An Unknown Indian

Thoughts of a FOSS enthusiast

Archive for January, 2007

TCE hits a 50

Posted by Balachandran on January 31, 2007

Hello folks, it is celeberation time here. My college is celeberating its gloden jubilee year. established in the year 1957 by Late Shri. Karumuthu Thiagarajar Chettiar in the arts college campus. A year later, it was moved to its current place at Thiruparankundram, near madurai. The college has a lot of achievements and it is the first in many aspects.

The 50th year celeberations were inagurated by the Cheif Minister Dr.M.Karunanidhi on 29/1/07 amidst great applaud from the students. The prominent guests were the minister for higher education Dr.Ponmudi, and ‘kaviperarasu’ Variamuthu. Also present seated among the audience were Mr. Jayaprakash Gandhi, a prominant educational consultant and various others. The audience also included considerable amount of political people who came along with the CM. The main event of the evening was the inaguration of the Mechatronics block and laying the foundation stone for the Golden jubilee hall by the CM Dr.M.Karunanidhi.

When the college report was read by the Principal, we were happy and delighted to know that our alumni include great people as Dr.Sivadhanu Pillai of ISRO. That apart, even to my knowledge, I know a lot of seniors a few years elder to me place in many prestigious companies like the SUN microsystems and CISCO. Our college has achieved consistency inits placements with almost 100% placements every year. Our college has been doing a lot of activities to help improve the society and the nation. Our college holds the patent for plastic tar roads, a great way to put waste plastics to use. It was developed by Prof. Dr. Vasudevan , Dean and head, Dept. of Chemistry.

Thus, our college has come a long way since its establishment in the year 1957. It will defenitely continue its achievements in the years to come. And we have been fortunate to have been the fiftieth year batch of students. So let us all join and celeberate this great event in the history of our college.

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TCE Marathon 2007

Posted by Balachandran on January 24, 2007

       Hello folks, nice to blog after a long time. Today, the students of TCE took part in the annual Marathon which is organised every year by the Physical Education department of the college. This time the theme for the marathon was “Pollution Free Madurai”. This time the marathon was sponsored by our beloved correspondent and the ICICI bank.

This year, the college celeberating its fiftieth year, the marathon turned out to be a mega event with large number of participants. All those who participated in the marathon were given T-shirts with the theme, college’s name and sponsor’s logo on it. To say more about the marathon, it was an eight km run from hotel Germanus in Madurai to our college in Thiruparankundram. This is the second time I am participating in this event. I am glad that I was able to finish the race this time also without stopping for once. But I have to admit that I covered a considerable part of the distance only by wlaking instead of running.

I hope that the college organises more such events to create awareness among the people about the alarming pollution rates and other such issues of concern.

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Exploring opensolaris.

Posted by Balachandran on January 16, 2007

Hello folks, I am continuing my ramblings on opensolaris. I continued exploring it the whole day and at last found and fixed a few things. The foremost being identifying how to configure my ethernet card opensolaris. I got it through people on the IRC and through mailing lists. The commnads are similar to that on a Debian GNU/Linux box but not exactly the same. The command for configuring the ethernet card in opensolaris is

#ifconfig rtls0 plumb

as compared to ifconfig eth0 up in debian GNU/Linux. Doing this automatically got the IP and now I am able to browse from my opensolaris. The opensoalris has a browser from the mozilla project called the Deer Park. But I could not find any notable difference from the firefox that I use on GNU/Linux. But the Deer Park browser crashes too often. Hope the opensolaris community and the mozilla project people correct it soon.

The other great thing that I came accross, again with the help of Ananth anna and a few people on the IRC was the location of the GNU tools. Initially I had thought that there was no gcc in opensolaris. But now, after the help from those poeple, I cam to know that there is a entire collection of GNU tools in opensolaris. It is located at /usr/sfw/bin and can be accessed by adding the above location to the user’s path variable. So I was able to use both gcc and the GNU make, called the gmake on opensolaris. But, I am still having trouble using vi editor.

And I have not yet learnt the system well even now. I still dont know where to edit the users profile and where to mount the partitions etc. Hope I will get used to the opensolaris commands soon. And one area that I have been spending time on is Dtrace. It is really a cool tool from the opensolaris people. I am learning it now and I do hope that I will learn it well soon.

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A simple c shell…

Posted by Balachandran on January 15, 2007

Hello folks, It was a great fealing for me. The first piece of coding for the YAOS project is done, though it was a utility tool. To put it straight, I wrote a crappy, nasty piece of code for a simple shell and it worked 🙂 . I named it the shell and am now using it. The coding part of it was very very simple. The entire shell was written in just 60 lines of C. It can do all that a simple sh shell can do, except the autocomplete feature.

As for now there are problems in catching and handling interrupts. Hitting a C-c doesnot make anything happen…. But I am working on it now and will implement that soon. But otherwise it has all the features of a perfect GNU shell. I also tested it by making it as the default shell for one of the user accounts in my system…. and it went well….

The problem I face is that I am not good at signal programming and am not sure how to handle the various signals that are possible… like it must logout when C-d is used and so on. Also I dont have the faintest idea of how to imlpement the auto-complete for my shell….. hope i soon learn it…… I would be really happy if I could get help from people who have a good knowledge and experience in this field……..

