eGovernance in India

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Set Up a Mail Server in Ten Minutes:hMailServer, a Windows-based Open Source software,

Posted by egovindia on November 3, 2007

Set Up a Mail Server in Ten Minutes

hMailServer, a Windows-based Open Source software, provides an easy and inexpensive way to create an email server

Rakesh Sharma

Thursday, August 09, 2007

hMailServer is an Open Source email server for Windows. It supports all the common email protocols such as IMAP, POP3 and SMTP. In addition, it provides antivirus protection, spam protection, DNS blacklists, logging, distribution lists, aliases, virtual domains, etc. It ships with a light version of the MySQL database. If you don’t have a database server installed, hMailServer installs this light MySQL edition automatically. In this article we will help you set up your own mail server using hMailServer.

First, get a domain name of your choice. Open the configuration page of your domain on the website from where you registered. In the ‘A record’ provide the Public IP address of the machine in which you are going to configure the mail server. Now in ‘MX record’ specify the domain name, as done in the A record. Next, change the host name of your system to same as that of the domain name. For this go to start>run, type c:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts and press enter. Select notepad from the ‘open with dialog box’. Find the line including ‘ localhost’. Replace ‘localhost’ with your domain name and save the file. The hardware requirement basically depends on the number of users. So, take any machine which fits your requirement for the mail server. For instance, in case of 25 users you can even go for a standard P4 machine with 512 MB RAM, 80 GB HDD and Windows XP. Take the hMailServer from this month’s PCQXtreme DVD or download it from the link mentioned in the specs box. Installation is pretty straightforward and takes a few minutes.

Direct Hit!
Applies To: IT managers
USP: Set up a mail server with all standard features
like POP3, IMAP, SMTP with anti-virus and anti-spam
Primary Link: Google Keywords: hMailServer
On PCQ Xtreme DVD: \system\labs\hMailserver

On starting hMailServer, an ‘hMailServer administrator-connect’ dialog box appears, which connects you to its different services. Click on the ‘Connect’ button. You are now connected to the hMailServer instance running on local host. Then it asks for a password-enter the one you provided during the installation process. A get started screen appears. Here click on ‘Add domain’ button, enter the domain name you’ve registered and click on save. On the left side of the hMailServer admin interface, a node is created with your domain name.

In SMTP setting Provider the host name so that the server knows its public on the Internet

The next step is to create user accounts on the email server. For this expand the domain node and click on ‘your domain name’. Then click on ‘Add account’. Here specify the user name, let’s say ‘xyz’, and add it to the account address, with this you get ‘xyz@your domain’. Now specify the user password and click on the ‘save’ button. Next specify the public host name to your server by going to Settings>Protocols>SMTP on the left-side tree. To the right in the SMTP setting, click on the ‘Delivery of email’ tab and under the host name enter the public host name of the computer where hMailServer is running. And with it your email server is all set and ready to send/receive emails.


Posted in OPEN SOURCE FOSS | 8 Comments »

CPI(M) for free and open source software

Posted by egovindia on March 4, 2007

CPI(M) for free and open source software

It will be a major step towards breaking monopolisation of knowledge,
says Sitaram Yechury

HYDERABAD: Communist Party of India (Marxist) has asked the Centre to
shift to free and open source software in all its e-governance
applications, as it will be a major step towards breaking the
`monopoly’ of proprietary software that currently exists.

In schools
It also wants the Government to introduce free and open source
software in the curriculum from the school level, as its absence will
prevent dissemination of information to students later in their
“Monopoly of knowledge has become the new avenue of earning profits
and there is a need to liberate the stranglehold,” CPI (M) Polit
Bureau member and MP Sitaram Yechury has said.
Participating in the national convention on free software organised
jointly by Free Software Foundation India (FSFI) here on Saturday,
Mr. Yechury said as globalisation and technological advances were
integrating the world, companies were looking for new avenues for
generating profits.

Sharing not uniform
While the amount of global capital was increasing progressively, the
number of people between whom it was being shared was shrinking.
Coupled with this was the restriction on knowledge dissemination that
was leading to the widening of digital divide. “There is a greater
monopolisation of knowledge and only free software movement can
ensure that the restrictions are removed,” he said.


\n\n \n __._,_.___\n \n

\n \n \n Messages in this topic (1)\n \n \n \n Reply (via web post)\n | \n \n Start a new topic “,1] ); //–> FSFI chairman G. Nagarjuna said proprietary software companies were
controlling dissemination of knowledge in nexus with the Government
and certain bodies like Nasscom acting as `agents’ between the
Government and the industry. While right to encode (write) and decode
(read) software should be made mandatory, there was a need to declare
proprietary encoding `criminal’.

