SFD08 Nepal Report

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Compiled by: Bibek Paudel

Download PDF Version (7.3 MB) of the report from: FOSSNepalSite OR ArchiveDotOrg

Executive Summary

Over 500 volunteer groups in over 120 countries all around the world celebrated the fifth Software Freedom Day (SFD) this year on September 20. Software Freedom Day is an annual grass roots event to showcase the excellent range of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and demonstrate how it can be used to save money and gain freedom in every sector of the information society.

In Nepal, Software Freedom Day is being celebrated since 2005. The Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Community Nepal (FOSS-Nepal) organizes several events to mark this day. This year, the theme of the celebration was “Create, Share, Collaborate.” The events organized at Yala Maya Kendra, on 20th September 2008 Patan Dhoka were supported by various educational institutions, government bodies, civil society, media and FOSS IT communities. The non-profit organization Software Freedom International provided guidance in organizing SFD and some material support.

This year, for the first time, SFD was also observed outside Kathmandu, in Dharan and Bharatpur. FOSS Nepal Community has issued a “ Kathmandu Declaration”, that can be considered an important milestone in Nepal's free software movement. A collection of free software named “Nirvikalpa” and a web portal named “Prasfutan” were two products launched by FOSS Nepal on the occasion of the SFD. Other events included FOSS Documentary Show, Apps demo, Live Tux Show, Experts' Sessions, FOSS Project Demos, Signature Campaign, FOSS Solidarity eve, CD/DVDs distribution and such like. Apart from the main SFD Event on September 20th, FOSS Nepal also organized an event to light up candles on the eve of SFD for 'FOSS Solidarity'. We had the highest number of participants and visitors till now in this year's event (summing all the participants in Kathmandu, Dharan and Chitwan). This year's event was attended by the Honourable Minister for Science and Technology. He pledged his unfettered support for the free software movement in Nepal. As we were one of the winners of the best event last year, the events this year drew huge media attention with all major media houses giving generous mentions to FOSS Nepal and the SFD.

 Picture here

Introduction

FOSS Nepal Community observed the fifth Software Freedom Day in Nepal with the theme 'Create, Share, Collaborate.' It was supported by various educational institutions, government bodies, civil society, media, and FOSS IT communities. This was the biggest Software Freedom Day celebration till date in Nepal.

FOSS Nepal Community, which is a team of enthusiasts who believe in the usage and diversification of Free/Open Source Software (FOSS). The events were organized Yala Maya Kendra, Patan Dhoka on September 20, 2008. This year it was the fourth time FOSS Nepal Community was celebrating Software Freedom Day, and it's always been getting better. FOSS Nepal was one of the three global winners of the best event-organizer for last year's SFD. This year, the number of participants and the scale of events both saw an increase. Likewise, the media coverage has also increased manifold. The penetration of FOSS philosophy among the masses of Nepal is also on the rise. The people are getting more and more aware of Free and Open Source Software. It was evident from their interest in obtaining the FOSS CD/DVDs and in wanting to learn more about software freedom, during the events.

Likewise, for the first time, SFD was observed in two important cities outside Kathmandu. The FOSS Nepal chapters in Bhatarpur, Chitwan and Dharan, Sunsari, organized several events to mark the day.

Statistics

  • Dedicated team members: 50
  • Duration of the events: 12 hours
  • Number of visitors (approx): 760 (Kathmandu only) + 300 (approx, outside Kathmandu)
  • Number of Ubuntu 8.10 CDs distributed (approx): 200 pcs
  • Number of Ubuntu Ultimate 1.8 DVDs disributed (approx): 800 pcs

About the Theme

Writers, poets, musicians, photographers, artists and other creators at local level in Nepal mostly have to limit their creation within the pages of their diaries and they can reach an audience consisting of their acquaintances only. The use of Free softwares and tools has made eased the tasks of creating, collaborating and sharing. But in Nepal, most people who "create" still haven't been able to harness the real power of such tools, the internet and technologies like web 2.0. SFD 08 was used to raise awareness about the freedom to create and to provide a method/platform for such people. The theme “Create, Share, Collaborate” was thus chosen for this year's SFD. This theme will be guiding all the activities of FOSS Nepal in the coming year. The decision to launch the web portal (Sec 6.2) “Prasfutan,” (a Nepali word that means “bloosoming”) to help foster such talents was aimed to support the purpose of this theme.

