Current Status of FOSS in Pakistan

OSS/FOSS in Pakistan

Pakistan Linux Users’ Community (PLUC) or LinuxPakistan.net was formed in 1999 at the Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET) by a group of students. Its main purpose was to promote Linux and open source software in Pakistan, and to spread its knowledge among the general public.

Key Contributions
KarachiOS
Debain
Skole
http://linuxpakistan.org/contact/contrib/index.php

Trainings

Since 2003, the OSRC has trained over 8900 participants during 118 training workshops and awareness-raising seminars in Pakistan.
A list of the OSRC’s training details

International Participation

The OSRC’s achievements were recognized by open source communities worldwide. Host countries/organizations funded the OSRC’s participation in over two dozen international forums. It is the only Public Sector Development Program (PSDP)-funded project in the history of Pakistan to have achieved this distinction. 
A list of OSRC’s participation in open source international events

Open Source Forums

Open source is an approach to the design, development, and distribution of software, offering practical accessibility to software’s source code. Some consider open source as one of various possible design approaches, while others consider it a critical strategic element of their operations. Before open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of phrases to describe the concept; the term “open source” gained popularity with the rise of the Internet, which provided access to diverse production models, communication paths, and interactive communities.

An open source forum is the creative practice of appropriation and free sharing of found and created content. It is an online discussion site. It originated as the modern equivalent of a traditional bulletin board, and a technological evolution of the dial-up bulletin board system.
A list of Open Source Forums in Pakistan

Major FOSS Projects

The main objective of open source development is to reduce or compensate losses, or damage due to the occurrence of unwanted events or risks. Pakistan needs to simultaneously develop different mechanisms and strategies (risk transfer, risk reduction, risk distribution, avoidance, risk enhancement), which are appropriate to the situation and environment of the projects. 

List of FOSS Projects

  • Emergen Consulting Developing Clarity OS (http://www.emergen.biz/about/clarity/)
  • Information System for Early Fault Warning in Automotives (http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/fp-efwa.htm)
  • Conversion of NGOSS Compliant, Web 2.0 Enabled Mediator, Rater and Biller Applications (http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/fp-mrb.htm)
  • Development of Open Source Cell Library for MEMS Components Verified Through Modeling and Simulation (http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/fp-osmem.htm)
  • Technical Development for Automation of Banking System for Microfinance Banks (http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/fp-absmf.htm)
  • Clarity – Open source Enterprise Management System (http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/fp-clarity.htm)
  • Development of Open Source HMI (http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/fp-oshmi.htm)
  • Integration of Open Source Software Projects in IT Education (http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/fp-iossp.htm)
  • Design and Development of an Open Source Enterprise Network Security System (http://www.ictrdf.org.pk/fp-osenss.htm)

Companies in Pakistan working on FOSS

Companies in Pakistan that have shifted over to FOSS completely, or those that have migrated certain portions of their IT infrastructure, include: 

  • Askari Commercial Bank
  • Bank Islami Pakistan
  • Crescent Group of Industries (Crescent Bahuman)
  • Dancom Online Services Islamabad
  • Dollar Industries
  • Ideal Distribution
  • Inbox Computers
  • Kohinoor Maple Leaf Group
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Ministry of IT and Telecommunication
  • Pakistan Software Export Board
  • Siemens Fugitsu
  • Sui Northern Gas Pipelines

Source : http://www.spider.tm

Migrations

The Open Source Resource Center (OSRC) supports companies’ migration from proprietary to open source software. It conducts migrations from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice, and switches operating systems/computer networks from Microsoft Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux/Fedora Linux. 
A detailed list of OSRC’s Completed Migrations

Contribution to FOSS

Source: Tune your brains 
By Fouad Riaz Bajwa
Spider magazine, September 2006
http://www.spider.tm/sep2006/cstory1.html 

Open source software has gradually made its way across the shores to Pakistan. It is not only major organizations but also interested individuals that can benefit massively from its arrival. Looking at the opportunities that FOSS brings to Pakistan, it is a highly useful and fruitful alternative to pirated proprietary software. It also brings the opportunity for the country to benefit from ground-up or bootstrap innovation, research and business opportunities that are cross platform and multidisciplinary in nature. Its success can be attributed to various FOSS communities including the largest and oldest, Linux Pakistan User Group, boasting over 3,500 professional as well as amateur Linux users. The second largest community group is Free and Open Source Software Foundation of Pakistan (FOSSFP) and is dedicated to promoting the overall adoption, development and usage of FOSS throughout the region as well as globally. FOSSFP promotes ICT software freedom for everyone and has over 850 Ubuntu Linux user group members and over 4,900 registered certified users.

