Tag Archives: Asia

Growing India’s FOSS Ecosystem with Planet FLOSS India

A Conversation with Planet FLOSS India’s co-founders Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay and Sayamindu Dasgupta.

Planet FLOSS India

Planet FLOSS India

India’s free and open source software community is known for its vibrant diversity. It is diverse geographically, technologically and ideologically and has voices that range from the inspired to the obsessed. Planet FLOSS India is a successful online platform representing India’s many FOSS voices. I’ve known the planet’s co-founders, Sankarshan and Sayamindu for many years now and recently talked to them about the planet’s origins, success and future. Here is what they had to say.

1. India’s FOSS community is large yet mostly unknown. Planet FLOSS India is helping make the community’s voices more widely known. Tell me about how this Planet came about and who came up with the idea.

Sankarshan: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://planet-india.randomink.org shows that May 20, 2004 was when Planet FLOSS India first appeared on the World Wide Web. The idea for this planet was floating around in our heads for at least 3 months before that. As far as I recall, one evening, at Sayamindu’s place, we realized that the two of us read other planets all the time. We ended up wondering what it would take to build one for India.





It took ten minutes to register the domain and a day or so to obtain the hosting space. Sayamindu helped out a lot by doing some research and selecting Dreamhost. Between the two of us, we did not actually know many folks; so we decided to get some word of mouth going (including instances where we had folks telling us “you have a piddly 12 folks blogging and getting syndicated on the planet and you call it Planet FLOSS India ?”) That was then. We’ve come a long way since then I’d say.

Sayamindu: We could do more stuff really :-) I guess we are limited by our own interest in getting things through.

2. Planets are excellent tools for community building. What has helped you in building and managing this community and maintaining its quality.

Sankarshan: Personally, one of the satisfying results of helping host this planet (I pay for the hosting while Sayamindu does other larger bits) has been seeing the breadth and quality of people we have come across. Most of the time the conversation has been long-lasting and interesting. There is a tremendous amount of work in the FLOSS space that happens in India, and what we syndicate now represents the subset of just those who write. Having a pan-India planet is also interesting as it allows us to see the regional or task specific ones (planets) like Planet Durgapur LUG and so forth.

Sayamindu: I’d also like to believe that it has allowed an online space for conversation. We have had bloggers send us notes of appreciation when someone stumbled on to their work because they were syndicated and, thereon collaboration flourished. This makes us happy.

3. Have you ever had a problem where you had to drop a blogger off.

Sankarshan: We don’t actually have a policy on the content. The planet began with an aim to allow both of us to get to know folks and, we do tend to believe that it is always better to let every facet of personality shine through. Having said all of that, there have been times when we have had to comment out the feed URL in the configuration file thus taking the blogger off the planet.

Sayamindu: As a best practice, we try and reach out asking for a specific feed and so forth. It has not been a problem but yes, like other planets we have had to exercise some editorial control on the content.

4. What are your plans about growing Planet FLOSS India?

Sankarshan: The planet’s growth has been more of an evolution.

One aspect we’d like to think about is how to get folks to have the discipline to write about what they are up to. The more they think about it in terms of collaboration (and less in terms of PR for their projects), we should see a good amount of writing coming up. We also try to convince folks to write in their local languages. Local language content would make a good amount of material fly past our readers, but it would be good to see content and blogs getting syndicated in Indian languages.

We haven’t run too much analysis on the content that goes on the planet. Nonetheless we tried to test the grade at which it was written (turns out that it is mostly easy to read) but I’d say that in our evil plans :-) there is this idea of expanding the ‘S’ in FLOSS beyond Software per se and make it easier for anyone to feel that they could be syndicated.