Preparation

This year, the preparations for the main SFD celebration started several months ago. FOSS Nepal volunteers visited three districts to raise awareness on FOSS, get in touch with local volunteers and help form local communities. Similarly, volunteers visited some college inside Kathmandu to inform about SFD and call for colunteers. About 50 volunteers from various colleges and institutions joined in for the preparation of the celebration. Several teams were formed from among the volunteers for better organization and coordination of efforts. After August, the teams met twice a week.

Meetings

Meetings of FOSS Nepal volunteers were organized twice every week after the month of August to prepare for the organization of SFD. Different teams were formed during these meetings and new volunteers were informed about the FOSS movement in Nepal and SFD. Team updates, progress reports and coordination tasks were the other things done during these meetings.

Teams

Artwork

This team comprised of amateur and/or professional graphic designers and artists. The main responsibility of this team was to create various artwork and designs for SFD related events. The team prepared the design of the poster, banners, flyers, t-shirt, CD-cover, web-badges and certificates. All the artwork was prepared using FOSS tools.

Finance

This team's objective was to manage funds from different sources and allocate them for the purchase of materials and other expenses incurred for different events and activities. All the dealings with the sponsors and record-keeping tasks were done by this team. Key responsibilities can be summarized as:

  • Fund Generation
  • Fund Management
  • Mobilizing the fund
  • Managing and book keeping of all the expenses
  • Prepare a report about the total expenditure at the end

Marketing and Public Relations Team

This team was assigned the responsibility of Public Relations, Media Outreach, and other marketing issues.

  • To spread words about FOSS Nepal and the celebration of Software Freedom Day 2008 at Nepal
  • To act as a representative for the FOSS Nepal/SFD organization team to various identities/organizations
  • To coordinate with Finance Team to opt for sponsorship
  • To handle relationship with media houses of Nepal (may be abroad as well)
  • To organize Press Conference and issue Press Release documentations
  • To coordinate with College Representatives and coordinate with various colleges

College Coordination

Members of this team were selected from among the students of various colleges, schools and universities. The criteria for the inclusion into this team were communication/leadership/inter- personal skills and FOSS awareness. The team visited various colleges inside Kathmandu to raise awareness about FOSS, to inform about SFD 08 and to help form local FOSS communities.

Documentation

The main task of this team was to document the actions, shape it to articles, and managing the documents. Basically making a written record of each and everything related to SFD 2007. This included maintaining the wiki, handling communications in the mailing list, prepare the content for media coverages, write articles for the magazines and other media and so on.

Event Coordination

The main responsibilities of the event management team was to conduct weekly meetings for concluding the overall progress of preparation, to facilitate all other teams with the support required, and to coordinate the preparation of meetings and event. On the day of the event, the team was tasked with the responsibility of managing timings, visitors, material and resources. The designs prepared by artwork team were forwarded to this team for printing and publication. This team overlooked the works related to the t-shirts printing, CDs, posters, food, event hall, rally organization and so on.

Volunteers Coordination

The Volunteers Coordination team oversaw the selection, orientation and mobilization of volunteers for different events.

Documentary

Last year, a FOSS Nepal volunteers had started the work of producing a documentary on Free Software in Nepal. The work had made impressive progress but was not complete. To be able to screen a full-length documentary in SFD 08, this team was formed. The Documentary team established contacts with professional documentary makers, script-writers, cinematographers, journalists, media houses and other concerned people in order to prepare the documentary.

Promotion

District Visits

So far, the activities of FOSS Community of Nepal has more or less been centered in and around the capital city of Kathmandu. In recent days, the Free Software movement has started to begin shape among the students and professionals outside Kathmandu too. So, it was decided that SFD would be observed paralelly in and outside Kathmandu this year. Three districts were visited by FOSS Nepal volunteers before SFD to help raise awareness, interact with local volunteers and help coordinate the activities.

