The state of Kerala , India has had an active free software community since early 1980s. [1] The initial users were those who started using TeX in the city of Thiruvananthapuram . Subsequent free software users groups in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and around engineering colleges [2] in the state. The Free software community in Kerala was instrumental in creating a policy environment that was biased towards Free software. [3] The government of Kerala policy on Free software gives first preference to free and open source software for its IT requirements. [4] The state claims to be the only state in the world where IT education is imparted over a Free software operating system. [5] [6]

Government Policy on Free Software

The IT Policy for the State of Kerala had acknowledged the relevance of Free Software as early as 2001 [4]

The 2001 IT policy states that,

The Government of the United States of America, the Government of the United States of America, and the Government of the United States of America. The government welcomes research into the use of open and free software in the context of education, governance, and for general use at home, to make IT truly a part of the daily lives of the people of the State. The Government also encourages projects such as the Simplicity that is low cost, based on open software, and attuned to the needs of the common man.

In 2007, the government of Kerala released its ICT policy [7] 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.

Free software communities / mailing lists

There are two prominent free mailing lists in Kerala. One of the Free Software Users Group, Thiruvananthapuram and the other is the Indian Free Group, Kochi . The primary activities of the users groups around Were Offering Support to Free Software users and in running technology and awareness sessions for the public and institutions in [8] [9] and running install fests. [10] [11] There are also active free software clubs in several engineering colleges in the State College of Engineering, Trivandrum , [12] St. Josephs College of Engineering and Technology, Pala , [2] MES College of Engineering Kuttippuram , [13] National Institute of Technology, Kozhikode . [14]

Free software initiatives in the state

Over the years several government entities in the state of Kerala switched / started using free software solutions in their operations. Some of the notable projects are listed below.

IT @ School Project

In 2006, the state government decided to impart ICT education in public schools across the state using a customized Debian distribution called the IT @ GNU / Linux School . [15] The IT @ School project by Department of General Education, Government of Kerala is one of the largest deployments of GNU / Linux systems anywhere in the world. [5] [6] The technical support and training for the project was provided by SPACE. [16]

ORUMA billing software by Kerala State Electricity Board

In 2008, the Kerala State Electricity Board moved to a new software platform called ORUMA to run their billing operations. [17] [18] The system was built with the help of an internal team at KSEB. Initial consultations and trainings were provided by SPACE . [19] [20]

Kerala Khadi & Village Industries Board Free software migration

The Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board Moved to a Free software platform [21] built by Keltron .

Public Works Department

The Kerala Public Works Department Moved to a Free software platform built by InApp Technologies [1]

Kerala Legislative Assembly Free software migration

In 2014 the Kerala Legislative Assembly moved all of their IT operations into GNU / Linux based systems with the assistance of Zyxware Technologies . [22]

Organizations and not-for-profit agencies working in the Free software space

ICFOSS – International Center for Free and Open Source Software

ICFOSS is an autonomous agency set up by the Government of Kerala in 2011 [23] with the mandate of popularizing Free and Open Source Software for universal use; Consolidating the early FOSS work done in Kerala; And networking with different nations, communities and governments to collaboratively promote FOSS.

SPACE – Society for the Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment

SPACE is a not-for-profit society that has been working closely with the government and several of the government departments and agencies in driving free software adoption in them. [24] IT @ School, ORUMA, Khadi Board migration, etc., has been involved in policy formulation, consultation, training and technical support for projects. [25] The agency has also been running a center called INSIGHT which is actively pursuing. [26]

SMC – Swathantra Malayalam Computing

SMC is a free software collective which works in the space of Indic language computing. [27] SMC is the upstream maintainers for Malayalam fonts and tools [27] for popular GNU / Linux based operating systems Such As Fedora and Debian. They also maintain localizations for Free Software Desktops ( GNOME / KDE ) and applications such as Firefox [28] and Libre Office .

Free software Conferences

Free Software Free Society Conference

Kerala hosts a regular international conference on Free Software which runs every time 2 – 4 years. This conference is done with the involvement of the Government of Kerala and the Free software community. International Center for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) has been responsible for organizing the last two editions of the conference.

  1. Freedom First 2001 [29]
  2. Free Software Free Society 2005 [30]
  3. FSFS 2008 [31]
  4. FOSSK4 2011 [32] [33]
  5. Swatantra 2014 [34] [35]


The National Institute of Technology, Calicut conducts an annual free software conference called the FOSSMeet which is held in the campus during the month of February / March every year. [36]

See also

Free software in India

Free software movement


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  4. ^ Jump up to:b “Kerala State IT Policy 2001” (PDF) . UNPAN .
  6. ^ Jump up to:b “Kerala logs Microsoft out of schools” . . Retrieved 2016-07-30 .
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  16. Jump up^ Matthew David, Debora Halbert (2014). The SAGE Handbook of Intellectual Property . # v = OnePage & q =% 22Society% 20for% 20promotion% 20of% 20alternative% 20computing% 20and% 20employment% 22% 20SPACE% 20IT% @ Scchool 20project & f = false : SAGE.
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  18. Jump up^ “FOSS experience of KSEB” (PDF) . ICFOSS.
  19. Jump up^ “SPACE Annual Report 2007-08” (PDF) . SPACE.
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  22. Jump up^ Kurian, Vinson (2014-07-18). “Kerala Legislature announces smooth transition to free software” . Hindu Business Line . Retrieved 2016-07-31 .
  23. Jump up^ “February 2011” . . Retrieved 2016-07-31 .
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  25. Jump up^ “A celebration of software freedom” . The Hindu . 2008-09-21. ISSN  0971-751X . Retrieved 2016-07-31 .
  26. Jump up^ “New software tool for the disabled” . The Hindu . 2011-07-29. ISSN  0971-751X . Retrieved 2016-07-31 .
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  33. Jump up^ IEEE.vTools. “International FOSS Conference, Kerala: vTools Events” . . Retrieved 2016-07-28 .
  34. Jump up^ “Swatantra 2014: Fifth International Free Software Conference, Kerala” . Retrieved 2016-07-28 .
  35. Jump up^ “Huge savings from free software highlighted” . The Hindu . 2014-12-20. ISSN  0971-751X . Retrieved 2016-07-28 .
  36. Jump up^ “FOSSMeet begins today” . The Hindu . 2014-02-14. ISSN  0971-751X . Retrieved 2016-07-31 .

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