West Bengal Minister for IT Debesh Das said there were strategic
benefits with free and open source software as it would reduce
imports, enhance national security and reduce copyright infringement.
National Knowledge Commission vice-chairman P. M. Bhargava said the
world was entering into an era of knowledge imperialism using
software as an effective tool and there was a need to counter this.

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Mr. Umashankar, IAS, MD of ELCOT, Interview on OSS by Hindu Businessline dated 19th Feb 07

Posted by egovindia on February 26, 2007

Mr. Umashankar, IAS, MD of ELCOT, Interview on OSS by Hindu Businessline dated 19th Feb 07


Meet C.Umashankar IAS, Managing Director of Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd ( . He is a guest lecturer at IIM-B (the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore) for the e-governance training program targeted at senior Government officers, and a post-graduate diploma program titled `Reinventing government’. Also, he lectures at the National Productivity Council, New Delhi, on transformation of administration using e-governance.

A native of Tirunelveli, the 42-year-old bureaucrat had served in three nationalised banks before joining the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

During his two-year tenure as the District Collector of Tiruvarur (1999-2001) all the seven Taluk offices could achieve over 85 per cent paperless automation. They use an ERP (enterprise resource planning) called Taluk Automation Software, which has modules for HRD (human resource development) , land record administration, national old age pension scheme, distress and accident relief scheme administration, agricultural labourers’ insurance scheme, community certificate issue, income and solvency certificate issue, birth and death registration and issue of certificates, etc,” explains Umashankar.

He is founder member and moderator of India e-gov group on Yahoo ( com/group/ egovINDIA). “As on date this is the most vigorous group in India which focuses fully on implementing true e-governance solutions in India,” says Umashankar. Here, even as he is busy with IT park-related work, Umashankar takes on a few questions from eWorld, on a different passion of his: OSS.

A brief description of Open Source (OS), for the lay reader.

Open source software (OSS) means the source code of the software is open for viewing and editing. The users have the freedom to edit the source code, rename it and use it as they wish. This is contrary to proprietary software, which does not allow the buyers/users to look at the source code.

Open source should not be confused with free software. Open source software can be priced too. Free software is not priced at all. The similarity between the two is that both OSS and free software enable the users to view and modify the software code. Commencing mildly with the Linux operating system in the early 90s, today OSS controls major systems in the world. This includes the day-to-day use open office software on the desktops to the operating system for the most powerful mainframe computers of the corporate world.

It all started with the Finnish software engineer Linus Torvalds (born on December 28, 1969) throwing open the Linux kernel for open review and development during 1991. Linux has grown into a reliable operating system of the masses and the enterprises in the last 25 years, thus occupying 75 per cent of the servers in the world. Though OSS started with Linux, today for every requirement there is almost a free version of the OSS (Free/Libre/ Open-Source Software or FLOSS). For example, http://brlcad. org speaks about `a powerful Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) solid modelling system with over 20 years development and production use by the US military,’ offered as a project on http://sourceforge. net, `the world’s largest Open Source software development Web site’.

Which is better, OSS or the closed alternative? Why?

OSS is always the best-suited choice for all class of users. Because the user/consumer has the freedom to view and modify the code to suit his/her convenience. As the source is open, one can be sure that there is no hijacking of the data by unknown elements. Yet, for certain applications open source alternative may not be available. For such uses, one has to necessarily go for proprietary or closed source software. Certain computer companies specialise in proprietary technologies alone. They need to use proprietary software to run their businesses.

For normal businesses, OSS is definitely the better choice, though users have to consider their comfort level. The latest OSS distributions such as Novell’s Suse have broken the user interface barriers thus giving a good run for the proprietary packages. Wherever businesses have looked at the OSS alternatives, they have started migrating. Wherever they have not looked at the OSS alternatives, their comfort level would continue to be with proprietary software packages. The fear of the unknown can be conquered only by venturing to test the OSS versions. As of now, the comfort level of the users and also the ability to explore new packages, notably the OSS alternatives, decide the options between the OSS and the proprietary packages.

For Governments all over the world, which use mostly the operating system (desktop and servers), database software and office productivity software, open source provides more than the best alternatives. OSS and governments are like made for each other. Governments can run their entire applications on OSS itself. That is the power of OSS today.

Would business purposes also be better served by OSS, than the closed system?

Yes, for a normal business house including giant business companies located in all parts of the world, OSS is the best choice. They can save huge investment on IT infrastructure and also can save billions of dollars in servicing or upgrading the software systems.

