I woke up early, and met Akhil at University of Mauritius. Akhil is one of the most promising Linux & Open Source contributors on the island, and he was interested in helping for the booth. We later drove to the MSIRI. The forest surrounding the MSIRI is absolutely beautiful. The buildings are very old, and stunning. I really liked the place, and the fresh air.
Akhill unpacked his Ubuntu laptop & I lent him my PCDuino, which is an embedded board running Ubuntu Linux.
There were a lot of interesting discussions from people like Atchia, Elizabeth (from Turbine), and Annibal. Personally, I (respectfully) disagreed with some of the points they raised concerning management of intellectual property. That will be a topic for another discussion.
At 13:30, we had the panel, which Avinash Meetoo (a member of hackers.mu, among other positions), Ish Sookun, and myself. Avinash introduced himself, and told us about his career, which is both rich and interesting. He explained about how Linux & Open Source software powers the world: facebook, google, twitter, and other big websites. He also mentioned the smartphones and the Linux-based modems in our houses. Avinash was one of the first people to have a computer at home, and I still remember when I called him asking if I could use his computers for simulating DDOS attacks.
Ish Sookun explained about his life about how he discovered Linux, his decision to drop out of university to work as a Linux sysadmin, and how he finds his work fun, till today. He also explained about his decision to join the Linux User Group of Mauritius.
This brought back fun memories of LUGM from a long time ago. Today, I admit that my involvement in LUGM has been reduced significantly for various reasons (Hint: linkedin profile). Hackers.mu is where I prefer to spend my time. Mentoring the first generation of Linux and Open Source developers is very fun, and rewarding !
Avinash asked me the same sets of questions. I tried to answer down to the point, as far as I could.
I discovered Linux (and Open Source Software) back in 2002, and I was amazed that you could have an Operating System where you could study the source code. I poked fun at Arnaud Messlier concerning Microsoft having a highly restricted access to the source code of Microsoft Windows. Once I got access to the source code of Linux and other Open Source Software, I started fooling around.
Concerning the question as to “thinking differently”, I told them about the story where my parents thought that a business model where your code is freely available would never work, and nobody would pay somebody to do that. Thankfully today, Google & Facebook proved that a business model could exist around free software. I told the crowd how I was happy using Linux on my desktop computer, and that it satisfied my needs at the time. Interestingly, my mother now owns an android mobile phone, despite being adamant that Linux would never leave the server world.
Concerning the last 2 questions about “doing things”, I explained how I was initially reluctant to publish my changes for Open Source Software on the internet. However, with encouragement from the community, I jumped on the bandwagon. I explained how critical it was for youngsters to not only use Linux, but also improve the code of Linux and Open Source Software. I cited the example of Akhill who has been contributing to Ubuntu Linux since a while now, despite being only 19 years old. Then, I professed my strong belief that youngsters could achieve a lot with the right guidance.
Avinash made a very good point at the end: with the right universities, access to money, and the right infrastructure, Mauritius can make the leap !