February 23, 2009

Not Just Another Install Fest

If you haven't guessed already what this blog post is going to be about, let me tell you that this post brings to you my experience at the Kalyani Government Engineering College Install Fest and FAD. It all started when I got a call from Rohit Gupta, whom I had met before at Mukti 09, telling me that they want to organize an Install Fest and FAD provided I can arrange for free DVDs and some expert help. I posted it on Fedora-India and Fedora-Ambassadors mailing list and soon I started getting replies from people who were willing to provide the resource that was required. Susmit Sannigrahi and Debayan Bannerjee were two of them. I was guided to the 'events' page at Fedora wiki where I filled in the required details and within no time the FAD and Install Fest was off to a very good start. In the next three days Rohit and me along with the much needed help of the KGEC final year and KGEC authority, not to mention the Fedora-India team, made all the arrangements for the one day event that was going to be a first of its kind in KGEC.
The preparations started the day before the fest was scheduled to happen. Stuffs like getting printouts, burning around 50 DVDs for distribution, fixing the agenda, final publicity were among the few things that we were busy with on the eve of the Install Fest. That day earier I had met Susmit da at Santoshpur and picked up the 50 Fedora 10 DVDs and othe stuffs like stickers and badges. These were to be distributed the next day. Debayan and Shreyank, who were coming on the day, were bringing in 50 Fedora 10 DVDs and 20 FEL DVDs with the. I called up Ratnadeep and Shreyank and querried about their journey plans. Then off for a good night's sleep.
The next morning the KGEC boys were busy making all the final arrangements. I woke up at somebody telling me frantically that they are unable to manage the crowd that had gathered at the areana for registration. The day had started with a good note. I did my cores and rushed to the arena to be surprised by what I saw. The queue was a neat 50 metres long and continued till the institution gate. People were waiting outside in a queue not being able to get in just because there was no room inside the seminar hall, not even to stand. Shreyank and Mitesh Sharma, who came in place of Debayan because Debayan couldn't com due to his friend being very ill, had arrived at Kalyani Main. I gave them directions on how to get to KGEC. Subhodip, Arindam and Ratnadeep were a bit late due to their bus getting caught up in some kind of road block. It was 11:30 and Indranil Das Gupta, the founder of ILUG-Cal had also arrived, inspite of being sick, and have had an informal meeting with the Pricipal and other faculty members regarding the prospects of FOSS and Linux in the college. We started the proceedings at around 11:35 with the indroductory speech of the anhor Snigdhadeb followed by speeches by the Faculty members and HODs who were present there. The hall was jam packed with around 140 - 145 people attending the event. 150 Fedora 10 DVDs and 20 FEL DVDs were distributed amongst the attendees and some faculty members as well. The principal of the CSE department talked about his experiences with Linux, about how everybody used to laugh at people who used Linux. His encouraging speech was followed by our very own Indranil da talking about the evolution of Linux and FOSS in India, how he managed to install Linux in those pre graphics days. His information impregnated speech touched the topics like LUG culture, GSoC, OSM, FOSS in India, mailing lists and many more things. He also tried to explain how one can contribute to FOSS exemplified aptly by Sayamindu Dasgupta, Arindam Ghosh, Gopal V. and Subhodip Biswas. He ended his speech quoting President Obama, "We will be the Agents of Change" and "Yes We can". Though he was ver interested to stay for the whole day, but he had to leave to attend a meeting in Kolkata. His speech really inspired the participants and got the rhythm going.

