Software Freedom Day 2018 Chennai – Minutes

Our friends in Free Software Foundation TamilNadu organized Softwre Freedom day 2018 in Chennai. I participated and put a stall for Kaniyam Foundation and its activities. I explained on,, Tamil TTS, Ezhil Language, Open-Tamil library etc.

There were around 20 stalls. From Free Software Philosophies, Wikisource, Wikipedia, Privacy, Machine learning, Self hosting, Libreoffice, Olipedia, Libre Library, Games, GIMP, Inkscape, Stelleriam, RISC V, Blue DOT movement, Tamil Computing, OpenStreetMap etc


The stalls are so much informative. The volunteers explained the concepts well. We got around 70 visitors from various backgrounds. They asked many questions and got more information.

We had a QA session before lunch with the volunteers and participants. I answered few questions on Opportunities of contribution for non-programmers. explained about Creative Commons license and how any creator/artist/photographer/musician can contribute to the open world.

Had deep conversations on few new friends on Job opportunities, On creating a social movement on leaving space for ambulances on roads, with a blue light and alert from a traffic police, on contributing to various tamil computing projects etc.

In the evening, got an opportunity to give a talk to the team on the stage. Shared few experiences on mailings lists, how the tamil computing efforts are started and running etc.

It was so enthusing to see the youngsters are working hard to promote the Free Software in all the ways they can. tons of thanks for the Volunteers, Organizing Team, and participants for making the event fruitful to all.

My clicks are here –

Thanks Nithya! for the great Birthday Gift

Feb 18, was my birthday. Myself and Nithya dont celebrate each others birthday, as all of the days are very precious for us.

I never gifted her anything. She also did not. But, for this time, she wondered me with a great gift.

Yes. It is a Free Software 🙂

She wrote a grammar checker (Conjunction Checker) for Tamil and released on Feb 18, with a nice blog post. It is here in Tamil

It was my decade dream to create a great spell checker for Tamil as a Free Software. Conjunction Checker is one of the big parts of it.

It has too many rules and she read them all, understood, converted as Python code.

It is the awesome birthday gift.

Nithya! You are my best gift. Thanks, is a simple word. It cant express what es I mean.

She is improving it a lot with more rules and testing.

Here is the code –

She made a video about this tool –

Today, She spoke about this in “ILUGC – Indian Linux Users Group – Chennai” Meet. So happy to see her giving a talk in my homeland.

I am working on making it as web application, so that anyone can use it.

Thanks to open-tamil python library for its all great features of handling tamil text easily.

I am seeing Nithya as avid reader, writer, dancer, home maker and now a programmer.

You can read all her books here –

Hoping to see more women contributors like Nithya in the upcoming days.



Project-Idea : Custom data updater for mobile app is a good mobile app (Free Software) for navigation and adding Places (POI – Point of Interest) to

It uses offline data, to provide smooth user experience. OsmContributor, OSMAnd are other few android app, to contribute to OSM by adding POI. But we can feel the lag on navigating the map as they fetch real time data on every move over the map. is super fast. But because it uses only offline data. The provides updates for the data once in a month or twice.

We can see the POIs added by us. But, when we run a mapathon kind of events, many volunteers will be roaming around a city. Sometimes, they come to a street, where the POIs are added by someone else already.

When you are using for adding POI, we can not get the POIs added by other volunteers immediately. We have to wait for the updates provided by the team.

This leads to repeated adding of same POI many times. Even verifying for the same POI using other app is boring.

Checked for the team for providing options to update the data whenever required. But it is not on their roadmap.

Discussed this with “OpenStreetMap Asia” telegram group. Erwin Olario replied with few ideas.

  1. uses mwm format for the data
  2. can export data in mwm format
  3. gives steps on how to download latest data and use with

All we need now, is a mobile app to download the desired data from hotosm and place in the proper path of

We can develop this as a separate mobile app and distribute to all.

If this is done, anyone using can click another app, and update the osm data whenever required.

Reply here / Contact me if you are interested in doing this as a Free/OpenSource Project.

My mail id –


Update – 1

 Ilya Zverik has provided a daily snapshot for each country, but sometimes, it’s not available:



Event Notes – Mini Mapping party at Kanchipuram

I went to my home town Kanchipuram, India for Christmas holidays. We had a good active Linux Users Group called KanchiLUG there few years ago. We still have few members there doing nice works there.

Decided to have a mini mapping party at kanchipuram on Dec 25, 2017. sent a mail to our mailing list and asked people to join the party.

