Frederick Noronha (FN) on Wed, 14 Jun 2006 15:00:52 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> FOSS in Asia-Pacific * June 2006 * Links from the Asia Commons


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June 2006. AsiaCommons issue. Released at Bangkok, Thailand



Asia Commons: Asian Conference on the Digital Commons,
Bangkok, Thailand, 6-8 June 2006

Governments, Going Online and Macau

Bangladesh, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Asia

IOSN Grows to Three More
Software Freedom Day
Partnerships with Asia
LPI Certification in Northeast Asia
Intel Commits Big Money to Third World Project
FOSS Scholarship in India
GNU/Linux in Local Languages: Nepali
Messaging Solution for Small and Medium Companies in the
Winner from Singapore

Open Source in Singapore
English-Telugu Dictionary Online
UNEGOV.NET, Promoting FOSS in e-Governance
Computers, School and Goa
Whom is This Coming From?
Feeds from Asia
Spreading software, the human, low-cost way

South Asia, Malaysia


AsiaCommons: The Asian Conference on the Digital Commons, was
held in Bangkok, Thailand, from June 6-8, 2006. For detailed
coverage of the event see

Asia Commons' goal was to bring together participants from
Asia-Pacific and around the world to discuss, explore and
collaborate around three key themes:

     * Access to Knowledge and Culture in Asia 
     * Models for Collaborative Knowledge and Culture 
     * Towards a Healthy Asia Commons

Asia Commons has some interesting perspectives, and their
ideals flow in close parallel to the Free/Open Source
Software (FOSS) movement.

Many resources exist on the conference themes, including:

* Links: is a public collection of
web resources which anyone can contribute to. Resources added
(or 'bookmarked') in have been 'tagged' by their
contributors to describe the resource's content. Participants
are encouraged to contribute resources of interest through using some of the tags above in order to discover
new resources shared by other users. Using is easy, simply register for

* IPR with a Development Focus: 
* Access to Knowledge: 
* WIPO with a Development Focus: 
* Open Business (models): 
* Open Content: 

* Copyright and Access to Knowledge:  Consumers Intenational
Asia Pacific Office has produced a research report Copyright
and Access to Knowledge as well as two country level studies
for Indonesia and Thailand. See:

* The Copy/South Dossier: Issues in the economics, politics,
and ideology of copyright in the global South:

* P2P Foundation Encyclopedia Resources: P2P Foundation is
building an encyclopedia with many topics related to the
conference themes:

* Book Commons:

* Copyleft:

* Creative Commons:

* Diffuse Innovation:

* Distributed Creativity:

* Distributed Intellectual Property Right:

* Educational Commons:

* General Intellect:

* General Public License:

* Genome Commons:

* Global License:

* IANG License:

* Information Commons:

* Libre Commons Licenses:

* Open Access:

* Open Archives:

* Open Biology:

* Open Content:

* Open Courseware Initiative:

* Open Data:

* Open Educational Resources:

* Open Hardware:

* Open Knowledge:

* Open Learning:

* Open Media Standards:

* Open Networked Learning Model:

* Open Source Architecture:

* Open Source Biology:

* Open Source Economics:

* Open Source Hardware:

* Open Source Industrial Design:

* Open Source Licenses:

* Open Source Record Label:

* Open Source Telephony:

* Open Spectrum:

* Open Standards:

* Open Textbooks:

* Patent Commons:

* Peer Property:

* Peer to Patent:

* User-Capitalized Networks:

* User-centered Innovation:

* Wireless Commons:


Governments, Going Online and Macau

WINDOWS": Inter Press Service had this interesting report on
26 March 2006.

     "Developing countries can't afford to buy Windows-based
     software. The basic Windows operating system costs a
     year and half salary for the average Vietnamese
     citizen," said Mike Reed, director of the United Nations
     University International Institute for Software

Electronic governance promises to cut corruption and improve
transparency, and open source software offers a way to break
South Asia's technological dependence on industrialized
countries, experts say.

