It’s Time to Talk About Free Software Again

Posted in Free Software at 3:20 pm by Pirate Praveen

In a mail to Debian Developers
Brus Perens stressed the importance of talking about Free Software again.
I got this link when I was looking for his entry in wikipedia for my previous post.

It’s Time to Talk about Free Software Again

I’m Bruce Perens. You may know me as the primary author of the Debian Free
Software Guidelines and the Open Source Definition. I wrote the Electric
Fence malloc() debugger, and some pieces of Debian. And you may remember
me for having brought the TIGER map database to free software. If you want
copies of that, you can get them through Dale Scheetz .

About a year ago, I sent out a message announcing “Open Source”. Eric Raymond
and I founded the Open Source Initiative as a way of introducing the non-hacker
world to Free Software. Well, thanks to Eric, the world noticed. And now it’s
time for the second stage: Now that the world is watching, it’s time for us
to start teaching them about Free Software. Notice, I said Free Software,
_not_ Open Source.

Most hackers know that Free Software and Open Source are just two words for
the same thing. Unfortunately, though, Open Source has de-emphasized the
importance of the freedoms involved in Free Software. It’s time for us to
fix that. We must make it clear to the world that those freedoms are still
important, and that software such as Linux would not be around without them.

One of the unfortunate things about Open Source is that it overshadowed the
Free Software Foundation’s efforts. This was never fair – although some
disapprove of Richard Stallman’s rhetoric and disagree with his belief that
_all_ software should be free, the Open Source Definition is entirely
compatible with the Free Software Foundation’s goals, and a schism between
the two groups should never have been allowed to develop. I objected to that
schism, but was not able to get the two parties together. Another unfortunate
fact is the certification mark dispute which has gone on between Software in
the Public Interest and the Open Source Initiative for a whole year. That was
entirely my fault.

Sadly, as I’ve tended toward promotion of Free Software rather than Open
Source, Eric Raymond seems to be losing his free software focus. The Open
Source certification mark has already been abused in ways I find
unconscionable and that I will not abide. I fear that the Open Source
Initiative is drifting away from the Free Sofware values with which we
originally created it. It’s ironic, but I’ve found myself again siding with
Software in the Public Interest and the Free Software Foundation, much as I
did in 1995. I feel that the Open Source Definition, which was copied from
the Debian Free Software Guidelines, should still be our touchstone, and I’ll
be working to promote software that fits that definition.


Bruce Perens

Bruce Perens support GPLv3 for Lnux kernel

Posted in Free Software at 1:48 pm by Pirate Praveen

In a comment to the discussion ‘Kernel developers’ position on GPLv3‘ on lwn Bruce Perens said:

Well, it’s too bad, but ultimately I think the kernel developers are shooting themselves in the foot. First, on the patents issue. You can make a plausable argument that running Linux on anything is illegal in a large part of the world, including where most kernel developers reside, due to the embedded patent infringements. There are enough software patents granted that you could say the same for essentially any software, but the kernel developers have more to lose and I believe they overestimate the force that would be brought to bear in their defense. A few suits and settlements might leave them just as encumbered as any Microsoft software. But they’re going to ignore that because it’s political and rely on OSDL’s ineffective half-measures to improve patent “quality”, which ultimately just makes the patents that will be used against them better.

And then the DRM thing. You really want your contributions to be locked down? It seems to be entirely against the spirit of Open Source and I doubt that in the face of widespread locked-down use of Linux that you could sustain contributions outside of the businesses that do the locking down.

Ultimately, we need to recognize that Linux is a 15-year-old kernel and that there will be another technical development to superscede it eventually. I can’t say what that will be, but I think the best chance of mobilizing individual contribution to it would be to use GPL 3.


Link to the comment here


Most used commands

Posted in Free Software at 3:33 pm by Pirate Praveen

pravi@savannah:~$ history|awk ‘{print $2}’|awk ‘BEGIN {FS=”|”} {print $1}’|sort|uniq -c|sort -r|head -10
9 qemu
91 cd
8 free
8 du
87 ls
7 export
7 cat
6 ssh
6 pdftohtml
5 man

Thanks Karthik for that tip.

