iSchools Participates in Software Freedom Day 2011

Project Lauded for Championing Open Source

by Angelo Kairos Torres dela Cruz

As a government funded ICT (Information and Communications Technology) for education integration project, the iSchools Project champions the use of Open Source software in its years of rolling out computer laboratories all over the Philippines since 2005. The project celebrated its 5th year of championing Open Source by participating with other open source users in the last Software Freedom Day (SFD) 2011 at St. Paul’s University in Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley last September 16-17, 2011.

Working on the theme “Smarter Communities Choose to be FREE” Software Freedom Day 2011 aims to educate and convince technology users to choose open source software instead of using proprietary software or worse, unlicensed or pirated proprietary software.

Open Source software offers a wide array of alternatives for proprietary or for-pay programs, free of charge. Open source developers even encourages users to redistribute the software free of legal obligations as long as it is for non-commercial use.

The iSchools Project sent Kairos dela Cruz, a project content team member to discuss the simple question “Why not Open Source?” during the local government unit (LGU) leg of the series of discussions scheduled on the last day of the event. According to dela Cruz, “The Department of Education, as a direct counterpart of iSchools in distributing computer units should recognize the benefits of using open source; even if it is a truth that might be ignored for a long time since DepEd is too tied up with Microsoft through partnerships and MOAs.”

“I neither have the power to say that it is corruption nor assume that it is poor judgment on their part, I am simply pushing for a solution to the problem set by the continuing use of proprietary software. The savings alone from the purchase of proprietary operating system can be diverted to purchasing more computer units. The project (iSchools) will never stop reminding them that it would not hurt to take a look at what our project achieved with open source,” dela Cruz added.

The one hour and a half discussion ended with dela Cruz leaving an open question to the participants, “So far, I’ve explained the benefits of using of open source, I’ve even inferred on the probable reasons why open source is not that popular in the Philippines, but then again, WHY NOT OPEN SOURCE?”.

iSchools project computer laboratory grants are distributed with an open source operating system, EdUbuntu, an Ubuntu Linux derivative to enhance the education feel of each grant. The project carefully compared EdUbuntu with proprietary program such as Microsoft Windows. Compatibility, security, and the “educational fit” are some of the major features considered prior to choosing EdUbuntu as iSchools’ official operating system.

So far, EdUbuntu and its software packages proved to be compatible with other software (proprietary and open source). It also enjoys a very low incidence of virus and malware infection due to its complex in-house security features. EdUbuntu is also specifically made for educational purposes upon installment. The software packages included in the open source operating system are educational programs.

The recent SFD 2011 was celebrated internationally with Philippine major partners coming from Intel, Epson, PLDT Alpha Enterprise, Cre8tivetech, KahelOS and ATCOM. Event supporters include IBM, Acer, MSI, 8Layer Technologies and imperium along side event partners from West Capitol School of Technologies, iSchools Project, GOAutoDial, Pinoy Exchange, Manila Bulletin, LoudCloud, IOSN, IdeaCorp, UrSolutions, University of the Philippines Los Banos and Posix.

The first SFD was held on 2004 by few but very dedicated open source advocates, since then the SFD family grew to become a community that is smart enough to go FREE.

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