Mini DebConf India 2010: One of the best Free Software events we organised

Posted in Bangalore, Debian, Free Software, Pune at 3:44 am by Pirate Praveen

Debian Community in India has been conducting developer meetings since 2005. (See Debian Developers Conference page for details about previous editions). In 2005 it was a dedicated debian event, but we organised annual gathering of debian people along with foss.in in the following years. We even had a Debian Project leader (Sam Hocevar) attending our event and taking about how Debian gives back to the community. This time we again had a dedicated Debian event.

Kartik Mistry in Lab

It all started with an email about conducting another dedicated debian developers gathering in DebianIndia group. The idea was well received and we started planning the event. It took a while to decide on a date for event, but rest is – as they say – history! Abhijth offered to host it in COEP and Vipul was ready to host it in PICT. We decided to choose COEP, because Free Software community was already active there.

We had a rocking event thanks to hard work of a lot of people. I have to mention Abhijit, Vipul, Kartik and Pavithran who were there from the beginning to end in making this event a success.

Abhijit’s enthusiasm and passion for Free Software has been very critical for making this event possible. He has been instrumental in creating a vibrant Free Software community in COEP.

Vipul was our official designer and he made sure we have good posters, tshirts, buttons, stickers … He is also working hard to bring up an active community in PICT.

Vipul and Kushal

Kartik has been always there for Debian and he was instrumental in making sure we are a debian proper event. Of course, he advocated me to be a DM 🙂

Pavithran has been our main spokesperson on irc and his interactions with debian community helped us in making sure debian people knew about this event. He was there from Friday to Monday and made sure we have everything in place.

There were lot many people who helped in many ways.

Students in Hall
Students in Hall

Naveen Kumar has been encouraging me in every step and interactions with him every day helped make this event much more organised. He was insistent on meticulous planning even to the minute details.

Kushal Das for having played and excellent role. I guess every one got a clear understanding of upstream and downstream. I found having upstream author, maintainer, mentor and sponsor at the same place was a wonderful way of demonstrating the relationship between different communities in the Free Software world. Back and forth between me and Kushal about copyright was the best part. Understanding about how copyright is fundamental to being part of the Free Software community.

Onkar Shinde for helping me with my intro talk and workshop. Being part of Ubuntu and Debian gave a different perspective and it was an important one.

Amit Karpe and PLUG team for joining with us for organising this event. It was good to see him contact us and offer help.

Sasikumar sir of CDAC for supporting this event and making sure we have a good interaction with BOSS team. Also for coming as a chief guest and delivering and inspiring inaugural address.

Shirish asking questions

Ashok Kumar and BOSS team for a healthy dialogue. Hopefully, we can work together more closely after this interaction.

Vikram Vincent for his energetic talk, he was talking to students in their own language.

Raghavendra for sharing his vision and experience.

I’m definitely going to miss many volunteers’ names because I have interacted directly with only small number of them and I don’t
remember most of their names 🙁 I will attempt some names Swapnil, Avinash, Madhur, Aswin and many more.


Plus all the awesome participants, who stayed up till 10 pm on first day, came at 8 am on the second day and stayed till 8pm, that is quiet an effort. Again I will try some names, but I know it is incomplete, Arnav, Vivek, Sana, Priyanka, Sushant, Raghavendra …

Oh yeah Ninad Pundalik was helping with the workshop and his microblogs. Ramakrishna for his great insights. Shirish was keeping the sessions alive with lot of questions.

Karunakar helped answering some questions on input methods. His presence itself is great motivation for any FOSS event. We planned a session with him, but he had other plans on that day, which got canceled at the last moment, so he could come for the event.


Pravin Chavan from CoEP for arranging delivary of flex,buttons,and bunking whole day of college!for placing order of
tshirts in desperate times..

And of course our sponsors Media Magic Technologies and Nexenta systems. Hopefully Linux For You will cover this event in their coming edition.

An old Chinese saying says:

Give a person a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach a person how to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.

