Consortium to bring Open Source to the masses

By   |  May 10, 2004

The Shuttleworth Foundation, HP, the CSIR, and Mark Shuttleworth have jointly announced the commencement of the Go Open Source Campaign.

Go Open Source is a nationwide awareness campaign promoting the adoption of Open Source Software (OSS) in South Africa, and will run for the next two years. The campaign has a total budget of R18 million, with an initial first year budget comprising R3 million from The Shuttleworth Foundation, R2 million from the CSIR, R2 million from HP, and an additional R2 million from Mark Shuttleworth on behalf of an as-yet unnamed tech startup, the campaign is set to put South Africa at the forefront of new technology adoption. The campaign, a world first, aims to make ordinary computer users and those who aspire to be computer literate aware of the benefits of OSS.

Thomas Black, Open Source Program Manager at the Shuttleworth Foundation explains: “We\’d like to ensure that home computer users, small and medium sized businesses, students, school pupils and people who want to become computer literate have heard about and tried OSS for themselves. This campaign will put OSS within easy reach of every South African, and help South Africans to understand why early adoption of open source gives them an advantage in the global economy.”

“We have had tremendous success with OSS in South Africa, especially helping schools create computer training laboratories” continues Black. “The Open Source approach has significant benefits for skills development. When you install OSS on a computer, you get all the tools you need for computer literacy, and also all the tools you need to

become a computer specialist. We can teach word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, programming, Internet skills and desktop publishing without paying a cent for software, and our trainees can take that same software home and legally install it on their home computer. They can even give it to their friends.”

Adi Attar, of the CSIR Open Source Centre says, “The Go Open Source campaign targets a significant, but often neglected sector of society: current and potential non-specialist ICT users, who are prone to misinformation and lack of information regarding the available ICT solutions. This campaign has the potential to reach out to thousands of

people who have never even been in a position to ask ‘What is Open Source?’\”

Says Bradley Hopkinson, Personal Systems Group country GM, HP South Africa, “The acceptance of Open Source in the government and commercial sectors is not at the level that HP believe it could or should be and we believe this is purely as a result of the lack of awareness. We see this campaign as one vehicle in which HP can increase the acceptance and

further promote and develop applications around Open Source.”

Mark Shuttleworth, supporting the campaign in his personal capacity says, “I believe that Open Source is the future of the software industry. In just a few years OSS will become the standard for computers around the world. It was open source software that enabled me to build a successful Internet company. Go Open Source is a way for me to bring

those benefits to other South African entrepreneurs.”

“Our goal is to ensure that in two years time every South African who uses a computer, or who wants to use a computer, knows that they can get all the software tools they need for computer literacy and computer mastery free of charge, together with the right to share those tools and to improve them as they see fit,” Shuttleworth concludes. More

information is available on www.go-opensource.org.za

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