Posted in Computers, FOSS, GNU/Linux, OS Design | 1 Comment »

Minor changes….

Posted by Balachandran on January 15, 2007

        Hello folks, as most of you would have observed, I have made a few minor changes to this blog.. The first change is the color of the page….. it has been changed from blue. Other changes include having a few more sidebar widgets….. the search option being the most important. Also for the convenience of the visitors, I have added the archives section. Another addition is the pages link at the top right part of the page. It has a new page that ives out my contact info. The about page has been renamed as ‘This is Balachandran’. The page has also been modified and updated.

A few more changes will also be made in the near future. The possible changes being a few more widgets, a slight modification in the theme, changes in the layout, and ofcourse a few additional pages.

Simulatneously, I have been trying to modify my google site also. The site is . But now it is under construction. So I don wish to link to the site. I also thought of reusing my blogspot blog for my personal and philosophical thoughts…. hope all this happens……

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The Solaris GRUB

Posted by Balachandran on January 14, 2007

Hello folks, Again I will be talking on GRUB terms…. The first thing I noted after installing opensolaris was that, it overwrites the GNU/Linux. I had an older version of Ubuntu running in the drive in which I installed opensolaris, and found to my surprise that the GRUB was overwritten by solaris.

Only then I learnt that the original GRUB from the GNU does not understand UFS or ZFS. The GNU GRB can understand only ext2 or ext3…. So the people from the Sun Microsystems have modified it and have released their own versions of it…

So, inorder to get linux back to working, we need to edit the /boot/grub/menu.lst file and give the correct path for the GNU/Linux root….. Or the other way of doing it when linux and solaris are in different drives is, install soalris grub in its drive and install GNU GRUB in the MBR… Then do as follows…

root (hd1,*)

chainloader +1



where * denotes the location of solaris root….. then it will work….

Posted in Computers, FOSS, GNU/Linux, OpenSolaris | Leave a Comment »

Opensolaris on my system :-)

Posted by Balachandran on January 14, 2007

    Hey folks, It was a really thrilling experience…. I installed the Sun Microsystems’ Opensolaris on my     system. The installation went well. The interesting thing in the installation was that I didnt have a proper knowledge in the installation of solaris… Linux , I have done and can manage… But solaris….. this was the first time…. It took almost 1 hr and 20min to install and the great Solaris login screen came up.

I have installed opensolaris previously, but at my college in a system at my favourite lab and with the help of a few friends and seniors. This time I did it all alone…. even there was no one to consult as it was over 12’o clock in the night and i didn’t want to didturn my friends…. The installation process was text based… ( We need over 400 MB of RAM for a graphical installation and my good old system has just 256 MB). Then installation went well untill it came to disk partition. Previously, expecting some disaster, I had disconnected my primary master drive and only the primary slave was on. In that too, i had made a backup of important data and kept it in a CD. Then, the installation started. And ofcourse, when I logged back to the stupid windows, I was sure that the slave was entirely gone…. inspite of me allocating only 15 GB that was already used up by an old version of ubuntu. Anywayz… It was windoze that I lost and I am least bothered about it.

The opensolaris was very nice to use and it was the first time on my system. The cool features that I found in it were that the GNOME is really good and far better than the one in GNU/Linux.Dtrace was really excellent and great. Will sit and learn more of it soon. It too has python, perl, java apart from the good old C language. Then, the important thing to be noted is that the GRUB is a modified one and hence detecs UFS. The normal GNU/Linux GRUB cannot detect UFS.

I still have a list of problems with the solaris. But, I think that is because I am not used to it. Since I had been using Debian GNU/Linux all these time, I am forced to use those commands here. Fortunately, both being UNIX based, most of the commands work. The major problem that I faced was that opensolaris doesnot have emacs 😦 . It is the one editor that I cherish and I have not even opened vi or vim once…. Will either have to learn vim or install emacs from the source. The other problems were that I was unable to connect to the Internet through my broadband modem. I use a ethernet card and opensolaris says it as rtls0 device.  Hope will configure it soon.Also, I feel there is a bug in lock screen option, either in my copy or in opensolaris itself.

But on the whole, it was a nice experince to install and use an OS that was until recently a server side OS. Will work more on opensolaris these days and will try to spread the message. Hope soon the people of the world dump M$ and turn to GNU/Linux and Opensolaris

Posted in Computers, OpenSolaris | 2 Comments »

A talk with the seniors…..

Posted by Balachandran on January 12, 2007

Yesterday was a really memorable day for me as I had the chance to meet and talk with Mr.Ananth Shrinivas, an alumni of my college and a UNIX programmer. He is presently employed by the SUN microsystems. Mr.Ananth Shrinivas is considerd to be a geek by the students and most of us have never talked with him as friends (not even as juniors). The only time we had a contact with him before this was when he came to the college for the OpenSolaris Day. along with the Belenix legend,Mr. Pradhap Devarajan.

