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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