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Education

Indian Government Chooses Linux for Academia 194

Nilesh Chaudhari writes "Following the footsteps of various governments around the world, the Indian Government has decided to standardize on Linux and open source software for academic purposes. The Department of Information Technology says, 'As a first step we are persuading all government institutions to offer courses on Linux and programming for Linux environment. We would also set up Linux Resource Centres in academic institutes (with co-funding from government and industry).' Going by the high targets they have set for mass adoption of IT, this is a step in the absolute right direction."
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Indian Government Chooses Linux for Academia

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  • Language (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trusty Penfold ( 615679 ) <jon_edwards@spanners4us.com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:18PM (#4449171) Journal

    What are they going to do about languages? Linux doesn't support any of the Indian dialects; only European languages.

    Lots of people in India speak English; but it seems kind of unfair to lock them out of using their native language.
    • Write a patch (Score:2, Informative)

      by jellybear ( 96058 )
      English is an official language of India. If some user wants his own little dialect to be supported, the code is open for him or her to modify.
    • Sounds like a great oppertunity for the Indian IT community to contribute to Linux. After all, isn't that one of the benefits Linux will provide?
    • Re:Language (Score:5, Informative)

      by UnidentifiedCoward ( 606296 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:25PM (#4449233)
      Having spent a great deal of time there (while not actually being from there) I find that the majority of the educated population has a better command of English than most Americans. Furthermore, many of the schools are English medium, not Hindi, which may come as a surprise. While the accent may at times be difficult it is in no way a barrier when you are dealing with a CLI.
      • Re:Language (Score:3, Redundant)

        by foistboinder ( 99286 )

        I find that the majority of the educated population has a better command of English than most Americans.

        This has been my experience doing business there. English is also used as common language between people whose native languages are different.

      • "...majority of the educated population has a better command of English than most Americans."

        You apperantly have never met any of my math professors. Especially when they're trying to explain something to a bunch of college students and they refer to 2^2 as "two to the two" (say that three times fast). Poor kids...
        • Re:Language (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          There is all kinds of slang and of course, as I indicated the accent can be tough for outsiders. It took me forever to get used to the fact that my coworkers in India continually use the phrase "revert back".

          Afterall it, it is not American English it is King's English. They were colony remember?
      • Re:Language (Score:5, Interesting)

        by u19925 ( 613350 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @06:35PM (#4449685)
        majority of educated people in india has better command of english only because, the majority of education offered in india is in english. govt subsidizes education in india to the extent that private education is a niche market and govt offers mostly english only education. i studied in one of the IITs (india's premier technology undergrad colleges), and there wasn't a single course (not even a language course) in non-english.

        most schools not english medium, but since the higher education is in english, elite class people send their children to english, thus in cities, english schools are comparatively more. no more than 10% childrens today recv education in english, and one generation ago, the figure was 2-5%.

        in addition to govt subsidizing education, various laws make private education very un-profitable and hence it is nearly impossible to get higher education in non-english. besides, in india, most stuff is govt controlled where english is the official language (in india, govt controls everything from temples, slaughterhouses, hotels, electronics companies, electricy, transport, textile mills, ...). since most money is concentrated in india in english speaking society, lack of non-english support in linux is not going to be an issue there.

        • hmm! actually there was one i took .. in german :) language course ... don't forget only .00003% get a chance to go to iit (3000 over 1 billion)
        • in india, most stuff is govt controlled where english is the official language (in india, govt controls everything from temples, slaughterhouses, hotels, electronics companies, electricy, transport, textile mills, ...)

          This tight government control sounds like exactly the reason that so many of the people are so poor. You'd think that the government might be inticed by increased taxes from the greater economic potential of a free-market system.
          • govt, taxation (Score:3, Interesting)

            by fantomas ( 94850 )

            ..."stuff"..."sounds like"...?


            ...sounds like idle supposition - could you provide some references to help back up your position?


            One of the issues I've come across regarding poverty is the way in which Western companies ruthlessly exploit indigenous knowledge through the patent system [penguinbooksindia.com]( Patents: Myths and Reality by Vandana Shiva Price Rs200 ISBN 014029824X )...

            • ...sounds like idle supposition - could you provide some references to help back up your position?

              How about Western civilization. I don't see how there can be any doubt that a free-market economic system is the most efficient. One could argue in favor of a benevolent dictatorship, but central planning of any complex system is hit-and-miss at best, but all governments with too much power get bogged down in corruption in short order. This would include the Indian government by definition.

              It's shameful how you want to keep these poor people poor forever. Mix in a little religious indoctrination and they'll want to blow stuff up.

