In keeping with its larger ‘Make in India’ pitch, the government has asked states to deploy an open source Linux-based operating system — meant to run official computers — called BOSS, an acronym for Bharat Operating System Solutions. This is being proposed as a ‘homegrown’ alternative to the Microsoft Windows operating system, which is the predominant OS in use across Central and state government computer systems, alongside other Linux variants such as Redhat and Ubuntu, as well as Android and Unix systems.
“DeitY (Department of Electronics and Information Technology) has written to all the state governments for possible deployment of BOSS Linux in the states and UTs,” an official said. Developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), the Government has entrusted a Chennai-based state-owned IT firm with the support and promotion of BOSS, the Debian GNU/Linux-based operating system with wide Indian languages support that includes Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil and even Maithili and Bodo.
According to officials, the increased penetration of BOSS is expected to have an incremental impact on the Government’s Digital India plan as it can be leveraged to ensure that a larger number people can have access to software in their local language to access the Internet.
At present, the state-owned National Informatics Centre supplies proprietary software Windows and Redhat Linux to Government departments. The BOSS version of Linux is available for free download and compact discs are being made available for free distribution.
“The number of downloads reported from the site is around 70,000. If states were to shift over to BOSS as the predominant operating system for their IT networks, these numbers would go up sharply,” an official said.
Before its decision to ask states to deploy the BOSS, the Centre has tried pushing the operating system in central government departments. Currently, according to DeitY estimates, around 2.5 million deployments of BOSS Linux have been done by C-DAC in education, government and e-governance sectors.
In order to make the switch-over possible, the Centre has asked C-DAC and other agencies to ensure that BOSS Support Centres are set up across the country and workshops are being conducted to encourage the use of the operating system in the country, officials said.
BOSS 5.0, the latest version of the operating system, reportedly comes with several new applications mainly focused on enhanced security and user-friendly applications.