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We do recieve lots of questions directly or via mailing lists, so here is an FAQ answering all of them in one place.

What is the need for a new distro?

Before we go to this question, first let us explain what a distro. or distribution is. A GNU/Linux distribution is nothing but a set of packages which is defined by some people for general purpose or for specific tasks so those people are served.

While there are many distributions which do a wonderful job for the respective niche they are based for, the complexity and uniqueness that India has needs a tailor-made solution.

You cannot have people from outside telling us what is good, we need Indian people who are both benefited by the Indian culture as well as who have seen the disadvantages in the technologies abroad. For e.g. most of the distributions rely on the premise that both power and connectivity are there whereas the Indian situation is far different. Even in a prosperous state like Maharashtra, in times of extreme summer, the power deficit is almost 30%. It is also a known fact that most of our telecom infrastructure is also at it's full capacity and for reasons we don't wish to go in now, the status quo is going to remain for quite sometime. This is where Hamara with its unique offerings should not just shine but also pave a path for other individuals to follow as well.

How hamara is different from distribution 'X'

Apart from the theme changes that are there, most distributions use English as their main medium of instruction and usage. We are in the process of making the top 5 Indian most-spoken languages at the same stage, same sphere as English. We also hope to bring out manuals in Indian languages as well and usher in lot of Indian content. For e.g. in today's scenario, let's say an artist can draw a nice theme, a nice design but knows only Hindi. For him/her to share his/her art either on any GNU/Linux distribution or elsewhere he needs to know the English language, we want to break that barrier so that a person sitting in rural U.P. or Bihar is able to share his/her art first on his system and then slowly through the world-wide web. It is because of such language barriers that you do not see more Indian content in other languages on the web. If we are able to make a person be comfortable using GNU/Linux in his or her language, there is a much larger possibility that he will create more content on the web which is what the web was created for in the first place.

Also, we might complement such efforts with specific web tools which are also designed to make it to create content in the top 5 Indian languages, but our first preference would be the desktop of course because that is where we think the need is most at this point of time.

How can you say that the Usability,accessibility are better in Hamara when it uses the same, stock gnome 3 and LXDE ?

While we would use the stock GNOME 3 or LXDE or any other desktop manager that is needed, that is the base on which we would work. We will modify those to work with our themes, fonts and do all that is necessary to make it appealing to our users. We would be upstreaming changes that the parent project might also benefit with, but most of our work would be at integrating the desktop managers, tools and themes to have as much efficiency as possible.

Are you adding any extra features to the gnome 3 and LXDE?

While atm our efforts are focussed on integrating all the good stuff that GNOME 3, GNOME Flashback, MATE and LXDE bring to the table but we are at the beginning of the project. Which means when we have a product that we take to our users, for sure we would get suggestions from our users and customers, which would be integrated in our product as well as sent to upstream for consideration. We would always strive to maintain good relationships with upstream and downstream communities.

5. Why can't you take the localization stuff for UI and Documentation from the mainstream?

The localization targets for UI and documentation are an ever-changing target. While we would sync with all upstream changes, there is also possibility of new content being pushed in. Any new content being pushed in would be upstreamed as far as possible, provided it is useful and acceptable to them.

There would be possible use-cases where content is generated which works for/within Hamara only, an instance where a tool is designed or used in context of Hamara Linux only. In such a case, event it would be not useful to upstream.

While we would attempt to abstract all and any documentation from hamara tools and UI to make it generic across platforms, this may or may not be possible or even sustainable in the short-term.

As our skills, expertise and understanding grows, we would certainly hope to upstream localization for UI and documentation as much as possible as it works to our benefit (the less the diff. , the less work for us in auditing, security etc.)

6. Why should someone contribute to hamara when a company reaps the benefits?

There are several reasons for people to contribute to hamara :-

a. While GNU/Linux is known nowadays, most businesses hesitate to use it because they need a person on the ground. While the community model works, it fails in providing real-time support to customers where a company is in a position to do that.

b. Implementation of any solution in commercial space means having and using customer's data. This data is private and that privacy needs to be maintained. A company is able to have processes in place so that leakage of private data do not take place at place or if they do necessary legal action can be taken against and client data is protected at all times. Both civil, criminal liability clearly defined in the company space and law.

c. Scalability - Any community has to perform two roles, development and support and both are chasing meagre resources of time, money and people. Again, as it is 'voluntary' in nature, the importance of a tool being packaged, updated or anything else would be more sensitive in a company structure than in community space. Look up 'Tragedy of the Commons' and 'The commons dilemma' as basis of this processes.

d. Reaction time :- Communities by default are slow to change because there needs to be a buy-in from most of the people. While at times, this is good as all different view points are taken, at times it could devolve to 'bike-shedding'/bike-shed effect of Parkinson's law of triviality which simply means that if a concept or an idea is understood by everyone, all will try to give some view-point on the topic, whereas important ideas or concepts which may be low-level and implementation oriented may not get enough attention.

e. Stable remuneration - At least in the Indian context, there are not many GNU/Linux distributions which are building a distribution and maintaining it. Having such opportunities will also help prospective employees, contractors and students to explore GNU/Linux and make it more useful and sustainable for all. There are paid positions for experienced GNU/Linux users, system administrators and developers.