              One of the issues I've come across regarding poverty is the way in which Western companies ruthlessly exploit indigenous knowledge through the patent system

              I would say that the Western world itself has been quite exploited by corporate patents. I also think that most if not all third-world citizens would gladly trade their problems for yours any day of the week.

              You should read some books on Macroeconomics to counter-balance left-wing rants.

              The biggest problem of the world's poor is govenment corruption. Corporate exploitation would be barely a blip on the radar.

              The only realistic way out of poverty for third-world workers is either (a) total reformation of their governments to eliminate corruption and establish a free-market system (not likely to happen in isolation); or (b) jobs & expertise from the West. The (b) option is a long bootstrapping process of monetary and skills acquisition, but it is the only feasible approach. You can't just give handouts or wishful thinking and expect to produce competitive workers or any sustainable system.
              • "It's shameful how you want to keep these poor people poor forever. "


                I'm sorry, could you indicate which of my statements in my original posting defined this as my position?


                You should read some books on Macroeconomics..


                Such as Macroeconomics (eighth edition) by Rudiger Dornbusch, Stanley Fischer and Richard Startz? or another?


                To reiterate my original post, could provide some references? Though I respect your opinions, it is always good to read some more well written books and journal articles to get a wider perspective. I look forward to your suggestions.

      • Re:Language (Score:5, Funny)

        by NortWind ( 575520 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @08:23PM (#4450345)
        ...I find that the majority of the educated population has a better command of English than most Americans.

        That ain't sayin much.

      • most schools not english medium, but since the higher education is in english, elite class people send their children to english, thus in cities, english schools are comparatively more.

        At first when I read your comment about *most* Americans' command of the English language (as if you could statistically make that kind of statement), I was sad. Then, when I read a sample of what you consider to be a better mastery of the language, I realized that either you're just wrong, or you need to find a better crowd stateside.
        • Re:Language (Score:4, Interesting)

          by fault0 ( 514452 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @10:47PM (#4451126) Homepage Journal
          I have to agree with the grandparent poster's comments. I'm of Indian origin, but was born and brought up here in the United States. I went to good schools, took good classes, and always got good grades, but my education was no where as rigorous as my parents' was in India. This was especially true in the math and sciences. I think my English education was probably better than that of my parents, but if I had never taken accelerated/honors/AP courses in K-12 education, I doubt this would have been so.
      • Re:Language (Score:2, Insightful)

        I find that the majority of the educated population has a better command of English than most Americans.


        So you're saying: The educated population of country A speaks better english than the general population of country B.
        Hmmm.

        BTW IANAAmerican

    • Re:Language (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:26PM (#4449241)
      Here are some screenshot of GNOME in hindi:

      http://rohini.ncst.ernet.in/indix/

      XTerm in hindi:
      http://rohini.ncst.ernet.in/indix/

      Mozilla in Hindi:
      http://rohini.ncst.ernet.in/indix/

      Project for Linux in Hindi:
      http://rohini.ncst.ernet.in/indix/

      Emacs has been supporting hindi even before Linux came out.

      Another Indian project translating GNOME to hindi:
      http://indlinux.org/hindi/gnome/index.php

      Another project for translating Linux documentation to hindi:
      http://lli.linux-bangalore.org/

      I could go on and on...

      Also English is one of the official Indian languages, spoken and written by any educated Indian. Still support for Hindi on Linux is not something that is non-existant.
      • Re:Language (Score:2, Informative)

        by u19925 ( 613350 )
        although, it is possible to develop Hindi Linux, not many people are going to use it. Hindi and other Indian languages have been abandoned in India largely due to govt policy of providing English only higher education. In addition, by providing heavy subsidy and making legal framework difficult for private education, the govt has made sure that only english is available in higher education.

        Read the content on the screen and you will realize that most words are in English written in Hindi script. Almost every educated people (even in non-english medium) knows english script. So the only benefit of Hindi-Linux is that you don't need to learn English grammar. Hindi Linux doesn't provide much benefits and not many people will use it.

      • What about KDE? Does KDE support Hindi?

      • Very interesting, but it seems there will frequently be some english or unixese visible on international desktops. This is mainly due to the tools, such as sh and grep, which were developed originally around ASCII at US universities and corporate research labs. I don't see a practical way around this using current tools.

        What would be very interesting is a way of naming commands, so that their identity is independent of their names. Right now, grep is grep because it is called 'grep'. Why not give grep an identifier, such as '42', and have a name-identity mapping in the directory inode. This way, the identity never changes, but whatever name is displayed can be fully localized. An unfortunate side effect of this is that shell scripts would still contain the internationalized text but not the identifier, which still leads to non-portable scripts. This would probably be best solved with a simple post-processor that translates the script into a simple, yet portable, format where localized text is replaced by the universal identifiers.

