The Guyana Linux Users Group (GLUG) in collaboration with the University of Guyana Berbice Campus (UGBC) held a Software Freedom Day (SFD) event to celebrate Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) on Wednesday September 21, 2011. The event is an annual one which is usually held around the world in the month of September. Free and Open Source Software is software that is non-proprietary and which allows users to redistribute and develop for personal or company use.
The event, which was held in the computer center at Tain, was attended by more than 70 participants, most of whom were students of the University of Guyana, the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI) and students from as far as the Government Technical Institute (GTI) in Georgetown. The main objective of the event was to increase awareness of FOSS for education, business and personal use. The event began about 13:30 hours with greetings and welcome from the Administrative Officer of UGBC, Mr. David Cort.
National organizer for the SFD event, Vidyaratha Kissoon gave an overview of FOSS and the SFD events in Guyana.
Kemuel Gaffar, lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, UGBC and local event organizer, shared his presentation dubbed ‘Open Source Software in Guyana: Cost-Effective Alternatives for Development’ in which he highlighted the state of FOSS in Guyana and some advantages envisioned with the use of FOSS, with particular focus on the use of the ICT for Development (ICT4D) and the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) projects to trigger developments in Open Source Software in Guyana.
Lenandlar Singh, also from the Department of Computer Science, talked about the use of FOSS in education to support students’ learning, presenting examples of TuxPaint and Elgg -an open source social networking software.
Two presentations were made via Skype; the first by Mr. Sekhar Mallampati, Head of the Department of Software Services, University of Guyana, and the second by Michael Dabydeen, former network administrator at UGBC and a GLUG member currently pursing studies in Canada.
Mr. Mallampati delivered a presentation on using FOSS in library systems with emphasis on the University of Guyana’s recent implementation of the KOHA Online Library Cataloging Database System. Mr. Dabydeen discussed the development of open source software and talked about using software development tools like GIT.
He also talked about current developments in mobile computing of Android-powered devices such as some advanced smart-phones. The presenters were also able to interact with the audience, and entertained questions at the end of their presentations.
Finally, Mr. Michael Williams, proprietor of Photoshop in Rose Hall Town, shared with the participants the process of installing Ubuntu – an open source software, which is becoming increasingly popular. The event concluded at about 16:45 hours and participants were given free CDs of the Ubuntu software.
Software Freedom Day has been held since 2009 at the UGBC venue. Director of UGBC, Professor Daizal Samad applauded the efforts of the event organizers as he continues to support IT initiatives at UGBC. Students and educators present at the event were highly motivated and interested in learning more about open source software and requested that more awareness programmes of this nature be organized.
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