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 Thursday, 04 February 2010

A substantial grant from Google has enabled notebook computers running Linux and a variety of open source software to be rolled out at rural schools in Fiji.

Google's Open Source Program Office made the donation via the Imara Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which aims to expand the use of technology in developing communities. Details of the donation were revealed in a post on Google's official coding blog. (note that this project is separate from OLPC) "

The Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) component is central to the sustainability and adaptability of the project," MIT staffer Jonathan Proulx wrote in the post. "Since it's free, there's no additional software cost when the project expands, or if community groups wish to further leverage the technology." The machines use Edubuntu, an education-tweaked version of Ubuntu, along with common packages such as OpenOffice and The Gimp and specialist education software.

Open source advocates have long argued that developing communities will benefit from being able to use free software components to build their technology knowledge. However, choosing the hardware for use in Fiji proved to be something of a challenge.

Notebook PCs were deemed more suitable because of variable power supply availability in the different schools. The 10 Lenovo Thinkpads were taken to Fiji as carry-on luggage by three MIT staff members.

Future plans for the project include sponsoring additional training for local teachers, and rolling out printers and digital cameras.

Source: iTWire Website