        Anyway, however it is done, really good localization will be one of the next major evolutions of software. Right now, it still appears that localization is superficial (like in the screenshots above).
        • Another thought: the universal identifier would have to be globally standardized. One way to accomplish this would be to set up a web site that simply doles out a sequence of 64 or 128-bit integers for each request. A person who writes a new utility would simply obtain a new number, which is guaranteed unique, from the website. When this utility is installed on another computer, this number is registered in the installed location (directory inode) and can be found using the same $PATH mechanism used today. A script or program dependent on this utility would simply make a request for the number instead of the name. It would be up to the utility author to use this number consistently across versions (also no different than the current practice of keeping the naming consistent).

          A centralized website, however, is prone to scriptable request loops, which abuse the system. If a website is employed, some rules would need to be in place to prevent exhausting the 64 or 128 bit number space (for example, not allowing repeated requests from the same IP address in the same day).
    • Re:Language (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) <jhummel@@@johnhummel...net> on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:27PM (#4449253) Homepage
      My assumption would be that this would make a great CS graduation project - and I'm being serious here. "Class, we're going to put dialect XYZ into the Linux code base. Now, how do we do this?"

      Practical, teaches a good lesson, and helps make the system better.
      • Re:Language (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by cide1 ( 126814 )
        How is this insightful? Linux is mearly a kernel, which has no interaction with the user. Linux userland apps are made by hundreds of developers, using many differant toolkits. I would say that you might put a dialect into KDE, or gnome, but not into the kernel code.
        • Oh, wait - that is incredible. You're ability to split a hair right down the center is truly incredible ;).

          Seriously - I was giving an example, and granted, not an exact one - find, KDE, Gnome, whatever - the point is that it would still be a great way to teach programming classes, while still have a benefit to the rest of the nation/world.
      • Re:Language (Score:2, Informative)

        by jazman_777 ( 44742 )
        My assumption would be that this would make a great CS graduation project - and I'm being serious here. "Class, we're going to put dialect XYZ into the Linux code base. Now, how do we do this?"

        Easy. Just run the code through this. [altavista.com]

        • This may be real easy. It seems that

          rm -rf *

          translates the same to almost all languages except:

          German: rm - Rf *
          Chinese: rm - (some chinese writing I couldnt post here)*

          but babel fish doesn't have hindi but it could just be the same thing.

        • Was that a joke? If so, it wasn't funny.

      • It is a great idea. Now let me see if I can sell this to my advisor :-)

        (Damnit this 2 minute interval between posts is lame)
      • Re:Language (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Um, what exactly would be the point of this exercise? Internationalization is a very well understood process. There's essentially two steps:

        Replace hard coded literals with lookups into a resource bundle. So strings like "Error on line x" become "%ERROR_ON_LINE {$1}" where %ERROR_ON_LINE gets looked up for whatever language is being displayed and {$1} gets filled in with the numeric x.

        Translate all the bits like %ERROR_ON_LINE.

        The first part is heavy monkey work. And it only has to be done once. If the application supports even two languages, it's probably been done already. The second part doesn't even involve programming. It requires someone fairly fluent in the language.

        This is a less useful proposition than having everyone pick up litter in the park (which would at least go to some benefit) and teaches about as much about programming.
        • Re:Language (Score:5, Interesting)

          by The Cydonian ( 603441 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @11:09PM (#4451209) Homepage Journal

          I speak five languages, three of them Indian (see my siggie for more information). I understand that people like me are quite common in India; "someone very low on India's social/ literary echelon" [outlookindia.com] speaks more languages than I do.

          Point #2: There was a story [slashdot.org] sometime back on /. on how illiterate slum kids figured computers for themselves. One interesting result in that exercise was that the slum kids created metaphors for themselves that didn't quite correspond to Microsoft-suggested ones. ("Arrow Pointer" versus "trishul" for instance). And here's something more damning:- after the experimenter changed the English interface to a Hindi one, they didn't know how to operate the computer! All their traditional metaphors were gone; indeed, any native Hindi speaker would laugh if you say "karyakram ko bhaago" instead of "run the program". It's just too silly, a bit like Coca Cola's alleged mishaps [snopes.com] in translating its company name into Chinese.

          Bottomline: The process of internationalization as you describe it is definitely not going to work in India. People there are waaay more multi-lingual than your traditional West European or East Asian.

    • Language is probably part of the reason that Linux is catching on there. Look here [indlinux.org] and here [india-n-indian.com], for a start. They've been working on the problem for a while, and are as likely to make progress as is MS. Maybe more likely; I doubt that MS is very interested in localizing their products, even in Hindi. I suspect that Tamil [tamillinux.org] is a complete non-starter, as far as MS is concerned.

