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Greetings Afrik-ITers!

Lishan Adam writes from Djibouti:

> Fourth lesson: Linux! We do not need $200,000 worth equipment to set
> up a full IP. Spread Linux throughout Africa and wait for miracles!

Would you recommend Linux for all ISP's?  Sounds appropriate for big
ISPs, especially those managing an international satellite link or
major fiber connection.  But what about small ISPs?  I'm particularly
interested in them because of their potential (often not realized
unfortunately) for offering high-quality customer service.

For example, imagine a small ISP, with say 50 customers, providing
excellent customer support from a small storefront, with a leased
line connection to a major ISP.  The options for ISPs of this sort
range from Unix on a Sparc, through Linux on a powerful PC, to a
proprietary package on a WinNT or Win95 PC, to a shareware suite on
a Win95/NT/3.1 PC.  I'm not personally familiar with options on a Mac
platform, but I know Apple has several.

As for Linux, I've received quite a few calls from desperate small
system operators unable to decipher those interminable configuration
strings and indecipherable "man" pages.  And I've watched "experts"
poring over obtuse documentation.  In the USA, there's a broad
network of user-support groups for Linux, which I suspect does not
exist in most African cities, apart from Johannesburg perhaps.

When I reach Yaounde in about two weeks I'll be curious to see how
they're managing there with a new system based on Linux.  I hear they
started with a few key technical staff already expert in Unix, which
probably made the task easier.

Cheers!
Jeff @ Nairobi

AfricaLink -- http://www.info.usaid.gov/alnk
Tel 1-703-235-5415
Fax 1-703-235-3805