Thanks for the report and status of indic languages
Arjuna rao chavala
This mail will try to summarize what I learned, discovered, shared,
etc. during my stay at the Mangalore edition of India mini DebConfs
This miniDebConf is the third one scheduled this year in India. The
first one in Kuttipuram, Kerala, back in April 2011 had about 25
attendees, while the second one, in Pune, in August 2011 had up to 150
registered attendees. That followed another miniDebConf organized in
2010, in Pune .
This edition was organized at the NMAMIT (Nitte MahaLinga Adyanthaya
Memorial Institute of Technology) , about 50 kilometers north of
the coastal city of Mangalore, in the state of Karnataka, in
south-west India ( and ).
Organisation was lead by Vasudev Kamath and a very
efficient and active team of Computer Science students from the
college. This college, overall, has about 4000 students. Organization
got full support from the college staff, including the college
principal, Dr. S. Y. Kulakarni, who presided the conference inaugural
My own travel to India was funded by the Debian project assets, with
approval of our respected DPL, Stefano Zacchiroli. Hosting and
accomodation for invited guests were taken care of by the organizers in
the college guest house (that covered about 15 guests as far as I have
I gave the opening talk, after the formal inauguration ceremony (where
I had the great honor of being presented as "chief guest", which then
included addressing the 150-people audience during the opening
ceremony ), with a 3-part topic :
- introduction to Debian,
- contributing to Debiand
- Debian internationalization and localization.
The first part was largely borrowed from Stefano's slides from talks
he gave this year, as I have been impressed by the very clear way he
can give a good picture of our project, even for newcomers.
Newcomers were here, indeed the target, at least from start, as this
talk (and all talks of the first day) was attended by a very high
number of students. I tried thus to do my best to give a good picture
of the project, without going far into technical details, but by
insisting on aspects that make Debian special (in our opinion) among
other FLOSS projects:
- culture of technical excellence,
- promotion of the culture of free software,
- decision making systems (do-ocracy, democracy...).
A short parenthesis was made about derivatives and Debian relevance
(making reference to Ubuntu, which is clearly the most widely used
Linux-based system on our attendees' own machines).
The second part about Debian contribution was an adaptation of a talk
I already gave a few times, trying to demythify the difficulty of
becoming a DD or even "only" a Debian contributor. I insisted on that
part as my feeling over the years I worked with the Debian community
in India is that people often hesitate to invest themselves in the
project, by some fear of not being "able enough".
Finally, as localization can be a very good entry point for newcomers
(several of our regular contributors in the region started indeed by
working on localization). I made an overview of the various aspects of
Debian l10n/i18n. I also focused more specifically on localization for
languages in the country as we currently support several of them in
Debian Installer, and made a comparison between languages of India.
My slides for this talk are available on my talks page at 
(warning, 90's web style ahead!).
Later on, Jonas Smedegaard (as part of his "Debian Pure Blends trip to
Asia") lead a talk about Debian Pure Blends,
focusing on how "derivatives" can work inside Debian instead of
outside of it. This (and later discussions) lead to interesting
exchanges with representatives of CDAC (Center for Development of
Advanced Computing), a government agency that, among many, develops
and maintains BOSSLinux, a Debian-based distribution deployed very
widely over India on thousands, if not millions, of machines. Jonas
will probably develop this aspect on his own, but I found it very
positive to see such exchanges, particularly when one knows that
exchanges between CDAC/BOSSLinux and the local FLOSS community in
India, have sometimes been quite difficult. Such live meetings (as
well as those Jonas had in Hyderabad and others he will have in
Bangalore) will certainly improve the connection and exchanges between
BOSSLinux developers and their upstream, namely Debian.
Later on, we planned sessions about internationalization and
packaging. Unfortunately, local Internet access conditions, after
severe storms that affected the neighbourhood, prevented the planned
"live" work session on DDTP Kannada translations to happen (Kannada is
the official language of the state of Karnataka). Instead, I could
improvise a general session about localization.
During the second day of the conference, attention was focused on
contribution to Debian, introduced by a talk by Kartik Mistry about
"how to become a Debian developer"and followed by sessions about
packaging. We also handled a session about GPG key handling followed
by a mini keysigning session.
Here again, the packaging session was somehow difficult to organize
because of Internet connection problems (once again, not because of
the college itself but more an infortunate consequence of weather
It has to be noted that the event made its way into one of the major
newspapers in India, namely "The Hindu", in its Karnataka edition,
where a 4-column, 1/3 height article with a photo about "College near
Mangalore hosts three-day Debian meet" was published on Sunday October
30th, in page 6, widely published in a 70-million inhabitants state
As a conclusion, I would like to enhance the big success of this
miniDebConf, thanks to the support it received from the NMAMIT college
as well as the precise and detailed organization of the team lead by
These miniDebConf in India are vital to keep the community linked.
Indian contributors can often hardly participate to general events
such as DebConf, because visa delivery is often very complicated for
them, and travel costs are very high. We should do our best to always
have some of them sponsored to attend DebConf, but also do our best to
encourage local miniDebConf there.
My own participation was, I think, a success, along with that of Jonas
Smedegaard. Having the participation of "international" contributors
in these events is something that brings more attention on them and is
really highly appreciated by the local community. The care taken by
the local team to organize all aspects of our stay in Nitte clearly