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…


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