Debian Utsav COEP 04-02-2012
This is going to be a longish post about the 1st #debutsav I was part of.
It had been quite sometime since we all met. At least I had not met the others after coming from the Mangalore Minidebconf. Getting real face time beats out anyday IRC and other virtual presence ideas. Hence I was pleasantly surprised to see Praveen’s e-mail for doing a Debian Utsav. As its being held in the city itself so it was that much more easy.
Come Saturday and I woke up a bit late (as it was the week-end), then remembered that Debian Utsav was happening.Reached COEP at the appointed time but was feeling hungry so took some breakfast and then proceeded to the venue. Was late to the hall by around 45 minutes. (had discounted sometime for introductions and ice-breaking). The first session was sorta offish as Sana had been given the broad responsibility of sharing things. While she knew the technical stuff somehow there was little bit downer when it came to sharing the same. She needs to work on her voice (be louder) and ask more questions and feedback which would have made the session a bit more productive. I had to but-in couple of times but would have loved if she had been a bit more aggressive and I could have slinked more in the background. In hindsight I have to agree it’s also a bit harder when you are sharing something called ‘Packaging concepts’ when you have no idea where the audience awareness and knowledge about Debian is at. As always some of the students were a bit more aware than others.Maybe we should have asked some more questions during the whole packaging concepts and give a few more analogies.
Anyways, we broke for lunch for around 13:00 hours and went to the COEP Boat Club canteen where Muneeb joined us for lunch. Praveen had been taking a more laid-back position and Sana didn’t really wanna take the second session so it was opportune that Muneeb and AbdulKarim both came.
The second session started at 14:00 by Muneeb. I joined in a bit later.What was interesting to know and see that Muneeb was packaging a font called ‘eeyek‘. That was a pretty intelligent move I guess because a font has the most minimal of dependencies. A random font example :-
$ aptitude show ttf-bengali-fonts
Automatically installed: yes
Maintainer: Debian-IN Team
Uncompressed Size: 1,210 k
Description: Free TrueType fonts for the Bengali language Fonts for the Bengali language which is spoken in the Indian state of West Bengal, the nation of Bangladesh and adjoining areas. The Bengali script is also used for writing Assamese which is primarily spoken in the Indian state of Assam.
As can be seen from the above example there are no run-time dependencies. The minimal the dependencies the easier it should be to package and vice-versa. Also what needs to be remembered is that what Muneeb was doing is called ‘initial packaging’ a.k.a. Debianization then when one has create patches and fix bugs (like this). In the example shared, it is aptitude (a package manager) which has issues while updating. One can find more about the package by either installing it or from its package page.As can be seen the package is available on 20 (official and unofficial) hardware architectures. Many of the architectures are those said to be Big Iron.
Even then with the simplest example it took us more than 2 hours as we made sure that everybody was along with us during each step of the way during the session.What was cool is that we were totally approachable and were discussing both the basics as well as some of the finer points, this open exchange of knowledge prompted quite a few of the students to also open up and ask questions. In hindsight, I wished we had done more of the same in the first session also.
It was interesting to see Muneeb showcasing WNPP. WNPP stands for work needing and prospective packages. While we did give some examples, I wished we had given some more but then time is a luxury which we didn’t have.
There are some bloopers that I did commit that day. For instance, when we were sharing about circle of trust when one has to upload the packages to Debian archive and the whole procedure, I used Credit cards as an example of trust-based mechanism even though its known that credit cards have been known to be one of the weak users of encryption and get hacked/cracked all the time (even the contact-less ones).
One of the other bloopers I did was when we were talking about fonts and I mentioned ‘Times New Roman‘ as well as ‘Ubuntu Font Family‘ while forgetting the awesome Deja vu font which Praveen bought to the table. What would have been interesting (or not) would have been the discussion on the travails of Ubuntu Font Family within Debian.It is a wonderful bug-report which emphasizes both having the ‘free tools’ to make fonts and build them as well as the licensing which made it double the fun.
What would perhaps been interesting is if we had talked about the Unicode replacement character. FWIW I have seen the replacement character many a times while viewing the Debian changelog using gtk frontend as my viewer.
This for instance could is the basics you need to run to see the apt-listchanges in a pretty manner.
What perhaps could also have been improved upon is our own personal wishlists or asking people what kind of software would people want to see in Debian. For instance, Praveen did mention about packages and some tens to some odd hundred small ruby packages to have diaspora in Debian. I do hope to update this post when Praveen links the various RFP’s or/and gives some nice graph so people know about how much stuff is needed for diaspora to be in Debian.What would have been more interesting is if Praveen would have shared the benefits of having a FOSS distributed social network and the benefits therein.Just asking for packages to be included without giving any motivations for doing so is kinda half-half thing.
Anyways,just around this time or a little before that, Shravan showcased an awesome video about Diaspora as well as shared about DuckDuckgo a privacy based search engine. I really liked the edgy music by John woodward, although more info. about the music would have been nice in the credits.
I have to confess though I had been a slave to Google’s timeline feature (closed sometime back) and the poorer tools they have put it up with. If there were similar feature on Duckduckgo would make it a part of my daily routine.
What was interesting though to see after a while was with a little prodding to muneeb, he agreed to show the tool called lintian and either Praveen or Muneeb (don’t remember whom) ran the package.changes file through lintian and we were able to see some errors and warnings. Some we were able to fix and others were in the to-do.
Just for the record, since that time Muneeb has uploaded the package to mentors which would need a bit more guidance.
I am sure as beginners,people could start packaging some fonts. As per WNPP there are 25 odd fonts which still need to be packaged. Of course, before packaging one has to see if the license conditions is attuned to any of the DFSG licenses.
One of the other things which kinda bothered me was when somebody asked us for some technical support. S/He had some trouble installing something or had some issue and s/he wanted to come to the afternoon session so (h)is/er was solved. I have no idea if this was taken up or not and solved.
We should be more enthusiastic and encourage users helping users or have some kind of end-user documentation being made when such support is asked and given (so everybody can benefit from it.) I do not know though how the latter could be solved, from what little I know COEP does have Moodle set up (which could be used) but from what little I know its set to be used internally within COEP only.
Another thing which would have been nice to do was to give the attendees some sort of work to do otherwise it just becomes ‘another evening spent’ or ‘another event attended’ . We should have harnessed or attempt to harness some of that energy around.
All in all though, a rewarding experience for all I’m sure (at least it was for me).
Note :- There is a possibility that we may have a Debian BOF at gnunify. You can see the schedule for 10th and 11th. Although it doesn’t make sense to have BOF for just one hour, don’t think we would be able to accomplish anything in an hour.
Photos:- Courtesy AbdulKarim,Shravan Aras (CC0) 2012.