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AMD brings Linux to East Africans

Mar 28, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Chipmaker AMD has thrown its financial clout behind a non-profit organization setting up Linux-based computing and communication centers in East Africa. Inveneo initially used Wyse thin clients, but the organization has now switched over to MiniPCs based on AMD's recently-launched Ultra-value… client reference design.

(Click for larger view of an Inveneo-connected “Community Knowledge Center”)

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Inveneo efforts received funding through AMD's “50×15” program, a global initiative aimed at availing 50 percent of the world's population of Internet access by 2015. Inveneo says the funding will enable Inveneo to scale and formalize its “Certified Information and Communication Technology Partner” program.

Inveneo claims to have set up 20 Linux-based computing centers in six African nations over the past year, at the behest of various NGOs (non-governmental organizations), local governments, and private entities. The centers use Linux-based networking equipment, VoIP servers based on Linux and Asterisk, and thin clients running Inveneo's own Gentoo-based “Inveneo Linux” distribution.

FIC Ion MiniPC, based on AMD's UVC reference design

Initially, Inveneo used Wyse S50 thin clients with integrated 14-inch monitors. However, the organization will switch over this spring to FIC Ion MiniPCs, which are based on AMD's recently-launched Ultra-value client (UVC) reference design.

Inveneo CTO Jeff Wishnie said that Inveneo created its own Linux port in-house, incorporating open source software packages such as OpenOffice, Firefox, Sylpheed, and Asterisk. Inveneo Linux also includes rdesktop, a Microsoft RDP (remote desktop protocol) client, enabling the clients to host Windows-only applications, such as some distance learning programs, when necessary.

Inveneo computing centers
(Click each image to enlarge)

Inveneo said that AMD's funding will enable it to recruit and train local African workers to set up and maintain additional computing and communications centers. Training will cover five areas, including:

  • Linux, and open source apps
  • Local networking
  • Long-range wifi networking
  • Power systems, such as solar collectors, generators, conditions, etc.
  • Voice-over-IP

Wishnie explained, “We partner with local organizations, such as Linux Solutions in Southern Uganda, because we're concerned about sustainability. Local support is critical to our ability to scale and meet all the need and requests for help. We depend on partners who have more physical staff, and who are local. An added benefit is that it contributes to the local economy.”

Inveneo CEO Mark Summer stated, “The program will strongly benefit rural communities and the organizations which serve them, dramatically lower the cost of installation and support, [and build] local expertise and the local economy.”

Dan Shine, director of AMD's 50×15 initiative, stated, “Inveneo and their local partner, Linux Solutions, played a primary role in managing the installation of [computing] centers in three secondary schools for AMD and their partners the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the Uganda government. This experience shows how AMD can leverage Inveneo's in-country installation and support network to achieve the aggressive goal of connecting 50 percent of the world by 2015.”

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