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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Microsoft and the DPP in South Africa

From: Ramanan Selvaratnam
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Microsoft and the DPP in South Africa
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 16:56:11 +0000

On Monday 16 December 2002 10:27, Adam Bower wrote:

> I remember that someone was involved in a project similar to this in South
> Africa but using free software instead of Microsoft products.

There was this major unsuccessful attmpt on behalf of GNU/Linux systems for 
Gauteng online sometime ago.
(I only wish they used the word free software and the underlying morals more.)
If there was / is another constructive effort I would like to know as I find 
myself busy with similar interests.  

Anyhow read this link 
to better understand the situation. 

"It has been said that if Linux and Open Source were going to triumph 
anywhere, the first big successes would happen in the Third World"
But the article pointed out how politics was a major factor here.

> Anyhow read this http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/2568833.stm and then
> go here to read a bit more (linked to from BBC article)

> http://www.digitalpartnership.org/csr/csrwebassist.nsf/content/f1c2a3r4.htm
" An initial pilot was launched in South Africa in June 2002, with subsequent 
pilots planned for Brazil, India, and possibly Russia and Poland"

With all due respect to good intentions I-- 'have you noticed the strategic 
locations?' Can I be forgiven for being paranoid?

> Now what interests me is why are these companies upgrading their desktop
> computers if they are good enough to run Windows XP and Office XP already?
Good point! Surely they can do more to alleviate poverty and free flow 
information than give away computers through n middlemen.

To be fair by the 'donors' the BBC artlcle does mention '..thousands of these 
abandoned machines...' then gives away bad quality journalism with WindosXP 
talk. You see, that is the deal at the other end -- for three (03) years free 
(beer) WindowsXP licencing in Gauteng online's case.
> Anyhow I am sure that if these companies kept their computers and of course
> started running a Gnu/Linux system (or similar) with Open Office they
> wouldn't have to upgrade these machines in the first place, thus maximising
> shareholder benefits etc. (of course I know that this is an oversimplified
> view etc. but its still interesting to think of that way)
No Adam it is a valid point.
Why should we have this wasteful culture over here that inefficently 
(provided this highly publicised recycling is genuine) recycles computers?

I am happy for the South African schools for getting some good enough 
computers that could potentially be put to good use.
Also this particular project must be an improovement from the numerous phony 
projects I have come across where 386s and 486s are shipped off with  
staggerring costs and inefficiency.

But does this not encourage people to embrace a wasteful culture?
Also doesn't this facilitate every 'out of this planet', 'badly thought out', 
'totally useless' fancy idea can be tested out totally unscientically. 
The digitalpartnership site has a classic giveaway.

"Innovations include:
A new global logistics chain for accessing decommissioned computer hardware 
from corporate donors on a large-scale "!!!!
A bit like the food chain and globally too!!!!

> Of course this means that the people in South Africa wouldn't get some
> machines which is probably worse than no machines at all? but then what
> happens to machines that are not of a high enough spec to run Windows XP
> and Office XP? do they get landfilled?
No they (not just southafrica most of this planet) hads got no resources to 
even do landfill. The poor people being resourceful might build more houses 
> BTW I havn't read much more than those two links, except to look at the
> minimum specs required to run Windows XP and Office XP (which is 233Mhz
> cpu, 128MB Ram, 2GB disk space, CD/DVD drive) although I wouldn't
> personally want to have to suffer XP on those specs, well preferably not at
> all but you get my point :)

I wonder what is the spec. for the TCPA/Palladium compatible system ;-)

> (here for the minimum specs for those bits of software BWT)
> http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/evaluation/sysreqs.asp
> http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/home/evaluation/sysreqs.asp
> http://www.microsoft.com/office/evaluation/sysreqs.asp

If anyone is interested please note that the NewsForge article mentions 
"Karnataka as no backwater.." 
I think now it  risks getting there unless sanity prevails.

Please contact me if you have more useful pointers to make any 'developing 
world' citizen understand the underlying issues better.


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