We had one volunteer replied. T. Dhanasekar. We met on dec 25 10 am. Created an account for him in openstreetmaps.

We both dont use smartphone. I borrowed my wife Nithya’s phone. He did not get any. I dont have a motor bike there. I already took his bike. Hence, we decided to roam around the city together and add interesting places to OSM.

I explained app and how to add POI. We found many schools, temples, shops, clinics etc and added them. For few POI’s, we did not find suitable types in

Will ask the team to add more types.

In 2 hours, we added 75 places. There are still tons of places to add at Kanchipuram. We will add them in upcoming days.


Project Idea – Location aware mobile apps to explain historical places

Last week, met my old friend siva, of Tamil Heritage Trust, after few years. Their group is serving the community, by explaining all the history of great places of tamilnadu.

He explained me about a requirement of new mobile app.

Location aware app to explain on historic places.

Imagine, you goto tiger cave, near mahabalipuram. While wondering what is that, how it will be an app displays all the history about that place, when you go near or search for it.

Like that we can give details about all the monuments at mahabalipuram.

We can extend that to all the temples at kanchipuram or all around tamil Nadu.

The app should be released as free/open source software.

It can be a native or react native or hybrid app.

If you are interested in contributing for this, reply, comment here or mail me on


Installation script for Tamil Text to speech System

The Tamil TTS system provided by IITM and SSN College of Engineering, has a lengthy installation process.

I have written them here.

It may not be easy to follow and you may find some issues. To make the life easier, I have created shell script, to automate the entire process.

Here it is –

System requirements:

Ubuntu 16.04

How to execute:

git clone

cd tamil-tts-install

Edit the file,

Fill the following details.

DOWNLOAD_PATH=/home/ubuntu/tts/packages #to download the required packages

COMPILE_PATH=/home/ubuntu/tts/compiled # to place the compiled files and folders

Register here and get a username and password



Then, execute the file as


How to convert a text to audio?

export FESTDIR=/usr

cd COMPLIE_PATH ssn_hts_demo/scripts/complete “தமிழ் வாழ்க” linux

This will convert the text and store as wav in


you can play it with any audio player.

The full details of what is on the compile process is explained here.

To hear a demo on how the tamil TTS system sounds, click here

Thanks for IITM Team – Prof Hema  and Anju for their great support on helping us to get installed the tamil TTS system.


Filed a RTI to get info on Tamil TTS by IITM and SSN

I blogged on the topic “How to ask IITM to release IndicTTS as Free/Open Source Software?” recently.

Had a good discussion about this on the ILUGC mailing list too.

As a followup on this,  filed a RTI on this.

We can request for any information online in the portal itself. Registration asks for our address and phone number. Then we can fill the request form.

Note : The content box does not allow Question mark and URL.

Asked for the below information.

Is there any government policy or G.O to release the software developed by or funded by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (Deity) and Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (M CIT) as Free/Open Source software

2. Is IITMadras funding SSN engg college to develop a Tamil Text to speech software

3. If so, how much is the funded amount

4. Send me the project plan, roadmap, and cost splitups for the development

5. There is a open source android app for Tamil text to speech at IITM site. (IITM donlab site)
This is very very old. But the latest development by SSN college available at  [ speech DOT ssn DOT edu DOT in ]  is very new and works well. Why it is not released as Free/Open Source Software with source code

6. When can we get the latest Tamil Text to speech software from SSN college, as free/open source software with source code

Once submitted, paid Rs 10 via its online payment gateway. It was smooth.

Received an acknowledgment as below.

Fine. Let me wait for 30 days for the responses.

Will share the results here.




Will you buy a Digital Product that allows you to share and remix?

Today, My beloved Tamil author Mr.N Chokkan, asked a question in twitter.

புது நூல் / இசை PDF / MP3 கிடைக்குமா என்றுதான் 99.99% ட்வீட்கள். சும்மா ஒரு பாவனைக்குக்கூட, ‘எங்கே வாங்கலாம்?’ என்று கேட்பதில்லை

புதுப்பட / பாடல் / புத்தக download லிங்க் பகிரங்கமாகக் கேட்போர் ‘அரிசி அரை கிலோ வேண்டும், எங்கே திருடலாம்?’ என்று ட்வீட் எழுதுவார்களா?

He asks that

People ask for download link when a new Book/Movie/Audio is released.
99.99% tweets are regarding download links. Nobody asks for a link to buy them.
Will people ask for a how to steal rice, when they need to buy it?

