Thoughts on OSS ZW

Neil neil.coetzer at
Thu Apr 9 08:15:55 BST 2009

Hi Nyasha,


Very valid points. 


In most cases where businesses are concerned, Ubuntu is more than ready to
handle the average office needs. So in many cases there is no reason for not
switching to Ubuntu except for the "fear of change" factor, which I believe
is still a major obstacle. You're quite correct in saying that "management"
doesn't care what platform they run on, but they will undoubtedly bow to the
opinions of their respective IT professional, who they are employing to make
those decisions. I think the heated/passionate points voiced earlier were
targeted more towards so-called IT "professionals" who refuse to give open
source a chance, simply because they "know" Windows.


In other cases there is a legitimate problem with software solutions,
particularly when we start talking about payroll packages and some locally
developed accounting packages. There isn't really a viable open source
alternative for payroll systems in Zim because the rules are changed every
five minutes, tax brackets are adjusted, etc. so it is critical for
businesses to have these solutions provided locally, with local support and
updates. The only thing that is going to solve this issue is applications
that are developed locally to run on multiple platforms. So I do agree that
"we" need to provide solutions, but it is up to the local developers to do
so (I'm not a software developer). Unfortunately the local developers are
not likely to do this until there is more of a demand for it, so it comes
down once again to the basic promotion of Ubuntu. It is unfortunately a
classic catch 22 situation; Ubuntu's growth in Zim is stunted because of the
lack of local software solutions, and the local software solutions won't
happen until Ubuntu is more popular (unless one or more software developers
here open their eyes and see the potential). I have personally made an
effort to get at least one payroll package developer to provide a Linux
version, and his response to me was "Why are you wasting your time with
Linux?". It is that kind of ignorance that we get frustrated with.


With regard to broadband, this is also a valid point. However, this is one
of the reasons that we made the effort to have a local repository mirror set
up; to improve the speeds and reduce the costs for local users. With the
local server hosted by Yo!Africa, it is viable to at least install most
applications via dialup but obviously there are limits when the packages are
too large (e.g. Open Office updates). But personally I don't see much
difference there between Ubuntu and Windows. how many people update MS
Office once it's installed? The updates are an "extra" provided by
Ubuntu/Linux, so if you can't download them you just wait until the next
edition. So the only issue really is "new" software. Since all the critical
packages are included in each Ubuntu release, I'm not sure that I see this
as a "major" limiting factor. Most end users (particularly home users) are
quite happy once everything is set up and working. Having said that, the
lack of broadband in Zim is obviously still an issue for many and it does
limit the growth of open source. Hence the idea of the Freedom Toaster,
which was developed in SA for the very same reasons. 


In summary though, I do agree with your sentiment that local solutions are
needed. In larger LoCo Teams throughout the world, there are normally a
fairly large number of developers involved. In Zim however, we don't have
any software developers on the LoCo Team yet. So to be honest, one of the
problems at present is that we have a handful of people on the LoCo Team who
are trying to promote Ubuntu and open source in Zim (for the benefit of Zim)
and people expect those four or five people to come up with all the
solutions and all the answers. What we really need in this country is for
more people (especially software developers) to GET INVOLVED in trying to
bring about an open source revolution in Zimbabwe. Alas though, the general
mentality in this country at present is largely "What can I get out of it?",
and for this reason things are moving very slowly. What we really need is
for attitudes to change in this country. Ubuntu isn't just about software.
It's about the spirit of sharing. Perhaps it is that spirit of sharing that
needs to be adopted by Zimbabweans first. People need to start doing things
for the good of ICT in Zimbabwe, instead of concentrating on how many US
dollars they will get paid for their efforts.


In closing, here's a direct challenge to everyone: How many people on this
mailing list are in a position to contribute to the promotion of open source
in Zim? And how many people on this mailing list have actually done anything
about it? The challenge is to stop thinking about what we can get out of it
and to get off our butts and actually do something for the good of Zimbabwe.
The time is now.






