Jumping into the Water and Learning to Swim

"My name is B.N Jagadeesh, and I work with the Alternative Law Forum, a Bangalore based organization addressing the issues related to Intellectual Property Rights, Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights and I myself practice Criminal Law while also pursuing Copyrights and the FOSS Movement. Apart from all that, I work to help our offices on Linux" shares the young Lawyer and Linux Administrator from India. "As an organization we believe in that information should be available freely to the people as well as believe in piracy and used pirated versions of Windows".

Jagdeesh's experience with Linux began during Asia Source 1 in Bangalore as, "We wanted to move to linux quite long ago and we were not quite sure that what it does and practically how would migration work. During Asia Source, people came to our office and taught us how to use linux and migrating our Windows environment over to it."

Detailing on his experiences, "We are extensively carrying out research with respect to laws, creating awareness of licensing, to people and particularly women. We work on a range of different issues. I work in practical aspects of law, more towards liberation. My engagement is with FOSS, helping with bug fixing at ALF. I do trainings all around Karnataka State on various issues including sexuality, rights of the women, rights of the marginal set of people, human rights and use FOSS based computers for training and advocate the importance of FOSS to all of my audiences, but still, there are quite a few people who actually migrate over to FOSS".

In the very near future right after the Asia Source 2 Camp, "I need to help an organization called Manthan-Social Development Research that addresses on issues related to Water and Dams in the Madhyaperades State in India migrate over to FOSS from Windows to Linux". Relating problems that Jagdeesh faces during migration activities include, "People still continue to consider Windows to be more user friendly "Blue Screen Syndrome", first of all people have a blue screen or blue desktop block in their mind and therefore Linux is not easy to use, and fail to even take that first attempt at FOSS. It will be really great if trainings do deal with FOSS on Windows since Dual Boot worked for us or pure Linux Desktop training only for organizations without any training at all".

"One thing I do use to my advantage is politics, that, most of the time organizations do not want to be associated with Microsoft issues related to copyright and information should be open to people. Microsoft no longer guarantees your data security and it is 100% your responsibility to take care of the issues, increase ownership, and returning from this camp, I will possibly be more resourced to migrate future prospects easily."

Sharing his thoughts on the severity of the situation of FOSS adoption issues in India, Jagdeesh feels that, "Primarily, we have a usual dilemma called the 'Window to Linux and Back Dilemma', the reason being lack of an understanding of what the real problem is that needs to be tackled or reported to technical support that is adequately available throughout the country now. if I look around and do find sufficient amount of technical support especially through online chat and forums. Its always not easy to ask the solution the very first time since one doesn't know the problem and faces more problems in explaining the problem to the technical support online or on the phone."

"Within ALF, our decisions for replacing Windows with Linux were encouraged by Windows itself since it was creating problems of continuous crashes and virus infections. The Linux decision was encouraged by its reliability and stability. Initially we set up a Dual Boot System environment where Linux and Windows both ran on the same computer so that we could explore what was compatible. Our changeover was also made possible through Games on Linux as I used them to attract our colleagues to use it. We saw that KDE was almost very near to the usual Windows experience and Mandrake supported Power Point files, PDF documents and found Firefox to be very stable for Internet Browsing.

Sharing his own initial troubles and possible solutions, "I was unable to find support in Bangalore in the beginning and was a self-taught System Administrator on Linux with technical support from searching Google or Online Community and remember that originally I am only a practicing Lawyer. I really had lots of problems with wireless card configurations as well as other hardware issues. I believe that more education is needed in India. We need capacity development on the understanding of the problem or at least enough to identify such issues as well as promote technical knowledge sharing. Core capacity areas include ratification of compatibility issues, exchange of files, making Power Point Presentations display embedded video".

Human Resource continues to be a very critical issue for the NGO sector. "Initially an external administrator gave our office visits very late in the day to fix any Linux issues since we did not know how to fix them due to the fact, we never knew the problem. If organizations have such visiting staff or just a single in house support engineer, their Linux migrations crash as soon as they leave and its back to Windows in most cases. The other challenge I feel is that engaging users with the system. Also prior to Linux there were a lot of Data losses, virus attacks and other unavoidable problems that we had used to advantage our decision but that is not always the case with others. Another issue where Linux has instant problems is that if there are any hardware problems or people cannot work it out including device drivers, they say Linux is not good and its not easy as Windows, they attribute almost every problem in the technology world to Linux that only tends to be ignorance and not reality."

Jagdeesh shares some very interesting lessons from his experiences, "I failed to get proper solutions to various Linux problems since I am a Lawyer but still one has to jump into the water and learn to swim. One should also never underestimate the value of games on Linux. Playing with the Linux Command line to take control of the computer as well as computers over the network and find out as much as you can about what is really interesting to you and this encourages you to continuously explore solutions to your problems."

His objective to participate in the Source camps is, "I am still not sure about how migration practically works since we just deleted Windows and installed Mandrake Linux and now we are running SUSE Linux." Jagdeesh is still interested to learn more about FOSS and the Creative Commons.

author: Fouad Bajwa

* Article is also available at:"http://wiki.asiasource2.iosn.net/index.php/Interviews:B.N.Jagadeesh"