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<nettime> noronhagram x3: hydro-hubris, freeing computers, seven steps
Frederick Noronha (FN) on Thu, 21 Aug 2003 04:52:51 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> noronhagram x3: hydro-hubris, freeing computers, seven steps

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"Frederick Noronha (FN)" <fred {AT} bytesforall.org>
     SOUTHASIA-HIMAL: Hydro-hubris... and other issues (Aug 2003)  
     Freeing computers ... in schools
     Seven steps to software samadhi...  

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Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 00:14:54 +0530 (IST)
From: "Frederick Noronha (FN)" <fred {AT} bytesforall.org>
Subject: SOUTHASIA-HIMAL: Hydro-hubris... and other issues (Aug 2003)  

---------- Forwarded message ----------

In the August 2003 issue of Himal South Asian 

What does the Government of India's proposal to link rivers 
across the landmass mean not just to India but also to South 
Asia's waters. A detailed inquiry by three eminent water experts 
from India.
Ramaswamy R Iyer on The Making of a Subcontinental Fiasco 
Himanshu Thakkar on Flood of Nonsense 
Sudhirendar Sharma on Suresh Prabhu and the Art of Selling 

'71 once again
A battle soldier reminisces about the India-Bangladesh war of 
1971. Subtle and evocative, the story hints at the futility of war 
with its share of lighter moments.
Bahauddins' War by Ishrat Firdousi

Afghanistan's manhandled economy
Where is the Afghan economy heading under the care of donors?
Economist CP Chandrashekar takes a close look in Aid, 
Expatriates and the Afghan Economy 

Chennai underbelly
Read about the inner dynamics of the Chennai sex trade.
Sex Work in the South by Syed Ali Mujtaba

'Supreme' courts?
A critical look at the judicial system in India that has set up legal
barricades around itself to ward off scrutiny. Contemptible Justice by
Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, Supreme Court of India

Review of Basic Water Science
A comprehensive critique of hydraulic orthodoxy authored by the 
Kathmandu water engineer, Ajaya Dixit. 

Review of Unbecoming Citizens
A reviewer, Bhim Subba, once labeled a criminal by the 
Government of Bhutan for fleeing the country, gives a thumbs up 
to SOAS author Michael Hutt's book on the Lhotshampa refugees. 

Our regular features
Southasiasphere by CK Lal 
Lastpage by Kanak Mani Dixit 

WISCOMP: The Scholar of Peace Fellowships
The Appan Menon Memorial Award for 2003

Researcher - South Asia Region
Amnesty International (International Secretariat)


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Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 07:33:09 +0530 (IST)
From: "Frederick Noronha (FN)" <fred {AT} bytesforall.org>
Subject: Freeing computers ... in schools

Or, why Free Software makes sense in education

Riza is a four-and-half Indian kid. For her, the computer is a toy. Instead
of adding one more difficult 'subject' to her tiring school-day, she
occasionally plays educational games on the PC.

When her friends come over, they end up learning without even being
conscious of it. One girl her size, who's never handled computers below,
drags on the mouse. As she moves it across the mouse-pad, the image of a
furry bear gets jerkily unveiled on the monitor. Another younger kid just
dances to the music that a programme called 'Bump and Jump' plays.

This particular piece of software was written by a team of Swedish students.
They would like to get a thank-you email from anyone willing to take the
trouble. Even if you don't, you can of course continue to use it. 

The best part is nobody paid for the CD they're using. It's not pirated
either. You can run it off any computer, by just booting up from your CD-Rom
drive! It comes in a 'distro' (distribution) called FreEDUC. See

Okay, so what's the point?

Free Software is opening up a whole new world. Education is one of its major
beneficiaries, globally. Are we sitting up to take note, though? 

You have Free Software tools that help students, whether they're in
kindergarten or studying complex streams of engineering.

Let's start at basics...

It's name might be a bit misleading. The term 'free' refers to 'freedom' and
not price (as in, zero-cost). Free Software, and its more-recent offshoot
called Open Source, gives the users a number of 'freedoms'. Unlike in the
world of proprietorial (pay-per-computer) software, the user has the right
to run a Free Software program for any purpose, study how it works,
redistribute copies, and also improve the program and release improvements
to the public.

