Old Versions of Linux and the Developing World

Prior to me posting on this blog, I have made use of normal threads on various IT forums. A frequent rap over the knuckles came from the academics who maintained that such old versions are no longer supported and therefore should not be used. I beg to differ.

As I am from Africa, I understand all too well that many farmers, for instance, do not have broadband and hardly ever go online. This is because the cost of dial-up connectivity is hugely expensive as much of it happens over 2G mobile networks. Due to copper cable theft, vast areas are without fixed line connections. In the same vein, small business owners, doctors, lawyers, land surveyors, informal traders and everybody else could not care less whether their distro is up to date or not. As they are off-line users, updates are not really required as long as software and hardware work together. We in the third world are used to the creed of “adapt or die.”

Of course, when one has the physical means to update regularly, it will always be better to have your system up-to-date. Some of the benefits include hardware compatibility with peripheral devices such as modems and printers, or enjoying the benefits of security updates.

There is, however, nothing wrong with running Ubuntu 10 on a computer from 2002, for example, if you are one of the majority who hardly ever go online.

In the past, the Shuttleworth Foundation / Canonical sent CD’s or DVD’s to end users around the globe AT NO COST. This is how we managed to lay our hands on Linux, as we had no way of downloading it. Just this week I could not download ZorinOS as my connection was too bad and also a download of Ubuntu 10 timed out after three hours, at 108MB out of 670MB. Mr Mark Shuttleworth, formerly a South African, devised the Ubuntu brand and distro, in the true spirit of “ubuntu.” It is an ethnic African term meaning “I am, because we are.” Mark Shuttleworth understood the need of people in developing countries and ensured that Linux was freely available and he even distributed it for free at public libraries. If he never did that, hundreds of thousands, may be millions, of users would never have had access to Linux. Those who bash the Ubuntu brand and those who have petty issues of how I get the message across, should rather be quiet as they are harming the cause and damaging the progress of humanity.

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Where there is no Cloud, there is No Community

There are over 7 billion people on the planet, of whom only about one third have internet of whichever kind. Of this 2 billion, most do not have a) affordable b) reliable c) accessible broadband access. The majority of users in Africa, South America, parts of Europe, Australia and developing nations make do with a) expensive b) GPRS/EDGE c) intermittent signal strength.

I am not the only one who has come to this realization. Some professionals are already working on what they call the Outernet.

Take Africa for example. Africa is three times the size of the USA and there are just over 1 billion people. Only 15,6% have Internet access. Africa is not a village in a developing country (you will be surprised to hear what insights get shared with me from abroad almost daily) but it is an immensely large continent divided into 54 independent nations, mostly hostile towards their neighbours and with “interesting” interpretations of “democracy.” Many African countries are ruled in an imperial way and governments are not always in touch with the realities of global communications and the needs of their citizens. Broadband is not being made freely accessible and, therefore, the modern trend of Cloud Computing, in any form or function, is far from being a practical possibility. There are various submarine cables serving the continent but both governments and service providers are slow in making full use of it.

That was just Africa. Now add the users in Asia, Australia, etc., and you soon will realize that the comfort and convenience of cloud computing is a privilege enjoyed by a small minority of users globally. These users usually assume that others can and must be working in the same way they are.

It simply is not possible.

One can begin to understand that users who do not have broadband access, are being compromised now that mobile phone vendors are geared for Cloud-Only interactivity and data synchronisation. On a daily basis, I get confronted with even seasoned ICT professionals who are in denial about this and who simply cannot comprehend the magnitude of the dire situation that faces users in such regions and how it restricts commerce, education, research, health care, etc.

Users are in limbo. Having grown accustomed to the functionality offered by Nokia’s PC Suite and Outlook, they have tailored they way they work around this simple yet efficient local sync via USB, Bluetooth or wireless networking. No need for Internet access.

  • Nokia removed this functionality from Lumia.
  • Microsoft removed it from Windows.
  • Apple removed it from iTunes.

Users are left crippled!

Linux could be the solution but we need more evolution of Evolution and syncEvolution, or perhaps a port of Companionlink, EssentialPIM, etc. Previously, I had experienced frustration with sync between Evolution and Syncevolution, but I can report that it now is working well.  I did a clean installation of Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon and updated all installed applications.  Evolution, aided by Syncevolution, now provides a seamless integration that just works, via either Google or OneMediahub.  Try it yourself; it should not be giving trouble now.