Java programming with gcj

Posted in Java at 3:00 pm by Pirate Praveen

How to compile and run java programs using GCJ ?

$ gcj -C hello.java

is similar to javac hello.java and it creates a class file hello.class

$ gij hello

is similar to java as it executes bytecode in hello.class

what gcj offers that is not available with reguar jdk is support for creating binaries

$ gcj hello.java --main=hello

or if you already have the class file

$ gcj hello.class --main=hello

will create a binary file a.out and you can execute it using

$ ./a.out

it is similar to compiling with gcc and you can specify a different output file with -o option

$ gcj hello.java --main=hello -o hello
$ ./hello

More information on gcj see http://gcc.gnu.org/java/


PCMCIA and WLAN support for GNU

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:34 pm by Pirate Praveen

Michael Bank writes:

Hello people,

The recent GNU Mach upload has brought PCMCIA support to Debian GNU/Hurd,
thanks to the excellent work done by Stefan Siegl since the beginning of
the year.

The Debian gnumach package is configured to include drivers for the
PCMCIA bridges and several popular PCMCIA cards. The user space part of
this is provided by a GNU/Hurd port of the Linux cardgmr from the
pcmcia-cs package. I have uploaded a cardmgr-gnumach package containing
this to the gnuab APT repository.

The package is configured to start cardmgr at bootup and should detect
your PCMCIA cards.

But this is not all.

Stefan also ported Linux’s wireless-tools to GNU/Hurd, and it is now
possible to use WLAN with WEP encryption provided your WLAN pc-card is
supported by GNU Mach. I have uploaded this work as the
wireless-tools-gnumach package to gnuab as well.


Read the announcement here

It is really exciting as GNU System is becoming better and better by each day. I hope we will be ready for a realse by etch+1.

Happy Hacking.


Hard Disk woes

Posted in Bangalore, Free Software at 6:17 pm by Pirate Praveen

Yesterday (on Software Freedom Day) we asked interested BMS students to write down their contact details, interested areas, whether interested to work on a project, want to join bmslug. We got an awesome response from 90 folks, most of them interested in doing a project with most wanting to focus on DBMS and OS [May be beacuse I added dbms, OS etc 🙂 ].

So I thought I will create a spreadsheet with this information. I booted up to my brand new ‘old’ linux-based GNU system to see I have not installed Open Office Calc (I have Writer and Drawing). OK let me give you the details of my system so you will know the reason behind this.

CPU – Pentium 2 (Klamath) 266 MHz
RAM – 256MB (static)
Hard Disk – Maxtor 82160D2, 2014MB

(There was a time when I didn’t get a hard disk and I used operate on Live CDs)

On this I have 3 operating systems running.

1. Debian GNU/Linux
2. GNU (also known as GNU/Hurd)
3. GNU Emacs (with GNU Hurd as a driver)

I initially gave 1.1 GB for GNU/Linux root partition, 256 MB swap and 700 MB for /home. Then I installed the GNU system (see my earlier post to see how you can setup it). I copied all the data from /home partition to root partition, removed that entry from /etc/fstab and started uncompressing the GNU snapshot provided by GNU System release manager AMS (Alfred M Schmidt). But the uncompressed image didn’t fit in 700 MB so I resized the swap partition to 140 MB (anyway it is always showing 0 MB used) and increased the third partition size to 800 MB. I used GTK+ gui for the GNU partition editor (gparted), and it rocks! The proprietory alternative is partition magic and the experience I had with that tool was never positive (see my earlier post about why I had to use it). But I had to repeat the process again even though it fitted since I forgot to give an option while creating the partition (I have mentioned it in my earlier post so you don’t have to face the same issue again).

