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Silver Reflects

My reflections on various topics under the sun

Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


FOSS.IN (India's largest Free & Open Source Software event) was held last week at the Bangalore Palace over a period of four days (Nov 29 - Dec 2). This conference, formerly known as Linux Bangalore, has expanded its scope this time to include other FOSS topics in addition to Linux.

On the first day I reached the venue at 8.30 A.M. But the registration process which was supposed to have started at 8 A.M. got delayed & I ended up waiting in the queue till 9.15 A.M. to get my entry pass & delegate kit. As a result of this delay, all talks were delayed by nearly an hour. The inauguration finally happened at 10 A.M. followed by Alan Cox's general talk on participating in open source projects. I followed this up by attending a bunch of tech talks - investigation of Kernel Mode Linux, performance measurement of Linux 2.6.10 kernel (last 10 minutes) and an egregiously bad talk on the pitfalls of Loadable Kernel Modules (the grating accents of the two 'professionals' who delivered this and the set of unprofessionally done slides which they used made the whole discourse all the more repulsive). But Andrew Cowie's talk on equivalence, which I attended next, made up for the insipid morning. Andrew is an amazing speaker - eloquent, brimming with energy, almost hopping with excitement on the stage. Following this I attended a talk on Sun's Project GlassFish & another one on the Apache Software Foundation's Geronimo project. But the highlight of the day was our drive back from the venue which lasted all of 2 hours as we managed to take every wrong turn we could have taken along the way. Despite my repeated assurances to Chandan that we were headed up the wrong 'alley', he chose to ignore my advice resulting in temporal losses for both of us.

On the second day, I attended the post lunch set of talks - Interaction of GPL & non-GPL code in Linux kernel - a very informative one and shared subtree concept & implementation in the Linux kernel. After this I proceeded to roam around the various stalls set up by numerous open source companies. Sun profited the most from this event as their OpenSolaris demos at their stall went down very well with the delegates.

The third day began with a talk by Andrew Cowie aimed at "motivating participation in FOSS from people who may not have yet found a way to do so". The best part was when he strongly derided the dogmatic stance adopted by Richard M Stallman regarding the usage of the word 'free' by citing one instance where RMS left a bad impression on the attendees at some conference when he started yelling at a translator who translated 'free' to imply 'at no cost' rather than 'without restrictions'. To substantiate his point further, Andrew also commented on the usage of the term GNU/Linux instead of just Linux to describe what RMS calls 'the GNU operating system which uses the Linux kernel'. These observations drew a huge round of applause from the audience. But the rest of the talks which I attended left much to be desired for. I returned back to work after lunch.

On the whole, the broadened scope of the event benefitted some sections, notable among them being Sun. But I feel this expansion has somehow diluted the event. According to the organisers of the event, "...it was a glorious success. 2733 delegates, 140+ speakers, 180+ talks, workshops, tutorials and BoFs. It was fantastic." Yeah, but that is just the statistical analysis & statistics can lie. Quality isn't assured by numbers. Honestly, very few speakers were convincing enough in their arguments. But my opinion in this matter may have been clouded by my attendance at only a few talks. Moreover even the ones I attended were mostly technical in nature - so I might be partly wrong here. Based on my experiences as a delegate at Linux Bangalore 2003 and FOSS.IN 2005, I can confidently dole out this piece of advice - as is the case with open source development, self reliance is the best policy when attending such conferences; always try to get an introduction to a topic rather than trying to get in depth information about it (you can always Google for the details anyway :-).


Blogger Venu said...

Hey, nice post man.

I am not sure I fully understood why Java on Linux is tricky. Is Equivalence somewhat like

I particularly liked reading about the Inside/Outside talk. Reminds me of an existentialist principle: "You are the nothing but the sum of your actions."

December 10, 2005 6:24 PM  
Blogger Venu said...

Now I know I should never submit without a preview. :-)

December 10, 2005 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that the conference went well. I hope to be there next year. -- Jim G. (http://blogs.sun.com/jimgris)

December 11, 2005 7:09 AM  
Blogger Rajat said...


Thanks. AFAIK, Equivalence is not like Ant; it is the equivalent of autoconf. Ant, since it is written in Java needs to find the Java installation before it can work, which means that you have to give it the path. But equivalence does this finding the installation - compiler & runtime for you. Setting the classpath too I presume. And very less clutter is present is output unlike the auto tools. The demo for this was good.

Inside/Outside talk was really excellent.

December 11, 2005 2:20 PM  

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