While there are lot of advantages of a company, it could also suffer from 'narrow-vision' and other such maladies. So in order to be successful, we would use a combination of both Company and community to overcome issues.

7. Ubuntu seems available for ARM and Raspberry etc. How hamara differs here?

The difference would primarily be in packaging, looks, distribution and support. In the Indian market, it is not easy to get all of the things, the hardware, the software under one roof. Having our own store would make it easier to our customers to have the hardware and software under one roof. We do the hard work of packaging the software, putting it on the hardware and finally sending it to you as a reasonable cost. There is possibility of also commercial support on ARM if there is a need from the customers.

We would also like to partner with our customers if they make something with hamara+ARM in order to distribute their idea and product through our store as well which will free our customers from doing marketing and promotion and they can focus their energies on development.

Also, while Hamara ARM would be the first product on the store, we would be working towards enlarging our portfolio to include motherboards, GPU's, hamara designed machines etc. so our customers do not have to assemble machines on their own and be sure of hamara support out of box.

8. How can anyone see what are the changes you are making to upstream code and applications you are adding, with the code?

At the beginning all source and binary packages are available in the repository at archive.hamaralinux.org . In future, we might make them more detailed and separate once enough interest is built on different GNU/Linux distributions.

Our development repository is the git repository which is available at https://git.hamaralinux.org.

Again this looks bare-bones right now, but we have lot of ideas as to what needs to go in there, just need time, co-ordination both within Hamara and the community at large.

9. What are the supported softwares in hamara? Do you support custom software somebody writes? or all packages which are in the ubuntu repo?

We would support all packages which would be in hamara distribution. Whether the source is a specific distribution or custom written software, if it is in the hamara repository, we will support it. The only requirement for such software is that it should be under a copyleft license. While we may have some non-free (proprietary) software components but they would be few and far between.

The time-lengths of software would depend on the nature of the release (public) and all and any SLA's (Service Level Agreements) and support contracts agreed between hamara and its customers.

10. Tell us about your company and the team behind it.

Tech Blue Software is the company behind Hamara Linux. We are 100+ team comprising of people who are well-versed in software development and open source software / infrastructure support. We already provide support to companies using GNU/Linux in India and around the world. Going forward, we would also be making a 'Hamara foundation' which may have some assets of hamara as well as responsibilities which go with it. The exact nature of the foundation, roles and responsibilities would be shared at appropriate time.

11. what are the contribution activities anyone can do?

We suffer the same issues that any FOSS distribution has. As development in FOSS is very fast with no chance of it slowing down any-time soon we need contributions in form of documentation, translation of the wiki, various help documents, the User Interface to the 5 major Indian languages to testing (QA), packaging of various softwares and development of hamara itself .

In particular though, any improvement in support for low cost hardware on hamara will be favourably looked upon.

13. If I contribute for Ubuntu/Debian/Fedora I get global recognition and Ubuntu/Debian/Fedora team membersip. What are the take-aways for anyone who contributes in any of the above areas?

While it is given that all and any contributions to Hamara would make a person eligible for hamara team membership, we would also be offering various types of employment opportunities and contracts to worthy individuals. We are specifically looking for individuals who will help us in hamara development as well as help us in building and enlarging support networks both in India and the larger Indian sub-continent.

Apart from that, we also do want to grow grassroot networks who would help people make their own GNU/Linux communities and bring ideas which can benefit growth of hamara as well as the communities. This would not only deepen hamara's reach but also GNU/Linux in the long-run as well as all softwares and communities. There is possibility of such grassroot workers/developers to be moulded as local role-models so more people try to emulate them.

14. Will your provide support If I plan to use Hamara Linux?

Our primary means of support are the hamara wiki (which you are part-reading now), the hamara mailing list and the hamara IRC channel. We are in the process of setting the hamara IRC page and a web-frontend which will make it easier for you to reach us. We would be happy to assist you.

15. I want to use Hamara Linux for my business but am worried about the support.

We, at Hamara Linux, are fully commited to provide you the best support and solutions for you business and when it comes to support for Hamara Linux who can provide you better support than us. We have various commercial support contracts which takes care of your response times, SLA's and guarantees. All you need to do is just fill a short form here