FOSS @ Shaastra 2008 – Satisfaction at last.

It is really satisfying to see people enthusiastic about developing FOSS, about submitting patches, people who stayed up till the wee hours of morning looking into code, trying to hunt down bugs. We had this satisfaction at Shaastra 2008.

Although nothing went ideally, the proceedings left us with some sort of satisfaction and joy at the end. Although coordinatorship and participation in other events were clearly mutually exclusive, I am completely content with this Shaastra. We had a whole bunch of folks really really excited about FOSS contribution at the end of the day, and the bunch is still in touch with us. The excitement are sustaining.

Shreyas’ talk was simply amazing. I appreciate it thoroughly. Truly spoken out of experience. I’m pretty sure everyone agrees with me. I was late for Dr. Kapil’s talk because I was preparing the systems at the lab for the evening’s hackfest. Again, one more excellent talk. Lots of learning.

The first Hackfest session was a complete demonstration of unplannedness, disorganization and disaster. We were never prepared for that kind of crowd, that too with a good percentage of people with no FOSSy backgrounds. 1 PM, people got bored, walked out. Now, we had a _working_ group. 5 patches to KStars.

Hackfest session 2 – seemed like a success. All the 1337h4x0rs went to one side of the lab while the non-FOSSy / non-developerish but really enthusiastic folks gathered on the other end. Demonstration on how yours truly added DBus functionality to MCabber with logical reasoning that was feigned out of a 1 hour practice session before the demo. Seemed to be good. 1 Debian package in the meanwhile, but that was a ‘pilot’ package.

Guido van Rossum’s videoconference (?) ended up being an audioconference. Murphy once again. What worked perfectly well in the dry run did not work in the big show. Guido’s message for the student-dominated gathering was (if I have, as I hope to, interpreted it correctly) that one must try things that he wouldn’t normally do, things that have no reason to be done, because they are learning experiences that enhance the spread of your knowledge. Guido uses EMacs 🙂 🙂 🙂 but recommends that others use vim because EMacs has saturated. We’re going to put up the audio recording of the Q&A session on the net, and I’ll link it in here.

My talk was a not satisfactory to me, mostly because it was KDE-specific. I think I must’ve done a hack-demo like the one at the Hackfest, but in the KDE Kontext. The audience was most probably not apt. But a lot of people did meet me after the talk, and that was a productive session. Maybe we’re going to see a strong FOSS team from the Vellore Institute of Technology. Sudharshan’s talk was a brief 45 minute one where he demonstrated DFeet, DBus and told us why the project was important. Interesting talk. Followed by GSoCcers talking about their projects (Madhusudhan, Arun and I) and subsequently about The GSoC programme.

At the end, we’ve learnt a LOT. I hope the FOSS events are going to be better next year. We could pass down the wisdom we gathered to the coordinators, so that they could do a better job. Negative feedback here again, which I cannot forget to mention after all those Analog Circuits classes! It’s thanks to a NITTian’s feedback about the FOSS Workshop at Shaastra 2007 that these events could take good shape.

Lastly, 😛 to all those guys who missed it, Pradeepto being at the top of the stack. I must at this point appreciate Pradeepto’s enthusiasm. He was considering booking his tickets on the day before the event.

I’d like to ACK a lot of people for the event’s success (as we’d like to project it):

  • Pradeepto, Shreyas, Dr. Kapil, Arun Raghavan, our “mentors”;
  • the NetApp folks, our sponsors;
  • Vikram S V, Sanjeev Sripathi, Arun Chaganty (almost), my co-coordinators;
  • Pranesh, Kirtika, Naveen, Prasanna and Prakash, our organizing volunteers;
  • Rakesh Misra, the guy who enforced our planning and made the event a success, a.k.a the QMS coordinator;
  • Nachiketas, the enthusiastic contributor and also the facilities chap
  • Midhun S and Raghav Iyengar, the guys who brought us the sponsorships;
  • Madhusudhan, Santhosh, Sudharshan, Vaidy, our co-contributors;
  • Avinash, Suvinay, Immanuel, Ajinkya, Kshitiz, Harpreet, Vaibhav, Vineeth, Krishna, Rehman… the list goes on : the budding contributors