi is too high a figure. I would place it down to around 65%. Still a rather large number though.

      On an interesting side note - the IBM announcement for AIXv5.2 states that the locale for Hindi will now be supported.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:18AM (#4415499)
    ... the Indians are gonna use Apache?

    Oh, you mean the other Indians ...
  • by heytal ( 173090 ) <hetal.rach@gmai l . com> on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:38AM (#4415534) Homepage
    Pakistan too says that it will use Linux. An article [paknews.com] at paknews.com talks about that. This is inspite of the fact that Microsoft is offering a 90% discount to the pakistan Government.
      • This is inspite of the fact that Microsoft is offering a 90% discount to the pakistan Government.

      They're not idiots. They'll understand that the first hit is always free. Microsoft can discount all they like, but once they've wiped out the competition, they know that can charge whatever they want. Unfortunately for them, we know that too.

  • by Anonymous MadCoe ( 613739 ) <maakiee@NoSpam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:38AM (#4415535) Homepage
    Maybe it's good for any country to keep in mind that depending on a foreign company for their software may be a bad idea.

    I feel any country or group of countries (EU?) would do a smart thing if they started to develop their own application software and OSes (this could go even further to running their own Certificate authorities).

    Just to make sure there is no foreign entity (no matter from which country) that can "pull the plug" on them.

  • Its about time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abhikhurana ( 325468 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:44AM (#4415545)
    I passed out two years ago from one of the best Engineering colleges in India. And only two people in my college had ever worked on linux. Sure there were many who were pro linux and anti MS, but ask them if they had ever coded on linux, or just compiled the kerenel ( I actually asked this to one of my seniors, a so called linux guru, and then he confessed to me that he had never really compiled a kernel, eventhough he was always boasting how easy it was), and all of them will be saying that, well linux isnt all that gr8, I couldnt make my X run and so on.... The fact was that out of 1000 students, only two had PCs which they really used for some development work for linux, all the rest were just boasting about it.
    The reason was that they always had other options, namely pirated MS software.When you can get Visual Studio for Rs 150 (about $3) and Windows for Rs 100(about $2), and even for getting linux you have to buy a computer mag for Rs100 (Hey, broadband in India sucks, even in Universities), do you think anyone will actually use Linux??
    So what I am really happy about is that now they are planning to introduce linux courses in the colleges... that will force them to finally get them to install linux on their PCs and I know for sure that once they get tinkering around, they can't resist the FORCE. It happened to me, and I am sure it will happen to others too.
    Besides it will also lead to they syllabi being changed abit which haven't been revised in a Decade or so.

    Alll I can say is if this actually happens( Do u think MS will saty silent and let so many potential MS technology developers just get out of their hands?? U must be kidding), it will be one of the best things to ever happen to linux.

    • I passed out two years ago

      Have you recovered yet or this post comes from a deep coma?

    • AFAIK, Linux has already been introduced in univs. In Mumbai University, for the first year of Engg. (common across all branches), there is a compulsory course "C on Linux". The adoption rate has been slow (people are still unfamiliar with linux, I recently helped the lab assistant in our college to setup Redhat) but now Linux is being made a option for other courses too, even in the final year.
    • Re:Its about time (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hmmm ... I am from IIT Kanpur. There As far back as 1994 or before that we had plenty of PCs in the computer labs (meant for student projects) running on Linux, with all the other related free software. Around 1995/96 or so (I think) we had most of the VT100 type terminals replaced by inexpensive PCs running Linux- acting as X - terminals (Hundreds of them ). There were courses based entirely on Linux. Noone cared much about M$ OSs :-)
    • Re:Its about time (Score:5, Informative)

      by pamri ( 251945 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @06:42AM (#4415757) Homepage
      Your worst nightmare may be coming true [deccanherald.com]. And remember that karnataka(of which bangalore is it's capital) has the largest no. of engineering colleges, that's a coup. But most of the faculty in the top univ's & college's are atleast aware of linux & it is not entirely discouraging. And thanks to the LUG's it is being noticed, even if not extensively used. Heck, In my college, Me & one of my friends, both commerce graduates had more knowledge of linux than the CS guys. And in most colleges in my city, it is the vocal minority like us that has played a big role in popularising linux. Actually the crackdown on piracy will encourage the move to linux, since most of the educational institutes are using pirated stuff. I know some colleges which have started teaching Staroffice in bangalore. Maybe, if something like the dotcoms happened to linux, it would gain some attention, atleast among the 'where's the next big $ coming from?' kind of people.
  • No wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @04:58AM (#4415573) Homepage
    Now that MS had the great idea of charging for security I'm sure that poor countries would be even more likely to switch to Linux. Who wants to pay first for the licenses, then for the support and then for additional security when with Linux you can get all that for free? Of course you can get paid support for Linux too, but as somebody mentioned here, often the community provides more than enough of it for free.
  • by toolz ( 2119 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @05:13AM (#4415599) Homepage Journal
    Don't read too much into this. What the article does *not* tell you is that it appeared as headlines the day after Bill Gates announced his visit to India in November.

