My Journey through Open Source

Many thanks to foss.in, conf.kde.in, and open source community of India for changing the shape and tone of my life.

In 2009, when I was in the third year of my undergrad, I borrowed my mother’s laptop to attend my first FOSS conference along with a bunch of class fellows. During the conference, I attending a lot of interactive sessions and talks. Besides this, all I did during the course of a five-day long workshop was struggling to install Fedora (my first Linux distro) on my machine.

Struggling to install fedora at foss.in, Nimhans Convention Center, Bangalore

It was the biggest conference I had ever been to. Not only the open source organizations like KDE, Sahana, Creative Commons, Maemo were new to me, the use of most of the technical terms in the sessions were scary too. I stayed quiet all through this workshop but enjoyed listening to people having geeky discussions with each other.

There was a tremendous energy flowing in all the session rooms, there were enthusiastic people willing to learn, hack, code and collaborate. This magic of free and open source culture touched me deep within. I got addicted listening to nerdy conversations, talks and spending time with an awesome community who was willing to welcome newbies and offer help in making their first contribution to open source.

Pradeepto leading an informal session for students from my college. Photo Credits: Aanjhan Ranganathan

Although traveling from Rajasthan to Bangalore was expensive being a student and time consuming as well (three days on a train), but after this workshop, I didn’t miss a FOSS conference for next couple of years. Through these events, it was fun hanging out with geeks and learning about new technologies.

I started realizing that my college wouldn’t be able to provide sufficient opportunities to excel, which I might receive by being part of these events. I skipped a complete semester to pursue my internship at Mahiti, an open source organization based out of Bangalore.

In 2011, at conf.kde.in, I met some amazing community members and attended a hands on workshop on Qt led by Prashanth. Till this time, I was carrying out troubleshooting sessions, tinkering with borrowed code-snippets, conducting open source events and mainly evangelizing open source on campus. During this workshop, Pradeepto and Lydia encouraged me to apply to the Google Summer of Code program.

I applied for a beginner level project at the GNOME organization and got accepted for the GCompris project. Following this reward, it was like grabbing a cherry on top of the cake to receive sponsorship grant from the GNOME Foundation to attend Desktop Summit in Berlin to demo my GSOC project.

Thereafter, I joined Prashanth’s startup VCreateLogic, where it was fun developing Qt and QML based desktop and mobile apps. And, by contributing to some of these open source projects, I developed my research interests in educational technologies. This took me to the MIT Media Lab. Hoping that this learning journey continues. Thanks to foss.in, conf.kde.in and a bunch of inspiring folks whom I met in these gatherings.


Originally published at srishakatux.tumblr.com.