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UN Backs Open Source With New Agency

The United Nations is moving to embrace open source with a new agency.

It's called the International Open Source Network (IOSN), which is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a primary goal to promote Free and Open Source (FOSS) software usage.

The IOSN is principally focused in the Asia-Pacific Region as it began as an initiative of the UN's Asia-Pacific Information Development Programme (APDIP).

"Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) presents itself as an access solution for developing countries," the UN backed agency said on its Web site.

"It represents an opportunity for these countries to adopt affordable software and solutions toward bridging the Digital Divide. It represents an alternative to importing expensive proprietary software and applications."

The IOSN said it sees FOSS providing opportunities for developing nations by saving money that can be used for more critical development priorities and objectives. Essentially what the IOSN does and will be doing is promoting awareness of and education about FOSS.

To that end, the agency has published an end-user guide to desktop Linux that is available on its Web site.

The IOSN's mandate is similar to the UN in its work with developing nations. It it also promoting an event taking place Saturday called Software Freedom Day. At least 34 nations, including United States, Canada and Australia, are slated to take part in a day of distributing FOSS software and providing educational information.

Open source software advocacy has become something of a cottage industry in Asia/Pacific regions. The Linux consortium Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) recently opened a new office in China.

Also, database giant Oracle and Linux vendor Red Hat are looking for more Linux market share in Asian markets with their LEAP (Linux Enterprise Application Porting initiative. Based in Singapore, the program is positioned to help assist independent software vendors (ISV) and systems integrators with migrating, certifying and optimizing Linux deployments.