Okay, so this is strictly speaking not about research, but it has interesting applications for developing countries. There is a nice article about Ubuntu and Shuttleworth (its sponsor or benefactor) in this Sunday's NY Times (see link below). Essentially, Ubuntu is a open-source operating system based on Linux. The difference from previous flavours of Linux is that it is very easy to deal with and has a very nice interface. I have it on both of my desktops (home and work), on my new eee 1000 pc, my old lap top and a version of it runs my mail, web, music and file server at home.

What really makes it interesting for developing countries, however, is the price: USD 0. You can download it for free and install it for free. In addition, there is a substantial amount of help available if you do run into trouble. Combine this with other open source programs like OpenOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird and a user in a developing country can save a substantial amount of money and not fall foul of the anti-piracy laws. Of course, it will not get you an internet connection or even electricity if you do not have that, but then again neither will any of the other operating systems.

A Software Populist Who Doesn't Do Windows By ASHLEE VANCE A version of the Linux operating system called Ubuntu represents the fastest-growing threat to Microsoft in developed countries.