Sunsari

An orientation program was organized in Dharan of Sunsari district. Students and professionals mainly came from the prestiguous BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences. The interest level for FOSS is very high in this region. Following this event, a Dharan chapter of FOSS Nepal was initiated. Dharan is considered as one of the principal cities of Eastern Nepal.Jwalanta Shrestha was the resource person from FOSS Nepal. Date: 6th July 2008

Morang

A program was organized at PUSET, Biratnagar in Morang district. Biratnagar is the second largest city of Nepal. Jwalanta Shrestha was the resource person from FOSS Nepal. Date: 4th July 2008

Chitwan

During the five-day event CAN (Computer Association of Nepal) Infotech Narayani 2008 attended by over 100,000 people in Bhatarpur of Chitwan district, a representative from FOSS Nepal held an orientation program on FOSS. The event was attended by local students, teachers and professionals. Bharatpur is a city in the central lowlands of Nepal. Bibek Paudel was the resource person from FOSS Nepal. Date: 30th August 2008

Orientation

A SFD orientation program was organized on the 7th of August 2008. The main objective of the orientation was to make the new students from different colleges aware about Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and its benefits. We also briefed them about our plans for the upcoming SFD and how they could contribute/participate in the event. The College Coordination Committee was also formed during the program.

  • Target Group: Students (especially new to FOSS) from various colleges and universities.
  • Number of participants: 100

Program Agenda

  • Introduction to FOSS Philosophy
  • Introduction to FOSS Nepal Community
  • Application Demo & Alternatives
  • Migration to FOSS
  • SFD '08 & Call for Volunteers
  • Group Discussion
  • College Coordination Committee Formation
  • Call for Volunteers
  • Planning for college visit
  • Q /A

College Visits

Our past experiences have shown that college students are the one who are primarily and most interested in FOSS and its activities. Like last year, we visited several colleges in Kathmandu to raise awareness about FOSS and help in the formation of local FOSS communities. We called for volunteers for SFD each time we visited a college. Since many colleges in Kathmandu already have active FOSS communities, this time our visits only included those colleges which had very high level of interest in FOSS but needed some guidance. Apart from that we also visited KU and IOE, two educational institutes who contrbute to FOSS Nepal the most. The visited colleges were:

  • Kantipur City College: 21st August 2008
  • Nepal College of Information Technology: 1st September 2008
  • Institute of Engineering: 17th September 2008
  • Kathmandu University: 10th September 2008

Twitter

FOSS Nepal's updates were available through twitter so that anyone could stay updated. The link is given in the appendix.

Facebook

FOSS Nepal presence on Facebook was used to inform the social network's users about SFD and its routine.

The links are given in the appendix.

Web Badges

Some web badges were designed by the Artwork team so that people could put it in display on their webpages, blogs etc. The designs are given in the appendix.

September 19, 2008

Press Meet

A press meet was organized prior to the SFD Day at the Yala Maya Kendra, Patandhoka. Another Press Meet was organized after the conclusion of the events. The content of the Press Releases can be found in the Appendix.

Rally

A rally was organized on the day prior to SFD, on september the 19th, Friday. The proposed time was 5pm and there were people gathered at Tinkune, Kathmandu for the commencement of rally. About 100 people rallyed for the SFD 08 with a live Tux heading it. It took place on the side walk without disturbing the vehicular movement. Pamphlets on SFD 08 theme was carried by the participants. Pedestrains even stopped to ask us about the "free software." The rally included a feature called "free or freeze". So it frooze at three palces,viz Minbhawan, Baneshwor, Buddhanagar for about a minute each. After about an hour and half of walking, the rally reached at Maitighar Mandala where the rally culminated in a mass.

Candlelight vigil

Many people from the rally and a few more already present there at Maitighar Mandala made it a big enough gathering to celebrate the SFD 08 eve. It also got some media coverage. And in the twilight started the candle light vigil. The vigil lasted for about two hours in the evening. Every body held a burning candle in their hand.And in the paved floor, burning candles were used to write foss nepal in nepali. The live tux's presence made the environment really jolly and added celebration mood in the programme.

               Tux leading the rally                                 Candlelight Vigil

SFD Celebrations

On the main day of the event, volunteers gathered in the event early in the morning at about 8 AM. The Yala Maya Kendra at Patan Dhoka was decorated with posters, banners, flex and other promotional material related to FOSS. The opening session started at 10:30 AM. Honourable Minister of Environment, Science and Technology was the Chief Guest of the event. The Baggikhana seminar hall at the Yala Maya Kendra was packed with FOSS enthusiasts that came from different educational institutions and professional organizations.

