October 26, 2005

Software Libre in Cambodia

According to The South China Morning Post the Open Forum of Cambodia is translating FLOSS software into Khmer in order to make computers accessible to the average Cambodian. Most Cambodians do not know English and cannot begin to learn even basic tasks such as word processing, email, and web surfing without taking expensive English lessons. An additional motivation is national pride. Ourn Bora, chief of cabinet for Stung Treng province, is quoted as saying:

This is about national dignity to see Khmer script on a computer. It is historical.

The use of FLOSS software is attractive for this project for two reasons. Its low cost makes it accessible to everyone even in a country like Cambodia with a per capita GDP of US$2,000. Even more important, Cambodians can modify FLOSS software and distribute their modifications. Proprietary software leaves the user at the mercy of its owner. Microsoft has said that it has no intention of providing a Khmer translation of its software.

The software being localized includes the OpenOffice.org suite of a word processor, spread sheet, presenter, drawing program, and database, the Firefox browser and the Thunderbird email program. The project is also developing Khmer equivalents for technical computer terms so as to make them easier to learn for the average person for whom English terms are difficult.

Posted by Bill Poser at October 26, 2005 12:34 AM