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Current Status on Open Source Movement in Indonesia

Yohanes Nugroho

This paper gives a current status of the Open Source movement in Indonesia. It lists
and describes active projects and organizations in Indonesia that are OSS related
and also contains recent events which are related to OSS in Indonesia.

Knowing the status and advances of the open source movement in other countries
can be very useful to implement similar thing in our countries. We can learn other's
mistakes, or give advices on solving a particular problem, we can also propose a
partnership with other countries that carry out similar project or have similar goals.

This paper will present the current state of the OSS movement in Indonesia, with a
hope that it will be useful, both for other countries and for Indonesia. The recent
events in related to OSS in Indonesia will be presented in the first part of this paper
before giving the current state of the open source movement in Indonesia.

1. Recent events in Indonesia related to OSS

The new Intellectual Property Law [1] that has been made effective since July 30th,
2003 has quite big effects on pirated software users and distributors. The new
legislation has forced many companies [2] to switch to legal software (commercial or
open source). But there hasn't been any survey on how much effect the new
legislation has on open source software.

The upcoming national election in 2004 has drawn much attention in the Information
Technology field, because of the large budget used on the IT implementation [3]. All
people expect that the election in 2004 can be monitored better than the previous
election through the development of a national networked computer for election
monitoring. However, the open source community has failed to show advantages of
the open source to the government on this matter and the government has chosen to
use Microsoft Windows based computer, with Microsoft Office for all the monitoring
and data entry purpose.

These two events has drawn much attention from the open source community, but
unfortunately, the effect to the open source development in Indonesia is not as good
as expected. Most organization, companies, and projects are only slightly affected.
But from these two events, especially the later, the open source community in
Indonesia can learn to explain more about open source software to the government.

2. OSS-related projects with official support

A project which has an official support from the government or from a formal
organization indicates the government or the organization's trust to the open source
software. The success of a project with an official support can increase public trust on
open source software. Currently, there are three projects which have an official
supports and have been quite successful: KOMURA, GDL, and NetOffice.

KOMURA (KOmputer MURAh/Cheap Computer)

According to survey from BPPT (Badan Penerapan dan Pengembangan Teknologi
Indonesia) which was conducted in 6 cities in Indonesia with more than 1500
respondent, the biggest hurdle on using computer in Indonesia is the high cost for
using computer (hardware, software, and training cost) and the language used in the
software. The KOMURA project aims to solve these two problem.

To reduce the hardware cost, this project uses the LTSP (Linux Terminal Server
Project). The project uses cheap old computers (the price for a computer can be as
low as US $120) for the client and a modern PC for the server (the price for the
server is about US$750). To reduce (and almost eliminate) software cost, this project
uses only open source software. They used self developed Linux distribution called

To break the language barrier, this project translates the KDE user interface to
Indonesian Language, and also provides e-books in Bahasa Indonesia (in PDF
format). Currently they have five e-books in Bahasa Indonesia included in their WinBI
distribution: The KDE Documentation, WinBI reference, Translation Guidelines, and
Public License in Indonesia.

The number of computer that has been deployed until October 10th, 2003 is 21
client with one server. BPPT will deploy another 25 client on Mahasaraswati
University on October 15th 2003, and they will also deploy the KOMURA in 7 high
school on Bali, with 10 computers on each school.

In the future, the developers of WinBI is planning to include another open source
project from BPPT the Kantaya Project. Kantaya ( is a groupware to support collaboration and virtual office
management. They expect to be able to show the advantages of locally networked
computer through Kantaya. The Kantaya project is currently in a dormant state.

Ganesha Digital Library (GDL)

GDL ( is Web based digital library software which has been
sponsored by the YLTI (Yayasan Litbang Telekomunikasi dan Informatika/Foundation
for Telecommunication and Informatics Research) and IDRC (International
Development Research Center) Canada. GDL has been quite popular and the web
page shows that it has been used in at least 34 registered sites.

The GDL has been used to implement the Indonesian Digital Library Network
(Indonesia DLN), a network to share digital library data. The program is quite
successful and has won an award from the American Society for Information Science
and Technology (ASIST).

NetOffice ( is a Web based portal which specializes in
corporate use (not for generic use like PHPNuke). NetOffice has been implemented
in ITB, PLN (Indonesia's state-owned electricity company) Office at Depok, Ministry
of Culture and Tourism Indonesia, and other sites. NetOffice is supported by
Informatics Engineering Department, ITB (Institute of Technology, Bandung).
3. Successful unofficial OSS projects
There are a lot of projects which have no official support but are quite successful on
the Internet, but unfortunately there are very few of them in Indonesia. This kind of
projects should get support from the government or other organizations to further
popularize the usage of the softwares. One of the quite successful open source
projects is Endonesia (, a generic portal software (much
like PHPnuke). This software is quite easy to use, still in active development, and has
been used in more than 20 sites in Indonesia.