That has been my approach through out the workshop. I taught them where to find the information they need, gave hints when they needed it, shared my experiences. I started with asking them to search for ‘debian policy’ and keep it open in a tab. Then ‘debian new maintainer guide’ and lekhonee. It is important to remember the key words, we can always find the link with a search engine.

Next step was building the package from source. Instead of telling them what packages they need to install, I helped them find it out by themselves. First rule is always read README. It mentioned names of dependencies by their upstream/generic names. But they still had to find out debian package names because most of the time debian allows multiple versions of the same software, especially libraries to be present in the system. In those cases version of the library/software gets added to the package name. apt-cache search ‘upstream name’ lists packages with that name. But for building packages we need development libraries so they need to search ‘upstream name dev’. Once they found out package names for all the dependencies, every one built the package from source. I think it was Swapnil, who volunteered to show the students how to build a software from source.


Now we have all the required dependencies, so I asked them to improve README file with this information. Swapnil volunteered to improve README, but could not send to debian bug tracker on first day as we were getting late. On second day we were supposed to submit the bug report, but diff file was saved on Onkar’s laptop. So Raghvendra volunteered to do it again and others helped him with package names. This involved modifying code to improve it and creating patch. After we have the diff file ready, we submitted it to debian bug tracker.

Next step was getting them familiarised with wnpp. So I showed them and example ITP for burg and asked them to create the template for lekhonee-gnome in a text editor. They had to look in the AUTHORS file for upstream author. Then came the interesting part of license.

Kartik and Pavithran

Everyone said the license is GPLv3, but Kushal insisted it is GPLv2. So we had to double check. It turned out COPYING file mentioned license as GPLv3, Kushal copy-pasted it from somewhere 🙂 But before we could report it as bug, he fixed it upstream! But still Vivek insisted it is LGPLv3 (I also made the same mistake in my ITP). So I told them to run ‘licensecheck -r *’. This command lists out license of individual source files in the archive. Some of them had to search for this and install devscripts. Output of this command showed, individual files had a mix or LGPLv3 and GPLv2+.

Once we listed all licenses of individual files, the next logical step was finding out license of the combination as a package. We looked up text of GPL and LGPL licences on the internet.

I asked them to look at the relevant sections of each license to understand what each of the licenses say about derivative works.

Section 2b of GPLv2 clarifies the license of the whole program should remain as GPLv2+

2b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

Section 4 of LGPL gives user a choice of license for combined works.

4. Combined Works.

You may convey a Combined Work under terms of your choice that, taken together, effectively do not restrict modification of the portions of the Library contained in the Combined Work and reverse engineering for debugging such modifications …

If we want to comply with GPL’s requirement of same license for derivative work and LGPL’s choice of any license, the result is GPLv2+. (See debian/copyright file for lekhonee-gnome. It makes debian package GPLv3+, may be I should keep it at GPLv2+, I will think about it when I prepare next update).


Next field in ITP is description, everyone just copied the description given by Kushal, without thinking much about it (I did it too when I filed ITP – but Kartik made me change it to something more useful to users). I told them to be creative and think about users when writing descriptions.

It is already a long post and I better post it now, Pavithran has been behind me for my blog 🙂

To conclude, we ran dh_make and modified template files to build the debian package! If I feel like writing more, I will write more about the event later.

Thanks to Pavithran for photos (Pavithran’s Gallery). More blogs and after event activities. You can also get involved! Come to #debian-in at irc://irc.oftc.net


PS1: I started with lekhonee-gnome, but it supports saving drafts only once. So reported a defect and moved to web interface.
PS2: As usual, I went into minor details, because they say “devil is in the details”. I hope sharing this experience in detail will help other people organising Free Software events.


RMS in Bangalore, Mysore and Tumkur (updated)

Posted in Bangalore, Free Software at 8:20 am by Pirate Praveen

Richard M Stallman (RMS) will be in Karnataka from 13th December to 17th December.

