COMPUTING

FRENCH GOVT AND MANDRAKE TO ROLL OUT LINUX ACROSS AFRICA

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mandrakesoft have announced a plan to provide a network of sixty public Internet access points throughout Africa. The project, known as Aden, plans to set up the access points as well as train instructors. The access points will be run using a version of Mandrakesoft's Linux distribution.

Mandrakesoft announced that "Aden's aim is to foster the development and use of Information and Communication Technologies in Africa through the creation of a network of public Internet access points. The general aim is to create favorable conditions for the exchange of ideas and skills and encourage inter-cultural dialogue."

"To attain its goal an easy-to-use, multi-lingual and adaptable software solution was needed. The open source Aden - Mandrakelinux pack has been designed with those very constraints in mind."

The Aden-Mandrakelinux pack is built around a version of Mandrakelinux customised for use in a access point environment and is meant to be just as easy to set up and administer as to use. The pack will evolve according to feedback from field-workers, administrators and users. The Aden website will centralise those reports and Mandrakesoft will analyse them.

"Mandrakesoft is of course very proud to be part of Aden", said Francois Bancilhon, Mandrakesoft CEO. "It's in everyone's interest to see modern communication technologies spread to every part of the world. To put our skills at the service of that cause is only natural. And there's one very interesting thing going one here - that's how Linux and free software in general are adaptive. They're used in environments as different as that of a large commercial bank in Singapore and a cybercafe in Burkina-Faso. Free software is becoming the lingua franca of the world information society."

The African instructors, coming from 13 English, French and Portuguese-speaking countries, will help set up the Aden access points starting later this year. They will be the first to discover and test the Aden pack in November in Yaounde, Cameroon. The pack will then be available as a free download from Mandrakelinux and Aden websites.

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