IndicComputing Bytes #001
In this issue: o Bram Moolenaar's input
o Search engine for Japanese, Chinese, etc
o Good news: Mandrake goes Tamil!
FROM BRAM MOOLENAAR <Bram@...>, the person who wrote VIM, the Free
Software-based editor, when asked whether it would be possible to "work on
Indian language solutions for Vim":
Vim 6.1 supports translated messages, menus and Unicode. It should be
possible to make a Hindi translation. Places to ask around for someone
willing to do the work. Appropriate places are the vim maillist and the
comp.editors news group. Perhaps there are a few Indian news groups, I
obviously don't know about that. I also don't know if the current Unicode
support is sufficient for your language. Please find out yourself.
Engineers are widely recognized as superior marriage material: intelligent,
dependable, employed, honest, and handy around the house.
(Scott Adams - The Dilbert principle)
/// Bram Moolenaar -- Bram@... -- http://www.moolenaar.net \\\
/// Creator of Vim - Vi IMproved -- http://www.vim.org \\\
\\\ Project leader for A-A-P -- http://www.a-a-p.org ///
\\\ Lord Of The Rings helps Uganda - http://iccf-holland.org/lotr.html ///
A SEARCH-ENGINE FOR JAPANESE, CHINESE ETC: From seo@...
Let us submit http://www.cityradio.nu for FREE on Japanese search
engines, German search engines, Hispanic search engines , French search
engines , Chinese search engines etc.....! Wonder if they have plans for
IndicComputing? Can someone follow this up?
Let us submit your website on International search engines for FREE!
Visit us at http://www.CyberMultilingual.com for full details!
MANDRAKE GOES TAMIL: "V_VenkataRamanan" <venkat@...> wrote: Here
is a Press Release, I wrote on request from people here in Toronto, on the
forthcoming Mandrake 9.0 with Tamil enabled. Please feel free to forward to
people who may be intrested. You may be able to download a formatted version
of this in tamil and english from the following URLs.
Feel free to download the screen shots from
Total Tamil computer is now available: People throughout the world are
using computers and Internet in their own languages. However, Indian users
are compelled to use them in English. This is strange and is inexplicable to
anyone from outside India. It is undeniable that Indian engineers and
scientists are a dominant force in the IT world, but it is also true that
they are grossly negligent of the needs of their own masses. This has pushed
India to the top of the list of countries suffering from the Digital Divide.
No more! The solution is on the horizon. With the release of Mandrake
Linux 9.0, an average user (without much technical knowledge) should be able
to operate a computer and use Internet -- all in Tamil. For the first time,
the unfathomable prerequisite of English knowledge for operating computers
has been eliminated, at least for those who know Tamil.
What is possible? Mandrake is a package distributor of Linux and other open
source software. While installing Mandrake Linux 9.0, it gives the choice
of language for Graphical User Interface (GUI). All that is needed is to opt
for Tamil here. The installation, in most of the cases, will be smooth with
all hardware and network connections auto configured.
At the end of the installation, when you reboot and login, you will be
presented with a Tamil GUI (with the exception of a few yet to be
Tamil-enabled programs). It is all yours to explore. Almost all operations
for an average home user or a small office are now possible with total Tamil
interface. You can do these tasks with Tamil GUI;
1.Configure your computer and connect to Internet
2.Create and edit files in Tamil and English (and other languages!!)
3.Manage your files and disks
4.Send email, browse Internet and chat.
5.Listen audio files and watch videos
6.Do all small office works (Word Processing, Spread Sheet, Presentation
7.Maintain your personal/small office accounts
8.Schedule your tasks, Add and manage users.
9.Manage your desktop appearance,
You can do much more than these. For example, you may be able to configure
and run a FTP site with Tamil GUI. There are a few areas where work is
currently under progress these include a graphics editor, a CAD drawing
Why in Tamil?
Why not? Almost all developed countries use computers and Internet
entirely in their local languages. In India, there is an unfortunate mindset
to equate (English) language ability to technical achievement or
intellectual superiority. Like every other device, computers are the tools
invented by men. It is natural to sharpen the tool to make it suitable to
the human beings as against adopting himself to the tools. To make the
fruits of technology available to the common man, it should be made simple
enough for the common man to understand.
English language ability as a precondition to computer use is ridiculous
in the context of majority non-English speaking population. Unless we shape
the tool to our needs, we will always be dependent on other toolmakers for
Availability of Tamil computers will enable localized
applications (such as Sales Tax forms or Voter's List) to be developed
This will also take the local business to the new realms of commerce.
There will be a strong motivation for the students to develop applications
for their commonplace problems. Modern appliances such as cellular phones
and televisions are being designed with embedded computers ^Ö it will be
impossible to penetrate the local market without a native interface.
If we do not do it now, we will be losing on all subsequent
What is Linux?
Linux is an Operating System (very much similar to the familiar Microsoft
98, 2000 or XP). An operating system interprets the user commands for the
microprocessor in the computer. Linux is an outcome of efforts of millions
of volunteers around the world. Currently popular commercial OS like Windows
XP do not reveal source codes.
This prevents knowledgeable users from efficiently using the programs.
