Saturday, June 02, 2007

Google Developer day - Google Gears

Here is a presentation given by a Google engineer Aaron Boodman on at the recent Google Developer Day conference. The already started making waves across Internet.

What is Google Gears?

Google Gears (BETA) is an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality using following JavaScript APIs:

  • Store and serve application resources locally
  • Store data locally in a fully-searchable relational database
  • Run asynchronous JavaScript to improve application responsiveness

To know more,

  1. First goto site. The site will identify whether your browser has the extension already installed and suggest you to install. Since the tool is early stages of development, I warn non-developers not to try immediately now. Though the tool looks very promising wait for sometime till the final version arrives.
  2. For (web) developers, this one is a very promising tool for the future. Go and try. Already you have sample implementation available with Google Reader. If you already using Google Reader, try the offline/online feature available there after installing .
  3. It seems IE 6.0/ 1.5+ for windows and Linux is supported out of the box. After installing flush the browser cache and restart both browsers if it is running.
  4. Get the documentation from here.
  5. If you want give feedback and suggest some more features go and post it in the Google Gears Forum.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

One year of OSS implementation in ELCOT - the score card

The following letter was written by Mr. C. Umashankar, IAS to the yahoo group eGovIndia. He is the Managing Director of ELCOT (A Government of TamilNadu Undertaking)

On the 26th May 2007, ELCOT completed one year of OSS implementation in its day to day activities.
Currently the migration to OSS is close to 126 out of 130 desktop machines (97%) and 25 out of 26 rack servers (96%).
Barring four desktops which use a popular windows based accounting software, the entire ELCOT's head office moved into Suse Linux. A lone user has been using Fedora core.
We have asked for the Linux version of the accounting software from the vendor. He had agreed. ELCOT is also in the process of migrating to an open source based ERP shortly and so the four desktops also would be migrated to Suse Linux shortly.
ELCOT had also rolled out a powerful application software for administering family cards. Currently the contractors who do the data entry for the family cards have been using it. Government have given approval for decentralising the family card printing operations at the district level, thanks to the web based software developed by ELCOT using OSS.
The family card software has a powerful local language interface which is  built on Java script technology. It is absolutely platform independent and the user need not install any fonts.
So far so good.
ELCOT has been show casing its success in the migration to OSS to all Government departments. A few of them were thoroughly impressed and have decided to fully migrate to OSS. It is still too early.
Yet, the way in which the people accept OSS after a hands on experience in ELCOT gives room for optimism. ELCOT's staff generously share their experience when Government users visit ELCOT's office. They also get to see the Linux ATM and also ELCOT's 28 seater software development centre which uses only OSS.
ELCOT has an 80 licence anti virus software which had become redundant. The officer in charge of the licence had asked my permission to sell it outside!  Concurrence given.
Anti virus software has no role in ELCOT.
The latest success is the use of crossover and wine software to run application software that had already been developed in Microsoft client - server environment. ELCOT's team is shortly descending on Salem to provide on site support to a large co-operative bank (150 desktops) to migrate to Suse Linux without any migration of the existing Ms application software (using Wine/Cross over)


It may be noted that Mr. Umashankar initiated the process of OSS support and implementation for various government organizations in Tamil Nadu.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Training from ELCOT

Here is an update of the training program given by ELCOT to Village Panchayat officers. The training of officers need volunteers. Currently the local Linux User Group CHENNAILUG providing full support to this new initiative.

Recently the Tamil Nadu Government with guidance from ELCOT decided to go opensource way for supporting their total IT infrastructure. Mr.Umashankar of ELCOT is leading this effort.

Hope more positive FLOSS initiatives will come out this year.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tamil Nadu (India) may shut door on Microsoft

Source: .

Note: 1 Crore = 10 million, 10 lakh = 1 million, 1$ = Rs.45(approx)

Chennai, Dec. 31: The Tamil Nadu government, which is on a fast-track pushing the state to the top in the Indian IT sector, has almost shut its door on the software giant, Microsoft, preferring the Open Source Systems (OSS) for reasons of costs and easy migrating capabilities.

