Role of Open Source Software in e-Governance


A. M. Parial1, Sonu Gupta2, Rishab Golecha3

1CEO, Chhattisgarh Infotech & Biotech Promotion Society, Raipur, India

2Senior Technical Officer, C-DAC, New Delhi, India

3Project Engineer, C-DAC, New Delhi, India

*Corresponding Author E-mail:;;




e-Governance has become significant tool now-a-days. Open source software are easily available and do not require license. The use of FOSS (Free Open Source Software) is pervasive and inevitable in most government organizations. A proactive approach to FOSS management is critical for maximizing the benefits. Using FOSS with an understanding of governance fundamentals to move forward action plan can be created. Looking at the success story and considering how well FOSS has worked for the CHOiCE (CHhattisgarh Online Information for Citizen Empowerment) project so far, we are sure many other projects and initiatives will be inspired to leverage FOSS and enjoy many of its benefits. This paper deals with the use of Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) as free open source software in e-Governance project in Chhattisgarh.





e-Governance implies technology driven governance. e-Governance is the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for delivering government services, exchange of information communication transactions, integration various stand-one systems and services between Government-to-Citizens (G2C), Government-to-Business (G2B), Government-to-Government (G2G) as well as back office processes and interactions within the entire government frame work.[1]. Through the e-Governance, the government services will be made available to the citizens in a convenient, efficient and transparent manner. The three main target groups that can be distinguished in governance concepts are Government, citizens and businesses/interest groups. [2].


Open source refers to a program or software in which the source is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge. [3]. BOSS (Bharat Operating System Solutions) GNU/Linux distribution a key deliverable of NRCFOSS (National Resource Centre for Free/Open Source Software), developed by C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) derived from Debian for enhancing the use of Free/Open Source Software throughout India.


The accessibility of BOSS Linux will have a constructive impact on the digital divide in India as more people can now have access to software in their local language to use the Internet and other information and communications technology (ICT) facilities. [4].


CHhattisgarh Online Information for Citizen Empowerment (CHOiCE) project is a Citizen (interface) portal services solution aimed at providing government to citizens (G2C) services with community participation wherein a private citizen becomes a notarized agent to handle government documents shown in Fig 1. [5]. the public private partnership model (covered under the IT Act 2000[6]) has been implemented in the project for appointing the CHOiCE agents. CHOiCE Agents own CHOiCE Centers. A thin client is deployed at every CHOiCE Center (Front End), which connects with centrally located Servers and Database. To ensure secure and authentic transactions PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) based smart card and biometrics is being used. The solution of CHOiCE project includes complete open source technology using Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) at the front end layer. The application is developed on JSP and application server is Apache Tomcat and database is on Oracle (installed on Sun Solaris).


Fig 1. Working culture of CHOiCE project catering citizen services at Chhattisgarh state



The screen shot below explains how CHOiCE user login to CHOiCE application using netscape web browser installed on BOSS Linux. The first level authentication to access application using ID explains in Fig 2.


Fig 2. CHOiCE portal login page for first level security authentication


The second level authentication on CHOiCE (shown in Fig 3) is to match the figure print using biometrika device and then allow user to access the CHOiCE services (The complete set of biometrika drivers are available for BOSS Linux bundled on client setup).


Depending on the role, the application filing and approval has been done which is followed by Digital Signing using the smartcard (ref Fig 4, Fig 5 & Fig 6). The smartcard drivers for BOSS GNU Linux has been available on client setup bundle. This smartcard carries all the information about user and roles.


Fig 3. The biometrika authentication (second level security) matching the figure impression of the user after the first level security is passed successfully


Fig 4. The third level security authentication asking for card type for digital signing


Fig 5. The third level security authentication asking for PIN for digital signing


Fig 6. USB smartcard reader



BOSS LINUX - A Comparative Analysis


The most obvious advantage of using BOSS Linux at CHiPS is the fact that it is free license to obtain, while Microsoft OS is available for a hefty fee. This is the prime reason for which CHiPS adopted BOSS Linux as the base operating systems to Government domains. Using BOSS Linux, CHiPS saved a minimum cost of Rs 7,000 - 10,000 per machine. (Price includes Operating System License, Server License, Anti Virus and other essential utility).

Virus Protection

The BOSS Linux operating system has managed to stay secure in the realm of widespread viruses, spyware and adware that comes to be the second pillar to adopt BOSS Linux at CHiPS project.


For a particular application / function on BOSS Linux, there is thousands of software available contributed by thousands of developer. The additional benefit that BOSS Linux user at Chhattisgarh gets: Document Reader, Open Office, Dictionary etc.


The fourth strongest pillar for CHiPS project at Chhattisgarh running on BOSS Linux is the machine hardware. BOSS Linux built under Debian supports 11 hardware architecture for which BOSS Linux evolve to be the universal operating system.