    While India is *extremely* strong on the OpenSource front, it is not unreasonable to expect that this particular news item (which isn't one - it doesn't state anything new) sets the stage for some (fairly common) government-level arm twisting. Remember Peru?

    Don't get me wrong - I know what the "DIT" (actually Ministry of Information technology, but who has time to nitpick) is doing, and it is heading in the right direction, and pushing hard for open standards and open technologies.

    It is just that this particular article does not appear to to be related to their efforts. Also note that this appears to be more of a commercial booster - the government has done nothing to interact with the astonishingly large OpenSource user base in India, which is sad.
  • Not surprisingly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by porkface ( 562081 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @05:28AM (#4415628) Journal
    I knew a programmer from India who was a bit of an expert on Unix / Linux...until Microsoft hired him to work on their core OS team. Unfortunately these graduates aren't going to be swayed by the Indian government's choice when they join corporate America.
  • Its strange but the things we at slashdot reads gets into mainstream press much later on. When linux start getting into mainstream eyes for real it will pickup some pace. Remember the snowball rolls slowly at the peak of the hill and then gravity picks up at 9,81m/s2.
  • by jalilv ( 450956 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @07:52AM (#4416039) Homepage
    For those who don't know, there is also a GNU/Linux distribution from India called ELX Linux [elxlinux.com] (Everybody's Linux). Its an easy to learn distro for those starting out. Also India has two GNU/Linux based PDAs, stories of which were posted on /.
    Just shows that GNU/Linux has already made a place for itself in India. Governments always start out late but its great to know that they are getting there.

    - Jalil Vaidya
    Disclaimer: Yes, I am an Indian. No, I do not work for ELX Linux or have anything to gain from them. Yes, I have used other GNU/Linux distros like Knoppix/Debian, Mandrake, Red Hat.
  • Promoting Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    While studying in India at IIT, Bombay
    the computer science student organisation was
    very active in promoting unix and specifically
    linux to other schools and colleges in the area.

    We students used to visit colleges in the area
    and conduct unix workshops for a small fee.
    The money collected would go into our student
    organisation's fund.

    Back then most colleges were on dos/windows.
    We used to go in and install linux and then have
    a 2 day workshop of lectures and hands-on
    tutorials. It was a fun experience. We had
    transparancies and nicely printed manuals.
    Being students,we did manage to do a pretty professional job.
  • Quoth the article:

    Many analysts believe that China's growing dominance in the IT space is fuelled by its low cost open source bias.

    I'm just wondering what the author is referring to. Among the developing nations, I'd expect most people would consider India to be dominant in IT.
  • It seems as though Richard Stallman's ideas are starting to pay off. Governments around the world are starting to free themselves from software companies, and that can only be a Good Thing for the citizens.

    It's just too bad that Linus is getting all the credit. I hate the name "GNU/Linux" as much as the next guy, but these events are a direct result of Stallman's vision and hard work. Linus and Stallman both wrote code, but Stallman was the one promoting freedom.

    If only Stallman had chosen a better name in the first place...

  • So.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @09:36AM (#4416582)
  • by ites ( 600337 ) on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @12:21PM (#4417608) Journal
    Okay, it's just the Brussels Regional Government.
    That's not a billion heads, just a million or two.
    Perhaps this is will be one of the positive legacies of this recession?
    Once a certain fraction of organisations use Linux seriously, it will be an unstoppable movement.
    Businesses and governments have no loyalties, only interests.
  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Wednesday October 09, 2002 @12:40PM (#4417726) Homepage
    This could have other long-term implications for Microsoft, quite apart from sales. Microsoft employs a lot of programmers from India, and I have found them to be among the brightest people I've ever met. If Indian schools move away from turning out expert Microsoft developers, it could dry up this important pool.

  • I can't wait til MS send the rep out there to put India back on track to freedom and democracy The American Way (TM & Copyright), as opposed to suffering under the evil leftie Open Source Software regime.

    Considering that, in my experience, few Americans know what a curry is, this could be highly amusing if the rep were to be treated to one of the more "warming" dishes such as a tasty Madras or Vindaloo ;-)

    Oh the look on his face while eating the gut-meltingly spicey dish, and having to finish it for the sake of politeness, with a smile, and converse at the same time.

    Oh, and it usually burns just the same on the way out! The intestinal irritation caused in unaccustomed/non native diners can also hinder the absorbtion of adequate moisture from the meal, leading to... Ahh, you get the idea. :) You can see why Curry is the most popular dish in Britain!

    Ali

    P.S. I make no guarantees as to the accuracy of any of the biological info in this post, so it may be bollocks.

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