GNU/Linux Adaptation in Sri Lanka


The issue at hand

More than almost all the countries in the world, Sri Lanka plays host to a huge number of pirated copies for the Windows Operating
System. Now, there are reasons for this. A normal Sri Lankan person earns about Rs. 20,000 a month. After all the expenses he may well be short of cash. Now if you give that person 2 choices; them being either paying for an operating system and the applications or getting a Rs. 100 DVD with Windows 7 on it, the choice is predictable.

But more than anything else, the problem with Sri Lanka starts at Law enforcement. I’ve read laws about Digital Copyrights and Electronic Media in Sri Lanka and it prohibits all kinds of illegal software activities. So, the law is there.
But is it being enforced?

That’s where the real problem comes into play. If we take a 1000 computer users in Sri Lanka, we can easily assume that almost all of them are Windows users. Now out of that 1000 at least 990 are using pirated copies of various Windows operating system versions. The rest are people who either got an original version pre-installed on their computer or are just lawful citizens. That means if the Police Department is ready to capture all illegal users they must have quite a lot of people to do that. Frankly put, it’s near impossible.

Using a pirated software is now the trend.

Warnings are not going to work in this context. Because, we all know that the Police is unable to
back up the warning with real action.
That brings forward the reason as to why that us, being in a relatively poor country with poor people, who in theory cannot afford luxuries like a $100 Operating System has almost all of it’s computer users dabbling in Windows.
In many of the poor European and South East Asian countries, software piracy is not tolerated. The law is there and it’s enforced with vigour. Therefore many of their users are migrating to
Free and Open Source Operating systems.

When I ask a lot of people that I know who are using pirated copies of Windows(all of them, really) about why they do that; the answer I get the most is that you cannot play proprietary games on GNU/Linux Systems(Most of the people that I know are kids). Then I ask, ‘Would you be prepared to pay nearly Rs. 12000 on an operating system and then about Rs. 6000 for every game you buy?’
They say no. But they also add that they don’t have to worry about using pirated software, because everyone does that.

That left me hanging for a while. Very few people adapt GNU/Linux on it’s merits. What I’m trying to do by this series of posts is to at least get a few of them across the board. But very few people care about ‘Software Freedom’ and ‘Ethics’. To them they are just bogus words that stand in the way of having fun with the Windowed Pane.
Even me; I started working with GNU/Linux about 3 years ago. Because of interest. But then I looked at my laptop running a 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate(That disc cost me about Rs 150 or $1.2) and decided that the time was right to end thievery. But very few people come to realizations like that.

Acceptance for these 2 fellas is still very low 🙁

GNU/Linux in the Desktop market as a whole is in different playing field. Due to it being essentially free(in terms of cost) it can never be pitted against Microsoft or Apple. But in terms of dominance it lags behind. This is more evident in countries like ours. Almost no one has heard of it and those who know about just don’t think they have to do it. This is all about trends and tides. Where the majority goes the rest will follow.

Forget about all those proprietary software that cannot be installed on Linux,all those hardware that’s not supported. The main problem that you encounter when trying to spread GNU/Linux in a country like ours is that all the alternatives are available cheap, and they work. Why bother?

So unless our government can somehow multiply the Police force by ten and enforce the law or the whole PC using community has a collective epiphany, GNU/Linux adaptation in Sri Lanka remains just a dream……

But we will keep trying.