October 6, 2003

Open Asia: Open source in Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan

Author: Frederick Noronha

We continue our country-by-country survey of the availability of open source software across Asian countries with a look at developments in Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan.


GNOME sorts various languages on the basis of their completeness in terms of translation to non-English
languages. In late January 2003, the Mongolian language entered the list at a whopping 15th place (supported). Sanlig Badral,
Ochirbat Batzaya, Tegshbayar, Bayarsaihan, and the others in the Mongolian
team have translated no less than 11,455, or over 95%, of messages. The Mongolian team started their work on GNOME translations less than a
month earlier. "Incredible!" said rankers of the Gnome team,
egging on various communities trying to get their languages working with
this software.


In Nepal, Ganesha's Project uses donated machines and
open-source software like Linux to cut the costs of acquiring
software licenses for impoverished school system. Other resources include Linux Nepal and the Nepal Linux User Group.


Pakistan is a country where the importance of FLOSS is being closely
studied by both senior official quarters and campaigners at the grassroots.

Pakistan Ministry of Science and Technology advisor Salman Ansari
recently spoke of the possibility of some 50,000 low cost computers are to
be installed in schools and colleges all over Pakistan. These will be PII
computers, each being sourced for less than $100 a piece, he said.
Proprietary software for these PCs would cost a small fortune -- surely more
than what the computers cost. Using GNU/Linux ensures that the overall
prices are kept low. "Don't be surprised if we become the first country in
the world to say that all (government-run) services are going to be
GNU/Linux based," Ansari said enthusiastically.

NewsForge last year also reported Linux gaining ground in

Pakistan is also home to a couple of interesting projects. The Video-Whale Project is an
implementation of a video wall which exploits the combined power of Gstreamer and Xinerama. With it, four monitors are controlled by one machine, and a LAN of four machine controls a 16-monitor video wall.

Fawad Halim has written a man interface in PHP. Code is being distributed under the GNU GPL.

Besides the main Pakistan Linux Users Community, other regional LUGs include the Sindhi's Linux User Group (SLUG) in Hyderabad, Sindh, in the Indus Valley.


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