This questions raised a lot of thoughts and sharing them here.

Sharing is a nature of human. When we are kids, our moms asked us to share the foods with our friends. They put extra food in our tiffin boxes for sharing.

She share the food with neighbors even today.

They all know that sharing is caring.

It is not about the cost. I have a thing with me. I will share it with anyone.
Its my right.

It historic days, Ramanajur, the Hindu saint, was asked to keep a secret of god.
He reached to a temple tower and announced the secret to all public, proving that all good things should reach all.
Check Chapter 11

All the world literature is being transformed for ages and ages to next generation just make sure that all the good should reach all. Nobody cared about the copyright laws.

Let us come to the modern era.

There are Analog Products and Digital Products.

Let us compare an Analog Book or Motor Bike.

To make a Motor Bike, the manufacturing company should invest atleast 30-40% of the selling price. For each MotorBike, the company should invest the same 30-40% cost of the bike.

Once I bought the Bike, Its my own property.

  • I can ride it anywhere.
  • I can share it with my friends.
  • I can make it into parts on to know how it works.
  • If I am a mechanic, I can repair or rework on it to customize it.
  • I can resell it.
  • I can donate it.

I can do whatever I want.

Let us come to a Digital Product.

It is a Software/Music/Ebook.

Let us say the Company invests 30-40% of the selling cost to create the first copy of the product.

What is the cost the company invests for the second copy? 0 Rs or 10 Rs for the CD or DVD. But they sell all the copies to the same rate. How this is correct?

Fine. Its their wish to sell for any cost. As a buyer what rights I get?

  • I should not make copies of it.
  • I should not share it.
  • I should not modify it.
  • I should not study it.

When a mechanic can study a Bike, As a software engineer why should not I study the software I buy? Why I dont get the source code?

When I buy a music cd, why I should not share it with my friends, when I share my Bike? Why I should not resell the CD, when I sell my bike?

Business people may come with some weired answers for these questions.

They need to make tons and tons of money with one time effort and to sell million times.

They say with lot of buzzwords like intellectual property, copyright laws etc, just to make sure that the digital products are not copied and shared.

Fine. It will be nice, if anyone replied here on what are the fears of a Digital Product creator to sell his products for a cheaper price with all rights to the buyer?

Do you think that we can not make money when there is no secret?

Take the Food Industry.

Most of us know, how to make Idly, Sambar, Rice and all other delicious Food.
But still there is Saravana bhavan making money. HotChips makes money.
Name a branded hotel. It makes Millions of money, where all the recipe are open to public. They sell the Food with all the rights to the buyer to share, resell, remix, etc.

If they can make money, with open recipe and rights to share, we also can make it. Yes. Need to make a lot of changes in business model and have to reduce the greediness of making million dollar by investing only one time.

Let us think on the other way.

We are living in a era of sharing.
Though there are tight laws, we can not prevent online sharing of digital products.
Though it is illegal, people love to share their contents. Because, Sharing is in our blood.

People will pay and buy any product that is affordable and encourages them to learn it, hack it, share it and remix it.

Still in doubt?

Write a book and release the PDF for 20-30 Rs with all rights to share and remix in Creative Commons license.

Choose a suitable license from here.

I am sure you will get more money then you get as royalty when you release as a printer book by any publisher.

(Ask your known writers on how much they make money as royalty. They get very less and they even dont know how many books are sold. Publishers wont share any business data with the writers.)

Reply here, If you agree to buy such a Digital Product that is cheap and in Creative commons license.

FOSS Contributors in TamilNadu code

Mr. Dorai from Chennai Geeks asked for a list of contributors for Free/Open Source Software from TamilNadu.

We are planning for a showcase of these projects and skilled persons to startups and enterprises.

Please fill this form, if you are contributing to any Free/Open Source Software.

If you know some one else is contributing, add their details too.

View the result here.

Note: As a first phase, only code contributions is being collected.

We will look for other contributions like support, documentation, artwork, marketing in future.

Share this info with friends too.

Free Software Event Checklist

I am being part of some of the Free Software Events happening in Chennai.

Sometimes the events are small gatherings and some times they are really huge.

Many times, we have missed some critical stuff and we were running behind them in the last minute.

Hence, this post to not down all stuff we need for any event.

1. Event Team

Create a event team with some volunteers. They are the pillars who are going to share the following tasks.

Make the team’s contacts like phone number, email are shared with all and announced publicly.


