FOSS.IN: A report
Posted Dec 8, 2005 20:07 UTC (Thu) by jaldhar
Parent article: FOSS.IN: A report
I attended foss.in on behalf of Debian. I gave a couple of talks on the
first day and spent most of the rest of the four days talking to people,
so many people I had almost lost my voice by Friday.
From my perspective, although the problems mentioned by Jon are real, I
think the worst of it is already past. The bureaucracy and institutional
rigidity are there but slowly losing their grip and don't forget finding
ways of working around red tape is also a time-honored Indian tradition.
Perhaps because Debian attracts the kind of people who have a DIY mindset
to begin with, I did not hear too much about these kinds of problems.
Rather, my correspondants had more practical issues.
1. Bandwidth. If you're lucky your workplace has some. Your home almost
certainly does not. (Though DSL is becoming available in big cities
now.) This makes e.g. using apt-get or following high-traffic mailing
lists problematic. sneakernet over DVDs seems to be a common method of
distribution which is ok for users but if you want to participate in
development it sucks.
2. Documentation. American or European computer books are available but
too costly for many people. A lot of publishers do cheaper Indian
reprints but there is often a lot of lag before they are available. In
any case dead tree books are often out of date. There needs to be more
and higher quality online documentation under licenses which will allow
people to print out some copies and pass them around.
3. Isolation. People felt cut off from the broader free software
community. Having people like Alan Cox and Rasmus Lerdorf attending the
conference was tremendously uplifting. It made the whole idea of free
software seem more real in many eyes. I made it a point to reach out to
everyone who expressed even a slight interest in Debian, answering their
questions and pointing them to resources. (I didn't feel I had to do more
than the usual amount of handholding but, again, that could just be
because I was dealing with Debian folk.) The key thing is to just be out
there making people aware of what can be done. If other projects were to
also do the same, I'm sure they too would get a lot of response from the
Indian foss community.
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