Sub-RM1000 open-source PCs

Well, the one home, one PC campaign (PC Gemilang) has been launched. 100,000 PCs are available, for RM998. Celeron 1.7GHz, 128MB RAM, 40GB disk, and Gigabyte motherboards. Including monitor, and full multimedia set; Microsoft XP Home and Microsoft Works Suite costs an additional RM149 (also known as Package B). Upgrade to a P4 2.4GHz with an additional 128MB stick is RM400.

This package is “cheap” (I wish there was more RAM though). There’s a support network out there (55 support centres as well as 200 retailers nationwide), and we’re going to be building it more than anything. March 15th, orders “open”, and once they reach the expected 100,000 mark, they will stop. I reckon TMNet will be providing Internet access as well.

Pleased to note that the Minister of Energy, Telecommunications and Multimedia spoke English most of the time. The MoU was signed, and the open source PC’s will have Fedora Core, OpenOffice.org and GNOME. This is a big win for all the projects dear to me – 100,000 possible Fedora, OpenOffice.org and GNOME desktops. Rock on!

What did I do? Prepared a presentation (with lots of screenshots) to run on the naked Fedora Core 1 machine. When the Minister (Leo Moggie) unveiled everything, Microsoft had some chit-chat, and I presented what Linux could do (tried very hard not to bag Microsoft, and only mentioned virus outbreaks rather than other nasties). Microsoft had so much lead time to set up their box and they even had a bloody TV card in it. I had no Internet connection, a complete Personal workstation of Fedora, I couldn’t even get a VCD playing. Good thing I had my OOo presentation :)

The Ministry has greater aims than PIKOM – they want 500,000 cheap PCs by the end of the year. Leo Moggie has mentioned that consumers now have a “choice”; Will the average Malaysian pay RM149 for XP Home/Works, when they can get it for RM20 at the pirates? More Fedora machines ought to go out I hope… They’ve admitted that they have learnt a lot from Thailand and their Linux roll-out.

Windows is going to be a Bahasa Melayu version only, but there will be an upgrade to an English version if users want it; so this means that you’ll pay. Consumers, beware. About RM400, off-the-cuff, from Butt Wai Choon, Microsoft’s marketing man (pricing is not finalised). And there’s no option to upgrade to Office… Vendor lock-in is prevalent here, and I’m surprised Pikom didn’t push harder to not allow this – Thailand after all told Microsoft to go fool other countries (in not so many words, when they turned down the USD$35 versions).

There will be two mobile unit that will go around the country, to promote awareness. Cost of owning the PC, via a per capita income basis, used to be about 13%; it’s going to be reduced to about 7-8% now. It should also be clear that this is a private sector initiative, and the government is only facilitating this (so there’s less chance this will become another failed EPF OdaSaja scheme).

Update: Thailand has gotten this “Package B” idea thing happening too. Well, I guess competition is good; keeps us FLOSS folk on our toes. Again, the Pikom guys deserve a pat on their backs, and Xavier, and all rock!

On other notes, Novell is trying out Linux in Malaysia too it seems. For one company. Hmm, makes me wonder… Got to contact some birds there.

  • >> The MoU was signed, and the open source PC’s will have Fedora Core, OpenOffice.org and GNOME. This is a big win for all the projects dear to me – 100,000 possible Fedora, OpenOffice.org and GNOME desktops. Rock on!

    Excellent mate :) Really good news.

  • Colin, you deserve a Datukship or whatever they are for all your hard work for Malaysia. Are you really a full time student, or a reincarnated CIO?

  • BTW your software cuts out the tilde (~) from whatever I post, so my URL is wrong :( in the previous message.

  • Ken

    Way to go Colin! Great to see this initiative in Malaysia. Only one minor nitpick though – did Thailand really turn down MS’ US$35 offer? Last news report I saw said they eventually offered an alternative version (like our Package B) with MS installed on their systems.

  • Imran, yeah, silly blog-ware. Must fix it when time permits. Surely a full-time student, but there’s some more work to be done. If I was a CIO, I’d not be as passionate about what I love :) (at least thru experience with many that I deal with).

    Ken, it’s been fixed. This package B thing seems to be “true”. Competition is good (I guess).

  • Ruben

    hrm……….100,000 more Linux boxes out there? I’m gonna love seeing how this ends up.

  • Eber Donn

    When you say that the PCs “will have Fedora Core, OpenOffice.org and GNOME” do you mean that they won’t have KDE?

    Do you know if the system will also have support for chinese and tamil? I think it would be nice.

  • There will be Chinese/Tamil/Jawi support. There will be some KDE apps (if we need them), its in the planning stages, but yes, it should be rather GNOME-like.

  • Colin, you deserve a Datukship or whatever they are for all your hard work for Malaysia. Are you really a full time student, or a reincarnated CIO?


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