I’ve finally gotten a bit of connectivity and spare time in the middle of our training on Campcaster here in Jakarta, Indonesia, so I’m happy to finally be posting.

The morning part of today’s session featured a remarkable presentation by Deddy Hendrian, the leader of Pinux, a Linux distribution made for Indonesian conditions.
Before Deddy gave his presentation, I was giving some background about Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of the Ubuntu distribution and the first African in space. ‘Oh yeah, we’ve heard of him,’ the participants said.
In 2005, Deddy was the owner of an internet cafe when he got a nasty letter from Microsoft. The letter said his computers – Compaq PCs with legal copies of Windows 98 pre-installed – weren’t licensed to be used in Internet cafes. He tried to ignore the letter, but the cafe was raided by the police and his computers were seized.

Microsoft told the police to impound every PC without a sticker on it. Police were never told how to verify if the PCs had legal OEM Windows on them.
Deddy was interrogated by Indonesia’s anti-terrorist forces for 16 hours. He says it was intimidation.

His Internet cafe closed, Deddy had no money to fight in court. The computers are impounded to this day.

As he describes it, he set out on a vendetta. His way of extracting revenge on a pinheaded Microsoft license compliance employee and Redmond’s brutal tactics? Make his own Linux distribution.

Called Pinux, it’s a distribution aimed at internet cafe operators and – increasingly – local governments. More than 200 internet cafes – each with 10 to 20 PCs – use Pinux, which is a pretty slick, user-friendly flavor of Linux based on Red Hat 9 (Deddy says he’s thinking of using Ubuntu for the next release).

For Microsoft, losing a possible 4,000 PCs in Indonesia’s Internet cafes may be small beer. But the next step for Pinux is implementations in local governments – 2,300 seats of the provincial government in Bandung, West Java, are set to switch to Pinux on 28 April, with a road show set to visit to 77 other municipalities.

At the same time, though, Microsoft has signed a USD $1.5 billion contract with the Indonesian central government, which he says shows an alarming doublespeak.

I ask Deddy what he would do with USD $1.5 billion. He rolls his eyes at the sum.
“Go into space, of course.” he says to laughter in the room.

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