July 25th, 2005


GNU/Linux Festival at GEC Trichur

It's my first post on LJ; and I am writing this with a great deal of enthusiasm. The Computer Science and Engineering students of Govt Engineering College, Trichur have come together to organize a technical festival after a gap of I believe three years. The focus of the techfest is GNU/Linux and Free Software. So what, you ask? Yet another meaningless exercise where a bunch of people come together and TALK a lot without doing anything concrete. Well, the difference this time is that the students are concentrating on DOING things rather than blowing lots of hot air. A good number of senior students have started conducting sessions for the junior guys where they are introduced to the philosophy of Free Software - the juniors are also given a taste of the technical nature of the platform by the way of practical demonstrations. Students are also trying to get involved in GNU/Linux activities outside the college.

The `decline' of the Indian software industry together with the belief that `Computers' can be studied `part time' has lead to a gradual decline of the quality of CS students in all technical instituitions (this is, I believe, a global phenomenon). As a teacher, what I fear most is a situation where I am faced with a bunch of guys ALL of whom are not motivated enough to get excited about what I teach. This fear has been realized; but there is a silver lining. I now have a handful of guys (and a few girls; those who believe that hacking is for boys would be surprised to meet a girl student of mine whose idea of fun is doing stuff with the parallel port, writing device driver code etc.. I think I should devote an entire post to the issue of gender in programming...) who are doing cool stuff with GNU/Linux ... I hope these fellows keep up the good work.

Coming back to the GNU/Linux fest, former students reading this post can do a lot to make this event a success; what I want you to do immediately is to identify people involved with GNU/Linux at all levels (education, research, engineering, NGO's ...) who would be willing to share their experience by taking part in the event.