But, yesterday, it was a better story altogether. I had the chance to talk with him in the lab after he finished his presentation for the participants of the FOSS-2007. He was very friendly with us. And there was a 15 minute delay in the auditorium before he could start the presentation. Then, myself and a few friends were having a small talk with him. He was really a great geek who was well versed in UNIX environment. His knowledge about the subject that he handled was immense. He gave a detailed view of how a executable looked like on the disk. On the way back from the auditorium to his home, we all walked with him chatting about various topics like the interests of students, the lack of practical knowledge and the lack in the interest in using OS like GNU/Linux. It was a really great experience.

Likewise, we all had the opportunity to meet Mr.SenthilKumaran today. We were meeting after about 6 months. While at college, he finished his final year when we were second years. But, we had been with him on so many occasions like the launch of the new TCENet, GLUGOT meetings, TCENet development and above all, FStival 05. Infact, i learnt my fisrt GNU/Linux commands from Senthil.

Another great senior whom I had the opportunity to meet was Mr. Joe Steeve. He is one person whom everyone admires a lot. He has helped us a lot through his participation in GLUGOT, TCENet, and other such FOSS activities. Infact we owe him a lot, as we are now in the line of FOSS only becasue of his motivation. I was really glad to have attended his session on Monday, about FOSS.

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FOSS-2007 @ TCE

Posted by Balachandran on January 12, 2007

The FOSS( Free Open Source Software) 2007 event is going on well at TCE. It was inagurated on the 8th of january and will conclude on the thirteenth. This six day seminar on FOSS is being attended by delegates around the state and this is the first of its kind being conducted here at TCE after I joined this college in 2004( May be this is the first ever time). The agenda included Installation of GNU/Linux (Debain), Programming tools, Networking tools, Debugging tools, Database tools, Web programming, CMS and so on. The resource persons included experts from the FOSS world, fortunately most of them being alumnis.

The first day of the seminar was made a ever-lasting event, as it was handled by Mr. Joe Steeve, a great FOSS enthusiast and GNU/Linux user from Chennai. Mr.Joe Steeve,now working at Terminus Graphics Studio, started with an introduction to FOSS philosophies. Then he gave a brief overview about the various licences in the FOSS world. He also spoke about the two FOSS models of software development- the Bazaar model and the Cathedral model.

The next day, we had Mr. Praveen doing the session on installation. He seems to have shown a demo of the Debian GNU/Linux.Unfortunately, we missed it. The afternoon sessions were lab sessions for the participants andwe had special lectures by the resource persons.

The third day was handled by an emminent person, Mr. Barathi Subramanian, a well known person in most of the GLUGs in india. But that too, unfortunately, we coudl not attend. We were in the midst of our internals 😦 But then had a chance to meet him and exchanged greetings. He was kind enough to share a lot materials that he had collected and prepared.

The next day of the seminar was the most unforgettable, being handled by Mr. Ananth Shrinivas, an alumni of our college, now working at the SUN microsystems. A great UNIX programmer, Mr.Ananth handled the session on debugging tools and in that process, taught us all a lot about OS internals. Mr.Ananth is usually seen as an extremely brilliant geek and was seen more so as he began his talk on various tools like gdb and valgrind, all available in Linux and could be installed in a Debian system be apt-get install valgrind.

The fifth day, today, was handle by someone with whom I know personally,- Mr.SenthilKumaran from the spikesource. An alumni of our college who finished BE CSE in the year 2006, is well known to most of the third and final year students here. Mr.Senthil Kumaran spoke on DBMS tools and web programming tools. In DBMS tools, he spoke about the 2 major DBMS used in FOSS world, MySQL and PostgresSQL. He also made special mention about small foot-print databases like Apache-Derby and SQLite.

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A GRUB problem

Posted by Balachandran on January 7, 2007

Hello folks, This time I am with a GRUB problem. Yes, it is true that I have installed Debian GNU/Linux in quite a lot of systems, but never got any GRUB error of the sort that I had yesterday. For the first time I saw the GRUB blurting out

GRUB Loading :Error 18 ….

I have seen other errors like GRUB error 17 or 16…. This never….

What exactly happened was this…. I was installing Debian Sarge in one of the systems. Evrything went well as ususal and the base system got installed. The system ejected the CD ROM as usual and rebooted….. Only for myself to see the abopve mentioned error… Googling gave told me that it was something related with the BIOS. And that we need to alter the partitioning as it was to big to handle… Luckly for me, Mr.Joe Steeve ( a GNU/Linux geek) was available online… I contacted him through IM and he gave the reply in an instant….That the LBA option in the BIOS must be set to enabled….. Then we rebooted the system, entered in to the BIOS setup and changed the state to AUTO from disabled….. and reboted the system and …. there it was… the GRUB displayed all the OSes available without throwing any errors…

And more on LBA…. LBA stands for Logical Boot Addressing. It is a simple type of addressing in which blocks are located by using an index where for the first block LBA=0, for the second LBA=1 and so on… This is advantageous as it provides a layer of abstraction to the software of the operating system unlike the earlier schemes which exposed it. LBA was initially used in SCSI disks…. but now it is used in all major storage devices and colpmex storage structures like SAN etc.

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