Archive for 10/2/2004


Day 2 got more technical, I’d say; fun for me, but not most of the others I reckon. They’re policy makers from the UN and respective governments!

FOSS in Education was interesting, touching on the Creative Commons license, MIT’s Open Courseware, and things like that. Tools like Moodle were covered. It just made me want to start what I finished – my open source training materials. Interesting points include the fact that FOSS allows one to transfer skills (so if we teach you FOSS-based stuff, it can be transferred to closed source based apps too); another is to not breathe FOSS down students’ necks, rather than show it to them as an alternative. I mentioned that tools like gcompris, tuxtype and tuxpaint come in handy for young children (along with Debian Jr. or the kdeedu meta package).

Licensing & Legal issues from Dinesh was a good introduction to the GPL, LGPL and the BSD Licenses. It’s a key importance, and we’ve found that we lack IP lawyers that understand copyright, patents, intellectual property as well as open source licenses. Not to name names, but apparently there are about 2 skillful ones in Malaysia, one in Singapore, and I know of one in Australia. Remember, give away everything, but never your intellectual property rights. Dr. Molly Cheah said, it’ll be over her dead body!

Localisation of FOSS is something that always gets interesting. In Malaysia, we use Bahasa Malaysia, but the script is similar – its Roman. We don’t have weird requirements for new fonts, and Unicode support; but this is where other countries shine and require it. Bhutan has their Dzongkha language, which they love dearly, and feel they need to promote it for sovereignity; MS promised them support, but with Longhorn delayed, they want a FOSS alternative. Bhutan is an awaiting open source project, with 800,000 people to support (out of which 70% live in rural areas).

Which brings us to an interesting point. Computers today are largely based on metaphors that the average urban bloke understands. Like we have a desktop, to represent our workspace. How do we transpose such an idea to someone in a rural area? What about a blinking cursor, in a language like Urdu that has no translation? They’ve resulted in calling it a “firefly”! The Khmer language (Cambodian) has got the translate fast and quick idea and pango and Mozilla has been translated. The language is Indic-script based, and well, they need OOo support.

Some suggested that it would be great if these localisation layers were removed. They have Linux itself as a layer (the OS layer), then they’ve got X to worry about (the windowing layer), then there’s a desktop environment (like GNOME) to worry about, and finally, there are applications to also translate. All this involves (wo)man-hours and most would find it easier if these layers were removed. Something about a new, X server. /me shudders.

Dinesh continued on about security and mentioned some useful open source tools, as well as what Worldcare has used. And that brought Day 2 to a close. Lunch was excellent, beautiful seafood, with Molly, Soo Hoe, Dinesh and I talking about open source in healthcare. Dang, thats something I’m taking an interest in. Fixed Molly’s Mozilla (so it reads/writes to both Windows/Linux). Dinner later with Ruben, Aaron, Serhan and Johnathan – rocking.