Wednesday, September 23, 2009

IT's Good to be FREE!

IT's Good to be FREE!
The 8lien-hosted Software Freedom Day 2009

There were five main activities on the SFD09 "IT's Good to be FREE!" programme: Open Source Discussion, Business and Technical Talks, Install Fest, Makersmeet and Programming Contest. With most of the 400 attendeees coming from the studentry, the Technical Talks got the most registrants.

The morning of September 19, Saturday, 8:00am, the ground floor lobby of Systems Plus College Foundation Main Campus in Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines had quite an influx of excited faces made more vibrant as each received a copy of Kahel OS CD installer. Well-donned martials, ushers and usherettes dressed in Barong Fashion from host SPCF graciously guided the attendees and guests to the carpeted theater where the initial plenary session would be held.

Open Source Initiatives in Education, Business and Government

The SPCF Theater was almost full at 9 o'clock. Before the program officially started the Code Breakers documentary film was shown on the widescreen and by 9:20am, the Philippine National Anthem played followed by an interpretative dance Doxology from the SPCF Dancers. The crowd was hushed as the lights softened on the graceful and svelte movements of prayer on stage.
SFDers were warmly welcomed then by SPCF's Eric Estropia, VP for Administration. Next was Dr. Francis Sarmiento III, Program Manager for IOSN ASEAN+3 briefly sharing on what F/OSS is about and likewise delved on the programs, trainings and immersions that the organization have to put and elevate F/OSS in the mainstream. Two of what interested the audience are the Train the Linux Trainers and the Asian Source3 Conference in November.

Ms. Grace Fabros-Tyler took the podium next sharing to the crowd how SPCF inculcates the values of F/OSS. The Dean of SPCF's CITE (College of Information Technology and Education) also shared of SPCF's approach in integrating Linux and OSS in their curriculum. The college also now has a F/OSS laboratory since last year.

Collaborating and contributing to the Open Source community was also IBM Philippines' call to action as equivocated by Ms. Femee Cruz. She even used IBM's Lotus Symphony's presentation document for her slides. IBM Lotus Symphony is a free and open source office suite with word processor, spreadsheet and presentation, and can be downloaded at
Atty. Richard Pascual enlightened the crowd next on the legal nettles of OSS licensing. It's good to know too that the highest judiciary, Supreme Court of the Philippines, has treaded on OSS by implementing the use of OpenOffice in its realm.

Congressman Teddy CasiƱo, the vigilant lawmaker and proponent of F/OSS Bill, unfortunately couldn't make it to the event. His solidarity message was read by 8layer's Deng Silorio.
Capping the morning session was Mr. Cecilio Tuanquin of Intel Philippines who candidly shared how Intel Chips are made and presented to the SFDers the current trends on server and mobile technology giving a much needed enlightenment of how F/OSS can greatly take on the company's challenge on costs and security.

Much to be credited too were the SPCF Dancers and CITE Dance Troupe for doing perky and lively numbers during some of the talk intervals.

Who says Technical Talks does not spell Fun, Fulfilling and Fantastic?

Simultaneously ongoing was the first set of the Technical Talks that actually started at about 11am at the 3rd Floor of the SPCF CITE Bldg. Every SFD Celebration needs to provide a brief yet meaty presentation about Intro to Linux and F/OSS. And everyone from the room was energized and got a good headstart on Linux as the speakers Mr. Erwin Galang (former 8lien) and our very own Mr. Meric Mara gave the listeners more than a good impression of F/OSS and Linux.
Originally, SPCF prepared two computer labs for the Tech Talks, one for the Install Fest and Makersmeet and one for the Programming Contest.

After most of the SFDers came back from lunch, it turned out that two computer labs was not enough to accommodate all 200 of them so the crowd all wanting to hear about Linux, Kahel and Web Development was sent back to the SPCF Theater.
Simultaneous with the plenary session for Tech Talks was the Tech Talks at the 3rd Flr, the Install Fest and the Programming Contest.

