The GNU/Linux installfest at Kanakakkunnu on April 12th was a huge success. In spite of our inexperience and other glitches , it went reasonably well, drawing public in large numbers. We ended up having 40 installations, around 50 home install requests and almost 350 install media distribution. This goes on to show how far dedication alone can lead us.
The idea for the install fest was conceived by Anoop Jacob Thomas and was soon taken up by the GLUG members. Zyxware served as our main planning center and Anoop John and Joju from Zyxware played key roles in assuring its success. FSF/SPACE had already given us their support and turned up at the installfest to help. CDAC showed support by sending in a box of BOSS media to be given away and a person to show it off. We also had people from IIITMK showing off open Solaris. The rest of the LUG volunteers had students from various colleges (Mar Baselios , Barton Hill , SCT ) , software engineers , engineers from VSSC etc.
I don't intend to describe the events that led up to the installfest. The following is a short account of the evening before and the day of the installfest as seen by me. I apologize if i leave anyone/anything out. Do correct me.
On Friday , the evening before the install fest, the hardware were to be brought to Zyxware . Anoop Jacob Thomas and Anand Raj brought in their cars and Zyxware donated their Omni for the purposes. Syam and Visakh also brought their cars to serve as transportation.
We had around 12+ computers and other hardware to go with it, all donated by volunteers . I don't have the exact count. While those were being brought in , the rest ( Rajiv, Manuel and others) were busy installing games to be demoed and installations to be shown off. Compiz fusion was to be a great attraction so we couldn't afford glitches. We catalogued the stuff being brought in and then we started to move the systems to the venue by around 1:30.
All four cars were loaded up and driven over ( convoy style, complete with flashing indicators ) to the venue. While the floor plan was being laid out , Rajiv and me rigged the gaming computers and LAN. The rest re arranged the tables and hooked up power strips and the computers. We finished by around 3:30 . Prasad and Rajiv tested the gaming rig while the rest chalked up plans for the next day.
We left soon after. Me , Rajiv , Manuel , Joju and Prasad stayed at Zyxware while the rest went of to their homes. I woke up at about 7:30 and reached kanakakkunnu by around 8 . Anoop Jacob Thomas and Anand Raj had already gone off for UPSs and other stuff. I found Arjun Sanal and Anil on the premises. I went inside and started double checking things . Prathap , Mani , Srinath ,Rajiv Manuel and the rest started showing up and our t shirts had came in ( many thanks to Anand Raj for staying late sorting through some 375 packages at the courier office ) and glug volunteers in black were running around setting up stuff. At about 9 , Dr.V Sasi Kumar came in. Me and prathap went off to attend the inaugural ceremony and speech by Dr.V Sasi Kumar. Chandrettan wandered in after sometime and he stayed to listen to the speech.
After the inaugural speech , we went back to the hall to help setting up things. Rajiv recognized Mr.Amarnath Raja ( CEO Inapp ) walking around . I went and introduced myself and told him about the activities that we planned for the day. Chandrettan also came in and introduced himself. Sasi Kumar sir was also out looking at the arrangements. I left them chatting to each other.
Our first install request came in some time between 8:30 and 9. An 8 year old AMDK5 ( i think ) . A few minutes after 10:30 people started trickling in with computers and laptops. Ajay and team from IIITMK also arrived with opensolaris and we gave them a table. CDAC's BOSS install media and a person from CDAC had also arrived for demo ing it. I think Joju and Manuel took care of the projector and stuff. We soon had "elephant's dream" running on the projector with people watching.
Things started getting hectic. FSF people ( Jamesettan , Vimal , George and others ) and the team from GEC Barton hill had arrived. Computers were being brought in and people were milling around all the time. We had people asking for specific distros , mainly Fedora and Ubuntu . We also got laptops pre installed with Vista to be 'liberated'. People were very patient and had no problems when a few installations were held for sometime.The BOSS media were disappearing at a fast pace and the ubuntu pressed discs were in great demand. Even the 64 bit ones were taken.
93.5 S FM was there to cover it and i think we made use of the opportunity to the maximum. Anoop , me , Jamesettan talked to them. They wanted two more people to talk to , but i do not know whether they got them or not. Award winning actor Mr Suresh Gopi was there to get GNU/Linux installed on his VAIO . He was fascinated with the open source movie "Elephant's Dream" and was asking about the ownership and patents related to it. We told him that it was all community owned , even the art work in the movie. He was pretty impressed. We thank him for gracing the occasion with his presence.
Prathap provided snacks for GLUG volunteers and people were only too happy
The crowd thinned a bit after that, but we had a steady flow coming in , thanks to the excellent media coverage. There were people who came in the morning and came back with their computers to get FOSS installed. People also wanted installation media to share with friends. We started copying CDs from the ISO images we had ( courtesy Zyxware). We charged the cost of the install media as fee , which people thought was justified. They waited patiently for the media to be written out and generally were inquisitive about free software and its usage. Children were the most inquisitive users, exploring the games thoroughly. We had a child asking about some options to be passed at boot time ( ?? ) ! we all were surprised.
Towards the end of the day , we had two installation held up due to multiple power failures. But the owners waited patiently and thanked us profusely. All of us were exhausted, but then , we all felt that we had done something useful to the society as a whole. We served the General Public for whom free software exists.
We wound up , powered down systems , cracked jokes and returned to Zyxware with happy , bouncing hearts. All systems were cleared by around 1:30 am Sunday and we all had good long sleeps.
Looking back , we were totally unprepared to handle the crowd and we could have done with more planning. But we managed to pull it off even then. That , is the spirit of free software, free libre , that drives each one of us.
PS : Photos can be found at :