Kingsly John - Everything You Didn't Need To Know!
Kingsly John - Everything You Didn't Need To Know!

Let the BLUG rest in peace

This is an open letter to the linux/opensource community at large and the organisers of foss.in in particular.

Update: Tue May 23 20:43:48 2006

Eight months after I posted this letter they have skirted the real issues and responded with slander/libel and a bunch of lies. Please read my response to their reply.

Update: Sat Sep 10 07:02:45 IST 2005

Over the past couple of days I've received a lot of suggestions from various people. I'll try and incorporate them over the weekend.

One of the requests was for a summary, so here goes.

  • The BLUG/Bangalore Linux User Group was a registered society that owned the linux-bangalore.[org|net|com] domains, conceived and organised the highly successful Linux-Bangalore/200x series of conferences since 2001. And also had a bunch of very popular mailing lists.
  • Sometime in 2004 the society was dissolved/de-registered silently without anyone being informed and all traces of the BLUG being a society removed from it's website.
  • In 2005, an event called FOSS.IN is being organised by certain people who are out to discredit all the work done by the BLUG over the past many years. And have usurped the BLUG's mailing lists and domains/website.
  • The organisers of FOSS.IN would like the public at large to believe that
    • FOSS.IN is this year's edition of Linux Bangalore/200x
    • what they are organising is a commmunity event. When no one knows who exactly is behind the event.
    • the mailing lists are not those of the BLUG.
    • the domains and websites never belonged to the BLUG.
    • the Linux Bangalore/200x events of the past were not organised by the BLUG
    • nothing has happened to the BLUG and it's the same as before.

This letter was drafted by me to draw the community's attention to what has been happening with the BLUG.

Below are the original contents of this page from before the update above.(as published on Thu Sep 8 11:26:51 IST 2005)

Disclaimer:

I was the co-ordinator/secretary of the Bangalore Linux Users Group for 2002-03, and organised Linux Bangalore/2002 along with other office bearers and members of the BLUG

All points and information contained below are available to the public at large. Except the info about the dissolution of the BLUG which could be got from the Registrar of Societies so it is public information too.

Wherever possible links have been provided to archived copies from The Wayback Machine

Over the past few weeks a lot of people have been asking me about the so called "BLUG Meet" that was held last month and why I wasn't there.

I wasn't there and will not be there at any such event because the BLUG as I knew it is no more.

While around the world more and more LUGs are formalising themselves to better serve the interests of the community. The BLUG probably stands alone as the only LUG that did the reverse and dissolved itself.

Yes. The BLUG is no longer a registered society, it was killed off silently sometime last year(2004) (I have confirmation of this from multiple sources .. none public unfortunately) I don't have the exact details of the cause/nature of death. But it most definitely wasn't as public as its birth.

Let's start with some known facts...

The birth of the BLUG as a society (and the linux-bangalore domains) is chronicled here.

Of special interest would be the 4th point and the first * under that.

4. Atul detailed changes to the LUG. The lists have been renamed from ilug-bangalore-*@yahoogroups.com to linux-bangalore-*@yahoogroups.com and a new linux-bangalore-programming list has been introduced. There is also a new domain name to reflect this change: linux-bangalore.org (since blug.org was already taken). The .com and .net variations have also been registered to keep domain squatters at bay.

* All domains have been registered in the name of the Bangalore Linux User Group, which is a registered not-for-profit society. Sponsorship for the domains will be cycled annually to prevent single-person control over them.

So what was the BLUG ?

According to an archived copy of the official BLUG website

Organisational Status

The Bangalore Linux User Group is a registered society, registered under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act 1960. For more information, read The Memorandum of Association.

For those that say that the BLUG is just a bunch of people, I think we passed that stage many years ago. A handful of linux users meeting up is no big deal these days and probably happens every day in the various coffee shops and restaurants around town.

And in any case the BLUG had grown to be a LOT more than a bunch of people discussing random stuff over coffee/snacks.

Among other things the BLUG had its aims and objectives listed thus...

a) The promotion and diffusion of knowledge relating to the Linux Operating System, Open Source Technology or any other useful knowledge amongst it's members as well as the general public.

b) To organise trade fairs, expositions, to conduct seminars etc. in order to promote the Linux Operating System and Open Source Technology.

c) To represent effectively before various authorities such as Central and State level Information Technology Ministries, Telecommunications Authorities, Industry forums,police force etc. in order to carry on the activities of the association effectively and in order to further the aims and objectives of the association's members with regard to the Linux Operating System/Open Source Technology.

d) To represent effectively before various commercial organisations the needs, requirements, aims and objectives of the association's members with regard to the Linux Operating System/Open Source Technology and in order in order to carry on the activities of the association effectively.

