Thursday, October 08, 2009

foss.my 2009 - Press Conference

Last year a bunch of us organised the Free and Open Source Software Conference (foss.my) 2008 within a very short period, and it almost killed us. This year we had a bit more time, but as per normal, we procrastinated and left it till very late before things started happening.

Thanks to Ditesh who pulled everything together the past few weeks, we managed to sort out all the prelim issues which we missed last year. One of the main items was a Press Conference; an activity which completely baffles us techies, but certain corporate types seem to like as it seems to bring in the publicity.

With APIIT (or now they prefer to be known as UCTI since being promoted to a University) as our venue sponsor again, they have been amazing in sorting out the issues with regards to logistics. (Go Gurdip)

So the Press Release was written up and available online here, basically outlines why we are so excited about this year's lineup of speakers;

We are showcasing our local dudes, namely John Lim, the reclusive hacker of the very popular database abstraction layer for PHP, ADOdb. He will be the opening keynote on the first day. Yusseri Yusoff, the big guy behind the first phase of the MAMPU initiative on public sector open source way back in the day will be giving the closing keynote on Sunday. Like his articles online in OpenMalaysiaBlog and TheMalaysianInsider, do expect a twisted tale.

Of course have in the Malaysian lineup, Reduan Oon, Nur Hussein, Mohan , Alvin Jude, Khairil Yusof, Muhd Abd Hay, Yaser Khalid, Yuen-Chi Lian, Julian Khoo, Muhd Najmi, Suresh Ramasamy, Uwe Dippel and Errazudin Ishak.

The economic crisis has made this year's effort in raising sponsorship and also persuading companies to help fly in speakers extremely difficult. However the team has managed to juggle the finances and have managed to bring in a few luminaries of the international Free and Open Source Software scene.


Brian Aker will be giving two regular talks: covering aspects of MySQL, Drizzle, memcached or Gearman, and he will also be giving the first day's closing keynote.

On the second day, we will kidnap the Father of Free Software, Richard Stallman who will be making his way through Asia. He will fly in at a peculiar time on Sunday, give his keynote, and then scoot off. He will be talking about "The Free (Bebas) Software Movement and the GNU/Linux Operating System"

We will also host Pradeepto, a KDE hacker from India, Devdas Bhagat, Giuseppe Maxia, Harish Pillay, James Morris and Pia Waugh who was extremely well accepted in the previous foss.my conference.

On top of that, we are having numerous Birds-of-a-Feather sessions running in parallel to the talks, featuring KDE, Ubuntu-my, Drupal, Fedora, CodeAndroid, Fosschix and workshops Linux and Startups.

For more information, look at the foss.my 2009 schedule.

The Press Conference held at APIIT/UCTI on the 6th of October itself was pretty standard. After some welcoming comments from Gurpardeep Singh of UCTI, Lee Nan Phin of MNCC outlined the importance of Open Source for Malaysia, and how MNCC has had programmes in support of FOSS over the years.

Ditesh and I were "co-chairs" for whatever that meant, and we both emphasised that this is a true grassroots events created by the community for the community. We were asked if the talks would be too technical. Our response to that was that it is aimed more for the technically inclined, and instead of the regular rhetoric, and hopefully the technical bias of these talks would encourage the audience to participate more in the FOSS process.


We were also asked if the Government should have programmes to encourage the usage of FOSS in research and academia. I responded that it shouldn't be a Government initiative but the academic institution's culture. Currently most of the institutions teach students how to use a particular software to fulfill the syllabus. So at the end of the day, we get students with a very short shelf life, in that they only know a certain version of one vendors product without having any strong fundamentals.

What is really required is a change in this culture to a true research and innovation culture where FOSS, the freedom to run, read, share and improve software, clearly satisfies the academic requirements.

Another issue which we wanted to emphasise was the affordability of foss.my 09. It is free (as in percuma) for all primary and secondary students. For those on a tight budget, we have the $20 pass which allows full access to all the talks - you just don't get the swag. Hobbyists just have to pay $60 while Professionals pay $88. All of this goes up during the event, when the Walk-in price is $100, so we encourage people to register NOW.

With GIMP and Inkscape love, this is our poster. Clicken to embiggen:

Thanks to the sponsors, MDeC, APIIT/UCTI, MySQL, LCA, ByteCraft and Inigo. MNCC is helping to organise the event.

Colin has got a good summary, and thanks to Jo Timbuong, we have something up at TheStar. The reporters fron Nanyang and Sin Chiew were very careful in getting our Chinese names right.

Because of this buzz, and the fact that today it was announced that a netbook will be given to all the pre-registered (15 Oct) delegates, registration has picked up!

So sign up now, and see you in a few days time.

yk