Sayamindu: There are some technical parts to the infrastructure that we have to look at in the near future – these include the ability to self-add oneself to the planet. For example, The Fedora Project Planet does this nicely. We also need someone to do up a newer theme and CSS for the planet now that I don’t have the time at all. ** The current theme was cooked in one night and uses quite a few hacks which fall apart in some corner-cases. It would be nice to have someone preserve the look and feel, but rewrite the entire HTML/CSS part in a cleaner fashion. **

5. How do you support the infrastructure for the Planet. Do you take donations, gifts and hardware? What about ads? How many hits do you have to handle?

Sayamindu: Hosting and domain charges are paid entirely by Sankarshan personally. We have around a 1000 unique visitors to the site per month (its not very high, but most of them access the site daily). Moreover, people also access the site via RSS feedreaders. There’s also a Google SMS channel which sends out a mobile text message when a new post shows up on the Planet. Most of the visitors are from India, and some are from North America and Europe.

6. What’s next for Planet FLOSS India. What’s in store in the future?

Sayamindu: A major priority is cleaning up of the design (visual as well as from the point of view of HTML/CSS). I also have some ideas like having a Google custom search so that people can search the posts made by the people on the Planet, letting people share and designate favorite posts directly from the planet interface, making the Planet self service (for example, people can add themselves, change their hackergotchi/rss feel url) etc.

And of course, we are always looking for people who would like to get syndicated on the planet. Please email us if you are interested in getting syndicated or volunteering to help with planet maintenance.

Thanks Sankarshan and Sayamindu for discussing Planet FLOSS India. I wish you great success in growing Planet FLOSS India!

What’s interesting: Hancom goes Open. A decade of Linux at HP. Open Source not a Business Model.

Recent statements in the world of Open Source and Linux.

Hancom, South Korea’s leading software developer says it will open source its popular word processing software Hangul for community to develop software for mobile devices.

Hancom, the developer of a word-processing program known to Koreans as Hangul and foreigners as HanWord, said this week it will open up the product’s source code so other people can modify it for smart phones, tablet computers and other new gadgets. smart phones, tablets and other new devices. Hangul was adopted by the South Korean government nearly 20 years ago and has been a standard in most South Korean companies too, making the country one of the few places where Microsoft’s Office suite of workplace products has taken a back seat. Nearly all documents by the government, except for those of Korea Intellectual Property Office, are Hangul files, which are known by their “HWP” file extension. Companies and individual users have to either buy the software or download a free ‘HWP viewer’ to be able to read them. A person could open Microsoft Word documents in the Hangul program, but not vice versa.

Read more at WSJ.

Bdale Garbee, HP’s Chief Technologist for Open Source and Linux talks about a decade of Linux at HP and what’s coming up in M&As – perhaps Novell?

“HP is absolutely committed to open source”. Bdale Garbee shares some statistics to back up this claim:
* Over 6,500 HP service employees to implement and support Linux and open source worldwide
* Over 3,000 open source software projects initiated
* Over 2,500 HP developers focused on open source
* Over 1,200 open source printer drivers provided

Read more at OSNews.

Red Hat CEO says open source is not a business model; it’s a way to develop software.

Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, the oldest and by far the most successful company whose business is based purely around open source, makes no bones about it: “Selling free software is hard,” he says. In fact, he goes further: “Open source is not a business model; it’s a way to develop software.”

Read more in this interview with Glyn Moody at CIO UK.

OpenOffice.org – A Developer’s Viewpoint: A Conversation with Michael Meeks

OpenOffice.org could be so much more, given a less top down approach to project management and a looser rein on developers’ ability to get involved.

Read more at the H Open.

ICT to the rescue in Bangladesh



I recently read a compelling story about how women are creating waves in rural Bangladesh using netbooks, GSM mobile phones, blood pressure monitors and other gadgets to help Bangladeshis and, at the same time, provide them with an opportunity to break out of poverty.

The story shows how a good idea along with some resources and local effort can solve real problems using information and communication technology (ICT). Even though this idea seems simple, there are few projects in the Indian subcontinent which utilize ICT successfully to educate and empower people in rural areas. Currently these netbooks run a version of Windows. It would be great to see projects like this get even more mileage by using FOSS and open knowledge repositories like Wikipedia.

