My 2 paisas

Posts Tagged ‘FSMK

I am teaching them about internet. I am enjoying a lot.

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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.

Last weekend, CMRIT GLUG along with IBM and FSMK conducted a 2 day workshop, “FOSS for Budding Developers”. This workshop was completely technical in nature and among the many FOSS workshops that I have attended, one of the most useful one for me. The professionalism of IBMers could be seen during the workshop which was also the main reason for the huge success of this workshop.

The workshop covered the following topics,
Day 1

  • Linux Kernel Developement
  • Eclipse IDE and how to develop plugins in it
  • Day 2

  • Linux Test Project
  • Apache web server and developing applications in it.
  • OpenPegasus
  • I was interested in Linux Kernel Developement and the Linux Test Project sessions. I had taken my laptop to make the best use of the workshop.

    I have been using GNU/Linux since last 2 years, but never did I get the courage to compile and build the Linux kernel. Only around 6 months back, I had for the first time with help of Naresh, installed the new linux kernel on my system using apt-get. The main reason for not trying out building my own linux kernel was that I was afraid that I would loose all the data I had in my system. However for the workshop I had decided that I will try it out. So when the Linux Kernel session started, I was very excited.
    In the pre-lunch session, we were introduced to various tools that any Hacker would require while trying to read the source code or build from source code. We were introduced to gcc, gdb, make, makefiles, strace,ltrace and cscope tools. Though I knew little about gcc and gdb, I realized the importance of the other tools. I particularly was marveled by “cscope” and “strace”. Optimized use of cscope will surely decrease the time taken to go through the source code for any developer. I remember it had taken me around 2 months just to go through the Evolution source code. If I had used cscope then, it would hardly take me 2-3 days for the same. We were given a very brief introduction to cscope during the session, but I will learn more about it myself and write about it in the near future.
    The pre-lunch session thus prepared the ground for us to venture in to building the linux kernel.

    Post-lunch we started with Building the Linux Kernel 2.6.33.2 version. I was amazed by the simplicity involved in building the kernel. It is just a 7 step procedure, if you are building the kernel for your own desktop or laptop.

    It took around half an hour to execute. After this I just need to update my grub if it has not been done by the above steps already. Just confirm it by having a look at /boot/grub/grub.cfg. If the new kernel lines are added then you are ready to Reboot and use the new kernel which was just built.
    Thats all.

    After booting into the new kernel, we started writing simple codes for new kernel modules and drivers. Again the simplicity of writing a new module or driver and loading it amazed me. However a lot more has to be explored and I will definitely try them in future.

    On day 2, I attended the Linux Testing Project workshop. It was again wonderfully planned by the IBM team. We were first given a brief introduction to the history and importance of the Linux Testing Project with the team making it very clear that the testing cycle is as important as the development cycle. After this we had a hands on session.

    In the hands on session, we started with building the Linux Testing Project in our systems. Than the IBM team had come with some tasks for us. We were asked to run a test case which was written such that it fails intentionally. This was done so that we could study the test case and come up with a solution as to why that particular test case was failing. I had teamed up with Saket and together we were very close to finding the solution. It was quite fun and really a good Hacker workshop.

    There were many interesting points that we noted while trying the Linux Testing Project. One among them was, I was using Linux Kernel 2.6.31.x where as Saket was using Linux Kernel 2.6.33.2. So when we executed the Containers Testcases on our systems we found that some test passed successfully in my system but failed in Saket’s system. This clearly showed us that Linux Kernel 2.6.33.2 had some bugs. We did not dig into the matter due to lack of time. However I need to check it soon.
    I have skipped lot of technical details here as I will give the technical details later when I try it again myself.

    It has been one of the most useful weekends I have spent. Not only did I enjoy the weekend to its fullest, I could also make sure that it was fruitful. The weekend started right from Friday evening. I left office at around 7 and met Naveen and went with him to FSMK office. There while watching the opening match of IPL season 3, KKR vs DC, we planned the events for the weekend. We discussed for around 2 hours and divided the tasks among all the FSMK volunteers. We had planned few run-up events before the National Conference on Open Source which is going to be held on 20-21 March. Two of the main events that we had planned were a freedom walk of 2 groups of students on Garuda Mall and Jayanagar on Saturday and the release of “namma debian” and a photo gallery of Mani’s art in AC3 on Sunday.

    So as decided during the meeting, early morning on Saturday, me and Naveen went to 3 different engineering colleges on Bannerghatta Road and met the concerned authorities over there and asked their permission to stick posters on the notice boards and also asked if during the weekend we could talk personally to students and get some on-the-spot registrations for the conference. Luckily we got positive response from all the 3 engineering colleges but unfortunately since all the colleges had holiday on Saturday we could not directly talk to students. However I am sure we will follow it up during this week. We finished visiting the colleges in the afternoon and then we geared up for the Freedom walk on Jayangar. We had decided to meet YDIT students at 4:00 at Jayangar 4th Block bus stand. So at around 4:30 we, around group of 10, started our Freedom Walk carrying the banner of National Conference and distributing pamphlet. We tried to explain to anyone who showed even little interest in discussing with us about the event. I am pretty sure we were able to distribute pamphlets to around 200 people and also explain to around 50-75 people personally and in detail about the conference. The group at Garuda Mall which was a much bigger group of around 35 students must have had a much more impact on people and must have really caught a lot of attention. The Freedom Walk stopped at around 7 after which I went back to my aunt’s house where in I again enjoyed a lot and celebrated the birthday of Meghna with other PG girls at midnight.

    On Sunday, I met other FSMK volenteers at AC3 in the evening and we started preparing for the event. There was lot of excitement among the slum people. They helped us in all the ways they could in organizing the stage and cleaning up the venue. By around 5:30 we had around a group 75 people other than FSMK volenteers with atleast 30-40 children. The event started with a inspiring speech by G Ramakrishna, Editor of Hosatu. He told people how they could change their lives by working hard and giving education to their children instead of leaving everything for the fate to decide for them and complaining about all the problems in their life. After that, a small boy gave a wonderful speech about Mr. B.R. Ambedkar’s life and also how all the holy-books of different religions regards the gift of knowledge and education much higher than any other worldly gifts. He explained these facts by reciting specific examples from Bhagvad Gita and Kuraan. This was followed by the main event of the program which was the release of “Namma Debain” cd. It is a flavor of debian in Kannada language which we plan to distribute in villages throughout Karnataka so that people who are only literate in Kannada language can also use computers for their day-to-day life without any hassle. This was followed by a brief demo of the Namma Debian where in we tried to explain to the slum people how easy it was now for them to use computers now. This was followed by a display of different pictures made by Mani using the GIMP software. Then we had few cultural activities by the slum children. It was a great event and I was proud to be a part of it. I could see the impact that AC3 was having in the slum and this made us more determined to start such centers through out the city.


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