          With the Chief Guest of the Event, Hon'ble Minister of Science and Technology

Inaguration

President of FOSS Nepal, Mr. Subir Pradhanang started the proceedings of the opening session by briefing the audience about the activities conducted by FOSS Nepal since its inception.

Speakers:

  • Honorable Minister Ganesh Shah explained his journey for freedom and pledged full support to all the FOSSians of Nepal.
  • Senior Journalist, Mr. Kanak Mani Dixit pointed out the necessity of Free/Open Source Software to minimize the digital divide that's building up in developing countries. Talking on how Free Software can help achieve Free Media, he pointed out the need for Nepalese press to vigorously advocate the proliferation of such software.
  • Member Secretary of High Level Commission for Information Technology (HLCIT) Dr. Madan Pariyar, said that he was very happy about FOSS events being organized. He informed about the activities of HLCIT especially in context of FOSS. Saying that bridging the digital divide was a big challenge, he stressed on joint efforts of everybody concerned to make it possible by spreading the use of FOSS.
  • Mr Mahohar Bhattarai, Full Time Member of HLCIT elaborated the use cases of FOSS. Explaining about OER, Open Content, Document Management Systems and other useful technologies for our country, he expressed concern about the methods of procurement, support and deployment of Free/Open Source Software in Nepal.
  • Dr. Subarna Shakya, Executive Director of National Information Technology Center (NITC) was of the opinion that it was high time we started to put our words and commitment into actions.
  • Shankar Pokharel from FOSS Nepal community gave a vote of thanks to all the supporting partners, sponsors, volunteers and participants of the event.

Launch of Nirvikalpa and Prasfutan

Honourable Minister of Environment, Science and Technology Ganesh Shah unveiled the collection of Free/Open Source Software that can be used in Microsoft Windows. The CD collection, aptly named "Nirvikalpa” (one that has no option) is meant to facilitate the migration of desktop users to Free Operating systems by providing them tools they can use in the environment they are familiar in. The name “Nirvikalpa” was chosen as FOSS is the way to go, not just an option.

During the occasion, the launch of a web portal named “Prasfutan” (bloosoming) was also announced. To be released within two months, the portal aims to equip the countless writers, poets, musicians, photographers and artists at local level in Nepal with the power of the internet and technologies like web 2.0 and other tools developed in the free software community. It will provide a platform and methods to such talents to help them create, collaborate and share.

GNU's 25th Birthday

A short movie where famous British comedian Stephen Fry talks about Free Softwares and wishes GNU a happy 25th birthday was shown during the ceremony. A Nepali subtitle translation of the same video has been made and the videio was shown with the subtitle. The link to download the subtitle is provided in the appendix.

Kathmandu Declaration

A " Kathmandu Declaration" was signed by the volunteers of FOSS-Nepal during the day. The declaration talks about the right to information, especially in the context of electronic exchange of information. Explaining the purpose of the declaration, the website of Nepal's Election Commission was demonstrated to the audience of the event. The official statistics and result of Nepal's recent historic Constituent Assembly Election, that turned Nepal into the world's youngest republic and in a rare event, brought a warring party of Communist guerrillas into mainstream democratic process can be accessed only by using Microsoft Internet Explorer.

The transcript of the declaration is included in the appendix.

Movie Shows

Three movies were played to the audience. They are:

  • LTSP deployment in Sindhupalchok district in Nepal
  • CodeBreakers, a BBC documentary on FOSS
  • Big Buck Bunny, an animated movie produced using free softwares only.

CD/DVDs Distribution

Lots of CDs and flyers containing information on FOSS was distributed among the visitors. The CDs distributed were as follows:

  • Ubuntu 8.10 Cds (200pcs)
  • Ultimate 1.8 Edition DVDs (based on Ubuntu Hardy Heron) (800 pcs)
  • Nirvikalpa 1.0 (1500pcs)

Signature Campaign

Signature Campaign was a symbolic commitment of the visitors towards the FOSS Movement. Hundreds of people including our chief guests signed the banner.

