Linux Asia 2007 – A Field Report

Just arrived back from Delhi, after a week out from my home town. I have been to a conference, which as branded as India’s Premier Open Source Conference by its organizers. As I checked my in-box, there was one long thread in ilugd mailing list discussing about this conference called Linux Asia. Though I have been hearing all the sides of the dice about this conference, I could never come to a conclusion. This post, rather than portraying the comments made by people, will just serve as a field report of what I saw there at LA 2007 and what I could conclude.

India Habitat Center was simply a fantastic place to have a conference. We landed there on a cold morning, on the 31st of January 2007, for the Opening Ceremony of the event. Our only participation was having a stall there for NRCFOSS. To our surprise, our stall was very opposite to that of Microsoft’s.

Some other notable stalls were from Google, Novell, Collabnet (Subversion), Infoaxon Technologies (Spike Source), Turbolinux (WizPy) and Tetra Information Services.

Google this time concentrated on recruitment and their stall wasn’t as good as the on that was at foss.in. Turbo Linux had displayed a ipod like product called WizPy, a mobile device which was a multimedia player as a stand alone device, while it carried Turbo Linux OS within it and could be connected to a desktop, booting from the mobile device. collabnet had Subversion as their product at display. And the stall of suspicious interest had Vista and Office 2007 displayed along with a presentation displaying some terms like “interoperability”, but as many would have been interested to find, there was nothing related to the term put up at display.

Our own NRCF stall had three groups, one from CDAC-Noida, AU-KBC group and CDAC Chennai group displaying BOSS.

Common observation on all the 3 days was, only 10% of the visitors would have mind to get into the MS stall, especially the students did not. Most of the times I could see the two chicks posted in the M$’s stall to be yawning and chatting within themselves. Also their eyes was always on our stall because we were having good number of students attending us and the rest of the times, our eyes were on their stall 😉

I attended totally 4 talks including the key note speeches. Knopper’s talk were really nice, both the keynote one and the “mobile and Linux” talk where he demonstrated using a  mobile phone for connection  to Internet and also spoke on lot of issues.

We also had an IOSN meeting, organized by CDAC Chennai, where representatives from various South Asian Countries (Pakistan, India, Nepal, Srilanka)spoke about FOSS initiatives in their repsective countries.

Klaus Knopper came over to NRCFOSS stall and talked with all the three groups. His advice to us was “People like IBM, Seimens and others will try to buy you people; never fall prey to their baits; be individual developers and contribute”. And, IMHO he was the right person to give that advice. I also got my fist ever Linux CD, a Knoppix one, to be signed by him.

A lot of students from various colleges in Delhi thronged our stall, especially enquiring about student internship program and FOSS activities in their colleges. I have of got a lot of mails from them as follow ups 🙂 .

The food was good, the tea/coffee was free while the lunch was restricted to people who had the coupon.

As a whole, though there were not much from the known circles in the community, I met a lot of people who are working in FOSS domain, mainly in service based industry based on OSS.

I came to know about an Incubator Facility being operative and available for young entrepreneurs to make use of, at Pune University, from one Prof Jitendra Shah of VJTI Mumbai.

On a whole picture, Linux Asia could not even match foss.in on any grounds as *the community* was missing, but had the presence of a company which considers FOSS and GNU/Linux as its biggest threat on world. A highly commercial conference, sponsored by enemies of software freedom, but all with a tag Linux on them. Weird!!

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