Open source opportunity on the road to Nairobi

From above, the copyright police are forcing commercial users to recognize the costs of proprietary software. From below, hobbyists and entrepreneurs are building open source communities.

BarCamp in Kenya by Mentalacrobatics
Open source is facing a great opportunity in the cyber cafes of Nairobi, Kenya.

The source is Microsoft. They have gotten the government's help in a copyright "crackdown" against the cyber cafes, which are how most people there get online.

In the AllAfrica story, one owner says he just bought his business and didn't know his Windows and Office copies were pirated. Another complains about being forced to upgrade to Windows XP.

It's an opportunity because it came right after Nairobi's second BarCamp, held at Strathmore University. (The picture is one of 59 taken at the camp and posted at Flickr.)

This was the second meeting of the year by the group, which has its own blog and wiki.

My point today is to illustrate how open source is growing in the real world. From above, the copyright police are forcing commercial users to recognize the costs of proprietary software. From below, hobbyists and entrepreneurs are building open source communities.

They meet somewhere. Maybe at Bitnami. A simple, modular stack of Linux, OpenOffice, and communication software, designed for cyber cafes, might be a great place to start. Especially if it can be packed on a DVD.

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