Atul Chitnis, tech expert, and a champion of open source technologies over the years, died on Monday after a battle with cancer. Chitnis was widely regarded as one of India's leading experts on things as varied as product development, mobile computing and more.
"He was the guy I would turn to when I - a tech analyst and expert for publications, people and tech shows - didn't have a clue about some piece of tech. Or when I was really stuck with setting up something like Windows on my Mac, or a Linux apache server, or an enterprise network," said Prasanto K Roy, editorial advisor, CyberMedia, and someone who worked with Atul Chitnis closely over the years. (Also see: Shine on, You Crazy Diamond: Atul Chitnis (1962-2013))
Tushar Kanwar, technology columnist, remembers Chitnis' work on the PCQLinux distro. "I remember a summer intern at PC Quest labs way back in 1998 who watched in wide-eyed wonder as Atul and the team worked at a feverish pace to get the latest PCQLinux distro out to eager readers. Their work was an inspiration that would change the intern's lives - and that of many others- in the years to come. I was that intern."
Roy agrees, saying "He was the guy who inspired, then drove, the major Linux project that PCQuest took on in the late 1990s, distributing Linux on lakhs of CDs."
Technology journalist Gagandeep Singh Sapra says Chitnis was an inspiration from his early days. "Atul was a great inspiration to me in my early years. Though I managed to spend very little time with him in person, he was someone who I could go to if I wanted another point of view or opinion. Typically, that opinion and point of view was unbiased, and purely based on experience, and sometimes the inputs were totally out of the box."
Almost everyone remembers Chitnis as someone who had an opinion and was not afraid to express it.
"(Atul) suffered no fools, or pulled punches - he had zero tolerance for mediocrity. The NDTV Gadget Guru jury got a taste of his sharp tongue often - his views were as strong and clear as his principles. He wouldn't ever try to win a popularity contest - he just didn't give a damn," Roy said.
But there was more to the man than than just tech, though his life seemed to revolve around technology.
Gul Panag, actor and someone who has worked with Chitnis on the NDTV Gadget Guru Awards jury over the years, remembers Atul fondly. "He was one of the warmest, most upright people I knew. He was a tech whiz for the world, but to me he was someone I called anytime for any kind of advice. He was generous with his time when it came to friends."
Kanwar threw some light on the man's personal side, saying, "Over the years, I got to know Atul better, both as a technologist as well as, in his own words an 'irrationally committed product guy', but above all, as a caring family man and an excellent human being."
"It is a sad loss to a community of open source developers and users, who he had fondly developed, and a community of technology product guys, who looked up to him, " Sapra added.
"It is an honour to have known him," Panag concludes.
Image courtesy @AtulChitnis Twitter profile.