Subject: Hosting a mini Debian conference at your Institute

Debian is a Free Software operating system, developed by volunteers across the world and used on machines of all sorts from mainframes to desktops to mobile devices. The project was founded in 1993; today (according to the ?W3Techs survey[1]) 58.5% of web servers run on Debian or its derivative Ubuntu. You can learn more about the Debian project at

We, the Debian community, want to offer students a chance to learn by working with us on various aspects of the operating system. We have been organizing mini Debian conferences since 2010 in various cities, including Pune (COEP, VIT), Mangalore (NITTE), Calicut (NIT), Kuttippuram (MESCE), Mumbai (IITB). We are reaching out to more colleges so that as many students as possible will benefit.

Software engineering students are privileged above those in many other fields, in that they can study how a widely-used and state-of-the-art software like an operating system works. A mechanical engineering student will rarely have the chance to see a BMW, Mercedes Benz or a Ferrari being designed and manufactured, let alone have the chance to work with designers and manufacturers. Thanks to the Free Software revolution, any software engineering student can see how software is designed, including the Linux kernel and thousands of other free programs, and can work with developers to make new innovations. Just as it is critical for a medical student to gain familiarity with the human body, it is similarly important for a software engineering student to learn how software is written, maintained, used and improved in the real world. Most of the time students learn only theoretical concepts or trivial software as part of their curriculum. Working with Free Software projects gives students an opportunity to work on software which is used in production all over the world.

Advantages of contributing to Free Software projects include:

  1. learning how software is produced in the real world
  2. learning how to solve real world problems
  3. learning with some of the best programmers in the world
  4. learning tools and processes used in software development
  5. learning how to work collaboratively in teams
  6. learning to communicate technical problems effectively while working remotely.

In a mini Debian conference, members of the Debian community share the work they do in the community and guide students to take up projects to improve the Project. This includes talks and workshops on basic topics like “Introduction to Free Software”, “Securing communications on the Internet” or advanced topics like “Maintaining Debian packages”, “Version Control with Git” (or Mercurial), “Bug squashing parties” etc.

A mini Debian conference requires class rooms/lecture halls with projectors for talks and labs for hands-on workshops. It is better for the conference to last more than a day, to allow more time for talks and for participants to interact with each other. In this case, we also request accommodation for speakers and delegates, and also for students from outside the host institution, to enable them to participate.

[1] ?W3Techs survey of Web Servers

Authors/reviewers: Praveen, Shirish, Faheem, Justin, Anthony DeRobertis