Open source software such as Linux is non-proprietary, less
complex, more efficient and freely available to anyone -
unlike Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows operating system,
says Mike Reed, director of the United Nations University
International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST),
based in Macau, China.

"Linux is now the fastest-growing software and powers eight
of the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world," Reed said.

Open source software like Linux is embedded in many types of
electronic devices, like mobile phones and cameras. Open
source is also starting to cut into the near complete
domination of the personal computer market by the Windows
operating system, he said.

"Developing countries can't afford to buy Windows-based
software. The basic Windows operating system costs a year and
half salary for the average Vietnamese citizen," he noted.

That's led to rampant theft or illegal copying Latest News
about illegal copying of Microsoft software. However, such
software cannot be modified or customized to meet local
needs. Companies and governments have no other choice than to
commission expensive custom programming from California's
Silicon Valley.

Open source, on the other hand, is easy to customize and not
particularly difficult to learn, says Reed. Although Linux
has been around for more than 10 years, only a few developing
countries like Brazil have a significant number of home-grown
open source programmers. Without local programmers, setting
up electronic governance - use of computer technology by
governments to improve public access to information and
services - becomes very expensive and difficult.

Access to computers is one major problem in the developing
world, and so is the lack of local programming projects so
that programmers can learn, says Reed.

Reducing Corruption

Vietnam is one exception. A few years ago, Vietnam launched
an ambitious effort to modernize, developing its own version
of Linux called Vietkeylinux, partnering with the computer
chip Latest News about computer chips manufacturer Intel
(Nasdaq: INTC) Latest News about Intel and moving to
electronic governance (e-governance).

"Vietnam has more things online than the U.S. government,"
Reed said.

Isolated Vietnamese villages now have public computer kiosks
where citizens can conduct business with the government
online, such as registering for birth certificates.

"That reduces mid- to low-level government corruption,
because it's easier to keep track of paperwork and everything
is visible and public," he said.

Government services are easier and cheaper to provide
electronically. Plus, such an electronic/information
infrastructure and expertise in these areas is crucial for a
country like Vietnam to successfully participate in the
global economy.

South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore are successful examples
of countries with low levels of corruption and high levels of
economic activity that other Asian countries are hoping to
emulate, Reed said.

The information revolution has been slow in reaching
two-thirds of the world, according to Darrell West, an
e-governance researcher at the Center for Public Policy at
Brown University in Providence, R.I.

"Many countries don't have the money, and some don't see the
benefits or have the desire to make the public sector open
and transparent," West told IPS.

Major Motivator

     In an exhaustive survey of the e-governance capabilities
     of 191 countries, West found that it is practically
     nonexistent in most African countries, as well as those
     in the Middle East. While money is the main problem in
     the former, the latter are dominated by "rich
     monarchical governments that have a very different view
     of public service and are not interested in
     e-governance," he said.

Although e-governance can reduce "street-level corruption,"
the biggest motivator for most countries is to improve their
economic development and boost their trade capacity, he said.
In the long term, West is optimistic. "Countries are
beginning to see the benefits and the cost reductions of
e-governance," he said. However, launching such initiatives
isn't easy and requires technical expertise, financing and
political leadership, Reed added.

It required a major two-year effort in the UNU home base of
Macau, on the coast of China. Among the most difficult parts
of moving to e-governance is getting government departments
to open up, share their information and cooperate with each
other, he said.

"It used to require permissions and licenses from 10
different agencies to start a business in Macau. Now, there
is just one online form," the researcher explained, and it
took a strong leadership that insisted government officials
make it happen.

The impoverished country of Nepal was on the verge of
achieving a good level of e-governance until the current
political strife erupted a year ago. Nepal's high level of
literacy and good mathematical education made it possible to
develop Nepalese programmers who, with UNU training and USD2
million in outside funding, built an open source e-governance

Government Resource

E-governance in Nepal is effectively on hold now, said Reed.
This month, India announced an extremely ambitious national
e-governance plan to computerize data in public sector banks,
insurance companies and tax departments, create national
citizen databases, put passports, visas and immigration
information and data online, and much more. The two-year
effort is expected to cost USD1.5 billion.