I had installed GNOME initially but I removed it because

1. It was heavy
2. I could not fit Open Office and GNOME together

I thought I would not need the spreadsheet and didn’t install it. I installed WindowMaker as my primary Desktop Environment. It simply rocks! Every one from NIT Calicut would be familiar with it as it was the default desktop environment in our thin-client Main Computer Center (and no other environment was available. We tried GNOME and KDE but it used to be too heavy for more than 40 clients for a server. But I have installed xfce as an option when I was the system administrator in 4th year).

Today when I checked the Hard disk usage statistics to see if I can install oocalc, this was the status:

* root partition 4.7 MB free
* swap 140 MB

As swap is not used anyway I thought I would reduce swap and give it to the root partition. I fired up gparted again and resized swap to 70MB, the extended partion moved that much to have the the freedup space available for the GNU/Linux partition. Let me give you the layout my hard disk to make it clearer

* Total space 2 GB
* primary partition hdd1 size 1.1 GB
* extended partition hdd2 from 1.1 MB till 2 GB
* first logical partition hdd5 from 1.1 MB filling next 140 MB
* second logical partition hdd6 till 2 GB

Now I have to resize the root partition to take up the freed up space, but there is one problem, I cannot do it when booted to GNU/Linux since it is the root partition and is mounted and I cannot unmount it. OK, it clicked to me that I can use my second OS GNU for that since it has got parted. I rebooted the system , but there was a problem and GNU failed to boot up.

I figured it was because the partition order has changed, the moment I deleted the swap partition (I had to delete it because the resize of the logical partition left out some free space in the beginning and Zahir suggested to remove the swap, resize the extended partition and create the swap partition again) hdd6 has become hdd5 (but only after reboot the new partition table could be loaded and creation of swap partition failed here).

I went into grub commandline and checked the partitions and found out the new root for GNU is (hd0,4) instead of (hd0,5) (linux does its numbering based on where the hard disk is connected whereas grub does it based on the no. of hard disks hence linux detected it as hdd it is hd0 for grub since there is only one hard disk and it is the first one – See next paragraph for more details). Also I had to change the root for gnumach from device:hd3s6 to hd3s5. The different naming schemes used by different programs is one hurdle to cross, but once you could visualise it you can easily figure out.

One hard disk can have a maximum of 4 primary partitions and the logical partitions are always numbered from 5. So (hd0,4) signifies first logical partition for grub since grub starts counting from 0. Hard disk 0 and after leaving 4 postions ( 0-3 ) it starts counting logical partitions from 4. Since it is connected as secondary slave it is hdd for linux (hda is primary master, hdb is primary slave – my CD RW drive is connected here, hdc is secondary master), and since it starts counting partitions from 1 it is hdd5 (1-4 is reserved for primary partitions. Here hdd2 is the extended partition which holds the logical partitions). Now for gnumach it is hd3s5 as harddisks are numbered from 0 and partitions are numbered from 1 (hda for linux is hd0, hdb is hd1, hdc is hd2 and hdd is hd3. s1 stands for slice 1 and it is similar to BSD naming scheme, but I am not too familiar with that naming system).

So I now booted into GNU and fired up GNU Partition Editor (parted) and tried to move the partion but it said

“Not implemented: The ext2 system has a strange layout and resizing it is not implemented (yet)”

So I tried to resize instead of move but again the same result and it said it has got a bug. So I was stuck, I cannot increase the partition size 🙁

I thought about the problem, I cannot resize it because I am already using it (it is similar to cutting the branch of try while you sit on that), so I have to get an environment with parted but not using the root partition. GNU was one such option and with this bug I couldn’t go forward. Then it occured to me I could boot from a CD and partition it and come back. So I inserted the first installtion CD of Debian Etch beta 3 (the one which I am running currently) and entered rescue mode and got a shell in the CD environment.

