June 12, 2010

F13 Release Party, Bangalore

Although I was thinking about a release party for quite some time, but lack of a proper venue was acting as a deterrent. Thanks to Dependra Shekhawat and his colleague Saket for giving the idea about FSMK office as a possible venue. Within no time I contacted Vikram Vincent and Naveen Mudunuru and fixed up everything. Invitation mails were sent to the various mailing lists and the preparations were on.
Ankur and me decided to share the job of burning media. We together burnt around 15 F-13 Desktop Live CDs. The attendees were also requested to bring their flash drives along with them. We were expecting not more than 10 attendees and were keeping our fingers crossed. I was hoping to meet some new people and also understand what FSMK does. I also planned to distribute some stickers and buttons I got from Pune and others that I had from previous events.
It was a little difficult at first to find the place and Hiemanshu called up a person who knew the place to find out the exact location. Google map was wrong this time. Without much ado we reached the place where two people were already waiting. It was a small apartment although sufficient for our purpose. we waited for some more people to come before starting. Deependra had brought his colleague along (who is from Jadavpur University and off-course a Bengali). My friend Vignesh, who is actively involved with FSMK was also there along with his colleague from On Mobile. One of my colleague also joined us. To all our surprise, a very aged person, who had seen the invitation on one of the mailing list, also joined us. I was overwhelmed. He wanted Linux to be spread to to the SMEs and also gave us some ideas. More on that later. After a few more people joined in, we started the event beginning with a very interesting discussion FLOSS scenario in Bangalore and Karnataka in general. Naveen gave us some really interesting facts. They are trying really hard to take Linux and FOSS to the grass root level and have been successful to a large extent. They have also done some community computer center projects similar to the Bijra Project.
By the time we started our Release party agenda, there were around 15 people in the room and eager to learn about the new Fedora. One guy arrived a little late. Everyone was given the one page release note and a Live CD. Some also Live USBs to be made and we obliged. Ankur was the designated candidate for elucidating more on the chic Fedora 13 features. He did a really good job. When I was busy taking snaps, Deependra talked about the functioning of the Fedora project. I also added my own experiences. Some guys who had brought their laptops started trying the live CDs. At this point Naveen tabled the proposal that they can arrange some workshops in the various engineering colleges once the hols are over. Deependra was very excited at this and to help out. We decided to have atleast a couple of such workshops at different colleges sometime during August. A few people also got interested to join the efforts. At the end the people were told about the various resources, and ways to contribute. Naveen said that he can do some documentation and translations to Telegu and Kannada if required. I promised to get back to him regarding this.
All said and all done the pizzas were getting cold and without much delay we started treating ourselves. With this and a few closing notes we closed the release party. The head count was around 15. Overall it was a small yet productive release party with lots of discussions and sharing of experiences. Hope to see more such events in the future.

June 3, 2010

FAD Pune 2010

It all started with a discussion on having a FUDCON India this year. Someone suggested some agendas, others observed the agenda as more suited to a series of FADs, and we decided to have a FAD, off course in Pune as that would make the job of finding a venue, internet connectivity and people a piece of cake. More on that later.

FAD, which is the abbreviated form of "Fedora Activity Day", is an event where people meet up together and work towards getting things done. Everyone has some plans of how they want to spend their time during a FAD and so did all of us. Someone wanted to do some packaging, others aimed at some serious bug zapping and some just wanted to sit and hack on some tough piece of code. Mine was the simplest plan of getting stuffs packaged. I wanted to get some packages reviewed and review some in return. The next few lines shines some light on what I did in the two days.
I had a very start on the first day when I accidentally broke my specs. Wasn't really able to read stuffs and could not get much done. Still I tried to review rtnpro's python-keyring package as I had taken that up earlier. It was missing some dependency and wasn't really compiling. Tried to fix that for him, could not get it done. Even Kushal da tried his hand on it but in vain. Next was getting python-plwm reviewed which I had submitted earlier. Rahul happily took up the task and recommended a few changes which I did and submitted. In the afternoon had a great discussion on Open Hardware with Siddharth from BHASHA . He is a great guy with a barrage of ideas. tuxdna DNA got interested in the ARMStrongIDE project and took it up actively. In the evening, Rahul showed me how to start a different window manager by using .xinitrc . It was really fun. Thus the first day bode farewell.

After a good night sleep, all of us were back on Sunday, all charged up to get things done. Second day was a little more eventful for me. Got my specs repaired. Susmit da had already prepared a wishlist for Fedora Medical Spin. Started packaging one of those, GNUMed to be precise. Also helped Ankur in his glorious attempt tp package kufper which uses the waf build system that too an age old version. Sayamindu da's talk was the highlight of the day, "OLPC as a downstream of Fedora and problems faced". In the mean time rtnpro worked on his vocab building application and Ankur on Fedora tour. Harsh did some packaging for Medical spin as well. Runa spent the day working on Gnote help. By this time, it was evening and Rahul wanted to discuss what we achieved, what more could have been done, what went wrong. Everyone had different opinions but on one stream all agreed - "We need to have more specific agendas". An online version of this event ought to follow soon. The day was concluded with some FUDCON related discussions and so was the FAD.

