This time around, some of us free software enthusiasts at college decided to celebrate Software Freedom Day. It was a beautiful event, and the student crowd seems to have enjoyed it! Post event, I’m getting lots of requests for contributing to GlitterGallery as well, which makes me really happy!
A junior of mine, Abhishek Ahuja, wrote a great report about the event, so I thought I would include that here 🙂 We’re still processing the pics, so I’ll add them here soon! Following is Abhishek’s report:
As customarily celebrated all over the world on the third Saturday of September, this year Software Freedom Day was celebrated for the first time in Amrita School of Engineering as well. The main focus of the event was to spread awareness about the definitions and privileges of free software. The academic society, here and now, is largely unaware of the existence, not to go so far as the advantages of free software. Students, as well as trainers can be made to spend their time and efforts more productively if made to collaborate efficiently. Proprietary software like Windows, though common and familiar to most, is inconvenient to many, but still, people do not say against for the lack of knowledge of alternative systems. People do not mind spending two minutes for a scan every time they use a flash drive, to be sure it is safe for their computer. This act would be unnecessary, if the said person were using, say, a linux-based operating system, which does not react in any way to malware. It is not something we would think much about, but then again it’s one of the small things that happen to affect us in a big way. A programmer should use a computer as a tool, but if he is so scared that his tool may fail to perform every now and then, and spends his energy trying to make an exhaustive list of all the things that can go wrong with it, then the person concerned is more of a servant to the machine, than the other way round, as is meant to be. The above example is only one such instance of why proprietary software is inefficient. Many more such everyday actions performed on computers can be cited, with pretty much the same result. The point is not to eliminate Windows entirely, it is to put to use only where its use cannot be avoided. This is an aspect of software most people will not fully understand until they are exposed to both platforms of computing. Thus this workshop made students realise that they had an option, they had the freedom to choose what platform they wish to work on, making an informed choice in the process.
The event kickstarted with an introduction to the idea of open source by Abhishek. He explained why it’s logical to invest in free software. He spoke about some of the popular distributions available, along with open source software that could be used on platforms such as Windows, for those not willing to migrate to Linux. This was followed by a talk on what distro suits best for people based on their needs, by Sharad.
The workshop went on to discuss other success stories of the open source model, like the Linux kernel, Wikipedia and git and also the process of co-operative development was brought to light since one of the speakers, Sarup, is an active member of the developing society. Sarup also discussed open source from a student contributor perspective, emphasizing on the fact that one doesn’t need to be a master of any specific language or technology to start – they just need to love their favorite open source projects well enough. He introduced resources such as OpenHatch, where newcomers can look for good first bugs, along with a quick primer on version control using git and collaboration on GitHub. He spoke about various programs students can involve in, such as the Google Summer of Code and Season of KDE. Finally, he encouraged girl students to contribute to open source, introducing some eminent women in open source and programs such as the Gnome OPW.The whole event wasn’t just limited to the power of software, there was a session on Open Hardware too. Aravind introuduced the enthusiastic student crowd to Arduino. He encouraged the attendees to come up with crazy ideas for hobby hardware projects. Students who came up with interesting ideas were thrown some goodies too!
A major attraction to the event was the installfest. The attendees were asked to bring along their computers and a flash drive, as part of the event. Distributions of open source software were given to the attendees and they were assisted in installing Linux-based operating systems on their computers. This was the action part of the workshop which complimented the remaining speaking part. The attendees were excited and pleased to walk out with their newly-found (realized) freedom and the will to experiment and curiosity to learn more.