FOSSKriti ’10 \o/

Three days left to the event I helped start 3 years ago. That’s right, folks, FOSSKriti ’10 is here!

We started this event in 2008 because there was a huge gap between the open source world and academia in India. The aim was to expose enthusiastic students to what the F/OSS world has to offer, how they can participate in the community, contribute, and get that warm, happy feeling in the gut. :) And I’ve met enough people who make me believe that we have been successful in this endeavour.

One complaint we always get is that we are not newbie-friendly. From the beginning, we took an active call to channel our limited resources towards encouraging people to just start hacking and contributing (that’s the important part, remember?), which necessarily meant that if this was your first exposure to the F/OSS world, things could be a bit overwhelming.

This time, the organising team is trying something different. FOSSKriti ’10 will have loosely have 2 tracks. One track is like previous editions of the event – it’s meant for people who are comfortable with coding, possibly already F/OSS hackers. The agenda, I am given to understand, is “Come – Sit – Fork – Code – Share LuLZ.” :) And being privy to what some of the FOSSKriti veterans are planning, I am extremely excited about what this track will bring.

The second track is meant for students who are enthusiastic about F/OSS but need a little more guidance with getting started. There will be talks and workshops to help them get bootstrapped, and hopefully provide them with sufficient resources to take the ball and run. The schedule for this track is already up.

This is not complete, so keep an eye out for updates. Unfortunately, again, I will not be able to make it to the event. :( If you’re a student in India, interested in F/OSS, possibly not too far from Kanpur, this is an event you cannot miss!

FOSSKriti ’09 is *here*

Been a hectic few months, but I could hardly miss posting about this. Some of you might remember the little F/OSS miniconf, we did last year at Techkriti, IIT Kanpur’s technical festival. FOSSKriti ’08 sparked off a number of great F/OSS events in colleges across the country. FOSSKriti ’09 is now here, bigger and badder than ever (for small values of ever :P)!

Last year, we started planning the event sometime in mid-Jan, and we did the best we could in about a month. This year, Shashank (better known as Chintal), Zakir, Surya, and the rest of team had more time, and you can tell that they’ve been busy. The theme for this year is "The Open Web", and we have an awesome line-up of talks, workshops, and hackfests around this theme. We’ve got folks from Mozilla, Drupal, Yahoo, and Sahana and more. It’s going to be four butt-kickingly amazing days!

Bottom line: If you’re in the vicinity, be there. It’s happening from Feb 12th to 15th, at IIT Kanpur.

FOSSKriti '09 - The Open Web

p.s.: It blows that I can’t make it. :(

FOSSKriti Finalé

FOSSKriti is winding up now. Today was also very good.

We started with Piyush continuing the KDE track, this time for developers. It was a good talk — the quick ‘n dirty PyQt demo was the icing on the cake. It really showed people how easy working on desktop apps can be.

We had a BoF session in the afternoon that rotated around Open Standards and Open Formats. We had about 20 people there, and after a 5-10 minute intro, we got around to a pretty interesting discussion. We started talking about whether open standards are really a “good thing”. The general consensus was that companies should be able to make money from their products, but vendor lock-in is bad. People agreed that the Adobe’s PDF model of keeping the format open and making money off the tools seems to work well. We then progressed to talk about how we can impact open format adoption. We settled on:

  • Use open formats
  • Accept only open formats in communication, to what extent is possible
  • Get people to use open formats
    • Start with people who are willing to experiment and change
    • Then move to people who don’t care, and show them how open formats are better for them
    • Keep trying, no matter how bleak it looks
  • Keep bugging companies that use closed formats to open them

The discussion was lively, and went all around the board — good fun.

Finally, Chaitanya Gupta of gave (actually, is giving) a talk on Common Lisp. People are sitting in there instead of standing in the queue to listen to Strings, so I’m guessing something is going right. Grin

Oh, and did I mention that we distributed 200+ Ubuntu/Kubuntu-KDE4/$distro_of_choice CDs just today?

So it’s been a fantastic four days. Neither the weather nor colds, sore throats, and $illnesses could get in the way. We had awesome speakers who came here against a whole bunch of odds (thanks Shreyas, Ankita and Piyush!)

Saurabh Nanda made it possible of course, to arrange the event at all.

And of course all the volunteers out here kicked butt. They tirelessly did stuff late into the night if it needed doing — designing and putting up posters, waking up early (or not sleeping) to get to the airport in the morning, and on and on.

A very special thanks goes out to Atul Chitnis — our event would’ve floundered somewhere right near the beginning. He guided, helped, prodded, pushed and made FOSSKriti what it is. And there’s Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay, Pradeepto Bhattacharya, and Runa Bhattacharjee who supported us from the moment we told them what we were planning to do. Thanks, guys!

