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May 13, 2011
Open-source Software – Freedom to Editorial Offices
By Gayane Mirzoyan
JNews reporter
Open-source Software – Freedom to Editorial Offices
Who is GNU and who is Linux?:)

Armenia ranks second after Georgia among the post-Soviet countries in terms of software piracy Microsoft. These are the data of the non-profit company Business Software Alliance. As stated by the representatives of the company in Armenia, the licensed programs in the government are used only by the Ministry of Jurisprudence and Ministry of Education and Science.

Provision of editorial computers with licensed software will cost a considerable amount. 

"Installation of licensed MS Office on 10 computers will cost about 670,000 drams (about $1,800), and the design set of Adobe Creative Suite (Adobe Photoshope, Adobe Indesign, Dreamweaver, Adobe Illustrator, etc.) even an extra $2,000," says Constantine Geodakyan, technical director of the "Internews" media support NGO in Armenia.

Open-source programs are a challenge to giant software vendors - Windows, Apple Macintosh, Adobe, etc.

Enthusiasts from all over the world have jointly created various options for operating system (OS) GNU/Linux: Ubuntu, Debian and many others, which usually can be set free. Such software is widely used worldwide in education and research institutions, as well as in governmental structures and defense agencies in many developed countries. The big advantage of open source software is the possibility of their further development specifically for the needs of the organization or individual user.

Servers of the "Internews" media support NGO have been working on GNU/Linux over the last 5 years, but the licensed operating systems Windows XP and Windows 7 are installed on the employees’ computers.

"Our network exists for 15 years and its transfer to another system would lead to additional costs and complexity. However, if to build a new network today, then one definitely needs to choose GNU/Linux, because it is a reliable system," believes the expert.

Despite the fact that the movement for free software in Armenia started from the late 90's, the number of users of free software is not so big. Linux in Armenia is most often used on servers and not on users' computers. Meanwhile, Arman Poghosyan, director of software manufacturer “Instigate”, says the transition to OS GNU/Linux, would not only allow the editors save the money spent on the licensed software (or nerves, if not licensed), but also to ensure information security.

"For the past 6 years, 60-70 computers and servers of our company were permanently connected to the Internet, and there was no case of virus infection during this period. Besides, if we do not see the code, it means that we cannot be sure that we are not followed by someone," says Poghosyan. The company savings are impressive, too. Over 2 years, the company with 70 employees could save $ 300,000.

The reason for the low number of users of free software is the lack of information and the fear to pass to an unfamiliar operating system. "Many users are unaware that over the past 5 years, Linux has become even more convenient. It is possible to configure interface design for Windows or Mac,” says the head of “Instigate”.

Today, it is already possible to obtain computers with installed OS Linux in Armenia, periodically efforts are made to create an operating system based on GNU/Linux for Armenian users, such as the Spitak Linux, developed about 20 years ago or experimental Nur Linux (Russian-Armenian University). Operating system "Araks", too, intended for regional users, has been developed on the basis of GNU/Linux by the experts of “Instigate”.

The “Instigate” and “Zharang” NGO, organizers of the GNU/Linux Install Fest, which was held on May 7 simultaneously in 3 cities of Armenia - Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor - offered the users to "release" their computers.

The event participants were presented the advantages of GNU/Linux, and then, the users could try to work with the new system and install it on their laptops. 40 people from Yerevan, 23 from Gyumri and 38 from Vanadzor attended the event, and overall 22 users installed GNU/Linux on their computers.

Inspired by the success of the festival, organizers plan to hold it once or twice in a year, it is also planned to hold the next GNU/Linux Install Fest during the conference BarCamp Yerevan 2011 in early June.


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