My 2 paisas

Posts Tagged ‘FOSS

On 28th May, I attended Ilug-Bengaluru meeting. Deependra had called for the meetup and he had asked if FSMK office could be used as the venue. Since there was no other event planned in the office at the time, we were glad to provide the venue. Since the event clashed with the samudaya campaign event, only me and Prabodh sir from FSMK could attend the meetup. We were joined by Hobbes, Deependra and Harish from the ilug-Bengaluru. From FSMK’s side, we informed about the different events that we were conducting in the colleges, especially the success we had in St. Joseph with a course on free software technology.

Later, the discussion turned towards the importance of having a noname.conf again this year considering the success it had last year. Last year, the conference had got around 50 attendees and it had diverse topics for discussions ranging from startups to localization to discussion about various distributions. It also featured the screening of the Blender movie, Sintel.

Clearly, for a city like Bengaluru, which has been hosting almost all the major conferences in FOSS domain, like, National conference on Free software by FSMK, Pycon in MSRIT, FOSS.IN in Nimhans Convention Centre, GNOME Asia in Dayanand College, KDE conf in RVCE, Ubuntu Developer Day by Canonical, there is a need to organize regular meetups to keep the people connected apart from just during the events.

Hobbes proposed to conduct second noname.conf on August 27th, which is considered as the anniversary week for Linux. The plan is to target around 150-200 participants during the noname.conf. Like last year, noname.conf will be open to anybody and everybody to come and discuss anything associated with FOSS technology.

The noname.conf will then be followed by a major FOSS conference in Novemeber which will target audience and speakers from all over India.

For such a plan to get implemented, it is necessary that before noname.conf, FOSS evangelists regularly meet. Hobbes gave the example of meetups in 2003 which managed to get around 50 participants every meetup. Clearly if in past when there was little awareness of GNU/Linux amongst people, if the meetups managed to get an attendance of 50 people every single time, managing the same at present time shouldnt be a difficult task. The only bottleneck we identified was the current split in the community in Bangalore. The split makes sense as each group have their own way of seeing FOSS technology and its impact. However we also need to make sure that the split does not inhibit new comers to join. Currently there is a lack for a local platform for new comers to come and learn the technology. Even though the groups are individually trying to make such platforms, if we get together, the impact will much more profound.

Hence we call upon members of all the groups which share the idea of spreading and using FOSS at all levels to join us during our meetups. The meetup is planned to be conducted on every last weekend of the month. The venue and the exact date and time will be broadcasted in all mailing lists as soon as they are fixed. We hope to see active participation from all FOSS enthusiasts and veterans.

Lately after I have become a part of a new team, as usual I have been very expressive about my affinity towards FOSS. And again as always, I end up arguing the pros of FOSS in all aspects of software. However, sometimes I am forced to think why exactly does FOSS matter to me, personally. I am usually a follower just because I find someone else doing it and feel that even I should do it. This has been the case with most of my hobbies like Coin and stamp collection. Probably my likeness towards FOSS was also due to that. My first 5 semesters in college was always spent playing AOE or watching movies. However with the start of sixth semester, I started getting conscious about campus placements. As one of my close friend was deep into FOSS, it was very easy for me to enter FOSS world with his help, especially with 24 hours internet available. After entering into the world of linux, what attracted me most was the adventurous ride of trying out different things with being skeptical of Virus or formatting. Since everything was available online, I was able to try many different things. I kept trying different linux based distributions, different replacements of popular softwares used in Windows and trying to convince others to use the same. I remember me having to beg my friends to give me their laptops to play AOE as I didnt have Windows installed in mine. I also tried various ways to run AOE and other popular games on linux. However due to lack of dedication and discipline, I never came out with any thing productive or any contribution to FOSS. So while leaving college all I had learnt was to debug various simple problems in linux and chatting and talking to people on IRC and mailing lists.

After college, I joined a company completely dedicated to philosophy of FOSS and again my adventure of trying out many things for one particular problem continued. I was also close to making some meaningful contribution but then again I had to leave it in between. However the 8 months spent in the company were very useful to develop my personal skill set.  Not only was I able to get a good understanding of PERL, I was able to understand how big softwares are written and how problems in them are debugged. I also wrote few plugins in perl but since I left in between probably they were never included in the main stream project.