This was the first FAD I ever attended and it was a great learning experience for me. It was lot more fun and productive and collaborative than any irc version can ever be. Hope to see atleast annual FADs in the years to come if not more.

May 15, 2009

Fedora Activity Day at Dr. B.C Roy Engineering College

On 14th May, Thursday, a Fedora Activity Day was organized by the Durgapur Linux Users' Group (DGPLUG) at Dr. B.C Roy Engineering College, Durgapur. Though this event was in planning for a long time and was supposed to happen 1 months earlier, it had to be postponed by more than a month. But it finally materialised. Well as they say- "Better late than never".
Ratnadeep contacted me long back and I agreed to take a session on FEL and helping them out with the FAD in general. On the day of the FAD, I was all ready to tune in to FEL mode.
The organizers had arranged for a nice computer lab for the FAD. It had around 30 computers and each was running a FEL live DVD, the ones they had burned the previous night. These would be serving a triple purpose- FEL demonstration, KDE desktop demo and free media. All set up, we were waiting for the students who started arriving at around 11:30 a.m and the lab was almost full by 12:00 noon. We were there, ready to get, set and go.
The FAD started with an "Introduction to Fedora project" by makghosh followed a very nice presentation on " Myths about Linux busted with Fedora" by Kishan Goyal. Subhodip chipped in at times where some extra information needed to be provided. These two sessions established the foundation and explained to the people what Fedora is. Next in line was a very colourfull demonstration by our artwork team members, the Linux chix of DGPLUG. They showed some cool Inkscape handiwork and some artwork they had made themselves. What's the use of a Linux installation if you cannot use it. Yes usability is very important and the next demo served exactly this purpose. It was a demo on Desktop usability. Sunny Sharma, with a little help from Ratnadeep and me, did a pretty great job of amazing the audience with the frills and cool graphics of KDE. It was already 2:10 and our stomachs were growling. So we decided to take a lunch break and meet at 2:45 sharp.
The people were really punctual and almost all of them were back at 2:50 p.m after a trip to the canteen upstairs. I forgot to mention that there was a blizzard outside and we had a power cut. The lab was running of UPS which was crying out loud and could give up any moment. All the PCs were switched off and only the bare necessities were kept running- the projector and the laptop. Under such grave circumstances I got up to start a demo of IRC. Sunny Sharma was helping me out. The Airtel mobile office connection that we were using was damn slow and we were left with no other choice than www.mibbit.com/chat as Airtel blocks IRC port. We explained them the concept of IRC, what are networks, what are channels and what are nicknames. Connecting to a network and joining a channel was also showed. Channels like #fedora, #fedora-india, #dgplug, #nitdgplug, ##linux on freenode were sown. Then came the very important thing about IRC ettiquette. Roshan Singh and Shakthi Kannan helped us demonstrate IRC live. Roshan helped establish a very good point that its not always geeky stuffs on IRC but we also have fun.
By this time a few electronics students had joined the crowd and they had come exclusively for the Fedora Electronics Lab session. So we began the FEL session without further delays. The UPS had already run out of life and I had to use the laptop to show them the various things we can do with FEL. No big screen this time. Almost the whole portfolio was demonstrated. I kept in mond the student's necessities and demonstrated only those tools in details which would be useful to them. gsim85, Ktechlab, octave, piklab, gresistor, drawtiming, ghdl were some of the tools. I had prepared some examples and used them to illustrate the functionalities. One student was also asked to try his hand on KTechlab and he did a pretty good job. KTechlab pretty much was the spotlight tool. The students were also give some tips on how to contribute to FEL , the fedora-electronic mailing list and some sites wich might come in handy. The power cut still loomed large and a concensus was reached to continue with the other sessions the next day.
I wasn't present the next day but as I heard that around 30 people attended the sessions, and learned a lot from the gcc, vim, shell commands sessions. As a toping to the ice cream, Subhodip gave a presentation on how to contribut to FOSS. That was pretty much it. All that remained was a follow up to this event which is already under planning and will probably be held in August. Till then the participants ave got enough to chew on.

April 10, 2009

Interactive Fedora Know How Session

Yesterday, 9th April, an interactive session was held at NIT Durgapur. This was planned as a follow up to the previously held install fest and was mainly aimed at making people familiar with the various contributing avenues besides being a problem solving session for the attendees. This was also going to be a first speaking opportunity for two of our junior LUG members. One was Vikas Singh who was supposed to speak about common configurations and package managing using rpm, yum and another was Roshan Singh gave demonstration of IRC and mailing lists.

Publicity was done well. Posters and notices were put up everywhere. Announcements were also made on various mailing lists. This session was going to be similar to the session done by Kushal Das last year when he came to our college along with three other ambassadors from Durgapur.

The session was to start from 6:00 pm and people started arriving. We finally started the session at 6:30 pm. Around 25 people were present there out of which almost 20 were new faces. It was exciting to find so many new people interested in FOSS. The session began with package management. Yum and rpm were demonstrated. Dependencies were explained. Then it came to basic configurations like proxy settings, samba, SELinux etc., which needed to be done to make ones Fedora system universally usable. The various important packages and codec packs were named. Packagekit was also demonstrated. Vikas also did a good job in showing the local language desktop and keyboard layouts.