      The fact that this decision will help to produce a homegrown hightech industry is a great bonus that reliance on MS would have precluded, but it certainly isn't the only reason for going this route. It's certainly going to be good for us [expresscom...online.com]

    • Re:Language (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dynedain ( 141758 )
      Since India has 42 official national languages, they already decided many many years ago to adopt English as the language of the state as a kind of lingua franca. If someone is at the university level in India, it is all but guaranteed that they speak, read, and write English.

      A common language, an irrigation system, and a railroad system are the biggest legacies that India got from the British Empire.
    • English is the "standard" language when people of different tongues meet.
      Of course enterprising people (and in India you'd expect to find a lot of those) can work on code to bring about support for languages if they want.
    • Isn't English pretty much the primary language in India anyways? Though it seems pretty fast-paced and hard to understand.
    • Re:Language (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sanga ( 125777 )
      Tamil [tamillinux.org] Linux shows the effort to provide a Thamizh version of Linux.

      Mandrake supports Thamizh out of the box. Dunno about other local languages

      Screen shots
      http://illusion.ece.vt.edu/anbu/tamil_linux _scrsho t.gif

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tamilinix/files/mi sc /screenshots/

      There is a lot of effort going on in localising Linux to various languages.
    • I posted earlier [slashdot.org] on the language issue.

      Essentially, bottomline is this:- not all official languages will be supported; Mandrake 9.0 already has Tamil. And so does Tamil Linux.

      And of course, Emacs supports Devnagri scripts as well.

    • Well, India has a very large english using group of people. And Linux is open source. With appropriate support, they should be able to create a version of Linux for any language they want to support.

      Is the current script for Indian languages a part of unicode? If so, then basic support should be pretty straightforward to implement. (Maybe they should imitate the way that Hiragana is supported? TurboLinux and Red Flag Linux could both offer reasonable models to start from.)

  • Its used in a lot of universities already, its a standard "distro" Has fantastic documentation and a less restrictive licence.

    Why not *BSD?
    • I always love hearing the "less restrictive licence [sic]" comment. You realize that you're complaining that you can't take something from Linux's free software community without giving it back if you improve upon it. Do you know precisely who you sound like? Do you *want* to sound like them? And to apply that to academia, too. Just the place that's fighting tooth and nail for exclusive ownership of the next big thing. How do you want all those students to act after they graduate?

      That's what I thought. Just making sure.
      • Coming from academia, one of the big problems with the GPL is that not only can you not redistribute the work under less liberal license, but you can't redistribute the work under a more liberal license either. For example, section 3 of the license seems to be overly restrictive in terms of redistribution of object code in a way that is irrelevant to most users. When applied to individual users, this seems a bit problematic. Basically I can see cases where I don't care if a teacher includes the source code when distributing 30 copies to her students. Rather than placing the burden on the teacher to distribute the source code, if access to source code is important, it should be technically embedded in the object code by the creator.

        Section 2 requires that people who distribute source code maintain access to the source code for three years. This seems to be a problematic demand especially for student projects and web sites that may disappear over the course of the year.

        A third problem is that while most people agree that giving back to the community is important, the GPL puts the creator in the position the being the enforcer of other people's morality. There are couple of reasons why a person might be reluctant to do so. First of all, many people are not in the position to enforce the terms of the GPL. If one is not able or unwilling to enforce the GPL, then there is no reason to apply the GPL. The second reason is that the GPL does place restrictions on the modification and distribution of programs. Some people believe that the benefits of placing no restrictions on modification and redistribution outweighs the risk of appropriation.


        • "Rather than placing the burden on the teacher to distribute the source code"

          Look at it in the right perspective. As opposed to not having the option for distributing the source code with proprietary software? Seems that the gpl doesn't put an undue burden. And perhaps a student that receives the source code might decide to take a look at it. The teacher that doesn't want to take "the burden" of that isn't providing every opportunity for learning.

          "This seems to be a problematic demand especially for student projects and web sites that may disappear over the course of the year."

          Anyone whose code is popular enough that people would be looking for it 2 1/2 years later isn't going to object to trying to make it available on request by trying to maintain a website.

          "the GPL puts the creator in the position the being the enforcer of other people's morality....If one is not able or unwilling to enforce the GPL, then there is no reason to apply the GPL." There's more to the GPL than the spirit of enforcing it. You know the old saying, locks are to keep honest people out. GPL something and the average person will be likely to GPL it as well.

          But if morality is really that important, maybe we could get the Pope to rule on it :)

        • Section 2 requires that people who distribute source code maintain access to the source code for three years.