At this point of my life, after leaving the company I was in a very bad situation where I had no expertise in any specific domain and was a Jack of all trades. But it was not good enough and I had to struggle for 3 months before I could find a job for myself. The job had nothing to do with FOSS but I had no choice at that moment. But the new job gave me initially lot of time to again install Ubuntu on my (office) laptop and also get good internet connectivity using which I could continue my adventure of swimming in ocean of FOSS world and pick small fishes whenever possible. Along with the new job, I got engaged with a parallel activity of volunteering at FSMK. This was very important for me as this was the only means for me to connected to actual people contributing to FOSS. It also provided me very specific examples of how FOSS has helped change lives of so many people. This gave me the oxygen which I needed to keep swimming in the FOSS world. It also gave me an immense confidence of propagating FOSS to other people. Till I got connected to FSMK, I was propagating FOSS more because I used it and It made more sense then Windows as the options and features as a desktop OS were so much. However after getting into FSMK, I was able to see the real impact of FOSS philosophy. Seeing slum children use FOSS to nurture their creativity, watching blind people use FOSS to interact more easily with other world and compete with normal world. All this would never have been possible if FOSS was not there. And that is the real reason why I promote FOSS. I am not bothered with my freedom and my right to view the source code. But I want to make sure that everyone in the world gets a chance to showcase his creativity, improve his lifestyle and grow in his career. This can only be done with FOSS. All the proprietary companies can come up with massive plans of donating computer hardware and softwares free of cost just so that they can show it as their Corporate responsibility but none of these companies are going to cut their profits so that they can make any real difference to people’s lives. And this is why FOSS is the messiah of  the world of economically challenged and differently enabled people.

However the Mahabharat has just begun and probably this is the toughest time for FOSS. Because most of the developers of FOSS have become complacent towards the actual reason of existence of FOSS. FOSS is becoming more and more volunteering than a necessity and this might lead to its end. As there is a very strong force of profit and capitalism driving proprietary softwares but FOSS is driven only due to their philosophy. If the philosophy is compromised, then it will only be a matter of time before proprietary companies gulp the FOSS world. We are already seeing many FOSS companies getting acquired. Let us see what 2011 has in store for the FOSS world.

Please check this image and see if it suits ILU.
I have modified it from the original image which I found here, http://www.jamesward.com/2009/11/25/flex-builder-on-linux-update/
Hence I dont know if I am actually allowed to modify and use that image. If there are any copyright issues, I will be glad to remove this image from here.

Created for ILU(With Shadow)

Image for ILU (Without Shadow)

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Courtesy: Debayan-It was actually his idea as to why Governments should waste so much of money for softwares which is required by each state.

Pooja-She introduced me to this portal.

I have registered my grievance in the Public Grievance Portal successfully and now waiting for their reply and action.

My registration number is MINIT/E/2009/00382

Following is my grievance description:

I feel sorry to see that the hard earned money of people which is collected as income tax by the Central and State Governments and which is also one of the biggest source of revenue is being wasted. Each and every IT Department of all 28 states spend money to build same softwares for their various work. Each state has a Income Tax Department which needs a software to regulate collection of Income Tax. Each state has a Agriculture Department which needs to keep record of all the cultivable land and the different grains being grown there. Each state has a Electricity Department which needs a software to regulate distribution of electricity to different cities and collection of electricity bill in different cities. Each department of the state needs a software to look after their mailing solutions so that each department has its own mail server. Each state has various government schools which all require softwares like operating system, office related softwares and various study softwares for students To sum it all, each of the 28 states of India spends huge money every year to get softwares for each department and maintain these softwares. That means, citizens of India pay 28 times for just one software that is built only once by the software company and resold to every state. This is highly illogical. A simple solution for this is to make all the State Governments to use Free and Open Source Softwares(FOSS). Each government will pay the software companies only to customize the software according to the state needs. This will cost them only 10% of what they are already paying. Since FOSS can be used and customized by any software company this will give a chance for small companies to enter the market and also lead to a very fair competitive market. I hope proper action will be taken to see that such huge amount of money is not wasted and using FOSS becomes compulsory practice in all government institution. Please solve this grievance which is not only mine but also of every Indian citizen as soon as possible.


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