Software Freedom Day observed

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As the city was in the midst of various programmes to mark Gandhi Jayanti on Monday, the district resource centre of the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) at Jagathy was engaged in an unrelated, yet purposeful, venture.

The office was buzzing with activity as many people turned up, armed with their laptops, to observe Software Freedom Day by resolving to switch over from proprietary software to free and open-source software (or FOSS). Officials of KITE (formerly [email protected] project) also installed, free of cost, the GNU/Linux-based operating system Ubuntu, customised for the [email protected] project, for those who attended the ‘free software install fest.’

Among those who participated in the programme were students, researchers and government officials, each curious in discovering opportunities that existed beyond the clutches of proprietary software.

“Very often, many of us are forced to base our activities in line with the restrictions laid down by private software companies. We are also left with little option but to update our computer resources whenever such entities phase out older versions of the same, thereby leading to significant financial burden. I hope to benefit by shifting over to Linux,” A. Nazeer, a research scholar in Library and Information Science in the University of Kerala, said.

Experts also conducted classes to help the participants in familiarising with the operating software and the accompanying applications, estimated to be worth over ₹1.5 lakh. Many students who were identified from among the 8,000-odd members of the Hi-School Kuttikoottam group in the district were also imparted training.

According to KITE district coordinator R. Sahani, similar install festivals will soon be organised in each of the 12 educational sub-districts in the district and later, at the schools. He added that the company was committed towards providing the operating system to all those who were interested to uphold the spirit of the free software movement. Besides being faced with a negligible chance of virus attack, GNU/Linux system also enabled users to contribute towards its development.

Official sources said that the government has managed to save huge amounts over the last few years by deciding to opt for free software applications. However, several government offices were yet to follow suit, thereby violating repeated orders that have been issued by the government and leading to great financial burden for the State exchequer.