Linux

Uganda’s Policy and Strategy on FOSS and Open Standards

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The National IT Authority of Uganda (NITA-U) has released, for public review,  The National Free and Open Source Software, and Open Standards Draft Policy. Download PDF Here: Open Source Policy V0.3 2014-09-21

NITA-U has also released the accompanying strategy:  Open Source Strategy V0.3 2014-09-21.

It appears that both documents have received input from James Wire (@wirejames; ), a Kampala based FOSS Advocate. As of this writing, NITA-U seeks input from members of the ICT Association of Uganda, a body that brings together professionals in the sector.

The policy makes some exciting declarations:

Where there is no significant overall cost difference between open and non-open source products, open source will be selected on the basis of its additional inherent flexibility.

The Government will expect those putting forward IT solutions to develop a suitable mix of open source and proprietary products to ensure that the best possible Value mix is obtained. Vendors will be required to provide evidence of this during a procurement exercise. Where no evidence exists in a bid that full consideration has been given to open source products, the bid will be
considered non-compliant and is likely to be removed from the procurement process.

The Government will, wherever possible, avoid becoming locked in to proprietary software. In particular it will take exit, rebid and rebuild costs into account in procurement decisions and will require those proposing proprietary software to specify how exit would be achieved.

…and some even more interesting commitments:

All IT investments shall comply with Open Standard unless specific project requirements preclude use of an Open Standard or if the Open Standards are not appropriate. The Government will support the development of open standards and specifications.

The Existing IT systems shall be reviewed for Open Standards compatibility where appropriate.

There are also some places where a firmer voice could work better, in the interest of developing FOSS:

Because participation in the ongoing development and improvement of FOSS is the underlying basis for the promotion of FOSS solutions, MDAs/LGS should consider the extent to which they may wish to actively participate in the development of FOSS solutions that fall short of the project requirements for which the solution is used

And some places where the spirit of licensing derived works is broken:

No Discrimination against Fields of Endeavor: The licence must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

 

Are you concerned about Free and Open Source Software? Does your government have a different policy? I would like to know. Well then, take a read and let me know what you think.

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FOSSFA Weekend

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So on 12th October, i headed into Accra, for an epic FOSSFA Weekend.

Serving on the FOSSFA Council for a second term, this was once of the most critical meetings that FOSSFA held for its council, for out of this, a new FOSSFA executive was to be elected. The Council itself has been elected via a pioneering online vote, cast by all members. The current executive, has more than satisfactorily served enough terms. They served, selflessly, always, sacrificially, and they did it well.

A new executive has been elected out of this weekend, and its not just new wine, the wine-skins are new as well. A complete change of guard, one thing remains clear, FOSSFA can only go from one level to the next. The new executive has passion, lots of it, and they are younger, and more energetic. The air smells so good, and so fresh, that FOSSFA has used the weekend to establish commissions.

Here they are:

Judy Okite from Kenya, voted unanimously as the new FOSSFA Chair, taking over from Nnenna Nwakamna of Ivory Coast
Brian Ssennoga from Uganda voted as the new FOSSFA Secretary, taking over from Samer Azmy from Egypt
Neatness Msemo from Tanzania voted as the new FOSSFA Treasurer, taking over from Milton Aineruhanga from Uganda
Suen Ojedeji from Nigeria voted unanimously as the new FOSSFA CTO. (New Position)

Program Areas Committee Chairs:
a) Business & Innovations – Dele Ajisomo, from Nigeria
b) Networking & Capacity Building – Katim Touray from The Gambia
c) Education – Joris Komen from Namibia
d) Legal and IP – Nnenna Nwakamna from Ivory Coast
e) Localization & Diversity – Solomon Gizaw, from Ethiopia/Ireland
f) Government, Policy, Open Government and Data – Dorothy Gordon, from Ghana
g) IDLELO 6 Chair – Joe Sevilla from Kenyan

Lots of work to do, taking Free and Open Source Software allover Africa, but for now, we will wind up and integrate ict@innovation, as we run up to Nairobi 2014 for IDLELO

FOSSFA is the Free and Open Source Software Foundation for Africa, and can be found at http://www.fossfa.net , and on Twitter: @FOSSFA, and on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/163634167084849/?fref=ts

Final CALL: #LinuxEssentials at #COSS

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The Uganda Centre for Open Source Software continues to receive applications for all those interested in Linux Essentials.

Linux Essentials Technician is the new Certified Introductory course from LPI International, for all those interested in knowing how to use Linux. More Details on the website here.

Classes will be running 6-8pm, starts Monday 9th July 2012. Confirm participation before end of this week.

Contacts: +256 753 222 842 and +256 754 245 700

Email: training[at] coss [dot] ug

Completion of #LPIC Exam

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Happening NOW: Completion of #LPIC Exam Lab for #UMU-Nkozi, Exams 101 and 102 for 8 participants, by #COSS. #LUG, #FOSSFA @marzma @COSSug

That was the tweet, that confirmed our completion of a successful training and Certification camp, conducted at Uganda Matrys University in Nkozi. In all, 8 participants sat for LPIC 101 and LPIC 102, 2 exams that contribute to LPI Level 1 (Junior) Certification. We are excited, because, 1 year ago, we feared because one of the promoters of the FOSS and OSS Chapter in Uganda closed its doors.