4. OSS Related group and Organizations

OSS project is a community work. The development, testing, and the advocacy are
done by the community. The community plays a very important role. But a community
also needs organizations or groups to make them more focused and have their work
more organized. The following are some of the active open source group in

KPLI (Kelompok Pengguna Linux Indonesia/Indonesia Linux User Group)

KPLI (,) is a non profit organization which aims to popularize and
educate the society about the Linux Operating System and the OSS.

Tim Pandu
Tim Pandu ( is a group of people who creates and maintains
Linux articles and ebooks in Bahasa Indonesia

Developer Force
Developer Force ( is a community of people who
Open Source J2EE Software.

OSCG (Open Source Contributor Group)

OSCG ( is a group of people who intends to create a
place to host, discuss, and develop open source projects (much like source forge).
5. OSS Players in Indonesia
The Indonesian government still does not pay much attention to open source
projects. The support is still limited to funding some research and not on
implementing large-scale open source project or even to create an open source
policy. There are currently no person, organization, or companies which has
influence strong enough to affect the government's decision.

There are however few persons who has big impact on the open source community.
Two of them are Onno W Purbo and I Made Wiryana. Onno W Purbo has written
many practical books on the usage of open source software, but now he is currently
active in the wireless telecommunication service. I Made Wiryana has been a Linux
and Open Source advocates in Indonesia, and has managed to convince many
people to use open source software, he also involved in many open source
documentation and translation project.

6. Linux Distributions in Indonesia

Open source gives freedom to its user, and one of the expression for this freedom is
in the number of the Linux distribution that are available in this world. Some of this
distributions is definitely necessary because it of its special features, but other
distribution is only a derivative from other distribution with very small changes. The
large number of distribution can be a good indication of freedom, but can also
confuse people who tried to use Linux for the first time.

So does that mean a new distribution is unnecessary? There are some problem that
can be solved by modifying an existing mainstream distribution but some requires
developing a new distribution. A distribution for the Indonesian should solve the
problems faced by the Indonesian.

The first problem faced by the Indonesian is in the cost. Although Linux doesn't cost
anything, newer distribution (such as RedHat 9 or Mandrake 9) requires expensive
hardware to run. This problem can be solved by heavily modifying existing
distribution, or creating a new lightweight distribution. Another problem faced by the
Indonesian people is mostly in the language used in application (the user interface
and the help), but this can be solved easily by adding translation file to any
distribution. Most existing Indonesian distribution, however, doesn't try to solve these

A site called distrowatch ( has been setup to watch the

Linux distributions in the World, but unfortunately, not much of the distribution maker
who care to register their distribution. The only registered Indonesian distribution is
WinBI (which hasn't been updated since last year). Information on other distribution
needs to be searched manually in the Internet.

The following are the list of the Indonesian Linux distribution with their description,
some of the unimportant Linux distribution such inullinux (which is actually just a
parody) and bijaxlinux (which is not used widely and just a one man project) is not
included here:

Linux Sehat
Linux Sehat ( which literally means Healthy Linux, is a
Knoppix based distribution which is distributed freely (both, the ISO image and the
CD, including the shipping cost is free) by ICT and University of Gunadarma. The
web sites shows, that there are more than 400 CD has been sent.

WinBI ( contains popular open source software and
uses localized KDE. It uses Star Office and KOffice. It also has an LTSP server and
client. WinBI is distributed by BPPT, a government research organization.

Rose ( is a Knoppix based distribution without GUI,
designed to be run on an old PC (Intel 486 Processor, 16 Mb RAM and 500 Mb of
disk space). This distribution is used by the RAB Software Company (an open source
software developer) to promote it's open source product (by including it in the
distribution), but can also be used for daily use.

Rimba Linux
Rimba ( or tries to
create a unique Linux distribution which will fit on Indonesian people. These
distribution starts out as a community based distribution, but now it has been
marketed by a software company called the Rimba Software. Rimba also provides
open source solution, like the aforementioned RAB.

7. Open Source User and Developer in Indonesia

There are currently no data available to indicate the number of open source user or
developer in Indonesia. An attempt was made to count the number of the Linux user
in Indonesia through the web site, but the site has been stop
operating last year, and the last count is not available as the maintainer of the site
can not be contacted.

8. Conclusion
Currently, the open source movement in Indonesia has a very slow progress and is
quite left behind compared to other Asia countries. The government is still not
considering open source as a movement that can bring many advantages and even
profit to the country.

Apart from the lack of government support, Indonesia has many disadvantages over
other Asian countries. Officially Indonesia does not use non Latin script so the
development of special Input Method (IME) or special version of DNS or special
version of any software is not needed (a lot of Asian OSS project is done to modify or
create Open Source Software to support a particular script). The bad economic
condition also plays important role, many programmers prefer to do work on
proprietary software because currently the open source projects in Indonesia is not
very promising economically.

Indonesia still has a very long way to go to catch up with other countries on the open
source movement. But some work has already been done, and hopefully many
others will follow. Support and partnership from other countries in Asia is highly
[2] Hari Pertama Pemberlakuan UU Hak Cipta Pusat Perbelanjaan Bersih dari
Barang Bajakan,
[3] TI Jangan Jadi Alasan Pembengkakan Dana Pemilu,

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