The KhmerOS initiative was launched in February 2004 by the Open Forum of Cambodia local NGO.
During the first two months it developed a glossary of computer terms for the Khmer language. This glossary was improved and corrected by a panel of Khmer linguists and computer teachers from several universities. This glossary was a key issue to assure homogenization of the language used in computer use (same in all programs) and training. After this first task was finished, the projectâ€™s two-person team started the translation of Thunderbird, an e-mail program, while a typographer was hired to prepare some fonts for the project. The translation task was accomplished in two months. At this point, having some experience and some more funding, the team grew up to six translators, prepared now to undertake and the major task of translating a complete office suite (word processing, spreadsheet, Presentation tool), as well as the translation of an Internet browser. In early 2005 Open Forum joined forces with NiDA ( National Information Communications Technology Development Authority (NiDA), helped write and integrated its efforts inside its Master Plan for the Implantation of Open Source in Cambodia See the Report on the state of the Project in mid-March 2005 here.
The project advances in schedule towards its first milestone:
May 2005.By that time the help and some documentation for the OpenOffice suite will already be available in Khmer, as well as a training module. Training modules will also be available for the other applications. This will mean that all the computer tools used by 80% of the users will be available in Khmer language on the Windows platform in May 2005, together with the training materials that will make deployment possible.
The second milestone â€“ planned for May 2006 â€“ has two components:
- Deployment of the programs that have been translated, through partner-based distribution and through training.
- Continuation of translations and development, in order to complete a computer system that â€“ being independent from Microsoft (and therefore free) â€“ is fully in Khmer. This system will be based on the Linux Open Source Platform.
Deployment will be based on:
- Assuring that all translated applications are made available in as many computers as possible, as self-installation (even if very easy) is always a barrier for the user. This will be done through partnerships with computer vendors, the support of the government (NiDA), partnerships with other NGOs who work on IT capacity-building and a campaign addressed to public Internet training places, so that they all install programs in Khmer.
- Training. Development of good quality training materials that can be offered to computer skill training places, so that they can come easily into the market of teaching computer use in Khmer. Development of a training certification program based of these training materials, providing certificates to those who pass the evaluations of the courses, certifying that trained professors can teach with these materials, and certifying that certain training centers are prepared to teach using this method (they have trained teachers and the necessary facilities). Open Forum will provide training for trainers and the infrastructure for this system.
Deliverables for this second stage will include:
- A complete free Khmer computer system (KhmerOS), with 100% of the applications used by 80% of the possible users. Documentation and training modules (this system will be deployed in stage 3).
- Between 200 and 300 experienced computer-trainers trained, equipped and certified to teach the use of the programs.
- At least 50 training centers certified to offer the courses.
- Most public access computers in Cambodia with the programs installed and Unicode keyboards.
- The applications pre-installed in at least 80% of new computers sold in Cambodia, the CD available at all software vendors, Khmer Unicode keyboards available (and recommended) from computer vendors and books on the applications available on most bookstores.
The projects third stage will take place from May 2006 to April 2007.
- Continuing technical advance with new tools and applications, reaching a larger number of users with at least two new versions of the system. Search for solutions to assure continuity of the development project.
- A new deployment campaign will aim at having vendors pre-installing this system, even if they also pre-install Microsoft. The goal is to try to have at least 50% of new systems by April 2007 installing the free Linux-based system. Trainers that are already teaching the applications will be retrained to teach also the new system.
Deliverables will include:
- Two new versions of the Khmer software system (KhmerOS), with upgrades of the programs, fixes and reaction to user demands, including new software that is considered important by final users.
- All computer teachers trained in stage two will be re-trained to teach KhmerOS.
- New user certification levels, including a â€œprofessional userâ€ certification that will assure that the person who has the certificate can handle several applications easily and can also use KhmerOS.
- Distribution. Reaching agreements with vendors for them to install KhmerOS in at least 50% of new computers. Prepare a campaign for people to install this system in their computers together with the Microsoft system (both systems installed). Attempt to reach public access computers with the system.
- Assure continuity. A strong effort will be made to try to assure sources of income that will maintain the project, so that new versions are delivered at least once a year, and that the relationships with the industry are maintained, so that the benefits of the project are not lost and slowly disappear.