Large businesses, industrial groups and banks have benefited from FOSS and have reduced their costs by eliminating licensing offered by proprietary software giants. The Pakistan Software Export Board and Ministry of IT&T established the Open Source Resource Center (OSRC) to encourage an open source demand and supply ecosystem within the region. The OSRC is working towards promoting FOSS throughout the various public and corporate sectors through capacity development and provision of open-source based enterprise resource planning systems to various industrial associations. 

There are companies based in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Multan and Islamabad that are providing various solutions throughout the desktop, server and middleware stacks including extensive enterprise level technical support related to RAC and Cluster computing. Hardware and various operating system desktop, server and enterprise solutions are available through multinational organizations like IBM Pakistan, Hewitt Packard distributors, Red Hat Channel Partners, Novell Distributors and Ubuntu Commercial Support by Canonical. This creates a healthy ecosystem for the corporate enterprise sector to benefit from total solutions. 

As well as learning all the essentials online, users in Pakistan can benefit from various educational institutions offering courses to cater for such requirements. A number of universities and corporate training centers including Peshawar University, SZABIST, MAJU, NUCS-FAST, OpenTech, Oracle University, and APTECH are providing intensive professional technical and managerial trainings. On the integrated multidisciplinary higher educational sectors within the fields of Engineering and GIS, institutions like GIK, NED, UET, NUST-NIIT have intensively incorporated FOSS into their curriculum thus providing opportunities for FOSS research. 

Anticipating the benefits and cost-cuts, a lot of local businesses have embraced FOSS completely or certain portions of their IT infrastructures. This creates tremendous amount of human resource demand and supply opportunities and it is prime time to acquire the necessary skills required by all these local projects and businesses that are adopting FOSS as their business support systems. The best combination of skills includes Linux OS installation and administration as well as LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL / POSTGreSQL-Php / Python / Perl) software development skills. 

Apart from operating systems and general business applications, FOSS has contributed to human and social development through applications that empower individuals, promote economic growth, reduce inequality, support human rights, gender empowerment, microfinance development, employment creation, news sharing, information and knowledge dissemination. 

Apart from its low-cost and free-of-cost models, its greatest benefit particularly for Pakistan is that FOSS can be localized into the 70 regional languages spoken in Pakistan. This will provide versions of FOSS that use Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pushto, Sariki, Himalaya as an alternative to the widely available software interfaces in English. Similarly, the availability of localized graphical user interfaces or visual display can be further worked upon to develop localized computing, and programming in Urdu as well as typing in domain names in Urdu into your browsers to access localized web resources over the internet. 

Pakistanis are carrying out Urdu localization efforts around the globe. The most widely accessible and usable tool to localize Ubuntu distribution is called Rosetta. This is an opportunity for Pakistanis to volunteer by donating their time and effort to share the translation activity covering over 1,100 translation tasks. To support localization, the regional BytesForAll FLOSS Localization Consortium gathers FOSS resources for carrying out localisation efforts for various regional languages spoken in South Asian countries. 

It is prime time for our academia, researchers, civil society and business and industry to adopt FOSS development and technologies for ICT-based production. The strategy is to embrace the innovation opportunities that FOSS extends. With the source code for every FOSS program in one’s hand, Pakistan can develop extensive and highly marketable products at virtually no cost for global markets. Similar business opportunities are available for extending the software freely without any licensing costs while charging for supplementary services built around the product including hardware, networking, consultancy, training, trouble-shooting, debugging, maintenance and upgrades through patches. The IT Business and Industry can be revived through adopting FOSS, developing commercial grade products for foreign markets, disseminating world class FOSS education and research positioning ourselves as one of the best FOSS knowledge workers and product developers worldwide as well as recreate the interest in IT that once was heard in all corners of the nation.