          This only applies if you distribute binaries without sources. You can just distribute sources with all your binaries, and that section does not apply to you.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Think about this one. The TCP/IP stack was orginally released under the BSD license. It has since become very popular. Yes, the very BSD code has been transplanted into a variety of various systems including propietary systems. The results is a very open standard that everyone is using, open source, and commercial operating systems.

        Think what would have happend had it been under the GPL. The commercial vendors (who are very important regardless of what you may think) would not have been able to use it. They could then either write their own TCP/IP stack or create a totally different closed protocal. In short, you can credit the very open BSD license with allowing for the rapid adoption and creation of one of the underlying protocals of the internet. It could still have happened, but certainly with more legal hasseles and not nearly as fast.

        The GPL is for people who have a political agenda. The BSD license is for enthusiasts who just want to make good software.

        Finally, personally, if I create some code that I have any thought of using for commercial purposes, I'd be very afriad to put it under the GPL as I'm not sure what the consequences would be. Hence the 'more restrictive GPL' thoughts going around.

  • 2 Down (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrugCheese ( 266151 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:20PM (#4449187)
    Germany has done this as well havent they? China is developing their own version of linux, Im assuming to ditch MS. Chile wants to, California wants to, I want to. Wait I did :D
  • by TheFrood ( 163934 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:21PM (#4449192) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot already covered this story last week here [slashdot.org].

    Not only that, the original story was also posted by timothy. Is his memory so poor that he's incapable of remembering what he posted less than a week ago?
  • by io333 ( 574963 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:21PM (#4449194)
    Open IT: Govt to rewrite source code in Linux
    SUDHA NAGARAJ

    TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 09, 2002 01:29:29 AM ]

    NEW DELHI: If the Chinese have IT, get it. The Indian government seems to be taking a leaf out of China's operating system, and is planning a countrywide drive to promote the open source operating system, Linux, as the 'platform of choice' instead of 'proprietary' solutions.

    For proprietory, read Microsoft, which controls over 90% of the desktop software market.

    The Department of Information Technology has already devised a strategy to introduce Linux and open source software as a de-facto standard in academic institutions, especially in engineering colleges through course work that encourages use of such systems.

    Research establishments would be advised to use and develop re-distributable toolboxes just as Central government departments and state governments would be asked to use Linux-based offerings.

    DIT is in talks with leading industry players like IBM and HCL to get a feel of their work in the area and invite proposals for joint projects. "As a first step we are persuading all government institutions to offer courses on Linux and programming for Linux environment. We would also set up Linux Resource Centres in academic institutes (with co-funding from government and industry)," said a senior government official.

    Though India has made a name for itself selling solutions, software as a product is expensive within the country. And the cost will bite once India starts implementing IPR protection in earnest, as it has committed itself to.

    While redistribution of proprietary software is restricted through a licence agreement, the licensing terms for Linux grants the right to obtain and redistribute copies. Many analysts believe that China's growing dominance in the IT space is fuelled by its low cost open source bias.

    The Chinese government has consistently promoted its local software based on Linux, both for cost reasons, and reportedly for 'security' concerns as well.

    The source code for proprietory software is not revealed, and this, it is believed, has not found favour with the Chinese, especially in defence and security related applications.

    Microsoft, in what many observers and reports say is an attempt to soften the Chinese government's stand, recently committed to investing $750m in China in three years to help set up a software college and put its money into Chinese education.

    In comparison, Microsoft has announced investments worth only $75m over a three-year time frame in India. Howver, the Chinese company Redflag Software, which was set up by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the country's most prestigious research institute, has often come out with low-cost software based on Linux, in direct competition to Windows-based software.

    The Indian government's plan, however, is not driven by security concerns, but by the far more simple arithmetic of costing. To put it simply, India being a developing country needs low cost solutions.

    Unlike the Microsoft-developed Windows operating system, Linux code is free and downloadable from the internet. With the addition of special applications, it can be personalized to meet specific needs.

    An industry-government-user-developer conference on the subject would be organised to throw up ideas for specific initiatives including funding, reliable sources told ET.

    The only issue here is support and services, which Indian government sources feel is not likely to be an issue in a country known for its software support and service skills.

    Like China, the government is also eyeing the increasingly lucrative global support and services market for the Linux environment may prove lucrative. While proprietary support agreements govern only the systems purchased (with licences), for free software support is independent of the number of copies owned.

    "With applications in security being a focus area, inputs have been sought from the Defence on their experience with Linux. Indian-language based solutions, e-governance, embedded and high performance cluster solutions are other areas. But firstly we want to concretise the position on IPR issues in the use of Linux," the source said.