I fired up parted again

# parted /dev/hdd

The initial partition was from 32.3 B to 1102 MB and I resized it to have new size from 32.3 MB to 1176 MB (where the extended partition started). Then booted back to GNU/Linux on the harddisk and everything worked fine and now I got 68MB of free space. I installed openoffice.org-calc and still I have 50 MB more of merry 🙂


The final Hard Disk Layout

I rebooted into GNU since I didn’t have Emacs in the first two CDs of Etch (it was also not there in Ubuntu Dapper, previously I installed gcc 4.0 from Ubuntu to match my kernel magic for linux kernel programming as the kernel was compiled using gcc 4.0 and the gcc version in testing now is gcc 4.1 which is default. By the time Etch will be released in December we will have 2.6.17 compiled with gcc 4.1 thus solving this issue (now the kernel version in testing is 2.6.16) I had installed gcc 4.0 for my collegue in office from debian mirrors itself as we had an internet connection there (it is a small gcc migration issue and it will be solved when all packages are migrated to gcc 4.1).

So here I am completing the article in GNU Emacs on a complete GNU system. Now I will have to go back to GNU/Linux and complete the spreadsheet which triggered all this drama.


Software Freedom Day 06

Posted in Bangalore, Free Software, Society at 6:23 pm by Pirate Praveen

Bangalore FOSS Community celebrated today (September 16) as software freedom day (teams around the world celebrated the day with passion and fun). In Kerala Schools taught the values of community, sharing of knowledge..
We had sessions at three colleges in Bangalore.


SFD Banner outside of Divyasree Chambers, Bangalore

* BMS College of Engineering
* Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering
* Sir M Visweswaraiah Institute of Technology

In BMS the sessions wer handled by Aanjhan, me, Dilip, Srikanth and Dinesh. In DSCE Laxmi, Ramaprasad and Kanti handled sessions where as Moinak Ghosh, Prabhod and Saurabh from Sun Microsystems along with his other colleagues presented the day at MVIT.

I will write about my experience at BMS here. Lets wait for other folks’ scribbles.

First of all I would like to congratulate Netravathi B, Sharada M and their friends who helped us make this event a grand success. Hats off to you folks !

Also all the students and FSUG team who made the day a memorable one.

I woke up at 7.30 and started the day with SFD wishes to friends. The message was

“If we both exchange one apple, we both have ONE apple each, but if we exchange one good thought, we both have TWO good thoughts.”

-George Bernad Shaw

Share your thoughts for a Free Society NOW!

Celebrate Freedom, Spread the message,
Happy Software Freedom Day.


I reached BMS College by 9 am and we started the event around 9 30 with Revolution OS and Aanjhan took over by 10.The auditorium was fully packed and it was about 350 students, even some of them were sitting on side steps, and many standing even after bringing some more extra chairs. We had really good interactive session where we clarified basic confusing terms like Free Software, Open Source Software, GNU/Linux, hacking. It was really great to see audience correctly answering some of these queries. We stressed the benefits of contributing to Free software and career opportunities. Srikanth explained the basic motivation behind the computer technological advancements, we are trying to reach as close as possible to the human bodies functionuing (memory, logic, recognition…).

House Full

House Full !!


Aanjhan in full josh

We had a rather boring session (should I say quite unwelcome session?) on SUSE Linux 10. It was a complete marketing presentation by one of the Novell folks where he kept playing some movies and talked how SUSE is superior and Novell is the reason for Microsoft to postpone Vista release. We thought it will be some technical presentation about cool features of Novell 10. He even said Debian is a company.

Except for this session it was awesome. We kept smiling at some of his claims. Like how can you ‘download’ windows application to ‘linux’ using mono. But we learned some positive lessons from that. See corporate eye ball trap by Atul (this not exactly the case here though, since SUSE is Free Software). But it gave the students a different perspective and some of the facts which we didn’t wanna tell them. Like our main motivation is to help students to learn and be part of such an amazing community, so some one had to do the marketing stuff. But I was happy with the fact that he took some time to spent with us I would like to thank him for participating in Software Freedom Day.

Srikanth during the BoF session

Anyway the moment he finished we announced BoF sessions for interested folks. About 60 people stayed back and we splitted into 4 groups and addressed their doubts and asked about their interest areas. Me and Dilip took charge of one group and we had a very interesting discussion. Other three groups were handled bu Aanjhan, Srikanth and Dinesh. We had to leave the hall only because they had to close the hall and we left the campus becuase it was already 1 30 and all of us were started feeling hungry.

the GNUs
tuxmaniac, me and dilpu

Me, Dilip, Aanjhan and Srikanth had lunch at angeethi and was back home by 4. It was a great experience we are excited to continue work with them. Stay tuned to bmslug.

