Jul 4, 2009

fosjam 2009, jaipur

Its been not more than 3 months since the inception (March 2009) of linux users group jaipur, but yet the activities/workshops organized by lugj have taken the whole town or rather a lot more than that by storm. From activities ranging from install fests and countless talks/workshops given by lug members in colleges around jaipur, raised the need of a bigger event to take place and give a chance to the yet ignorant and neglected parts of india in terms of free and open source to join the main stream community and spread what it is meant for i.e. freedom. With many active members of communities like fedora, mozilla, wordpress and sun, and also contributers to the same in lugj, the task once started was not very difficult to achieve. And soon with the help of a local college lugj announced its first majot all india event named FOSJAM short for Free and Open Source Software Jaipur Meet.

The event was pretty much planned in 10 days because workshop hungry lugj couldn't wait for 4 months without and activity since all colleges are off during summer and the heat is a killer in these parts. So though short with time we decided to go forward with the event and did our best to reach out to as many people as possible. And more over we were fortunate enough to have speakers and free software developers like shakthi kanan, vivek khurana and atul jha agreeing to come over at such a short notice.

Since it was the first time something to happen on this scale so the event was pretty much planned for the audience in rajasthan who are still new to foss, so all sessions were kept as hands on in the computer labs provided by the college (JECRC – Jaipur Engg College and Research Center). The workshops were more inclined towards hands on sessions. So the first task was to free all the college computers and install fedora on them, (which was an obvious choice) so we installed fedora in over 90 machines, here for a report on the installation day.

D-Day :-

The event received more than 347 registrations and more than 280 people turned up for the event. The sun was not quite so friendly that day with temperature ranging much over 45C but it did not damn the spirit of freedom in people who thronged the venue way before the scheduled time.

Event started with the free software song performed by Kapil Acharya, a LUGJ member, followed by Winblows, busting balloons of (we all know what!!). The ceremony gave a rocking start to the event and all students soon felt the freedom wave sweeping them off their feet and all joined in and sang the freedom song.

Then a brief introduction of all the speakers to the gathering, followed by a word of thought by Mr. Shakthi Kannan. And at last a vote of thanks by Jai Pandya, being a member of LUG-Jaipur and a student of JECRC on behalf of both the organizations.

Since we wanted to cover more in the time we had at our disposal so talks were divided into three parallel tracks and without wasting further time Skakthi kanan (you can also refer which is full of resources for students and everyone) started with his talk named I-want-2-do-a-project-tell-me-how-2-do-it-fedora. The talk covered netiquettes (mailing list, IRC ,forum etiquette), what/how to choose a Free and Open Source project. Everyone really enjoyed the session with shakthi making them burst into laughs quite often, with his quick wit. The session covered all the basic things everyone should always keep in mind while working/contributing for a Free/Open Source Software or getting any help from the community.

Parallel to shakthi's talk, Vivek Khurana was taking a session on How to become a hacker who in-spite of the hot and humid seminar hall given to him (because a talk promising to turn one into a hacker would surely attract a huge crowd where one doesn't really know what it means to be a hacker )

and they were surely not disappointed by the way vivek showed them the to become the one we call a hacker and not a cracker and its was evident from the many gaping faces that they were astonished and glad to get the term right. The talk also covered the basics of free software, how does it matter to us, and what we can do with it .

Another parallel session (what the hell!!, how many were they? Well, there were three) was taken by Atul Jha named Yes I’ll do it my way, well, I never could understand why it was named so, but yes it was a general discussion regarding foss and some general topics which were thrown by the audience and answered by Atul, though deependra singh shekhawat (A lug member and a security specialist) talked about open standards and why are they important and why one should stick to them, and soon the topic turned to firmware and device driver and I din't miss the opportunity to bash ATI for its aloofness with open standards.

