An Unknown Indian

Thoughts of a FOSS enthusiast

Archive for the ‘FOSS’ Category

An evening well spent – BOSUG meet

Posted by Balachandran on September 13, 2009

Hello folks, BOSUG met after a long time and I went for the meet, again at Sun offices Bangalore. It was again an interesting evening, well spent, learning lots of new things. Moinak and Anil spoke on interesting things that held my attention all through the evening.

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Posted in Computers, FOSS, OpenSolaris | 3 Comments »

My first BOSUG meet

Posted by Balachandran on June 16, 2009

Hello folks, I attended my first BOSUG meet last Saturday(13th June, 2009) at the Sun office(Divyashree chambers).  Though the turnout was less, it was really a nice meeting and learnt quite a bit. And of course had the chance to attend the session of Max Bruning and had a chat with Moinak.

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FOSS and data privacy

Posted by Balachandran on December 23, 2008

Hello folks, A few days back, there was an OT thread in the ilugc, which eventually ran into the topic of data privacy and FOSS. A few people on the list were commenting that data privacy was of supereme importance in FOSS.(The original post).

       I had raised my views over there and wish to highlight them.

File access permissions:

In GNU/Linux, or any other UNIX, the default file access permissions are 755. This means that, the owner can read, write and execute the files. The users in the same group as the owner can read and execute only, and the other users in the system can also read and execute only. (The file access is actually the decimal notation of the bitmask for the r-w-x, where 1 means allowed. So 1-1-1 means read, write and execute and 111 in binary is 7 in decimal).

So this 755 permission by default essentially means that, anybody who has a login in that system can read and execute your files. So the concept of supreme data privacy is lost. Infact, with default settings,any user can read any file in a GNU/Linux system.

There are ofcourse ways to modify the defaul permissions and make it such that the owner can read-write-execute and others can’t do anything, by setting the permissions to 700 using the chmod command. To make this as the default property, the users can also make their umask to be 077. by default umask is set to 022(umask XOR 777 gives the file access permissions).

            There were references to RMS opposing could computing etc. citing that data privacy is lost. In my view,  the probable disadvantage of cloud computing is that data ownership might be lost. But from my understanding, there will be no changes to the privacy.

Posted in FOSS, GNU/Linux | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

The “vi” nightmare

Posted by Balachandran on October 22, 2008

I have been having a nightmare for the past few days, since I got an account created for me in one of our company’s local server. The trouble is that the server running a nice operating system has only “vi”.  I really don’t know why when every other server has both vi and emacsAnd for someone who is used to emacs alone for the past few years(about 3 to 4 years ), moving to vi is a great nightmare. And the fact that it has no other editors, not even nano or pico is really troubling me. I often end up pressing Ctrl+e or Ctrl+A and something wierd happens.

And since it is not even vim, but plain old vi, it has made me start a frantic serach for possible ways of using vi with emacs key combinations. Any help from anyone ?

Posted in Computers, FOSS, My days | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Py3k looks like a new language

Posted by Balachandran on October 21, 2008

    Hi folks, another long gap. I had been trying to work with Py3k, but in vain. I had not updated myself even to Python 2.6, when I read about the release of RC1 for python 3.0(Py3k), and its documentation I was totally stunned to know that everything right from the basic “print” statement to the use of strings has changed. When I weent through the “What’s new”, I just understod that my knowledge has been just repositioned to 0(Though I need to agree that it was always close to zero 😦 ).

      Looking at all these, I am certain that all my previous code will shout hundreds of errors when I use the python3.0 interpreter with those code. Also, I had the habit of working with the python interpreter shell for quick needs. And now am getting errors very very frequesntly with that. Though I had been reading about the huge changes between the 2.x versions and the (then)impending 3.0 version for the past few months, I didn’t realise how grave it was until I started using the new version.

