DevConf India 2019 experience

One month ago I attended DevConf India 2019. It was held from August 2-3 at Christ University, Bangalore. It was quite a while since I attended a conference, the last one being PyCon India 2018 . Due to my laziness in writing I have altogether missed writing my Conference experiences till now. This will be in fact my first Conference blog post. Now on I will make sure to write about each of the conferences I go.

I came to know about DevConf India last year when it was first held, from people in my developer circle. DevConf India is organised by Red Hat and has similar events in US and Czech Republic. Since I was in Bangalore this year I made sure I attend it after I saw the dates in Twitter. I registered as soon as I came to know about it.

Day 1

I mostly planned on meeting up with people and attend a few talks. I started at 8.30 am from my place and unfortunately missed the Keynote owing to a bad experience with a Bike Taxi service. I reached the Venue around 10 am and collected my Attendee badge and T-shirt. Then I headed towards the Keynote Session Hall where I met Naren from Chennaipy. I earlier met him at PyCon India 2018. It was nice catching up with him.

After having breakfast at the venue I headed to the Booth area where I met Chandan . I started visiting the booths asking questions about various projects like Fedora, Debian, CentOS. Shortly after I met up with some more familiar faces from DgplugSayan, Rayan , all of them I met during PyCon India last year. I expected a Dgplug staircase meeting at DevConf but unlike last year there were less attendees this time. After that we went for lunch at the Cafeteria where I met Ramki , Praveen and pjp . Few days earlier I was reading pjp’s tutorial regarding gcc and gdb from dpglug irc logs . It was nice to catch up with him in person. I was discussing with Sayan and Praveen about the initial days of dgplug at my college at NIT Durgapur, attending their first talk in 2013 when I had just joined my college.

After Lunch I decided to attend few talks. I attended a talk regarding Evolution of Containers – there I came across terms like Chroot, Cgroups, Namespaces , how the whole container ecosystem was born. I have been always been inquisitive about containers and though I haven’t really worked on containers before this talk really fascinated me to dive into the world of containers.

Then I attended a talk on What hurts people in Open Source Community . The talk helped to set my expectations right regarding contribution to a Open source project and Community.

After that I went to the Closing Keynote of the day shortly after which we went for evening snacks where we had more discussions over Coffee and Dosa – we noticed a item mentioning ‘Open Dosa’ over which we laughed a lot 😛 . And it was finally close of the day.

Day 2

I reached a little late to the venue and went straight to the talk that I didn’t want to miss. It was a Documentation BoF where speakers were discussing how to create effective documentation and tools for creating collaborative documentation. I came across User Story based documentation and tools of the trade like asciidoc and asciidoctor . I met Ladar Levison there during that session and talked with him regarding better project organisation. He gave me his business Card which mentioned Lavabit . Little did I know about him until I read this article which explained more about Lavabit and his role in Snowden’s secure email communication. But that was after this conference and I wished I could talk more about Privacy and Lavabit projects.

After that I went for lunch with Sayan, Chandan and Rayan where we chatted on lot of different stuff on open source, food and conferences. After Lunch I went to attend Sinny‘s talk on Fedora CoreOS whom Sayan introduced last day.

Finally it was nearing the end of the day. I went to attend the closing keynote by Jered Floyd and sat beside Christian Heimes from Red Hat who was sharing anecdotes from his travel experiences.

Notes from the Conference

I made few notes that I would like to share from my experience at the Conference and also as a note to me for future Conferences

  • Try to search about people you meet so that you can know more about them. You may not know everything about the person you are talking with. But actually the person can be a mine of knowledge. Ask for the person’s email/Twitter so that you can follow up on email or Twitter after the conference.
  • It’s always good to prepare some questions if you are likely to meet a person you met/knew online. You have the opportunity to talk face to face and ask about the projects the person works on. You can even do that within the conference when you are free.
  • When you attend a Talk ask good questions that can start a conversation. Usually people take a interest in following up after the Talk with you and you get to talk to more people.
  • It’s always good to be Speaker at the Conference. That way there is higher chances that you can start a conversation with people you don’t know and meeting for the first time. This is something that I really need to work on and hopefully I will be able to submit a talk in the next Conference I attend.
  • When going for Lunch tag along with a group so that you get meet more people. If you are an introvert this really works well as you can meet friends of friends and you can interact much easily!

And yes don’t forget to take pictures 🙂 It really bring memories. It may sound weird but this is something I really forget every time I meet up with people and later wait for Conference photos.

Getting Aboard dgplug Summer Training 2018

This year I decided to join the dgplug Summer Training conducted by the Durgapur Linux User’s Group. I didn’t blog for a long time since last year, but last class we had our class on blogging and it really motivated me to start my blog again.

I knew dgplug from my initial days of my college since I studied at Durgapur. I got to know about this Training in 2017 when I first met Kushal in FOSSASIA Summit and searched for dgplug’s website. I have been willing to join it since then, but last year I couldn’t really make time. So after I saw the tweet about this year’s edition I was eagerly waiting to get aboard.

