Open-source PCs take a passage to India

Desktops pre-installed with OpenOffice.org, Firefox and other open-source applications will be sold in the country.

The Indian government has struck a deal with a number of PC vendors to pre-install open-source software on computers sold in the country.

This move follows an Indian government initiative to distribute free CDs containing localized versions of popular open-source desktop applications.

RKVS Raman, a researcher at the Center for Development of Advanced Computing, an organization involved in the production of the free CDs, said Tuesday that a number of vendors, including HCL Technologies, Acer, Zenith and Sahara, will start selling computers pre-installed with localized open-source software starting in December.

The computers will be pre-loaded with either Microsoft Windows or Linux and a number of open-source products, including the OpenOffice.org productivity suite, the Firefox browser and the Columba e-mail client, according to Raman.

"Linux is preferred by some vendors because it brings down the cost drastically," said Raman, although he pointed out that the vendors that "insist" on installing Windows will still save costs by avoiding Microsoft Office.

The PCs will be available in three Indian languages--Hindi, Tamil and Telugu--although more languages will be added later. The Indian government hopes that the availability of PCs containing software in native languages will increase the adoption of PCs across India, Raman said.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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