Will India adopt open source now?
How can an average Indian afford a $200 Windows XP operating system? The answer is, he cannot. The solution is piracy. Did I get that wrong? Maybe. But, that is what is happening to the operating system market in India (worldwide too). The answer would have been Open Source or Linux, but for that Linux thing is so damn difficult to install and run.
Tamil Nadu government has already embraced open source Linux for their project ‘100,000 laptops for kids’. Microsoft quoted a hefty price and finally came down to $57 per copy. ELCOT (procuring agent for the government) said that’s too much and looked for alternatives. They found a Linux distribution for $12 per copy. That’s a steal. That is a difference of $45 dollar per laptop and $4.5 million as a whole. How can you even justify that? Also, this is the best way to inculcate the habit of open source. Give the operating system to a kid who does not even know Windows. He will work on a Linux machine and come back and mock me for using Windows. He also tells me how everything is so easy in Linux.
I think many e-Governance initiatives can embrace open source and Linux to reduce costs and also reduce Microsoft’s monopoly. This would be a substitute until we have the Google operating system and Net enabled PC’s everywhere. This would take 10 years at least. Until then, there is no harm in trying open source.
A good way to start this initiative is at the school and college level. Government can launch it at a mass level for all its e-Governance projects. Many corporate(s) can look at Linux instead of firing people to cut costs. Startups should make this their culture. Once this happens Microsoft would come down in price adding some competition. Either way it is a win-win for us all.
The only or few reasons why people don’t try Linux is, because of its complexity. It would be really difficult to find and install drivers for that USB drive of yours or the recently bought scanner. This is a chicken and egg problem. The drivers will be hard to find because people are not using the operating system that much and people are not using the operating system because there are no drivers. The open source community is an active community which contributes heavily by writing free software. They would only be encouraged if more people take up open source. I am sure the drivers will be available.
I am sure the way Microsoft has pampered us all with all those rich user interface and ease of use, it would be hard to change. But with the amount of money we are spending on buying windows software, we can as well invest in learning a new OS. The learning curve is steep but it is irreversible.
It is high time you shifted to Linux. Try Ubuntu.