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FOSS.in 2005

FOSS.in 2005 has finally ended. You can find daily reports and impressions on Planet FOSS.in.

Personally for me, it was a mixed event. I could finally meet some of the people whose work I have admired immensely over the years and I also attended a couple of really illuminating sessions. On the other hand, I didn't get to meet as many people as I had hoped to meet and some of the sessions were bad.

Alan Cox was the star of the event as far as I could tell. He was always surrounded by admirers or people just curious to see how he looks. He always had the Red Hat red hat on and talked very nicely to one and all. Like RMS, he seems to have a bit too much of facial hair and has the same habit of frequently twitching as well. I also met Andrew Cowie (java-gnome), Johnathan Corbet (LWN.net), Sirtaj Singh Kang (KDE) and Harald Welte (iptables/netfilter). By the way, I had imagined Harald to be an old person for some reason all this while so I was rather surprised to find a rather boyish looking young man with a lot of enthusiasm and a cool haircut.

I really enjoyed some of the talks, especially on topics that I knew nothing about. Jaya Kumar's talk on how to put together an embedded Linux system, right from selecting the hardware to customising Linux and burning it into the device, was awesome. The guy really knows his stuff and talks with an infectious enthusiasm on a lot of topics. His other talk on GPL and non-GPL kernel modules was also very nice.

Harald's talk on how he figured out what made up his Motorola A780 mobile phone (that runs Linux), hacking his way to getting telnet access to the phone and finally building and uploading updated kernel and applications was also awesome. He followed it up with a live demonstration. The results of his efforts are at OpenEZX.org. By the way, he uses an encrypted filesystem on his laptop to store everything.

There was a talk on hacking the GCC ".md" machine-description files for a quick-and-dirty solution to a code-generation problem and another on using GCJ with SWIG to interface Ruby with Java. However, I felt that these talks were a bit hurried and would have left most of the audience utterly clueless. By the way, the speaker for the former talk, Amber Ved, had recently fractured his left arm and had it in a sling. It was quite evident that it was excruciatingly painful for him but he persisted and managed to finish his talk. All I can say is, "Wow!". However, I still think GCC is severely under-appreciated and I wish I had put together a talk on GCJ or at least GCC. There's so much that has been happening with GCC that people deserve to know.

Another highlight of the event for me was the Google Quiz or "GQ". This was a set of four logic puzzles handed out to whoever they could lay their hands on and if you completed all four, you had a shot at winning an iPod nano. I really enjoyed solving these puzzles and they kept me busy for quite a bit of time.

Unfortunately for me, the schedule of the talks was such that sometimes I had to make a difficult choice of selecting a single talk among three to four very interesting sounding talks and sometimes I wasn't interested in attending a single talk in a given time slot. "You can't please all the people all the time" and all that. But no one can complain that there wasn't enough stuff going on - this surely must have been the biggest FOSS event ever in this part of the world. I am already eagerly looking forward to attending the next year's event. A big THANKS to Atul Chitnis and his gang of volunteers for pulling this off!

(Originally posted on Advogato.)

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