On a moonlight drive:-

shakthi in emacs hackfest

err..what!!, not exactly as the words say it but yes, jim morrison can be considered pretty close in depicting a bunch of computer geeks gathered for the night, with all the college computers at their disposal would do, dive into the unknown (although its much cooler to be a computer nerd now, than it was in his times ) and there we were for an all night hackfest. To my astonishment more than 100 people stayed for the all night hackfest and the things were just started to get hotter and crazy (in terms of hacking)and again I was in a fix to decide which hackfest to attend, and certainly it has to be emacs, because I'd any-day prefer to know more about emacs rather than jQuery, (which has always been a mystery), so there I was listening to Shakthi Kannan on Emacs a day keeps the vi-zing away sweating, but listening (even 3 ACs in a lab with 50 people were not enough) and wondering what force does run Shakthi, who unperturbed from any external factors was busy talking to students and solving their queries. The talk went on till 3 AM with a small break in-between and. I think most windows users there (if any) have not used and thought about notepad than they have on emacs that day, and many also praised the simplicity of emacs (I wonder too) and how they really liked it and it'd be there text-editor for a long time to come (I was feeling totally lost there, seemed like I was the n00b there).

I couldn't take it any longer and rushed for some refuge at jQuesry session by Vivek Khurana which thankfully had more n00bs than I expected and I was happy to be there. Vivek was cool and nicely handling the n00bs there, though it became more of an introductory session rather than a jQuery hackfest and he was very patiently responding to each students query, no matter how basic or weird they were and was taking full use of the whiteboard and it soon turned into a class of jQuery with rather vivek doing his job more sincerely than any teacher would.

vivek taking jQuery hackfest

Day two :-

Carrying forward the momentum of day one, day two began on a high note. There were three parallel sessions of talks/workshop from 10 am to 2pm followed by workshops from 3pm onwards. Well all thanks to Lalith Suresh because of whom we could stick to the schedule as, everyone was so tired and worn out from last nights all night long session that no organiser could be there at the venue well before 12 o'clock but the audience was rather more excited than ever to further enlighten (free) their minds, and seeing no organiser around lalith gathered all students at one place and started talking about foss in general. As the audience had some idea about the term, unlike yesterday, and were asking more questions and got an even more better understanding of the term and a lot many things. And around 12 o'clock, it was time to carry on the freedom spirit further. With the first session starting with Badam-Halwa of embedded systems (what a better way to start your day with a talk of the named badam-halwa) by Shakthi Kannan.

Shakthi introduced the keen audience to the basics of embedded systems. Students were very interested in knowing about embedded systems and many were from the robotics group from different colleges of rajasthan. It truly proved out to be a badam halwa for knowledge hungry minds. Shakthi also gave demos of some Open Source tools like gerbv, qucs, verilog, gEDA, Tk gate etc. Without wasting much time Shakthi Kannan conducted the next session on Fedora Electronics Lab Demo. This talk had live demonstrations of Fedora Electronics Lab products. How can FOSS help in every field of technology and non-technology. There were students from the college robotics group Xananoids who seemed to be highly motivated after the talk and discussed some future prospective on which they could work on. Now, the time was right for learning some basics about packaging and how is it done in fedora (especially me and udit, fedora ambassadors jaipur were happy to attend to attend this talk) and more over it was caled RPM packaging-red-hot-paneer-butter-masala (I wonder where does shakthi get these interesting names for his talks). This was a hands-on workshop and on how rpm packaging is actually done, in a very practical manner. People were quite happy to know how its all done in fedora, which was quite a mystery for many. Well shakthi had to leave for his flight immediately after the talk so he quickly went and I went to the next talk wondering what is there in it which was getting a big reception from the students and was requested for a repeat as there were more people who wanted to attend How to make a web site in less than two minutes and Atul Jha was talking about making a web site using DRUPAL in less then five minutes or rather as the topic decided earlier was, quicker than making maggie noodles. The workshop covered things from very basics like, installing a web server, basics of HTML, installing Drupal and customizing it according to one's needs. And in the end everyone went with a website of his/her own. Parallel to atul's talk, Lalith Suresh was giving a talk on A fools guide to high availability .

What is high availability? How is all that done? Why single point of failure is bad ? All of these questions were answered. This difficult topic was presented very cleverly in a very friendly manner. Students enjoyed this session.

