FOSS: Smart Choice for Developing Countries

23 October 2013 - A Workshop on Access in Bali, Indonesia


Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), once limited to advanced users, now attracts average users. Countries have adopted FOSS for its social, economic and political benefits. Russia has started to shift government to Linux by 2015 and plans to build a national repository of Open Source Software. China is teaming up with Canonical to develop an open source operating system for Chinese users called Ubuntu Kylin. According to Black Duck Software and North Bridge Venture Partners Open-Source Survey, Open Source Software is helping improve enterprise networking, smartcars, and academia. InformationWeek’s survey “Open Source Software Use Joins The Mix,” confirms that FOSS “is believed to create more opportunities for innovation than commercial or proprietary software.”

This workshop emphasizes three main issues: 1) Innovative FOSS technologies, 2) Capacity building in FOSS, and 3) Women as FOSS users and developers. It will discuss benefits, costs and implications of choosing FOSS; highlight the representation, role and achievements of women from the Central and South Asian region; and, guide recommendations to build capacity of women in utilizing FOSS for education, health, governance, and civil society.

Why FOSS? FOSS fosters education for the persons contributing to it and for those using it. In addition to learning new skills, FOSS developers can help solve real-life problems. Irrespective of geographic location, volunteers work collaboratively to develop software. This creates a sense of community ownership of their technology and enhances employment, employability and increases local innovation. FOSS reduces deployment costs making it a smart choice by developing countries. FOSS is affordable, stable, reliable, and free of virus.

What are innovative FOSS technologies? This workshop will showcase some of the most innovative Open Source Software technologies. It will highlight the fact that most servers are based on open source, and now common users, governments and businesses around the world are transitioning to FOSS.

Why Capacity Building? Capacity building in computer education should teach students concepts, ensure that students learn through hands on experience using a variety of tools, and leave students the choice of which tool to use to create virtual worlds. Students should be given responsibilities, including helping run IT systems. For example, students of higher classes could build or modify software for lower classes.

Organized by Open Source Alliance of Central Asia (OSACA), this workshop will explore whether the requirements to be a FOSS contributor prevent women from doing so and what it will take for women in Central and South Asia, to become valuable contributors.