30th March 2001
As one step closer to our goal of actualizing our dreams of making FreeDevelopers work, we need to create organized branches in the participants' countries. While global FreeDevelopers remains the greatest co-ordinating agency, these national branches can contribute substantively to strengthen the creative work force of FreeDevelopers, distributed globally. This is very much needed when projects come from the national governments of our participants. I would invite all to contemplate on what I give below:
We, the subscribers from India have been considerably successful in convincing our national government the benefits of the usage of free-software based solutions for various aspects of governance.
However, the time is not yet ripe to announce the contracts which FreeDevelopers is poised to sign with the government, as there are certain lengthy formalities to be completed before announcement. But I'm sure, Tony will be able to announce this very very soon to much of your satisfaction.
We have now three offers of project in hand:
Once we are successful in the execution of these projects, it goes without saying that there will be a steady stream of project offers coming from all over the world -- from various national governments; small and medium type enterprises world over who cant afford to high end software solutions.
The presence of the national branch further eliminates the common belief that free software doesn't have enough service support. Questions our government raised were:
The government till moment believed that the http://www.gnu.org system was nothing but a hackers' paradise, and there was no entity that could be sued in case of non-compliance with a contract. Now they are convinced that FreeDevelopers can indemnify against all losses and damages on this score.
The government is now pleased, because FreeDevelopers has a branch in India down their noses and can meet all of their demands.
No doubts, there is an infantry of world class programmers available from all over the world. Further, the GNU/Linux history will dispel any fears of quality. The effect now is to have quality software written by an international team just a phone call away.
On a trial basis, the government asked us to do a small test module for their proposed project, we did it. Some of the top notch representatives of the government visited our office, seen the demo, talked to our developers, they were quite pleased with the amazing stability, the network compatibility, the ease of use, etc. In short, we were able to convince them beyond doubt that this system is quite acceptable, like any other around.
The Indian experience shows that we need to organize similar branches in other countries also. These can carry the message to the masses, to prospective clients, give road-shows, seminars, etc., so that decision makers are convinced about the feasibility of free software solutions for their computing requirements.
FD-India have helped one of the big schools in our city to install, configure and maintain GNU/Linux in one of their computer labs having 60 systems. We have also extended training to their faculty members. This school is now very much popular for this computer lab, and attracts more enrollments every year, giving us much satisfaction.
We drew inspiration for this activity from Frederick Noronha (himself a subscriber to FreeDevelopers) from Goa, India, who singularly fought to introduce GNU/Linux in all schools in the Indian state of Goa.
Our above activities coupled with a series of seminars, where some of the potential decision makers in government and other agencies participated, helped us enormously in making inroads for the free software cause in the government.
I would love to hear comments and would request all to consider organising FreeDevelopers branches in their respective nations, so that we can get on to move confidently with a concrete and rocky organizational platform to stay. Of course, the modalities of organising may differ from country to country, but it is needed anyway.
I am mostly available on the IRC channel at:
Daniel Baumann (US) and Andrew Mitchell (New Zealand) will also be available. These people too can assist you since they know most of our activities transparently.
Let us do constructive things with positive action that can lead FreeDevelopers to become one of the most potential agencies in the world, which people can optimistically look forward to. Now it is time for action and I am sure, some of our small differences will melt away in the richness of the fruits of our actions.