Linux gets clicking in TN govt projects

Chennai, May 29 | Updated: May 30 2007, 05:47am hrs
The global debate of proprietary software versus open source has caught up in the government agencies in Tamil Nadu too. However, open-source Linux operating system (OS) seems to have found its way into almost all the upcoming government IT projects.

Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), the nodal agency that facilitates IT infrastructure to state government agencies, encourages the use of Linux in place of Windows. This helps to avoid the hefty licence fee and the ever increasing virus threat, said C Umashankar, managing director, ELCOT. The company has also developed a prototype of the "world's first Linux-based ATM," which is priced at Rs 1.5 lakh, he added. ELCOT will file the patent in due course, he said.

Unlike proprietary software, open-source lets users to download free online versions and add functions. Users need to pay only for custom features, maintenance and technical support.

"90% of the operating system cost is saved because ELCOT uses SUSE and Redhat variants of the Linux OS for various e-governance projects," Umashankar said.

Windows 2003 server costs Rs 20,500 and Rs 960 is charged as client access licence for every additional machine connected to a network. Additionally, the server media kit costs Rs 1,250 and Microsoft Office should be installed separately, said an ELCOT official. Whereas Linux OS comes with in-built Office capabilities and virus protection, sources added.

"Only Rs 400 is required to install Linux OS per desktop. The amount is charged for the media kit," she said.

Similarly, a proprietary-software-based ATM will cost about Rs 6.5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh. ELCOT's first prototype offers single denomination. The machine can be enhanced to avail smart card reading and biometric recognition facilities at Rs 10,000 extra, Umashankar said. When five prototypes are developed and tested, the ATM will be ready to market, he added.