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Millionaire cosmonaut takes on Microsoft

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South African magnate Mark Shuttleworth has already conquered space. Now he's set his sights on cyberspace where he hopes to challenge Microsoft.

Shuttleworth made his fortune by selling an Internet company he started in his Cape Town garage. He then spent $20 million on becoming the world's second space tourist in 2002, and the first African in orbit.

Now, he is taking on U.S. technology behemoth Microsoft by pioneering free computer software that he hopes will revolutionize the way computers are used, and make the Internet accessible to millions in Africa and other emerging markets.

"Ultimately open source is the platform of the future," Shuttleworth told Reuters. "It's one of those enormous waves that is taking over everything -- like the Internet."

Shuttleworth's "Ubuntu" family of software programs is based on the Linux open source operating system, which works on the principle that software is free and can be modified at no cost by anyone to suit local and specific needs -- unlike rival Microsoft's proprietary software.

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