The division calls itself a center of excellence for free and open source software offering educational materials, public sessions with speakers (including Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation) from the open source sphere and acting as an advocate for open source technology in general in the region.
The mission is put forth clear as a vision to reduce the digital divide where Linux and open source solutions serve as an economic alternative in scenarios where budget dollars are tight.
Open source has certainly proved over the last decade that operations large and small can deploy sophisticated platforms without the significant cost of proprietary software licensing. These efforts were mirrored by Sun Microsystems in releasing an open source Solaris. At today’s conference call announcing Open Solaris, Sun representatives (including CEO Scott McNealy and prodigal son Tom Goguen, back fresh from a stint with Apple) stated that in part the motivation in bringing the OS out free and open source is to provide enterprise-class capabilities in developing countries where software licensing costs can stifle development and innnovation.
This is certainly fascinating seeing the UN in part fund this activity and perhaps we will see the seeds of this effort begin to spring up globally within the groups operations.