In real terms, this means that it is next to impossible to charge huge
amounts for that software you so badly need to make your PC productive. This
is very relevant for a resource-poor, talent-rich country like India. 

Secondly, because knowledge is so freely shared, Free Software allows for
very low entry barriers. Anyone can see the source-code of a program
(without which, you wouldn't have a clue how it works) or contact coders who
have played a key role in writing this program itself.

Niranjan Rajani, a South Asian researcher based in Finland, recently put
together a study titled 'Free as in Education: Significance of the
Free/Libre and Open Source Software for Developing Countries' argues about
the benefits of FLOSS, as it's also called. See

Says he: "Take the example of education.  In terms of computer education,
FLOSS has no match. Nothing else provides that much value to learners as
FLOSS does. You're free to tinker with the code. Not only that, you can get
in touch with the people who wrote the code and ask why this or that was
done in a particular piece of code."

Rajani adds: "FLOSS has a complementary and reciprocal relationship to
education. One needs an educated section of the population to fulfil the
full potential of FLOSS, and at the same time FLOSS helps, enhances, and
complements education by providing tools to promote education."

But it's not just computer education that we're talking about. Free Software
has a big role to play, and here are ten good reasons why: 

o Not by bread (money) alone: Because Free Software evangelists are not
motivated by money alone, chances are that they will work on areas which
have the highest social need. Not just those that pay attention to the
luxurious needs of the affluent. It's no coincidence that education is high
on their agenda, both within India and abroad.

o Some of the best brains are here. That's a fact. The strong sense of
'community' makes it very easy to share software, ideas and solutions. 

o Anyone can get involved. Entry barriers in contributing to Free Software
are very low. Educators can, and are, shaping this movement and how
responsive it is to the world of education.

o Indian concerns, Indian developers: If we don't solve our own problems,
will a giant corporation in the US do so for us? FLOSS makes it easy for
anyone with the motivation, and a bright idea, to contribute to an exciting
global network. And, the software world shows us that people contribute
their skills and work not only for money. They do so for altruism, and a
sense of sharing knowledge. They do it "just for fun" or because they find
it a challenging task. They do it to develop new skills, or even in
anticipation of indirect rewards (like improving job opportunities). 

o Affordability: Free Software is not about price. It's about freedom. Yet,
in cash-strapped countries like India, the affordability of this tool makes
it particularly suitable for deployment in education.

o Support community worldwide: To scare off users from Free Software, one
argument is that there are few firms behind this global campaign. Yet, once
a region builds up its skills -- and we're fast getting there in India --
then these carry on spreading fast. Dozens or hundreds of mailing-lists and
newsgroups exist that offer support from a worldwide community of users and

o Indian-language solutions: If there are a handful of volunteers, it is
possible to make rapid strides in Indianising software. Even for small
languages, which proprietorial software might not see as viable. We can't
restrict computing and technology to a handful of English-language speakers
in this part of the globe. Networks like the Indic-computing-users mailing
list are doing interesting work on this front. See

o Adapt, rebuild, reuse: You don't have to re-invent the wheel. Anyone
interested can adapt existing software for their needs. In tiny Goa on the
Indian west coast, the local chapter of ILUG (India Linux Users Groups)
rebuilt a 'distro' that was meant to make it easy and uniform to install by
even unskilled people in schools.

Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay from eastern India wrote recently: "If you happen to
meet Arvind Yadav, can you pass on a message -- my friends have successfully
implemented LTSP (a terminal-server, which allows for the use of earlier
generation hardware) with graphics thanks to his wonderful Goa Schools CD
which he so kindly provided to me."

Says Arun <arun {AT} gnu.org.in> "We have tested gcompris (a set of educational
software) in Malayalam (a language spoken by over 30 million, but still
awaiting computing solutions in many spheres). Some games like typing tutor
needs to be modified for Indian languages." This is an international
educational software, who's name is based on the French term "I understand".

o The interest is here: In India itself, a number of groups are working to
adapt Free Software to education. There's even one called LIFE. This list is
at life {AT} mm.hbcse.tifr.res.in, or write to its admin Prof Nagarjuna G.
<nagarjun {AT} hbcse.tifr.res.in>. See the box alongside.

o It this won't work, nothing will... In the software world, the FLOSS
movement has shown its ability to produce results. This is one area of life
where the alternative is proving to be really good. Maybe better than the
'real' thing, i.e. the dominant model of software production!