Are security issues a cause for concern in OSS?

Security issues are better addressed in OSS than in proprietary systems. I have personally tested the security systems in OSS. I was not able to intrude into the system as long as the default firewall was on. Once I brought down the Linux default firewall, the system allowed remote access.

Over 75 per cent of the world’s servers are on OSS today because of the robustness of security in Linux. The beauty is that organisations successfully use old PIII machines as firewalls to protect their systems. Linux firewall using old machines is very popular among system administrators all over the world. Linux OS does not require any anti virus software nor does it require constant security patches. It is unbreakable.

There is a misconception that once Linux is popular, it would get viruses. This is false propaganda, as Linux kernel does not allow executables the way proprietary system allows. Nothing can be hidden in a Linux system. A virus operates on its strength to hide from the users. Such hiding powers are not there in a Linux system. So Linux would continue to be free from viruses not for now alone but forever.

Is advertising a constraint for the popularity of OSS, as compared to the competition?

No, it is not advertisement that decides the popularity of OSS or its spread. The lack of policy from Governments hampers the spread of OSS. When Governments start using OSS, the spread of OSS becomes faster and its acceptability among corporates becomes open. Currently, many business houses, including certain large ones use only OSS to cut down cost and improve the reliability of their systems. But they are hesitant to share their successes for fear of the unknown.

Once the Governments take a clear stand, things would change drastically. The least the Governments could do is to declare that all their applications should be built on cross platform systems thus providing them the freedom to migrate to OSS in future. I have been using OSS for the past three-plus years. It is a great experience. I am convinced that OSS could transform India’s economy and also its e-governance effectiveness.

How expensive will a changeover to OSS be? Will adoption of OSS translate to substantial savings? What are the economics involved?

The switchover from proprietary system to OSS depends on the current software environment. If an organisation has just begun its IT quest, then the switchover can be done instantly with a huge cost saving. If an organisation has already invested on client server architecture using proprietary systems, then the migration takes a little time and investment. The existing proprietary client server system has to be migrated to OSS compliant (JSP/J2EE/PHP) based Web-server centric system. Once this is done, the switchover is total as the client systems need not have any software to run the OSS based system except the popular browsers such as Mozilla Firefox.

If an organisation is careful enough to develop the application software in a cross platform environment such as JSP/J2EE/PHP environment, then the switchover to OSS can be done overnight. World over, business houses and the Governments have realised that it is futile to configure systems on client-server architecture as it involves more expenditure in commissioning and maintaining the systems. It is time they started configuring their Web-based systems using platform independent software tools. That is the key to cutting down the cost when they take a decision to migrate to complete OSS driven systems.

As a thumb rule, I can say that at the low end the saving could be between 15 and 25 per cent. On office productivity suite, the saving is 100 per cent. On software development tools, the saving could be close to 100 per cent. As one moves to the higher level of architecture, the saving could reach up to 75 per cent.

Servicing of an application software takes equal outlay on OSS as well as proprietary software as long as the code is owned by the user. But if it is a closed code system, then the cost of servicing a proprietary system is much more prohibitive than the OSS.

OSS gives freedom to the user to choose a vendor for servicing the system. In the case of proprietary system, the choice factor is completely missing. The lack of bargaining power is the reason for the expensive nature of the proprietary systems.

Do we have the skills needed for creating and adapting OSS applications?

Yes. OSS does not require complicated skills. It needs leadership to own the OSS during the initial period. Thereafter OSS would take off on its own strength. All the computer science engineering students are taught Unix as part of their curriculum. So, supporting OSS is no issue at all.

Moreover, today the OSS is fully GUI (graphical user interface) compliant, or at least 99 per cent of it. So, the users do not require any special skillset to run the OSS system. The first time user hardly finds any difference between a Linux system and a proprietary system on the one hand and the difference between the open office software and the equivalent proprietary software. To that extent GUI is so much user friendly in the OSS system.

Should there be policies and tax sops that promote the use of OSS?

Only policy is needed. OSS does not need tax sops as it comes mostly free for the users. OSS-based application software may pay the usual VAT (value-added tax), which is not prohibitive, and so tax incentives may not promote OSS. But policy decision would definitely promote. For example, the IT hardware supplied by many of the vendors/manufacture rs does not come with OSS drivers. This is against MRTP (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices) Act. If the Governments lay down a policy that all the IT hardware should be sold only with OSS drivers then the acceptance of OSS as an alternative system would pick up like wild fire. This sort of a policy initiative from the Government of India and the State Governments is the need of the hour. Similarly, the Governments have to take a decision to build their application software packages in platform neutral coding system such as JSP/J2EE/Php etc. This would give tremendous freedom to the Governments to switch over to OSS, the day they take the decision. To retain such a freedom, Governments have to issue policy directives to the departments. This has not happened yet, anywhere in India.

