Free software and Linux in India

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Although the distribution supports only Indian languages apart from English during installation, you should have no problem preparing the operating system for other countries. BOSS Linux doesn't provide a graphical environment for this, so you will have to use the console.

Perform any localizations first with

# dpkg-reconfigure locales

and enter the language code, such as de_DE UTF-8 for German, for example, or es_ES UTF-8 for Spanish.

Next, open the empty /etc/environment file with a text editor and drag in the two lines that are like LANGUAGE="de_DE.UTF-8" and LANG=de_DE.UTF-8 or LANGUAGE="es_ES.UTF-8" and LANG=es_ES.UTF-8 (Figure 4). After saving the file, restart the system. Now all the menus and most of the applications should appear in the language of your choice.

Figure 4: Localization is fairly easy with BOSS Linux.

Exceptions to this rule include the programs written by BOSS developers, Chromium, Iceweasel, and LibreOffice. Although the BOSS-specific applications cannot easily be localized, you can use the corresponding language packs from Synaptic for LibreOffice, Iceweasel, and Chromium.

To set local time, open Applications | System Tools | System Management | Date and Time menu on the Gnome desktop and change the time zone from Calcutta/India to your local one.


To show the benefits of Linux to kids and to give them some confidence with technology, some advanced schools include Computer Science as part of their curriculum. For them, the BOSS team developed a special distribution for teaching and learning called EduBOSS. The Indian ministry provides a 3.8GB image that downloads EduBOSS version 3. Its software catalog deviates from the regular desktop, as it provides various educational programs for the youngest students, such as Gcompris and Childsplay. Older students get mathematical and science programs. The system also provides many teaching programs from the KDE environment.

At the heart of it all is iTALC, which EduBOSS uses to make the system fit for use in classrooms. This client-server based program is platform agnostic and integrates with computers with various operating systems. iTALC provides the teacher with a complete computer-driven lesson plan plus interactive exercises and tests. It also manages the individual classroom computers so that the teacher has central control. The options iTALC provides range from switching on a student PC to shutting down individual computers.

iTALC, which is open source, is also suited for managing larger CS installations. Because it supports tunneled client-server connections, home computers outside the classroom can access the EduBOSS network via VPN. The only shortcomings of iTALC are the rather hefty hardware requirements. Single-core CPUs can be sluggish when running the software, because iTALC uses multi-threading intensively; thus, it works better on multi-core machines. The entire Debian software collection is available for EduBOSS. You can easily install your favorite applications via Synaptic.

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