BOSS Linux a Monolothic kernel design architecture delivering high security, reliability with increased performance to the system. The power to provide dynamic authorization for applications and services (PAM)[7] BOSS Linux evolved as the Server model at CHiPS workstation catering around 3 server and 2 proposed integration.


Success with BOSS LINUX

The project was previously implemented to run on Windows and RedHat Linux at the front end (in every CHOiCE Center). But persistent operational problems with these operating systems during development/testing phases made the way for BOSS in rolled out version. The problems faced on biometrika device for which the whole set of driver need to be compiled and configuration files need to be placed at directory location. After installation of BOSS Linux at every CHOiCE Centers (located at government domains), CHOiCE has been reported for successful running since it got rolled out in Six districts in October 2008. CHOiCE project is successfully running in 6 district locations in Chhattisgarh i.e. Raipur, Durg / Bhilai, Rajnandgaon, Ambikapur/Sarguja, Bilaspur, Jagdalpur (Bastar).[8]. This includes planned participation of nearly 120 BOSS installed machines and training to about more than 400 persons. Since the rollout there has been consistently increasing usage and citizens are being issued various digitally signed certificates across all the 6district location. As of now, in all about 140 CHOiCE services can be activated. Currently remaining 12 districts are being rollout in this financial year by the CG government. Summing up all together, for CHOiCE project, presently BOSS Linux running 29 CHOiCE services, Biometrika Device, Smart Card Reader, printer, scanner, Java Run Environment, Digital Signing Application for Card Registration, Netscape web browser, Biometrika Application successfully. BOSS evolved as an esteemed model for its daily applicability in areas of documentation, Internet, Sounds and videos, Tools, System Tools, Admin, Graphics, Accessories, Universal Access, Other Applications for which it comes with bundled packages of Fire Starter, Pidgin, Iceweasel, Icedove, XChat, cheese, Brasero, Banshee, SoundRecorder, Open Office, Bulk Document Converter, BOSS Presentation Tool, Dictionary, Disc Usage Analyser, Disk Utilities, System Monitor, gparted, Synaptic, Control Center, xsane, gimp, gDesklets, Tomboy Notes, Onscreenkeyboard, Orca, Bluetooth, SCIM counting 18k+ other packages. With its inimitable support on Indian languages makes it more popular in the state there by bridging the gap for computer illiterates. Not only with the CHOiCE project the BOSS operating system is been evolved in the server integrations. The BOSS Linux at CHiPS servers provides the CMS (Content Management System) solutions for various departments.



Further rollout of CHOiCE is planned to cover entire state (Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur,Kanker, Kawardha, Dhamtari, Mahasamund, Korba, Janjgir-Champa, Raigarh, Koriya and Jashpur). Making services available at CHOiCE Centers in CSCc (Common Service Centers) under plan to establish Rural CHOiCE is being executed. Beyond CHOiCE there are many e-Governance initiatives the state government is focusing on. In the light of previous experiences BOSS is expected to have an upper hand for choice of operating system.


Gaining its popularity in Government domains CHiPS (CHhattisgarh Infotech and Biotech Promotional Society) organized various workshops on BOSS Linux in different departments both governmental and nongovernmental. The BOSS proliferation is also approaching in the field of education. The BOSS workshop has been proposed at various colleges and with the release of EduBOSS the scope has been extended to even schools.


Benefits to Open Governance

        When government meets citizen data expectations, they will be more responsive

        Transparency changes perception of how business is operated, in a good way

        Data quality improves from citizen feedback

        Reduced public disclosure requests


Learning Opportunities Age-specific tools:

BOSS Linux distributions/software groups designed specifically for certain age group like EduBOSS Linux targeting the school students to learn. These age specific tools are well suited for the group they target with graphics and language tuned for the age range. [9].



It is quite evident that with successful adaption in e-governance projects, BOSS is gaining popularity as a preferred operating system. It is slowly establishing itself as natural choice in the field of Education and Training. With huge investment expected in IT (Information Technology) and ITeS (Information Technology Enabled Services), the future for BOSS operating system looks bright and many other projects could get inspired and benefit from the BOSS success story.



[1]     Saugata B. and Masud R.R.(2007. Implementing E-Governance Using OECD Model (Modified) and Gartner Model (Modified) Upon Agriculture of Bangladesh. IEEE. 1-4244-1551-9/07.

[2]     Garson, D.G. (2006). Public Information Technology and E-Governance. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.


[4]     Bharat Operating System Solutions:


[6]     IT Act 2000:






Received on 10.02.2012 Accepted on 28.06.2012 All Right Reserved

Int. J. Tech. 2(1): Jan.-June. 2012; Page 21-24