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French National Police Switch 37,000 Desktop PCs to Linux
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Photo: Frédéric Bisson

France’s National Gendarmerie — a national law enforcement agency — is now running 37,000 desktop PCs with a custom version of the Linux operating system, and by summer of next year, the agency plans to move all 72,000 of its desktop machines to the open source OS.

Linux is now the primary means of running computer servers inside the data centers that drive the web’s biggest services, from Google to Amazon to Facebook, but it has struggled to replace Microsoft Windows on the desktop. The news from the Gendarmerie could be a sign that this is changing.

The agency claims the total cost of ownership of Linux and open source applications is about 40 percent less than proprietary software from Microsoft, according to an article published on the European Union’s Interoperability Solutions for Public Administrations website.

To make the switch less abrupt, the Gendarmerie first moved to cross-platform open source applications such as OpenOffice, Firefox, and Thunderbird. That allowed employees to keep using Windows while they got used to the new applications. Only then did the agency move them onto a Linux OS running these same applications.

The migration started in 2004, when the Gendarmerie was faced with providing all its users with access to its internal network. In order to save money, the agency switched from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice. Then the agency rolled out Firefox and Thunderbird in 2006. Finally, in 2008, it switched the first batch of 5,000 users to a Linux OS based on the Ubuntu distribution.

This is one of the largest known government deployments of Linux on the desktop. Many governments, such as Brazil, have resolved to use more open source software. Some countries, like China and India, even have their own government-sponsored Linux distributions. But the actual adoption rate of Linux within government agencies is unclear.

For example, in 2011 the UK government committed to use open source software wherever possible. According to the country’s Government Service Design Manual, civil servants are to “use open source software in preference to proprietary or closed source alternatives, in particular for operating systems, networking software, web servers, databases and programming languages.” But according to the BBC, the UK government was still spending the majority of its IT budget on proprietary software from companies like Microsoft and Oracle later that year. Part of the problem, according to the BBC, is that agencies are locked into existing proprietary applications.

Another issue is that not all commercial software has a suitable open source replacement, and these proprietary applications might not run on Linux. Multimedia applications such as graphic design, audio engineering, and video editing have particularly lagged on Linux. According to Miguel de Icaza, one of the original designers of the GNOME desktop environment for Linux, the lack of professional applications on Linux has a lot to do with early failures by him and other desktop environment creators to build standardized, backwards-compatible platforms for developers.

There’s also the matter of custom applications. Many organizations invested heavily in Windows technologies such as Active X, which only runs on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser. For example, the entire country of South Korea — including private enterprises — standardized on Active X in the 1990s, according to the Korea Times. It’s expensive and time consuming to rewrite all of this internal code, and since some agencies may depend on Active X-based code from other agencies, they don’t necessarily have control over when a migration can take place.

Tools such as virtualization and terminal services can make it possible to run Windows applications on Linux desktops, but this involves purchasing licenses from Microsoft, destroying part of the point of switching to open source operating systems in the first place.

But the growing use of web based applications instead of native desktop applications could make Linux a more viable operating system for not just government agencies, but all large organizations. The Gendarmerie provides a roadmap.

Source : http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/09/gendarmerie_linux/?goback=.gde_43875_member_277616773

 

 
Google's Self-Driving Cars Are Powered by Ubuntu
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Google revealed that they are using a lightly customized and realtime-ish version of the Ubuntu Linux operating system development by Canonical on their driverless cars used to map the Earth. During the Embedded Linux Conference 2013, conducted by The Linux Foundation, that took place earlier this year, Google had a 24-minute keynote speech hosted by Andrew Chatham, which revealed that their self-driving cars are using a stripped version of Ubuntu. If you're a technology freak like me, I dare you to watch the video above and learn how Google modified the Ubuntu operating system, and how they manage to control and fix it when needed. This piece of news should not really come as a surprise to any of us Linux (Ubuntu) freaks out there, as Google is known for using a modified version of Ubuntu at their workplaces.

Source : http://news.softpedia.com/news/Google-s-Self-Driving-Cars-Are-Powered-by-Ubuntu-382360.shtml?goback=.gde_43875_member_273905734#

 
FOSS4Gov 2013 Conference
( 1 Vote )

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
( 1 Vote )

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
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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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