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FOSS4Gov 2013 Conference

FOSS4Gov 2013 Conference was held on 2013-09-24 at “Park Street Mews”with participation of 70 government CIOs and 30-40 Foss enthusiast.  The day was filled with important presentations and panel discussions as shown by the following agenda.

Item Topic Speakers(s)
Welcome Speech   Mr. Wasantha Deshapriya
Re-engineering Government Programme, ICTA
Keynote Speech FOSS Myths Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe
Senior Lecturer, UCSC
Launch and Demonstration of eSri Lanka OS
Presentation FOSS 4 PC Dr. Nimal Ratnayake
Chief Executive Officer, LGII
Presentation FOSS 4 Enterprises Mr. Crishantha Nanayakkara
Head of Technology Team, ICTA
Presentation Hanthana: Product & Community  Mr. Rasika Nanayakkara
Hanthana Linux Community
Panel Discussion FOSS; competitive advantage Mr.Sanjaya Karunasena, CTO, ICTA (moderator)
Mr.D.C.Dissanayaka, Snr Programme Head, ICTA
Dr. Nimal Ratnayaka, CEO, LGII
Mr. Ashoka Ekanayaka, CEO, Araaya Business Solutions (Pvt) Ltd.
Presentation FOSS 4 MM Mr. Suchetha Wijenayake
Learn TV
Presentation FOSS 4 GIS Dr. A. H. Lakmal
General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University
Presentation FOSS 4 Mobile Mr. Sinnathambi Shanmugarajah
CTO, Microimage
Presentation FOSS Tools Mr. Sameera Jayawardena
Project Manager, ICTA
Panel Discussion FOSS Policy; Do we need a Government FOSS Policy? Mr.Wasantha Deshapriya, Director, Re-Gov, ICTA (moderator)
Mr. Lalith De Silva, Government Printer
Mr. Mahesh Perera, Director, Sri Lanka Parliament
Mr. Fayaz Hudah, Programme Head, ICTA
Closing Remarks   Mr. Thushara Suraweera, Programme Specialist, ICTA

Dr. Ruwan Weerasinghe delivered the key note speech on the FOSS Myths and identified 7 FOSS myths and illustrated how to dispel such myths.

The key event at the conference was the unveiling of  “eSri Lanka OS”  which would be used for the PCS that would be given to the government organizations under LGN project.

Dr. Nimal Ratnayake, CEO of Lanka Government Information Infrastructure demonstrated “eSri Lanka OS”which has been developed by using Linux Mint which is the most popular Linux distro.

Many participants asked questions making the event highly interactive. Mr. Rasika Nanayakkara from Hanthana Linux Community explained how Hanthana Linux Community has been working during last 4 years to support the education sector with free software.  It was noteworthy that out of active 336 Linux distors, Hanthana Linux is the only active distro from Sri Lanka. 

Learn TV Videoed the entire proceedings. Mr. Suchetha Wijenayake from Learn TV demonstrated how FOSS could be used for multimedia work.

Crishantha Nanayakkara, Head of Technology of ICTA introduced many FOSS products which could be used for enterprise needs.   

The two panel discussions were well received by the audience which finally decided that Sri Lanka public sector needs a FOSS policy.

Most of the participants expressed their satisfaction over the content of the workshop.

 
Government to switch to open source

Minister of Communications and Information Technology Atef  Helmy said the most anticipated benefits of using open source programs are lowering governmental expenses on technology solutions and decreasing Egypt’s software imports, besides promoting social awareness of the importance of using these applications.

Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology Atef Helmy ( Photo – Public Domain)

“It’s necessary to work hard on developing an integrated environment and following a professional methodology,” Helmy said. “The change must incorporate professional studies and the contribution of all stakeholders.”

Helmy added that the ministry will support the strategic steps necessary to implement open source usage. It will also endorse the necessary training and will handle communication with society through the Cairo ICT 2013 conference and exhibition. He said the Information Technology Corporation will contribute by providing a pavilion in the expo for companies and initiatives in the industry.

