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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Linux reaches Afghanistan
Reconstruction workin Afghanistan, AP
Technology can help nations develop more quickly says the UN
Afghanistan is being rebuilt with the help of the Linux operating system.

The United Nations is training civil servants in the intricacies of the software to help them get government computer systems up and running.

The first civil servants to complete their training in Linux went back to work earlier this month.

The UN hopes that training government workers to use Linux will help the country close the technology gap that separates it from many other countries.

Basic skills

Working with Afghanistan's Ministry of Communications, the UN Development Program has been putting civil servants through classes that familiarise them with the open source Linux operating system.

Hamid Karzai, AP
Linux is helping the Afghan Government work faster
Broadly free, Linux is becoming a favourite among many organisations who want greater control over what they can do with software.

In contrast to Microsoft operating systems, Linux gives programmers much greater flexibility to scrutinise the core of the program and to adapt it to their own ends.

Linux, drawn upon the venerable Unix operating system, is the creation of Linus Torvalds and its various incarnations have won huge numbers of fans because of this freedom to tinker.

Initially, the UNDP has targetted technical staff to give them more in-depth skills that will help them end their reliance on external contractors and consultants and let them take charge of their own technology infrastructure.

Already the Ministry of Communications is thinking about using its Linux experts to train other civil servants in computer use and to set up advanced network services.

Without such training the UNDP fears that Afghanistan could get left behind by countries that are aggressively adopting computer and network technology.

Wider and better use of technology would help Afghanistan government workers get more done, foster local initiatives and drive reconstruction of the country.

The UNDP said that knowledge skills are essential to every nation and a vibrant pool of technically competent staff will help Afghanistan forge links with other countries.

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