What can be a starting point for OSS in businesses?

Business is all about profits. Every penny saved is a penny gained. OSS offers tremendous advantage to the business houses. It all requires the top management to issue a policy directive to use OSS in their day-to-day use. The cost saved in the short run and long run would put them ahead of their competitors. The EDP wing has to be populated with at least one OSS specialist. The cost saved on an existing EDP specialist would compensate this. The existing EDP manpower can be trained at a nominal cost and redeployed. It all requires leadership.

http://www.thehindu businessline. com/ew/2007/ 02/19/stories/ 2007021900130400 .htm

Email :
MuraliDe@gmail. com

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Creative Commons, India Launch

Posted by egovindia on January 22, 2007

Creative Commons, India Launch

Creative Commons, India [] will be launched on January 26th
[4:00 pm to 6:00 pm] at F. C. Kohli Auditorium, KReSIT, IIT Bombay, Powai,

See map for directions to get to IIT Bombay, Powai:
http://www.iitb. howto/howtoget. html
http://www.iitb. howto/iitblayout .html [Building No. 37]

Confirmed speakers at the launch event:
Mr. Joichi Ito [Chairman, Creative Commons]
Dr. Catharina Maracke [Creative Commons, Global Coordinator]
Mr. Nandu Pradhan [President and Managing Director, Red Hat, India]
Mr. Anurag Kashyap [Film Director, Script and Screenplay Writer]
Prof. Deepak Phatak [KReSIT, IIT Bombay]
Lawrence Liang [Legal Lead, Creative Commons, India]

Two parallel workshops on Creative Commons: January 26th & 27th
1. Do We Need Remix? [www.techfest. org/workshops/ remix/]IDC Lab
2. Sharing Is Creating [www.techfest. org/workshops/ sic/]C-DEEP Lab

Joint CC Stall:
A joint Creative Commons, Novell, Google, Creative.linux stall will be
accessible on the ground floor of Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management
building, IIT Bombay.

Please contact Shishir K. Jha, Project Lead, CC-India for further details
[see] :

Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management
IIT Bombay, Powai
Mumbai – 400 076
E-mail: skjha[at]iitb.
Tel: 022-25767845, 9892490140

%%%%%%%%%%%% %%%%%%%%% %%%%%%%%% %%%%%%%%% %%%%%%%%% %%%%%%%%% %%%%%%%%% %%

Information on Mr. Joichi Ito [Main speaker on the theme event]

Mr. Joichi Ito is a Japanese-born and American-educated businessman who
has many areas of interest and expertise. He was recently appointed as the
Chairman of Creative Commons. He is also the Chairman of iCommons [the
international Creative Commons].

He runs the World of Warcraft guild, which is composed of several venture
capitalists, CEOs and other influential members of the Internet economy.
He also wears many other hats. He is, among other things, general manager
of international operations for Technorati, chairman of Six Apart Japan,
founder and chief executive of venture capital firm Neoteny, and a board
member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN],
Mozilla Foundation and the Open Source Initiative. He is is also the
founder of Digital Garage, PSINet, Japan and Infoseek, Japan.

Mr. Ito will speak about the importance of Creative Commons for a growing
global digital culture in light of the launch of the Indian creative
commons jurisdiction on January 26th. The intimate interaction between
technology, law and culture in digital products is creating new challenges
for enterprises, individuals and other organizations. How is the digital
landscape getting altered with the emergence of licenses such as creative
commons? Can new models be envisaged which will seriously accommodate the
sharing ethos of the common individual? These and many more issues will be
addressed by Mr. Joi Ito.

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Posted by egovindia on January 22, 2007



The Information Society Project at Yale Law School cordially invites you to
attend the Open Standards International Symposium (OSIS), scheduled for
February 3, 2007, at Yale Law School in New Haven, CT. Anyone interested in
attending is encouraged to register at
http://research. isp/eventsosis. html.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) standards are increasingly
serving as a locus of political and economic controversy. Technical standards,
though not made by legislatures or elected representatives,
increasingly mediate
between prevailing social tensions such as access to information
versus property
rights and law enforcement versus individual civil liberties. Economically, the
intellectual property arrangements underlying standards determine the
competitive openness of certain technology markets and intersect directly with
global trade conflicts. Technically, recent interoperability problems in
government services like disaster response have prompted renewed political
interest in open standards around the globe. Despite the significance of open
standards in the global ICT context, even the meaning of openness is a
contentious topic. OSIS will be the first academic conference to examine
concepts of open standards in the larger context of technology, markets,
politics, and law.

