SwaTaHa – From an Organizer’s notebook


First Free Software Festival conducted by Free Software Movement Karnataka concluded at Mandya on 15th of April 2013. The event started on 13th of April Saturday, inaugurated by Kiran Chandra, FSMI general secretary. Mr. Cowdiaha presided the function. Jaykumar presented the idea of SwaTaHa to the audience. There were participation from various engineering colleges within Karnataka. About 400 people attended different workshops sessions and events. Department of IT, BT and Science & Technology sponsored the festival. Chandan’s Linuxy Candy also came forward to support us and given some space in their website for spreading the message of SwaTaHa.



Preparation for the festival was started about two months back during the winter camp in Bangalore. It was the collective effort of many people who tirelessly worked to make it a success and unique in the Free Software Movement History of the country. There were participation from all walks of life for the festival. Students, Engineering college Teachers, School kids, School Teachers, DTP Operators, Photo Studio workers, Professionals, etc. Considering this aspect it was unique festival among the free software movement activities. It has set a bench mark for the future Free Software festivals in the state and a direction for the activities for the organization. It has given us good amount of learning and energy to take the Free Software philosophy and ideals to more people. There is a huge demand for alternative softwares in the common segment of the society and only free software can fill that gap. For Computer literacy, Cost Effective business solutions, Free Academic Environment, etc.



Almost all our different streams of activities were showcased during the event. Most of the sessions were handled by students from various Engineering colleges along with Industry experts. Workshops and sessions were categorized in to software and electronics streams. Drupal, Android, Kicad and robotics were the workshop topics. There were sessions on LAMP, Octave, python, Free Software migration, GNU/Linux installation


Message from RMS for SwaTaHa..

A nonfree program is an injustice.  To live in freedom,
we must eject nonfree software from our own lives.
Then we must eject it from society around us.
This what the free software movement means.

Vignesh has handled a hackathon with few volunteers who were good in programming. This was started on Saturday evening and went on for two days. But we couldn’t completely implement the idea of hackathon due to slow internet and resource issues. Vignesh had to be pulled for different sessions in between and couldn’t completely concentrate on hackathon. Tridz, a startup company in Bangalore, has helped us on the Drupal Workshop. About 60 students attended the Drupal Workshop. Ashfaq has taken a workshop on KiCAD for the electronics stream of students. In addition to this there were sessions on Python by Santhosh, FireFox OS for Mobile by Karthik Rao, GitHub by Sarath, etc.


One of the major attractions of the first day was the free software jatha (procession) which covered about two and half kilometers starting from PESCE through Mandya Town and came back to PESCE. Students have actively participated in the jatha with slogans and songs. The slogans were instantaneous and inspiring for the occasion.


Free Software.. Free Society..


Zindabad Zindabad Free Software Zindabad

Zindabad Zindabad FSMK Zindabad

Zindabad Zindabad FSMI Zindabad


Bidi Bidi Bit BIdi
Company Software Bit Bidi
Tagoli Tagoli TAgoli
Free Software Tagoli


Free Software is the future

Future is ours..


We want free Software

We love Free software

We code Free Software

We share Free Software

We spread free Software.


We want Freedom

We want Freedom

Freedom for Software

Freedom for Software.

[more will be updated here]

We have distributed pamphlets to the on lookers, passers by, shop keepers, students, etc. Most of them were curious and came forward with questions and discussion. I am sure the name of Free Software Movement, the concept of alternative software, the argument of freedom in knowledge domain have reached many common people because of the Jatha. There are lot of scope for improvement in Jatha also. We need to be ready with skits and powerful songs. A public addressing is also important. We had to cut short some of these things due to the restrictions inposed by the election commission in view of the May5th election.