COSS reopened the chapter, and began where we had strengths. As we build the community of FOSS and Linux enthusiasts, we intend to deliver, one class at a time, better Linux – certified Ugandans.

We are grateful to our partners FOSSFA, GIZ; both under the ict@innovation project, as well as S7, that continues to generously host us.

Would Government of Uganda use Ubuntu?

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Much of this article, has been shamelessly lifted from Mark Shuttleworth’s Blog because, am not sure if they would read it there, perhaps am over confident that they would read it here! So here it goes…along with my rumblings

Governments are making increasingly effective use of Ubuntu in large-scale projects, from big data to little schools. There is growing confidence in  open source in government quarters, and growing sophistication in how they engage with it.

But adopting open source is not just about replacing one kind of part with another. Open source is not just a substitute for shrink-wrapped proprietary software. It’s much more malleable in the hands of industry and users, and you can engage with it very differently as a result.  I’m interested in hearing from thought leaders in the civil service on ways they think governments could get much more value with open source, by embracing that flexibility. For example, rather than one-size-fits-all software, why can’t we deliver custom versions of Ubuntu for different regions or countries or even departments and purposes? Could we enable the city government of Frankfurt to order PC’s with the Ubuntu German Edition pre-installed?

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Leadership Of Virtual Communities

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(Notes from an Open Session, held at IDLELO 5, Abuja Nigeria, 19th March 2012.)

Working with people we do not know, or see, only talk to them virtually. Nnenna, introduces her self and talks about nnenna.org, a privately run consultancy that has no office and yet maintains a full-blown services for its clients. Work happens in the Virtual Realm. Meeting and working virtually has the advantage of running the least administrative costs.

She is not alone, and as the group warms up to the discussion, we learn about a systems administrator, events manager and a systems administrator. Here are some experiences of virtual workers:

Evelyn Namara shares her experience as a virtual systems administrator, who worked on skype, dropbox and docs, while working with Tactical Technology Collectives (TTC) in Kampala, Uganda.

18.5 yrs as a University Librarian from Federal University of Nigeria, another gentleman is intent on merging virtual library with the manual physical library. He is convinced the ICT Sector does have the solution he needs…

UNESCO Abuja’s National Program Officer for Communications and Information – Oluseyi Soremekun is also eager to see if their information needs can be made Virtual. He contends that the power of information and its access to, by Nigerians is a great need and that ‘virtualization’ of work might have to be a solution.

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COSS and Linux Training

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Happy New Year to all of You.

Its been a very hot entry into 2012, from Kampala, and the heat could not have been multiplied by the excitement that comes with knowing Africa’s premier FOSS gathering – IDLELO – is round the corner. Its a great time, as my last experience ushered me into the world of Linux and FOSS on the continent, paving the way for what has now become my life and bread – Linux Systems Administration, Training, and Advocacy.
Last year, I introduced COSS, and one month into this year, its great to share with you our challenges, and experiences, and what we would like to see happen this year. Perhaps you will be tickled to become a part of what we are trying to achieve.

2011 Highlights:
Closure of EACOSS (But NOT death of FOSS in Uganda – March 2011), LUG Meeting that featured a discussion on FOSS Training; COSS Founding and Opening, Launch of Website – July 2011, LPIC Level 1 – 2 exam labs, Oct – Dec 2011; COSS at TECHFEST – Nov 2011; and a little known possibility of a merger with a local firm.
 2012 Outlook:
LPI’s Linux Essentials – Manual Writing, Launch; More LPIC Labs; that Merger; More LUG involvement; Partnerships and Projects; IDLELO (See Above); E-Learning at COSS (See Here).

Our experience has been that, we have learned from the best, and as a result, we can be very good with our planning. But the real place the rubber meets the road, is in the numbers of Ugandans who are willing to walk into COSS as ask for a Linux Certification. We have great presence within the Kampala LUG but even that is not enough to convince the converted, when it comes to certification. So our strategy, as anticipated for 2012, is to target employers of Linux Professionals. We want to find out from them, how do they tell what “3yrs Linux Experience” really is, and how can we help. But we also think, lets not teach old dogs new tricks, lets go to the schools, where the children are, lets see how to get into Primary and Secondary Schools with Linux.

When you have no riding Government Policy (despite CIPESA’s efforts), and no big name firm backing you, its hard, even harder when you have a day-job. Though our priorities are right, its time to ask interview panels, whether they are qualified enough themselves, to tell if the new recruit has the right Linux Skills. And we want to be there for both. Moreover, its time to ask ourselves, are we ready to leave our desk jobs, to move FOSS Activities and FOSS Training into the 8-5 slot, and the replace the rest else where? Are We?

What about the economics of FOSS Training?
How much is enough to cover your training skill set and time? And how much do you take home, if the company has got to grow? What if its just a TOT requirement, with not much enforceable follow up, what’s the motivation to return home and train others? You have to love FOSS enough, to give off a few freebies…afterall, its FOSS.

Finally, you have to wonder, Are Africans really interested in FOSS? Yes they are, i think. How much they show that is a story for another time.
So, hopefully we meet sometime this year, and we talk about your FOSS experiences, but until then, i wish you the very best of 2012.