See Events in Bangalore for more details. RMS will be in Mysore on 14th and Tumkur on 17th. Stay tuned to FSUG Bangalore mailing list for any updates.

Update 1:

Sujith has blogged about it (Also see his flickr photos)

Update 2:

Sreejith has written about RMS visit to AC3 (Ambedkar Community Computing Center).


FOSS.IN 2006 Diary

Posted in Bangalore, foss.in, Free Software at 2:40 pm by Pirate Praveen

JN Tata with FOSS.IN banner

Its been a month since FOSS.IN 2006 got over and I was too lazy to blog about it till now. So I thought I would do it now. Lots of other things like Malayalam support in upcoming Debian GNU/Linux release 4.0 code named etch, reopening of the “chillu” (pure consonants or consonants without vowel sound) encoding debate in indic unicode mailing list, moved to a new project and office shifted to Electronic City … were also happening.

JN Tata

I will try to write about some of these, let me start with FOSS.IN. I had written about my participation in my conference handbook just after finishing FOSS.IN so it is kind of easy now.


I missed most of the talks except the keynotes since most of the time I was organising/attending BoFs. Day 1 started with keynote from Suparna Bhattacharya. It was great to see such an important linux kernel contributor unknown to most of us till then (Whenever we talk about Indian FOSS contributors we will have one naba Kumar, Gopal V and Philip Tellis and may be some more. I was wondering how many more hidden contributors will be there and so I have started collecting the details of all Indian FOSS contributors here . If you are a contributor, big or small please add your name and contribution there. Also if you see any names missing there please add it).

Debian Expo

After the keynote got over we were busy setting up the Debian FOSS expo area (We organised a Debian MiniConf during FOSS.IN and more details are here . We installed Debian Etch RC1 in Hindi for the Debian stall and in Tamil for the IndLinux stall as a live Demo of Indic support in Debian Installer. (As mentioned earlier we manged to get Malayalam as well). Hopefully lenny (code name for the release after etch) will have support for all 22 official Indian languages and may be even other unofficial ones and dialects. If you want to join this effort join debian-in. We spent some time in the stall explaining the Debian indic localisation efforts and got some nice comments including one from Prof. Rahul De from IIMB.

Indic localisation status
Indic localisation status

At 3pm we had the Debian indic localisation BoF. We discussed the current status, challnges, future plans and importance of involving users and language experts in the L10n (L10n stands for Localisation – 10 letters in between L and n!) efforts. It was exciting to meet other translators (Kartik Mistry – Gujarati, Priti Patil – Marathi, Thejesh GN – Kannada, Prasad Kadambi – Telugu) and learning from their experience and sharing my experience with Malayalam with them.

Then I moved to the Indic Computing Workshop by G Karunakar of IndLinux. It was great to learn some technical details of how i18n (internationalisation – 18 letters between i and n) is done which I was not fully aware. First step is internationalising your application – you separate the program and the language part, and second step is localisation – you localise the language part to your local language. GNU gettext help you to internationalise and kbabel/gtranslator help you localise your application.

Karunakar at Phoenix expo
Karunakar at Phoenix expo

It was time for the closing keynote by Andrew Cowie. It was excellent just like last year. He discussed the fundamental structural problem of the free software community and his suggested solutions. He talked about the classic vi vs emacs, GNOME vs KDE … debates and some positive signs of co-operation in the form FreeDesktop.org. Also he commented on the Novell-Microsoft deal and threat to the Free and Open Source Community as well as the Liberation of java by Sun Microsystems. It was interesting as he one of the core developer of java-gnome or gtk for java programmers project.


I missed the keynote on day 2 as I got into a wrong bus and landed on somewhere on the way to Yalahanka. I asked the conductor “Tata Institute hogatha?” (Does it got to Tata Institute?) and he said “Banni” (get in). I was a bit suspicious when it took a wrong turn but I thought it might be taking some other root. But it was confirmed when I saw boards like “halli” (village) and the roads were very bad 🙁 Finally asked one of my fellow passengers and got down in the middle and got into an auto and took a bus to Mekhri circle from Hebbal main road.