The IRC session:

Now this is something which was really cool and it seemed more like a celebration rather than a talk session. Jai pandya captured the podium just as lalith stepped down and was sweeping the audience with his pep talk. Infact audience was getting restless to know about IRC finally, since they have heard about it so much in the two days in fosjam that their patience was nearing an end to know the damn thing and jai soon came to the rescue. Students got to know How-Tos of IRC, also with some briefing on some of the IRC clients such as “xchat” and “mibbit”. And just as atul's talk in the next lab got over, I took on th e lab and without wasting a second, all participants in both the labs joined #lug-japur channel with mibbit, and soon there was confusion all over, with over 38 users (a max on #lug-jaipur till now), and then they were told about how to register your nick and some other basic stuff and after a lot of kicking and basing on the channel, finally they were told about the importance of IRC in the collaborative work, how to get help and help others on IRC. And the smile on faces showed that their anticipation was rightly served and have come-up to their expectations, which is still visible as there are people addicted to the IRC and are at #lug-jaipur channel for most of their time.

The happy guy, jai distributing free goddies

The closing ceremony (A new beginning) :-

And the guys who made it most of the event (read partying), of which after-effects are still visible in atuljha (you can guess who:) )

Well as I came out of the lab after the IRC session, I saw jai pandya throwing things in the air and guys running/rolling over each other and getting them and I wondered what has happened to everyone, they were all decent men gathered for a noble cause, and then on a closer look I saw jai throwing away mozilla badges and giving away fedora dvds and stickers, and I was at ease. There is no fun without any music and that was evident from the opening ceremony too, so out for a 'rocking end', lugj guitarist Kapil Acharya played some songs like Hotel California, sayonee. But it doesnt seem to end because as everyone was moving out, students started thronging speakers and organizers as soon as they came across one. So after over half an hour of random discussions and putting hungry minds at ease, it was finally over, but rather it was definitely a new beginning of a movement which was about to unfold and is unfolding everyday, with many minds aligned together to change the world. And with great hopes in minds and courage in our hearts, to change the world around us.

and finally the lugj team who made this all happen, (though udit sharma is missing and jai is taking the picture )

Jun 20, 2009

planet lugj finally up

Well finally I can write a blog and be sure it'll appear on planet lugj, though its been quite some time planet being out there in the wild (thanks to jaiZ, the lugj web guy) but soon had some cron job hiccups as he states them so it was down for some time and then, deepsa couldn't take it any longer (he blogs so much that it could give china sleepless nights to bring down the content posted by him on the internet, if he could write about tiananmen square, so good luck for now chinese gov and dread that day) and decided to take matter in his own hands and fix it, and I'm happy :)

Jun 13, 2009

LUGJ meeting

Here we are in MNIT seminar hall with 4 ACs running at 17C !!
Woah, what is that, yes, I am right in the middle of Rajasthan where temperature is over 45C but thanks to MNIT (Malviya National Institute of Technology) professor Mr. Gaur who supports free and open source software and was happy to give LUGJ linux users group jaipur a place to hold meetings and a 3rd year mnit student lalith suresh who told him about lug and convinced him to do so.

Lug members present at the meet listening to deependra singh talking about HoneyD, attendance was around 30.
And here we are, having our 2nd lugj meeting after fosjam.
Meeting started with lalith talking on pytgk, introducing what gtk is and how easy it is to make a GUI application with, mostly catering to the newbee crowd as we thought this might be quite helpful to all, as students who are having summer holidays could use it to do some project or something. It turned out quite good as students got to know how easy it is to design a GUI with gtk and soon people started comparing it with java and you can assume what happened there-after.
Lalith talking on wikipedia, seems like no pictures were clicked during the pygtk session, photographer seemed busy learning himself. And I can be seen in the background.
With some basic code implementation and practices, we switched to brainstorming on wikipedia but I guess we were pretty short of brainstorming ideas and had to introduce to people how to make account and stuff like how to add/edit pages/content on wiki etc, so it turned out more of an introduction to wiki rather than brainstorming on that. So we quickly switched to "What are you doing this your summer", thought the session was not planned at first but seemed more like a need of the time, and we soon had many students sharing their ideas/projects they are doing in the summer. Some are making a LAN chat client, discussed their ideas and took some important suggestions on the same. Some are making some kind of web portal and embed video conferencing etc, dont exactly remember what it was though.
Lug members (deependra singh) could not hide their feelings for the lug, as it requires more active contributions from the community, so he showed this on the projector screen to everyone. Though the foss awareness is growing in jaipur since our inception but participation is need for usual lug tasks.
Enough of chit chatting, we then moved to dominos to get some grub in and ate our hearts out. And it has more or less become a custom to goto dominos after almost every meet, because there are guys who get out of their hackerdomes only when there is a meet-up so rather it is more than refreshing to spend around 5 hrs with each other on a lug meet.
Talking freedom ( at dominos.
I havent been able to blog since quite some time now. but will follow up all the good changes in this part of the world that we are bringing here.