To wind up, some pointers on getting started.

Using Free Software often means that you need an additional operating system
(OS) to run it on. (Some software, on CDs like GNUWin or The Open CD, run on
the Windows platform. But this is rare.) You can install a new OS alongside
an existing OS like Windows, provided you have the space for it. 

You should be able to access much of your earlier work in GNU/Linux too,
unless it is created under proprietorial file formats. GNU/Linux-based
computing can achieve almost everything that a computer run on proprietorial
software can, and more. 

CDs of Free Software can be download from the Net (a laborous process given
the slow lines most of us use in India), or copied quite legally from
friends. It can even be purchased from outlets in Bangalore or Mumbai,
Belgaum or Pondicherry at a price of Rs 25-50 per CD. Many Indian cities
have GNU/Linux user-groups, called LUGs or GLUGs. Find a list on
www.linux-india.org or check gnu.org.in Paid services are also available,
but if expecting friendly neighbourhood support, a little bit of politeness
could bring you support that money simply can't buy!
FREDERICK NORONHA is a Goa-based freelance journalist, who often writes on
IT issues. He is actively involved with the GNU/Linux movement in India. For
more details, contact him at fred {AT} bytesforall.org

For use as a separate box please:

Tools... available within arms reach:

Below are some tools available with the gcompris and drgenius and other
GNU/Linux packages.

junior-math   # Basic arithmetic. Q&A.
junior-toys   # Simple toys to adorn your desktop.
junior-typing # Typing tutor
tuxtype       # Educational Typing Tutor Game Starring Tux
gperiodic     # Periodic Table
ding          # language learning (default: german-english)
12e           # English to spanish translation dictionary
multiple versions of pool (billiards) games   
ksokoban      # excellent game to teach logic.
mathwar       # A flash card game designed to teach maths.
garlic        # [Chemistry] a free molecular visualization program
ghemical      # A GNOME molecular modelling environment

(Also Debian junior games for the network, simulation games, text-based
games, junior internet tools, junior programming, junior puzzles, junior
system tools and ucblogo - a dialect of lisp using turtle graphics famous
for teaching kids.)

B O O K M A R K S #####################################################

For a listing of case-studies of GNU/Linux's use in education, visit

Schoolforge works to promote free and open resources for education. Join
Schoolforge-discuss at http://schoolforge.net/sfdiscuss.php. One condition
is that members must participate in discussions. As the volunteers say: "We
are all busy, but we are all doing our best to collaborate wherever
possible." They also encourage the setting up of Schoolforge units and
meeting places wherever possible.

Recently, a project has been started to produce a free school administration
software package. It is at the planning stage and has need of volunteers to
help define the requirements of the system and assist with the construction
of it. See http://schooltool.sourceforge.net

Some useful mailing lists include the demo-schools network in South India,
the international schoolforge, and the Linux-Delhi schools network. See

Demo-schools-discuss {AT} nongnu.org, 
schoolforge-discuss {AT} schoolforge.net, 
school {AT} linux-delhi.org

See also linuxforkids.com

FREDERICK NORONHA is a Goa, India based journalist, who often writes on IT 
and development issues. He is co-founder of BytesForAll. He can be 
contacted via fred {AT} bytesforall.org and welcomes mail and links related to 
the issues above. 
Frederick Noronha (FN)        | http://www.fredericknoronha.net
Freelance Journalist          | http://www.bytesforall.org
http://goalinks.pitas.com     | http://joingoanet.shorturl.com
http://linuxinindia.pitas.com | http://www.livejournal.com/users/goalinks
T: 0091.832.2409490 or 2409783 M: 0 9822 122436

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Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 11:26:32 +0530 (IST)
From: "Frederick Noronha (FN)" <fred {AT} bytesforall.org>
Subject: Seven steps to software samadhi...  

