[Reader-list] India's Silicon Valley Gets Ready for an Ambitious Gnu/Linux Event

Harsh Kapoor aiindex at mnet.fr
Tue Dec 4 03:29:00 IST 2001


By Frederick Noronha

IT'S BEING billed as one of the most ambitious GNU/Linux event of its kind,
and it's being staged in Bangalore, the South Indian city considered the
'Silicon Valley' of this country. Volunteer-organisers of the 'Linux
Bangalore/2001 are already confidently promising that the three-day
conference will cover a very wide canvas on understanding and using Linux.

To be held from December 10 to 12, 2001, this event is being built into an
'applied technology' conference. It is intended for open source and
free-software developers, administrators, and users. And IT decision makers.

Mahendra M., currently the coordinator of the Bangalore Linux Users' Group
(BLUG) calls this major event one "for the Linux community, by the Linux
community". Recent years have seen a spurt in interest in free software and
open source usage in India, a country which is sometimes considered a
software power-house, but where the lack of affordable Internet access till
the late 'nineties has delayed the expected surge of interest in Linux.

Signs are now coming in, though, that a significant segment of a generation
of college students and programmers in various parts of India are getting
fascinated by this new way of working on software. It is expected that in a
few years time, countries like India could contribute significantly to the
global grassroots drive to build up the 'free' software world.

Said Mahendra, a young engineer: "Linux Bangalore/2001 is a three day
conference on understanding and using Linux technologies. This conference
aims to cover a large number of areas that include core Linux technologies,
Open Source, Embedded Systems and other allied technologies. We are planning
to give 72 talks over a period of three days."

This conference aims to cover a large number of areas that include core
Linux technologies, Open Source, Embedded Systems and other allied

Its primary audience will be the core (or potential) Linux-using community
of developers (who are being appropriately categorized, for this techie
meet, as /dev), system administrators (/adm), users (/usr) and
CxO/managers/decision makers (/cxo).

"Each track will include introductory, technical, how-to and tutorial
sessions, catering to 'newbies' (people new to Linux) to 'gurus' (people who
know Linux in and out)," explained Mahendra.

To make this event accessible to many, entrance is free. This is significant
in a Third World country where the cost factor still looms large, and when
people talk about GNU/Linux being a 'free' operating system, the cost aspect
could be as important as the freedom aspect, for many.

Said the organisers, commenting about what they called the 'entry f(r)ee'
status of the event: "We have decided to make entry free for all. We feel
that it is the present student community that is going to drive the
phenomenal growth of Linux (in India) in the days to come and it would be
doing injustice if they find the event costs prohibitive. At the same time,
we see no need to make employees run to their managers to get budget
approval just so that they can attend this event. As long as you can get an
approval for $ 0 /Rs 0 from your company, you can attend!"

Over one thousand persons registered for the event by end-November,
according to Indian Linux guru Atul Chitnis. This Bangalore-based software
whizz's efforts at promoting Linux through popular Indian computing
magazines like PC-QUEST, in the past, have taken this OS to varied nook and
crannies of this vast country of 1000 million.

"New technologies and their implementation/application under Linux will be
discussed as well, making this a technology conference to remember. In
addition to this, we also intend to provide assistance to new users and more
information to technology enthusiasts," promised the organisers.

During the event, there will be multiple tracks and with six sessions every
day from 10 am to 5 pm, plus Birds-of-Feather (BoF) sessions at the end of
the day. There will be an estimated 70-72 talks.

In addition, also planned are separate workshops, tutorials, case studies
and demonstrations. Speakers for this event will be drawn from the Indian
Linux community, as well as the IT industry.

This event is being held at the impressive J.N.Tata Auditorium at the
Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Incidentally, a team at
the IISc itself is inching its way towards completing what it calls the
'Simputer'. This simple and inexpensive sub-$200 (Rs 9000) computing device
that is expected to make computing affordable to the commonman (and woman).
Not coincidentally perhaps, the Simputer is to work on GNU/Linux.

Exploiting the Net technologies to the optimum, the organisers sought
volunteers to offer talks. This drew in dozens of enthusiastic specialists,
giving a clue of the vast spread and understanding GNU/Linux has gained
across India since the late 'nineties... and in some cases, a little earlier.

Talks range from connecting to the Internet, to setting up an "optimal"
Linux server, and adding a scripting language to your toolkit.

Remote booting disk-less machines, 'bug-safe' Linux, IDS and Forensic
Analysis, IPv6 deployment and usage, 'thin clients', Lotus Domino on Linux,
Linux Intrusion Detection System (LIDS), deploying ATMs on Linux, anti-spam
tools, GRID computing, low-cost ISP (Internet Service Provider) setups, and
bandwidth management using Linux are among the other subjects to be covered.

On the developer track, speakers will explain GNOME development tools and
BONOBO, the Linux kernel itself, Linux device drivers, porting and embedding
Linux, PHP programming, data-driven websites, licenses, Linux databases,
clustering concepts in Linux and a range of other topics.

Some of the names of those tackling these subjects are familiar through the
well-knit Linux networks and communities that exist in cyberspace. Recent
attempts to unearth Indian programming contributions to Linux have shown
that the once-small effort is now fast growing, more than is generally
understood or acknowledged.

IT managers and decision-makers could also tune in to topics such as Linux
for ISO 9000:2000 Implementations, Linux in the enterprise, Linux in Indian
space science research, Linux as the 'dream OS', and experiments learnt from
the KDE experiment.

Linux users will not be left out either. They can choose from learning more
on Linux on the 'corporate desktop', multimedia under Linux, or 3D images
and animations.

One area of interest to many would be Linux's potential in VoIP
(voice-over-Internet protocol, or Net telephony). For long banned by the
Indian government, VoIP is expected to be legalised sometime after March 2002.

What is also vitally important to the future of computing in India is the
attempt to offer Indian-language Linux versions, that could be accessible to
the millions who don't understand English.

During the event, Frank Pohlmann is scheduled to speak on the Linux
Documentation Project and Indian languages. other speakers will also present
studies on Indian language computing on Linux and related subjects.

This event is managed by young volunteers of BLUG, the Bangalore Linux
Users' Group. Including Mahendra M (BLUG Coordinator), Jessica Prabhakar,
Biju Chacko, Syed Khader Vali, Kingsly John, U.K.Jaiswal Manager Support,
Kalyan Varma Alluri, Vineeth S, Madhu M. Kurup.

Advisors to this ambitious plan are long-time GNU/Linux gurus Gopi Garge 

and Atul Chitnis You can reach the team by email: lb2001 at linux-bangalore
dot org.

Hewlett Packard (India Software Operations) has wholly sponsored Linux
Bangalore/2001, amidst some early fears that the recession and the September
11 attacks in the US might make the task of finding sponsorship impossible.

Updates are at http://linux-bangalore.org/2001

In addition, there is also a mailing-list set up to discuss plans for the
event. If you wish to discuss about the event, send a blank email to
linux-bangalore-2001-subscribe at yahoogroups.com (ENDS)

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