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Kerala logs on to free software

Sanjeev Ramachandran  |  Chennai/ Thiruvananthapuram 

It's the that is doing the rounds in the state these days. When free software guru came calling, he too supported the idea.
The thoughts got louder with chief minister V S Achuthanandan, known for his stance against monopoly companies, coming out strongly in support of free software.
With the state administration all for freeware, Akshaya, Kerala's much lauded e-literary initiative, foresees that all the talk about free software is going to make a welcome impact on its activities.
Says T K Mansoor, state coordinator for Akshaya: "We are seriously thinking about logging on to free software. In fact, even in the current scenario, state-level content made available to various Akshaya centres is provided in both free software and Windows versions".
On whether Akshaya will make free software mandatory, Mansoor said, "Akshaya centres across the state are run by private entrepreneurs. I don't think the government will force them to use only free software. But, they will have the option to choose between Windows and freeware. We are looking at more and more migration to free software."
There have been reports here that Free Software Foundation president has urged the state government to completely switch over the Akshaya programme to free software. On his visit to the city on Tuesday, Stallman had met the chief minister at a seminar on "The importance of free software for the development of Kerala".
According to the chief minister, the Kerala government would take the lead in popularising free software.
While Stallman said that free software aimed at 'liberating the inhabitants of the cyberspace from the clutches of the monopolists, Achuthanandan pointed out that the "capitalists are trying to monopolise knowledge, especially in the IT sector". Pointing out that proprietary software had malicious features, he said the only way out was to use and popularise free software.
With Stallman's visit with a mission and the state chief minister's inclination towards popularising free software being the talk of the town, it is great times for the promoters of free software. However, there are complaints that free software is not user-friendly. It remains to be seen how far the campaign would go.
With Akshaya entrepreneurs having been given the right to choose between Windows and free software, it may take a while to see Kerala logging on completely to the free software.

First Published: Fri, August 25 2006. 00:00 IST