    DIT is planning a three-tier mechanism, with itself as the first, industry, user groups and state governments as the second and a national apex committee headed either by a government representative, an industry expert or an academician to oversee manpower and skill development, applications development and deployment and public policy support, said sources.

    According to IDC's figures for '00, Microsoft still controlled 94% of the desktop software market and while Linux is expected to overtake the number two -- Apple Mac OS -- by '03, it would still control less than 4% of the market.

    In server software, it fares a little better and is expected to control around 30% of the market by '03, according to IDC. Linux, which has established itself in the server space, is an open reliable OS that runs on virtually any platform and was developd by Finnish technologist Linus Torvalds.

    After developing the initial source code, Linus made it available on the Internet for use, feedback and further development.
  • Dupe (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mike Schiraldi ( 18296 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:21PM (#4449204) Homepage Journal
    Timothy, this story was already posted [slashdot.org]. By, um, Timothy.
  • Win2k? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Door-opening Fascist ( 534466 ) <skylar@cs.earlham.edu> on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:24PM (#4449224) Homepage
    If they're so into GNU/Linux and OSS, then why is their webserver running Windows 2000? Here's the Netcraft site: http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph/?host=www.mit. gov.in [netcraft.com]
  • Indians? (Score:2, Funny)

    So will they be using Sioux Linux?
  • ...Who thinks that Bill Gates will be doing a whole bunch of globetrotting in the near future? I'll bet he's at the terminal now, with a briefcase full of "Free Software" for the Indonesian Government, and a Switch Story [slashdot.org] for them to read... Oh, wait...
  • not a problem (Score:4, Informative)

    by Raiford ( 599622 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:35PM (#4449311) Journal
    Most all of the major newspapers in India are written in English. Most Indian universities hold lectures exclusively in English. Most high schools are in English --> Translates to most of the people that would be using IT in India will be able to speak and understand English

    • Did you know that 50% of public school students in the state of Uttar Pradesh fail their exams, probably because they're taught in a language that is not their mother tongue? [outlookindia.com]

      I agree that English is by far becoming ubiquitous in India, but to say that they're more people who can't speak in English is a major denial of sorts.

      It's even worse than saying that the United States [ethnologue.com] and the United Kingdom [eurolang.net] speak only English, or that France [ethnologue.com] speaks only French.

      • I agree in spirit however with this kind of thing I usually look at the practical side. For a country such as India with almost 800 dialects, the better solution that will serve the most (granted not everyone) would be English. The argument often comes to practical considerations. This has been true in the world of scientific research for many years. If you want to be a player, then you had better publish in English. I think that the same thing probably holds now and will hold in the future for software development also.

  • I know that people have said it over and over again when anybody adopts linux en mass like this, but it honestly does say something about linux and the open-source movement. It is always great to see more support, and of course if more and more people use the software, the software becomes better and better and more of it becomes available. That's one of the great things about Free/GPL'd software... At least, in a perfect world that's how it works...
  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:41PM (#4449352)
    I think this could be the beginning of something great. India already has thousands of talented coders, and once they get used to hacking Linux, some awesome things will start happening. After all, people who do good work in adding to Linux really get noticed, and their code winds up in millions of machines all over the world. It seems like a perfect opportunity for an Indian programmer to "lift herself up by the bootstraps." (North American and European coders of similar talent tend to get snatched up by companies faster, so there is less need to prove oneself.) Actually, there is nothing special India except maybe that the population really is so well educated in computer science. Brazil and China are in a similar position--and we are already seeing some awesome Linux hacking coming out of Brazil. I can only imagine how much cool code will come from India and (eventually) China. This sort of news really makes you think that Linux might be unstoppable after all.
    • ...India already has thousands of talented coders...

      Actually, there is nothing special India except maybe that the population really is so well educated in computer science.

      You've never worked with any Indian developers, have you...?
  • /* Mandatory India+MS+Nuke=global destruction joke:

    I'll be sleeping much better to know that the Indian government will be migrating from those free Windows ME licenses to a Linux distro...won't you?

  • Worrysome (Score:2, Interesting)

    by God_Retired ( 44721 )
    I'm prone to paranoia, so take this with a grain of salt. I've been worrying me more and more how in the pockets of US corporations the gov't is. When India is willing to make such a strong statement regarding Freedom, and given that they have such a high percentage of engineers and coders, it almost makes me embarrased.

    I would like to see true progress, but with Dubya's oil company presidency and the rest of our elected officials spending 80% of their time raising money and, no surprise, putting out laws that help those companies in the lead stay in the lead, I worry. It shouldn't take running out of oil to develop different technology. It shouldn't take a genius to understand having the government use and pay for development that help society at large (GPL'd software) is a good thing.

