November 30th, 2005


FOSS.IN - Day 1 Report

FOSS.IN began yesterday (29th). Atul gave a short inaugural speech which was followed by a talk by Alan Cox on general FOSS development issues - it was completely non technical. Soon after, the technical talks section started - there were parallel talks in six separate halls.

I had to be in the FOSS expo stall to set up Phoenix. Some of the other exhibits included the IndLinux project and an application of FOSS to agriculture (a tool running on the Simputer which can identify weeds - developed by the French institute in Pondicherry). There were some students demonstrating the open source telephony software `Asterisk', there was also a guy who had done some amazing graphics work with Blender (basically models of automobiles - including the uniquely Indian `Ambassador' car - looking it the images which he had created, you would believe that they are real photographs).

Not many people were coming into the FOSS expo room - but to those who came, we distributed the Phoenix poster - I handed over the job of explaining things to Unni and Vidyaraj.

One interesting person I met was a kid who came as part of the Delhi LUG (I think) - he is just 14 years old (looks much younger) and likes writing shell scripts. I tried to impress him with Phoenix - but sadly failed :-( it takes a *lot* to impress kids these days as they are used to hi-tech stuff, and as I had mentioned in an earlier post, most people are clueless about the astounding amount of scientific research which goes into the creation of things they `play' with.

I was glad to catch up with some past students - Maxin and Krishnaprasad had come from Pondicherry . Then there were Justin, Vimal, Krishna from Bangalore.

When you register for the event, you get Rs.250/- worth of food coupons. Myself and Justin did a `trial' run of these coupons and ordered coffee - we got something which looked like coffee filled up to 3/4th part of a tiny little plastic glass. The cost was Rs.10/-. Justin asked the vendor to fill it to the brim!! Most people seemed to be quite content paying Rs.10/- for half filled glasses - Justin used this as an occassion for social commentary - Bangalore is the land of the rich `Software' guys - people are prepared to throw money at anything and everything, whether it is a glass of coffee or a new flat. This is driving prices up astronomically ... to a point where the non-software guys would find it difficult to live.

There was a commercial expo where companies like HP, Sun had put up stalls. The HP stall was demoing a cluster and the Sun guys were demonstrating `dtrace'.

I attended a few talks - one which did a comparison between NetBSD and Linux and another on writing GCC backends. The speakers were quite good and the audience response was very positive. There were some `bad' talks as well, which is quite natural as this is a big event and you can't expect everything to be `top class'. Anyway, as a teacher, I know very well that taking a good class is *real* hard; many people don't realize this and don't give speakers any consideration.

It's time to go for Day 2 .....