Atul Chitnis, champion of open source tech, dies

Atul Chitnis, 51, a computer technology evangelist many described as the face of the free and open source software movement in India, died on Monday after a long battle with cancer.

A member of the Bangalore Linux Group and a strong advocate of that operating system, he was a communicator who shared the joys of technology with hundreds of India tech enthusiasts through articles, blogs, conferences, online and offline chats.

Born in 1962, in Berlin, to a German mother and an Indian father, Chitnis moved to India at age 10 and graduated from the Gogte Institute of Technology in Belgaum in 1985. During the late 1980s, he was involved in the development of application software for the growing PC market.

According to his own professional biography, in 1989 he encouraged the setting up of online services and his bulletin board service, "CiX" became "the first online service of any kind in the subcontinent, and the starting point for thousands of Indians as they launched themselves into the online world''.

Through the 1990s, he worked with the IT industry helping them strategise to prepare for "the onslaught of the Internet and guiding companies in their quest to become global in their approach to electronic communication".

Chitnis was consulting editor for the technology publication PCQuest from 1996 to 2002. He also conceived and managed the FOSS.IN series of annual free and open source software conventions.

In recent times, Chitnis was a technology consultant in mobile computing, using devices such as phones, PDAs and converged communication devices such as the Simputer.

Chitnis is survived by wife Shubha and daughter Geetanjali, who live in Bangalore.

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