Adieu Win-DOS, India to sprint with BOSS

By SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: Officials at the ministry of information technology, for a change, are working a domain separate from drawing up policies and envisioning strategies to fuel India’s growth as an IT powerhouse. A handful of them are test-driving BOSS (short for Bharat Operating Systems Solution)— a version of Linux, which could well go on to become the software of tomorrow, reported Mint today.

End-users of the open source software can view the internal components, modify them, and distribute their own versions--all without fear of breaking licence agreements or laws, and for free. Well, almost, as the government might just charge a nominal amount for BOSS. A key pitch of the open source gospel is that software improves faster when users can improve it.

With this new development, and 30-40 officials in the test-drive ambit, BOSS looks all set to become the software of choice for all government departments, thus becoming the code that drives the wheels of the nation’s administration. Says S. Basu who heads the BOSS project in the ministry: “The officials are providing feedback to help the further development of BOSS.”

The software is being developed at the Chennai division of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-Dac), a technology lab that falls under the information technology ministry. While it operates in English and Hindi now, C-Dac hopes to make it available in 22 languages soon. Mint also reported that another version of BOSS, custom made for educational institutions is also being developmed by the government.

An official working on the project says, “The Centre’s objective is to encourage the government to use open source or free software.”

The open source movement is in its infancy in India. A government task force on information technology had recommended its use in 1998. Significantly, in 2006, the National Knowledge Commission asked the government to back open source software.

According to a research by IDC, a market research firm, around 7 percent of personal computers are expected to use open source software by 2008, up from the 6 percent usage of the software in desktops today.

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