[Reader-list] Contribution to GNU/Linux from South Asia

Jeebesh Bagchi jeebesh at sarai.net
Tue Feb 12 14:48:38 IST 2002


By Frederick Noronha
fred at bytesforall.org

MORE DETAILS FROM http://linuxinindia.pitas.com

Is India contributing to the global GNU/Linux initiative?

Check out what's happening in this part of South Asia. The modest
work-in-progress site http://linuxinindia.pitas.com attempts to catalogue
some of these efforts...

And, it appears that quite a few things are actually happening...

Scientific data visualisers (its name is 'MayaVi', after the term for a
magician in the ancient sacred language of Sanskrit), software that queries
each host to display the HTTP server software, and the like.

That's not all: Commercialized supercomputing technology, Linux parallel
supercomputers for high speed rendering, molecular modeling and weather
modelling, bioinformatics solutions, GIS servers and even Indian language
'killer applications' (word processing, e-mail using GPLed tools).

Check out Perl modules that help you do "various things". Or an interactive
voice-response system, that allows anyone to select and fetch pre-recorded
messages via a telephone... of course, using Linux.

Other Indian GNU/Linux products include a GPL WAP-based POP3 mail client,
and a RomanScript-to-Hindi transliterator from the world of GPL again.

Down south, software initiatives are focussing on building office suites
"like MS-Word, Excel and Access" for Linux. Or even a Pacman in Tamil!

Likewise, other teams are looking at giving Linux an Indian face -- offering
Indian language support from the kernel up, not just as an add-on stuck on
top of the Operating System. Imagine Pine in the South Indian language of
Tamil. It's possible, says this team!

Check out Bugster, a P2P application for sharing MP3z and OGGz.

Information Meta View (IMV) system attempts to create a web standard for
information storage in a decentralized database. Information is stored as a
graph like structure spanning several service providers.

Mget is a command-line download manager mget is a command line download
manager. "It splits the file into a number of segments and uses several
separate threads to download each segment. It can handle proxies." It's by
Debajyoti Bera, from India's prestigious technology incubators called the
Indian Institute of Technology.

Kandalaya (Sanskrit for "abundance", take Raj Mathur's word for it) is an
outfit that consults in GNU/Linux, Network application integration and
network security. Committed to the Free Software (Open Source) movement and
its goals, Kandalaya contributes back its software packages. Like Hinv
(hardware inventory, Gmemusage (graphical memory usage viewer), PPP Dial-Up
Scripts (it isn't that tough to dial-out to your ISP now) and Simple SMTP
(does a "simplistic checking" of how fast a mail server is).

Checks links to the free software campaign in India, and efforts to make
GNU/Linux relevant to the millions of youngsters going through the
educational system in this country.

On http://linuxinindia.pitas.com you'll find links to GNU Yahoo, a software
named after the developer's girl-friend (guess which...software), and links
to the growing number of Linux groups across India. There's even a site
earlier run out of the Indian commercial capital Mumbai (earlier Bombay)
that tells 'everything' about a few dozen of free Operating Systems
available worldwide.

Students in the tiny state of Goa -- better known as a holiday destination
-- are smoothing out rough edges of their GNU Library Management System,
called Glibms. It's now up on sourceforge.net

Wondered what happened to the Simputer, the sub-$200 computing device that
was slotted at being meant to take computing to the commonman in India and
the rest of the Third World? Check out the link...

Also being announced is an operating environment for the Linux kernel. With
a name like Indy, take no guesses where it's coming from....

In nearby Bangladesh, Mohammed A Muquit has a fascinating page of free
software. Bangla fonts with Linux groff, LDAP authentication module for
Apache web server, good ol' MasterMind game for Linux, a simple PPP dialler
for Linux (mppp), mxconsole... and lots more. Thanks to Jeebesh Bagchi for
pointing me here.

Links to all this is available on this site, which is still only in the
making and has a long way to go before it can claim to credibly catalogue
even some of the many initiatives coming up from this region.

Why has India taken its time to make its contribution to the Linux world
felt? Till recently, there were doubts expressed whether Indians were at all
giving back anything to GNU/Linux domain. Now, these doubts are vanishing...

It needs to be remembered that most Indians couldn't access the Net till
sometime in August 1997. It was only on Independence Day that year that
Internet services were thrown open to the general public. They too had to
pay steep prices for Net access initially, and in recent months the costs of
this has fall...Earlier, only a few priviledged researchers and some
government officials could access the Net.

All this means that collaborative working and gaining access to ideas and
inspiration from near and far is becoming a reality.

In the months ahead, we could well see the speedy growth of an Indian (and
South Asian too, since other countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have
their own programming talent) contribution to GNU/Linux.

If readers could help this journalist with pointers in this direction, I'd
be grateful. My work to map the contribution of South Asians to GNU/Linux is
supported by www.sarai.net of New Delhi. -FN
Frederick Noronha * Freelance Journalist * Goa * India 832.409490 / 409783
BYTESFORALL www.bytesforall.org  * GNU-LINUX http://linuxinindia.pitas.com
Email fred at bytesforall.org * SMS 9822122436 at attcell.net * Saligao Goa India
Writing with a difference... on what makes *the* difference

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