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.

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