Kerala has opted for the free and open software platform for the State-sponsored IT@School project. This project undertakes IT education in the schools of the state. This year, Kerala's General Education Department has saved Rs11 crores in furthering this project. According to K Anvar Sadath, the project's executive director, if proprietary software were to have been used in the 11,065 laptops and computers in the schools, a minimum of Rs11 crores would have been spent in procurement of software alone.
"This deployment, considered to be the largest ever, will start from 23 July 2009 and will include 8,385 computers, 9,607 UPS, 2,680 laptops, 1,871 multimedia projectors, 2,222 laser printers, 1,076 dot matrix printers and 1,759 scanners," said Sadath. This scheme is already running in 1,016 government schools and is now being extended to 3,055 schools. At present it covers classes eight to 12. "The advantage of using free software is not only cost reduction, there are philosophical reasons behind this including sharing of knowledge. I think this is a model that other states can follow," said MA Baby, State Minister of Education.
Free software is software that gives the user the freedom to share, study and modify it. So we can call this free software because the user is free to use this is to make a political and ethical choice asserting the right to learn and share what we learn with others. Free software has become the foundation of a learning society where we share our knowledge in a way that others can build upon and enjoy. Currently, many people use proprietary software that denies users these freedoms and benefits. If we make a copy and give it to a friend, if we try to figure out how the program works, if we put a copy on more than one of our own computers in our own home, we could be caught and fined or put in jail. That’s what’s in the fine print of the license agreement you accept when using proprietary software. The corporations behind proprietary software will often spy on your activities and restrict you from sharing with others. And because our computers control much of our personal information and daily activities, proprietary software represents an unacceptable danger to a free society.
Richard Stallman, the stalwart of free software, had been in Kerala a few years back as an honoured state guest, to discuss the philosophy behind the movement and the use of free software as a viable, cost-effective alternative for government, educational institutions, and businesses, as well as for all the people of India. He had officially launched the Free Software Foundation of India (FSF-India) as the first affiliate in Asia of the Free Software Foundation.
There is reason to believe that there has been a series of measures contemplated by governments all over the world to thwart the rising popularity and development of free software. However, free software communities around the world are formally organising with the goal of better assisting businesses, governments, and educators everywhere to understand the philosophical ideals behind free software and how these ideals directly create practical advantages to those who use and create it.