This page lists the frequently asked questions regarding the goals and plan of Doc-a-thon.
What is the goal of Doc-a-thon?Edit
The most common reason attributed to not able to move the labs in engineering/degree colleges to free software is non-availability of proper documentation with respect to different tools needed and also the minute changes in the actual solutions/programs when running them on a GNU/Linux environment. Hence to address this issue, we have decided to come up with a comprehensive document/manual with clear explanation on how to use various free software tools along with explanations of various VTU specified labs programs and its solutions. Hence the end goal is to come up with a document which can be used by any college under VTU and directly migrate all their labs to Free Software without any external help.
Why another bunch of solutions for VTU?Edit
There are already lot of sites/blogs and even Android apps for giving lab program solutions as specified by VTU. All of these are individual distributed efforts by mainly students and in some cases faculty members to help the student community. However most of the solutions that are already shared are suitable for proprietary platforms. They use proprietary tools which is currently the most common way in the labs in colleges. Hence our efforts are targetted to consolidate a manual which will be targetted to students/colleges interested to move to Free software environment.
Moreover, apart from solutions, we also want to document how to use various free software tools so that students can learn it using the manual and execute the programs in the lab without any hassle. This will also be helpful for lecturers who are not very comfortable in GNU/Linux environment or may be in one of the particular free software tools like Apache2, Gcc, MySql, etc.
So will you give full solutions to the problems? Wont it be spoon feeding?Edit
This is an active discussion amongst us also currently on this topic. On one side not giving solutions might alienate students from actually adopting the manual, giving full solutions might be too much of spoon feeding and counter-productive to our goal to encourage students to learn by actively using free software. Our current understanding is that we will give code snippets along with explanations which would help students to derive the solutions in case of programs which tend to be too long. However we welcome all suggestions from the students and academicians on what you would expect in such a lab manual. The Manual is being developed completely in spirit of Free software development methodology and hence we are open to suggestions and feedbacks.
How can I join and start contributing?Edit
A more detailed page on this would be created in future as the manual gets more structured and organized. However currently, we are collecting all the solutions to different lab programs specified by VTU for CS/IS/MCA subjects in FSMK's github profile.
For CS - check CS VTU Lab Manual
For IS - check IS VTU Lab Manual
For MCA - check MCA VTU Lab Manual
Who are the expected participants for the Docathon?Edit
We expect faculty members from different colleges from CS/IS/MCA department to come as participants from the colleges. After finalizing the venue and dates, we will send brouchures and letters to all colleges inviting them to nominate their faculty members and students from their departments who would be interested to work in collaborative manner in different teams and come up with this Lab Manual during the 3 days of Docathon. We are keen on bringing together faculty members from different colleges who also understand and are interested in shifting the labs of their respective departments to free software environment.
Since this is going to maintained as a free software project, we expect that faculty members would continue contributing to the project even after the docathon event. The event is to come up with in terms of software versioning, alpha version of 1.0 of the Lab Manual. It will continue to undergo changes and improvement in quality as we find issues.
I am not very comfortable with GNU/Linux environment. But I am interested to learn?Edit
As a faculty member, we assume that you have already handled the lab on proprietary environment. A part of the Lab Manual would be explaining the free software tools and the environment. However a major chunk would also be about explaining the lab programs specified in the syllabus so that students will also understand the solution. We are sure you can contribute actively in that area as you might have already done the explanation in your classes. During the 3 days, we will conduct sessions in groups explaining different free software tools so that people who do not know about the tools can also learn during the 3 days and can then teach it to their other faculty members in the college using the Lab manual.
Also if you are not comfortable with any specific free software tools, then you can also be our first tester of the manual and can help the team by informing if the content added in the manual explains well about the free software tools and whether the explanation and content was lacked in any aspect.
I am a student and very interested to participate in the event. Can I please attend it?Edit
Sorry. Currently we are not entertaining students to participate in the event. Only the core FSMK volunteers from different GLUGs will participate in the event. This event is not for general students. However do contact us at our email addresses given at fsmk website and we can let you know how you can contribute offline without participating in the event also.
What are the dates for the Docathon?Edit
Tentative dates for the docathon are from 24th to 26th Jan, 2014. We will soon confirm the dates.
Where will the Docathon be conducted? Venue?Edit
We have not yet finalized the venue. We will update as soon as we finalize it.
Will there be any registration fees for the event?Edit
We are looking for various sponsors for the event so that we can make the event completely free of cost for the participants. However we will confirm about the registration fees along with venue and dates.
What would be license of the Lab Manual?Edit
As a strong supporter of free knowledge (Free as in freedom) and Copyleft, all the contents produced during any of FSMK events are released under Creative Commons License. Hence the Lab Manuals will also be released completely under Creative Commons License Shared Alike.
However like any free software, all the contributions made in the preparation and maintainence of the manual will be duly credited in the document.
Sharing it with this license will ensure that anyone across the state can just take the manuals and start using it in their college without any restrictions. The colleges can also if interested prepare hard copies and share it with their students without any restrictions.
What is the time table for the 3 days of the event?Edit
We have not finalized it yet. The event will happen in the spirit of a Hackathon as the name suggests. Hence we expect participants to work in groups and continuosly without any strict timetable with a single goal of completing the Lab manual for their respective subject.
Any preparatory event planned before the event?Edit
This is the first experiment by us also in this respect. Hence we will conducting a one day Mock event on 12th Jan 2014 in Dept of CSA, IISc, Bangalore and try to create Lab Manual for atleast one or two subjects in the CS/MCA branches. This will give us a good idea on how we should plan for the 3 days actual event. It will also give us an idea on the different aspects of collaborative documentation.
Will I be writing the whole manual for a subject completely by myself?Edit
Our current understanding is that we will form a group of 5-6 participants and assign them to work on a subject for all the 3 days. At the end of the docathon, the group should have created all the different aspects of the manual related to that Lab. This would include explanations of the free software tools along with screenshots and necessary commands, explanations and solutions to different programs as specified by VTU for that Lab and anything else that the group thinks should be added to make the manual comprehensive. Over all, we would live it upto the team to decide the best way to ensure that the subject and the problems are well explained in the manual.
The groups will be created based on the preference given by the faculty members while registering for the event. This grouping is being done by us just to ensure that there are equal number of members allocated for all the subjects which will ensure that we get a complete manual at the end of 3 days. We would ofcourse agree to adjust the groupings in case any faculty members want to choose a different subject.
Isnt 3 days too much to finish documenting lab programs of a subject ?Edit
Frankly, we do not know. Mock event on 12th Jan will help us in getting a better idea about it. However based on inputs from various people who have tried documentation earlier, we have arrived at 3 days. Since it is also an hetrogenous group of faculty members and core FSMK members, it might take sometime for the group to start working together and actively finish the tasks.
Why should I participate?Edit
Our goal is to help spread free software to all students in different parts of Karnataka and this manual will help us take the movement forward. An project/effort which will then benefits hundreds of students and colleges across Karnataka is what we expect this Manual to be. It will help colleges save thousands if not lakhs in terms of license fees of proprietary softwares. It will help students get introduced to free software and hopefully encourage them to start using it more regularly for their day to day purpose also which will take them more closer to the tools used in the industry and make them more employable in the software industry. Is such ambitious project inspires you, please do join us in making this effort a success.
Also, proper attribution will given to all the participants who contribute to the development and maintainence of the manual like any other free software project.