Tuesday, February 19, 2008:
The days are getting warmer now. The same warmth could be felt within the FOSS community as well. LINUX For You magazine has finally announced the winners of the FOSS India Awards for this year. There were about 50 approved projects out of which 20 came out as winners. "Actually, all are winners," says Rahul Chopra, editor, LINUX For You magazine. The winners were announced on 15 February 2008, during Open Source India Week, Delhi.
The total prize money for the awards is Rs 5 lakh, and each winner will get Rs 25,000. According to Rahul, "The goal behind the awards is to reward good Indian projects and to highlight India’s contribution to the FOSS world. This is to dispel the misconception that India takes but doesn’t give back much to the Open Source community."
Quipped the organisers, "There's more to it than just cash prize. The winners will get exclusive coverage in LINUX For You magazine and openITis.com (aka linuxforu.com) which in turn could mean: (a) more exposure to the project and its developer, (b) publicity amongst targeted customers and (c) more contributors getting attracted to the project."
The awards were sponsored by NRCFOSS (National Resource Centre for Free/Open Source Software). Congratulating the winners, M.R. Rajagopalan, director, NRCFOSS, said, "Through such incentives, NRCFOSS expects to stimulate young minds, encourage innovative contributions to the FOSS ecosystem and address the digital divide."
Key developers of Hindawi (one of the winners), Abhishek Choudhary and Sweta (Karwa) Choudhary shared, "Hindawi Programming System has shattered the technological myth that full-fledged programming systems cannot be feasibly developed in non-English languages. This is evident from the flurry of activity seen towards reproducing our results globally, and especially the interest of commercial entities in doing so... Let us think of our brothers and sisters who have not been privileged enough to go to English-medium schools. Even they have a right to benefit from the ICT revolution."
"Software is certainly being written for them, but we could liken that to a Mercedes car without a steering wheel. What it means is that the non-English software available today is of wonderful quality, like a Mercedes in the world of automobiles, but it only allows a user to perform a predetermined function, hence no steering wheel. Say the user wants to do something of his own desire, how does he do it? The answer lies in providing them with programming languages in their mother tongue -- one in which even the highest levels of technical programmes may be written, besides of course the simple ones. Hindawi is just that," they added.
Another winner, Zmanda Recovery Manager (ZRM) for MySQL simplifies the life of a DBA who needs an easy-to-use, yet flexible and robust backup and recovery solution for MySQL server. "This is a very unique project and is the only project that backs up live MySQL servers using whichever mechanism the customer needs. The project fills a critical need in the LAMP-based infrastructure. Also, this is a very relevant project for India as we have lots of companies who use MySQL as their database, and most of these companies are very price sensitive. There is also a social impact as this software is available for free from the company's website. Most NGOs and government agencies today have websites and live data that is customer generated. Backup of these is extremely critical," says K K George, key developer, Zmanda.
On the other hand, Dhvani is a framework to develop Indian language text-to-speech systems. Dhvani can speak Hindi, Kannada and Malayalam now. It can detect the languages automatically, and the sound database is specially designed to cover Indian languages. This project was started by Simputer project head Dr Ramesh Hariharan, IISc, Bengaluru.
"The project's primary focus is to enable accessibility features for physically handicapped users. So, the users are Indians who want screen readers in their own mother tongue. Separating out the illiterate, handicapped people will widen the digital divide. Access to the information technology and its advantages has a vital role in their education and life. There are many text-to-speech systems in the market -- FOSS and proprietary. But Dhvani is designed only for addressing Indian languages and it is the first project of this kind," says Santosh Thottingal, key developer.
Here follows the complete list of the winners of the FOSS India Awards:
/Hindawi Indic Programming System
/Zmanda Recover Manager for MySQL
/Dhvani Indian Language Text to Speech System
/Fedora (games and localisation spins)
/KDE 3.5 Hindi
/Get it I say
/TVTK: Traited VTK
Swapnil Bhartiya, EFYTIMES News Network