Minutes of the BLUG Meet: August 2001



Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2001 18:16:34 +0530
From: Madhu M. Kurup
Subject: Minutes for August 2001 Meeting

Hi folks,

For all of you who wanted to be there at the LUG meet on August 25th but didn't make it - sorry. Hard Luck. I'm not going to make it any easier.You missed some good time and some great fun. This was the 10th birthday party of Linux and where were you? The meeting was a planned, organized and a resounding success. Although, as usual we were completely fly by wire(!), things worked out really well, and a good time was had by all.

Plans had been made early for a "Linux:State of the Union" kind of organization around which talks were scheduled. This was to be a considerably larger meeting, so it was held at Hotel Ashok, to be attended by the press as well. This meeting was made possible thanks to the sponsors, [0] who generously contributed to the event. In addition, thanks to some last minute overruns, all the token cover-charge that was collected from each member was also needed to settle the bills eventually.

The meeting was (not surpisingly) well attended - over 130 warm bodies filled the hall, most of whom came well in time. We even had Dr.Tarique Sani travelling all the way from Nagpur to attend the meet! This beats the previous record (107) for a BLUG meet. It is even more important because the previous record was set by a metting *without* cover charge!

The meeting began with Mahendra explaining how he had become the BSG (Backup Sacrificial Goat, i.e. the LUG coordinator) in place of Biju (who was away on his honeymoon, having just got married) and he called the meeting to order. He handed the podium to Atul Chitnis.

Atul is notorious for his ramble mode - this time, he started with the history of Linux. In a couple of slides he introduced the initial history and tales of Linus Torvalds as well his little OS. He also discussed the three possible dates for us to us and explained the rationale of August 25th as the birthday of Linux.

He then yielded the podium to Frank Pohlmann. Frank dealt with the present of Linux - discussing in both broad terms and with specifics the areas, applications and niches. He described all this very appropriately as Linux ecology. Leading in with the companies developing for Linux, he ended with a slide discussing what the slowdown in the economy means for Linux and Linux based companies, and the opportunities raised.

Madhu M Kurup (ahem, that's me!) spoke next, on Linux Development. I discussed the nature of Linux development, including the LKML [1] and the nature of fun when coding for Linux. Also spoke on the changes in the kernel (from 0.1 to 2.4.9) as well as the costs, time and effort involved in writing the 2.4.2 kernel [2] - $1 BILLION!

Next, Frank came back on to continue to discuss Linux in the future. He spoke about what Linux could change into in some time not in so many technical terms but in broader more strategic terms. Eventually, he also laid down a rather nice challenge to see if we could do some localization.

Mahendra came on next, smoothly taking off from Frank's broad hint about localization. His talk dealt with the possibility of getting the Bangalore LUG to move on the localization effort. It also included some screenshots of work that has already been done. Quite a buzz was created as it became evident that this was something of greatest interest to many people in the audience.

After this, on came Gopi "Papa Bear" Garge who then made the much awaited announcement about Linux Bangalore/2001 [3]. This is a technical event to be organized by the LUG Bangalore on December 10,11 and 12. Book mark your calenders people. He discussed the main areas of focus - Admin and Devel at the core, with peripheral tracks and topics and workshops, and then the tracks as they were. These include E-Goverenance, Multimedia, localization, etc. More details will be available on the website this week. He also introduced a slide which gave more information on how people could help either as speakers, volunteers and participants. To much cheering, it was announced that this event would obviously be free to attend.