Logo Demonstration

A collection of logos of free/open source softwares in the form of a poster and graphite was put on display in the courtyard.

Open Art

A canvas and many colorful crayons were arranged for the purpose of Open Art. Visitors were encouraged to draw free shapes and art on the canvas. The final look of the canvas was very attractive and impressive.

Open Arena

An open discussion was held during the day. Developers from a recent startup named Codearts advocated about using Model-View-Controller (MVC) Pattern in web development, how it helps to stick to a standard and make code better readable, usable and maintainable on the long run. The audience participated in the discussion program and asked various questions too.

Open Hardware and Robotics Workshop

Nepalese students recently bagged the prestigious "Best Autonomous machine" award in the annual ABU Robocon 2008 contest. Nepal has a history of good performances in international robotics competitions. Keeping this in view, an workshop on Open Hardware and Robotics was organized. The team the that participated in ABU Robocon 2008 and other experts talked about the emerging concept of Open Hardware, getting started in robotics and using GNU/Linux as the development platform in robotics applications.

Experts' Session

A two-hour long experts' session was organized during the SFD 2008. Bibek Shrestha gave a hands-on demo on web-development using Drupal CMS. He demonstrated how to install and use Drupal to design a news website. Following that, Jwalanta Shrestha demonstrated the different uses of the command line tools like ImageMagick and ffmpeg. A question-answer session followed. The participants were briefed about various free software development practices and resources for further help.

Educational Applications demonstration

Parallel to all other events of the day, a demonstration of various free/open source educational applications was organized. Some computers with such applications installed were placed in a room. Visitors were informed about various applications, their usage, advantages and other information by volunteers during the event.

FOSS Project Demo

Students from Nepal College of Information Technology demonstrated their FOSS projects to the visitors.

Community Gathering

The FOSS communities of various educational institutes organized their informal discussion program and meeting during the small breaks. FOSS communities of IOE and KU were seen in intense discussions during the day.

Live Tux

Like in previous years, to make the event more interesting and memorable, we had a live tux. He was the centre of attraction of the visitors.

                    Live Tux
                                                            The courtyard, before the events started

Documentary

A one hour prime-time show on Free Softwares was broadcast in a national television channel of Nepal on 24th September 2008. The show was repeated on 25th September. It was the first main stream media coverage in Nepal about FOSS.

"Khabar Bhitra ko Khabar", a programme broadcast by Avenews TV every night at 8, did the programme on FOSS. Avenews TV being one of Nepal's most popular TV channel, the documentary was widely watched and it had its immediate impact on people. Consequently, other media coverages about the events realting FOSS has highly increased. Keeping in mind the people's enthusiasm to know more about FOSS, a follow-up documentary is being prepared. The Documentary team of FOSS-Nepal worked with the TV crew for a period of a few weeks to prepare the documentary.

Events Outside Kathmandu

Software Freedom Day was observed in two main cities of Nepal apart from Kathmandu. The newly initiated FOSS Nepal chapters in Chitwan and Dharan organized programs to mark the day. More information about these events and chapters of FOSS-Nepal are available in their respective websites, provided in the Appendix.

Further Work

Immediatelly after the SFD celebration, it was time for Nepal's main festivals of Dashain and Tihar. There is a month-long holiday during the festivities. Because of that, the video recordings of the events taken by the television channels couldn't be acquired. Immediately after the vacation, the process of acquiring and uploading them to the internet will be done. Similarly, due to the vacation season, detail reports of the events outside Kathmandu haven't yet been uploaded on the internet.

People in Nepal surf the internet with very low internet bandwidth, more so outside Kathmandu.

