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Linux cutting software costs in Kenya

By   |  May 5, 2008

Entrepreneurs in Kenya are putting Linux to work to cut costs and maximise profits as they look for new ways to bring computing to users.One of these entrepreneurs is Patrick Mathenge, CEO of Mullard Electronic Limited, a firm trading in hardware and software from its Mombasa Road offices. The company is distributing Linux software that can turn a single computer into up to 10 workstations.

“The personal computer is designed for use by a single trusted user. Instead of buying 10 CPUs, you only need to have the software and duplicate it to 10 CPUs,” says Mathenge.

Mullard offers a choice of two systems: the Desktop Multiplier, which is suitable for normal office and general use and Discover station for public computing. With the Discover station software, administrators can control access, enforce usage limits and even apply charges directly to the user’s account.

The software was developed by a Canadian firm and Mullard was appointed by Netsys Computer, the Linux Africa distributor to supply the software in Kenya.

“The chance to distribute the software came when I visited an ICT exhibition last year at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. I met Netsy Computer company officials who were looking for a distributor and I expressed my interest. After two days they called me to their office and presented the opportunity,” the former soldier says.

The software divides the CPU resources to the number of the workstations in an office. The CPU resources are shared equally amongst the workstations. “No user can access information, if it is not his or her workstation. Information stored on the hard disk is labeled per monitor. Different users need to have secret password to access information. A user cannot access a colleague’s work,” said Mathenge.

The 55-year old electronic engineer says that because the system is built on Linux computer users no longer need to worry about viruses, spy ware or unauthorised access. “The recommended retail price for the software is Sh9 000 (R1 100) compared to over Sh 25 000 for a PC if you are using other softwares,” said Mathenge.

The system requires a reasonably-powered computer with a 3.0 GHZ, Duo Core processor, 2GB RAM and an expansion slot to accommodate dual head video cards.

On the other hand, the CPU cannot support more than 10 workstations, as its may slow up the computer. There is no maintenance cost once the software is installed.

“By using the software you will be able to save up to 50 per cent of the money that you would use to buy CPUs . There is one Internet connection, reduced power back up requirement, created work space and reduced heat generation,” he said.

Mathenge say he has invested Sh5 million which has been spent in market study of the software, equipping, training and purchasing the product. Having started out last year, Mullard have sold out the software to the Ministry of Youth and few individuals. Mullard has been authorised to supply the software to the digital villages.

The Gkenyan government has bought over 100 workstations to be used in digital villages and has partnered with the youth ministry to train young people on the business benefits of software. “We are capable of providing software and hardware solutions in line with the one to 10 CPU to schools by opening a software and hardware centre”, Mathenge said.

Source: Business Daily via Balancing Act

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3 Responses to “Linux cutting software costs in Kenya”

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