Just Look At The Length Of The Queue

The Install Fest Banner

That Is What I Mean By 'Jam Packed'

Anchor Snigdhadeb and Other Dignataries

Indranil Das Gupta's Inspirational Speech

During Indranil da's speech, there was a power failure and this 2 hour long blackout slowed things down to a halt. Unable to continue, lunch had to be announced. The next session was to begin as soon as the power comes back which did only after 2 very long hours at 14:00 hrs. The second session stared at 14:10 hrs with Arindam (aka makghosh) spreading the word about Fedora with his "Introduction to Fedora talk". We couldn't get Ratnadeep's nvidia card to work with dual sisplay and so Arindam had to use my laptop for the presentation. He played the very popular 'Truth Happens' video which thrilled the audience. He then talked about four 'F' s of Fedora, the development cycle, the Fedora community and a lot of other things related to Fedora. His talk was followed by Subhodip busting the myths about Linux with his really nice "Myths about Linux: Busted With Fedora" talk wherein he tried to remove the various misconceptions about Linux. He illustrated the licensing problems with proprietory formats like .mp3 and .wmv and also showed them how to get stuffs installed from rpmfusion and get their linux box to do whatever they wanted it to do. The audience was captured by his frivolous yet illustrative way of talking. Arindam and Subhodip then showed some demos and questions started flying in. In the mean time Ratnadeep and me were trying to set up the local repo in the lab. Though the interactive session was getting more and more interesting with mak and Subhodip addressing queries, we had to cut it short since we were running out of time for the actual install fest. It was already 16:15 hrs. and the participants were eager to move to the lab for the install fest. At 16:20 hrs. Subhodip and Arindam wrapped up and the people were asked to move to the lab.

Arindam Giving An Introduction To Fedora

Subhodip's Myth Buster Talk

Wow What A Crowd

Query Session With Mak Subhodip and Me

The install fest began with around 55-60 people attending it. Around 15 people had brought their laptops. The others were given around 15 lab computers which they shared to learn the install process. We atually had about 35 people who brought in their systems, but some them left as we were delayed by the power failure and they had to go home for the weekend. The installation kicked off at 16:30 hrs. and every step was explained by me on the projector. The custom partitioning and the default partitioning, both were explained properly. People had queries about partitioning problems but once it was explained, they all were quite content. then came the customization of packages and which is what stage. While the OS was being installed, I told them a bit about rpmfusion, IRC, mailing lists, rpm installation, bugzilla, bug triaging, artworks, how to join fedora etc. etc. Once Fedora installation was complete, Ratnadeep and me got busy with the configuring the systems and showed them how to do it. Ratnadeep's offline repo came handy. Many people jotted down the various steps involved. A brief demo of GNOME and KDE desktop was give. They were pretty fascinated by the superb look and feel of KDE 4.2. Some even christened it as being better than Vista. Some applications like network-manager, pidgin, samba windows networking, nautilus etc. were also shown. It was already 18:00 hrs. and we had to finish up quickly. Then came the enthusiasts and they asked about how to do this, that and various stuffs. One thing I forgot to mention is that among the large number of participants and enthusiasts, there were also a lot of girls. Well then we went back to the hostel but before the we left Fedora's mark in th lab by sticking Fedora stickers on the systems. About 50 of them were also distributed amongst the participants.
Me Demonstrating Install Process

Installing Fedora on Laptops

The install fest had'nt yet ended. In the hostel namely RBC Hall, Ratnadeep and me installed Fedora on a lot of systems having different configs. Faced some problems with nvidia cards with graphical install not working. Ratnadeep configured the systems using his newly made local repo and shell script. I had to configure triple boot with Ubuntu and Windows on some of them by manually editing the grub.conf file. I also showed them how to do it. Ratnadeep's offline repo was of great help. Finally it all ended at around 2:30 a.m. wen we decided to go to bed since we had catch the early morning train the next day.
The Team

It was a great experience to be in Kalyani for tha FAD and without the
support the KGEC boys and the college authority, it wouldn't have been possible. It felt really nice to share knowledge with so many people. I myself learnt a lot . Kudos to Rohit, Snigdhadeb, Sunil, Ekhlaque, Debraj, Tanmoy and others who made this possible. Hope to see more coming from you guys.

