End Run

We are 7 days away from FOSS.IN/2005. Preparations are at fever pitch, and I am all about ready to collapse.

Registrations are pouring in (we crossed 1000 sometime last week), and the number of hits on the FOSS.IN website are staggering.

I am sitting here wearing the conference T-Shirt, which is very nice, and for a change fits me! :)

And I just tried out the prototype of the DVD that we plan to distribute at the event – the mother of all distributions. We are going to set the bar extremely high for all those people who are still copying the same old tired format of distro CDs that my team and I had introduced to the world in 1996 and improved on over the years till 2001. After this DVD, the world will never be the same for magazines putting out disks on their covers. :) Many thanks to Shanu who has been working overtime on this.

Various teams are working on various aspects of the event. The network team has their stuff ready for deployment, assuming (of course) that the servers and machines are delivered in time. Harikrishnan has been pumping out graphics, posters and even ads (coming soon to a newspaper near you). Gopi and his team have been working on the venue stuff, and Shreyas and I have been fighting battle after battle with the talk schedules.

As with every year, speakers drop out without much notice, to be quickly replaced from a reserve pool. I can always tell when someone isn’t going to actually give a talk – it usually starts with them not sending in slides by the due date. So far, I have yet to be proven wrong.

I have found out one important thing about myself – I don’t scale. And I get disappointed easily. It is a heartache every year when people you thought you could rely on turn to have different priorities from mine, despite their claims otherwise. You end up doing more work than you expected to, and none of it is quite complete, resulting in dissatisfaction all around.

And it isn’t just people who let you down. You won’t believe how hard it is to get the industry, who derives so much revenue and technology from Free & Open Source Software, to support the only national-level FOSS event (i.e. not a commercial “Linux” event) we have. It isn’t that we haven’t got sponsors, but the battle to get people to open their purses is something I am getting very tired of after five years of having to do this. Doesn’t this industry ever learn? I mean, just now I had one potential sponsor *bargaining* for a reduction in sponsorship, to the tune of few thousand Rupees!

If it wasn’t for the support I get from most unexpected quarters (including the Indian Government), and if it wasn’t for growth and promotion of something that I so strongly believe in and have been promoting for more than a decade now, I don’t know if I would be doing this at all.

But in the end, if just 10 Indians out of the many thousands who will come to FOSS.IN/2005 get enthused enough to start contributing to FOSS, it will have all been worth it. And, if like Swaroop, more and more students find out that companies look for people who have done things while they were students, instead of looking at marks, then India should certainly see less of technoslavery and more of innovation.