I managed to be on time (after postponing it by half an hour) for the GNU System (aka GNU/Hurd) BoF. We were planning to have a demo but K14 was not out by that time (I have downloaded the CDs and tried it now live during our 2nd weekly hurd.in IRC meet , it is on every Saturday 5:00pm at #hurd.in on FreeNode). We discussed the difficulties for starting with GNU System and the progress made in the last years (X works and GNOME and KDE is almost there- xorg 7.0 is working GNOME is blocked by one bug in gtk but still not recommended for normal use so try it if want to be a part of GNU System development).

I spent some time in the Debian stall and we started the Debian user BoF. It was interesting to know the experience of some of the longtime Debian users. After that we had the Debian key signing party. Getting your key signed by a DD (an official Debian Developer) is a required step in becoming an official DD (NM process or New Maintainer process). We had two DDs (Thaths and John Leuner from Pritoria, South Africa) participating in the key signing party. Their presence was highly motivating for us DD wannabes (Ramakrishnan Muthukrishan and Ganeshan are other DDs from India. Kapil and Kartik is already in the NM queue). Before you can apply for becoming an official DD with voting rights you have to prove yourself by contributing to Debian – you should be maintainig a package for atleast 6 months before you can apply (an existing DD can sponsor your package).

I attended a talk on FOSS licenses by Russel Nelson from of Open Source Initiative (OSI) after that. It was interesting to learn subtle differences and their implications. I asked him about the increasing tendency of using the term “Open Source” for projects (like zimbra, sugarCRM …) which change some of the terms in OSI approved licenses. He said they are working with them to submit their license for review.

It was time for the exciting panel discussion on 10 years of Linux in India. It was great to hear the experiences of the Indian FOSS veterans. They discussed about the challenges Indian FOSS Contributors facing and their hope for the next 10 years. Karunakar hoped to see 1/6th of the Internet in Indian languages as 1/6th of the world speak Indian languages. You can get the audio of the panel discussion here and video here .


The last day begun with the keynote from Sunil Abraham on the impact of the Indian copyright and Patent law on FOSS. It clarified many legal issues and was an interesting one especially in the light of the proposed amendments.

Sunil, Mahiti
Sunil, Mahiti on the impact of the Indian copyright and Patent law on FOSS

Then I moved to Kartik’s talk on becoming a Debian Developer. He explained the NM process in detail and it was quite encouraging one. Presence of Jehn Leuner made the session even more valuable as he answered some of the questions so did Kapil from IMSc.

Kartik Mistry
Kartik Mistry

Then I attended Fred’s talk on ‘Ten Tips To Turbocharge The Team: Getting smaller User-Groups Moving’.

In the afternoon section we continued the discussions which was started in the previous day’s panel discussions as two BoFs. The first one was ‘Patching FOSS in India’ which was a very interesting one with veterans like Thaths and Fred actively participating.

Patching FOSS in India
Patching FOSS in India BoF

We have continued that discussions through the mailing lists and here you can see the aggregation of different views as to what is the challenges for Indian FOSS contributors face and some suggested solutions. Some one has asked in the foss.in mailing list how to start contributing and Karunakar started a Dummy HOWTO, which you can see here [Also there are some more HOWTOs here]. The next session was involving students in FOSS. Many students have participated in the discussions and we have a video of the BoF here . The main challenge seem to be the hectic schedule and uncooperative faculty but there were some examples which proved it was not, notably by Philip Tellis who challenged the teachers to fail him for doing FOSS based project.

involving students in FOSS BoF
Involving students in FOSS BoF
involving students in FOSS BoF
Another pic from involving students in FOSS BoF

We had Debian Developers BoF after that and it was yet another interesting BoF. We discussed the NM process and responsibilities of a DD.

Debian Developers BoF

Debian Developers BoF

Then we had one of the most interesting keynote from Tim Pritlov of Creative Chaos club in Berlin. He talked about Hacking as an art form and the responsibility of Hackers – to evaluate technology for the general public and educate them about the problems introduced by technology.


