Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Open Source Drive: Open up Indian Contribution

Posted on: August 20, 2007

As far as I am aware of, there is a linux users group in most major cities and there are religious zealots among them who would claim that OSS (Open Source Software) is the best way to go about for reasons ranging from the openness of the source code all the way to the stance of morality in proprietory code. That’s a different discussion by itself.

My curiosity has been this: How much does India contribute to the Open Source Community? I am quite well aware of some very good programmers within these circles, and given that we probably wont see much of ground-breaking stuff coming from any enterprises, if at all we have a chance of breaking new ground in anything, it will be from these geniuses.

Now that the potential is laid out on the table, the question is to figure out why there arent that many open source projects that have taken root in India. I am quite keen on doing something about it. So far there is support coming from Narain, the CEO of Equvia, and Sagaro – a genius by his own merits.

I have briefly spoken to Atul Chitnis of FOSS.in, and he does share the concern that there is very little contribution from the Open Source Community here in India.

Here is what I suggest: We organize a camp with two parallel tracks. One track brings people upto speed on what goes on in the open source world, the basics of good code, how code is submitted, tracked, tested and fixed within the open source community and so on. There is always a need to reel in fresh blood into a community. The second track is the core one. The focus would be in identifying areas where people can work on, brainstorming on some niche areas where there is a lack of contribution – or even as simple as making a fork out of openoffice and creating a sexy-looking, beauty out of it – or perhaps creating a linux port of keynote. The possibilities are quite endless, even if you spend about two minutes thinking about some potential projects.

Gather some great thinkers and tinkerers together and get some projects off the ground. The goal would be to atleast kickstart 10 – 20 projects in sourceforge during the process. Perhaps out of the 20, three of them will make sense and one of them will live to see the light of day, but even that would be better than where we are at today.

What do you say?

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3 Responses to "Open Source Drive: Open up Indian Contribution"

We should talk to google [code.googl.com] to work on a sustainable program for this, to bring a camp to its right merit. In addition, with Atul, we should tap people from RedHat or othr linux distros like Ubuntu to come forward for the event.

I do agree, there are lots of tinkers around, but they tinker around with the existing code than actually working on a distributable code. We gotta find the merits from ILUG and other similar open source groups in terms of what’s their issus presently not contributing to the sourceforge related projects. I have met few guys in the tamilblogger’s camp who actively contribute to few of the open source projects silently. They are the guys to be plugged in.

One of them was telling me, that when last time Richard Stallman came to India for some Kerala govt. driven activity he raised a serious concern that Indians are the largest consumers of open source projects, and the least contributors for the same. We should brainstorm this first with couple of Geek Groups, before organising an event surrounded with that.

Very interesting blog entry. I have been associated with OpenSolaris from the very early days. And I must point out that it is not just Linux, there is OpenSolaris as well.

Question – Why arent there many opensource projects that havent taken root in India?

– I guess the majority of our programmers assume that it is too much work. It could be the inertia of getting started. May be, what we have to do is encourage more students to contribute. Make it appear that it is possible to write code. They start small. For eg: Have a bug fixing contest for FOSS projects – Check out: http://codeforfreedom.org. I will confess in advance that I have a vested interest in highlighting this contest. I am one of the organizers. And I will be glad to participate and help in any of the events you are planning around your blog entry.

– Lack of Visible technical leaders from the Indian FOSS community – BeleniX – is an OpenSolaris derived LiveCD distribution that was built in India. It is very popular in the OpenSolaris community as well. It helped us build the community in India. There have been students like Anil Gulecha who contributed code to this project. Then, I understand the point you are making.

– I recently spoke with Louis Suarez Potts – one of the leaders of OpenOffice project. They have a stated goal of getting more code developers from India for OpenOffice. And their participation in FOSS.IN this year will be focussed on that.

My personal rallying call for this year is ‘Show me the code folks’. And we have to get together and break the barriers that prevent students and developers from contributing code to the community.

Narain: Sagaro was mentioning of Google Summer Code as well. The steps are being taken to get in touch with them. If anyone can help, do drop a comment.

Joe: I’ve sent you an email. We should definitely collaborate.

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