The real need, for at least another decade, is a (paid, optionally) ready-to-use user-installable application that will provide USB sync between a Linux installation and, at the very least, Android devices. It needs to be able to sync:

Contacts
Calendar
Tasks / Reminders
Notes sync essential. (Apple is bringing back local sync but not for their Notes app.)

My question is this: when will the Geek’s World realise that the lack of exactly this functionality is what mostly keeps Windows or Mac users to be freed into Linux? It is sad that the true geeks generally are unaware of real-life situations faced by a few billion users and they generally reject the message that I am bringing here. They say that users do not complain, so where do I get my information from? Geeks: please note that a few billion have no means of communications with you and that is why you cannot perceive the problem. I am a singular messenger who have found a path to travel to you and bring reports from afar. I represent at the very least a billion people out there, perhaps 2-3 times more.

This is serious!

I am a former financial manager and internal auditor with some excellent IT experience, used to install and set up Windows networks, troubleshoot installations and even wrote useful apps using DBase and Quattro Pro. I am no geek, not by a country mile, but I started out “playing” with Linux around 2006 and have gotten to a stage where I manage to hack around inside the root terminal, usually without breaking my system.

Being not formally educated in IT and also having no programming background, except for writing macro’s, I am out of my depth in wanting to marry my mobile phone with my Linux box. I lack the skill and resources to build the much needed data bridge advocated here. In sharing my VISION, my hope is that someone will listen to this cybervangelist, believe the message and turn this into a MISSION.

The world needs your skills and expertise!

Some well known facts about Linux

Some interesting Linux trivia, including its origins.

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Linux is perhaps the world’s most powerful operating system to date. It was developed by a Finish software engineer Linus Benedict Trovalds at the age of 21 as his thesis. Presently, Linux has 300 types of codes and you can use any depending on your applications.

To know Linux better, here are the some fun and interesting facts about the Linux operating system.

  • The original name of Linux is “Freax” a blend of the words of ‘freak’ and allusion of Unix. Trovalds already considered the name Linux but thought it was too egotistical. Half a year later, he decided Linux is more suitable.
  • In 1991, the GNU project has no drivers or kernels which nudged Trovalds to develop the Linux kernel.
  • Linux kernel is written in the programming language C.
  • This operating system is a freeware. Meaning it is free from virus and malware infections.
  • Linux official mascot is a…

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Zorin, A Ubuntu Derivative, Fast Look-alike Windows

Zorin, in my own experience, is a very neat and stylish distro with the most friendly support forum. Its interface is intuitive yet beautiful. This is a very good choice for someone who needs Linux but wants to enjoy a Windows-alike experience.

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Zorin OS may have become my next favorite Linux distribution right after Ubuntu.  I’ve tested Zorin inside VirtualBox, and I’m surprised that Zorin behaves superbly even though it is only using a virtual environment.  For your information, VirtualBox is one type of software that capable of providing virtual machines.  As I say I’m impressed with Zorin for its performance inside a virtual environment, and it’s because I’ve found out that installing Zorin is a little faster than Ubuntu — that’s installing Ubuntu inside VirtualBox seems to be a little slower.  I haven’t yet compared the speed of the installation for both of these Linux distributions on the normal environment (i.e., without virtual environment).

Zorin is mimicking Windows for its user interface, but its user interface out of the box is still powering by Gnome.  Windows users may find Zorin is even more friendlier than Ubuntu.  Everything inside Zorin seems to…

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Linux Mint – a Windows Alternative

Linux Mint is an easy-to-learn operating system and an ideal alternative for Windows XP users, as well as for the many users who are using pirated software. Here is your chance to get legitimate, mature software for FREE!

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With the death of Windows XP, computer users are going to need to look at other options whether moving to Windows 7 (increasingly difficult to find), Windows 8, or Apple Mac OS X. Of course for some, Linux may be an option. While Ubuntu is the most publicized Linux distribution (Operating System), I use a Ubuntu derivative – Linux Mint because I like its desktop (similar to Windows 7 – with a Start Menu!) and it just works! Oh yes, Linux Mint is free – so is all the software I use on it!

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As I have mentioned before, I have been using Linux Mint for years. I prefer it over Ubuntu, which is usually suggested as the alternative to Windows, and numerous other distributions I have tried. As well, I prefer Linux Mint Mate edition (It allows me to make a top, hidden toolbar where I have short cuts…

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