Vol. 5 Num 147 Wed. October 20, 2004  

Tech Focus
Ekush OS, an alternative to MS Windows

EKUSH Operating System (OS), a projected alternative to Microsoft Windows and a clone to Windows NT, is in its early stages of development.

The new system will be based on open source codes. Many of the developers on the 30-member development team, led by Shamsuddoha Ranju, senior executive engineer of Siemens Bangladesh Ltd, are based in the US and work at IBM, Microsoft and Linux.

A press conference sponsored by Datahead Pvt. Ltd was held on October 13 at the Bangladesh Computer Samity (BCS) conference to introduce the new system.

At the press conference, Ranju explained that computer users have very few choices other than Microsoft OS, which is the most acknowledged OS throughout the world at present. Several efforts to build a new OS have been made in the past, but these systems had not achieved full-functional status as result of technical difficulties.

"Thus we decided to take the effort to develop a clone of Windows that will run all existing Windows applications," says Ranju.

A notable advantage of Ekush OS is its size, which is a mere 40 to 50 MB. The development team holds high hopes that this will allow Ekush to achieve a vast market in the portable electronics sector.

"We are already receiving proposals from some internationally-acclaimed PDA companies," cites Ranju.

The OS will come with several Bangla fonts in addition to the regular font types. "Once the Unicode for the Roman fonts are functional, it will just be a matter of user interface translation," says Ranju.

"While the Roman-key user types in English, the mid layer translation from Unicode to non-Unicode will define each stroke in Bengali," he added.

The user of Ekush OS will find a shell for a Bengali version programming language easier than that of Visual Basics, where he or she will use Bengali word commands instead of the regular English version commands.

Sun Microsystems, one of the leading US-based software companies, has offered to provide the Ekush development team with any Java support applets in due exchange for an Ekush OS version that provides full support for Sun's Java applications.

Ekush will carry out implementation of other different subsystems such as Linux and Mac. A 3-D desktop environment will further attempt to build a better user experience. Ekush has a built-in 32-bit VGA driver, which in case of a faulty driver will replace it as default.

The kernel for Ekush, the device driver, as well as system executives and application layer is based on the existing Windows 32-bit model.

"Because of XP compatibility, all device drivers, service components and applications will be run on Ekush OS," states Ranju. As Ekush is being built on XP technology, it will also provide a full support to MS 'Longhorn' due in 2006.

Ranju cited that the team will wait until the final version of the OS to put a price tag on it. The first version of Ekush is currently available from as a free download.

Licensing is one of the problems the Ekush team is expecting to face. As the project is not based in the US, Ekush OS will not be able to obtain the license banner of General Public License (GPL), the US-based licensing company.

In Bangladesh a local patenting regulation does not exist. The Ekush development team are hoping a new local governmental regulation on licensing, currently in the works, will pass before the launching of its final product.

The Ekush development team, most of whose members reside in the US, have set a 24-month road map at the end of 2003. The team already has a list of all the APIs of Windows XP, but most of next year will be spent on rebuilding their own versions of these APIs until the final release, expected at the end of 2005.

From Left: A screenshot of the startup screen of the Ekush OS, Shamsuddoha Ranju making a presentation on the OS at the press conference. PHOTO: STAR