No More Windows! Indian Defense Services are Switching to Linux

What’s Happening: According to a recent report, the Defence Ministry of India has decided to replace Windows with an in-house developed Linux distro called ‘Maya’ on all computers that are connected to the Internet.

While details are very slim on this distro, we know that it is based on Ubuntu and has been developed locally within a very short 6-month period.

When to Expect: Initially, Maya will be installed on all internet-connected computers in the South Block of the Secretariat Building in New Delhi.

That block houses important offices such as the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of External Affairs.

But, the Ministry of Defence will be the first one to get Maya, the official directive has already gone live, with an August 15 deadline.

It is good to see that more and more governments are pushing for the use of Linux across critical administration agencies. And, this certainly is a big push in India.


SA wants to be involved in innovation, not just be consumers of it: It’s easy! Start with open source software like Brazil, China, and Russia

South Africa no longer wants to be just a consumer of hi-tech and innovative products. It wants to play an active role in technological research & development to produce such products locally.

This was said by communications and digital technologies minister Mondli Gungubele, who will host communication ministers from the Brics countries in Cape Town on Monday and Friday. The Brics members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Well, this is really not difficult… You start with seeing where you can actively replace paid subscription based software with tailored free and open source software alternatives, like South Africa was already doing in the mid-2000’s. There is zero need to re-invent the wheel when we already have so much enterprise-ready open source software. In fact, this is exactly what Brazil, China, and Russia have done with their own operating systems (achieved after a previous promise at a Brics summit in Brazil back in the 2000’s). South Africa actually had the Impi Linux OS but abandoned it later in that same decade (other countries followed through while SA lost its perseverance).

There is no question at all that free and open source software actually works. We’ve seen it working in retailers, banks, cellular companies, and governments in Germany and France. You can even have cloud-based services using Nextcloud and similar software.

It all comes down to the WILL to make it actually work, and the PERSEVERANCE to see it through. You’re still going to often use consultants, and internal staff, but your money is going nearly 100% to local economic investment. There will likely still need to be government tenders, but these would be for much smaller amounts, and for ensuring a service level support service when necessary. To sustain open source projects into the future, you also want to make some contribution to the upstream projects, so there is some money that may flow out of the country, but you decide how much, and remember that it is sustaining your product that you want to use into the future.

But yes, not only do you get a free product that you can copy and tailor to your local purposes, but the local industry learns and innovates from that software as well. You’ll also find many start up businesses can kick-start themselves not having to worry about exorbitant software costs, nor lock-in to one vendor’s cloud services.

We’ve long seen that necessity is the mother of invention. When you need something to work, or a problem to be solved, you come up with solutions. Open source software helps enable this through it being able to be adapted. South Africa can rely on learners at school and university level to solve these challenges using cheap Raspberry Pi computers and free software such as Linux, Python, Nextcloud, and numerous other choices. And of course, they learn from this, and can use it in their own future business endeavours.

So let’s see if this is all just political talk, or will we actually see some active projects with real outcomes…


China’s openKylin 1.0 arrives. Our verdict? Not a bad-looking, er, Ubuntu remix: It’s certainly not the country’s ‘first homegrown open source desktop operating system’

Version 1.0 of the openKylin Linux distro for the domestic Chinese market is here – and it works pretty well in English, too.

As The Reg reported last year, openKylin has been in development for some years. The FOSS desk took openKylin 0.7 for a spin soon afterwards. It reached version 0.9.5 at the start of 2023, and now the finished release 1.0 is available, codenamed “Yangtze” after the great river of China, the longest watercourse in Eurasia.

OpenKylin is an Ubuntu remix and it has the UKUI desktop. UKUI is one of the most polished Linux desktops around, and puts most of the more mainstream Western desktops to shame. The desktop looks very similar to the one in Ubuntu Kylin 22.04, but it had no problems with VirtualBox’s 3D acceleration and didn’t default to dark mode as that release did.

There was a decision made quite a few years ago at one of the BRICS summits in Brazil, that the BRICS nations would actually look at doing exactly this. In other words, they were going to each produce their own national operating system. All of those countries did in fact start such initiatives, but for some reason South Africa never did, and South Africa still sits in a very expense strangle-hold by Microsoft. Ironically enough, long before this in the mid-2000’s, South Africa did have it’s own government funded Linux distro that was called Impi Linux. Back then, South Africa had quite a big drive towards open source software, and for it to be a way of boosting local economic investment.


#technology #opensource #Linux #China

Open Source Policy Summit: Where FOSS and government meet: Sometimes it takes a war to make people pay attention

FOSDEM The Open Source Policy Summit is an annual event which attempts to explain the importance of software freedom to governments and policy makers.

The Policy Summit is an annual event organized by the Open Forum Europe, a Brussels nonprofit which describes itself as an “independent think tank which explains the merits of openness in computing to policy makers and communities across Europe.”

This is an important job, but you might be forgiven if you’ve not heard of it before because it has a rather different focus to commercial or community events. While businesses are concerned with things like cost-effectiveness and service-level agreements, the public sector needs to think more about issues such as digital sovereignty.

The governments of nation states need to consider different priorities. For example, if you choose some cloud application for communications or storage, you need to think about where the servers are on which those apps will actually run, and where your data will be stored. Much of the software industry is American, and many PaaS apps use AWS and other cloud providers which are also primarily based in the USA. Given that the largest war in Europe since 1945 is under way not far from the eastern borders of the EU, this is focusing legislators’ minds somewhat.