    Damn me and my ideals.
    • India is willing to make such a strong statement regarding Freedom,

      The only statement India makes with this move is how poor their country really is, and that at least one group has decided to officially stop pirating MS software.
  • again!
    awesome, can never have too few choices!
  • by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:59PM (#4449456)
    This isn't meant to be a troll, but has anyone ever noticed the lack of GPL projects/work coming out of the 'east'. (this was a /. topic some mos ago), or the lack of commercial projects?

    I know there are some exeptions (red flag linux comes to mind), and that there are economic barriers in place that preclude growing up with the 'hacker ethic'. But still, it's a shame that all those skilled programers are doing boring projects for multi-nationals for crap $$.

    My bet is that this desicion will wind up having a huge impact on linux and related projects.

    • Perhaps it's because all the technical people from the East end up in the West?

      Look at the listing of graduate students in the CS department of any US university, and you notice a high percentage of them do not appear to be native-born.

      examples:
      The University of Washington [washington.edu]
      MIT [mit.edu]
      Stanford [stanford.edu]
      ...and the list goes on.

      So, it's not that the East doesn't contribute, it's that Easterners come to the West before they contribute; and who can blame them? Wouldn't you rather be at a well-funded school in an industrialized nation that has the latest equipment than fighting off the roaches while hoping the power doesn't go out to the old VAX in some third-world university?
    • There is a simple reason to this, maybe 95% leave in the West, and maybe 50% percent of them are in the US. Yes India has indeed a sizeable number of coders but far less than the US, I guess they may be around 200 000 or 300 000, France were I leave has nearly 350 000 people who work in IT, maybe 50% or 40 % of them are coders. The US must have millions of people who workd in IT, maybe 3 or 4, sorry I dont't have hard numbers, I am quoting this from very vague memories.
    • Economics/infrastructure/technological problems:

      Most of India is still on dial up; the broadband connectivity numbers are very low. Electricity is iffy. The barrier to technology is high (only good schools have access to decent hardware).

      But I think there is critical mass to set the snowball rolling.

      This is going to be exciting.
  • Newsworthy? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    On the one hand, this is not a particularly big deal as educational institutions have been using what has become known as Open Source Software far longer than others. On the other hand, this is a big deal as it means that now even those engineers building free software will be under increasing pressure from the migration of jobs away from the US and western Europe.

    The single biggest difference between software engineers in India and those in the US and Western Europe is... their cost.
  • Big deal (Score:5, Funny)

    by LineNoiz ( 616971 ) <kal_durak@y a h o o . c om> on Monday October 14, 2002 @06:05PM (#4449491)
    I can see the rest of the world adopting Linux. Fine, let them. That doesn't mean America will do it; just look at that stupid metric thing the rest of the world is all gaa-gaa over...
    • Re:Big deal (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The Peruvian congress is trying to switch to Linux.

      Brazil (Conectiva) is also playing with it.

      Argentina is doing some efforts to save some cash too.

      I can't understand which "America" will stay messing around with M$.

      In the strict sense of the word America != USA.

      Thanks,
      An American.
      • ...America == USA.

        This being the sense of the word that just about everyone (including most people not from the USA) uses. When you read a headline in the Economist (a UK publication) that says "America's War on Terrorism," you can be pretty sure that they're not talking about Guatemala. If a Greek tells you that he went to "Ameriki" for vacation, you can be pretty sure that he didn't go to Peru. And so on.
  • by carlmenezes ( 204187 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @07:06PM (#4449827) Homepage
    I just got back from India a month ago and had advised a guy over there who was going to start his BE to start learning Linux as by the time he graduated, it'd be pretty big. Who knew something like this was over the horizon? :)

    Anyway, on a more serious note, it's a really good thing. Previously software piracy was rampant basically because of the reason that buying software legally was just working out TOO expensive to the home user. Shifting to open source and Linux will kill two birds with one stone :

    1) It will drastically reduce piracy since students will now want Linux on their home machines and the majority of the home computer purchases in India are done "so my kids can use it".

    2) It will produce a HUGE amount of software solutions for Linux in the long run (when these kids graduate) that will go a long way to helping the idea of open source.

    India has always been known for their contributions to the software world and I have a feeling that this is finally a chance for something realy good to come out of it - why there's even talk of developing an Indian version of Linux!
    • India has always been known for their contributions to the software world...

      Really? I thought India had been known for its rich spiritual heritage that had lasted for thousands of years before any contributions to the software world were made. I can just imagine Columbus trying to convince Ferdinand and Isabella... "And not only that, but they have so many good programmers over there that the Open Source community will be greatly benefited! And they use Linux!" I bet that was what convinced the monarch.
      • Really? I thought India had been known for its rich spiritual heritage that had lasted for thousands of years before any contributions to the software world were made.