Highlights from the article:

“Akhter belongs to a motley band of “InfoLadies,” who are piloting a revolutionary idea – giving millions of Bangladeshis, trapped in a cycle of poverty and natural disaster, access to information on their doorstep to improve their chances in life.

“…An InfoLady’s netbook is loaded with content especially compiled and translated in local Bangla language,” says Mohammed Forhad Uddin of D.Net, a not-for-profit research organization that is pioneering access to livelihood information.”

“…It provides answers and solutions to some of the most common problems faced by people in villages.”

“…In Bangladesh this means nearly three-quarters of the nearly 160 million that live in rural areas. From agriculture to health, sanitation and disaster management, the content follows simple text, pictures and engaging multimedia animations to include all users, many of whom are illiterate.”

Meet CUBRID: One of Korea’s Top Open Source Projects

A Conversation with Jay Kim and Esen Sagynov of CUBRID.



I participate at the MySQL Conference in Silicon Valley every year and look forward to the diversity of ideas, projects and companies that represent the ever-growing open source database landscape. This year, CUBRID, an open source database project backed by a company from South Korea, caught my eye. What was most impressive to me was the team’s enthusiasm about open source software and its belief that an open source model can work for developing good software and, at the same time, for building a healthy services business in Asia as well as globally.

CUBRID’s team from Korea proudly announced its participation in the global open source ecosystem through the example of its open source relational database project at the conference. I talked with Jay Kim and Esen Sagynov from the CUBRID team about their experience building an open source database in Asia, growing the CUBRID community and increasing its adoption. Here is what they had to say.

1. Tell me about CUBRID?

CUBRID is an open source relational database highly optimized for web applications. In the summer of 2006, NHN, Korea’s top portal and search engine joined the CUBRID project as a major co-developer. After two years of development, in October 2008, CUBRID became an open source project with a GPL v2 or later license. Code development was initially hosted at http://dev.naver.com/projects/cubrid, a CUBRID development project site in Korea. As of October 2009, the project has been now setup at Source Forge.

NHN’s experience in database development and supporting its numerous on-line services provided a great opportunity to develop and scale CUBRID to handle large concurrent requests.The latest version CUBRID 2008 R2.2 was released in May 2010, the next version CUBRID 2008 R3.0 is expected to be released this summer.

2. How has CUBRID used the open source model for development?

CUBRID’s presence in the open source industry has already brought many changes. It is one of the leading open source projects in Korea. With the help of its open source community, CUBRID has been able to deliver 8 releases of CUBRID DBMS at an interval of 1-4 months, twice more frequent than other database providers.

From our experience in Korea, we are trying to develop CUBRID Cluster and CUBRID Manager, a client GUI database administration tool, and spin-off projects with many other developers. All of these projects come to live and continue to be developed because of the open source community. We feel that we create value for both users and developers around CUBRID.

The open source model has helped us not only facilitate development of third-party applications and tools for CUBRID DBMS but also helped generate new ideas and encourage more users.

3. How do you see CUBRID playing in the US market, especially since you have to compete with larger, more entrenched competitors like Oracle and MySQL?

The U.S. has always been the land of opportunity. CUBRID envisions its niche in web applications. Instead of competing with the market leaders, CUBRID is positioned in a slightly different way, being a database highly optimized for web apps, particularly those which drive extremely high traffic with prevailing READ-transactions. It provides enterprise level features for all users under GPL and BSD license.

CUBRID is being used in NHN’s numerous on-line services running on vast amount of servers in several environments, supporting scalability, stability and high performance. This allows CUBRID to support users’ requirements and their bug reports more rapidly. In addition, the average response time at CUBRID Community forum in the fourth quarter 2009 was only 3.6 hours.