During this ground-breaking symposium, a distinguished international group of
technologists, policymakers, entrepreneurs, executives, lawyers, computer
scientists, and activists will map out the terrain of open standards issues in
four panels: (1) Technology; (2) Economics; (3) Politics; and (4) Law.

For a full conference description and to register for the event, please visit
the symposium web site at http://research. isp/eventsosis. html.

Confirmed speakers include:
An Baisheng, Deputy Division Chief, WTO Department, Ministry of Commerce,
People’s Republic of China
Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First
Amendment, and
Director, Information Society Project, Yale Law School
Daniel Benoliel, ISP Fellow Alumnus, Information Society Project, Yale Law
Vittorio Bertola, At-Large Advisory Committee, ICANN; President & CTO, Dynamic
Sherrie Bolin, President and CEO, The Bolin Group
Geoffrey Bowker, Professor & Executive Director, Center for Science,
and Society, Santa Clara University
Carl Cargill, Chief Standards Officer, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Laura DeNardis, Visiting Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School
Alexander Galloway, Assistant Professor, Culture & Communication, New York University
Linda Garcia, Professor & Director, Communication, Culture & Technology,
Georgetown University
Rishab Ghosh, Senior Researcher, United Nations University, Maastricht Economic
and Social Research Training Centre on Innovation & Technology
Robin Gross, Executive Director, IP Justice
Eddan Katz, Executive Director, Information Society Project, and Lecturer in
Law, Yale Law School
Ken Krechmer, Fellow, International Center for Standards Research,
University of
Colorado, Boulder
John Morris, Director, Internet Standards, Technology, and Policy Project,
Center for Democracy and Technology
John Palfrey, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society;
Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Huang Rengang, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission to the
WTO, People’s
Republic of China
Manon Ress, Director, Information Society Projects, Consumer Project on
Robert Shaw, Deputy Head, Strategy and Policy Unit, International
Telecommunications Union (ITU)
Peter Strickx, General Manager, Architecture & Standards, Fedict, Belgium
Bob Sutor, Vice President, Standards and Open Source, IBM Corp.
Natalie Sunker, Republic of South Africa, Deputy Director, Intellectual
Property, Policy & Legislation, Department of Trade and Industry
Andrew Updegrove, Partner, Gesmer Updegrove LLP
John Wilson, Lead Economist, Development Economics Research Group,
International Trade, The World Bank

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Huge New Study On Free/Open Software

Posted by egovindia on January 21, 2007

Huge New Study On Free/Open Software

Wednesday, 17 January 2007
Huge New Study On Free/Open Software
Topic: software

http://blog. monkeybites/ 2007/01/huge_ new_study_ .html

There’s an interesting, albeit rather long, new study
available from an international, interdisciplinary team of researchers
that documents Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) and its
economic influences on the EU.

The full text of the 287 page report, entitled “Economic impact of
open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU,” is
available online (PDF). The report provides the most thorough and
comprehensive look at the contributions of the FLOSS community that
I’ve ever seen.

While most of the statistic’s and numbers are geared toward the EU and
European nations in general (the lead contractor of the study was
UNU-MERIT from the Netherlands) , the study nevertheless provides a
fascinating look at free software and its impact on the world at

Particularly stunning is the estimated time to reproduce this software
in proprietary format (131,000 person years) and the estimated amount
of donated programming effort in monetary terms (800 million Euros per

Here’s some more highlights pulled straight from the text (emphasis mine):

* Almost two-thirds of FLOSS software is still written by individuals;
firms contribute about 15% and other institutions another 20%.

* Europe is the leading region in terms of globally collaboratingNorth \America (interestingly, more in the
East Coast than the West). Asia and Latin America.

* The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable
quality control and distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12
billion to reproduce internally. This code base has been doubling
every 18-24 months over the past eight years, and this growth is
projected to continue for several more years.

* This existing base of FLOSS software represents a lower bound of
about 131 000 real person-years of effort that has been devoted
exclusively by programmers. As this is mostly by individuals not
directly paid for development, it represents a significant gap in
national accounts of productivity. Annualised and adjusted for growth
this represents at least Euro 800 million in voluntary contribution
from programmers alone each year, of which nearly half are based in

* Firms \nhave invested an estimated Euro 1.2 billion in developing
FLOSS software that \nis made freely available. Such firms represent in
total at least 565 000 jobs \nand Euro 263 billion in annual revenue.
Contributing firms are from several \nnon-IT (but often ICT intensive)
sectors, and tend to have much higher \nrevenues than non-contributing

* Defined broadly, FLOSS-related \nservices could reach a 32% share of
all IT services by 2010, and the \nFLOSS-related share of the economy
could reach 4% of European GDP by \n2010.

