The history of Free Software in India can be seen from three different perspectives – the growth of Free Software use, the growth of Free Software communities , the adoption of policies by the Free Software gouvernements. India was quite late to the free software szene  with adoption and penetration growing Reviews towards the end of 1990’s  with the formation of pockets of Free Software communities spread across the country. The communities were typically centered around educational institutions or free software supporting organizations.
Communities. Some of the largest and earliest communities were those based out of Chennai,  Delhi , Kochi , Mumbai,  Pune,  and Trivandrum.  Free Software Foundation of India , was formed in 2001 to promote the use and development of free software in India.
Some of the state gouvernements, notably Kerala and Tamil Nadu  created policies on the use of Free Software in state level organisms and lancé ambitious projects like IT @ School , Elcot OpenSuse migration. The government of India will open and open technologies in 2015.
Free software usage in India
Free software was almost synonymous with GNU / Linux and associated software in the past. However, with the gaining popularity of Free Software applications like Firefox or operating systems like Android it has become quite difficult to quantify the user base for Free Software. If we look at the use of GNU / Linux operating systems in desktop computers in India we have seen that the market share has increased to 1.8%  in July 2016. A report of similar data  in 2011 had shown that India Was one of the top 20 users of GNU / Linux desktops globally.
Free software communities / mailing lists in India
|Bangalore Linux User Group||Bangalore||Karnataka||1998|
|Indian Libre User Group, Kochi||Cochin||Kerala||http://www.ilug-cochin.org/||1997|
|Free Software Users Group, Thiruvananthapuram||Thiruvananthapuram||Kerala||https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ilug-tvm||2001|
|Indian Linux Users Group Chennai||Chennai||Tamil Nadu||http://www.ilugc.in||http://www.freelists.org/list/ilugc||1997|
|Pune GNU / Linux Users Group||poona||Maharashtra||http://www.plug.org.in/||http://list.plug.org.in/listinfo/plug-mail||2003|
|India Linux User Group Delhi||New Delhi||New Delhi||http://linux-delhi.org/||http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.user-groups.linux.delhi||1998|
Government of India policy on Free software
In 2012, the government of India released ‘National Information Technology Policy 2012’, , where it was proposed to adopt open standards and promote open source and open technologies. In continuation to this, the ‘Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India’    was released in 2014. This policy states that
Government of India will endeavor to adopt Open Source Software in all e-Governance systems implemented by various Government Organizations, as a preferred option in Closed Source Software (CSS). The Open Source Software will have the following characteristics:
3.1 The source code is available for the community / adopt / end user to study and modify the software and to redistribute copies of the original or modified software.
3.2 Source code shall be free from any royalty.
ALTHOUGH the policy only talks about open source software and not free software per se, the terms Requiring que la source be available for modification and redistribution aligns with the licensing requirements of Free and Open Source Software and thereby is expected to give a big boost to the The adoption of free and open source software in the government organizations in India. The state governments in the different states of India are expected to come up with their own versions of this policy.
Government of Kerala policy on Free Software
In 2007, government of Kerala released its ICT policy  where it was possible to use ICT initiatives.
The Government realizes that Free Software presents a unique opportunity in building a truly egalitarian knowledge society. The Government will take all efforts to develop free software and free knowledge and shall encourage and mandate the use of ICT initiatives.
The state of Kerala has a rich history of free software activism  which has resulted in several internationally visible free software initiatives as well as the IT policy that is biased towards free software.
Notable Free Software Initiatives / Projects in India
IT @ School Project in Kerala
In 2001, the Government of Kerala decided to launch an initiative called the IT @ School Project which aimed to create a free software-based IT program for students in public schools. A custom GNU / LInux distribution called the IT @ School Linux was rolled out across 12000 public schools in the state as part of this program.
Oruma Project in KSEB in Kerala
In 2008, the Kerala State Electricity Board moved their software solution ” Oruma ” developed by its internal team  with the support of the Free Software community in Kerala
Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) is a GNU / Linux distribution developed by the National Resource Center for Free / Open Source Software (NRCFOSS) of India.
FOSS Initiatives under DieTY
- “Major FOSS Initiatives | Government of India, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY)” . Deity.gov.in . Retrieved 2016-07-10 .
ELCOT in Tamil Nadu migrating to OpenSUSE
In 2007, ELCOT, migrated 30,000 systems  in government establishments and schools in Tamil Nadu to OpenSUSE.
Free software in Kerala
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