“Initially, 99 per cent of government systems have been running on Microsoft systems but then 2007 will be a watershed year for the state IT sector. We are fast migrating to Linux operating systems which are so much cheaper and can be operated at low cost, besides offering continuous updates and freedom from viruses,” says Mr C. Umashankar, managing director of state-owned ELCOT, vested with the responsibility of overseeing such ambitious government projects as e-governance, enumerating the beneficiaries of the free TV scheme, family ration cards and the free sari-dhoti distribution.

“We have already dispatched 6,500 Linux systems to village panchayats and another 6,100 Acer desktop systems with Suse Linux operating systems are on their way. We are procuring 20,000 desktop systems for schools, which will run only on Suse Linux. Remaining 30 desktop systems will also migrate as and when the new machines arrive,” Mr Umashankar told this newspaper.
He said all the ELCOT servers were on Redhat Linus and the government IT company’s 28-seater software development wing was fully on Suse Linux.

“We will train over 30,000 government officials in Linux Operating Systems and Open Office. A contract has been already finalised with the government departments and we have set up a Linux support centre with two Linux-certified professionals to assist the state officers. This number will go up to ten or more in 2007, which will be a path-breaking year for government on migration to Linux Operating System,” Mr Umashankar said. “India can live without Microsoft packages and even progress but Microsoft will find it tough without a huge country like India buying their software packages,” he said.

He said a top official from Microsoft India had met him twice to convince him to continue with MS products. The official offered the XP operating system for about Rs.7000 while he quoted Rs.500. “I explained to her that for a mere Rs.300, I could get the entire operating system, office productivity software and a wide range of utility tools, such as DVD/CD writing software, database software, multimedia editing software, vector map-drawing software plus a whole range of software development tools. Also, I have the option of downloading this entire package in DVD media and not even pay that Rs.300, which is the media cost and not the software charges,” said the ELCOT chief, an IT expert himself besides being a senior IAS bureaucrat.

He said he had also pointed out to the Microsoft official that MS Office did not allow saving of documents in open document format. While it was possible to open all MS Office files using, the vice versa cannot be done. “I asked her why ELCOT should buy such an inferior product when is available free of cost for Windows as well as Linux.

She said Microsoft are working on open XML format,” he added. Mr Umashankar said he had written to state finance secretary enumerating the “huge financial and working advantages” of shifting to Open Source Environment in all government departments. “I have been receiving great support from all the senior IAS officers here, from the chief secretary downwards. It is very encouraging.

ELCOT is not the loser when Microsoft did not accept our price of Rs.500; on the other hand, Microsoft loses out due to our big volumes involved,” he said.
“There is a gross misconception among the governments and officials that if they migrate to Open Source platform, Microsoft would get angry and the entire software industry could come to a grinding halt. This is totally misplaced fear,” Mr Umashankar said.

“Within the next five years, it is going to be the IT services which would dominate the revenue share of the IT companies, because more and more users, governments and the corporate sector have started migrating to OS software, thus removing the scope for more revenues from products. It is time that the users understood this scenario and start saving their precious revenues,” Mr Umashankar said.

Talking of the changes happening in this direction, he said he had ordered 43 rack servers for ELCOT to host various government applications. “All the applications are to run under OS software. I would have paid Rs.20 lakh per server if I had adopted proprietary software but now I have saved over Rs.8 crore from this one transaction.

We intend to procure 1000 servers in the next two years. Imagine the amount of savings we are getting out of this,” the ELCOT chief said. “In my view, a state government of TN magnitude would be able to save Rs 200-500 crores every year, when the National e-governance action plan gets implemented,” he said, adding that school children too could get the benefit of “more robust, secure and economical Open Source software for their work,” he added. “Today, there is more demand for OSS trained engineers. I require at least 500 trainers to train 30,000 state officials across Tamil Nadu in the next six months.