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gnome & andalucia

Miguel de Icaza: 19 Feb 2004: In Gnome Country

Am in the international Open Source Conference held in Malaga in
Andalucia. Andalucia and Extremadura are the two states that have
adopted Gnome across the board: education and government. There are
400,000 users in these two areas (20% of the Extremadura population are
Gnome users) and have around 100,000 Gnome desktops deployed. 

This is a very big number of Gnome desktops deployed. This might be the
largest Linux desktop deployment in the world (China will follow later
with the Gnome-based JDS system next year). 

This is entirely a Debian/GNOME setup, and there is a local industry
that has emerged out of this: various small companies here are providing
the support to the governments of Andalucia and Extremadura (Will get
the name of the consortium of open source companies tomorrow, because
right now I forgot). 

They have developed quite a set of interesting tools: from back-porting
changes to the stable version of Debian (addressing one of Debian's
weaknesses) to developing tools to manage large network deployments
(similar to Red Carpet's enterprise features, but for Debian) and a
nifty tool to create bootable distributions and turn them into CDs that
people can carry around (metadistros).

There are tons of stories floating around, and people very excited about
this technology. From the kids that after doing their work in school ask
the teacher for permission to use the "Guadalinux" (this is the name
they use to refer to the Linux machine, based on the distribution name)
to the class rooms that are now entirely quiet due to the kids playing
with the "Guadalinux" systems. 

Also grandmothers refer to the web as "mozilla" they pronounce it
"mo-ci-yha", as in `I found in mo-ci-ya that you can do this and that'.
Very interesting stuff. 

During a few conversations with the various officials and engineers that
work on this project, I have mentioned that they should probably should
join the Gnome Foundation's Advisory Board, something that I think we
should fast track. I asked the education secretary if they had any
issues with Gnome, and if there was something we could fix, or improve
for them, and they said `So far we have not had problems with the
teachers'. A good perception. 

The technical guys on the other hand had a few requests: from Evolution
failing to send SMTP mails in some occasions (we should investigate
this) to better integration with the braille stack in the accessibility
framework (accessibility here is very important due to a fairly strong
Spaniard organization called "La Once"). 

My friend Charles Curran from the UK Linux Users group is also in town,
he is now living in Sevilla, and came to the meeting. It was very nice
to see him again. 

Lastly, about 30 Gnome Developers from the "Gnome Hispano" got together
in the afternoon to meet and discuss. I learned that a "GUADEC Hispano"
is being planned for May in Extremadura. 

p.s:(I'm getting iller and iller what the heck?!)