Helmy also said the committee formulating the open source technology strategies will enact governmental policy aiming at including and using these technologies and adopting them as a national strategy for Egypt, noting that a pilot project for a complete transformation cycle for the ministries of ICT and local development was proposed.

The minister asked that all the initiatives from small companies include an innovative vision, and that the role of IT in social development be emphasised.

The government decision to purchase Microsoft software licenses and products to upgrade government agencies at a cost exceeding $43m has triggered anger among activists and specialists, who called the decision a waste of money and asked the government to use free open source software (FOSS), instead, last December.

Mohamed Hanafy, the spokesman of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, stated that the Microsoft deal will be the last and that the shift towards Open Source will be gradual. “We cannot shift to Open Source overnight”.

Hanafy added that the minister held a meeting with key figures in civil society and chairpersons of concerned companies last Thursday to discuss the matter.

 
International Space Station switches from Windows to Linux, for improved reliability

The International Space Station, plus a special penguin tourist

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The United Space Alliance, which manages the computers aboard the International Space Station in association with NASA, has announced that the Windows XP computers aboard the ISS have been switched to Linux. “We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable.”

In specific, the “dozens of laptops” will make the change to Debian 6. These laptops will join many other systems aboard the ISS that already run various flavors of Linux, such as RedHat and Scientific Linux. As far as we know, after this transition, there won’t be a single computer aboard the ISS that runs Windows. Beyond stability and reliability, Keith Chuvala of the United Space Alliance says they wanted an operating system that “would give us in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust or adapt, we could.” It’s worth noting that the ISS laptops used to run Windows XP, and we know they’ve been infected by at least one virus in their lifetime: in 2008, a Russian cosmonaut brought a laptop aboard with the W32.Gammima.AG worm, which quickly spread to the other laptops on board. Switching to Linux will essentially immunize the ISS against future infections.

The laptops that were upgraded belong to the station’s OpsLAN. The crew use the OpsLAN to perform day-to-day activities, such as viewing stock inventory, controlling scientific experiments, or checking their current location. Presumably the laptops used to run bespoke Win32 apps on Windows XP, and now those apps have been re-written to work on Linux — hopefully they’re not being emulated in WINE. To get the astronauts and cosmonauts up to speed, they will be trained by the Linux Foundation.

To be honest, we shouldn’t be too surprised at the ditching of Windows. Linux is the scientific community’s operating system of choice. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is controlled by Linux. NASA and SpaceX ground stations use Linux. DNA-sequencing lab technicians use Linux. Really, for applications that require absolute stability, which most scientific experiments are, Linux is the obvious choice. The fact that the entire OS is open source and can be easily customized for each experiment is obviously a very big draw, too.

Robonaut 2

In other news, the first humanoid robot in space, Robonaut 2, which also runs Linux, is due for an upgrade soon. Robonaut 2 (pictured above) was delivered on Space Shuttle Discovery’s final mission in 2011, and at the moment it’s just a torso with two arms — but later in 2013, some climbing legs and a battery pack should be delivered. The ultimate goal is to see whether humans and robots can operate peacefully in zero gravity, with Robonaut eventually performing menial tasks (vacuuming, changing filters), and possibly dangerous tasks during space walks, too.

Now read: Windows 8 may drive me to Linux

Source: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/155392-international-space-station-switches-from-windows-to-linux-for-improved-reliability

 
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50,000 rural school children and members from Samurdhi beneficiary families being trained Under eDiriya Literacy drive in 8 provinces in the country (further details can be obtained from www.ediriya.lk). Training conducted by Nenasalas, Private sector training providers and School training centres. Course contains four modules which is covered with in a day. This video shows an Interview had with a teacher who delivered the training by using Hanthana Linux and Open Office In Maithreepala Senanayaka National School, Madawachchiya

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