May 16, 2009

Preparing for FOSJAM

One of the labs for the hackfest for FOSJAM
The day has finally come to an end for all the preparations for the grand day tomorrow, and we were greeted by a sandstorm which actually brought temperatures down in jaipur which was burning like hell with 45C.

The installation team from left me, udit and linuxguru
We configured labs and installed fedora 10 in 80 machines prior to the event, which will be used for hackfest.
The team from right jai, deependra singh, udit and the lugj rocker (guitarist) kapil
Everything set and now we left for our respective homes to get a sound sleep before the big tomorrow. Though some of the lugj members happily went to a pub close by to get their spirits high prior to the event.
lugj Members relaxing after the hectic day. from right anirudh, me, udit, deependra and kapil.
The venue for the event jecrc college.

May 14, 2009

Countdown to FOSJAM, Day 0

Lug Jaipur - FOSJAM
Day 0 15th May 2009
Countdown to FOSJAM
Nothing like the day, when you start it with installing fedora in hundreds of machines. Well today is that great day and preparations are are been give final touches. College laboratory machines are getting sleek fedora 10 (On college's request winblows have not been removed,though it got removed in some of the machines by the determined advocates of foss i.e. lugj members :)), xchat for using IRC during the event and loads of other cool features.
Machines getting an incarnation - fedora

Computer is laughing out loud, happy that it's finally getting freed.
LUG members from left, me, linuxguru and udit

Right now I am sitting on the server machine for the network installation, managed by Deependra singh. A meeting of the volunteers is also taking place in the lab making final decisions. Suddenly a pissed teacher marches into the lab shouting at why everyone missed his class for this stupid event, but looking at the rage in the eyes of the lug members and everyone else putting their heart and soul into the event, he quietly went out.

LUG members doing the job. Freeing computers and giving them and a new life

linuxguru doing the dirty job, fixing machines where network installation was not taking place.

College has given away to the monotonous, traditional education environment and has joined us for the freedom celebration called FOSJAM. Students can be seen interacting with lugj members (whenever they can get hold of one) discussing some related queries and getting acquainted a day before the showdown.

Cheesy moments during the installation ;) me, linuxguru and kapzi

May 12, 2009

Lug-Jaipur organizing FOSJAM

What is this Universe ?
From what it arises ?
Into what does it go ?
In freedom it arises, In freedom it rests
And into freedom it melts away.
..From Upanishads

FOSJAM is the celebration of the very essence, of the universe we are all part of i.e. freedom. It is a gathering, for everyone who believes in the Free and Open Source Movement, which is again a celebration of freedom. It is also a gathering, for anyone who wants to understand the Free and Open Source Movement, which is more over, a way of life. The event aims to grow awareness for the same cause in the city of Jaipur and in India.

What is Freedom

The event will showcase workshops by free software developers in India, who have been an actively contributing to the open source community for a long time now. Talks would range from technical stuff to basic, suiting a wide range of audience. Event will also host a hackfest, for programmers to get their hands dirty and play around with the code for the purpose of learning, fixing bugs, writing patches or maybe develop a module or a plugin.
It is been organized by Linux Users Group Jaipur ( LUGJ ) in co-ordintion with Jaipur Engineering College and Research Center (JECRC). We are thankful to JECRC for providing the venue and infrastructure for the event.

In all respects FOSJAM is an event organized by the community for the community. Anyone is free to come and join the celebration of freedom.