    Luckily, they have a converter that will convert code from the 2.6 version to the Py3k. And it seems they had made 2.6 with an hint of the appraoching storm. So, I think the best way to convert any old 2.x code of mine,  that I might want to use, to 3.0 is to convert the code to 2.6 first and then to 3.0 using the converter.


     Oh God, I think I have a new language to learn before I can say “I know something in Python”.

Posted in Computers, FOSS, My days | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

“Contributing” to FOSS and some rants on “mailing lists”

Posted by Balachandran on October 6, 2008

     The ‘Omlette” post of the list made by Mr. Atull Chitnis triggered me to write this post. I may be too dumb in not knowing what Mr. Atul Chitnis’ contribution to FOSS is. But definitely the omlette post was of the wrong tone, though its intentions were good. If you find this post harsh on you, I am really sorry Mr. Atul Chitnis.

{For those who had not gone through the post, here is the link,

      When Atul made his “Omelette post” to the mailing list, it created a huge uproar in it. The reason was he had called “translation” and “packagin” as low-hanging fruit. Then, after the large protest that it created, he made another “clarification” post through which he stressed that he was correct and that it ws the mistake of the list members that they didn’t know english. At point went to say that he is well versed in English and FOSS. Is that an outburst of his ego ? Does he mean to say that others are inferior to him in english ? Well, not just Atul, anyone who converses in english is that, it idioms are lifeless and depend much on the tone of the speaker. This is one good example of that. Though the idiom is not deregatory, the way he used it, that is, his tone was definitely demeaning. May be he is good at english and its idoms and other great tools. It is just that he doesn’t know how to talk or express.

      Without delving much into what Atul knows and what he doesn’t, I though of having a post on what all I think as a significant contribution to FOSS. First of all, every contribution is as important as every other one. Just like most graduates feel that testing inferior, there is a thought among a few people that jobs like distro specific packaging and translation is not that as great as writing a kernel. On the otherhand, the reality is that the person who translates a document or a man page into his/her native language knows much more than the person who implemented it, atleast from my view point. It is because, the person knows the intricacies of the software and in addition to that has a literary mind to translate a document from english or some other language to his/her own language.

      Coming to packaging, not everybody on this earth can compile, solve dependencies and install software on GNU/Linux. most people want to have it just like the windows world, that is a “Next… Next.. Finish” kind of installation. And when people feel that packaging for distros is not as great as actual coding, the software the those “geeks” code will be used noly by them and the geek community that surrounds them. It will never the reach the common man, who was the original intended user.

     I do agree that contribution in the form of code directly to the projects and kernel are of importance. But that doesn’t mean localisation, translation and distro specific packaging are not important. After all, when you target the third world audience, it is the latter that takes up higher priority.

     And coming to the language used in mailing lists… In a country like India(or any other country where english is not a native language), where you *should not* and *cannot* expect everybody to be an expert in english(yes, we are excellent in grammar, but we believe in simplicity. I personaly feel that there is no necessity for all those blows and whistles of idioms in a FOSS mailing list. You may be a excellent programmer. But keep it at that. You need not show off your english skills), you are supposed to send an email in simple english. For example, since is an ‘Indian” event, shall I post to its list in Hindi/Tamil/Kannada/… and complain when the non native sepakers of that language in the list don’t understand ? So, it must be uderstood that all users of a mailing list must write in such a way that the intended people get your message easily. If your intended target is just the elite english speaking community or the Hindi speakng community of the list, then please mention so.

Posted in FOSS, My days | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

TCENet bags yet another award

Posted by Balachandran on March 23, 2008

Hello folks, TCENet, the intranet portal of Thiagarajar College of Engineering has bagged yet another award. Already known by many in the opensource communities for being a FOSS product, TCENet now received the “Finalist 2008” for “The World is Open Award” sponsored by
Red Hat. It already received the “Most innovative ERP” award from the PCQuest magazine. Hearty congrats!!!

