It’s just been about three months since the inception of the Jaipur LUG in March 2009. Yet the activities and workshops organised by LUG-J have taken the town by storm. Install fests and workshops arranged by the LUG members have introduced the city to mainstream open source communities and spread the word of libre. And with its many active members from communities like Fedora, Mozilla and WordPress, it wasn’t long before LUG-J’s major all-India event, FOSJAM (Free and Open Source Software, Jaipur Meet) was organised.
Since it was the first FOSS-related event in Rajasthan targeted at an audience still new to the Open Source ethos, the workshops were more inclined towards hands-on sessions; JECRC (Jaipur Engg College & Research Centre) lent a helping hand by offering their computer labs, with Fedora running on over 90 machines.
FOSJAM received more than 347 registrations and around 280 turned up.
The event started with the ‘free software song’ performed by Kapil Acharya, a LUG-J member, followed by Winblows, an activity that involved bursting balloons printed with the logos of you-know-what. This was a rocking start to the event and all students soon felt the freedom wave sweeping them off their feet as they joined in the singing.
There was a brief introduction of all the speakers at the gathering, followed by a few words from Shakthi Kannan and a vote of thanks by Jai Pandya. Then, Kannan (shaktimaan.com) started with his talk, interestingly titled, “i-want-to-do-a-project-tell-me-how-2-do-it-fedora” which covered various aspects of netiquette (mailing lists, IRC, forum etiquette) and how to choose a Free and Open Source project.
At the same time, there was a session by Vivek Khurana on “How to become a hacker” during the course of which he explained the difference between the terms ‘hacker’ and ‘cracker’. Another parallel discussion was moderated by Atul Jha, called, “Yes I’ll do it my way”, regarding FOSS (of course!) while Deependra Singh Shekhawat (a security specialist) spoke of open standards and their importance, before moving on to firmware and device drivers.
Hacking under the moonlight
After all the sessions, there was also an all-night hack-fest, and more than 100 people stayed back to attend it. While there was Shakthi Kannan answering questions about Emacs, during his session on “An Emacs a day keeps the vi-zing away”, there was also Vivek Khurana in the other lab, enlightening people on JQuery.
While I have always found Emacs enigmatic, many participants were very impressed by it and promised to use it as their default text editor for a long time to come. The JQuery hack-fest had become more of an introductory session since the audience didn’t seem to be too well informed and Khurana kept patiently responding to the queries of each and every student, making full use of the whiteboard provided, and turning into a teacher himself.
The next day
Carrying forward the momentum of Day 1, Day 2 also turned out to be a grand success, despite many being tired and worn out after the night before. At around noon, Kannan carried the spirit of freedom further, with his talk, “Badam halwa of embedded systems”.
Since many attendees belonged to various robotics groups in their respective colleges, they were very interested in the topic and Kannan started off with the basics. It truly proved to be badam-halwa for hungry minds. Kannan also gave demos of some open source tools like gerbv, qucs, verilog, gEDA, Tk gate, etc.
The next session was a Fedora Electronics Lab Demo, during which Kannan presented live demonstrations of Fedora Electronics Lab products. Students from the college robotics group, Xananoids, seemed to be highly motivated after the talk and discussed some future projects on which they could work. It was finally time to delve into some basics about packaging and how it is done in Fedora, with a hands-on session called, ‘RPM packaging—Red hot paneer butter masala‘.
An interesting session requested by several students, and which turned out to be extremely popular, was “How to make a website in less than two minutes” where Atul Jha discussed building a website using Drupal in just a few minutes. The workshop covered the basics like installing a Web server, the basics of HTML, installing Drupal and customising it according to one’s needs. In the end, everyone went home with a website of their own. :-)
The IRC session
Now, this part was really cool and it seemed more like a celebration than a workshop. The audience had been getting impatient to know more about IRC because of all the buzz about it during the two days of FOSJAM and Jai Pandya did not disappoint the crowd. He took them through a how-to on IRC, clients like xchat and mibbit and also helped students join #lug-jaipur with mibbit.
The closing ceremony: A new beginning
The celebrations finally came to an end with Pandya tossing around Mozilla badges, and giving away Fedora DVDs and stickers. The event appropriately wound up with LUG-J’s guitarist, Kapil Acharya, playing tracks like Hotel California and Sayonee. There were a few random discussions for about half an hour before the gates were finally closed.
It was definitely a new beginning for a movement that is unfolding every day, and brought together local FOSS enthusiasts on a common platform in their mission to change the world.