* Proprietary packaged software firms account for well below 10% \nof
employment of software developers in the U.S., and “IT user” \nfirm

FLOSS software developers, and leads in terms of global project
leaders, followed closely by North America (interestingly, more in the
East Coast than the West). Asia and Latin America.

* The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable
quality control and distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12
billion to reproduce internally. This code base has been doubling
every 18-24 months over the past eight years, and this growth is
projected to continue for several more years.

* This existing base of FLOSS software represents a lower bound of
about 131 000 real person-years of effort that has been devoted
exclusively by programmers. As this is mostly by individuals not
directly paid for development, it represents a significant gap in
national accounts of productivity. Annualised and adjusted for growth
this represents at least Euro 800 million in voluntary contribution
from programmers alone each year, of which nearly half are based in

* Firms have invested an estimated Euro 1.2 billion in developing
FLOSS software that is made freely available. Such firms represent in
total at least 565 000 jobs and Euro 263 billion in annual revenue.
Contributing firms are from several non-IT (but often ICT intensive)
sectors, and tend to have much higher revenues than non-contributing

* Defined broadly, FLOSS-related services could reach a 32% share of
all IT services by 2010, and the FLOSS-related share of the economy
could reach 4% of European GDP by 2010.

* Proprietary packaged software firms account for well below 10% of
employment of software developers in the U.S., and “IT user” firm

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Open Source Software in Java(tm)

Posted by egovindia on January 13, 2007

Open Source Software in Java(tm)

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Yahoo! sees limits to open source goodness

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2006

Yahoo! sees limits to open source goodness

It doesn’t make sense for all software to be open sourced, developer charges

Tom Sanders in California, 04 Aug 2006


Yahoo! doesn’t plan to release all its software code under an open source licence because it’s unpractical and carries limited benefits, Yahoo! developer Jeremy Zawodny said on his blog.

“Being good open source citizens means contributing where it makes sense, allowing our employees to be a part of the open source world, and helping to evangelize the benefits of open source software,” Zawodny wrote.

Much of the internally developed code is specifically geared towards a search engine that serves up billions of pages per day, he explained. This requires the code to be tightly knit together and to include references to trade secrets that won’t be published under an open source licence.

“There’d be places in the code where magic voodoo functions are called but we couldn’t really talk about what they do or how they might work. That’s called our secret sauce or ‘business logic’ if you prefer. A good deal of that is kept under wraps for very legitimate reasons.”

Zawodny is a developer for the MySQL open source database and works for Yahoo!’s platform engineering group. He’s one of the search engine’s best known bloggers.

The blog posting was written in response to a critical note from Matt Asay, vice president of business development for Alfrasco, developer of an open source content management system.

He accused Yahoo! and Google of being bad open source citizens because they refrain from opening the source code of all their internally developed applications. This is in part the result of a lack of modularity in their software, which makes it easier for multiple developers to work on a single application.

“It is disappointing that they are such heavy users of open source and have architected themselves into a corner that makes giving back impossible or problematic,” Asay concluded.

Zawodny countered that modularity impacts performance. Given Yahoo’s size, minor performance bottlenecks can add up to major headaches.

While he welcomed the possibility of receiving bug fixes, he argued that the internet portal didn’t have much to gain from outside developers adding features to existing Yahoo! services.

“Then we’d be beat up for not integrating it fast enough. It’s tricky to introduce new features to a product that tens of millions of people are using.”

Yahoo! has been contributing to open source applications including Linux, FreeBSD, Perl and MySQL. The company also publishes a series of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow third party developers to create applications that interact with Yahoo! services, allowing them to add search to applications or develop plug-ins for its messenger software.




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The state of

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2006

The state of

Wednesday August 02, 2006 (06:00 PM GMT)

By: Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier

It’s been nearly a year since 2.0 was released, so I sat down with Louis Suárez-Potts, chair of’s community council and community manager, at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland, Ore., last week to see what’s on the development roadmap. Suárez-Potts says that development is moving along nicely, but it will probably be a while before we see 3.0.

Suárez-Potts says that is concentrating on smaller releases that add features to the 2.0 architecture. He says that 3.0 is “on the drawing board,” but that the project is moving away from the “proprietary logic” of “big” releases, and focusing on incremental releases instead.

