India Business
Open source computing desktop in Indian languages
Mar 21, 2007 - 8:12:14 AM

Bigger language groups are especially better off, like Assamese, Gujarati, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu, according to an article in the New Delhi-based trade magazine Linux For You.

'Localisation is one subject that interests all Linux enthusiasts,' says technocrat Ravishankar Srivastava. Srivastava is among those credited with having contributed significantly to the spurt of interest in local language computing in the free and open source software world in India.

Open-source, the opposite of closed source or proprietary software, is software whose source code is available under a license that permits users to study, change and improve the software and to redistribute it in a modified or unmodified form. It is often developed in a public, collaborative manner.

Srivastava says Indian languages in the desktop computing environment is now available with open source options like SUSE Linux, Ubuntu Linux and the OpenOffice suite.

But a few additional settings and configuration are needed to get the Indian-language solutions working, he says. Ubuntu Linux also requires installing an additional 'language pack' to get it going with Indian languages.

Ubuntu, sponsored by Canonical Ltd - a private firm founded by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, is a widely used Linux distribution targeted at personal computers. It has gained market-share because of usability, regular releases, installation ease and freedom from legal restrictions.

So far Indian languages have received a rather step-motherly treatment in computing - a field created largely for the 26 alphabets of the Roman script rather than more complex Asian scripts.

'Installing an additional language like Hindi now needs a mere 15 minutes - with a 256 kbps broadband connection,' says Srivastava.

' is a free office suite that also comes in many languages other than English. OpenOffice is available in almost all platforms - from Windows to Linux and from Intal to Sparc,' he said.

'Installing additional languages is obviously not a Herculean task in Linux. Following some simple steps, we can configure our desktops as well as the OpenOffice suites,' he adds.

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