We believe, CUBRID can attract users, including enterprises, who really value their own customers and this is the right time for them to get acquainted with CUBRID.

4. Why did you select GPLv2 as CUBRID’s license?

Unlike other databases, CUBRID does not distinguish our license policy between community and enterprise. There is only one version under GNU General Public License version 2.0 or later for the database server engine and under BSD license for the APIs and client tools. This CUBRID Open Source License Policy benefits both companies as well as community users.

We adopted the BSD license for our APIs because we do not want to impose any limitations for developing and distributing valuable products on the top of CUBRID. However, the core part of CUBRID, i.e. the database server engine itself, adopted the GNU General Public License so that any improved features on the server engine can be shared with many other users. For more information, see CUBRID’s Open Source License Policy.

5. How large is CUBRID’s user community?

We’ve gathered statistics related to CUBRID users since its first launch in October 2008. The number of total downloads has topped over 51,000 and latest statistics indicate a growing number of downloads with 3,200 downloads in May 2010 (per month). Also, the number of CUBRID Open Source community web site visitors increases daily. Last April, over 3,000 unique users visited CUBRID project home page.

Currently, there are over 20 active CUBRID open source contributors in Korea. There are also core developers in Romania and China. We are eager to support all interested developers and users to help grow interest in CUBRID. Considering our assumption that Korean database users account for only 1% of the entire global market, we believe the CUBRID community will grow very rapidly in the near future.

6. Has open source helped you grow CUBRID’s user community and convert them into paying customers?

Definitely, yes. Open source, as a whole, facilitates CUBRID development in a number of ways, including improved user awareness and faster adoption, stronger competitive positioning in the database for web industry, and, most importantly, a large base of users to find and report bugs and recommend improvements to CUBRID.

As open source is one of the today’s hot topics, most users and developers positively respond to the idea of holding Open Source Conferences and CUBRID Events. Therefore, we annually hold a CUBRID Bug Bash event. We bring together our experienced software engineers and CUBRID Community users and developers to search for and fix bugs in CUBRID and make code enhancements. NHN IdoCode (Summer of Code) is a large event to bring together professional software developers and enthusiasts to create new or port existing open source software for CUBRID. Those highly interested in open source development eagerly participate in the event and submit significant contributions to CUBRID Project. For instance, WordPress, phpBB, and MediaWiki have been extended to use CUBRID as the database server by our community contributors.

Ubuntu Users Community Guide is a Linux related event CUBRID also takes part in to facilitate the adoption of and software development for Linux Ubuntu OS. CUBRID also recently became a Linux Foundation Silver Sponsor. Linux’ strengths in the enterprise translate into major advantages for supporting web-based businesses. It’s ability to enable seamless high-volume transactions and high performance server/client infrastructure are among the reasons CUBRID has become an active member of the Linux development community and the Linux Foundation.

Additionally CUBRID supports various conferences like JCO Java Developer Conference, Advanced Computing Conference, attends global and local conferences like the O’Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo and Asia-Pacific Web Technology Conference.

We also organize an annual technical seminars called “CUBRID Inside” for our community developers. We discuss various details and challenges around CUBRID, including its three-tier architecture, CUBRID Quality Assurance process, CUBRID Heartbeat implementation, and so forth. As a result, we’ve experienced growing interest in CUBRID DBMS from developers and enterprise users, especially in the local market (Korea).

Nowadays, CUBRID is being actively used by IT industry leader in Korea – NHN Corporation, which deploys a farm of over 10,000 servers. In addition, large hosting companies Cafe24 and Mireene, software company ESTsoft, and many Korean local colleges manage their data with CUBRID. Two third of all CUBRID references come from the government sector. The Korea National Tax Service, Korea Ministry of Public Administration and Security, Korea Ministry of National Defense, Busan Transportation Corporation, and Korea White House are major customers who deployed CUBRID as their major database management software. Just imagine how much sensitive data they all have, how much security they all require – they all chose CUBRID as their database.