  From left: Dr. Madan Pariyar, Kamal Mani Dixit (probably the oldest man in FOSS Nepal who
  uses GNU/Linux, Hon'ble Minister Ganesh Shah, Senior journalist and editor of Nepali Times
                      weekly Kunda Dixit, Senior Journalist Kanak Mani Dixit

Media Coverage

(In Reverse Chronological Order)

  • "Cyber Sanchaar" magazine - Coverage on SFD 08: Scan 1 and Scan 2
  • 10th October 2008 - Another interview with Bibek Paudel, 8:30-8:45 PM (Hamro FM, Bharatpur, Chitwan)
  • 26th September 2008 - Interview with Bibek Paudel, 8:30-8:45 PM (Hamro FM, Bharatpur, Chitwan)
  • 26th September 2008 - Coverage on "Free or Freeze" by Saptahik weekly.
  • 25th September 2008 - Repeat telecast from 8-9 AM of the FOSS special "Khabar Bhitra ko Khabar" in Avenues TV (worked upon by the Documentary Team)
  • 24th September 2008 - A special one hour show on Free Software from 8-9 PM at "Khabar Bhitra ko Khabar" in Avenues TV(worked upon by the Documentary Team)
  • 22nd September 2008 - Software Freedom Day observed (The Kathmandu Post/City Post)
  • 21st September 2008 - Fifth international Software Freedom Day held (Nepalnews.com)
  • 20th september 2008 - Air-ed in Gorkha FM from morning till the night in hourly news bulletin
  • 20th september 2008 - Ujyalo FM
  • 20th September 2008 - Free Software Freedom day celebrated in Nepal (ekantipur)
  • 20th september 2008 - Sagarmatha TV News
  • 20th september 2008 - Avneues TV Nepali News - nicely presented- Prime Time News
  • 20th September 2008 - ABC TV Nepali News: Video on Youtube
  • 20th September 2008 - Kantipur TV Nepali News (Prime Time): Video on Youtube
  • 20th September 2008 - FOSS come, FOSS served (The Kathmandu Post)
  • 20th September 2008 - Interview with Kulchandra Adhikari (Radio Sagarmatha)
  • 20th September 2008 - Interview with Bibek Paudel (Kantipur FM, CyberTime)
  • 19th September 2008 - FOSS activists organise rally, candlelight vigil (ekantipur)

Internet Coverage:

                                    The event hall is packed

Pictures

Appendix A

Sponsors

Appendix B

Volunteers:

  1. Amarendra Kr Yadav
  2. Adipti Gupta
  3. Bipin Bhattarai
  4. Sajjan Shrestha
  5. Ishan Gajurel
  6. Sudan Tuladhar
  7. Kailash Budhathoki
  8. Rakesh Kumar Gupta
  9. Narayan S. Sonepa
  10. Sulabh Bista
  11. Ravi Shekhar Jha
  12. Barsha Paudel
  13. Roshan sharma
  14. Ashish Karki
  15. Sanjeev KC
  16. Sandesh Sakya
  17. Bijaya Babu Neupane
  18. Jagat Pokharel
  19. Gyaneshwar Bohara
  20. Navin (KCC)
  21. Abhishek Singh
  22. Akash Deep Shakya
  23. Jwalanta Deep Shrestha
  24. Shishir Jha
  25. Ujwal Shrestha
  26. Ujjwol Lamichhane(Malpi)
  27. Bibek Paudel
  28. Ankur Sharma
  29. Shankar Pokharel
  30. Yogesh Agrawal
  31. Suraj Sapkota
  32. Jitendra Harlalka
  33. Bibek Shrestha
  34. Subir Pradhanang
  35. Dadhiram nepal
  36. Sharad Ghimire
  37. Dayaram Budhathoki
  38. Basanta Krishna Shrestha
  39. Prabin Gautam (OPENLAD)
  40. Aakriti Thapa

Appendix C

Designs

  • Poster
  • Banner
  • Cover of the Nirvikalpa CD
  • Certificate
  • T-shirt design
  • Web-badges
  • Ubuntu Ultimate ĐVD and Nirvikalpa CD
  • Banner

Appendix D

Kathmandu Declaration

We pledge our commitment to this declaration, signed on the 20th of September 2008. We will work whole heartedly towards implementing it.

  1. Apart from the usual connotation of the term "information", entities like technology, procedure, results and statistics related to any study, research or implementation that involves partial or complete participation or investment of government or public bodies will also be treated as "information."
  2. Everybody will have an equal right and access to information. This shall be called the "right to information."
  3. Even while making use of the technologies available today or that might be available in the future, the right to information will be guaranteed.
  4. Proper standards will be used to safeguard the right to information while exchanging data electronically.

Press Releases

The press releases are available here: Software_Freedom_Day08_Press_Release

Futher Resources