So things are winding down, and I’m off to pass out in a ditch somewhere. :-)

[Rohit has to get photos up (put ’em up, dammit!), and I really really hope we can get videos of some of the events (update soon)]

… addendum

Can’t believe I forgot this — even before the Beagle Hackfest started, Sainath got started on hacking up a Beagle search plugin for Pidgin. You just select some text, and you can easily start a Beagle search with a couple of clicks. And it extends well to any search service. He’s going to release this soon, so the dude’s made FOSSKriti even better!

FOSSKriti Goodness

So the Beagle Hackfest happened on Thursday, starting at 10 p.m. We expected a few people, but were pleasantly surprised by the 60 who turned up. I might’ve scared off 20 of them with my initial presentation on what and why were were there. That still left us with 40+ really enthusiastic people.

We had some trouble starting up the machines, but our awesome participants stuck it out till we got things hammered out, with an amazingly patient dBera helping a lot. Things went on till 4 a.m. (at which point we needed to get just a little shut-eye (a few didn’t sleep at all) to prepare for the next day). At this point, we submitted a Firefox Beagle Search Bar written by Jai Kumar Singh (a.k.a. flukebox). In a day or two, another group should be able to submit a patch for a BibTeX filter. And there’s another project that I hope to talk more about in the days to come.

Yesterday (Friday) morning, we had Shreyas Srinivasan delivering a talk on building sexy UIs with Clutter. We had about 200 people in the hall, and it was a huge success. How do I know this? There were a lot of questions after the talk and they were almost all relevant and insightful. Afterwards, a bunch of people even got in touch with Shreyas about getting started on contributing. ‘Twas good!

Today started with Ankita Garg delivering a workshop on the Linux kernel. The lab was packed, and we had to turn away a huge number of people. A lot of the crowd was too new to Linux to appreciate what was happening, but some people took away what was intended.

This was followed by Piyush Verma’s talk on KDE4 for users. This went well — good turn out, and people learnt about KDE, asked good questions. He’s going to be talking about KDE 4 from a developer’s perspective. Looking forward to that. :-)

Next up was Ankita again, with a talk on LinuxChix. We had expected a large turnout but had about 13 women and 20 men. But the crowd was interested, and we had a good discussion after the talk covering the LinuxChix organisation, and how it can be useful in the context of the audience. Ankita’s got the list of stuff that came out of the discuss so I’ll link to it when it’s out.

Since we ticked off a whole bunch of IITK people by turning them away from the kernel workshop (we decided to keep only the non-IITKians). So Ankita very awesomely agreed to take another session. And we had a packed lab again. This time, the crowd was a lot more savvy, and things went better. If only we’d had more time, we could’ve had a longer session with more questions. But bravo to Ankita for talking for 6 hours today. Anyone who’s delivered even an hour-long talk will know what a feat that is.

As the finale for today, Saurabh Nanda and Chaitanya Gupta of are conducting a Ruby on Rails workshop, followed by a hackfest. We’ve got the CSE department’s largest classroom full of interested and engaged people, so we’re happy to go as late into the night as we need to. :-D

So that’s how FOSSKriti’s been going so far. Tomorrow’s the last day. It’s been legendary! (I told you so …)

[photos soon]

And the surprises are out …

And the surprise is out — the wonderful folks at (especially Saurabh Nanda), in addition to being awesome and supporting sponsors, are going to be delivering two workshops.

The workshops are on Ruby on Rails (a hackfest will follow the workshop) and Common Lisp. I was around when these guys were planning out the workshops, and their energy and passion when it comes to RoR and CL is incredibly contagious.

So not only are these guys making FOSSKriti possible, they’re helping us make it kick even more butt!

(p.s.: more info on the CL workshop and RoR hackfest will be out soon)

FOSSकृति Update

Things are going well on the FOSSKriti front. We’ve got an awesome set of talks and workshops (but you’re going to have to wait to find out more here). We’ve got a great set of speakers who are not only good at what they do, but passionate to boot. It’s going to be legen…<wait for it>…dary!

What’s more, we’re having a Beagle Hackfest too! We’ve collected a set of easy-to-attack tasks that have cropped up on the mailing list and IRC in recent times. It’s been a long time since I was around a Beagle/Dashboard hackfest. I still remember the first time I got all excited about this stuff, back in the day. :-)

The schedule’s out, with a couple of surprises still to be sprung. If you’re going to be dropping by, drop me a line here!

More updates soon …



That’s right. This year, IIT Kanpur’s techfest, Techkriti, is going to host FOSSKriti — our very own F/OSS mini-conference. We’re having talks, BoF sessions, workshops and maybe a hackfest or two. It is going to be legendary! More updates in the days to come.

Nirbheek and I are going to be trying to arrange a Dashboard/Beagle hackfest too. Let’s see how that goes. :-)

So if you’re coming to Techkriti, do drop in!