Tuesday, December 24, 2002
(published December 31, 2002)

Old folks pick up Open Source

PETALING JAYA: Senior citizens from a community group in SS3 here have greatly impressed their trainer Colin Charles by quickly learning how to install and configure the Linux Red Hat 8.0 operating system.

"On the first day, some of these senior citizens - in their 60s and 70s - didnít even know how to switch on a computer," he said after hosting a three-day "Open Source Software Workshop" at the Cosmopoint Corporate Training Centre here earlier this month.

"But they soon learned to install Linux Red Hat 8.0 all by themselves, and stayed the whole course," Charles, a Linux Professional Institute ( certified trainer, told In.Tech recently.

"The group of 26 senior folks wanted to learn about Linux so they could in turn teach their fellow members how to use Linux-based desktop productivity tools like, the Mozilla browser, X-CD-Roast CD burning software," he added.

The senior citizens also learned how to configure modems and printers to work under Linux, synchronise a PalmOS-based handheld device, download pictures from a digital camera through a USB port, and edit them with the G-Photo photo-editing software.

A schoolteacher who attended the course said he found it very informative, and that it provided him with knowledge he can pass on to his friends and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) heís involved in.

"Iíll introduce Linux to the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Movement to use in their primary school, and to the Buddhist temple in SS3 for use on their PCs," said the teacher, who declined to be named.

However, the computer lab in the school where he teaches uses Microsoft Windows 98 and Office 2000 and he said there was nothing he could do to introduce Linux there, since the schools "just have to accept what is supplied to them."

"Still, I can influence my schoolís computer clubs to use Linux since they are independent of the government and with OSS (Open Source Software) they donít have to pay licensing fees," he said.

The workshop, which cost RM50 per attendee, was organised by the Malaysian National Computer Confederationís Open Source Special Interest Group (MNCC-OSSIG); for more info, go to

It was aided by Advanced Technology Studies Centre (atSC), Cosmopoint (which provided its premises and computer facilities), Delmaco, Getronics Solutions Malaysia, I-Enterprise Online, Ingenuity Microsystems and Meteor Technology.

MNCC-OSSIG plans to hold its next workshop in Penang in February, as well as further sessions in the Klang Valley. However, MNCC-OSSIG members said they would need a sponsor like Cosmopoint to provide the premises and facilities.

For more information, call the MNCC Secretariat at (603) 7118-3040.