Central Asia, Afghanistan discuss open source software


New Delhi : Software developers, academics, development groups and decision makers from Central Asia and Afghanistan met in the Tajik capital Dushanbe to see how the Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) could be of help to the region.

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FLOSS is a software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction. Unlike proprietary software, it can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with certain restrictions to ensure that end users have the same freedoms as the original authors.

It is widely seen as a new way of empowering the less affluent and developing societies.

The July 6-7 meet focussed on developing national strategies on FLOSS in Central Asia. About fifty Software developers, academics, development organisations and governmental decision makers and other information and communication technology (ICT) experts from Central Asia and Afghanistan attended it.

It was organised by Unesco along with the Global Internet Policy Initiative, Tajikistan, and the Open Society Institute, Tajikistan.

"The meeting is expected to increase awareness about FLOSS and to contribute to capacity building in the use of FLOSS for development purposes," said a Unesco statement here.

Software products supported or developed by Unesco – including eNRICH from India – were also promoted in the meet, with emphasis on the knowledge sector, sharing and collecting information, and even software that helps manage museums.

Some software applications by Unesco that were the main focus of the meet were Museolog, Greenstone, Moodle, CDS/ISIS and the India-made eNRICH.

'Museolog' is a web-driven software system, that helps in cataloging museum-related information. It is an advanced tool for museum records management, based on the international standards.

Museolog allows creating a record across several interactive sessions. It is also possible to save non-validated, incomplete records for future completion. It keeps track of photographs of museum exhibits, and allows for searching and selecting records, and more.

Greenstone is a suite of software for building and distributing digital library collections. This Free Software/Open Source digital library software package provides a new way of organising information and publishing it on the Internet or on CD-ROM.

Moodle is a free software e-learning platform, also known as the Course Management System (CMS), or Learning Management Systems (LMS), or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It claims to have over 25,000 registered sites, 10 million users, and one million courses worldwide.

Its open source licence and modular designs mean that many people can develop additional functionality, and development is undertaken by a globally diffused network of commercial and non-commercial users, spearheaded by the Moodle company based in Perth, western Australia.

CDS/ISIS is a software package for generalised Information Storage and Retrieval systems developed, maintained and disseminated by Unesco. It was first released in 1985.

eNRICH is a web-based fully customisable software for knowledge management. It helps one to find information or knowledge available on the Internet and to create relevant content.