To assist these e-governance attempts and to help other
countries get started, the UNU has established an interactive
information clearinghouse on the Internet that it calls In addition to having instructional how-to
materials online, the portal will make available software and
research papers, as well as contact information for others
who have or are setting up e-governance in their own

The World Bank is among funding agencies being approached.
Already, Vietnam is sharing some of its experience with
Nigeria, Reed said.

"People love to share their success stories," he concluded.

BANGLADESH: Omi Azad recently wrote about FOSS in the weekly
Ekattor magazine of Bangladesh.
(article in Bangla) Omi is a contributor to the Bangla
Computing and Localization Projects including Ankur and Ekushey
For an active Linux User Group related to Bangladesh, see

JAPAN: Controversial David software is out in Japan

MALAYSIA: FOSS Spreading its Wings
4&sec=itfeature> OPEN source is spreading beyond the
operating system market and is being utilised in other areas,
such as database and customer relationship management (CRM)
software. About 53% of Malaysian software is based wholly or
partly on open source, according to Wilvin Chee, IDC Asia
Pacific software research director. In his presentation,
Direction O6 Open Source Software: Its Impact to the
Marketplace, he said the Linux operating system would make up
15% of the overall server market this year.

PHILIPPINES: Open source better for those school PCs by Behn
Fer. Hortaleza

SOUTH ASIA: Linux powers autonomous military ground vehicle
<> Interesting
to see LynuxWorks CEO Inder Singh has South Asian
connections. iRobot used embedded Linux to build an
autonomous unmanned ground vehicle aimed at military
scouting, guarding, and hauling applications. The "R-Gator"
is based on John Deere's diesel-powered, 658cc M-Gator
military utility vehicle platform, with control, navigation,
and object-avoidance systems based on BlueCat Linux from


IOSN Grows to Three More
In order to address the growing information and technological
needs of the Asia and Pacific region, the International Open
Source Network (IOSN) has established three new Centres of
Excellence - IOSN ASEAN+3, IOSN PIC (Pacific Island
countries), and IOSN South Asia. Together, these Centres will
continue the research and development, networking,
institutional strengthening, and training undertaken by IOSN
over the last three years to advance the adoption of
free/open source software, open standards, and open content
across the region.

Software Freedom Day: Sept 10, 2006
Software Freedom Day is a global, grassroots effort to
educate the public about the virtues and availability of
Free/Libre and Open Source Software. Over 200 teams are
registered so far, and they have plans to celebrate Free
Software at schools, universities, parks, and many other
public places.

How can I help:
Forming a team:

Feeds from Asia
     WHAT IS ASIA talking about? You can keep track via -- a site for RSS feeds of
     mailing lists discussing (mainly) FOSS in Asia. If your
     Asia and FOSS-linked mailing list offers RSS feeds and
     is not yet listed here, please contact

DP's REVIEW: You must be aware of the fact (atleast by now)
that there exists many LUG (Linux User Groups) and FSUG (Free
Software User Groups) which have publicly available feeds of
their message archive. However the number of user
groups/communities are not only very's hard to
find out which ones have online mailing lists...which among
these have opened their message archive for public preview
(i.e. a visitor can read the messages without joining the
group)...and finally, what might be the URL's of those mailng
lists? One simple answer is

It's a simple website with the message subjectlines from
members of various LUG's, FSUG's etc. of India (and some more
countries of Asia) appearing in reverse chronological order
.... You can expand a subject line to read the summary (the
default abstract that a website exposes through it's RSS/Atom
channel) and also read the full article by clicking on the
appropriate link.