And it did an excellent job of living up to it's stated aims and objectives.

Like pioneering the Linux Bangalore events which was conceived and organised by the BLUG. An event like no other before it.

And the endorsement from the Government of India's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology for LB/2002 was an indication of the same.

With the BLUG disappearing, we(the open source community) have lost an established platform for interacting effectively with various government and non-government organisations.

There is a world of a difference in how people would treat a proposal or suggestion from "a bunch of enthusiasts" and one from "a registered society with a remarkable track record of achievements over the past X+ years"

I don't see a single reason why a society such as the BLUG would have ever needed to have been dissolved.

Coming to the BLUG's Mailing Lists...

Sometime in 2001 I joined a bunch of linux mailing lists which included the
ilug-bangalore-*@yahoogroups.com
which as detailed above were changed to
linux-bangalore-*@yahoogroups.com

And these lists were always referred to as the BLUG lists.

People wanting to know how they could join the BLUG were told there was no formal membership and that they should join the lists.

Between May 2002 and October 2003 I was also the moderator of these lists. A responsibility that came with the job of being co-ordinator/secretary of the BLUG. (You can dig through the archives to find other moderators who have referred to it as the BLUG lists probably even before I joined the lists!)

It was an accepted fact on these lists that the list admin was all powerful. But it most definitely didn't mean that he could claim it to be something it isn't. Or that everything he speaks is the gospel truth.

If a picture speaks a thousand words.. I have three "pictures" for you, which paint a very different one from what the organisers of foss.in are painting for the rest of the world.

The BLUG Lists

This is probably where everyone finds out about the lists

This is probably where everyone finds out about the lists.

The non-technical discussions of the Bangalore Linux User Group

The Yahoo! Groups main page for the linux-bangalore-non-tech list in November 2004.

The non-technical discussions of the Bangalore Linux User Group

LB non-tech Discussions

The same page as above in it's new avatar.

LB non-tech Discussions

You can check out the copies at archive.org for all the other BLUG lists too, they've undergone the same treatment.

So sometime after Nov 2004 the lists suddenly changed their names... and nobody noticed because the Subject line still says "blug-foo"/"blug-bar" changing that might have gotten those folks who use that pattern in their procmail recipes to wake up and take notice.

I quit the lists late on the night of 13/08/2004 after I saw this mail which ended with...

List Admin on Duty
Linux Bangalore Mailing Lists

I did a bit of digging around that night and spoke to a few people and found that a lot of things had changed with a view to sideline/eliminate the BLUG.

Like everyone else I have no idea what "Linux Bangalore" is but it owns all the domains which the about page[archive] claims are property of the BLUG.

The domains were owned by the BLUG until 2003-2004.

When I quit the lists only linux-bangalore.org was owned by the BLUG the other two domains were owned by "Linux Bangalore"

And currently all three domains are owned by Linux Bangalore.

(Anyone can check the whois output for the current information, past information is available for a fee from the whowas service.)

I'm no legal expert but I assume this

4. The income and profits derived from the above objects shall be utilised for the expenditure and activities of the Society. The dividends and profits shall not be distributed among the members or any body under any circumstances.

would also cover assets/propertes of the BLUG, which the website states that the domains are, So how did they get to be in the possession of "Linux Bangalore" ?

The FOSS.IN event has an FAQ section which contains the following

What is the BLUG? Is this event a BLUG meet?

The BLUG is the Bangalore Linux User Group, a group of LINUX/FOSS users and enthusiasts. FOSS.IN is an event, conducted by Linux Bangalore annually for the FOSS community.

Linux Bangalore != BLUG

What is the relation between the event and the BLUG?

The BLUG, like all FOSS user groups, is a part of the event. While the event is conducted in Bangalore, the BLUG facilitates the event, just as the local FOSS group in another city were to facilitate the event, were it to be held in that city.

I know for a fact that LinuxBangalore/2002 was organised by the BLUG, because I was the co-ordinator/secretary of the BLUG and was involved in all the financial transactions which were carried out in the name of the BLUG.

