BANGALORE: The personal computer has been around for over 25 years — but Indians have had to run them with ‘imported’ software, whether Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OS or one or other flavour of the Open Source Linux.
Finally, we have something we can call India’s own PC Operating System: The Chennai unit of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), led by its Director, M.R. Rajagopalan, has put together BOSS or Bharat Operating System Solutions, an Open Source distribution of what is called GNU/Linux. The desktop version no 3.0 recently released supports 18 Indian languages and includes a host of features to enhance its utility: a 3-D desktop; support for Bluetooth wireless devices; a document reader for the PDF format and application tools in all Indian languages.
It is also compatible with Bharateeya OS, the Office tool set for Indian languages that CDAC brought out a couple of years ago to “Indianise” the OpenOffice suite.
Four States — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bihar and Chhattisgarh — have been proactive in deciding to standardise their e-governance applications around BOSS. For lay users, who want to give it a try, the software can be downloaded from
http://www.bosslinux.in/ — but CDAC also promises to send it on a DVD to anyone who writes in to or calls at any of its CDAC- BOSS support centres in Kolkata, Bangalore, Mohali, New Delhi, Noida, Thiruvananthapuram, Pune, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Addresses can be found at the website.
On DVD drive
To help those who don’t want to disturb their existing system, while giving BOSS a tryout, it can also be run from the DVD drive without hard disk installation. Give it a try — it is not perfect; like so many Linux realisations, it might not work with every peripheral you have, at first shot; but it is the most meaningful product to come out of the Indian software industry in decades — and let’s recognise it, this is work that a government department had to do.
It may be one small step for CDAC’s Chennai team; it might turn out to be a giant leap for desi PC users — if enough Indians embrace it.