February 18, 2009

Talks @ Mukti 09

For those people who doesn't know what Mukti is, let me start by giving a brief introduction of Mukti. Mukti is a FOSS symposium organized by the Linux Users Group of National Institute of Technology, India. It is probably the biggest of its kind in eastern India. I don't exactly know when it all started but I have been a part of it since I was in first year. Now in my final year, I have witnessed various flavours of Mukti. This year it was planned to be little different from the previous ones and concentrated more on informing people and spreading awareness. This was to be done by organizing talks and workshops on different aspects of FOSS and Linux.
The FOSS week began on 2nd February and was inaugurated by the IT minister of West Bengal, Dr. Debesh Das. The talks and workshops saga started off on 3rd Feb with NRCFOSS workshop on "How to write C/C++ programs in GNU/Linux" and was followed by a workshop on "Python: An Integrated Programming Language" by our dear Shreyank Gupta in the afternoon. In the evening the "Fedora Electronics Lab" talk and hands on session, which was held alongside with the VariCAD session, was a first of its kind in our college. The talk was done on-line by Aajhan who stays in Switzerland. Thanks to Debayan for his Skype Video idea, we heard the creator's words though due o some technical problems, our microphone did not work and the session had only limited interactivity. We created history.

The next day i.e. 4th Feb was alsodedicated to nrcFOSS workshop namely "Collaborative Software Development Using SVN". A workshop on"Typesetting for engineers using LATEX" by our very own Prof. J Howlader was next . In the evening we had people from CDAC to give a demo of "Matlab alternatives for Linux: Scilab and Octave". The sessions were great learning experiences for all those people who attended them. That was enough the day. Needed to make preparations for the to come.

5th February did not have any workshops or talks and so moving along to 6th Feb, Friday on which day Mukti 09 started off with a talk on "How to run a successful free software business" by Mr. Abhas Avinav who was also an alumni of the college and has a successful free software business of his own. His company is called 'Deeproot Linux'. Met Pradeepto there. We really learnt a lot about business prospects in FOSS. In the afternoon I met Satya Komaragiri who was a GSoC student from Delhi and seemed really cool. Her talk on "How to contribute to FOSS" was next on the chart. It was a nice and interactive one and a half hour session though she kept asking me over and over again whether she looked nervous or not. In the mean time " A day with Fedora" had begun and we had to rush to attend it. Arindam and Subhodip were ready with their presentations and taught some cool stuffs. They showed how to make a live usb drive. Subhodip's presentation on "Myths about Linux busted with Fedora" was especially good. The first day of Mukti finally ended with a great talk on "Managing your on-line profile" by Yu Yu Din.

Next morning, 7th Feb, couldn't wake up early for the "SUN Technologies" talk but did just in time for the talk on "INGRES CAFE" by Mr. Tennyson Kaliyampadi which followed. Didn't really know a lot about DBMS or databases. Still it was interesting.Pradeepto's talk on "KDE: The Desktop Environment" was at 4:00 p.m. He was awesome. He demonstrated the KDE-edu applications like Kstars, Marble, Kletters etc. He also showed a program that he had written as an example to give us the feel about 'How easy it is to code in KDE'. It used the marblewidget and displayed a map. So much in only 10 lines. That's KDE. It was the coolest thing I have ever seen. After the talk was over we socialized with him for a while and heard a lot of stories about his experience in the community, FOSS.in stories, the KDE booklet and many more. Anurag who was present in the talk, had to rush to the IT lab for is workshop on "Ruby On Rails: Next Generation Web Framework". Could not attend it though.

On 8th Feb, we were supposed to have Sayamindu as the speaker on "OLPC project" but he couldn't make it. The only session left for the day was that by Indranil Das Gupta on "The Indian FOSS community". It was the beginning of the end of MUKTI 09 and was successfully concluded by the valedictory ceremony and the very precious vote of thanks by Mayank Daga, President of NITDGP LUG.
Debayan was in charge of the workshops and talks and indeed he did a wonderful job in organizing those, bringing in people from all walks of FOSS. Thanks to Debayan and the Mukti team for such a wonderful event.