An Unknown Indian

Thoughts of a FOSS enthusiast

Posts Tagged ‘FOSS’

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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Posted in Computers, FOSS, My days, OpenSolaris | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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

Posted by Balachandran on October 6, 2008

     The ‘Omlette” post of the FOSS.in 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,  http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/foss-in/message/5219)

      When Atul made his “Omelette post” to the foss.in 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 FOSS.in 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 »

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 »