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Ping Wales arrow Software arrow UK Linux Open Source Awards 2005
Welsh flag flies high at UK Linux and Open Source Awards

Welsh talent was recently recognised at the fiercely contested UK Linux and Open Source Awards 2005. Powys County Council and Swansea-based business management software provider, CGram Software were among the winners, while Welsh Linux guru, Alan Cox, was given a lifetime achievement award for his work on the Linux Kernel.

The Best Public Sector Linux/Open Source Implementation award went to the Powys Schools project run by Powys Council. The county is no stranger to open source principles, as back in 1997 it undertook the implementation of a Linux server in each of its primary schools.

Last year, a server upgrade was badly needed and the Welsh Assembly Government provided the resources to deploy new hardware through its Lifelong Learning Network. Following a successful three-month pilot with two local schools, the rest of the new servers were installed in 110 primary schools in the county, between November 2004 and February 2005.

Nick Talbott, IT policy and planning manager, Powys Council, says: "We are delighted to have the award. It illustrates our best practice in meeting educational objectives. We want to make sure that every child in every school has access to electronic mail and internet and teachers are able to use the internet as a teaching resource. It's also showing the effective use of free software in local authority environment. We will continue to use the project, as it delivers very well."

CGram Software won the Best Business Solution award. It was a runner-up last year in the same category. Its crowned product, CGram Enterprise, is a full business management product, aimed at any size of business. It runs a wide range of business functions such as payroll, stock inventory, CRM, sales and e-commerce.

Paul Davies, managing director at CGram Software, comments: "We are very proud of our product. We are quite lucky to be up there and we are very flattered and to be named as winners alongside the likes of IBM, Nokia, DreamWorks and HP is just a massive achievement."

Commenting on his recent appointment as managing director at CGram, Davies
says the company is growing so quickly that it really needed someone who was not just experienced in technology but also in business management. His predecessor, Emrys Jones, has moved to a more technical role and is now the chairman of the board.

November promises to be very busy for the company as it has been shortlisted for the Accountancy Age Awards 2005 and the 13th annual Computing Awards, competing respectively for the Mid Range Software Package of the Year and Business Software Supplier of the Year categories.

Alan Cox, who was also a finalist for the UK Individual Contribution to Linux/Open Source award, received a lifetime achievement award for his near 15-year long contribution to the Linux kernel.

Reflecting upon the use of Linux and Open Source in Wales, Cox says: "At the moment most software is controlled by a single proprietary vendor and only that vendor can really support the product if they choose to even bother. In the open source world anyone can offer support and services locally. You also don't need a lot of capital to get started. Both of these are really quite important for Wales where there is a lot of rejuvenation left to achieve and money is short."

He adds: "It also helps in other ways - it empowers the users of the software. It is up to large proprietary vendors if they decide to support Welsh language programs for example and most do not, or make fairly token gestures. In the free software world it is possible for anyone to translate software and as a result we have an excellent Welsh language desktop and complete office suite available for free."

As for the Welsh presence at the awards, Cox comments: "Powys Council won a well deserved award for their use and deployment of open source. In fact Wales did quite well considering most of the other awards went to multinationals."

Other winners included:
  • Clockwork Software for Best Open Source Server Application
  • Nokia's 770 for Best Embedded Linux/Mobile Initiative
  • HP and Dreamworks for Best Use of CGI with Open Source
  • RedHat Global File System for Best Data Storage Solution
  • HP for Best System Builder
  • IBM for Best Linux Hardware
  • SpreadFirefox for Best Marketing Campaign
  • Eclipse and GCC for Best Open Source Developer Tool Category

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