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Software Freedom: Why Should We Care? ( III )

September 23rd, 2008 1 comment

September 20th was celebrated worldwide as software freedom day. Ankur Sharma, a Nepali Software Freedom activist, has sent an article to promote awareness regarding software freedom. His article is being presented here as a series of three posts: Concepts, Cases and Celebration. This post is the last one in the series summarizing the FOSS initiative in Nepal and the celebration.

Few years back, free software enthusiast from Nepal gathered and formed FOSS Nepal (Free and Open Source Software Nepal) community which currently has ~650 members in Nepal and abroad with an active mailing list. We have been running different awareness campaigns and helping government, organizations and academics to migrate to FOSS through mailing list support, interaction, awareness and hands on trailings, we host weekly FM programs and monthly talk session aliased FOSS ka kura. Beside that we celebrate SFD (software freedom day) every year.

This year, we celebrated SFD 2008 on 20th of September with different events ranging from candle vigil on the eve, small exhibitions with CD distribution documentary shows, drills and expert sessions to help user migrate to free software.

I would like to extend this opportunity to welcome you all to join our community.

Author Information
Ankur Sharma completed his Bachelor in Engineering (CS) from Nepal Engineering College in 2006. His final year project with Shankar Pokharel, titled “Mero Sanu Sathi”, went on to collaborate with One Laptop Per Child Project. At one time, he served as a technical lead and General Secretary for One Laptop Per Child Nepal collaborating with Nepal Government to successfully deploy OLPC laptops on selected government schools. He has been FOSS activist since 2004 participating actively as a resource person for raising awareness and facilitating migration of Free Software in Nepal.

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Software Freedom: Why Should We Care? ( II )

September 15th, 2008 Comments off

September 20th is being celebrated worldwide as software freedom day. Ankur Sharma, a Nepali Software Freedom activist, has sent an article to promote awareness regarding software freedom. His article is being presented here as a series of three posts: Concepts, Cases and Celebration. This post is the second post in the series where he discusses the benefits of software freedom.

Admin’s Note : A user comment on the first part of this article led Rangeen Chara to declare the contents presented in this web-site as free to use, redistribute and modify with the requirement that source and author/creator information be attached with the content.

The lack of software freedom causes three major problems. Firstly, we need to work hard to earn more to afford licensed copy of software, expensive because there are no alternatives, which is indirect harm to our productivity and financial capability. Secondly, since we are so entangled using these software, we barely want to learn new things and use alternatives even when they are available. We become victim of monopoly and the government at one time will be forced to invest millions of dollars in software when law is enforced and piracy is taken seriously by donors and multinational companies. To some extent, it is like giving few first doses of drugs for free. They want us to be captive of their vendor lock and razor blade model (sell razor for cheap, and later earn by selling blade to dependent customers).
Third and most prominent problem in my opinion is freedom. I always fail answering questions like: Am I free to use the software I own (You’d agree with me if you have ever read EULA before hitting “I Agree” button)? Is my privacy preserved/respected(do you know what your software is doing at background when you are surfing the web or creating a new document)? Am I free to modify this software (How could I, if I haven’t seen its source code or couldn’t reverse engineer it.)? Am I free to distribute/redistribute the software I own? (proprietary license doesn’t let us do so, I can not install it on N machines without paying money for N number of licenses.)
There are countless benefits of using Free Software. Many of you might be using it knowingly/unknowingly, Best examples I can portray here is that of the popular web browser Firefox. Also, most of the web’s back-end apache servers and Bind DNS servers are free software. The second popular OS gnu/linux is free software too.
Few years back, people used to complain about usability and aesthetics of free software but now free software have topped all the rankings. Even big corporations are shipping their hardwares with free software and gaining more profit and delivering less end price for user.
Thousands of freely available applications to choose from and wide user base makes open source software optimal for students, researchers and for other uses. If you want to migrate to free software, you can either start with a open source operating system like ubuntu or you can migrate softly by using open source softwares available for windows environment and later switching to free OS.

Author Information
Ankur Sharma completed his Bachelor in Engineering (CS) from Nepal Engineering College in 2006. His final year project with Shankar Pokharel, titled “Mero Sanu Sathi”, went on to collaborate with One Laptop Per Child Project. At one time, he served as a technical lead and General Secretary for One Laptop Per Child Nepal collaborating with Nepal Government to successfully deploy OLPC laptops on selected government schools. He has been FOSS activist since 2004 participating actively as a resource person for raising awareness and facilitating migration of Free Software in Nepal.

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Nepali Label in American Coke

September 14th, 2008 6 comments

Coca cola was one of the sponsor for Beijing Olympics 2008 and to mark the event, Coca Cola – USA had launched bottles with labels in different languages that people from different participating countries speak. The bottle label also had the participating country’s name in English so that one could figure what country the bottle represented.

I first observed the labels when I was drinking a can of coke with the label in Russian and later came across cans with Thai labels. I was wondering if bottles with Nepali label were also released and then finally came across one.

I was in Texas the previous week and that is where I got this opportunity to drink coke bottled in America but with Nepali label on it. The coke tasted much better! Nonsense it may sound to some, but it had the same “aafnopan” that Tara Nath Sharma tried to describe when he said he liked Nepali snow better than the ones he had played with in a foreign country.

If I was from China, the bottle would not mean a lot to me as almost all products have ‘Made in China’ labels on them. Seeing products with Devanagari script and Nepal together is of course a pleasing experience. Moreover, as Nepal did not win any medals in 2008 Olympics, the coke bottle is apparently the only thing I am left with to blog about this particular Olympics.

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