Changing Mindsets - How do you change a whole country's perception - For the Educated Lots

Fouad Bajwa fouadbajwa at gmail.com
Thu Mar 19 13:40:41 GMT 2009


Changing Mindsets
How do you change a whole country's perception - For the Educated Lots

(Fouad Bajwa, Independent Discussion, 19-03-2009) "How much will a
Ubuntu Linux CD cost in Pakistan", this student of University of
Jamshoro asks me via SMS after a session of exchanging introductory
messages, "My friend gave me your number when I asked about that where
can I acquire an original CD for an operating system?" she clarifies.
She further inquires, "Where can I get a free Ubuntu CD?" to which I
reply, "The CD is free to order, will be land mailed to you for free,
you can use it for free and after you have benefited from it, pass it
on to your friends because it takes around 2-3 weeks to be delivered!"
I continue to share, " and it's pretty simple to order, you can visit
http://shipit.ubuntu.com, register a free user account and order a
server or desktop Linux Operating System Free Ubuntu CD!".

After four years today, nearly half a million Ubuntu Linux CDs have
been distributed for free, either by http://shipit.ubuntu.com or by
volunteers in Pakistan. I know about more than a hundred thousand CDs
distributed by Ubuntu volunteers, friends and myself. This is the
current scenario of an environment of local demand for adoption and
use of Free and Open Source Software FOSS in Pakistan. I used Ubuntu
Linux for the first time before taking up the responsibility for
evolving its community and the ecosystem for generating a demand and
supply system, when I wanted to something other than my copy of
Windows Xp. I had trouble with it, it was too slow after all that I
had to test and with every new development environment, I would delete
this system file or that. My friends on the network could knock over
my machine for fun and the bugs were climbing up my brains every day
in and out! I was in search for freedom, I was looking for my freedom
of choice! I had used Linux before at work and now I wanted to use it
again as a solace to my operating system troubles.

I respected Intellectual Property being a Computer & IT Professional
(I am both a undergrad and graduate in both CS and IT). My peers had
educated me to respect other peers' intellectual assets and to
encourage others to respect mine. But, we lived in a false and
artificial economy where everyone would wag their tails to the current
trend! Y2K then was a big thing but we lacked lots of important
software in the local market. We resorted to downloading free software
from the Internet and exchanged information with peers all over the
world using the web. We had to find a solution to the problem before
the so called lights blacked out. Out of knowledge, we downloaded a
lot of FOSS technologies and platforms. In the years to follow, I
would adopt PHP-MySQL-Linux-MySQL (LAMP) to solve my web needs, earn
my bread & butter as well as complete research contracts online. I was
to learn to use various other technologies and platforms without the
word Windows in them. It was fun, I could run my FOSS solutions on
Windows too. The somehow bonded for some reason to be differentiated
valued later on.

I wanted to share these findings with other people. I did so during my
service in the govt. When I left the govt. I brought it to the
academic sector and civil society. I grew an affiliation with like
minded people and FOSS users all over the world and got a visit to see
the amazing things they were doing with their solutions in their
countries, both developed and under developed. I thought for a moment,
to share the spirit for mutual respect of intellectual property with
my local friends and others in my city. I tried to remove bugs from my
research work using Ubuntu Linux, today, thousands of my countrymen
continue to do so from Karachi to Quetta to Peshawar to Islamabad and
of course, in Lahore, I thought you would figure that out already.


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