My first association with open-source software, though unknown was in the summer of my 7th grade. I was spending my summer holidays in my cousin’s place. At a time when smart phones weren’t so popular and Pokemon cartoons were still a rage, my knowledge of the computers was minimal. My cousin, who was doing his engineering at that point had this archaic desktop at home and I wanted to catch up on my favorite songs over the internet. So I thought it’s just another PC and powered ON the system. Well, what happened next was the shock of my life!
Instead of the traditional Windows symbol and its trademark start up sound, there was some weird purple color text saying “Kubuntu”. And on the desktop, there was nothing. No icons, no task bar, literally nothing. Most importantly, no start button either. I had no idea what it was ! Moreover I thought I had messed up with the system and entered my panic mode. I didn’t know what to do, whether to tell my cousin about this or just let it go. Like most of us in our pressure situations, I took a deep breath, switched OFF the mains and returned to my room. Later in the night, I peeked into my cousin’s room. The comp geek was coding away. I was relieved that I hadn’t messed up with his PC! Well that was my very first peep into the world of FOSS. though I didn’t know it then.
Time passed and I never bothered to ask my cousin about what Kubuntu was or to look it up on the net. On the third day of my 2nd semester at college, I was in for a huge shock. It was my C language lab session and I was expecting the blue Borland Turbo C compiler in my lab which I was very fond of! I power on the my PC and it gave me 5 versions of Ubuntu to boot up with. I was completely lost. Then started the barrage of terminal commands, vi editor commands and the like which mostly went over my head. Even then I didn’t understand the essence of open-source software and took it as another bag of load to learn! I wanted Ubuntu on my laptop and was very apprehensive that Windows7 might take a beating if I didn’t install it properly. Then there came up the *Ubuntu Installation Fest* in my college, organized by Plug-In. Trust me, before that I hadn’t even heard of the glug in my college. It was the day when I was exposed to Free Software Movement Karnataka and about FOSS in general. The event was a huge success and Ubuntu 12.04 was finally up and running on my system. So far, so good! That day was just the start for many more good days to come!
I was curious to know more about the FSMK and free software technologies in general. The opportunity presented itself in the form of Swataha – 13 (a national level fest) in the month of April this year. I attended the inaugural sessions where people spoke with passion and I could see their commitment to the cause. They were truly inspirational I should say. And the activities undertaken by the GLUG-PESCE within 3-4 months was remarkable and surely deserves an applause. The Drupal workshop I had registered for was my first software related workshop and it was really interesting and inspiring to work on. Well, we don’t really like to do the hard work do we? After the workshop, I wanted to set up Drupal on my laptop but failed to do it. And thus my experiments with free software were shelved for two months. Nevertheless I was still using Ubuntu, exploring and compiling my lab programs.
One fine day I got an update from FSMK saying there was a Summer Industry Orientation Workshop during the last week of my second semester holidays. Since I didn’t have any plans and was genuinely interested to learn something, I signed up for it! This was before the exams began. During the exams I got a reminder call from Raghuram saying that I’m yet to pay the fee. All my friends were making vacation plans – tours, movies, sleepovers what not! I called up a few of my friends to see if they’d be interested in attending and thank god, one of them readily agreed. I needn’t really tell what happened at the workshop cause some of my new-found friends have illustrated that very well on their own blogs. But I will say this one thing for sure – The 9-day session literally changed my perception of life! I learnt what it means to share, to help and contribute to something worthy not just because you gain money out of it. There are more important things than money, and I’m pretty sure money can’t buy you that. Credit, selfless service and recognition are some of those. I needn’t mention the dedication of the core members and the volunteers over there. The energy they bring into the movement deserves a standing ovation. When I look into each of them, they give me hope to achieve something worthwhile in life. Moving further, I’ve become an integral part of Plug-In GLUG in my college. Meeting like-minded people, putting forth your ideas, sharing them, and in the whole process, learning again! The start to this journey has been incredible!
Yes, the *spark* in me has ignited and this time I’m very sure it won’t die.