54 people from 15 African countries and 16 facilitators/helpers from
outside Africa gathered in Okahandja, a small Namibian town, for
from 15th of March to 19th of March 2004. African
Source was the first all African conference of Free Software/Open
Source Software (F/OSS) developers. Vladimir Petkov (GNOME) and
(KDE) presented the current state of the open source desktop,
its strengths and shortcomings.
Main objective of the meeting was to get African developers together
to discuss the possibilities of F/OSS for developing countries. Hot
topics were: Wireless networking, special software like microfinance
applications, refurbished computers, total cost of ownership (TCO)
versus pirated proprietary software, thin client solutions and, of
course, the open source desktop.
Vladimir and Uwe agreed early on not to do the usual GNOME vs. KDE
thing. Instead, they presented the common strengths and shortcomings
of both desktops. Attendants agreed that
CUPS and its integration in
either desktop bridged the gap in printing quality between F/OSS and
any proprietary operating software but wasn't robust enough to suit
users. Deleting an active print job can easily end up in a nightmare.
They also agreed that both desktops are generally ready to fit into
any business or
Good accounting software was listed as a serious shortcoming.
The computer lab of 25 boxes at African Source was powered by
OpenLab 3, a South African linux distribution geared at educational institutions, using KDE 3.2.
All participants agreed on African Source 2 later this year, tailored
at the needs of users, businesses and NGOs.