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My letter in Down to Earth

FOSS virtues

This is in response to your cover story ‘Foss time in India’ (April 30, 2008). I am an ex-serviceman and have recently taken up farming. I am using the free and open source software (foss) for the past few months.

Earlier, I was using Microsoft (ms) operating system and didn’t know that the software was pirated. When I started looking for alternatives, a Trivandrum-based charitable society, the Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing Environments, helped me install Debian gnu/Linux operating system.

Previously, I was using ms Excel and ms Word. Now, I use Spreadsheets and Writer. These have helped me handle my blog,, easily and more efficiently than ms Windows. I have no difficulty in using Malayalam with this software. Since I use Inscript input method (a method where same keys are used to type letters of two languages), it is now easier for me to publish my blogs both in Hindi and Malayalam. foss has also helped me using other tools like Swanalekha and Dhvani. Swanalekha helps one type in Malayalam using equivalent sounds in English. For instance, typing “amma” results in equivalent Malayalam rendering. Dhvani is a text-to-speech engine that can read and recite in Malayalam. Whenever I encounter any problem, several gnu /Linux users groups in Trivandrum help me, that too in my mother tongue.

S Chandrasekharan Nair
[email protected]

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