At iLab Liberia we have had a series of Introduction to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) trainings over the last 9 months. During the trainings we cover the definitions of Linux Operating System derivatives, how to install the Ubuntu 10.10 Operating System, desktop and basic features operations and also introduce participants to Apache web server and Open DNS. I recently led my first Intro FOSS training at iLab, and it got me thinking about the significance of sharing FOSS in Liberia.
What makes iLab’s Intro FOSS training unique? Firstly, there is no other computer school or tech lab in Liberia offering any training in FOSS. This FOSS training is iLab’s most popular training because most Liberians have a growing interest in learning new skills and especially a new operating system like Ubuntu that is free, open source, and virus-free. This training is a dream come true for most Liberians because they have been using pirated copies of Windows OS for most of their lives as computer users; these pirated OS’s easily corrupt their computers and make basic computer use extremely frustrating.
Proprietary software like the Windows OS is very expensive and it is very difficult to get a genuine copy in Liberia. We have repeatedly conducted this training at iLab because we have heard participants’ testimonies that learning and using the Ubuntu OS has improved the performance of their computers, made their computers virus-free, and also given them an edge over other techies and computer users.
Before iLab began offering these trainings, Windows Operating System was the only OS used in Liberia. During FOSS trainings, we frequently face the challenge that FOSS is a whole new subject in Liberia and we have to spend ample time explaining the concept of FOSS and getting participants to comfortably use an alternative to the familiar Windows OS. It is our dream at iLab that Liberians will develop more interest in learning and using free and open source software to enhance their work and computer user experience instead of using pirated copies of proprietary software that tends to crash after a few months.
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Luther D. Jeke