And as you can see from the official press release about the event

There is no mention of a "Linux Bangalore" entity that organises the event.

I was also part of the team organising LB/2003 until around October when I was forced out, so though I contributed more time both online and IRL towards the event than some of the credited managers in the event brouchure you won't find my name mentioned anywhere.(Interestingly every single manager that I've spoken to since, have claimed they had no role in that decision)

Interestingly the Credits page for LB/2003 is empty and commented out!

I wasn't aware of any entity named Linux Bangalore as long as I was part of the BLUG and organising/helping organise the event.

After that period I'm in the dark about what happened internally in the BLUG or with the Event as the rest of the world.

As far as I am concerned what the organisers of FOSS.IN are doing/trying to do is worse than grave digging.

They are trying to reap the fruits of everyone else's labour. And have already set the local opensource community back by about 5 years simply by dissolving the BLUG and taking away the centerpiece of it's achievement.

And for an event that the organisers like to compare to Linux Australia's linux.conf.au (LCA), they are as closed and secretive as LCA/Linux Australia is open and transparent.

Compare the amount of information available here to what you know about "Linux Bangalore" that the organisers claim runs the event. Nobody knows the first thing about this "Linux Bangalore" or if it even exists for real!

And what exactly is it that makes it a community event?

Giving the public what it wants is called good business sense.

Ideally a community event would be organised by a bunch of individuals or a non-profit organisation. And there should exist a certain amount of transparency or responsibility to ensure that no person or entity gets unfair benefits from it monetarily.(Atleast not directly or by means of handouts.)

Has anyone ever seen accounts(audited or otherwise) of any of the past events?

How is this event any different from Linux World ?

Considering this in the FAQ...

Does this mean that the event may happen in another city sometime?

Yes. One of the reasons behind the renaming of the event was to remove the regional and scope restrictions implied by the original name of the event.

It seems to be the exact direction they are headed!

Its ironic that someone who wrote thus about Linux India not becoming a registered society...

the attempt failed because no one (apart from a few core people) supported it. I didn't support it either (in fact carry most of the blame for scuttling it), largely because I was totally against the Linux community being turned into (and being used as) a political body. Heck, even the mailing list that was supposed to discuss the registration process and form the charter was *secret*, with the community not allowed to see what was being planned *or* participate in the process!

probably heads one of the most secret organisation in the opensource world called "Linux Bangalore"! (Because nobody other than the organisers are even aware of what kind of entity "Linux Bangalore" is !)

I did want to go public with these details last year but a lot of people from the BLUG that I spoke to felt it was too late to save the BLUG since the society was already registered and that we should be happy that atleast the event that was conceived by us continues to exist. And I agreed to go with their reasoning. But events of this year have changed my views.

But the organisers of FOSS.IN trying to pass off a whole bunch of fiction as truth/reality has made me change my mind.

The way I see it the only reason the BLUG meet was called last month was because it would be hard for the foss.in folks to talk to the sponsors about the community(because by their own admission whatever "Linux Bangalore" is, it's not a community.) and to help them with their lame agenda of spinning off the BLUG. onto a separate domain.

Why should the BLUG move to a separate domain when all three domains linux-bangalore.org linux-bangalore.net and linux-bangalore.com are property of the BLUG ?

If anyone should be moving to a separate domain, it should be the organisers of FOSS.IN, they are the ones squatting on someone else's property and profitting from the spoils of finishing off the BLUG.

I'm confident that given enough time, we'll see a resurgance of the community spirit that helped take the BLUG to dizzying heights. But that won't happen as long as we have people like the organisers of FOSS.IN trying to stymy the efforts of other linux/opensource enthusiasts in the region

There is no reason why such a dubious organisation as one that is organsing FOSS.IN should profit from the efforts of the erstwhile BLUG.

I would like to ask the organisers of FOSS.IN to do away with all references to Linux Bangalore and the BLUG from their propaganda with immediate effect. And handover all the relevant domains to the rightful owners. And if need be even re-register the BLUG as a society.

They are totally free to organise their own events in Bangalore or anywhere in the world. It's a free country and anyone is free organise any kind of conference. But to claim that FOSS.IN is the 5th edition of Linux Bangalore is just plain wrong.

-- Kingsly John.
Sept. 8th, 2005

Get Firefox