Suárez-Potts says that the project released 2.0.3 recently, and should have a 2.0.4 release in a couple of months. The 2.0.3 release isn’t a huge leap in functionality, but it is more than a bugfix point release. For example, Suárez-Potts says that 2.0.3 adds additional features for PDF export, better integration with database structures, and an online update feature that allows users to check for updates online.

However, the update feature doesn’t actually download and install the update, as Firefox does now with its online update feature. Suárez-Potts says that a full update feature is something he’d like to see for the future, but he also noted that it’s a complicated feature to implement, and that many users get through other vendors — such as Linux distributions — that wouldn’t make use of the update feature. and ODF gathering steam

In keeping with the dominant theme of this year’s OSCON, Suárez-Potts emphasized the importance of open data, and highlighted the importance of the Open Document Format (ODF) for and other applications. Tony Coates may have put it best on his blog, saying, “Your data will outlive your applications.” The and ODF folks have planned for this well by developing a well-documented open standard that can be used by many applications. Suárez-Potts says that with proprietary standards, “You have the kiss of death.” If the company behind a proprietary format goes out of business, or simply stops supporting that format, “that’s it, all the data that you had? Gone.”

Louis Suárez-Potts  
Louis Suárez-Potts talks about – click to view video

As of now, Suárez-Potts says that ODF is supported by StarOffice, KOffice, SoftMaker, Writely, IBM Workplace, and a number of others. Of course, ODF isn’t a perfect solution for sharing data just yet. As Marco Fioretti pointed out last September, macros still pose an obstacle for sharing data between applications because, unlike ODF, they are not application-agnostic.

Suárez-Potts says that the OOo team is aware of the problem with macro support across ODF-supporting applications, and he would like to see some work done to standardize macro support between programs to make it easier for people to migrate with minimal difficulty. He cautions that care would need to be taken that macros aren’t supported too well, to avoid enabling Microsoft Office macro viruses in

ODF is also pushing adoption of, according to Suárez-Potts. He says that many governments are looking to ODF as a way to ensure that they are able to access their data in the long run, and showing particular interest in as the “reference implementation” for ODF support. Suárez-Potts also says that is starting to get attention from third-party vendors who have traditionally provided add-on applications, such as accounting packages and accessibility support, for Microsoft Office. extensions

One of the features that has contributed greatly to Firefox’s popularity is the ability to add new functionality through Firefox extensions. Suárez-Potts says that too has made it possible for developers to add functionality through extensions. The idea, says Suárez-Potts, is for to be “lean and capable, and added to easily,” rather than trying to add every feature directly to the codebase. extensions haven’t caught on yet — Suárez-Potts says there really aren’t many popular extensions for at this time — but extension development will be a major topic of discussion at the Conference (OOoCon) 2006 that will be held from September 11 through September 13 in Lyon, France.

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The Value of Free Software

Posted by egovindia on July 13, 2006

The Value of Free Software


Date:Jul 13 2006

Reporter:Don Parris

Evolution’s usefulness has long been hampered by the lack of a single feature. Because it is free software, one organization knew the feature could be added, either by themselves, or by paying someone to do it for them. Find out what they did, why and how they did it, and how you can get the patch for yourself.

The Value of Free Software

Posted by dcparris on Jul 12, 2006 9:05 AM
LXer Newswire; By DC Parris
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  LXer Feature: 12-Jul-2006

Evolution’s usefulness has long been hampered by the lack of a single feature. Because it is free software, one organization knew the feature could be added, either by themselves, or by paying someone to do it for them. Find out what they did, why and how they did it, and how you can get the patch for yourself.

[Updated at 12:05 US Eastern Time – dcparris]

Let’s see. If I count up the $80 I spent for Mandrake Linux 8.0, The $80 each for SUSE Linux 8.0 and 9.2 Professional, and SUSE Linux 10.0, I believe that comes out to around $320 I’ve spent over the course of 6 years to keep the 10 computers our house-church ministry owns operational. Our ministry, Matheteuo Christian Fellowship, recently spent over $400 to add a single feature to Evolution. The next time you find yourself waiting in limbo for a feature from your non-free software vendor, think about the following.

A Need To Be Met

We use a combination of SUSE and Ubuntu Linux for our desktops. We also use Evolution as our primary PIM software. I faced a challenge in that I sometimes need to leave my e-mail on my ISP’s POP server, and access it via webmail from another computer. With Evolution, you can choose to either leave the messages on the server or delete them. If you choose to leave them, you’ll have to delete them manually on your own. I want Evolution to delete them automatically after a week, or maybe two weeks.

