Open-source system sought for SMEs, ministries

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To help protect intellectual property rights and reduce costs, the State Ministry for Research and Technology is urging state institutions, and small and medium enterprises to adopt open-source software for their computers.

"Not only could we restore our bad image arising from rampant piracy by using this open-source, legal software, the government could also save on its IT budget, and by itself develop software using local experts," Richard Mengko, a senior IT advisor to the ministry, said Monday.

Citing a thesis by a University of Indonesia student, he said that the government could save up to 60 percent of its IT budget if it were to use open-source software.

Open-source software allows the downloading and use of software for free.

He cited as an example how the Information and Communications Ministry had saved on its IT budget after deciding to migrate.

"We can save a lot of money using open-source software that is offered for free compared to if we choose proprietary software that costs about US$200 to $300 per program for the total of 100 computers that we have in our office," the director general for information and communications technology at the Information and Communications Ministry, Cahyana Ahmadjayadi, told The Jakarta Post.

Not only would open-source software save governmental institutions money. Budi Wahyu Jati, Intel Indonesia country manager, said that it could also benefit cash-strapped businesses, such as SMEs.

"The usage of open-source software by SMEs can provide a huge multiplier effect as the country's economy relies heavily on them," Budi said.

According to the latest figures from the International Data Corporation (IDC), an independent research institute, businesses account for 78 percent of software usage in Indonesia, with 60 percent of these businesses being SMEs. Figures from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) show that the total number of SMEs in Indonesia stood at around 42.4 million in 2005, representing an increase of 28 percent from the previous year's 33 million.

To increase the availability of open-source programs, the State Ministry for Research and Technology launched the Indonesia Goes Open-Source (IGOS) Nusantara 2006 package Monday, which can be downloaded for free at www.igos-source.or.id.

IGOS Nusantara 2006 is a desktop software based on Linux Fedora Core 5, which has the capability to operate applications such as Open Office for text documents, Firefox for internet browsing, Thunderbird for e-mail and Gaim for chatting.

On the website, the ministry also lists a range of open-source software websites, both domestic and foreign, from which material can also be downloaded for free.

Open-source software enables users to develop and modify the system and create new kinds of software.

Also on Monday, the ministry announced the establishment of a laboratory to test the quality and reliability of new kinds of open-source software.
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