BOSS: An Indian Linux Distribution

There is increasing interest the world over in open source software, particularly in the desktop area. High quality desktop environments with a wide range of applications are today available on the Gnu/Linux operating system. Using an open source desktop brings in a host of advantages. The zero license fee and the freedom to install any number of copies is just one, though a major, aspect. Today, Gnu/Linux desktop offers a range of choices for users in areas like office suite, e-mail management, browsers, etc. A lot of these are also available today in many Indian languages, enhancing the reach of computers to those who are not conversant with English. Not surprisingly, a number of organisations are moving their desktops to Gnu/Linux, saving large amount of money and earning a lot of freedom and flexibility in return. However, lack of awareness, lack of a support network, and pressures from large market players, often deter potential users from moving to a Gnu/Linux based operating environment.

Recognising the importance that open source is going to play in India, and with a view to provide Indian users a desktop that is customised to local requirements, CDAC has brought out a distribution of Gnu/Linux known as BOSS. This is part of a project funded by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. BOSS is aimed at typical end-users of desktops in schools, administrative staff in organisations, government offices, etc. A number of state governments and offices are actively adopting BOSS for their departmental requirements.

A nationwide network of support centres for BOSS is also being setup. As of now, the CDAC centres at Bangalore, Delhi, Noida, Kolkatta, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai and Hyderabad have BOSS support centres established. This network is being expanded to a wider base involving the National Informatics Centre, academic institutions, NGOs, etc. CDAC Chennai is also offering telephone support over a toll-free number.

The current version of BOSS, BOSS 3.0, provides all functionalities required by a normal desktop user including, office suite, browser, interface with devices such as USB, Webcam, etc, specialised presentation tool, easy administrative interface, media players, and so on. Most of these are available with Indian language interface in many Indian languages. BOSS allows read/write in Indian languages too.

Given its social significance in reaching out to a larger fraction of the society including those with language and other accessibility restrictions, and its non-commercial nature, we need to form a community-based network for wider awareness building and support. Many of you may also want to explore the possibility of using BOSS based desktop and server in your organisation. CDAC Mumbai would like to establish working relationships with interested organisations in this regard, in promoting BOSS and also adapting BOSS to the needs of end users in a systematic way.

We invite you to participate in a seminar being organised at CDAC Juhu campus on xxxx to brainstorm on this issue and move forward with specific plans including suitable business models. Registration is free. However, please confirm your participation at least 2 days before the event, to ensure adequate logistics support.

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