[gnulinuxinasia] IOSN, building useful links

  • From: "Frederick Noronha (FN)" <fred@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: gnulinuxinasia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 12:58:21 +0530 (IST)

IOSN, building useful links

The Asia-based http://www.iosn.net -- truly Asian, based in Malaysia -- is
building itself into a network that brings out some interesting updates and
links. Check it out to keep in touch with what's happening in this part of
the globe.

IOSN.net is a Center of Excellence for Free/Libre and Open Source Software
(FLOSS) in the Asia-Pacific Region. From its small secetariat, this
organisation is "tasked" to facilitate and network FLOSS advocates and human
resources in the region.

Says the IOSN about itself: "The vision is that developing countries in the
Asia-Pacific Region can achieve rapid and sustained economic and social
development by using affordable yet effective F(L)OSS
information-communication technology solutions to bridge the digital

At the time of writing (mid-October), IOSN was highlighting Free Software
movement founder Richard M Stallman's talks scheduled in Kuala Lumpur and
Singapore, a micro-grant programme for the Pacific Island countries, R&D
grants for the Asia-Pacific region, and its recently worked-on FLOSS

Its primers include a general introduction to FLOSS, one meant to looks at
its role in education, in government and policy and yet another on FLOSS
licensing issues.

In addition, the IOSN.net is in the process of developing a localization
toolket, which it says "will add localization of FLOSS software". It also
runs the iosn-general mailing list, which aims to promote "more regional
communication and co-operation". Currently, Sunil Abraham <sunil@xxxxxxxxx>,
a young and enthusiastic techie from Bangalore, India is deputed as the
manager of this network.

IOSN.net is handing out free web and wiki space for groups working on FLOSS
in Asia. Just go out there and claim your space. In a region where most
countries are cash strapped, getting access to such resources can help.
Earlier, a whole lot of groups and inviduals had lent on the support of
freelists.org or even Yahoogroups to set up their lists, while networks like
symonds.net have, in the past, been generous in giving out accounts and

Update from China

Alex Banh of Sun Wah Linux in China has an interesting update of what's
happening on the FLOSS scene behind the bamboo curtain. No offense intended
here, but this curtain is created the lack of easy communication, primarily
due to linguistic reasons.

FLOSS was "officially" brought into China in July 1999 by the Chinese
Ministry of Information Industry (MII). In June 2000, Chinese software
vendors banded together to form the Open Source League. Since then, they've
also set up the Linux Public Development Platform project and the Linux
education project, to train and recruit FLOSS talent.

Banh sees China currently in a stage of "fostering international
cooperation". This year itself, the Beijing Software Testing Centre became a
member of the OSDL, and April 2004 saw the launch of the China-Japan-Korea
(CJK) OSS Promotion Forum. Currently, the forum is working on
standardisation issues, OSS education and training, and R&D.

Says Bahn: "It is forecasted that a compound annual growth rate of 46.7%
will be reached in China's domestic Linux software market in the upcoming
five years."

"Internally, in the future, the government and the OSS enterprises will work
hand-in-hand to provide more OSS education and training. Externally,
international cooperation such as CJK cooperation can help centralize the
R&D resources from different countries and works out a common standards that
enhances the compatibility of different OSS products," he suggests in a
presentation made at Taipei recently.

An Asian repository

It was in Taipei that the fourth Asian Open Source Software (OSS) Symposium
was held recently. Earlier meets were held in Phuket, Hanoi and Singapore.
Organisers hope this even will help to build a "shared (FL)OSS vision, goals
and challenges of Asian economies and present a roadmap for collaboration
among Asian economies in their (FL)OSS efforts."

This time's focus was on collaborations among countries of the region in
three specific tasks -- creating an Asian repository, building human
resource, and working out standards.

One idea being pushed is an integrated all-purpose Asian repository. Two
subgroups are currently working on its missions, functions, milestones and
business plan. Their final reports are due on February 28, 2005. There's
also work on addressing the need to develop "capabilities, skills and
competencies" for FLOSS in Asia.

On another plane, Asian standardization requirements need to be conveyed to
the international standard. This could promote inter-operability and
encourage standard-adoption. Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar have also agreed
to initiate a collaborative localization practice as a first step. This
exercise covers training, establishing standards and organizing a workshop.

More details at http://forge.iis.sinica.edu.tw/

Global linkages

Campaigners in the South Indian state of Kerala have announced plans and
begun working with Hipatia (www.hipatia.info), to organise an international
conference on free software/free knowledge.

