How Linux can Help Poverty

source : http://www.linuxhaxor.net/2008/10/12/how-linux-can-help-reduce-poverty/

Poverty is a global problem, which is not limited to third world developing countries. Even mature developed nations like United States has ~18% poverty rate. There are many reasons and causes of poverty, which includes but not limited to, natural disasters, war, disease, politics, religion, and over-population and so on and so forth. Some of these causes are beyond our control while others are beyond our means. There is no single factor that can totally eliminate poverty, even the almighty latest Linux Kernel release; but many ideas and anti-poverty initiative can come together to reduce the causes of poverty.
What can Linux do?

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There is a popular saying that goes like; “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to use a cheap Linux powered computer and you have fed him for a lifetime” (something to that effect). OLPC is such a program whose mission is “..to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.” Based on Fedora, there is an estimated 550,000 XO laptops sold in 23 countries since the program started. While it’s too early to say if the mission is a success, we can only see the effect of this program a decade or so from now when this generation of XO laptop users grow up. There are other large scale adoptions of Linux in Education Institute:

  • Government officials of Kerala, use only free software, running on the Linux platform, for computer education, starting with the 2,650 government and government-aided high schools.
  • In Indiana, 22,000 students has access to Linux Workstations at their high schools.
  • In Germany, 560,000 students and school stuff migrate to Linux.
  • By 2009 all computers in Russian schools are to be run on Linux.
  • One of India’s 28 states plans to distribute 100,000 Linux laptops to students.

Price is right.

Linux can also play a crucial role in government offices and administration as they can be easily deployed with very low-powered computers, thus bringing the cost of computers within their reach. Especially in third-world developing nations, this can play a vital role as an increase number to talented work force can finally afford to compete with the help of low-cost, “legal” software and operating system. There are several large-scale adoptions of Linux powered computers by government in many countries:

  • In January 2006, law in Venezuela went into effect, mandating a two year transition to open source in all public agencies.
  • The Federal Employment Office of Germany has migrated 13,000 public workstations to OpenSuse.

Long way to go.

While these examples are very little compare to the amount of work that is needed to help empower local government and educate children in poor nations by adopting Linux and open source software. This is a step towards the right direction to help reduce poverty, even by a very small amount, with the help of Linux.

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