[Ilugc] Re: FOSS.IN/2008: The Omelette Post :)
Kapil Hari Paranjape
kapil at imsc.res.in
Fri Oct 3 21:35:54 IST 2008
Kartik asked how we can make a tasty sandwich out of the Omelette. So
> From: Atul Chitnis
> FOSS.IN has never been about advocacy, or philosophical discussions. While
> such discussions may have their place, they steal valuable bandwidth when
> it comes to getting things done.
First some philosophy ... (with apologies to Atul Chitnis; skip to
the end for the Debian Workout)
Yesterday I spoke at FOSS Shaastra and as I spoke I realised
that some people in the audience:
- had difficulty in understanding talks/documentation --- partly due
to language/context issues and partly because they are "tech" types
who feel more comfortable with action rather than words.
- did not follow the debates and philosophy much --- again partly due
to language issues and partly because the context of many
discussions is a legal system which we do not have.
- did not have basic familiarity with the "tools of the trade" like
VCS, build-tools, profilers, debuggers even though they have done
some coding in languages like C/C++/Java/Python.
So, I think that Atul Chitnis may be right about some things --- which
is to go towards technical aspects rather than philosophical ones, but
may be wrong to think that people are ready to write new projects.[^1]
[^1]: Anyone who codes without some understanding of the tools is
likely to "piss (smelly) code" (to use a phrase that was used by
"bubulle" on IRC yesterday). Djkstra once said that most (bad)
programmers spend 5 minutes "bugging" and the rest of their life
Enough of philosphy ...
> As has been repeatedly explained to anyone who would listen - there
> are lots of newbie oriented events all through the year, all over
> India, and people should be geting their introductions to FOSS and
> their initial learning at such events, including at user group
What I would like to see ...
I don't really see enough events that would be directed at the
*hands-on* exploration sessions of systems running GNU/Linux to:
- use patch-systems, VCS to manage projects
- use automated build systems to build packages
- use profilers and debuggers to find/fix bugs
It is true that this could happen at user group meetings as well; but
I am not sure that it _is_ happening. Perhaps this should even be
happening in colleges but I suspect not!
> First of all, we are dropping the talks.
I think this is actually a good idea from my experience as mentioned
> FOSS WORKOUTS
> In each of the smaller halls, as well as across the venue campus
> (including the lawns, the corridors, the BoF tents, and the cafeteria),
> you will find small groups of people.
> In the afternoon of the first day, after the inauguration, these groups
> will meet to decide on their broad and specific objectives. They will
> already have interacted over the weeks leading up to the event, and once
> they have finalized things on day 1, they will use the next four days to
> change the world.
So here is an idea for a FOSS Workout for Debian:
- On day one we do a Debian lenny install-fest with a difference.
The install will be virtual --- schroot or qemu or uml or xen or
vserver.... Specifically, the install will not disturb the existing
installation on the system and if possible will avoid a
reboot! Moreover, this install will be like a developer
install --- it will have all the build-essential and possibly
debhelper, pbuilder, quilt, gdb.
- On day two we use this install to explore. Basically, people can
build/test their own personal .deb packages/repositories. These can be
based on merely getting Debian source packages and building with
some options or minor changes or can even be attempts to solve
RFP's. The additional difference is that since some of the emulations
will be slow, we will have a remote pbuilder setup for people to do
builds. (I will try to get this up and running at IMSc. I believe
Anibal used to have one such. I will ask for help as required.)
- On day three we will use the same install for a bug squashing
party which could include RFP, RFA bugs as well. We could also
look for (real code!) writing better build tools so as to make
such events easier to set up.
Requirements from the participants:
0. A (strong) desire to code/patch with/for Debian (or a derived distro).
1. A machine. Perhaps someone can look for sponsorship for this
angle as well. We can even use pretty thin clients here so even
an EEE pc or EEE box or HCL Mileap would do.
2. Possibly some portable disk space in case the machines have too
little disk space or if they need to "carry away" their install (if
the machines they use are rented).
To test out all these ideas, we could do a run of this at IMSc,
Chennai around early November.
Tell me what you think.
P.S. FOSS Shaastra guys sorry I didn't think of this earlier. We
could've implemented it at the HackFest!
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