#opensource #FOSS #government #Europe

Nextcloud announces it has a SharePoint replacement ready for production use, and that Deutsche Telekom has made Nextcloud Office available to their users of MagentaCLOUD

This announcement is noteworthy for a variety of reasons, starting with the obvious: it offers an alternative to Microsoft’s (and to a lesser degree Google’s) near monopoly when it comes to enterprise ready collaboration software. Until now, your choices have basically been Microsoft with SharePoint and MS Office, and Google with Drive and Workspace. Now there’s Nextcloud, with the one-two punch of it’s new SharePoint replacement capabilities and Nextcloud Office.

The fact that Nextcloud Enterprise comes with support (including the migration services for removing the pain of moving your data to its new home) at a fraction of the cost of maintaining Microsoft licensing, makes making the move to Nextcloud something of a no-brainer for some.

It’s also available for free, for individuals, small companies, and even enterprises that want to forego support and use the community help and documentation that’s available on Nextcloud’s website.

“Nextcloud’s initiative to offer a digitally sovereign, open-source alternative to Microsoft SharePoint is to be welcomed,” Ralf Sutorius, the lead IT architect for the City of Cologne’s official website said in a statement.

MagentaCLOUD currently hosts the data of about 2 million active users who are working with over 2 billion files containing more than 6 petabytes of data.


#technology #germany #opensource #EU #nextcloud

Lessons learnt building and maintaining National Treasury’s open budget data viz portal

A video talk given at the recent PyCon conference in Durban about an application developed for National Treasury:

We built an open data visualisation portal for National Treasury – Vulekamali had to make a range of structured and semi-structured data, and many other files, easily accessible to everyone in South Africa. And in ways that are meaningful both to experienced data analysts, as well as someone who never did high school accounting.

We built this using Django as a core component that manages and pulls together data from an open source Python data management system (CKAN) and an open fiscal data query platform (OpenSpending).

In this talk we share the architecture and implementation decisions that paid off, and the decisions we still regret, as well as our thoughts on how we could improve on them.

We’ll cover things like building a system to handle partial data, automating bulk file uploads, how hard it is to get people to format data correctly, and giving them helpful feedback automatically.

Source code at

Watch the video at

#python #django #nationaltreasury #budget

France says non to Office 365 and Google Workspace in school due to cloud data sovereignty, competition, and privacy rules

In August, Philippe Latombe, a member of the French National Assembly, advised Pap Ndiaye, the minister of national education, that the free version of Microsoft Office 365, while appealing, amounts to a form of illegal dumping. He asked the education minister what he intends to do, given the data sovereignty issues involved with storing personal data in an American cloud service.

German data protection authorities came to a similar conclusion in 2019 when they disallowed Microsoft Office 365 in classrooms in the state of Hessen.


#technology #EU #datasovereignty #privay #cloud

Microsoft 365 faces more GDPR headwinds as Germany bans it in schools: Redmond disputes report that ‘it is not possible to use without transferring personal data to the USA’

Germany’s federal and state data protection authorities (DSK) have raised concerns about the compatibility of Microsoft 365 with data protection laws in Germany and the wider European Union.

Under the GDPR, children below the age of 13 are incapable of consenting to their data being collected, while consent may be given by those with parental responsibility for those under 16 but not younger than 13. When platforms do store data on adults, those customers are meant to be able to request the deletion of their records.

Microsoft has denied that its assessment : “We ensure that our M365 products not only meet, but often exceed, the strict EU data protection laws. Our customers in Germany and throughout the EU can continue to use M365 products without hesitation and in a legally secure manner.”

That statement is not actually a categorical and clear denial of what Germany alleges. But actually my opinion is, if there is concern about any age group using this software for educational purposes, all the concepts (and use) can also be taught using open source LibreOffice and then there is no issue like this. Schools should anyway be teaching concepts and principles, that there are options out there, and to innovate around experimentation, adapting software, etc.


#technology #GDPR #privacy #M365 #Germany

German Government on open source Mastodon and fully self-verified and self-hosted

This is an excellent example of a government taking ownership over it’s own hosting and verification. No-one can edit, censor, remove, doubt, etc their posts. They are not reliant on any external country or service for their hosting. It’s all using open source software, too, so no expiring license or foreign sanctions to impede it.

Too many governments, and even corporates, have become reliant on 3rd party hosting services for their social media interactions, often located outside their own countries. They have no contracts in place with those services, ownerships can change, they can be banned because of take-down requests, or for reasons that may not be illegal in their own country.

The French government too had been hosting their own open source Matrix server for fully secure E2EE of messaging with their overseas diplomats.


#technology #mastodon #Germany #opensource

Feedback from Nov 2022 Meeting

GITOC sub-committee open source user group – Aslam says Nhlanhla is probably very busy right now, but he will discuss it if he sees him in the coming month.

Registration as an NGO gives status to give input to gov entities and possibly request meeting with Nat Treasury – it is now part of the new collaborative online effort on our new Gihub organisation – please give input at

Suggestion to have an awards page on our website for SA companies that have promoted or furthered open source. These could be nominated in the discussion forums for discussion and agreement by members. Not discussed in November.

We discussed listing SA companies/individuals who are actively contributing to key open source projects, or who maintain their own such open source projects. We also discussed promoting open source projects which are actively supported so that SA companies or Gov could provide support. But we agreed that moderating and highlighting this on the website could be a lot of work, so it was agreed we create an organisation on Github where open collaboration will be easier. Github is designed for global collaboration and moderation of efforts. So has been created. Right now it only has the Constitution draft on it (whoops I actually named this incorrectly) but we’re looking to crowd source suggested projects, contributors, etc all in this organisation.