Last week, I attended FOSS.in, and in short, it was awesome. The organisation was superb, the weather was fine (well, maybe not for people who do not like a drizzle or two), and the food was excellent. Many people had doubts regarding the efficacy of the workouts, and in the end, almost all of the workouts had some concrete results to show, which, I would say is a major achievement, considering that each workout lasted for only around 3 hours. There was occasional problems with the bandwidth, but with an event of this size, minor glitches are bound to happen.
My Sugar/OLPC talk went OK-ish, though it did seem to generate a lot of enthusiastic queries and discussions. It was quite a pleasant surprise on the next day, when a few guys came up to me, asking me to help them with their Sugar installation in Ubuntu and Fedora. Moreover, on the penultimate day, Nirbheek, Piyush and I stayed up till late in the night, excitedly discussing possible Sugar activities that can be developed/adopted. The XO-s, as usual were crowd pullers, and since there were three of them (I was carrying two, Kushal one), we also ran stock Fedora 10 with GNOME on one of them (booting off a SD card). At a certain point, we also ran the Fedora KDE spin on one of the XOs, much to the delight of Pradeepto-da and the rest of the gang in the KDE stall.
I spent most of the time in the Fedora stall, and it’s really awesome to see the enthusiasm of the Fedora guys. The most common query seemed to be “Do you guys have a copy of F-10?”, and unfortunately, initially, we did not have that. Afterward though, thanks to t3rmin4t0r, we had ISOs available, and quite a few enthusiastic visitors copied them into their portable hard drives/usb sticks. Kushal was slightly over-enthusiastic with his camera (both the still and motion varieties), though he did come up with some totally amazing stuff. Going by the number of DSLR carrying shutterbugs at the event (including yours truly), some have proposed renaming the event to Camera.in for 2009. While talking with the rest of the Fedora guys, I also discovered Kobold, which can be quite useful for distributing Sugar based live images to interested people at events.
I also had some interesting discussions on various Indic related stuff (going back to my roots with Gora, Santhosh, Rahul and Pravin. It was mostly comparing notes, and I figured out that this bug in glibc affects all Indic scripts, and not just Bengali. Gora’s session on collation and spell-checking was also pretty interesting, especially since doing affix support in Aspell for Bengali has been on my TODO list for a long time.
In the end, Foss.in is one of those few conferences, which reinforce the feeling of belonging to a community in you. It turns IRC nicks into real human beings, and takes your sense involvement in the community to a new level altogether. Free/Open Source is about more than sharing a common set of beliefs, or a common set of ideas, or having a common set of skills. Free Software brings people having similar passions together, and then creates a bond of friendship between them. It’s about enjoying something together, having fun together, and personally to me, that is perhaps the most important thing. Thanks to FOSS.in, and the Fedora project for letting me have this wonderful opportunity.
My only disappointment during the conference was Karunakar. This was the first time in nearly five years, where both of us have been to the same conference, and I have not been able to take a picture of him dozing off. However, Kushal did manage to get an awesome picture of his teeth, and unknown to him, this picture was the subject of a headline in the first page of the Indlinux wiki, for around an hour or so.
And, here’s a picture of yet another amazing thing done by the conference organisers, this one specially for the speakers… a T-shirt with your IRC nick printed on it: