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Kumar Appaiah

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Kumar Appaiah is a Debian Developer and currently a Final year Dual degree student at EEE Dept, IIT-Madras.

Name:  Kumar Appaiah
Age: 23 (this June 2008)
Occupation: Student
IRC Nick: kmap
Email: kumar dot appaiah at

Computer / Laptop Configuration and OS (Distro):

  • Desktop: P4, 3.0 GHz - HT, 512 MB RAM, 15" monitor, Debian GNU/Linux.


  • How did you get into GNU, Linux and FOSS in general?

There was this Suse 6.3 CD in CHIP magazine when I was in the 9th standard (2000). Since I had read about this Linux thingy and had acquired a book (Linux unleashed), I installed it onto my computer, fiddled around, learnt stuff, right from how to shut down the machine safely to configuring X. In my 11th and 12th, there was a brief break. Then, I had the good fortune of coming to IIT Madras, where several machines ran GNU/Linux. I learnt as much as I could in my free time, and became familiar with the various tools present on the system, especially those which helped with my studies.

Gradually, when the network in IIT Madras started expanding, I found that IIT Madras has a mirror of Debian. I read about it, learnt the network install, and there was once a time when I did several installs on all computer possessing people's computers over the network, for fun. When I acquired my own machine, I decided that it was time to participate more actively, and learnt packaging for Debian. I moved on to bug fixing for Debian packages as well some minor patch submissions for some other software I use (IT++ and SciPy). After being egged by my close friend Varun Hiremath (he's a Debian developer as well), I applied to the Debian New Maintainer process, and completed the tasks assigned to me. I became a Debian developer recently, and hope to resume my contributions to the Universal Operating System.

  • Share your first encounter with FOSS (Installation, setup, etc.)

SuSe Linux 6.3 in 2001. I did not know how to use that black screen with a flickering cursor. Heavens I didn't even know how to shut down that thing safely!

  • What lead to a sustained continuity in FOSS after you stepped in?

Several factors, but notably the fact that nifty little tools gave me power. Tools like sed, awk etc. have saved me hours of effort on several occasions. Also, rock solid stability, variety of software and the freedom to actually see the source. Believe me, having the source code helps even if you aren't close to being a hacker!

  • A funny instance during your initial days of computing with FOSS / computers complimentary to second question)

This is dedicated to a close friend of mine, whom I convinced/forced to try out GNU/Linux with me. He became so accustomed to it that one fine day, he sits on a Windows computer and says "Hey, what's the equivalent of ls here?"! :-)

Present FOSSy activity

  • Which project do you currently contribute to?

Debian GNU/Linux, and off and on to IT++. Not much though, it varies depending on my academic workload.

  • How much time in a week / day / month do you spend on it?

It varies. I spent several hours every day during the hols, but only a few hours a week during busy times.

  • What are your favourite text editor[s] / IDE[s] / development environment tools?

Emacs, Emacs and Emacs.

  • What do you think is best about your project (that you contribute to)?

Debian - rock solid, total freedom, and wide variety of packages which work out of the box, and are trivial to install.

  • What would you like to advise budding contributors/developers?

The time and effort invested in learning FOSS and FOSS tools will most definitely do you a world of good later. Returns are too significant to be missed, if you cross the barrier and persist with learning FOSS (and eventually trying to contribute).

I would also like to emphasize that filing bugs, with or without patches, is, in my opinion, as important as writing code.

  • Any favourite programming language?

I use C++ for my work (academic), but I like Python due to it's simplicity and "batteries included" nature.


  • "Philosophy plus pragmatism" or "Just Philosophy can achieve goals" or "Just Pragmatism can achieve goals" - Could also be looked as RMS or Linus

I can't choose between the two, as I cannot disagree with one or the other. The right mix, if possible?

  • What's interesting about your local GNU/Linux User Group / other community that you are a part of?

Non-commercial, friendly people. Active list, and they organized several demo days. But the pinnacle was the wonderful FOSSConf in Chennai, which was a roaring success. Hats off to ILUGC!

  • Five quick buzzwords (verbs / adjectives) for an "ideal" community according to you?

Friendly, vibrant, welcoming, encouraging and technically sound.

  • Best (or your favorite) FOSS related conference in India (One or many) and why?

I attended only FOSSConf Chennai, so I can't answer this well. But it was great!

  • Do you want to be a Debian Project Leader someday? If yes what would be your goals?

I feel that this is too early for me to take on this question.

  • What are your ideas to grow the Debian community in India?
  1. Help on mailing lists.
  2. Invite more and more people to Debian-IN, be it programmers or non-programmers.
  3. Meet and talk Debian more in conferences.
  4. Start joint efforts for solving some long pending problems in Debian. Spread awareness among people about some needs which Debian has, which are often less noticed. For example, volunteers are needed for website resdesign, a Ubuntu REVU-like service for Debian etc.


  • About you

I am completing my B.Tech. and M.Tech. in Electrical Engineering in IIT Madras this year. I hail from Chennai, though I have had the pleasure of studying in several places in India and interacting with people in many languages.

  • Screenshot of your desktop
  • Your working room / working environment (photo / description)

Well, I may not be able to get you my workstation photo in time, though it should arrive tomorrow.

  • Favourite beverage:

When I am outside, it's Tea (Chai). But Boost is the secret of my energy.

  • Favourite Street Food:

Gol gappa, Papdi chat, and Kolkata style Jhal muri.

  • Current Locality (City, State):

Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

  • Mother Tongue


  • City in India you would like to visit in your free time


  • Also please add any other qustions you would like to answer :-)

None at the moment.

See Also

This page features an Indian FOSS Contributor

Questions are taken from FreeIndian. FreeIndian is all about introducing Indian FOSS contributors, to the world.