Minidebconf Mangalore day -0 part -1

This post would again be a bit longish sharing about Day-0 of #minidebconf held at #nitte between 27th-28th October 2011. I have decided to put it in two-three parts as the day itself was long and too many things happened on day 1.

Recapping yesterday, arrived, tried to put some semblance to thoughts and work the presentation in a way in which the students would at very least relate.I would save all the ramblings on that topic in part-II/part-III of the post which would attempt to share some of the concerns and feelings I had on the topic. Anyways was up till 0300 working and making it short, while catching up with Pavi and all his latest gadgets. What was really cool was the Kindle Reader where he had got couple of audio books (dunno whether they were from or but still was cool. Was floored also by how light it was and the whole E-Ink thing. I do know that lot of work is happening in that area but somehow E-Ink displays have been a niche market.

Anyways, woke up and met with Christian on breafast where he shared with us the overpriced taxi bit from the Airport to wherever he had to go. Even in a recent KBC (Kaun Banega Crorepati or Indian Edition of Who wants to be a millionaire) had a person who had paid for an overpriced taxi. Admittedly both Sahar Airport and CSIA are confusing if you haven’t been in it before with all kinds of stuff going on. Anyways we all had a good laugh during breakfast when he was sharing his predicament and sharing some solutions for the next time.

Finally it was time to go for the 1st day but I had still some things to do hence was 10 minutes late. For the first time in many a years, I saw a conference being on-time rather than being late hence missed the first 5 or so minutes when the principal ‘Dr. SY Kulkarni’ shared something about the history of the institute. What was interesting to learn that NMAMIT,NITTE is the brainchild of a certain Justice Hedge, who is the father of the much-in-news Justice Hedge who spearheaded the movement against the Belekari Port scam about a year ago. The NITTE Education Trust has something like 25 odd institutions employing thousands of people and giving education to lakhs of students. This made me realize that Justice Heged comes from a very well-off financially strong background and hence could afford to be independent and take on those people.

Mr. Kulkarni shared that something like 2.4k students are under his tutelage with something like 7-8 streams in the college simultaneously. He also recalled the discussions about the minidebconf and how gradually he gravitated towards the idea of FOSS Culture which is and would be beneficial society. He finished his address by reminding the students about their social responsibility and asked them to take as much part as possible in order to benefit from the 2-day event.

Now it was time for Christian to address the students where again he regaled them with his overpriced taxi journey in Mumbai.

At the end all of the speakers were given momentos to remember the event. The momento itself was great as it was about a certain dramatics and dance form which is done in Karnataka traditionally. While I do not remember the actual name, IIRC it is basically about an actor who performs skits from the Ramayana and Mahabaratha and he has other people who do the vocals and instruments while he is only supposed to dance and do the ‘bhavs’ (sorta actions) which illustrate an episode from either of the big epics. It’s also supposed to be an all night affair as well. I have been to all night Ramayana plays in Old Delhi during childhood so can relate a bit to what it could be.

Anyways, after the candle was lit and momentos presented, it was time for refreshments where people had something called ‘Maal’ think it was milk with just a pinch of turmeric or at least the color looked liked that and some Samosa or something filled with veggies. Anyways, after about 20 odd minutes of the refreshement-break we went back in where Christian started his talk/sharing about introduction to Debian.

Christian opening talk about Introduction to Debian
Christian on stage.

One can find the slides of Christian’s talks at Christian’s website. His talk was good apart from 2 things which I didn’t agree with.

a. Christian talked of being a non-technical Debian Developer – In whichever sense one looks he is as technical as they come 🙂

b. I’m not sure the number of packages he said was true,29k. He didn’t elaborate whether they were uniquely counted or as what. What I remember reading somewhere was the figure of about 45k and if one takes all the ports the figure is humongous.

What he did manage to bring to fore was the smallish number of DD’s in India. He also shared in brief about Debian’s history and shared the trivia about how the name ‘Debian’ came to be. Either due to sharing of that trivia or before that a certain Mr. Dominick Ray pronounces it ‘Deb-Ian’ instead of ‘Debian’. He also went on to shared some of the Debian Derivatives and for reasons which will be shared later, highlighted ‘BOSS Linux‘ as one of the distributions. He also shared brief about one of the more popular derivatives of Debian called Ubuntu and shared the status which is about a year old. There is actually a sub-project called DebianDerivatives and one can find more about it at the wiki page for it. Christian was fun when he started about the favorite myths of a long-bearded guy anti-social guy and other things associated with being a software developer. Although confused really whether he demystified it or he accentuated it with the pictures he shared 😛

Anyways, he went on with greater detail talking/sharing about what it means to be involved with Debian sharing a sort of photo story/journey of some of the happenings at some of the Debconf’s he had attended.

The most interesting part of his talk came right at the end though when he shared about the localization of Debian in Indian languages.

Christian's slide on KDE 4.7 localization status
Christian's slide on KDE 4.7 localization status

I was not really happy with the way he presented the last 4 slides, I would have liked it to be more involved and give something more in numbers. I for instance found myself wanting to know about how much of the DDTP for instance has been translated. Even if you go to the homepage of DDTP you just get the status of quite a few international languages but nothing about anything of the Indian languages as well as the wiki and other things. Apart from all of that I think he missed the point of sharing its an always moving target and even a single new package means they need to be translated.Coincidentally, while I was doing my updates and I use a package called debdelta a lot. Debdelta basically does a diff between two package releases and if the diff is less than 70% then would download the delta from the server and later the whole package would be made on the client. I have shared about debdeltas on previous occasions so would not go much into it.

Anyways there was some package either from the GNOME-team or from the games team whose package size was 4 MB and which buffed up to 14 MB with the latest update.I didn’t find much difference either between the UI or the working of that package, prodding a bit I found the Maintainer sharing his view that the difference between the latest update and the earlier were of some hundred KB’s and what had happened is he had to also add all the translations of the package to the package itself and he proposed that the said package should be split into an English package and an il8n package so people wanting some different locale would download that which will make some difference in the bandwidth when you multiply the number of people downloading it. For the life of me I cannot remember the package name but was cool to see that.

I did wish that he would have made a slightly more in-depth look of the localization and internalization efforts in India.Maybe he shared about it in his localization workshop he took the next day.

I am concluding this partial coverage of day 0 here as it itself has become a bit longish in nature. All and any mistakes are mine, photos are courtesy ‘Pravin A a.k.a. javaman’ and minidebconf handle at diaspora.That’s all for now.

Disclosure :- Lodging & Boarding for three days are all due to NITTE Education Trust. Add to that innumerable number of teas and coffee.

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