Congrats again to Nethra and Sharada. Also to Ramaprasad who was with me from the beginning.

Update: Link to Atul’s blog about corporate eye-ball trap added. Now after reading that again today I felt so bad at the way the presentation was done.

I think it was even worse, because it was a community organised event and it got hijacked. The events which Atul talk about was organised with such motives from the beginning.

Srikanth has posted the album see here.


Some more blogs on the day


Now I have a complete GNU system on my PC

Posted in Bangalore, Free Software at 9:30 am by Pirate Praveen

I’m writng this with GNU Emacs on a GNU Syatem (also known as GNU/Hurd) which I setup yesterday in my home PC.

Here I will explain how you can setup a GNU System on your PC.

Setup is very easy (You need a GNU/Linux system to install GNU, we are developing an installer for GNU and if you want to help us join us on gnu-system-discuss), just follow these steps …

Step 1: Find a home for GNU

create a partition with minimum of 800 MB (if you want to install programs later you might need to allocate more space)

It comes with GNU Emacs 21.4, gcc 4.0, gdb 6.3, parted, wget and many more

Note: 2GB limit for partitions is no more there, it is fixed

Step 2: Create GNU Hurd filesystem on the partition

# mke2fs -o hurd /dev/hdd6

Step 3: Grab a snapshot of the GNU from here
Filename: GNU–2006-01-08.tar.bz2

Step 4: Extract the snapshot to the newly created partition

# mount /dev/hdd6 /mnt
# cd /mnt
# tar -jxvf /GNU–2006-01-08.tar.bz2

Wait for the extraction to complete, depending on the system configuration the time varies. The compressed image is 178MB and it uncompresses to about 750MB

Step 5: Configure grub to boot GNU

This can be tricky since the partition naming is different for linux, grub and hurd

My configuration look like this …

title GNU (also known as GNU/Hurd)
root (hd0,5)
kernel /boot/gnumach root=device:hd3s6
module /hurd/ext2fs.static –multiboot-command-line=${kernel-command-line} –host-priv-port=${host-port} –device-master-port=${device-port} –exec-server-task=${exec-task} -T typed ${root} $(task-create) $(task-resume)
module /lib/ld.so.1 /hurd/exec $(exec-task=task-create)

grub linux hurd
hd0,5 hdd6 hd3s6

If you have only one harddisk it will be hd0 for grub wherever you connect it. But linux and hurd names depend on whether you connect it as primary master (hda or hd0), primary slave (hdb or hd1) [this is my cdrom drive], secondary master (hdc or hd2) or secondary slave (hdd or hd3) [this is my precious Maxtor 2GB hard disk].

The partition naming of hurd is similar to BSD slices. hda1 is hd0s1, hda2 is hd0s2 …

In my case the root device is hd0s6 (hdd6)

Step 6: Now boot into your brand new GNU System.

It will do some initial setup and you will get a prompt. Now reboot into your configured GNU System.

# reboot

Step 7: Start using your GNU system
Here is The GNU/Hurd users guide. It starts from the basics. Also more Resources at hurd.in

Warning! : It is not yet ready for normal use, it is a developer’s release.

So when you encounter bugs report it to bug-hurd@gnu.org

Join us on gnu-system-discuss to help finish the GNU System.

or we hang out on IRC at these channels

#hurd (All GNU/Hurd distribution, the official hurd channel), ##hurd (GNU system discussions), #hurd.in (Hurd developers from India), #i-hug (Indian GNU/Hurd Users group)

on irc.Freenode.net

or if you are in orkut join hurd.in community.

An updated document is available from hurd.in wiki



Posted in Home, Society at 11:06 am by Pirate Praveen

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??? From Malayalam wikipedia

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