Although, this site itself doesn't archive feeds for more
than a week, it serves as the perfect LUG newspaper. You get
to see all the news, links, software from such a wide variety
of sources and yet at the same time, they are guaranteed
fresh..thanks to the RSS technology...umm format actually. :)

Last but not the least...joining more than one LUG is
sometimes not only necessary (to get in touch with a
community of people better geared towards answering queries
in certain fields of open source/linux) but also encouraged
to volunteer your help to more people than just those in your
own user group or community. We need to get discussions going
on maybe we'd feature on ;)

Hope you find the resource timely and useful. Or atleast a
constructive way of enjoying leisure time. -- Diabolic
Preacher ILUG-Ponda

Spreading GNU/Linux the low-cost, human way 
In India, bandwidth can still be an issue in many parts of
the country (apart from the bigger cities). In this context,
the best way to spread GNU/Linux software is to encourage
FOSS enthusiasts to replicate the same and sell the service
at a low-cost affordable price. One such example is Nelson
Lobo's (where, for India, a CD
costs a little over US$1 and a DVD under four dollars). Try
to replicate operations in your part of Asia. This could help
to make Free Software widely and affordably available.

Partnerships with Asia
Enterprise Open Source News Desk reported on 19 March 19,
2006, Covalent Technologies, a trusted source for complete
enterprise open source solutions, has announced it has
entered into strategic partnerships with a number of
technology companies based in England, Germany, India, and
the Philippines. These new partnerships bolster Covalent's
ability to deliver commercial support and service offerings
for popular open source projects out of the Apache Software
Foundation on a global basis, namely the Apache Web Server,
Apache Tomcat Application Server, Apache Axis Web Services
Framework, and the Apache Geronimo Application Server, and
complement existing Covalent partnerships already in place in
Japan, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

LPI Certification in Northeast Asia, Linux News
The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) hosted certification
events and "exam labs" within the Northeast Asia region
(China, Japan, Republic of Korea) during May and June 2006 to
promote Linux and Open Source professionalism. Jim Lacey,
President and CEO of LPI, noted the growing importance of
China, Japan and Korea as part of the organization's new
global strategy.

Intel Commits Big Money to Third World Project, Nestor E.
Arellano reports in ITWorld Canada (12 May 2006) that Intel
hopes to gain a head start on untapped markets in the Third
World by launching World Ahead, a global programme that will
pour USD1 billion over the next five years to promote
computer training and Internet use in developing countries.
The Santa Clara, California-based company recently unveiled
its five-year project plan, which includes extending
broadband access to one billion users and training 10 million
teachers on the use of technology in education. A component
of the programme is the development of a USD400 mobile
personal computer, dubbed Eduwise, that will run on Microsoft
Windows or the Linux operating system. The World Ahead
Programme will also push adoption of WiMax wireless
technology that allows high throughput broadband connections
over long distances.

FOSS Scholarship in India
Mayank Sharma in an interview in Newsforge says, "there is no
dearth of IT talent in India, but for a country that churns
out thousands of IT students every year, the number of Indian
contributors in the FOSS world is disproportionately low, due
in part to a lack of proper mentoring. To encourage more
students to go into FOSS development, the Kanwal Rekhi School
of Information Technology (KReSIT) at the Indian Institute of
Technology Bombay partners with Red Hat for an open source
scholarship challenge each year. Participants, mentored by
FOSS leaders, get the opportunity to work and collaborate to
solve a real-world problem, and the winners get a share of
the Rs. 1 million (about USD22,000) prize." [Source:]

GNU/LINUX in local languages
NEPAL FINDS ITS SOLUTIONS: From simplified Nepali
an OS is an article by Bal Krishna Bal, published in April
2006 on the Association for Progressive Communications blog.
Bal tells the story where it starts: "Somebody rightly said,
'Necessity is the mother of invention'. Had it not been for
the necessity felt by Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya(MPP) for the
electronically cataloging of its collection of books some
four years back, which was then not possible with the help of
the existing fonts of Nepali like Preeti and Kanchan, there
are doubts that MPP, a principal archiving house got involved
in developing software in Nepali." And what they achieved was
something quite unexpected.