From: ubuntu-zw-bounces at
[mailto:ubuntu-zw-bounces at] On Behalf Of nyasha chihanga
Sent: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 8:28 PM
To: ubuntu-zw at
Subject: Thoughts on OSS ZW


How are you everyone 

This is an interesting topic i thought i will reply to. The question we
should ask ourselves is that; if a student sleeps in class during a lesson,
who is at fault? The tutor or the student? 
I think the tutor is at fault because the lesson they are giving is not
relevant to the student's current position and if it is, then tutor is not
making it interesting enough to keep the student awake. This is how it
applies to all of us who think linux is the best operating when you want to
argue or propose linux as the best option give relevant solutions that can
overcome the current problems a user is having with VISTA as the competitor
this should not pose a big problem. This can be extended to enterprise
problem's for larger companies give them solutions to their problems not
what platform they should be running on because it is better they really do
not want to hear all about that, they do not mind how you implement the
solution, but do care about the costs, support, training and if their
problems are going to be solved. The other thing do not make linux look like
it needs too much technical knowledge to use or like something that's out of
this world tell the prospective convert that its like windoz and it becomes
The obstacles to Linux is that most people do not have the broadband to get
the free software from and hence zimbos will not see the reason to try it
out or migrate because pirated windows software is more readily available
than broadband. If the piracy issue is tackled by the government and jail
terms attached to activities associated to piracy then you will be able to
overcome this issue and have a long queue of zimbos wanting your services

The way to go is to provide relevant business or personal solutions and
Windowz will lose hands down. DO NOT SHOOT DOWN WINDOZ provide solutions to