The First Class

It started on 17th June, 2018 at 7 pm sharp. I had my flight to Hyderabad that day on 10.30 pm and I didn’t want to miss the first class so I left early to reach the Airport before the class starts. The class would take on IRC on #dgplug channel on freenode. I just reached on time at the airport and I had to do my check in as well. So I stood in the queue connecting to IRC from my mobile using Riot app and eagerly waited for it to start People were doing countdown before it started and I was amazed to see the number of IRC handles active during the session. The session started, everyone greeted each other. Then Kushal started with some basic rules for the class.There was an interesting way to ask questions during the class. We had to type a “!” and a bot named “batul” would keep queuing those and we had to wait until our turn came and batul prompted us to ask our question. The teacher could take the questions by typing “next”. I had a slow internet connection and Riot took time to sync the messages. But I managed to follow along. Kushal said to read the FAQs for the training and ask questions in case we have any doubt. Then we were asked to introduce ourselves by raising hands using a “!”. We were then guided with the rules for every class and asked to read How to ask smart questions. I realized this is something which should actually be taught in every community so that we ask meaningful questions. Then they were open for questions. At the end of the session we were asked to read some links that were given as home work. The next session would happen the next day.

This was like the format of each session and mind it it was totally conducted on IRC which enabled really fast communication in low bandwidth. Though the entire communication was text based it really felt as if I was in a real class. There is Roll Call at the beginning and end of class, I had to raise hand for asking question, had to wait for my turn to ask my question and was given homework that was not at all over burdening. It is just the right amount given till now and I could get time to read through the reading materials provided after the class and was also able to manage it between my Office schedule.

The best part of the training so far was that we were made to think and come out of our comfort zone in order to do a task. We had to think and search even before asking a question. I believe that is a good practice for everything we have a question.

Already 2 weeks of the training session is complete and I learnt a lot of things in the way.

First Week

There was a class on Free Software Communication guidelines which was taken by Shakthi Kannan (aka mbuf) where we were taught about mailing list etiquette and other communication guidelines. The slide on mailing list etiquette and Communication will really help me in the long run.

Then there was a class on Linux Command line by Jason Braganza which taught us to get started with Basic Linux commands. The LYM (Linux for You and Me) book is a  good book for newcomers and I really find it easy to follow. It is being used in all our Linux command line sessions and we are asked to read few chapters at a time and then we have doubt sessions where we can ask questions.

On Friday, 21st June we had our first guest session by Harish Pillay. The session was very informative. He told us about the time of Internet when it had just started and was known as ARPANET. He told us the importance of contributing to Free Software/Open Source and Red Hat’s Open culture for contributing to Open Source projects. Then there were all sorts of questions he answered on Startups, open source contribution, Licenses, distros etc.

In the weekend we were  asked to watch 2 documentaries. One was  The internet’s Own Boy and Citizenfour. I could complete watching the first one. I got to know a lot more about the History of Internet and Free Software Movement. Also we were asked to read this article where I got to know how the History of Free Software movement is deeply rooted to the Freedom of Speech and Expression. I got to learn more about The “Free as in Freedom” ideology, the origin of the GNU project and the importance of Free Software. I did a bit more research on GNU/Linux Operating systems and understood what a kernel means with respect to an Operating System and that it requires a lot more things than a kernel to make a OS work.

Second Week

In the next week we had a class on Privacy and Opsec from Kushal. He told us how to do a Threat Modelling of our Risks and Good practices to ensure better security. I already installed Tor Browser and have been trying to use it as my browser now. Giving up on Google is hard but I am trying my best to use DuckDuckgo for searches now. I haven’t really switched to using password managers. It will take me some time before I switch over using a password manager since I have to go over its usage to get familiar with it.

On Wednesday, 27th June we had guest session by Nicholas H.Tollervey. He is a classically trained musician, philosophy graduate, teacher, writer and software developer.  It really inspired me to see if a person loves something he can learn anything from whichever field he/she comes from. He is one of the pioneers of the micro:bit project. He answered questions on open source contribution and best practices for writing software.

On Thurday, 28th June we had guest session from Pirate Praveen. He is a political activist who uses Free Software Principles in his work and formed the Indian Pirates organisation. He is an upstream contributor to debian and has packaged software like GitLab and Diaspora so that they can be easily setup just by running one command. The motivation for him to contribute to open source projects was because he wanted to solve a problem. He answered questions about his entry into politics, packaging and the way of solving problems.

Then we had a class of blogging taken by Jason Braganza who explained the nitty-gritty of blogging. Over the weekend I completed watching Citizenfour and Nothing to Hide which we were recommended to watch. It made me know a lot of things about Privacy and Surveillance which I  was unaware off. Privacy is a basic right and we should all be aware how to protect it.

The experience has been good so far and I am hoping to learn a lot more things in the upcoming days. Thanks to the awesome team who has been working hard to make this possible 🙂