International Center for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS)
ICFOSS was established in 2011 vide G.O(Rt) No.150/2008/ITD, dt.23/07/2008 as an
autonomous institution under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology,
Government of Kerala. The Centre has the vision to leverage the power of FOSS for the
enhancement of the quality of life of the people of Kerala, and to stimulate local
employment, thereby maintaining Kerala’s strategic lead in this domain. The objective of
the Centre is Propagation, Promotion, and extension of Free Software activities in the
State, at the same time linking up with communities, developers, groups, and institutions
abroad. The Centre has the vision to become a leading Research & Development as well
as Academic Institution in a Free and Open Source model of knowledge development and
thereby contributing towards sustainable development of the society.
ICFOSS has been approved by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR),
Govt. of India as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO). Since we got
the approval as SIRO by DSIR, we have moved to the present campus at the Sports Hub
building at Karyavattom, Thiruvananthapuram with a well-built area of 27000 sq. ft with
all amenities such as Academic Divisions, Lecture Halls, Library, Open Hardware Lab,
Seminar Area, FOSS Incubation, Dining areas, etc. Facilities for Research Scholars,
Students, and Young developers are specially provided.
The Center houses a prototyping and manufacturing laboratory supporting Open Hardware,
e-Governance Lab, Development teams, State Nodal Agency for Malayalam Computing, State of
the Art Production & Development servers, Language Technology Lab, UAV workstation, a
dedicated team on Assistive Technology Lab, Center of Excellence in Blender, and Training
areas. ICFOSS was successful in conducting a lot of R&D initiatives. As part of the
LoRaWAN initiative project under Open Hardware Project, ICFOSS has designed, developed,
and implemented the Automated Weather Stations (AWS) in six Panchayats in Kattakada
Legislative Assembly Area. With this implementation, Kattakada becomes one of the first
assembly constituency areas in India, which operates LoRa WAN-enabled AWS. As per the
Kerala Government directive on applying technology to develop assistive devices for people
with disabilities, ICFOSS started initiatives for the betterment of the visually impaired.
The initiatives for the visually impaired are carried out based on the concept developed
by ICFOSS AKSHI (meaning eye).
By associating with the schools for the visually impaired, ICFOSS started the
research and development of learning aids for the visually impaired students. ICFOSS is
currently developing word learning devices for the visually impaired students. The team is
also exploring the development of general utility devices for the visually impaired
community. These activities are based on the directions put forward by the experts of the
Visually Impaired schools, all over Kerala.
ICFOSS is also conducting Women Hackathons, as part of the Gender & Technology
initiatives with the intention of attracting more girl students and women in general to
Free Software programming. This will prepare the women to use free software effectively,
deepen their understanding of free software concepts and build an appreciation of
technology and enable them to contribute to free software projects as well as develop
their technical capabilities. ICFOSS also provides Women Hackathon Fellowships every year
(maximum of 5 fellows), to individuals with general technical skills, understanding of
free software, interest in gender issues, and having leadership qualities. ICFOSS also
offers training to women in various areas of FOSS research through winter and summer
Back-to-Work is another initiative under G&T. It is an intensive training in various
free software domains for women who have a career gap in their profession to restart their
career. We have conducted two such trainings as a pilot run. Through this programme
ICFOSS’s effort to facilitate placement for the participants in reputed
companies/organizations has reached a positive outcome. ICFOSS has helped over 3000
government employees transition from windows OS to Linux Based Operating Systems by
conducting various workshops.
To promote the use of FOSS technologies and applications among students and faculties
and to encourage them in contributing towards the community development in FOSS, ICFOSS
has initiated the setting up of FOSS Cells in educational institutions, in the year 2015.
The Cell’s activities are bound in participation with the members of the institutions
and ICFOSS. These deeds of the Cell aims in promoting FOSS activities through a group of
interested students and teachers of the institution, on a voluntary basis. The vision of
the FOSS Cell is to encourage and promote the use of Free and Open Source Software and
related areas such as Open IoT / Hardware, Assistive Technology, Language Computing, Open
Drone and GIS, etc., amongst the students and teachers of the institution to make it
utilize in all possible ways.
Each FOSS Cell shall accomplish this by associating with ICFOSS and its programmes,
as well as with other FOSS community, industry, and research organizations, and taking up
programmes including training & capacity building, student projects, lectures &
seminars, conferences, and exhibitions, by participating at the institutional level as
well as for inter-institutional, state, national and international levels. The Student
Ambassadors of ICFOSS will support this mission. Aforesaid, if and only if student
ambassadors are not available for a particular institution, ICFOSS can directly assist to
the extent possible.
As of now, ICFOSS has set up almost 96 FOSS Cells across the state which includes
Engineering Colleges, Arts and Science Colleges, Polytechnics, etc. Every year thousands
of students are getting impacted with the importance of FOSS. ICFOSS has advocated for the
use of many Linux distributions over the years in government offices, schools, and
GNU/Linux Install Fest , and setup of Red Hat Academy labs along with GEC Summer of code,
e Certification Programmes in Engineering with Python, Machine Learning through FOSS,
System Administration & Networking using FOSS are some of the initiatives of ICFOSS
conducted throughout in aforementioned FOSS Cells.
ICFOSS has been working with the different communities for a very long time in the
propagation, promotion, and extension of Free Software activities in the State. As an
organization that handles different and unique challenges which are very difficult to
address also, but to overcome those challenges ICFOSS has adopted different strategies and
organized different types of events across the state to achieve its mission.
Every year a lot of students are getting triggered and empowered with the philosophical
aspects of FOSS through the initiatives of ICFOSS and FOSS Cells. We have witnessed a lot
of students building a strong and competitive career with the exposure they have gained in
working with FOSS Cells. ICFOSS extends the support and reaches out to the different
communities through various events, capacity building programs, conferences, women
empowerment programs, internship and project support for the student community, etc. As
per requirements, many capacity-building programs and seminars on EXPEYES, GNUKhata,
Scilab, ODOO, Blender, Latex, Drupal, etc were conducted with the agenda to propagate and
support the migration activities.
Almost all the FOSS Cells are initiating for I-Install campaigns, which aims at promoting
Linux/Ubuntu migration followed by a skill development workshop. Each and every FOSS Cell
is working independently with the same objective and creating the impact together.
Workshops on the topics such as Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Python, IoT, LateX,
Blender, advanced Ubuntu, git, etc are conducted every year according to the requirements
from the community. From 2015 alone ICFOSS has impacted more than 8500+ students alone.
The following links should provide more details: