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 [1] with adoption and penetration growing Reviews towards the end of 1990’s [1] 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, [2] Delhi , Kochi , Mumbai, [3] Pune, [4] and Trivandrum. [5] 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 [6] created policies on the use of Free Software in state level organisms and lancé ambitious projects like IT @ School , Elcot OpenSuse migration. [7]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% [8] in July 2016. A report of similar data [9] 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

List of Free Software
name City State website Mailing List Founded
Bangalore Linux User Group Bangalore Karnataka 1998
Indian Libre User Group, Kochi Cochin Kerala 1997
Free Software Users Group, Thiruvananthapuram Thiruvananthapuram Kerala!forum/ilug-tvm 2001
Indian Linux Users Group Chennai Chennai Tamil Nadu 1997
Pune GNU / Linux Users Group poona Maharashtra 2003
India Linux User Group Delhi New Delhi New Delhi 1998

Government of India policy on Free software

In 2012, the government of India released ‘National Information Technology Policy 2012’, [10], 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’ [11] [12] [13] 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 [14] 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 [15] 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 [16] with the support of the Free Software community in Kerala

BOSS Linux

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)” . . Retrieved 2016-07-10 .

ELCOT in Tamil Nadu migrating to OpenSUSE

In 2007, ELCOT, migrated 30,000 systems [7] in government establishments and schools in Tamil Nadu to OpenSUSE.

See also

Free software in Kerala


  1. ^ Jump up to:b “The What, Why and When of Free Software in India | Linux Journal” . . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  2. Jump up^ “ilugc Info Page” . . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  3. Jump up^ “Linuxers Info Page” . . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  4. Jump up^ “Home | The Pune GNU / Linux Users Group” . . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  5. Jump up^ “Google Groups” . . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  6. Jump up^ “TN states to switch to open source software” . The Hindu . 2014-03-18. ISSN  0971-751X . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  7. ^ Jump up to:b “India’s largest Linux rollout forges ahead despite tremendous odds” . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  8. Jump up^ “StatCounter Global Stats – Browser, OS, Search Engine including Mobile Usage Share” . . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  9. Jump up^ “The top 20 strongholds for desktop Linux” . Pingdom Royal . 2011-05-12 . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  10. Jump up^ “National Information Technology Policy 2012 | Government of India, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY)” . . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  11. Jump up^ Yu, Eileen. “Indian government mandates use of open source software | ZDNet” . ZDNet . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  12. Jump up^ “India announces open source policy; Big win for FOSS | ETtech” . . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  13. Jump up^ “Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY)” . . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  14. Jump up^ “Government of Kerala, Information Technology Policy 2007” . Retrieved 2016-07-09 .
  15. Jump up^ “Free as in Freedom: The Story of Free Software in Kerala, India” . . Retrieved 2016-07-18 .
  16. Jump up^ “ORUMA: the result of KSEB’s concerted efforts” . The Hindu . 2008-03-09. ISSN  0971-751X . Retrieved 2016-07-18 .

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