While every other product you buy lets you to modify it to your need (you do
not need to seek permission from your realtor to repaint your bedroom or
attach an additional jar for your mixer), software companies have
manipulated patent and copyright laws to forbid users from adding or
modifying their programs. Some intelligent and conscious programmers viewed
this as anti-social and initiated the Free Software Movement (Free as in
`speech' and not as in `lunch').
Thousands of programmers joined this movement that culminated as the Linux
Operating System and other Open Source software. Product released by these
volunteers are cleverly labeled as `copyleft' (to poke pun on `copyright')
^Ö which lets the user to peek into the source code, modify them and
redistribute them without any strings attached. The only obligation is to
make all modifications available as copyleft again.
As this pool of programs grew excellent products started emerging out in the
late nineties, weeding out the poor ones by natural selection. This has now
emerged as a true and potential alternative to commercial products. As the
source codes are freely available they are tested and driven to the limits
of their vulnerabilities and all security holes are blocked.
Linux is now estimated as the only operating system that grows in the market
What is Mandrake-Linux?
There are several companies that collect all the free programs developed
by the users, test them for their integrity, package them and distribute
them at a moderate cost. While selling the free programs seem an irony, many
companies have successfully thrived and are continuing to grow despite the
overall downtrend in IT.
Mandrake is one of these companies that distribute Linux in a box. It
aims at taking Linux to the non-technical users and towards that they have
created some excellent installation and administration tools (which are
again available freely with source open). Always willing to experiment, the
engineers at Mandrake have worked closely with volunteers developing Tamil
programs for Linux and have now announced that their upcoming version 9.0
will enable users to configure their computers with a Tamil GUI.
You may be able to buy Mandrake Linux in the local bookstore or
electronic shop or through their web store. Like every other Linux
distributors, Mandrake also makes the entire product freely downloadable (it
comes to about 2 GB). But, by buying these Open Source products, you
contribute to those volunteers who devote their time and effort for this
Unlike commercial OS, which requires buying a lot of extras (say an
Office Suite, a Photo editing tool, a drawing utility, etc.), most of the
Linux distributions come packed with hundreds of programs and an average
user should be able to get almost everything he needs right after the
How Tamil GUI is enabled?
The Linux volunteer base encompasses the entire globe. As such they have
a common need to make these programs inter-operable with many languages.
Their intelligent design of the GUI separates commands that are passed to
the core of the OS (known as the kernel) from the interface icons and
command prompts presented to the users. This enables easy translation of the
interface without knowing the finer details of the programs. Volunteers
working on these projects typically translate commands into their own
language. With some minor compilation it is then firmly integrated with the
There are some additional tools necessary such as a keyboard driver,
the native language editor, etc. Several programmers have written such tools
for Tamil. An incomplete list of volunteers include (not in any particular
order) Sivaraj, T. Vaseeharan, Dinesh Nadarajah, Sivakumar, Gomathi,
Venkataramanan, Nagu Chinnaswamy, Prabu Anand, M.K. Saravanan. This list is
by no means exhaustive. Like a typical Linux volunteer cross section, Tamil
Linux programmers come from Canada, USA, Singapore, Japan, India and
Malaysia, largely interacting through the web and Internet discussion
It should also be mentioned that these works were possible due to several
pioneering efforts on Tamil computing by K. Kalyanasundram, Manivannan,
Muthu Nedumaran, Suvadi Ilango and others. There was also support and
encouragement from the International Federation of Information Technology in
Tamil (INFITT) and some industrial partners.
What are the opportunities?
Endless -- can be the only word that can quantify the floodgates of
opportunities open by this. Linux has proven to be an excellent and
reliable OS for all applications ^Ö from tiny laptops to supercomputers. In
a country like India, due to the digital divide, not even 30% of the
population has used the computers. Further penetration will be only
possible if computers are easier to use.
With Tamil enabled computers there will be enormous opportunities for the
vendors to design and build computers for local needs. As already indicated,
this will spur the growth of software tools for common applications such as
sales tax reporting. Other Indian languages will soon follow the advances
made in Tamil. As we master the art of enabling local language interfaces,
we will be ready to assimilate the new technologies as they emerge.
As Linux OS runs equally well on mean machines, it is possible to design and
implements low-cost computer laboratories for schools in our community.
Another potential area is computers for government offices. Open source
software has been found robust and secure and there are no hidden
vulnerabilities. Many developed countries have started adopting open source
solutions for e-governance.
It is a great coincidence that the first out-of-the box Indian language
computer is being released during the 5th Tamil Internet Conference to be
held in San Francisco, during 27-29th September 2002. Many interesting
discussions are expected during this conference.
Dr. V. Venkataramanan
Some Useful Websites
· The Free Software Foundation (http://www.gnu.org)
· To know more about Linux (http://www.linux.org)
· Tamil Linux developments (http://www.tamillinux.org)
· Tamil Linux discussions (http://groups.yahoo.com/tamilinix)
· Mandrakesoft (http://www.mandrakelinux.com/en/)
· The International Federation of Information Technology in Tamil
The fifth International Tamil Internet Conference and
Exhibition at Foster City, California
Compiled in public interest from material on the Net by:
Frederick Noronha * Freelance Journalist * Goa * India 832.409490 / 409783
BYTESFORALL www.bytesforall.org * GNU-LINUX http://linuxinindia.pitas.com
Email fred@... * Mobile +9822 122436 (Goa) * Saligao Goa India
Writing with a difference... on what makes *the* difference