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UN body releases desktop Linux guide

A UN-funded organisation has produced a Linux desktop user guide to encourage the take-up of Linux in developing countries
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Written by Ingrid Marson on

A Linux desktop manual for novice PC users has been produced by a UN-funded organisation, the International Open Source Network (IOSN). The manual has been produced to encourage developing countries to use open-source software. It includes basic information on how to manage files, browse the Web and produce OpenOffice documents on a Linux PC.

Sunil Abraham, a manager at the Malaysia-based IOSN, said on Tuesday that it hopes the manual will encourage the development sector, especially Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) projects, to explore open-source software.

According to Abraham, there are over 800 ICT4D projects across the globe, and at the moment most are running proprietary software.

The Linux user manual is available online in OpenOffice and PDF format. Abraham said the IOSN is also planning to distribute a printed version as well as a Linux Live CD -- a bootable CD that lets users try the Linux operating system and applications without making any changes to their system.

The manual explains how to use Fedora, the Red Hat-sponsored community Linux distribution, although Abraham admits that that some stakeholders had strong views on the subject. "Our choice of Fedora was controversial. I think it is the least frightening version of Linux to a new user, but others have disagreed with me." Abraham stressed that the IOSN does not endorse this distribution over others.

The Linux manual has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution License to allow other organisations to copy and distribute the work.

One developing world project that has already benefited from open-source software is Schoolnet Namibia. This project has provided free hardware and training on the Linux operating system to 250 schools in Namibia since February 2000. IOSN hopes to reach similar projects across the world.

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