Messaging Solution for SMEs in the Philippines
AXIGEN Mail Server is now available for the Philippine market
as a result of the distribution agreement signed between
local company GEN Automation and Gecad Technologies
(Romania). AXIGEN Mail Server calls itself "a fast, scalable
messaging solution, perfectly adaptable to the communication
demands from both small and medium companies and Internet
services providers." Launched by the last fall, during Linux
World Expo in London, AXIGEN says it "succeeded until
nowadays to manage e-mails from over 300,000 mailboxes and to
be distributed worldwide through 10 valued partners." It
reached version 1.1 and operates on both Linux and FreeBSD.
AXIGEN Mail Server has been designed and created from scratch
by Gecad Technologies developers. Gecad Technologies has a
five-year history of expertise in technology research,
information security, project management and messaging
solutions. [Source:]

Winner from Singapore
Congratulations to Ricky Lee of Chevalier Singapore for
winning the Asia Pacific's RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer)
of the Year title. Red Hat would like to thank all RHCEs for
their submission. Ricky has won himself a sponsored trip to
the Red Hat Summit in Nashville, Tennessee, and will be
presented with the RHCE of the Year plaque.

Open Source in Singapore
LUGS is maintaining a list of Free and Open Source
contribution, usage and companies that support this in
Singapore. These can be in any area that supports the concept
and philosophy of open source.

English-Telugu Dictionary Online, Ind Linux, 30 May 2006
Swecha team has put up a web interface for English Telugu
Dictionary. The interface is in Telugu Unicode unlike most
other online dictionary lookup services. It is based on
Charles Philip Brown English-Telugu Dictionary, available
under GPL at

UNEGOV.NET, Promoting FOSS in e-Governance
Established by the U.N. General Assembly in 1973, United
Nations University is an international community of scholars
engaged in research, advanced training and the dissemination
of knowledge related to pressing global problems. The
University operates a worldwide network of research and
post-graduate training centres, with headquarters in Tokyo. is also actively promoting the use of open source
software for e-Governance through its schools and courses by
teaching open source technologies and tools. It will also
provide a rich collection of open source frameworks and tools
for building e-Governance applications through its portal.

Computers, School and Goa
A Spanish volunteer from Catelonia, working for the Goa
Schools Computers Project (Knowledge Initiatives Trust), put
together this interesting collection of software suitable for
use in schools.

Whom is This Coming From?
If you would like to know more about the work of the compiler
of this newsletter or would like to explore possibilities for
FOSS-style collaborative working (specially in the
information and mailing-list area), then check out You can also find a
link to a report that gives a snapshot of FOSS in many Asian
countries circa 2003, at


>From Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and More
This is the first time that Red Hat is doing such a program
of this nature anywhere in the world. In the first two years,
we started with India because this is a vast geography to
cover. The third year's program has been expanded to the
Indian subcontinent, and we have received project submissions
from Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and more. -- Venkatesh
Hariharan, on the South Asian scholarship challenge.

Take Responsibility for Something You Believe In... writes
Khairil Yusof in MyOSS Community of Malaysia
Let's be clear. MyOSS community consists of students and
developers. Hard pressed for time and other resources. Every
now and again, somebody comes up and says that the community
ought to do something. They've done a lot already:
Of course these students and developers should give up what
little personal time they have left to do what other people
tell them to do. I take this personally, because whenever
this comes up, it usually comes down to a few people (aizat,
ditesh, nsh) who do real things (papers, presenting at
conferences and talks, organising meetups). It's unfair to
ask any more of them. This won't be the last time we hear
such requests, but what I would like to see next time is
something along the lines, "I want to do this guys, and have
spent some time doing it and would like the community to help
me out." Taking responsibility for something you believe in
is a much better attitude, then just throwing it to the

IOSN NEWSLETTER: FOSS in Asia-Pacific is edited by Frederick
Noronha -- -- and supported by the
International Open Source Network -- 

     IOSN promotes the adoption of free/open source software,
     open standards and open content for sustainable human
     development in the Asia-Pacific region. It is an
     initiative of UNDP Asia-Pacific Development Information
     Programme and supported by the International Development
     Reserch Centre of Canada.

To include Asia-Pacific related news about FOSS in this
newsletter, please email This newsletter
is released under the Creative Commons Attribute 2.5 license.
Reproduction of the contents of this newsletter is
encouraged, provided acknowledgement of the source(s) is

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