Tuesday, May 06, 2008

DOST’s Bayanihan Linux

from Manila Times

Software programmers at the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology are now putting the finishing touches to the latest version of Bayanihan Linux.

By the time of its release later this year, this Open Source package shall have two editions, namely: one tailored for use in government and private offices; another tailored for use in schools by teachers and students. In addition, Wikipedia in an offline form could form part of the package's latter edition.

The Manila Times learned of this development after ASTI personnel in the Quezon City office, directed us to Emmanuel Balinte, a leading member of the Bayanihan Linux team, following our inquiries.

Balinte said, "Bayanihan Linux version 5 is slated to release by early 4th quarter, possibly on the first or second week of October, with the possbility of an offline edition of Wikipedia bundled with the upcoming academic edition."

But he admitted a final decision still had to be made on this matter. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia whose contents on its Internet portal can be freely created and/or modified by any users who register themselves to the website.

As with Open Source, Wiki content is a new and alternative intellectual property paradigm emerging in the century of Web 2.0. Already, Wikipedia has cast doubts on the survival of traditional encyclopedias—yes, those big books that used to occupy living room shelves.

ASTI first launched Bayanihan Linux in October 2001 for use primarily in government offices. It formed part of a package of measures by the Philippine government to curb rampant software piracy in the country.

As its name implies, Bayanihan Linux is a suite of programs running on the Linux operating system. Included in the bundle is Open Office, a package of word processor, spreadsheet, database, and presentation tools. Open Office is similar to commercial packages widely available in the market and many times sold as pirated copies.

Because it is Open Source, Bayanihan Linux can be freely copied and modified by anyone. This would be in contrast to the case with proprietary software where doing so would be a crime.

Bayanihan Linux can be freely downloaded online at http://www. bayanihan.gov.ph, at the same time, a CD version can be purchased from ASTI for P 120. Similar commercial packages that are legitimate copies would cost a few thousands of pesos more.

Balinte said the edition for government and private offices of Bayanihan Linux's forthcoming edition would be made simple once again. It would include only Open Office, an Internet browser, instant messaging, and an e-mail client program. "These are all that are needed for office use, " Balinte said.

On the other hand, the academic edition would also include games, graphics programs, and multimedia applications added into succeeding versions of Bayanihan Linux. Also to be included are compilers for use in developing new Open Source programs.

Balinte said the issue with Wikipedia inclusion was whether or not this would unduly increase storage requirements in PCs where Bayanihan Linux Version 5 is to be installed.

Later versions of Bayanihan Linux, including Version 4 released last February 2007 have bundled into them WINE, an Open Source program enabling easy interface with Windows applications.

Succeeding versions of Bayanihan Linux have been upgraded to become as user friendly and fun to use as popular commercial software running on Windows. Observers believe this has been done to address perceptions worldwide that Open Source is only for geeks who are very proficient in the use of computers and not for ordinary computer users.

Bayanihan Linux Version 4 can run even on obsolete Pentium 3 PCs. According to Balinte, the same will be the case for Version 5.

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