This hopes to build links specially between Brazil, India and Italy. South
India's regional government of Kerala has reportedly agreed to organise this
event. "We recently got a confirmation from Brazil Minister of Culture,
Gilberto Gil to deliver the keynote address. This meeting will culminate
with a declaration (in favour of promoting) free knowledge. We are
finalising the programs," said local organiser Arun <arun@xxxxxxxxxx>

Debian attempts

Staying in India, but shifting to quite another context, Joey
<joey@xxxxxxxxxxxx>, one of the Debian volunteers, made this comment while
writing in recently: "I seem to recall that Debian could also use some help
with translations into the Indian languages..."

A look at http://www.debian.org/international/ would suggest that currently
only a few Asian langauges are covered by this project. As the project team
concedes: "In the free software community on the Internet we communicate
mostly in the English language. Most of our work is done in English, but it
is hoped that all Debian documentation, software and the installation will
be available in every language one day. We are constantly working towards
that goal, however, many obstacles are still ahead."

The Debian language pages are currently covered only in a handful of Asian
languages. That too, mainly the larger ones -- Arabic, Chinese, Japanese,
Korean, and Turkish." More languages depend on more volunteers.

India's LUGs

LinuxForYou, India's first and currently only magazine devoted solely to the
FLOSS world, counts some 88 LUGs and user groups across India. Some more
might be still unknown, while others from this list might be inactive or
hardly functional by now. See some of this writer's links at

Incidentally LFY has also announed its LinuxAsia2005 event, to be held from
February 9-11 at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Also coming up in
the South Indian city of Bangalore is LinuxBangalore2004

More details from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linux-bangalore-2004/

Gitex 2004 and SLUG

jadhai1 <asj@xxxxxxxxxxxx> mentioned that the Saudi LUG took part in
GITEX-Dubai, the main event in the region, for the fifth consecutive year.
Their plans included distributing FLOSS applications for the Windows
platforms, and Fedora.

In Pakistan

The Karachi-based Computer Society of Pakistan is getting involved with
setting up a Free & Open Source Software SIG -- http://www.csp.org.pk/foss.
Group leader Asaf Maruf Ali recently announced plans for taking the idea
ahead. Contact Asaf Maruf Ali <asaf@xxxxxxxxxxx> Also check out

Islamabad-based Pakistan Software Export Board (G) Ltd project manager M
Osman Haq <hosman@xxxxxxxxxxx> explains that he has been busy in the
starting of an Open Source Resouce Center of Pakistan. Says he: "We had our
first National Open Source Conference on September 14 and got a very good
feedback from the local community."

www.osrc.org.pk is meanwhile an attempt to create an Open Source platform
for the local community.

FLOSS fonts

Edward Trager (http://eyegene.ophthy.med.umich.edu/unicode/) who has done a
really good job in listing support for Unicode in Unix systems, is starting
a new project to catalogue free high-quality FLOSS fonts. The Web Naskh
(Urdu) font is listed already. Commented Simos Xenitellis <simos74@xxxxxxx>
"If I am not mistaken, only Nafees Web Naskh is released as open-source
while the others have restrictions. Are there more fonts available?"

Check out the URL is http://eyegene.ophthy.med.umich.edu/unicode/fontguide/
for "Unicode Font Guide For Free/Libre Open Source Operating Systems"

Open Support

Roy Souther <roy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> of the Open Support Guild "Bringing Open
Concepts to IT Support" at www.OsGuild.com is based in Canada but has "a
strong fondness for India", as he puts it.

He's looking to promote his Open Support Guild web site idea --
http://www.OsGuild.com -- in this part of the globe. Says Souther: "We are
looking for people in India to start up branches of the Open Support Guild
Project. We also need people in other countries to start branches as well.
The OSG project has an excellent start here in Canada."

OSG? What's that?

Explains Souther: "Open Support Guild members share resources in much the
same way that Open Source developers share source code. Applying the Open
Source model to IT support provides unique opportunities for expert members
as they work together to solve support issues and provide employment for
supporters of Open Source."

If you're somewhere in Asia, an interested, check it out.

Frederick Noronha (FN)                    Nr Convent Saligao 403511 GoaIndia
Freelance Journalist                      P: 832-2409490 M: 9822122436
http://fn.swiki.net                       http://fn-floss.notlong.com
http://goabooks.swiki.net * Reviews of books on Goa... and more

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