South Africa’s department of science and technology (DST) is taking bold steps towards switching to free and open source software (Foss) and is starting to move its first desktop users over to Linux.
Speaking at the Software Freedom Day celebrations hosted by DST on Saturday, DST director general Dr Phil Mjwara said the entire 14-person National Advisory Council on Innovation (Naci) would be using Impi Linux desktops by the end of September. Currently half of Naci are using Linux desktops as a pilot project. Naci is a an advisory body set up to advise the minister of science and technology and as such holds important influence. DST is implementing a customised version of Impi Linux, a South African developed distribution based on the popular Ubuntu Linux version. The department, according to Aslam Raffee, DST CIO, is committed to using free software and is adding users to its pilot project daily. Mjwara said that one of the key challenges facing Africa was a lack of infrastructure and affordability of access to technology. Free and open source software was perfect for addressing this, he said. He also said Foss was important in achieving other important goals.