Roshan was next and and he demonstrated IRC and mailing lists, starting with IRC. Thanks to www.mibbit.com for being there to help us out as IRC client do not work in our college due to firewall. He showed how to join the various channels like #nitdgplug, #dgplug, #fedora-india, #fedora etc on freenode.net. He even pinged Sankarshan da telling him that he was on a big screen in front of future FOSS contributors. Sankarshan da waved at the people. He also demonstrated other stuffs like nick registration, nickserv commands, whois command and etiquette of talking on IRC and mailing lists. Next came the mailing list and people were shown how to join a mailing list. They were also told about the various mailing lists like fedora-list, fedora-india, nitdgplug etc. The redhat mailman index page address was also given to them.

I was next and started with installation from source. The steps were explained to them in details and debugging flag was also illustrated. After that came the very important thing of bugzilla. They were explained what a bug is and how do detect it. GNOME Bugzilla was shown to them, how to search bugs, how to file bug reports were parts of it. Bug triaging was also demonstrated with a gedit bug. The various links were given to then. Redhat Bugzilla was also shown. Then came the time for Fedora project contribution guide and they were told about the various sub projects, what are their roles and how to join them. Artwork, Peoples' person, localization were a few that were mentioned. live.gnome.org and code.google.com were also shown to them since upstream contribution was the theme of this session. I also told them about Linux Chix project and the girls seemed pretty excited about it. I also mentioned the wonderful site by Shakti Kannan. That was almost all of it.

I called upon Debayan to conclude the session by sharing his experience as a FOSS contributor and he did a good job in motivating the people present. He told them about planets and showed them planet-floss India. He ended the session with the I am Linux contest videos and the new motto that came up in our mailing list "Just do it because you can".

The session seemed to be pretty productive one and only time will tell us if we actually moved the people's hearts. The various links given to them were as follows:


Fedora stickers were in abundance which were distributed to the attendees and extra were given to them for distributing them to their friends. Since then I have noticed some new people on the mailing list and the session seems to be successful but this is too early to say something like this. Hope it helps the FOSS world and in turn the world.

April 2, 2009

First IOTA Teachers' FOSS Training @NIT Durgapur

This semester has been full with loads of events. Cultural and Technical fests swept past with high speed. Seminars, parties and so many different kinds of them. But last weekend something happened that was a first of its kind for our college. But before that let me tell you that NIT Durgapur is a IOTA resource centre an is the third of it's kind. IOTA offers courses on Basic Linux and Open Office. It is a program of West Bengal Govt. and is aimed at improving the training and support scenario of Open Source Softwares.
The program, organized by IOTA Cell, NIT Durgapur, was a three day training program, from 27th to 29th March, for school teachers. It objective was to introduce Linux and various Open source softwares available and consisted of training sessions to make them able to use FOSS in their day to day use. Around 75 teachers from various schools in and around Durgapur an Burdwan registered for the program.
First day was dedicated to basic computing concepts like software, hardware, open source, linux etc and acquainting them to the various flavours of Linux and applications available in the open source area. Some amount was also dedicated to GNOME, KDE, and basic usability. This was done over three sessions spread throughout the day and were taken by Debayan, Shreyank, Kaushik Nandy, Roshan Singh and Amit Daga. Fedora, Open Suse, and Ubuntu were demonstrated to them.
Second day started with the instructors demonstrating the Linux installation process and helping the teachers do the same on the computers in the LAB. This took almost the entire first half. Post lunch, OpenOffice.org basics were demonstrated to them followed by a demonstration and hand on workshop on OpenOffice.org Writer. The lecture stressed on various issues like open document format and compatibility issues with MS Office Suite. Everyone was provided with a hard copy of "OpenOffice.org for Beginners" documentation. All different steps of creating, saving, opening and formatting a document were demonstrated. The enthusiasm of the attendees could be understood from the volume of questions the instructors, which included me and Avishek Basu Mallick, had to answer. The hands on session was pretty productive and we tried to attend to almost all the problems faced by them. Thus ended another very fruitful day.
Third day was rather a continuation of second day had 3 sessions. First one was on OpenOffice.org Calc, second one was on OpenOffice.org Impress and the third one was dedicated to internet basics such as emails, google search, bengali search , groups, web pages etc. All the three sessions were followed by hands on workshops on the topics demonstrated. The instructors were the same as the second day except for Abhishek Gupta and Koushik Nundy. The attendees were pretty excited to find out how easily they can do their office chores with Calc. They simply loved OpenOffice.org. In the end feedback and suggestions were taken on a form so that the program could be improved next time. An almost exhaustive list of Windows alternative applications on Linux, compiled by iLUG-Cal, and a contact details were distributed. THe pictures can be found here.
These three days were a great learning for the teachers as well as for us. We were happy that we could reach such a diverse crowd and have been able to bring them into the world of FOSS, they being teachers can teach others about FOSS. It was a job well done by the IOTA Cell, NIT Durgapur.