Evolution’s POP client was an all-or-nothing proposition. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this feature has been listed in Evolution’s Bugzilla system for at least five years. Apparently, it was a really low-priority item in the minds of most Evolution developers. Some thought a POP client should not try to be an IMAP client. Most responses to the feature request seemed to say something to the effect of “fat chance of that ever happening”. So our ministry is not the only group interested in this feature.

Thunderbird, Sylpheed, and a number of other POP mail clients offer the capability I desired. The Mozilla suite simply doesn’t meet my needs. Sylpheed is great, except it isn’t integrated with a calendar and tasklist. What to do? I could try programming the feature in myself. Frankly, it’s bad enough we have Microsoft developing crummy software – why should I make matters worse? But wait a minute. Isn’t Evolution free software? If I can’t do it myself, I can still pay someone to do it for me, right? Right!

Working With The Developer

Our ministry wanted the feature. We knew others probably wanted the feature also. We didn’t know how to add it ourselves. So we needed a programmer. I figured my best chance of getting this feature added into Evolution, as part of the main distribution, was to work with one of the Evolution developers. I contacted a Shreyas Srinivasan, a developer from Bangalore who had just finished working for Novell, and continues working on Evolution’s mail client in his spare time. After some discussion about what we wanted, the hourly rate, and the estimated time it would take, Shreyas agreed to take on the job.

I confess to being somewhat nervous, as I had never worked with a developer before, let alone one on the other side of the globe. Still, if the guy worked for Novell, and is still an active developer of Evolution’s mail client, he was my best hope of getting the feature implemented. We looked over his resume, and decided he must be pretty competent. My biggest concern was ensuring that he understood what we were asking for. You can imagine my relief when he sent me the screenshot of the mock-up for the new feature. So we had chosen wisely.

Shreyas spent around 32 hours over the course of a week or so before sending me the patch, and then a link to instructions on how to add the patch into Evolution (after building a second copy from scratch). A couple days later he sent a second patch to correct a minor bug he had discovered. A secondary issue had come up, involving deleting e-mails from the POP server when they were deleted locally. According to Shreyas, POP doesn’t support that functionality. He didn’t think he would be allowed to commit the kind of ugly hack he thought would be required to implement such a feature, so we left it out.

Money Talks

As I mentioned earlier, this feature request has been in the Evolution Bugzilla system since March 2001. The first developer to respond said it was easy to implement and would definitely be supported in version 1.0. A year and a half later, in September 2002 it still had not been implemented, and was considered as being available for any volunteer to undertake. A year later, in 2003, a potential user can’t believe it still hasn’t been implemented and won’t use Evolution without it. In June 2005, one user offered a $25 bounty for adding this feature. Even Ubuntu users were requesting the feature.

Whether the holdup was caused by ideological opposition or because everyone considered the feature such a low priority is unclear. Frankly, between the promise to implement it back in 1.0 and the repeated pleas for the feature, it should have already been implemented. While it is easy, as a non-developer, to be critical, I knew at least one way to solve the problem – pay a developer to fix it. Once money entered the picture, the problem got solved. The lesson here is, if you want a particular feature, and don’t want to worry about someone else’s priorities and ideology, think about making it worth the developers’ time.

There is nothing wrong with individuals and organizations paying developers to improve free software. Richard Stallman wrote several years ago, “Programmers writing free software can make their living by selling services related to the software. I have been hired to port the GNU C compiler to new hardware, and to make user-interface extensions to GNU Emacs. (I offer these improvements to the public once they are done.) I also teach classes for which I am paid.” So that’s what we did. We paid a developer to improve Free Software. That’s the value of Free Software. If you can’t fix it yourself, you can find someone who can – whether for free or for a fee.

Getting the Patch

As part of my discussion with Shreyas, we wanted to ensure that the patch would be implemented in the main distribution of Evolution. The patch will eventually become mainstream. For the time being, though, distribution developers will need to backport the patch to 2.6 in order to make it available to users. In fact, we’re working to see if the Ubuntu folks will do just that. If you know what you are doing, you can get the patch yourself from the Evolution CVS. If you do try it out, let me know how it goes for you.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, I suggest you make a request to your distribution developer for them to make the patch available as part of a future update. Hopefully, there will be enough interest from the other major GNU/Linux distributions to make the patch widely available to users via their normal update routines. After all, it is a frequently requested feature and a show-stopper for some. If enough users express an interest to their distribution developers, that may help with the process of getting this patch out to more people.

This just in: The Evolution patch will be available in the next Dapper update.

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