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Importance of open source software underscored

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Toru Yamauchi Photo: Vino John
Toru Yamauchi Photo: Vino John

Karthik Subramanian

It is very important in creating fair trade opportunities: Yamauchi

CHENNAI: India is the world leader in software expertise but awareness and use of open source software (OSS), a movement heralded by software engineers of Europe and America, remains restricted to ultra-geeks' circles.

Though the obvious benefits of OSS over proprietary software in terms of cost and usability are well documented and widely discussed among software engineers, the use in office and home environment remains low even in an IT-savvy country like India.

Recently Centre of the International Cooperation of Computerization, an international non-profit organisation, conducted a workshop in Chennai to promote OSS in association with Computer Society of India and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing. We caught up with Toru Yamauchi, managing director, CICC, Singapore on his views about the importance of developing OSS.

"It's not so much about opposing proprietary software," he clarifies straight up to clear any misconception on OSS being a fire-breathing dragon that is out to burn out the likes of Microsoft and other software giants.

"Development of OSS is very important in creating an open market and fair trade opportunities. OSS communities are needed for countries wanting sustainable development." With most of the popular software bundles that power offices and governments coming from established companies, it is imperative that smaller and new developers from developing countries get a fair chance to compete in the software market. That is where OSS chips in.

"What is lacking now in Asian countries is the lack of human resources - from developers, to system administrators to end users and more importantly trainers. A more organised HRD (human resource development) strategy is needed to increase OSS population."

CICC, a non-profit organisation funded by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, has been conducting "trainer's training" workshops across Asia over the past year. The Chennai workshop was the fifth in the series and admittedly the most exciting one. "India perhaps is more developed in the IT field both in terms of expertise and facilities when compared to other Asian countries."

Mr. Yamauchi hopes that the trainers would now network their own communities of OSS developers. "The Asian community has perhaps not been most suited for development of OSS because in our culture people are used to keeping trade secrets. But they have to now think of the greater common good."

It might not be known explicitly but open source software outshines proprietary software in server technologies and embedded systems. But are virtually miniscule in presence when it comes to home and office use though there are several OSS applications in that segment too.

For further details on OSS awareness programmes of CICC, log onto www.cicc.org.sg For downloading and trying out some OSS software and to learn more about the development communities, log on to www.sourceforge.net.

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