The Vibrance of Linux and Kahel

The bespectacled Joel Bryan Juliano of Team 8lien did a crowd-pleasing headstart. There were no idle moments as he made his way into showing the vibrance of the new Pinoy distro Kahel – an Arch-based OS with Gnome environment. He dubbed it as the “pinakamalupit na OS” which elicited an ecstatic roar and thunderous applause from the crowd.

The basics of Web Development was tackled next by the R&D Group of Team 8lien.
Gregarious Allan “Henyo” de Guzman, who became unexplainably softspoken, shared on Apache web server application. Alec Joseph “Agi” Rivera, whose birthday coincides with the celebration of SFD, was surely himself in confidence as he discussed PHP programming tips. Wynell Mark “Nel” Patricio's engaging talk on MySQL came afterwards and shared with gusto the features and elements of the open source database. And last (but definitely not the least), Vedasto Rey “Koya” Portugal, also the Head of Team 8lien R&D, wowed the crowd as he demonstrated on Symfony, an Open Source framework which, surprisingly, no one from the crowd is familiar with.

Two becomes one roomful

Just after lunch, registration attendants at the computer lab hall informed me that there were only two registrants for the Kahel Install Fest. I shrugged it off and openly welcomed the anticipation of the two registrants. As Roz Vargas started setting up the demo unit, people started coming in and filling up the room. To my surprise too, a number of them were already die-hard Linux users and system administrators making it easier for us to discuss the tekky side of Kahel while showing them how fast and easy the installation is. Not to mention, the boot up process.

Sure enough, technical questions arose. Good thing, our young and preppy CTO Meric Mara was just around the corner to help us answer some of them. Thanks, boss! :)

The elite Astmasters

A few doors from where we are was another roomful of bodies waiting for the Open Source Telephony (Asterisk and 8ix Zenith CE) talk to start. Since we “borrowed” our CTO in the Install Fest, they had to wait a few minutes. Also, some of those in the Install Fest were registrants to Asterisk and 8ix Zenith CE discussion.
It was an elite discussion and Q&A on Telephony and IP-PBX but was made practical, interesting and learning-filled.

Where the challengers are

At computer lab 3, seven brave “geeky” souls were all solemn and serious. It was the room for the Programming Contest with Koya Rey and Rosa Ang overseeing the contestants.
As opposed to the enthusiastic profundity at the Telephony discussion, the emphatic curiosity at the Install Fest and the cheery ambiance at the Theater, Lab 3 was all astute quietude.
After taking some photo evidence (on tiptoes!), I went to get myself a reinvigorating cup of caffeine. :)

A day where everyone is FREE!

As the day clocked to late afternoon, the audience at the plenary were still in high spirits embalmed with precious learnings on F/OSS. They were later joined by the programming contestants, install fest attendees and telephony talk attendees.
Enlivening the crowd (since the morning session by the way) was Mr. Moderator, Mark Castro, who facilitated on getting ALL SFDers to join the “Bring Me” game and “How well did you listen” Q&A. He was not failed by the group as each able-bodied ran to him and to the stage to take on his challenge.
Gifts, freebies and souvenirs courtesy of the event partners, IBM Phils., Intel Phils., and PLDT CBG were given away before the final hour ticked in.
Who else would have taken home the most freebies but the programming contest winners!
Our hats off to top placer Wilfredo Vallente, Marielle Faye Garcia in second and Jan Marie Galban in third. Kudos too to Jheric de Guzman, Norwin Lacson, Richard Lim and Denn Mark Balingit who surely did well.

If the Source is with you, the Force is with you

Team 8lien in partnership with Sytems Plus College Foundation (special thanks to SPCF MIS Director Raymund Lazarito) made a mark that day.
The 400 attendees to the “IT's Good to be FREE!” SFD09 event was but a speck in the local population but a fine start in reaching a good number to evangelizing the benefits and values of F/OSS.
Software Freedom Day 2009 is but one of those days when F/OSS is a highlight and part of our sharing. But for Team 8layer, Everyday is just another day; living, innovating and making the most out of IT.

No comments: