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Initially, Niyam came up with the name 'OpenYug' for the column. Yug is a sanskrit word in vogue even today, which means 'Era' or 'Age'. According to Indian mysticism, Time is divided into four ages: SatYug, Dwaparyug, Tretayug, and finally Kalyug. Sat means Truth. Kali is a terrible goddess in whose age destruction and chaos will rule. A perfect metaphor for the existing age of computing as well. A dinner discussion with Richard Stallman convinced him it should be renamed 'FreedomYug'. The column hopes to foster a gestalt change in Indian computing, and usher in a new age beyond its Kalyug, the age of freedom.
Click here for all FreedomYug

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Follow Your Bliss

May 2004

Why People Really Write Muft And Mukt Software.

Imagine not having a boss. No class-teacher. No clients. No exams. Nothing, except your computer, an internet connection, and your software skills. What would you do? I suppose you will first look for work to pay for your bread, clothing, and roof. But, is that the only reason you ever wanted to be a software professional? My question is more fundamental. What will you do after you secure that, or while you're still looking?

Look deeply. You will find that everyday, you have several hours of emptiness. So what do you do? Compulsively do more work? Kill some hours in front of the TV? What if nothing else gives you as much pleasure, as much excitement, as much stimulation, as much bliss, as just writing code? Will you write code?


Millions of people across the world write muft and mukt software for the pure Zen of it. Yes, it is that simple. That's how Linux was born. When you use GnuLinux, you are tasting the collective bliss of these people. They come from all cultures of the world. The header files from an American compile with a software library from an Iranian. Here an Australian requests a Finnish for translations. An Indian's case-study helps people in Pakistan. A Malaysian programmer installs an Israeli's security software. An Estonian collaborates with a Japanese on graphics. Bliss makes boundaries disappear, cultures fuse, and creativity blossom. Bliss is the cause, the motivation, and the end-result. Look at the juggernaut of bliss. The GnuLinux operating system, more than 80,000 software projects, and millions of people. Coming from nothing except the spare and empty moments of people, this bliss has disrupted the balance-sheets of even the most vicious multi-national corporations. All this from very ordinary people, just like you and me. Or like Craig Bradney.

An Australian who recently moved to Luxembourg, his wife is expecting their first child in a few weeks. His small business offers IT support and web services, at Craig has worked at the forefront of IT in Australia across diverse segments, is an experienced software developer, including in ERP, and has managed development teams. In his spare time, Craig works on Scribus, the desktop-publishing software for GnuLinux. I ask Craig why he works on Scribus. In his own words: "No money, just fun." This father-to-be spends anything between one hour to twelve hours daily on Scribus. Craig says he handles "some coding and testing, bug-finding, and some document writing and checking. I started and maintain the bug tracker and IRC channels, help with managing the mailing list, and of course use Scribus." I bluntly ask Craig if he gets an offer for a full-time software job, will he take it. He responds: "If someone made me an offer, I'd seriously consider it, of course. Besides any offer, I am 99% sure I'd still develop Scribus in my spare time." Craig is not alone. He works as tirelessly as other main programmers Franz Schmid, Paul Johnson, Peter Linnell, and Petr Van?k. Dozens of more people silently, quietly, and serendipitiously contribute to Scribus. Each day, new people join the tribe. All of them are driven by the same motivation: bliss.

Sat Chit Anand

As I zoom out, I notice our planet dotted with several hundred thousand points of light like Scribus. Like Inkscape, LittleCMS, Cinelerra, and so on. I am not even talking about mainstream projects like, Apache, MySQL, or others. When people follow their bliss, the actual project is just an excuse. The people on this path are here because of love, not ambition. Is that really so difficult for other people to understand?
In Sanskrit, 'Sat' is Truth. 'Chit' is awareness and knowledge. 'Anand' is ecstasy. In a modern perspective, India is waking up to the truth of patents and freedom in software. Indian IT professionals have tremendous talent, knowledge, and awareness about software technologies. All they need is some ecstasy. The bliss of pure doing is missing. So next time some empty moments descend in your life, seize them. Write software, but not for your country, religion, money, or for the good of other people. Do it for your own bliss.

Inspired by the vision of Osho. Niyam Bhushan is a leading technology writer, editor, columnist, with a background in graphic design. He consults and trains in digital imagery. He has been using computers across several platforms since 1982, and loves the freedom and power offered by GnuLinux. Email: freedomyug at linuxforu dot com

© 2004 Niyam Bhushan. First published in LinuxForYou magazine, Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.