        It was. And it was also known for its contributions to mathematics. India is known for more than one thing, because India is bigger than an apartment and has more than one person living there...
  • This is great news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drix ( 4602 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @08:44PM (#4450476) Homepage
    Not only because (duh) India is the 2nd most populated country in the world, but they also can lay claim to easily one of the finest/most rigorous engineering and computer science schools [ernet.in] in the world, if not the best. IIT grads almost invariably turn out to be big movers & shakers in the IT world, or scary-smart geniouses, and usually both. Thus, good allies to have in your camp. To the extent that their government is telling them to move towards Linux, thus weaning a whole new generation from MS dependence, that's fine news indeed.
  • When we see stories that affect 20% of the world's population in one shot, companies like Microsoft shrink in perspective. There's little left but for the fat lady to sing.

    No soup for *you* Billy boy.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you are a true believer in OS diversity, you won't want Microsoft OSs to go away either... Choice is a good thing. Lack of choice is just as bad whether your only choice is Windows or Linux.
  • As an avid linux user (home, work, pda, etc) I feel like I can say that this is B.S.

    What about all those rantings for diversity, inter-compatibility, and freedom of choice?

    I'm against standardization of anything...

    later!
    .
    .
  • Linux and India (Score:5, Informative)

    by orcaaa ( 573643 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @10:12PM (#4450973)
    I come from India. All, yes all, the computers that i have come across in India are running pirated copies of Windows. Not a single license, even at one of our biggest IT companies :( . India also churns out tons of talented engineers every year, which include the likes of Sabeer Bhatia (the creator of Hotmail), Azim Premji(2nd richest man in the world, at some point last year) etc etc etc. The IITs from India, IMHO, are the *best* set of engineering colleges in the world. I am not taking anything away from MIT and company, but i firmly beleive that given MITesque resources, IITs will probably produce better graduates. Infact, just have a look at the number of people at MIT from the IITs. The main reason for this post graduate US migration, was the lack of money in India. The avg IIT grad got a starting pay Rs 4000 /- a month($80). This is certainly nowhere near what they would get abroad. Hence, there was significant brain drain. Getting back to the point, India has all the capacities of becoming a software superpower but there are a few stumbling blocks.
    The first and obvious one, is the sagging economy. If the Indian economy does not improve, the brain drain will continue and India(not Indians) will get nowhere.
    The second problem is the lack of people capable of teaching Linux. If one has bandwidth, one is capable of learning Linux by ones'self. But given the bandwidth in India, learning Linux online is not an option. The only solution is that people who know it already be willing to teach it to others. But even there, there is a huge ratio problem. The number of people who know linux is far too little comapred to the number of engg grads we produce. For instance, Maharashtra, the state whose capital is Mumbai(Bombay), has, according to counter.li, 521 people who know Linux.Maharashtra has roughly 100 M people. It has at least 100 engineering colleges, due to the presence of Mumbai and Pune. Even if we assume that all 500 are gurus, we still have only 5 linux gurus per engg college which has atleast 500 students, or only 1 person per 100 engg students.Bear in mind that these stats are scewed by the presence of IIT Mumbai which extensively uses linux.Add to that, the number of commercial offices in Mumbai that use linux and employ sys admins who know linux, and you will be left with very embarrasing ratio. I know this is a typical chicken and egg problem, in that the number of people who know linux wont increase if no one is ready to teach, but there are very few people capable of teaching. But something has to be done to address the issue. Without adressing such issues, the govt's decsion to move to Open Source, will sit like a white elephant in its own backyard.
    I am not providing any solutions here, cause frankly, i have none.
    • Dude, take a breath. I know it's not often that you see /. stories from India, but that's no reason to get excited.

      On a more serious note, I believe your attitude of Linux needing to be "taught" is contrary to the Linux philosophy. Agreed, Linux has a steep learning curve, but that doesn't mean that you need "gurus" to teach Linux (as opposed to evangelize it.) I believe the best way to "learn" Linux is by exploring it; hack it a bit, fiddle with a few things, see how things are different. Yup, you got it, The Hacker Mentality.

    • The IITs from India, IMHO, are the *best* set of engineering colleges in the world. I am not taking anything away from MIT and company, but i firmly beleive that given MITesque resources, IITs will probably produce better graduates.

      (Disclaimers: I'm of Indian descent, and my father graduated from an IIT)

      The best Indians are no better (or worse) than the best Americans or Europeans. You can't produce better graduates than MIT, CMU, Stanford, Caltech, etc. -- they're at ceiling.

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