Getting hold of software, even freeware, is a significant challenge in the developing world. Bandwidth is such a precious commodity in these places that even modest downloads are beyond the budget of most people.
The map above reveals the problem. It shows the density of IPv4 addresses around the world, a useful proxy for the density of internet servers. Clearly the internet is not yet evenly distributed.
And therein lies the problem. In most parts of the world, a free operating system that is several gigabytes in size will take too long and cost too much to download. Consequently, much of the best freeware simply hasn’t spread to those who would benefit from it most.
That looks set to change, at least in part, thanks to some neat work by Thierry Monteil at the Université Montpellier II in France. This guy has devised a cheap and simple way to transmit large software packages without using the internet and at rates that eclipse all but the best internet connections.