Finally, Atul took over and discussed the evolution of the LUG, and why people like to use Linux. He used the analogy of a souped up racing car and the feeling of one-ness that racing car drivers have with their cars, and compared it to the feeling of control that Linux users have over their machines - something sadly missing with people using other OSs these days. He then sprung a little surprise. He had a copy of an ad that IBM had made for Linux. If you haven't seen this please make an effort to do so. I will try to describe this - but I know that nothing I describe here will be adequate, but let me try:

With the Bob Dylan warbling "The times they are a-changing" [4] this ad shows stark blank and white glimpses of what we have come to associate with freedom. Starting with movie clips, the ad covers Braveheart, The Patriot, Amistad - basically stirring movements in each movie. Then it changed to news clips, including Mahatma Gandhi's Dandi March, shots of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and that single man who stood before the tanks at Tiananmen Square during the 1989 crackdown[5]- basically really emotive moments. At the end, all images fade out to a black background, and then, in clear blue, the writing says

Every generation has had to fight for its freedom
Now it is our turn

Then the screen blanks out again, and a single name appears on the screen:


The audience completely erupted. Just as Bob Dylan's planitive voice trailed off, there was a massive outburst of clapping and cheering. This is a great ad - a really expressive ad that explains many of the things that we hold so dear. Once again, if you get a chance to see this ad, please do, its extremely well made. IBM should OpenSource it and make it available for download somewhere!

Atul wasn't quite done yet with getting the emotions flowing: he spoke again about Linux, and how it is part of our lives and what a difference it has made to us. He used this to justify our celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Linux, and called for a cake to be brought up front to be cut.

There was some confusion here as the hotel had accidentally bungled v1.0 of the cake (does the term "splat!" mean anything to you? :), needing a replacement.:). We decided to go ahead with the cake cutting with a spare replacement.

And Atul then called upon one of our LUG's first coordinators - Jessica Prabhakar to come up and cut the cake. Again a massive round of applause - Jessie was the coordinator who yanked the BLUG out of obscurity and into action with her efficient management of the BLUG's activities during her tenure, and was the coordinator when the BLUG created the first Linux participation in a national-level IT event (IT.COM '99). To much cheering and loud applause, Jessica cut the cake [6]. Atul then wound up proceedings, by (mis)quoting these famous lines:

"This is the story of Information Technology
Its primary mission:
To explore new technologies
To seek out new ways of doing things
To boldly go
Where Linux has gone before"

After this we moved on to dinner. Dinner was great. The food was good, but the company was even better. More reasons for you to feel bad if you weren't here. We were missing people though - Biju, KD, Naim and Khader to name just a few. Photos have already been put up [7]. We have three sets of photographers so we should have a shot of you - somewhere! The slides have also been put up [8].

Eventually, the meeting began to wind down. However, Hanish was as usual in full flow, he was found to be the last person to put down his plate - busy talking to the multitude of people who wanted to speak to him at length [9]. Some of members retired discreetly to celebrate Linux the official beer way, and missed what was probably the best part of the evening:

Many folks who remained, late into night, had an unofficial, informal BoF (Birds of a Feather) session, which was probably the most fun [10]. Ranging from the slowdown, VA Linux, Akamai, Subversion (the next potential CVS) [11] to ISP's in Bangalore, broadband, bandwidth from India - this BoF did everything. With Mrinal strumming on the guitar lightly, and a bunch of techies talking shop, it's pretty much the equivalent of heaven. We were there till 10:15, at which we decided to go home.

The entire event was brought to life by a group of people working for weeks to get everything in place. This showed in the high quality of the presentations and the talks, the timing and the attention to little details. And just once again - "the times, they *are* a changing". Till we meet again.


[0] http://www.linux-bangalore.org/events/aug25/details.php
[1] http://kt.zork.net/kernel-traffic/latest.html
[2] http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/redhat71-v1/
[3] http://linux-bangalore.org/2001
[4] http://www.bobdylan.com/songs/times.html
[5] http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/asia-pacific/newsid_75000/75679.stm
[6] http://linux-bangalore.org/meetings/200108/photos/kallucam/p8250020.jpg
[7] http://linux-bangalore.org/meetings/200108/photos/
[8] http://linux-bangalore.org/meetings/200108/slides/
[9] http://linux-bangalore.org/meetings/200108/photos/kallucam/p8250031.jpg
[10] http://linux-bangalore.org/meetings/200108/photos/kallucam/p8250032.jpg
[11] http://subversion.tigris.org/

Madhu M Kurup /* Nemo Me Impune Lacessit */ madhumkurup @ yahoo . com


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