It is beyond doubt that we are living in the age of great technological developments, as tech companies are developing solutions like Internet of Things devices and artificial intelligence software that were all but inconceivable a few years ago. All over the world, Microsoft and Apple are most well-known to individual users for their software, but when it comes to the bigger picture, open source software like Linux is broadening its reach. But it seems that India is lagging behind – could the Indian government’s much publicized BOSS Linux program change that?
Open Source Software on the Rise
The operating systems that most of us use on our computers, like Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s iOS are not open source – which means that they are protected by intellectual property copyright held by the respective company that prohibits users from toying around with the code and altering it. The code is actually not even available to view. The opposite is true for open source software: by definition, its code is open to anyone who would like to contribute to making it better. Proponents of open source believe that this results in a better outcome for everybody, as passionate users and programmers invest time and effort to improve software that is open to all. Most of the time, open source software is free, but this does not mean that it does not generate revenue; in fact, it is projected that the global revenue of open source software will exceed €57 million (over ₹4.5 billion) by 2020.
Linux Gains Widespread Acceptance
Open source software is widely used all over the globe – and Linux is the most well-known, free architecture behind a family open source operating systems. Linux users worldwide are estimated to amount to more than 95 million, in a world population of more than 7.5 billion – of which roughly 3.7 billion people use the internet. Top sites like Amazon, Wikipedia and Facebook essentially run on Linux while complicated cyber tools are increasingly offered on Linux as an option. For instance, a tool known as HAProxy (short for High Availability Proxy), which is an open source proxy and load balancing server software, used by high profile sites such as Git Hub, StackOverflow, Reddit, Twitter, and that improves a system’s speed and performance by allocating workload across multiple servers, is designed to run on Linux and other open source software like FreeBSD and Solaris.
Linux-Based Operating System BOSS Developed by Indian Government
Despite this penetration, open source software in general and Linux in particular is not very widespread in India. Besides the usual arguments about users’ familiarity with more conventional software, there are also concerns that Linux doesn’t fare well in accommodating India’s 22 major languages. While it is true that Linux takes some extra time and effort to deal with, as it provides more options for the end user and requires some basic understanding of what is going on inside your computer, there is value in exploring Linux applications for bigger projects. In a move that was widely publicized a few years ago, the Indian government announced that it was developing its own operating system based on Linux and called BOSS (Bharat Operating System Solutions). The OS, largely developed by India’s own Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), is set to replace all other operating systems on the administrative level. The latest stable release of BOSS Linux came in August 2015, version 6.0.
Indian government is showing the way by example, but there is still a lot to be done in terms of educating the general public and raising awareness in order for users to feel comfortable in exploring different software options. After all, variety allows informed choices and ensures that the consumer ultimately opts for the product that suits them best.