The largest Gnome deployment: The Sao Paulo Telecentros

by Miguel de Icaza

The Sao Paulo Telecentros provide service to 150,000 users. Each Telecentro is running a small cluster of computers: a high-end server and 20 diskless workstations (Pentium class machines).

The diskless Linux workstations are hooked up to the server with a 100mb network, and each workstation boots in 20 to 30 seconds (this is from memory). Very fast. All applications run on a pretty big server, and OpenOffice is pre-loaded, so it starts in no time.

Each Telecentro offers service to about 3,000 users; People schedule time on the workstations in slots of half an hour or an hour.

They have written lots of tutorials in Portuguese in each of the Telecentros and cover the basics: the Gnome desktop, Star Writer, Star Calc, Galeon and Gnome Paint.

Today there are 72 telecentros open for a total of 107 planned. The cost of setting up a telecentro is 10,000 dollars.

During my visit to the Telecentro's headquarters, I heard a few new arguments I had not heard before about the advantages of free software:

  • Cost-wise: They were able to deploy 80 tele-centros instead of 20.
  • The government initiative of Digital-inclusion means that users that use the software setups today can take the software home and replicate *the exact* functionality.
  • Number of applications: There are 1,700 software programs available as part of the Debian Linux distribution which are both free and legal for the users to copy.

Posted on 29 Aug 2003