> From: ubuntu-zw-request at
> Subject: Ubuntu-zw Digest, Vol 23, Issue 8
> To: ubuntu-zw at
> Date: Wed, 8 Apr 2009 12:00:42 +0100
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> Today's Topics:
> 1. RE: Thoughts on OSS ZW (Neil)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 7 Apr 2009 16:55:24 +0200
> From: "Neil" <neil.coetzer at>
> Subject: RE: Thoughts on OSS ZW
> To: "'ubuntu-zw'" <ubuntu-zw at>
> Cc: team at
> Message-ID: <20090407165336.87BBE1A7F3C at>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> KT! Nice to see the passion there dude!!! I can see it must have been a
> heated "debate" :)
> Unfortunately, it's a bit like trying to get someone to change their
> religion.. It's not likely to happen very easily. Also, as I've said to
> before, the majority of guys who put down open source (or Linux/Ubuntu in
> general), aren't arguing because they're passionate about Windows, but
> normally because they're intimidated by Linux :) At least that's normally
> been the case in my experience. So my advice is: instead of getting angry
> with people for their closed-minded, closed-source opinions.. Feel sorry
> them instead! I guess some people are born for Linux and others are born
> be button monkeys hahahahahahahaha.
> So ya, I doubt it was passion driving his argument.. More likely a defense
> mechanism due to feelings of inadequacy at being intimidated by a superior
> operating system :) It's the same as a person watching a movie.. It might
> one of the best story plots in history, but if someone doesn't
> it, they'll say the movie was bad. Same principles I think.
> I do agree with you though, that those with an "open source vision" for
> are few and far between. However, all that means is that we will have
> greater satisfaction when that vision is realized, and when confronted by
> the ignorance of people who don't know any better, that should only fuel
> passion even more to go out there and educate more people! And of course,
> the Freedom Toaster will play a huge role in this too, especially if we
> the publicity we're hoping for. In the spirit of Ubuntu, we just have to
> our hardest to educate people and cultivate an open-source "national
> attitude". We have to accept that we will face resistance and try to be
> patient and even respectful of other people's views. but it sure ain't
> is it? Ok, ok. I'll make an effort to stop calling them button monkeys.
> The fact is, open source WILL gain a solid footing in Zim - simply based
> cost factors, it is inevitable. Our job is only to speed up the process.
> we all know, Zim really does face an IT crisis and has been facing it for
> some time. At the end of the day open source (and specifically Ubuntu!!)
> greater potential than any proprietary software to play a significant role
> in rescuing the country from that crisis. Just because it's free.
> _____ 
> From: Kalpesh Thaker [mailto:luminary06 at] 
> Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 12:25 PM
> To: ubuntu-zw
> Cc: team at
> Subject: Thoughts on OSS ZW
> Hey guys,
> just some thoughts.... i had a huge discussion with the one guy here at
> office about why ubuntu
> cannot be compared to windows.. and of why ubuntu wins hands down even
> before the discussion has started.
> purely because ubuntu is free, and the developers working on it, do it as
> open source project, rather than
> as a marketing tool...
> 90% of the other persons argument came down to the availability of windows
> and its
> programs and of how easy it is to use in general. And of how much better
> looks...
> so,,, i asked the same dude, how much he paid for windows, he said he got
> for free...and that he downloaded it
> off the internet.
> piracy!!!! WTF!!!!!!!??? how can you argue of how windows is better than
> ubuntu, if you pirated it!!!!
> hahaha! im sorry but i just find it very ridiculous....that someone can
> argue so "passionately" over something that 
> he legally could be jailed for!! hahaha..i completely freaked out...i just
> cant stand to talk to such people....
> Seriously though, windows guys will never win this argument.. over which
> better.
> considering you can run an ubuntu machine at nearly 100% of windows type
> average usability....
> and never have to pay for software.... far as im concerned, there is
> no argument.
> the second argument, and i can call it an ARGUMENT (yes, some swear words
> did show themselves), is of how he shot down the 
> freedom toaster being a waste of time.
> see, this is where i lost it...... 
> i gave him three problems, and wanted him to answer them, being a
> stooge...
> this is a scenario of around 80% of our fellow zimbabweans, a situation
> which is real on the ground in our present time.
> 1 - the average user will never afford to buy a computer.
> 2 - the average user will have to rely on other parties to provide them
> the "IT education" they will need for a job.
> 3 - the average user will never afford to buy broadband or even a dialup
> connection, in any case dial up is limited for software
> procurement.
> so....what were his answers?????? unsurprisingly, a dumb ass look on his
> face.....
> okes, the sad reality is that we are in this open source fight by
> in this country... our OSS visions are held by only us.
> and as such, we will have to uphold this vision as a "loco team" as well
> an "open source community". Its very clear
> after the chat with this fool, that no one really cares about the fellow
> the street. Guys like this are very oblivious to anything 
> else out there, because they can get everything for free, whether its
> or not. They just dont care....its time like this,
> that makes me realise just how much BSA could gain from coming to a
> like this, and believe me, they will 
> come. Just a matter of time.. thats all.
> He said he had used ubuntu for 2 months, and called it quits thereafter.
> i asked him how long he's been using windows, 
> and he said most of his life. 
> This is the problem, you cant use ubuntu for 2 months, and then expect to
> know and understand how it works... unless this dude
> used ubuntu for 5 years, and windows for also 5 years, i would value and
> respect his opinion. 
> Believe me, i know everything there is to know about windows, i've used it
> also for a long time in my life, purely, because
> i didnt know there was a worthy alternative. BUT, there is an
> and people need to know about it.
> unfortunately, this is what we will experience in our quest to bring open
> source out into this country.
> my answers to the above questions, were as follows:
> 1 - remove the cost of the OS (microsoft) then deal with bare metal
> prices. it is sad, that the price of a computer
> can be driven up to 70% more than the basic hardware cost, because of
> software licensing. Microsoft are very clever, in that they
> have made alliances with brand computers, whereby MS OS's come bundled
> the machine, whether you like it or not,
> and remember, office suites and antivirus are sold seperately! 
> 2 - If the relevant person can have his own computer, he will be able to
> invest as much time into learning IT as they want,
> without paying anyone or anything (besides zesa of course). Like most of
> they may discover a hidden talent within the 
> IT underworld, and that could lead them to a job, and an income. With room
> for individual expansion... 
> i.e you can be a sadza chef who knows how to setup exim, you will then get
> hungry customer walk in, talking about how shitty
> microsoft exchange can be, you could suggest using exim to him, give him a
> few pointers on how to implement it,
> before you know it, you're an IT manager at that same company, driving a
> mazda bt50 double cab. 
> 3 - the answer to this???? OUR BELOVED TOASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!! end of story.
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