We have put up five stalls at the venue from GLUGs, community center and BGVS. showcased the pictures taken by community center students, Mani’s paintings using GIMP, some science books as part of community center stall. FSMK has kept a stall to sell t shirts, stickers books, etc. We have distributed some pamphlets through this stall. BGVS stall showcased some science experiments which were relevant for school kids as well as common public. PEACE glug put up stall show casing some alternative free software. PACE stall was the super-hit and attracted many. they showed the custom distro Matrix which they prepared as part of the glug activity.  Also Raspberry Pi the 2500/- Computer was on their desk which attracted many. India needs such cost effective computing technologies along with Free Software to bring down digital divide. When Mr. Vijay Shaker, M. D. of KBITs visited the venue there were lot crowd around this stall and he was quite enthused with the same. he spent about 5 minutes in the stall and asked some questions about their effort. He took one CD from the students and agreed to experiment the same himself later.

DSC09850 DSC09848 DSC09847

Second day was started with an inspiring talk from Prof. Padma Reddy. We had arranged android workshop for the computer science students and free hardware workshop for the electronics and electrical students. Both workshops were well attended. thanks to Bangalore droid group for assisting us on the Android workshop. Free hardware workshop was handled by our pioneers Ashfaq and Aravind. In addition to this there were other sessions also. Sarath has handled a Blender session, Vignesh has taken a session on Ubuntu on mobile. Community center students along with Jaykumar has handled a session on “how to run a community center?”. Some school teachers and students attended the session. It was good to see the students turning teachers and teachers turning to students. They have filled the session with Free Software tools in the GNU/Linux OS, some inspiring but short talks, songs, etc.

padma day2

arduino arduino_work

Prashobh from DAKF (Democratic Alliance for Knowledge Freedom) has taken a session on Scribus for the DTP Operators and Photo Studio workers. Mani from AC3 has continued the same session with GIMP. Prabodh and Vignesh has helped them with some hands on. We need to work on the DTP and Photo studio work to help our fellow men in need. The proprietary companies are looting these small shops every year. They have to pay 30000 /- to run their business on proprietary softwares like CoralDraw, Adobe Photoshop, etc.

DSC09794Day 3 has started with academicians session by Prabodh and Raghavendra. Raghavendra has covered the Free Software philosophy and Prabodh has covered some technical aspects. We found some really good teachers who have the open mind to experiment more with free Software in their labs. Prabodh has introduced GCC and GDB to the teachers. Some of them were already using it. But when it moved to the advanced topics they were really amazed to see the options and opportunities for their own research work. In addition to this there were lot of events on the third day. Debate, Quiz, C Programming competition, etc. Also there were some on the spot games to make the festival more colorful.


Thanks to the effort of PESCE GLUG to make the event a memorable one. The group was comparatively new one but continued to take up new activities. They have about 30 core members and 120 GLUG members. GLUG has continuously done weekly meetups, technical sessions, school visits, campaign in near by colleges, etc. This has definitely brought some new set of engineering students close to the Free Software Movement. Also the festival has given the GLUG a big opportunity to switch completely to Free Software. There were many challenges in the beginning. But now we have many experts in GIMP, Openshot, Inkscape, Libre office, GCC, GNU/Linux OS, etc. I wish the group to continue the same momentum and bring in more students from different semesters and branches to the GLUG platform. Also they need to reach out to the common people who are in need of alternative softwares.

Without the strong support from PESCE management we couldn’t have hosted SwaTaHa in Mandya.  Special Thanks to Dr. M C Padma and Prof. Minavati HODs of CS and IS departments respectively. They have stood with us from the inception stage till the finish.


SwaTaHa-13 was first of its kind from Free Software Movement Karnataka. There were some short comings due to various reasons. Internal Examinations were going on in many engineering colleges. Uagadi festival was also happening on the same week. This has badly affected the campaigning.  But, SwaTaHa is giving me a hope for taking free software to the common people. There is huge demand out there. Theme of the first Free software Festival was “Free Software.. Free Society..”  and we could do justice this tag line. It is our responsibility to continue the same momentum and take free software philosophy to more people and accelerate to build the Free Society which is away from oppression and inequality.


“Free Software is the Future.. and Future is Ours…”


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