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 )