Sri Lanka to discuss open source on Windows

Conference to bring new levels of awareness of free and open source applications on Windows; Apache co-founder to deliver the keynote address.

The Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community in Sri Lanka will gather this week to discuss open source applications for Windows, in a bid to curb software piracy in the country.

Organized by local advocacy group FOSS Sri Lanka, the FOSS-ed for Windows conference will cover various topics relating to FOSS applications for the Microsoft platform. These range from Web browsers and e-mail clients, to graphics software and content management systems. The event will be held in Colombo, the country's capital city, from Jun. 26 to 28.

FOSS Sri Lanka said in a statement last week that while there is a trend in the industry moving toward Linux and other free and open source applications, "Microsoft Windows is still a dominating force" in the operating systems market.

Karthiga Ratnam, chair of FOSS-ed for Windows, said: "FOSS-ed is a popular conference program organized by the foss.lk community…we wanted to create awareness among the general public about FOSS applications that you can easily download and use while continuing to be on the Microsoft Windows platform."

"There are so many good pieces of software which you don't have to pay any money for licensing fees. We hope that by learning about freely available alternatives out there we can help to stop software piracy in the country," Ratnam added.

According to FOSS Sri Lanka, many individuals and companies resort to using illegal copies because of the unaffordable prices of proprietary software, which could cost anything from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars in licensing fees alone.

Brian Behlendorf, a longstanding figure in the open source software movement, will deliver the keynote address at this week's event. Behlendorf was a primary developer of the Apache Web server, the most popular Web server software on the Internet, and a founding member of the Apache Group, which later became the Apache Software Foundation.

The event is sponsored by Google, Intel, Microsoft, Ceylon Linux, eBuilder, ThinkCube and Virtusa. It is supported by American Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka's ICT Agency, the National Intellectual Property Office and University of Colombo School of Computing.

Lately, Microsoft has stepped up efforts to establish Linux-related agreements with open source software vendors, starting with Novell in last November. This was followed by Linspire and Xandros last month.