Kerala shuts windows, schools to use only Linux
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Richard M Stallman—global free software guru, VS Achuthanandan's darling and almost a freewheeling adviser of sorts to the Kerala Government—may now have more reasons to break out into that jig that he abruptly did while being given a somberly reverential welcome in Kerala a few weeks ago.
Kerala is all set to become the first state in the country to completely banish Microsoft and allow only GNU/Linux free software to be used in the mandatory IT test at the state SSLC examinations that half a million students will appear for from next week. Till last year, they could take the exam using either free software or the Microsoft platform. Not anymore.
A few weeks ago, the Government formally ordered that only free Linux-based software should be used for IT education in high schools, using new the Linux text books developed by State Council for Educational Research and Training and the Free Software Foundation of India.
The hardline Left's familiar anti-MNC, anti-proprietory planks apart, another major plus of abandoning Microsoft, claim state IT Mission officials, is plainly the cost factor. "Going for a massive Windows-based infrastructure cost a lot. Linux can bundle all applications with the operating system facilitating a single installation kit".
The logistics for making Kerala the country's Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) destination—one of Achuthanandan's pet Red obsessions—may be daunting, but the state is coping with it. Since last September, some 15 lakh students have been busy training on or migrating to free software on 40,000 computers put up in 2,832 high schools watched over by over 60,000 IT trained school teachers (some 86 private training institutions train the teachers) besides 161 master trainers and 5,600 school IT coordinators. "We checked. It's the world's biggest mobilisation of its kind," says K Anwar Sadath, executive director of the state government's IT@Schools mission.