Ramblings on Foss.in 2007

Sat 08 December 2007 by Thejaswi Puthraya

My ramblings on Foss.in 2007

I was quite excited to be attending my first free software conference. The excitement doubled when I heard a lot about Foss.in from previous attendees. Though the hype this time was low, I expected it to hold a lot for newbies like me.

The organizers left not just me but a lot of others disappointed. This time Foss.in adopted the theme "How to contribute to Foss projects". Sadly they did not realize that there are so few users of Foss software in India and it did not make sense to theme it. I would agree that contributors are very important but dedicating a whole conference for contributors at the cost of users is insane.

Developers are a by-product of users

When awareness is created about free software and people start using it, a small percentage of them might contribute to the movement. If a user is hell-bent on contributing, he will go to any ends to satsify that craving.

By expecting newbies (most of whom have not used or sparingly used free software) to sit through such talks will only boomerang.

I am sure there will be detractors to my previous statement. I challenge them to show data that shows newbies contributing after attending such events.

DRY is important

Most talks were centered around l10n or i18n. Again I have to agree with the organizers that l10n and i18n are crucial for wider adoption of free software but having so many (very similar) talks can really be painful.

The pros

Well I guess I had enough of ranting on the cons of Foss.in. But there were a couple of pros (which still couldn't overshadow the cons).

  • One was the surprising inclusion of an accessibility talk at the Mozilla project days. The talk was given by Krishnakant Mane. In this talk, he gave an overview of the need for accessibility and a small case study of how blind people (like him) can easily install GNU/Linux unassisted but can't even dream to do so with Windows.
  • The other was the felicitation of Naba Kumar and his wife (and the name of his pet project) Anjuta. Naba was the keynote speaker. Though his talk was slightly subdued (thanks to the theme of the conference) he did make it a point to give an overview of the Anjuta IDE.


Ignoring newbies is not a good sign. It gives a feeling of "casteism" when you cater only to a certain section of people.

My 2 cents: If this is the way Foss.in will be conducted in the future then the organizers should consider naming the conference "Farce.in".