New intellectual property law forces Cambodians to start developing their own Khmer-language software
PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, 04 February 2004
“We envision, in 2007, a country where Cambodians can learn and use computers in their own language, a country that does not have to change to a new language in order to use computers!” say the activists behind the new KhmerOS initiative. Until now, computer use in Cambodia has been mostly in English, and mostly using unlicensed copies of Microsoft Windows products. However, a new Cambodian intellectual property law means that a user will have to purchase a license for each copy of software sold by companies such as Microsoft and that’s unaffordable for most Cambodian computer users. This new portal coordinated by APC member, Open Forum of Cambodia, gets together some previously isolated developers and is starting out by providing Khmer translations of well-known free software programmes such as Mozilla (the powerful web browser and mail programme). But the eventual goal is to create a full applications package under GNU/Linux, "which has 90% of all applications which 100% of all users need".
The motivation behind KhmerOS - from the KhmerOS site
The KhmerOS project was born from our dream for the state of computer technology in Cambodia in three years. We envision, in 2007, a country where Cambodians can learn and use computers in their own language, a country that does not have to change to a new language in order to use computers! Databases and applications will be developed directly in Khmer, with easy, standard ways to handle names and data.
To achieve this, there must be widespread use of very low cost software, well adapted to Cambodia’s economy, business climate, and people. And there must be a standard way to use Khmer.
Fortunately, the introduction of the Khmer script in the Unicode standard has opened the door to start developing support for Khmer in different platforms.
Also, there is already free, easy-to-use, high quality software -called Free Software or OpenSource Software- that can be used and modified. It includes everything a normal computer user needs: desktops, office applications (word-processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, database manager), Internet tools (e-mail, browser, chat, messengers), multimedia applications to handle music and video, and many utilities. Many countries are promoting this type of software for their government offices, for businesses, in education, and for the people in general.
In the past, of course, computer use in Cambodia has been mostly in English, and mostly using unlicensed copies of Microsoft Windows products. The fact that there is a new Cambodian intellectual property law means that a user will have to purchase a license for each copy of software sold by companies such as Microsoft that he uses. That is too expensive for most Cambodian computer users.
Open source software and Khmer Unicode will build the best technological future for Cambodia, and it can be achieved. We welcome you to join us in working for this vision.
The KhmerOS initiative is being coordinated by APC member, the Open Forum of Cambodia, a local NGO that has a long history of supporting advance in communication and information exchange in the country.