The Tech Community Remembers Atul Chitnis

Atul Chitnis (Image: Wikipedia)
Atul Chitnis (Image: Wikipedia)

Atul Chitnis was a passionate technologist  who spent much of his lifetime popularizing free and open source software. Chitnis passed away on Monday this week, after a brave battle with cancer.

Kiran Jonnalagadda, co-founder of  HasGeek wrote a very moving tribute.

Earlier this week, we asked you to share your memories of Atul Chitnis. We received an overwhelming number of responses and here are a select few:

I have never directly worked with Atul. I have had the opportunity to use the platforms he created for people to come and engage with Open Source activities. I got to know about Linux / KDE / Qt from FOSS.IN – his baby. I got to nurture my interests in these technologies by participating in FOSS.IN and create a life of adventure, fun, creativity and wealth as a function of participating in FOSS.IN. I get to do what I do today – because of FOSS.IN, because of the platforms and opportunities that Atul created.

RIP Atul. Thank you for everything and for who you are! — Prashanth N Udupa

I remember Atul from the Linux Bangalore days from 2000 to 2003. I volunteered for these 3 years and used to attend the blug sessions. He created an opportunity for young minds like mine to think outside conventional wisdom and to explore new territories. I feel a lot of what I am today are attributed to those formative years. Thank you very much Mr. Chitnis. — Pavan


My interactions with Atul started in the early 1990s, and in particular with acomm, a utility that Atul had authored (I hope I’ve got the name right). I was at that time building an online network of NGOs as a part of IndiaLink headed by Leo Fernandes (of Indian Social Institute, Delhi), and was using Waffle/uucp as a base for the email/BBS service. Atul had very kindly given way his product to anyone that wanted it, and also took time off to clear clarifications.

Subsequently, as professionals working in the open source domain, I had the opportunity to interact with him several times.

Atul’s demise leaves a significant void for all of us. My condolences to his family. — Satish


One of the earliest BBS in india around 1994 was frequented by me and others. I believe Atul chitnis was its maintainer, if not the founder. Thanks for being the editor of PC Quest and for sending out so many Linux CDs and OSS. — Anjan Bacchu


To Dear Atul,

I cherish the memories of our first interaction at Symbiosis almost 14 years back. You were true leader for open source movement in India and over the years we met several times in mutiple academia events across India. Every time I meet you, my respect towards your passion, commitment and can-do attitude has only grown manyfold.

I have lost a friend, philosopher and guide for ever. Prey to almighty that wherever you are, you rest in peace, be happy and smile as always. — Biswajit Mohapatra


I haven’t met Atul in real life, but had interacted with him over the years through many media, on many fora. I’m extremely sad, and shocked, to hear of his demise.

His absence in India’s startup/ tech community will be felt; while his contributions to the Free/Open Source movement in India are substantial and should be acknowledged, I would argue his primary achievement was slightly different: through his writings, he gave a voice, and later with, some direction, to the nebulous tech community in India through the 80’s and 90’s.

In fact, so powerful is his voice, that even in death as it was when he was alive, he’s already said what I’ve wanted to say about him: to quote his last tweet (quoting Pink Floyd), Shine On You, Crazy Diamond, [remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.]

RIP achitnis — Akshay


At FOSS.IN 2012, during the performance by Lagori (music band), I went on stage to sing a short line as I was one of the guys in the front line. I was tweeting frequently and when I went on stage, Atul Chitnis tweeted , “Lagori India called up @____ on stage”. It was a great moment to be mentioned on twitter by the great man.We were a group of 15 students from Amrita Univ,Coimbatore.We met him when everything got over and himself, along with Kishore Bhargava told us, “when you come back next year, make sure u have contributed to the FOSS community.Great to have had you here”. Great great moment! —  Madhusudhan


I am really shocked and saddened to hear this news. He was definitely well respected. As part of the evangelism team at Microsoft, I used to constantly follow his work and even had the audacity to ask him to present .NET at the Linux Conf in Bangalore. He was gracious enough to accept it – and even gave Microsoft evangelists the cute little Tux gifts.

I have been out of touch with him for last 10 years as I am no longer at MS but it was a brief and interesting journey. There arent many people in India who are passionate about technology. Atul was surely one of them. — Tarun


For some who loved computers back in the early 90’s PCQuest and Atul Chitnis were an inspiration and eagerly awaited source of delight and wonder. Still have cuttings of many of his writings in my collection. — Plessey


In the late 90s I traveled to Bangalore on Business. Having organized the Linux community in my hometown, I thought it might be fun to meet fellow Linux enthusiasts there. I found a contact for someone and managed to ride over to a small consulting/development firm, Exocore(sp?), and that is where I first met Atul. He was a delightful and gregarious host. We, along with a gathering of local developers, made our way to a local pub which we eventually shut down, talking through the night about the impact of open source on our lives and the world. We periodically exchanged emails after that night, especially when I read reports of new meetups, conferences, and the like in his part of the world.

He was a good representative of the open source movement and its ideals – a very pragmatic man who understood the larger picture. I am saddened by his passing. He will be missed. —  Jim G

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