Singapore holds string of open source events

Three events to celebrate global Software Freedom Day are being held this week in the country, with a final enterprise-focused bash to be held this weekend.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Ahead of celebrating global Software Freedom Day on Saturday, several of the country's open source user interest groups have been busy jointly hosting a number of related events this week.

The string of events kicked off with a student focus yesterday--the first of two such events was held at the NTU (Nanyang Technological University) campus, with another slated for Friday at the NUS (National University of Singapore).

Chong Soon Cheong, marketing director Asia South of Sun Microsystems, which sponsored the two events, said in an e-mail interview, the events are aimed at encouraging adoption of open source software through educating the tertiary students on software freedom and open standards.

Open source software such as OpenSolaris and the Fedora Linux OS distributions and Netbeans for Java have been gaining traction among the local university students, according to a student who attended the event.

Sun has been focusing on the education sector in Singapore through the Java community. It recently held a Java developer competition over Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

The week-long open source awareness campaign will culminate with a larger public event on Saturday, put up by two of the country's more active Linux user groups. It will be held at the SMU (Singapore Management University) campus.

According to the Software Freedom Day site, some 500 groups from over 90 countries have committed to participating in the open source software publicity drive.

Engaging the SME audience
The public event on Saturday has assembled a line-up of speakers from various open source vendors, including Novell and Red Hat, as well as smaller local organizations.

Darrel Chua, who leads the Singapore Linux Meetup Group (SLMG), one of the two organizations putting up the event, said he hopes it will help local organizations with smaller marketing budgets get to a stage to educate local users on their products and services.

Chua told ZDNet Asia, the event has come together "beyond expectations", put together by a planning committee of volunteers belonging to both SLMG and the Linux Users' Group Singapore (LUGS).

"Several hundred" members of the public are expected, though a greater proportion of attendees are likely to be technical users of Linux and open source software, said Chua.

Between 200 and 300 OpenDisc CDs will be handed out at the event to encourage the adoption of open source software on the Windows OS.

Harish Pillay, open source affairs manager at Red Hat, said in an e-mail interview with ZDNet Asia, there will also be an "install festival" that day, which is aimed at helping people install the Linux OS onto their machines.

Pillay said open source events such as this are intended to bring a level of awareness of open source software to small and midsize enterprise (SME) attendees, which view technology as business tools to support their companies. "In general, SMEs are not focused on technology," he said.

He added that engaging the community is a "crucial component" of business for an open source vendor, such as Red Hat.

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