Swatantra 217, an international conference on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) recently concluded successfully. The conference emphasised on the importance of software freedom and stressed on the need to expand the reach of FOSS.
Held on 20 and 21 December 2017 at Thiruvananthapuram, Swatantra 2017 was the sixth edition of the conference held on a triennial basis, and was organised by the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an institution set up by the Kerala government.
The conference became the platform for discussions on emerging developments in the field, and highlighted the major FOSS initiatives of the Government of Kerala. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the conference, the slogan of which was ‘Celebrating Freedom’.
There were sessions on the use of FOSS in government and the public sector, while a few sessions were devoted to introducing some popular FOSS applications and tools. Several speakers talked about the larger issues concerning free software and the future of computing itself. These included Karen Sandler, executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy and former director of the GNOME Foundation, who delivered the keynote address, and Todd Weaver, CEO of US-based tech firm Purism, who delivered the Plenary Talk.
Considering the low proportion of women in IT and even among the engineering college students, ICFOSS had conducted a Woman Hackathon for women college students in Kerala in August. The Woman Hackathon, organised in association with the Society for the Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment (SPACE), came in for praise at the conference. Several participants of the Hackathon also attended Swatantra 2017, and said that FOSS cells have been formed in several engineering colleges in the State.