The Team Members of the project include major Tamil
writer Sujatha Rangarajan, Ma SivaKumar,
BSG LeatherLink, N Jayaradha, Dishnet DSL, C K
ShanthaKumar, ICICI Bank and K M Leena, Sterling
Infotech . They work on the Project as volunteers.
On the open invitation of Writer Sujatha through his
weekly column in the Ananda
Vikatan about 45 persons volunteered to
translate on Sundays. DishnetDSL Ltd. allotted twenty
computers at one of their browsing centers solely for the
translation work. Students of MOP Vaishnava College
volunteered for one week, translating KDE
The bulk of the translation was done by students of
Loyola College. They spent their vacation in Dec 2003 and
again in May 2004 to translate KDE, Red Hat and a part of
GNOME. Over 100,000 strings have been translated in the
past 6 months. Volunteers have done all the translations
till date. An initial CD release was made in Feb 2004
that included localized version of OpenOffice.org, KDE
& the Tamil keyboard driver. The contents of the CD
can be accessed from here
Please see contributors for a full list. For
more information about the project please see FAQ
From the Press Release for
zha-kanini introduction function on 01 February 2004,
at Loyola College Hall, Chennai, TamilNadu:
Will a Tamil PC Sell? Is there a real need for a
TamilPC or is it just hype? Can I afford it? Is English
knowledge a prerequisite to own a PC? Would a
not-so-computer-savvy person like me find it easy?
Attendees of zha-kanini introduction function on 01
February 2004, came with dozens of such questions in
their minds. Lawrence Sundaram Hall at Loyola College
Chennai was filled with curious faces from diverse
backgrounds. They had assembled to witness the launch
of Zha Kanini, a Linux-based all-Tamil PC developed by
TamilPC Team, Chennai.
Many of the 250-strong attendees had come on the open
invitation of Writer Sujatha Rangarajan in Ananda
Vikatan, a popular Tamil weekly, to have a look at
zha-kanini. Zha kanini is an answer to the computing
needs of not-so-computer-savvy, non-English-speaking
value-conscious segment of the Tamil population. A good
number of student enthusiasts, press people also
attended the meeting.
The agenda of the meeting was to showcase the
95%-complete Tamil version of Linux KDE Desktop and to
gauge the response levels of various segments to such a
product, apart from seeking funds for further
development. With the help of volunteers from various
fields, Zha-kanini Team has managed to accelerate the
translation process which was collaboratively done by
various individuals and groups across the globe at a
Mr Ma Sivakumar explained the concept of Open Source
and how developing countries can leverage on this.
"Free in open source means freedom, and not
free-of-cost", he clarified. "Since the ongoing
Internationalization process was going at a sluggish
pace, it was the need of the hour to integrate
resources from various fronts to accelerate and keep
Ms Jayaradha, of the zha-kanini team welcomed the
audience with a brief introduction to the product. She
had spearheaded the accelerated translation process by
running a series of translathons by Tamil & Linux
enthusiasts and roping in MOP Vaishnav & Loyola
College students into the task.
Mr Rangarajan (better known as Sujatha), who has
been pivotal in the entire project, explained about
the product and its scope. He began his speech
describing how it all started from his article in
Vikatan 'Dollar bait by Bill Gates'. He explained how
the translation team had worked on intuition and
user-friendliness than translating verbatim. The
mammoth task of translating 70,000 strings was made
possible due to his able guidance and tireless
efforts of volunteers.
The mission of the zha-kanini team is to bring out
an easy-to-use all-Tamil computer to benefit the Tamil
masses without English knowledge and Computer literacy.
The team which set out its journey as TamilPC team has
branded its product 'zha-kanini' named after the
special alphabet 'zha' in Tamil (kanini is the Tamil
word for Computer).
Mr Shanthakumar outlined the roadmap for zha discussing
the market potential for Tamil Computers. IDC
predicting a whopping 30 Lakhs PC Sales for the year
and 52% expected to be in non-metros, there is huge
market potential for a low-cost, all-Tamil computer, he
illustrated. Zha team solicited active or passive
investment support from companies with interest in
Tamil, Computing or Philanthropy. State/Central
Governments are also welcome, Shanthakumar added.
The question & answer session that followed the
presentations was an eye-opener breaking several
apprehensions of users. Queries relating to technical
aspects of Linux, Tamil fonts, usage, translation bugs
were also answered.
Mr Hariram demonstrated zha kanini. A browser, a
mail-client, OpenOffice suite and a few games were
shown. In its current form, zha is nothing but a
completely localised KDE desktop. But the team is
planning for simplification of the Desktop so that a
layperson without computer knowledge can find it
intuitive and easy.
Mrs Leena explained the CD-based installation
procedure. She demonstrated installation of Zha KDE,
Zha OpenOffice, and Zha Keyboard. The CD is just an
interim solution till zha evolves further. The team is
planning for factory integration of Hardware-OS, as
Apple does (Sun is also planning for the same).
The zha-kanini CD was released by Mr Sujatha Rangarajan
and the first copy was received by Professor
Krishnamurthy. The team also felicitated the students
and management of MOP Vaishnav College and Loyola
College for their contribution.
At the end of the function, many people were seen
buying CDs to try out zha kanini KDE. The crowd
dissolving after the function seemed convinced that zha
is their dream machine: an affordable, easy-to-use,
intuitive and yes, all-Tamil Computer.