He showed videos of hacking electronic voting machines and explained why it is dangerous. Also it was exciting to see them converting a building as a monitor and writing games which people could play against the building using their mobile phones and they called it “blinken lights”. See the video here They explained how it was made and described the setup and showed reactions from the public. They have used each window as a pixel and a light behind the glass shows it as black or white. The positive response motivated them to create even better “blinken lights” with the bulb lighting in 8 steps from off to full brightness. It was even more beautiful with pictures of Monalisa and Che Guvera and an improvement from ping-pong to packman. They have created an application to develop games and enabled people to submit it through email. This has been a highly encouraging and exciting presentation.

X Ball

Then the FOSS.IN team came on stage. Thank you Atul and the FOSS.IN team for making such a great event happen. Keep up the good work.

FOSS.IN speakers

FOSS.IN speakers

Manish has collected links about the event here.


Debian Conclave @ BMS

Posted in Bangalore, Debian, Free Software at 7:39 am by Pirate Praveen

We had a very interesting session at BMS last sunday (29th October) on Debian. The main aim was to discuss the plans for the upcoming Debian Developers Confererence 06, which will be organised as a Debian MiniConf during FOSS.IN 06 . We got very enthusiastic and positive participation from the audience, mostly students from BMS College of Engineering and some from Bangalore Institute of Technology and Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering.

A session on GIMP Image Editing

We had four of us (me, Deepak, Prasad and Aanjhan) delivering sessions. I started with introduction to Debian Operating System and the Debian community. It was a wonderful experience to talk to an audience which understood the importance of Freedom, thanks to our previous sessions ( Software Freedom Day and FOSS Day ) there and a talk by RMS himself (See some photos here, but you need to be a member of bmslug to view this). You can get the presentations as odp or pdf. I talked about the differences between various flavours (distributions) of GNU/Linux and what makes Debian unique. Debians strong values (Debian Social Contract and Debian Free Software Guidelines), superiour packaging (dpkg and apt with automatic dependency tracking), availability of large number of packages (18000+), completely democratic functioning to mention a few. The I talked about some of the materials available to them like books and online resources. I also mentioned about Indian efforts in localising Debian and Indian Debian Community in general.

Deepak Kumar Tripathi on package management in Debian

Deepak Kumar Tripathi then talked about various package management commands (apt-get family) and also about how one can take up maintaining an orphaned package. Aanjhan showed some cool 3D effects with AIGLX and beryl window manager on his laptop after lunch.

After that Prasad Kadambi talked about debian-in (Debain for India) and why it is important to our country. You can get the slides as odp or pdf.

Prasad Kadambi on Debian for India

There was a popular demand for a session on GIMP and I showed them some of the features of GIMP which I use regularly like joining two or more pictures, creating logos, editing with layers …

There was really good questions from the audience, most of them using Fedora. One asked how to start developing Free Software rather than packaging? Aanjhan explained it will be good to start in a small way like reporting bugs and solving them and being a part of the community by undersatnding how the community works, coding styles and standards … rather than jumping off directly to developing your own application.

It was a very wonderful day, even though I was completely tired after the sessions it was worth it. BMSLUG, you folks rock!

Read Netra’s blog about the event.


Debian Conclave 06

Posted in Bangalore, Free Software at 2:55 pm by Pirate Praveen


IN BRIEF: A secret or confidential meeting.

pronunciation The conclave was necessary so their competitors didn’t learn of their secrets.

Tutor’s tip: The “conclave” (private meeting or session) met in a large “concave” (curved like the inside of a bowl) room.

A top secret plan of world domination… See http://fci.wikia.com/wiki/Debian/Conf/06/Conclave for details of the conclave. Admission only for those registered* before hand.

* Registration is open for every one who fullfills the requirements as specified in participate section of the wiki.


