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PR: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mandrakesoft Launch OSS Solution for African Internet

In 2003, at the World Summit on the Information Society,
representatives of the international community made the bridging of
the North/South “information gap” their primary goal. The French
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the ADEN cooperation program,
and Mandrakesoft, European leader in Linux systems, intend to put
Open Source software at the service of this goal. The ADEN pack is
an economical and flexible solution for Internet centers of the
South.

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. ADEN will set up sixty
public Internet access points, train instructors, provide a
suitable environment for local content and software production. The
general aim is to create favorable conditions for the exchange of
ideas and skills and encourage inter-cultural dialogue.

For ADEN 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.

Volunteers from every country collaborate in the writing of free
software, software that everyone is free to use, modify and
redistribute. Mandrakesoft’s own Mandrakelinux Operating System is
itself Open Source software. Its open mode of development along
with the company’s experience and skills allow Mandrakesoft to
produce stable, high-performance and easy-to-use products.

The ADEN-Mandrakelinux pack is built around a version of
Mandrakelinux customized for use in a access point environment–it
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 centralize those reports and Mandrakesoft
will analyze them. From the programmer to the end-user, the
worldwide community of free and Open Source software, and
particularly that part of the community that resides in countries
of the South, will drive the development process to fit the product
to their needs.

“Mandrakesoft is of course very proud to be part of ADEN,”
comments François 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 cybercafé 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 in 2004. They will be the first to discover and
test the ADEN pack in November in Yaoundé (Cameroon). The
pack will then be available as a free download from Mandrakelinux
and ADEN websites.