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Vice chancellor, Visveswaraiah Technologies University, Belgaum, Karnataka.
There are thousands of engineering and polytechnic colleges in India.
Each year lakhs of graduates and diploma holders earn their degree.
They pay thousands of rupees as fees to get the best facilities. A
part of this goes to buying the software's which they use either in
college lab or for doing assignments at home.For every software which
they use; there is an alternate Free Software program available. Now
this shows the amount of money which we can be saved if we start using
Free Software. This will bring down cost of education considerably.
Other than cost benefits, Free Software has other advantages
* No-fee licensing
* Ease of license fee management
* Better large-scale programmability
* Easier integration
* Better performance
* Development convenience
* Better support
There are hundreds of Free Software's programs which colleges or
universities can adopt. As Vishweshwaraiah Technological University is
one of the biggest universities in India, its time for VTU to move
towards using Free Software. This will make other Universities to
follow suit. Let the VTU have the pride to be the first one to adopt
Free Software in educational curriculum.
Here I present you an example of three such alternative Free Software
programs which can be used for technical education.
* (1) Operating System: Windows v/s GNU/Linux
As am unaware of the software tools prescribe in the colleges,I assume
that most of those colleges use Microsoft Windows based operating
system. We all know the best available operating system today is
GNU/Linux. It is the best suited for any educational institution can
have. Students can not only use it but also can study its source code
to understand its internal workings.
But many of the colleges use or have started adopting GNU/ Linux,
starting with the server room, where it is well known for its
stability and security now it has entered our labs and desktops.
* (2) Simulation: Matlab v/s Octave
Matlab is used in communication and electronics lab. Matlab for
individual license for university (academic use) costs $500. Any
college will have to buy minimum 25 licenses. Which means shelling out
Octave, which is a simulation software written by University
professors. This usually comes with the GNU/Linux Operating System.
The advantage to students is that they don't have to buy a limited
student version to use at home. They can use Octave both at Lab and at
SciLab? is another open source competitor for Matlab. It uses
sophisticated algorithms to analyze data and produce lovely graphics.
Now you have the choice which one you want to include in your
NG-SPICE is another GPLd Circuit Simulator which is based on the
University of Berkley's Spice Version 3f5.
* (3) Office software's: MS Office v/s Open Office
Well, we all used Microsoft Word to submit our project documents for
review and for other academic purposes. Now we have Open Office which
is as good as Microsoft Office and has the same features.Microsoft
Office lacks some features like PDF(Portable Document Format) support,
compatibility with older versions of Microsoft Office, lack a vector
drawing application,etc. Open Office gives you everything starting
from word processor, presentation software to PDF generator [Fully
compatible with Microsoft Office -- So already existing data in those
formats can be used]. Don't you think it's the right time to save
money of a poor student ?
The above are just examples. There are many such software programs
from which the students can benefit. We hope the university
understands the urgency and the need. We would be happy to give the
university any information/help that is needed.
* (4) Computer Networks Subject Teaching: Ethreal, tcpdump, NS2 etc
We use the above mentioned tools for the teaching of Computer Networks
and Data Communication subjects. There are a number of other GNU GPLed
tools which can be used in a number of other labs for teaching and
* (5) Content Management Systems: Drupal, PHP-Nuke etc
For building websites and info portals for students to make online
learning possible, Online Forums, we have a number of free options.
Here by we urge the university to make an effort in this direction.
Please sign this petition
"There is no system but GNU, and Linux is one of its kernels."
A proud GNU user
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