media, information, the contemporary

FLOSS – Free/Libre Open Source Software

Ever since its inception the Sarai programme of CSDS, Delhi was excited about and engaged with the free software practices in local and global contexts. We invited Richard Stallman to deliver a lecture on and published several books explaining the concept and practice. Our English and Hindi print publications have always been available online for free download.

Sarai positioned itself between academic research and media and software practice right from the beginning. We acted as a hub of the incipient Indic computing community and attempted to provide an interface between the techies and lay language practitioners like teachers, journalists, writers, translators and students. Sarai organised several review workshops to test the efficacy of translations – a model which has been adopted by such successful projects as Fuel. We sent our representatives to several important seminars and workshops, and hosted several discussion lists including one in Hindi, which is still running:

Parallel to its very successful programme of bilingual Independent Fellowships, Sarai also ran a programme of Free Software Fellowships till the the year 2010. Sarai gave fellowship to no less than 30 people over several years, the funding for which came from, The Dutch Govt, Hivos, Nixi and Rajeev Gandhi Foundation. Under this programme we were able to launch the first desktop ever in Hindi: which was a .Kde version. We released open type Sarai fonts in the public domain and also designed a very successful bolnagri keymap.

We also supported localisation endeavours in Kannada, Telugu, Odiya, Urdu and Kashmiri and held workshops in Bangalore, Srinagar and Bhuvaneshwar apart from those every year in Delhi. Our fellows like Ravi Ratlami bagged awards for innovative computing and they continue to be a part of the Indlinux Group, led among others, by Guntupalli Karunakar. Sarai continues to send its representatives to the events that have been held in collaboration with Red Hat, CDAC, Swatantra Community and Wikipedia in locations as far as Pune, Chennai, Tiruananthapuram and Taiwan. Most recently we hosted a Mozilla Firefox Meet at Sarai, and while the Fuel Meet, 2015 was on in Chennai, and Open Data Camp was held at Sarai on 22nd November 2015 in which some 80 people participated. Open Source community considers it their home and they can often be found holding their meetings here on the weekends.

We are an intellectually exciting, multilingual open space, close to North Campus of Delhi University, so we easily attract a lot of students and young teachers from the university as volunteers and participants. Although not very active in more recent time, we are now in a position to regroup and reactivate Sarai as a community hub for Open Source activities including localisation for the new digital age.

FUEL: A Community­ Driven Collaborative Project

FUEL aims at solving the problem of inconsistency and lack of standardization in Software Translation across the platform. It works to provide a standardized and consistent look of computer for a language users. FUEL works to create linguistic and technical resources like standardized terminology resources, computer translation style and convention guides, and assessment methodologies. The effort of FUEL is unique. It is a set of steps any content generating organization or a team involved in creating localized content can undertake and adopt to ensure consistently highly quality. Though it is place for linguistic resources, the FUEL approach of creating linguistic resources is not any different from any software development. FUEL is having a version control system allowing evolution of development, a bug tracker and ticketing system and a mailing list. It is of modular nature and concentrates on base registers. This feature makes FUEL citizen ­centric and so FUEL has great potential to be an ideal solution even for e-Governance work. Collaborative innovation is the most important aspect here in FUEL.

Events and Publications related to this project: