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HYDERABAD: A strong case for using the free and open source software (FOSS) in research and academic learning was made at a day-long workshop in JNTU Hyderabad on Friday. The societal benefits of this software were underlined by the speakers in the workshop.
The workshop on 'Women in Research – the FOSS paradigm' was inaugurated by JNTU-H Vice-Chancellor D N Reddy.
It was organised by Swecha and G Narayanamma Institute of Information Technology (GNIIT) in association with JNTU-H. More than 50 women researchers and academics from across the state. In his inaugural address, Professor D N Reddy stressed the importance of the source codes being open and available for modification and improvement. He said unlike the propriety software, it was the GNU/Linux based free and open source software that has made the source codes open so that developers could improve the software as per the requirements. He lauded the GNU/Linux model for bringing together the community of developers and engineers to work in common interest of the society. Dr. Reddy appreciated the work of Swecha in propagating the use of FOSS and wished it success in its endeavours.
Professor Jayanti, head of IT in Education department in IIIT, in her address put forward two reasons to consider use of FOSS.
One, from the social justice point of view as the proprietary software cuts access to lakhs of people who could not afford the high cost of the software. Two, use of FOSS also makes economic sense as it encourages and involves many more people in the process and thus would be good for the economy of the country.
As for concrete application of FOSS in research, she gave the example of how FOSS was much superior in usage for her while developing virtual labs for science.
The idea of virtual labs for science was prompted by the lack of proper labs and infrastructure in most of the schools and colleges in Hyderabad.
The IIIT is involved in developing these labs and now the union ministry of HRD is asking for similar virtual labs to be developed for engineering colleges also. She pointed out that the use of FOSS in such research projects is growing not only in India but across the world.
Professor K S Rajan of IIIT, Dr. Manjula Vani, Director UGC Academic Staff College and Dr. Shanti Prabha of JNTU Kakinada also spoke.
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