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FossConf ’08 @ MIT,Chennai

Posted by Balachandran on February 5, 2008

       Hello folks, It was an wonderful weekend at Chennai. ILUGC, NRC-FOSS and others organised the first FossConf ’08 at the Madras Institute of Technology, Chrompet, Chennai. The event started on February 1st and concluded on 3rd. It had demo stalls with tool and project demos and then sessions on various topics.

Myself, Ashok and Vins participated in the event and had the opportunity to attend a few sessions. We had put up a demo stall as well. Initially it was on “Networking” where we explained stuff on DNS, Proxy server etc. Then, on seeing that the crowd that came there needed more basic stuff, we renamed the stall as “GNU/Linux basics”. We handled the stall only for a couple of hours that day and went to attend sessions. First, we attended the session on Djanjo handled by Mr. Ponnusamy. But unfortunately, for me, the session was not impressive; I dont really know why. Then, we attended a session on “PHP attack and defenses” which was handled by Mr.Bala Vignesh from Lucas TVS. It was really interesting as he spoke on code injection, sql injection, XSS and remote execution. The session was followed by an interesting argument between the participants.

Then on the final day of the event, we attended two more sessions, one on parallel programming and the other on ruby basics. We were also present for the session on KDE 4.0 by Mr.Pavithran, but didn’t sit for the entire session. On the whole, the sessions were really nice. But, I still don’t get the difference between python and Ruby as both of them seem to be same from what we all learnt in that Ruby introduction session.

For the concluding session, we had a surprise guest, Mr. Brian Behlendorf, the founder of the Apache foundation. He gave a wonderful talk on how open source tools are in fields other than Operating systems, Servers and web browsers. He gave a few examples as well like opens source academic content preparations tool, and opensource tool for editing video content of the wikipedia etc. He also mentioned how open source can get into the field of medicine by creating collaborative tools.

The closing day also had an open-to-all-participants quiz conducted by Mr.Ramdoss amachu and another guy.  Those who answered correct were rewarded with a Ubuntu pen. The grand moment was when our college won the prize for the best tool demo. Also, GLUGOT’s contribution was spoken about were highly and more is being expected from it.

The only disappointment that we had there was that a few stalls that we had planned to attend got canceled due to some unavoidable reasons or overlapped with other sessions . Else, we would have attended sessions like iptables and web 2.0 optimization.

We also found time to go to the City Center. There we had our friend Venkatesh waiting for us with his nephew. We spent some good time there eating some stuff and then taking a few snaps (with my digicam) with him.

Finally, a great many thanks to Ashok and his aunt’s family for the three of us stayed there. We had some really nice food cooked for us on all three days. It really saved us from looking for some boarding and lodgings elsewhere.

Posted in Computers, FOSS, My days | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Sun acquires MySQL

Posted by Balachandran on January 16, 2008

Hello folks, some hot news from opensource world. Just got the news from Slashdot that Sun Microsystems has acquired MySQL, the famed FOSS GPLed database. And to confirm it, visited the MySQL website and a few blogs at . So, to the best of my knowledge this is the biggest acquisition in the open source world. MySQL is the world’s fastest growing database being used by everyone from the Internet giants Google and Yahoo. The acquisition is valued at $1 billion totally. Though, Sun + MySQL will be a greater force than MySQL alone – Sun’s great engineers will support the development-, I have a few questions that come to my mind:

1) Will MySQL continue to be licensed under GPL or will it be CDDL

2) Will there be any “non-open source” sun contributed parts added to its code base.

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Linux Mint – The distro for those moving from windows

Posted by Balachandran on January 14, 2008

       Hi folks, Got something interesting this time. Bought this month’s Linux For You a bit late. Anyway, now that i have bought it, saw the media that came with it this time. One was a CD with software related to electronics etc. The other was a Live CD, based on Ubuntu. It was named Linux mint. I am not sure if I had been ignorant or if it was a relatively new distro, I had never heard that name. As it was a live CD, I was eager to try it out.

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Posted in Computers, FOSS, GNU/Linux | 2 Comments »