“Free Software is the future, future is ours” is the motto with which Free Software Movement Karnataka has been spreading Free Software to all parts of society, mainly amongst engineering college faculty and students. However our efforts were limited due to number of volunteers who could visit different colleges physically and explain what is Free Software and why colleges and students should use Free Software. Hence we were looking for ways to reach out to colleges and students in a much larger way. In the year 2013, we conducted two major Free Software camps which were attended by close to 160 students from 25 different colleges. But with more than 150engineering colleges in Karnataka, we still wanted to find more avenues to reach out to studentsand take the idea of free software in a much larger way to them.

Lab Manual running on Free Software idea was initially suggested by Dr. Ganesh Aithal, Head of Department, CSE, P.A. Engineering College and Dr. Swarnajyothi L., Principal, Jnana Vikas Institute of Technology during our various interactions with them individually. FSMK took their suggestions and decided to create a lab manual which will help colleges to migrate their labs to Free Software, help faculty members to get access to good documentation on how to conduct various labs in Free Software and also help students by providing good and clear explanations of various lab programs specified by the university. We were very clear on the idea that this lab manual should be produced also from the students and faculty members of the colleges as they knew the right way to explain the problems to a large audience with varying level knowledge in the subject. FSMK promotes freedom of knowledge in all respects and hence we were also very clear that the development and release of this lab manual should under Creative Commons License so that colleges can adopt the manual and share,print, distribute it to their students and there by helping us in spreading free software.

Based on this ideology, we decided to conduct a documentation workshop for college faculty members where they all could come together and help us produce this lab manual. As this was a first attempt for even FSMK,we decided to conduct a mock documentation workshop for one day at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore on 12 Jan, 2014. Close to 40 participants attended it,mainly our students from various colleges and we tried documenting various labs specified by VTU. Based on this experience, we conducted a 3 day residential documentation workshop jointly organized with Jnana Vikas Institute of Technology, Bidadi at their campus from 23 January, 2014. It was attended by 16 faculty members of different colleges and 40 volunteers from FSMK. The documentation workshop was sponsored by Spoken Tutorial Project, an initiative by Government of India to promote IT literacy through Open Source software. Spoken Tutorials are very good learning material to learn about various Free Software tools and hence the videos are excellent companion to this Lab Manual. The videos themselves are released under Creative Commons license, so students can easily download them and share it with others. We would highly recommend our students to go through the Spoken Tutorials while using this Lab Manual and web links to the respective spoken tutorials are shared within the lab manual also.

Finally, we are glad that efforts and support by close to 60 people for around 3 months has lead to creation of this Lab Manual. However like any Free Software project, the lab manual will go through constant improvement and we would like the faculty members and students to send us regular feedback on how we can improve the quality of the lab manual. We are also interested to extend the lab manual project to cover MCA departments and ECE departments and are looking for volunteers who can put the effort in this direction. Please contact us if you are interested to support us.

For more detail https://github.com/fsmk/CS-VTU-Lab-Manual/blob/master/README.md