Walking for Freedom…

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“Be the change you wish to see in the World”
— M.K.Gandhi

“Millions of people worked hard and even paid with their lives to earn us the freedom we enjoy today. Is our current generation aware of the value of this freedom? From the lack of social and political sensitivity and the lack of activism in our society it might seem that this is not so. It is as if we are devaluing freedom every day. With the commercialisation of almost every sphere of life, most people are not able to find any time to put in effort to fight this alarming trend. Most, but not everybody. At Zyxware, we have decided to focus our efforts to tackle this issue head on.”

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History has seen that in times of crisis, people show extraordinary capacity for sacrifice, to fight for a just cause. But the crisis has to be first perceived as a crisis. During the British rule, it was fairly easy for the masses to understand that they were being oppressed and they stood up against it.

Today, we live in a world that it is in severe crisis. Our energy supplies are running out, and what could be worse, our renewable resources, the very ecosystem which nurtures and sustains us, is losing its ability for renewal. But do we acknowledge this crisis? The biggest challenge is that people who benefit from the current trend of consumerism and exploitation are the ones who have a say. The cries of those who depend directly on Nature for their livelihood, of the ones most affected, are lost in the wilderness. Activism is the need of the hour, but how many of us realize it? “If we don’t act now, we probably wouldn’t have a chance to act at all.”

Regarding Information Technology, the core competency of the group leading the Freedom Walk, thanks to the vision of a certain Richard Mathew Stallman, we have an excellent alternative to proprietary software. But the fight is far from over. There are a host of problems which the Libre Software Community faces today- right from Digital Rights (Restrictions) Management, the sinister moves of proprietary software giants to infiltrate into the world of Free Software, Document Freedom… there are a lot of challenges ahead.

Anoop John, CEO Zyxware Technologies, and friends, are undertaking this Freedom Walk from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram, starting on Gandhi Jayanthi, with the idea of bringing together individuals and organizations committed to the society, and spreading awareness about three freedoms:

  1. Freedom from Social Evils – A social evil is something that works against the development of our society.And it could be anything from poverty to corruption.
  2. Freedom to Live our Future – The biggest concern of our day is shrinking energy supplies and looming environmental catastrophes. If we don’t act now, we probably wouldn’t have a chance to act at all.
  3. Software Freedom – Software is a tool that allows us to process information. Information should be open and should benefit everybody. Knowledge belongs to the world. Consequently the tools that are used to process this information and create knowledge should be open as well.

Please spread the word about this initiative and help make it a success.

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GNU/Linux Install Fest at NITC

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As the first activity of the upcoming FOSS Cell NITC, we organized a GNU/Linux install fest on the occasion of Software Freedom Day. Around twenty people turned up during the day. The only undesirable part was that a couple of laptops, after installing Ubuntu, couldn’t boot Windows. Got to sort out their issues soon. We’ve set up a technical support mailing list for people to post their problems.Considering that it was the first ever event by our FOSS Cell, it didn’t go too badly.

Software Freedom Day at Kozhikode

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Software Freedom Day 2008 was celebrated today at Malabar Christian College, Kozhikode. The event was organized by Swatantra Malayalam Computing, in association with Malabar Christian College. The main attraction was a seminar on Language Computing, led by SMC.

There was also a GNU/Linux install fest and demo in parallel. We installed GNU/Linux on around 6-7 systems, apart from the 5 in the computer lab of Malabar Christian College. There was also an installation demo for hardware technicians. I couldn’t attend the seminar, and I’m looking forward to reading other reports about it.

One of the highlights of the day was the revival of Free Software Users’ Group Calicut, which had been dormant for over two years. Jemshid, of Ascent Engineers, the team from KSEB led by Mohammed Unais, have taken the initiative to kick start the community’s activities.

There were a few representatives from GEC West Hill and AWH Engg. College, and we’ve decided to organize a few workshops, to get some people from those colleges involved in FOSS as well, and try to create a network of college FOSS communities. Shyam put forward the necessity of a common platform for engineering colleges throughout Kerala, based on Free Software. We also have to explore the possibility of encouraging students to take up Free Software development as their projects.

Jemshid and his team had managed to contact the Malabar IT dealers’ association, and their representatives had turned up. They expressed genuine interest in migrating to GNU/Linux for the default installation in new systems they sell. They would thus be able to avoid distributing so called “pirated” software. We have proposed to arrange a basic GNU/Linux workshop for the hardware vendors. This move has the potential to start a revolution. If they can show their customers that they can do almost anything on GNU/Linux that they normally use a computer for, they’ll be encouraged to switch to it. And the customers will have someone to turn to for support.

On the whole, the event was a great success. Tomorrow, we have a small event planned in our campus. More on that later.

See other blogs and photos of the event:
Hiran

“Into the Wild”

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There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore:
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,

Lord Byron

I watched the movie Into the Wild yesterday. It’s the true story of a young graduate named Christopher McCandless, who is exasparated with society and “civilized life” and journeys “into the wild”. Prasanthettan had told me the story while we were climbing Thadiyandemol in July.

McCandless starts on his journey with nothing but some supplies in his backpack. He stops occasionally and works for a while and again continues his journey. At last one winter, he reaches Alaska, where he set out for. After surviving for more than three months in an abandoned bus, he decides to return to society. But to his surprise, he finds that when the snow melted, a swift flowing river blocked his path, and there was no way he could go back, at least for a while. Animals no longer came to the place, and he had nothing to live on. He started trying out wild berries, using a flora and fauna guide as his reference. Later, he tragically discovers that the berries he ate were poisonous, and he dies a slow and painful death.

It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. And there’s a lot about it that makes you think.

Software Freedom Day at NITC

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We are planning to celebrate the Software Freedom Day through an install fest and demos. There was a meeting today to get some volunteers for the event, and around twenty S3 students turned up. Only some of them have used GNU/Linux before, and they have been given the task of familiarising the others with it before the event. We are also hopeful of launching our FOSS Cell officially on that day. More about the event as it materializes…

ജന്മം

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കാലത്തിന്‍ കണികയാമീ ഒരു ജന്മത്തിന്റെ
ജാലകത്തിലൂടപാരതയെ നോക്കി
ഞാനിരിക്കുമ്പോള്‍ കേവലാനന്ദ സമുദ്രമെന്‍
പ്രാണനിലലതല്ലി ആര്‍ത്തിടുന്നു.

–ലളിത ഗാനം

Why I don’t like Rock Music

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I had thought about writing this a few days ago, but didn’t get down to writing it. I did have a sort of prejudiced dislike for Rock music when I was at school, but I’m not sure I was justified in sporting it. But having lived for the last couple of years in the midst of 2.1 speakers blaring out Rock music 24×7, I think I’m well enough placed to carry out a critical analysis.

To be honest, I find most of the lyrics to be pretty good. But I find it very hard to relate the music with the lyrics. And I do not like the semi distorted and artificial sound of the electric guitar, which so dominates rock music. And take away the beats and some repetitive tunes, there’s nothing much remaining.

Like S.P.Balasubrahmaniam (SPB) once said in an interview, the “M” in music stands for “melody” and if you take it away, what remains is “usic”, that is- it makes “you sick”!