7. How would you attract newcomers to your community? What benefits can they expect and how can they contribute?

We often organize events for our community members to encourage their enthusiasm. We hold online seminars to share our knowledge, or bug bash events and distribute prizes for contributors. By participating in these events, newcomers can gain valuable knowledge in development and can share their knowledge with other.

We have enough interesting and exciting projects within CUBRID to get involved in, such as introducing a number of new query-embedded functions, porting existing open source projects for CUBRID, developing a newer version of CUBRID native libraries, and so forth. Besides major development activities, CUBRID community members are welcome to add to CUBRID’s on-line Universal Knowledge Repository by contributing better documentation, more code examples, easy-to-replicate examples, and comprehensive tutorials. Likewise, reporting bugs and providing feedback are also valuable for the community.

We want the CUBRID community to not be a place just to come and go, but to be a community where users stay and enjoy the rapid development process, something most newcomers are seeking for. To make CUBRID projects more beneficial to all, we always welcome any suggestion in every possible way from YOU!

Thanks Jay and Esen for taking the time to talk about CUBRID. Good luck!

Red Hat organizes Professors’ Open Source Camp in Singapore



Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience (POSSE), a training bootcamp targeted for faculty members of technical universities in Asia is being organized from November 9-13, 2009 at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore. Faculty members from Singapore, Malaysia, China, India are expected to participate.

The first camp was held in Raleigh, North Carolina earlier this year in July.

The goals for the camp are ambitious. A cross-section of topics focusing on development tools and techniques aims to recruit new contributors to open source projects by providing a hands-on experience to participants using Fedora as project examples.

The 5-day camp starts with an overview of open source, then dives into communication tools such as IRC, wikis and blogs to teach participants how to be effective contributors. Development topics include compiling source code, using build tools, setting up a build environment and packaging with RPM.

Testing and bug fixing are easy routes for users to become contributors. Participants walk-through the process of filing bug reports with Bugzilla as well as editing, testing and creating bug patches.

The camp is being organized by Harish Pillay, Jasmine Ee, and Alan Ho from Red Hat Singapore. Mel Chua and Greg DeKoenigsberg are mentors for the program. You can find out more about POSSE Singapore at its website.

I think this program is an excellent start in the right direction by Red Hat and its Asia Pacific (APAC) team to facilitate open source education. Engaging faculty from engineering universities is key to increasing contributions as well as growing the talent pool of engineers in emerging markets to support industry demand.

Building open source communities at OSSPAC

OSSPAC Singapore

OSSPAC Singapore

Singapore will be hosting its new open source conference OSSPAC from February 16-18 next month. OSSPAC is being supported by global open source players such as Red Hat, IBM, Oracle, MySQL (Sun) and Novell as well as influential local organizations such as Singapore International Chamber of Commerce and the Singapore Computer Society.

It is great to see an organized effort to hold a open source business conference in Singapore. The timing is right to emphasize how open source can support cost efficiencies and bring a greater value proposition for decision makers especially during the current global economic downturn. The conference is expecting about 500 attendees from quite a spread of nations all the way from India to Indonesia and Malaysia.

OSSPAC has some great keynotes lined up. A couple of keynotes I’m interested in attending include Harish Pillay’s talk on “The Magic of Infinity: How abundance drives innovation and economies” and Dr. Leng’s talk on “iN2015 and the Innovation Bazaar“. The conference program covers a lot of ground with session topics ranging from the virtues of virtualization and Android 101 to building and governing open source communities.

I’ll be speaking on a couple of topics I’m passionate about – on building successful open source communities and on “Open Source Open World” where I’ll talk about the impact of open source outside the US especially in India where open source has developed a large and healthy grassroots community around it but still sees slow industry adoption.

I’m looking forward to being in Singapore and interacting again with the vibrant local open source community.