The role of Linux in Kerala has been in the news lately. The move to use Open Source Linux over the propriety Windows OS in public schools is creating a great deal of excitement in the net. I saw four different articles of the same story hit the front page in digg...
- Linux Spreads Its Wings In India
- Biggest ever move off Windows to Linux
- Kerala Indian State to go 100% Linux
- Students get Linux in class room
And in 2 different Slashdot stories...
I am not checking Boing Boing or other such news sites - I will leave that as an exercise for you.
Advantages and Disadvantages
I recently went to a LUG meeting where I heard that this move might NOT be a good thing for the world wide linux community. The argument is that since Kerala has a communist government, many people will equate OSS with Communism. In US, people are very paranoid about communism and you can image the mess it is going to make there.
The slashdot artice sited above is a good example for this. If you take a look at its comments section, you will repeatedly see people making suggestions that the move is because Kerala is a 'communist state'. Thankfully, they are modded down and other commenters made it extremely clear that Kerala is not a communist state(we are Social-Democracy, apparently). Anyway, most are thinking it is a good move - what else could you expect from a site that is known for its support of all things Linux and Open Source?
What about the effect of this decision in Kerala? I always have supported OSS and Linux and hence I am reluctant to say anything against this move. I think that this is a good thing - in the long term. However, there might be some small term consequences.
The first problem, is the massive amount that have to be spent to make the move a reality. The computers must be updated, teachers must be trained, etc. This is a very small problem - the amount spent will be saved as there is no Licensing fee for linux - as in the case of another operating system which I will leave unnamed **cough** windows **cough**.
Students not exposed to Windows
The next problem, a bigger one, is that the students trained in Linux may not be prepared for a job in the business field which is unfortunately ruled by Microsoft. This will only affect a few batches as the businesses will soon learn that if they need someone to work for them, they will have to move to Linux. But the few batches that will be affected will be hit rather hard.
Windows in Colleges
Another problem associated with the one above is the collages the students go to for future studies may be using Windows. Again, conflict.
Another fear in many people's mind is that Linux is much harder to learn. This is not true - you can use a very easy to use distro like Ubuntu and work on it as easily as you did in Windows. However, if you use an expert Linux distro, like Gentoo or Debian, be prepared for the consequences.
In the News
- Kerala logs Microsoft out
- A moving tale
- Linux Spreads Its Wings In India
- Richard Stallman on Kerala's move
Linux and Malayalam
It is unfair to talk about Linux and Kerala without touching on Linux's support for Malayalam. There is even a blog dedicated for Malayalam and linux. Most of the posts in this site are in Malayalam, and if you are on linux and unable to access this site, go to the installation page - you will get some help there.
There is also a project aimed at supporting Malayalam language on GNU/Linux for the user interfaces like X, GNOME and KDE desktop.
Malayalam - Project for translating popular softwares to Malayalam.