Interesting ;-) FN


Message: 6
from: LinuxLingam <linuxlingam {AT} bhairon.com>
to: The Linux-Delhi mailing list <ilugd {AT} lists.linux-delhi.org>,
   linux-india-general {AT} lists.sourceforge.net
date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 16:18:12 +0530
cc: bg2000g {AT} indiya.com, bg2000g {AT} indya.com, fred {AT} bytesforall.com
subject: [LIG] [ilugd] 7 steps to software samadhi
reply-To: linux-india-general {AT} lists.sourceforge.net

hi bharat,

read your email with interest. especially the part on why you wish to migrate 
to gnuLinux.

i have discovered an insightful trend over the past few years:

1) those who *react* to the problems they face in the M$ soup of OS and 
applications, *rush* to gnuLinux, are totally dazzled and bewildered by the 
completely different paradigm, and sobered, crawl back to their M$, with a 
'been there, done that' attitude towards gnuLinux

2) those who *respond* to the problems they face in the claustrophobic and 
constrained world of M$ OS and applications, also realize M$ is really a 
small fraction, the visible aspect of the looming iceberg ahead, into which 
they crash. some aspects of the problems extend to almost all proprietory, 
non-freedom based software, on *any* platform.

those who *respond* to the problem, always migrate successfully.

so don't react, just respond. 

don't blame M$ or any other proprietory software company. Make your thirst 
for freedom, choices, of being responsible and in control of your computing, 
your real fuel.
the desire for 'muft' and 'mukt' software should be your fuel.

so how do you respond?
i call it the seven steps to software samadhi by linuxlingam.

step 1) get hold of a cd of gnuWin2
this cd contains freedom-based software for windoze.
install openoffice, mozilla(web browser), chat software, and other stuff for 
windows. start using them, taking files back and forth between these and your 
other software, until you feel quite familiar with these software.

step 2) get hold of a cd of knoppix.
this is a 'live' cd of gnulinux. pop it in your cdrom, boot the machine, and 
presto! your pc boots into gnuLinux, forgetting the windoze in your 'c:' 
drive. the entire operating system and soup sits in the ram of your machine, 
and works off the cd. explore knoppix, reding the helpful articles provided 
in the browser window. explore the applications, softare, and other stuff 
available on the cd.
you will find your openoffice, mozilla, and all other software, right there 
under knoppix, running under gnuLinux. so you have conquered half the 
battlefield already.
log off from knoppix, remove the cd from the hard drive, and reboot the 
machine, and you are back into the world of win doze. as if nothing happened.

step 3) at this point, if you feel you must migrate, buy a very good book on 
gnuLinux. i recommend peter norton, but you can go pick up a collection of 
books if you want,. this is always helpful. start reading the book, and 
playing with knoppix to understand the initial topics.

step 4) get hold of monkeyLinux, or dragonLinux, and install them into 
windoze! these are special versions of gnulinux that install in the start 
menu of windoze, but on running them, they actually give you a complete 
gnulinux os! so from within windows, you can use gnuLinux.

step 5) reading the book, and with help from mailing lists and friends, and 
tldp.org, yolinux.org, etc., learn how to partition your hard disk, and 
dual-boot it into windows and gnulinux. so you can use gnuLinux, and when you 
find you have to get back to windoze, or have to use that application not 
with an equivalent yet on gnulinux, use windoze.

step 6) configure your gnuLinux, to network with other win based machine on 
the network, to access your legacy win data over partitions, etc. make sure 
you do all your work more and more in gnuLinux alone.

step 7) my favourite one: the day you discover you don't boot into win for 
weeks, reformat the win partition, and free up space for more space for your 
data files, or install a second distribution of gnuLinux, or yet another 
alternative operating system, on your pc. and do go and distribute the cds of 
gnuWin and knoppix to your other colleagues as well.

so the essence:
migration is never instant. it happens in stages, and takes time, in days, 
weeks, or about 1 to 3 months to the outer-limit. 

enjoy the migration, it is a beautiful adventure in itself, and quite 
rewarding. it will teach you many new things.

happy gnulinux software samadhi.


copyright 2003: LinuxLIngam. verbatim copying, distribution, and sharing of 
the above text is allowed in any media, so long as this notice is preserved.

Linux-india-general mailing list
Linux-india-general {AT} lists.sourceforge.net

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