May 7, 2009

lugj logo from the desert

What is the recipe of success for a lug?
Though sounds like a business venture, but it is not, its simply our good old linux users group which specially "we", are trying to nurture and grow in a small place called jaipur, right in the middle of the indian desert and the state called rajasthan, Which BTW hosts more than 4 gsoc 2009 (if I'm not wrong) students. Can we even computer hardware at temperatures above 45C with no air-conditioning?, well certainly we can and that is a different topic of discussion rather.
But what we have for the time being achieved is that form a linux users group jaipur which we unanimously (not that unanimous though, i can still hear some teeth crunching) decided to call LUGJ. We were all happy with our little achievement but then the sudden thought of the future puzzled us. Not everything has answers so we went to celebrate with some beers what we have at the moment and think about the future after some beers when the mind is clearer like a sunny day.
And that (the beer thing) some how sparked the imaginative nuerons in a lug member's head (udit sharma) and he started to work on the lugj logo design. And later, another lug member (jay pandya) trying to give more graphical looks to the previous one, came out with something we dint have to approve of, it was destined to be our logo, it was that obvious. And we named it the "tux-banna", where banna stands for the "rajput boy" where rajput can be googled.


Later the imagination of lug-members (only jay I mean) gave tux-banna innovative and discreet looks and here is one which is good. In the background is a famous monument of historical importance in jaipur.

And after the logo we have been considerably more active and have come out with lugj's website but it's still been given some final touches and will be up by tomorrow I hope.
We hope this lug doesnt get buried under the sand of thar and shine with our tux-banna.

May 6, 2009

linux users group jaipur, first workshop/fedora install fest

The following lines came to my mind

May the winds be upon our back,
And the sun upon our face,
And the wings of destiny carry us aloft to dance with the stars..

when the day finally came for the first ever lugj (linux users group jaipur) workshop called as FOSS-nigma, which was to be held at Kautilya Institute of Technology, organized by a lugj member Udit Sharma who is a student of 3rd year computer science of the same college. we all had eagerly waited for this event, it has also adorned lugj’s IRC channel (#lug-jaipur) topic for the past one month and it was also lugj’s first ever public appearance so you can imagine the enthusiasm. The workshop was, A FOSS talk session and Fedora install fest.

The event was scheduled for Sunday 26th April at 10:00 o’clock and I was there at 9:30 to be of some help. The clock was ticking, it was already time and I dint see any participants coming, then something struck me, it’s a sunday and I began to worry what if no one turns up. But soon my mind was at peace when I saw people turning up (late but alright ) and the seminar hall was filled to capacity i.e. around 80.
So we just brazed through the opening of the event and the stuff which doesn’t matter a lot , we soon started with our talks session for the day. Just as the event was stating I saw Udit coming up with two/three cartons full of stuff and was later told that they contained free goodies to be distributed during the event, graciously provided by Mozilla and Sun. So the now the talks.

(1). Introduction to FOSS by Mr.Varad Gupta (He’s the first RHCSS in India, an active contributor to the community and also runs a linux training academy in Delhi called Fostering Linux). We couldn’t have found a better speaker than him to talk about free and open source software and he drove down all the way from Delhi that morning just for the event, we were like wow!!. The talk was really good for newbies and for us well which made us aware some facts and figures about open source movement that we dint know of. He talked about the basic philosophy behind the freedom movement (FOSS) which is what I like to refer it with. There were very good examples of the freedom ideology been adapted outside the software world, companies like GoldCorp (a mining company) which adapted to the open source model and became a leader from becoming a bankrupt, there were many examples like that which made the audience very keen. The session was interactive as we gave away free goodies to the person who answered questions asked by the speaker and by that time Varad also added some 50 odd copies of the april isue of LFY which he brought with himself to our already large the collection but lacking the grandness. The talk was really an enlightening experience for everyone.So as the talk got over Varad had to leave for delhi so we got little time to chat with him regarding lugj’s future plans but he was patient enough to talk for a while and would really like to carry on his association with lugj. He gave some good suggestions regarding the FAD we want to conduct and will try if he could bring some Red Hat guys too. Well then he left, making us proud of what we have and are doing.