2. Venue

Fix the venue for the event.
Check with Colleges, Private Office, Govt Offices and Auditoriums.

Some times we get the hall for free. Sometimes, we may need to pay.


3. Date

Fix the date of the event.

Make sure that there are no big political, social, national, devotional or any other “al” event matches on the same day.

This is to make sure that the traffic is free for people to attend the event.


4. Web Page

Set a website or a blog for the event.

Post all the event planning and announcements regularly.


5. Posters

Create some digital posters on the event and share them across.

If possible print handouts/posters and share them too.


6. Marketing

We need people to attend the event.

Make sure your marketing team announce the event in the following channels.

  • Mailing lists
  • Social Media groups/events/pages
  • Event websites
  • Newspapers [ event of the day ]
  • If possible, Advertisements on TV and FM


7. Agenda


Plan the agenda. It may be a training, talks, cd/book release, etc.

Fix the time for event start/end/sessions start end/lunch/break times


8. Call for participants – Online regisration


Set up an online space to register, if it requires.

A wiki or google docs or similar can be used.


9. Update the participants


Keep on updating the participants via email on the event progress.


10. Freebies


  • ID Cards
  • Tshirts
  • Stickers
  • Books
  • Pamphlets
  • Flyers
  • Printouts
  • CDs/DVDs
  • PenDrives

can be given as freebies. Prepare them all two days prior. Put them all as packs to share easily.


11. Venue


Visit the venue one week before and check the following stuff.

1. Power

2. Chairs

3. Projector

4. Screen

5. Ventilation

6. Water Supply

7. Food Supply

8. Rest rooms

9. Place for banners

10. Mike/Speakers

11. Lights

12. Internet Connectivity

13. Shops nearby for stationary/medical/food

14. First Aid & Safety

15. Emergency contact person from the venue.

16. Stay facilities nearby



12. Call for Donations


We need money for all the events. We can call for individual donations or sponsors.

Check for interested companies and contact them to sponsor the event.

Then, Announce a call for donations with all the account details to do online money transfer. Send the receipts to the donors.



13. Press Release


Write up a press release and share it to all the media like TV/Newspapers/FM.

Make sure that they come to the event and cover the event.


14. Chief Guests


Fix the chief guest.

Check for their stay/travel to the event.



15. Gifts


Plan the gifts for the guests /participants/winners and buy them in prior.




On the Day of the event


16. venue


Make sure one or two persons reach the event in 3 hours before to check the venue for all the 15 items told before.


Tie the banners in front of the venue, hall and on the stage.

Check for power supply/lights/chairs/Rest rooms/Mike/Speakers

Store all the freebies in a room

Stick Posters around the venue.

Place route map/arrows to reach the hall, all around the venue.



17. Registration desk:


Setup a registration desk.

Use notebooks or laptops to get information about the visitors

Give the freebie pack



18. Food


Arrange for Food/Snacks/Cool Drinks/Water from nearby canteen or hotels.

Make sure that they reach on time.


19. Photos/Videos/Audio


Make sure that you have colunteers to capture the event via Photo/Video/Audio.


20. Live telecast/blog/tweet


If possible arrange for live telecast of the event. Live blog/tweet also fine.


After the event:


21. Upload Photos


We may be endup with 1000s of photos.

Check them and delete all the unwanted/blurred photos.

Resize them to 2048 resolution or lesser.

Upload them in online photo repositories like picasa/flickr/facebook.

Make sure that they are in creative commons license.

Give proper tags for the albums for easy searching.


22. Upload Videos


Resize the video.

Amplify the audio.

Upload them in youtube or similar sites.


23. Upload Audio


Check and remove the silences, noises of the recorded audio.

Amplify the audio.

Upload in soundcloud of similar sites.


24. Event Notes


Write the event notes with the following details.

Event Minutes

Links for Photos/Videos/Audio/Live blogs/tweets etc

Links for the various press that covered the event.


Update them in the website.


25. Send mail to participants/guests


Send mail to all with a Thanks note and Event Notes.



26. Celebrate


Wow. Congrats. The event is over and you and the team can have some celebrations.

Goto near par/beach and play some games.

Have some food together.




Dont Do:


If it is a event about Free Software like GNU/Linux demo day/Software Freedom Day, make sure that nobody uses any proprietary operating system or software for any of the demo or talk.

Check for any other Don’t do stuff and announce it in all the announcements.


Hope this list will help us to avoid any last minute tensions.

Form a team to take care of each activity and have great team works.


Reply here if you have something to add.