Meeting Jimmy Wales

Posted in Bangalore, Free Software at 3:39 pm by Pirate Praveen

I have been keeping this blog pending for some time now.

Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales, founder of wikipedia

I met Jimmy Wales along with other wikipedians and wikians from India on 29th September 2006.


Wikipedians and Wikians

It was very interesting to meet Jimbo and other wikipedians from India. I was very excited when I got a wiki message like this on my wikia talk page:

Hi, Pravs!

I am coming to Bangalore 28-30 September and trying to meet up with Wikians and Wikipedians while I am there. Can you help me organize a meetup? (And help me figure out what is cool to do in Bangalore…) 🙂 Would love to go to the movies with the Bangalore Film Society! Thanks! –Jimbo Wales

Then we discussed the meetup over email and finaly we met at Coconut Groves in Church Street, Bangalore. Unfortunately we couldn’t have the movie show as Jimbo wished since there was some clash with other movie shows.

Jimmy with me

me with Jimmy

Kiruba wrote:

He obviously had a super star status and his reputation clearly preceded him. When he stepped in to the hotel at our table, everyone stood up, the way students stand up when the head master walks in. Then followed an eerie silence. I half expected everyone to chorus, ‘Good Evening Sir’ 🙂 It was funny in a strange kind of way. But then, it was understandable. Jimmy Wales has a bigger than life image. Most folks are meeting the man for the first time, of whom they had heard great things about. The situation can be a bit oveawing.

We discussed the challenges (technical/cultural…) that India language wikipedias are facing. We had Bhadani , who has most number of edits on English wikipedia from India came all the way from Chennai for the meet. We had some tender coconut and some snacks during the meetup.

See the full report here



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


RMS explains the philosophy behind the main gplv3 changes

Posted in Bangalore, Free Software at 4:15 pm by Pirate Praveen

The 4th international GPLv3 conference is over … We are a bit relieved after days of preperations for the event. RMS started the morning session with philosophy behind main GPLv3 changes and after noon session was handled by Eben Moglen, he talked about the wordings of the change.

I am trying to share some points which I could capture during the first day.

Update: Transcript of the entire speech available here.

RMS and Eben — the architects

The main changes to GPL from v2 to v3 is internationalisation and provisions to defend software freedom in the light of new dangers like DRM and software patents.


The motivation for this change is to make GPL work in any country. To help in achiving this goal two new terms are introduced, viz propagate and convey (GPLv2 talked about distribution which has different meanings in different copyright law).

propagation- copying/distribution
convey – make copies available to others regardless of the way law defines it.

Software patents:

Patent rertaliation clause can be added optionally.

Tivoization & DRM:

It us referred to circumventing GPL using DRM. This term was coined after tivo introduced DRM to restrict user modification of the embedded GNU/Linux system that comes with tivo. They have a hardware signature check and the modified versions won’t run.

DMCA (digital millenium copyright act):

This law introduced in the US makes distributing of DRM circumventing software illegal. He also talked about the recent proposed changes to indian copyright law. Government advanced the date for accepting comments and rushing of such an important law is not justifiable.

GPLv3 even allows to put DRM in your software, but the users should have the freedom to remove it. GPLv3 says you cannot use technical measures to do things which you cannot do legaly. They can take away the warranty for modified software but restricting users right to modify and keep the right with them is not allowed.

License compatibility:

You can give additional permissions on top of GPL and these permissions can be removed by derivative works (now LGPL is GPL plus additional permissions).
Certain additional requirements, which does not affect the users freedom are allowed (like trademark protection caluse, patent retaliation clause). This increases the number of GPL compatible licenses (Apachev2 will be compatible with GPLv3).

Bittorrent compatibility:

GPLv3 makes sharing GPLed software with bittorrent legal.

License termination:

In GPLv2 any violation automatically terminates the right to use the software and this makes it very hard for those who violate by mistake since any GNU/Linux operating system contains thousands of programs these days. This clause is removed in GPLv3 with provisions to bring knowingly erring floks to compliance.

Other blogs on the event:

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