(2). Firefox and its addons by Mr.Udit Sharma (lugj member, mozilla campus rep and fedora ambassador and also college OSUM leader, He’s too much rolled into one, right :) ). Udit Sharma talked about firefox (wearing a thunderbird Tee)and some of its great addons like youno, chatzilla, googlepidea, scrapbook, firebug etc and people were keen to know about what firefox is, though some of them have been using it but dint exactly know how powerful it is.
(3). Firefox-extended. Well this wasnt really a scheduled talk but one of our lug members Jay Pandya(sarai fellow, wordmint developer and a 3rd year computer science student too) felt that firefox needs more time then what has been given (dont worry that was not an attempt to fork lug, we are good and very well running you envy people) so he grabbed the Microphone and starting talking about firfox (wearing a firefox Tee). He talked about history mozilla, how it actually came into existence and Free the Web philosophy, why do we need projects Mozilla and how it has transformed the web we look at it now. Free goodies were been continuously distributed by volunteers during the whole session and audience was making every attempt to atleast grab one. By now the whole session has become very interactive and people were simply throwing questions at the speaker which he was glad to answer.

(4). Fedoraproject by Anirudh singh shekhawat (fedora ambassador and 3rd year student). Well it was high time we talked about fedora which we were going to install in everyone’s computer during the install fest. I started the talk with what is fedora and stuff like who uses fedora around the world, people behind fedora etc etc. The one important point I wanted to make was to answer the question people generally have regarding fedora is that fedora being not an easy to use desktop i.e. as mostly say a newbie non-friendly desktop, so I told everyone that fedora does not compete in that domain to provide with end users an easy to use desktop like some other distros do. But, rather it competes where it wants people to get involved in the community and help them give ways to contribute back to the community. It wants a consumer to become a contributor. With a wide sphere fedora project which requires not even technical people but rather non-techies to do things like documentation,Marketing,Speakers and the beautiful Artwork which fedora has become known of.

That was enough of talking for newbies to get a little introduction of FOSS I guess.
So in the end we decided to have a BoF session to clear their brains from any proprietary stuff they might have been left with. And as we expected we were fired with questions, coming from every corner of the room. Everyone was calmed down and we started to take one question at a time. Most were the general questions like why should we use linux, what it has that windows does not have,the virus, security features etc. The session proved to be the important of all and I think at the end of it everyone was convinced to every extend to put a linux distro in his/her computer and fiddle with the damn thing.
After the workshop we took a half an hour lunch/chichat break where the lunch was also provided by the college.

Fedora Install fest-
Thanks to Mr. Rahul sundaram and Mr.susmit who graciously sent us 100 fedora-10 DVDs for the install fest. And all thanks to Udit that we were given an Air-conditioned, projector equipped, Internet ready lab for the install fest. So we quickly got hold of a participant’s laptop, connected it to the projector, distributed DVDs and turned ON the fedora magic. The projector was used to show everyone what steps to follow for the installation process and it turned out to be very easy for everyone. We were also explaining some stuff as they came along like swap,ext3, LVM etc. And soon all the manual work was done and all laptops were now installing fedora. We used this free time to tell everyone about how to get codecs to play restricted audio/video files like mp3,avi etc and also told them how to get help on the internet and most importantly IRC. One thing which we really missed during the install fest were laptops with ATI cards and an opportunity to fire at ATI as well, if only it wouldn’t have worked, we certainly dont come out as crazy yuppies who’d simply fire words at anyone, but in the ATI case, we wouldn’t have minded it either :) . So after the installation, time for the first boot. And I remember the gaping faces, when they saw fedora booting and they were very happy to have something like that on their machine. There were some animation guys who were so happy with the kind of Artwork fedora has been doing and they in no time would love to contribute back to the community. With some more remarks like that we just couldn’t hide the smiles from our faces and felt good about the whole event and thanked everyone for the support and an opportunity to spread the freedom movement around. As we were leaving the college there was a rock band competition about to start and we could hear the drums and guitars being tested, the mood was rightly set and we marched through the gates as the soldiers of the great freedom revolution, feeling happy to bring it to our little place called jaipur and determined as ever to take it further…