The ILUG Stall at the National Conference was a grand success,
simply because we were the only stall with the theme “Freedom”
emphasizing the core values of Free Software unlike most of the other
stalls at the exhibition.
Of Course it is debatable question as to the presence of stalls
from fertilizers to fisheries at the exhibition, but of
course it was a very great opportunity to explain to them the
core values of this social movement.
Also considering the fact that there were lot of proprietary software
being exhibited in several stalls. We raised our voice against these
stalls, providing our help to replace it with Free Software. Some agreed
while others were reluctant.
The stall was put up from 13th after bringing in the machines the
previous day night. But it wasnt until 14th afternoon that the
stall reached full fledged functioning. Although we had been
given a small space at the conference, we made best use of it, by
displaying very good and relevant information about Free Software
and the GNU movement thereby keeping our stall always filled with people.
We had 4 machines setup to display various applications. One of
them was used to give a demo of the Installation process of the
Debian and Gnewsense DVDs and CDs we were distributing.
Ours was a stall, were anyone could just walkin and try
their hands at any of the applications, this helped people to
get a feel of what Free Software was. Again this is considering
the fact that 90% of all the visitors were either new to Free
Software or had just started using it.
In order to meet the expenses for the stall we had distributed Debian
GNU/Linux DVDs and Gnewsense CDs for a price. While we never forced anyone
to pay the original price, we explicitly told them to pay whatever they
like the minimum being the cost of the DVDs. While for CDs several were
given free of cost to the people who visited, especially students and
those who could not afford.
The first day saw very few people visiting the stall. The second
day turned out to be more crowded with people turning out in
moderate numbers. There were students, parents, freelance developers
and teachers turning up at our stall to understand what exactly
free software meant. The most important achievement was we being
able to clear up several of the misconceptions.
The hard copies of RMS Essays we had put up for a price were also
purchased by a few.
The first day of the conference had a big rush at the exhibition
venue with the delegates pouring in as well.
A couple of us had attended a session by Nagarjuna (gnowledge.org),
FSF India Chairman. After the speech we caught up with him and guided him
to a second venue to devliver his next speech. Nagarjuna came to the
exhibition late and visited our stall.
Although there have been discussions offline about our plans to change
the group Name, nothing has been discussed on the list yet. We made use of
the occasion when Nagarjuna visited us and requested him to correct our
name for us on our banner. He accepted our request and as per our initial
plans he corrected our name on the banner to “Indian Libre User Group”.
He also spend some time with ILUG Cochin Members, SNGIST College students
and MES College students. He also discussed a few points about the
“Business model of Free Software” with Mr Unais Mohammed” from KSEB.
We also had the FSUG Bangalore coming to put up their stall at the
venue. It was also a stall of the Ambedkar Community Computer Center, were
a handicapped boy Mani was selling pictures made by him using Free
We had a great time with the students and faculty of SNGIST College,
Manjaly and MES College of Engg, Kuttipuram sharing their knowledge with
Sunday was a day of action in every way. There were two sessions by
ILUG on the day. “Significance of Free Software on Mobile Platforms”
was handled by Sameer and an Open Forum Discussion on “Significance of
Free Software Groups in Society”.
The first talk focussed on the growing importance of Operating Systems
on Mobile Phones and how Free Software was the apt choice for Mobile
platforms as well. “OpenMoko” was used as a reference.
The Open Forum discussion was focussed more on helping 3 groups to help
form User Groups in their colleges. SNGIST Manjaly, Paravur. KKTM
Kodungaloor, and CUSAT. The dicussion saw several of the participants
pouring out ideas to start groups in these colleges. CUSAT already having
a Free Software group, just needed to get it up an running again.
A group of people belonging to the Free Software Community including
students had also done a protest against the main sponsor Novell, ILUG
Cochin also pledged their support by putting up posters of “BoyCott
Novell” in the stall.Some friends of the members of ILUG Cochin had come
in and handed over posters and volunteered to stick them in the stall. At
the same moment the organizers were rushing towards our stall to remove
the posters as Novell had objected to it. The rough behaviour from the
organizers were a matter of concern, especially the seizure of the cameras
carrying the pictures of the brawl.
The series of events that happened was bad in terms of the organizers
taking an unnecessary tough stand on the matter and not lending an ear to
the actual facts.
We were happy to raise our voice and protest with the
Free Software community opposing the likes of forces like Novell. Indeed
it was good to see a resistance in a programme of such magnitude like the
National Conference. Although there is no doubt to the fact that the
conference did its job, bringing people from all walks of life and ILUG
Cochin did the job telling people the principles behind it, the opposition
against Novell has also increased the significance and importance of the
event thereby bringing about a lot of questions into the community which
would not have been raised otherwise.
The stall was dismantled by 5.00pm at the end of the exhibition and
everyone left for home after an eventful day and 4 days of hard work.
Thanks to Binny and Sreenadh for spending all 4 days in the stall from
day to night.
Thanks to Shibin, Kevin Sha, Anil, IB Manoj for helping with the
functioning of the stall.
Thanks to the students and faculty of SNGIST Manjaly for helping us out
with the stall and taking care of it in our absence.
Nagarjuna G for spending a great time with us.
All the people who visited the stall.
And of course the organizers of the National Conference for having
provided us an opportunity to put up the stall
Unfortunately senior members like Jay Jacob and Balakrishan Sir
were unable to make it to the conference.