Linux in areas of low bandwidthPosted: November 14, 2006
I’ve been meaning to complain about this for a while.
One of the things I do here is help in linux outreach. Getting people to at least consider the use of open source software in their daily work. I end up helping quite a few people install linux on their machines. Usually Kubuntu, because i am partial to that and make sure I have an ISO of the latest release lying around, but also other distributions. In the office I’d say the biggest distributions are Ubuntu, Debian, Mandriva, CentOS and SUSE.
Back on course anyway, the biggest issue with installing Ubuntu is the fact that you need a fairly substantial amount of internet access to create a proper installation. In order to get basic mp3 support, DVD support, restricted codecs, firefox, Java, flash etc. I need access to a fairly fast internet connection. And that’s assuming that the default packages that come with kubuntu are the ones I(or whoever I am helping install linux) happen to be looking for. Now, the last group of people I introduced linux to are all grad students from the newly formed School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences(don’t panic, they are IAEA funded. We aren’t creating the bomb or anything) and so their software needs tend towards open source scientific and engineering software. And, like most parts of Ghana, bandwidth is minimal and spotty where available. Hence, once linux is installed, there becomes a definite need for localized repositories with all the packages they need on them.
By localized I don’t mean ‘on a server in the same country’ although that would be a start. Imean something more along the lines of a CD/DVD/External hard drive set up as a package repository. Currently I create custom repositories myself following this guide by another Linux Accra member. I’d love for there to be a faster way to do this though. Maybe I should look into creating a tool to automate the custom repository creation. Or does one exist already?
I just wish there was some awareness on the part of the people who are trying to promote open source in developing countries that bandwidth can be a huge issue here and can affect how ‘free’ something is vs. readily available pirated software.