Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Serious Experiments with FOSS

I have followed Linux since 15 years ago. The first time I tried to install, it took me more than two months to get a working system. Linux and FOSS software have evolved since then.

Our labs use Ubuntu. I learnt about Ubuntu about 3 years ago when my son came back from his college with Ubuntu loaded on his Notebook. The usability focus of Ubuntu is really amazing. The resistance to virus is a great feature. No need to look for drivers: all drivers are built in. I use Ubuntu 95% of the time. Windows takes the rest.

Our programming labs for C and C++ have been using GCC on ubuntu from the start.

Recently, we faced the issue of using Autocad for Engineering Drawing. I knew about Q-CAD which has a community edition available on Linux. I told Prof. Bamadev to try this. He was reluctant to start with. But I prevailed. He told me he does not have ubuntu on his machine. I gave him a VDI image of Ubuntu and made in work in his machine. I demonstrated how to make it work.

The next day when I visited the Lab, I found students using Q-Cad for Engg Drawing Lab. Bamadev told me that he had worked late into night working with Q-Cad and is comfortable now. The students had no clue about what they were missing as this was their first CAD software.

Our efforts will be to adopt FOSS as far as possible for following reasons: free, different, and innovative.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Commencement and Foundation Day Lectures

"Why have you stopped blogging?" one student asked me recently. I have not really stopped blogging. This year since July I assumed the position of President of Rotary Club. I started blogging for Rotary. You can see Rotary Blogs here. My principle is two to three blogs a month.

We started a very important tradition in the Institute: Various Lecture Series. We propose to have four Institutional Lectures in a Year: Commencement Lecture at the Beginning of the year, Foundation Day Lecture on 29th Nov, the Last Lecture and the Convocation Lecture.

We are fortunate to start the first two of the series. The first commencement lecture was delivered by Subroto Bagchi. The First Foundation Lecture was delivered by Bijay Patnaik. Both of them are members of the IIIT board.

Subroto Bagchi spoke on what it takes to be a professional. Bijay Patnaik spoke on the challenges a resource rich but poor state like Orissa faces in its path to Industrialization.

The commencement lecture was a sober affair with minimal organizational effort. The foundation day lecture was more flamboyant.

The point worth highlighting was the way students organized and got involved in the Foundation Day Lecture. They organized sports events, painting, rangoli, photography events and what not. On the day of the lecture the volunteers did a outstanding job and the lecture was a smooth affair.

The only hitch was the dinner. The Institute hosted a Dinner on this occasion. It was very unfortunate that the food was over by the time half the students had eaten. However, the situation was salvaged due the patience displayed by the students and some damage control action taken by Siddharth Padhi. I feel the the Institute owes the students one more treat to compensate for the fiasco of the Foundation Day Dinner.