Some observations on the recent petrol price hike

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:17 pm by Pirate Praveen

Price of petrol has been hiked by rupees 5 to around 70 per litre last Saturday midnight and diesel price is likely to be increased by 4 per litre and cooking gas price likely to go up by 30 rupees per cylinder. 8% increase is steepest petrol price rise ever with oil companies asking for even more. This hike will feed into spiraling of prices of all essential goods. This is going to give a serious blow to the common man. The most striking thing I felt in this petrol price hike is the timing of it. Government waited for polls in many states to conclude before announcing the hike, to me it looks like they expect people to forget about it by next election. I observed long queues in petrol stations before the price hike came to effect. My friend Shravan mentioned about ‘Out of Petrol’ boards at some stations and observed it as cheating to sell the stock next day at a higher price.

Currently we cross-subsidise diesel and natural gas (cooking gas) with higher prices for petrol. The thinking behind this move is that, diesel and natural gas affects common people and also its price has a big impact on prices of commodities. But SUVs and luxury cars run on diesel and that picture is changed now. But still the price hike poses questions about government’s spending priorities. There is also a green demand for spending more money on renewable energy sources like solar and wind instead of continuing to subsidise polluting and dangerous energy sources like coal, nuclear etc.

We are doing a cycle rally in Pune coming Saturday at 5:00pm from Deccan Corner. Join in and register your protest. It is organised by Lokayat, an activists collective fighting against all injustices in our society. Visit lokayat.org.in to know more about Lokayat and get involved.

Petrol price hike: What do you think should be done? – story by Rediff.com


Memorable Mini DebConf India 2011 tour of Kerala for last 3 days

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:12 pm by Pirate Praveen

It was a great event. I liked the small turn out 12 on first day ~20 on second day and about 12 on third day, because it meant we could make it interactive and ensure every one folllowed each step.

The highlight of the event was that it was a zero budget event. MES College of Engineering provided us lab and hostels, every one paid for their own travel and food. I hope to see more such events – small interested audient, less burden on organisers, more interaction and effectiveness. Instead of less big events, let’s start doing more small events.

I really liked the enthusiasm of the participants and we made sure those who completed a step helped others to complete. We proceeded to next step only when every single person completed each step. This is something I usually focus on wherever I take classes, but it is not effective with big audience. That is one reason I like small audiences. Normally only the brightest gets to follow everything and those who have less exposure feels left out. This time even if one is smart and completed a step, he/she has to help others if they want to move on.

First day we focused on different problems and complaints people have about Free Software and GNU/Linux. Instead of normal focus of a Free Software event on features of Free Software, we focused on what is not working in Free Software. Our focus was not in selling Free Software to the audience, but to make sure Free Software will become popular if we fix these problems. Normally audience just have complaints and speaker is always defensive. Here audience had to analyse the problem with the speaker, find out the root of the problem, and plan how to fix it.

One common complaint we always here is about dependencies and software installation. So we focused on two parts to solve that problem. First was lack of good internet connection, so apt-on-cd and keryx needs to be popularised. Second one is having to install from source. We concluded that once all software is available in a repository this problem will go away. So we decided to package all available Free Software. Starting with popular software that is in demand. We also figured out it will need many more packagers too. So if you want to help out, join our packaging effort. We have online packaging sessions every Saturday. Those who learned packaging, consider teaching it to others.

Food was really good, I was happy to get puttu (rice steam cake), beef curry and ghee rice. Lime juice was very good too, I miss it in Pune, where most places give old lime 🙁 We stayed in their hostel. Bhushan, Abhishek and Ranjan came from Magalore standing in a train! Their enthusiasm cheered up everyone. I planned my vacation around these dates so that my travel expense would not be an issue. We missed Pavithran as he had fever and could not come.

Second day we had more people joining. This rarely happens in any conference, most of the time people drop out after first day. Last year we had a tough time manging a crowd of about 200 on the first day, but almost half of them did not turn up on second day. First day I explained debian release process and I made sure every on understood the process by asking each of them to explain it. I was happy to see most of them got it. Second day I asked Sajjad to summarise discussions on first day and explain release process. He did a pretty good job of explaining various concepts. Sooraj’s explanation of dependencies by taking example of average depending on sum and division was very good.

Then Jishnu started explaing control file and we asked every one to refer debian new maintainer’s guide. The whole day was spent on creating these files. Most of them were not used following a document and doing it themselves. Many times I have to ask them to read the document again when they make mistakes. Most of them made mistake about standards version, they used upstream version. Explanation of sections is a bit mis leading in new maintainer’s guide and most people ended up choosing main. I explained it and asked them to read the whole paragraph. I felt new maintainer’s guide could be improved a bit. We will try to send some patches.

Over enthusiasm resulted in a few RFPs being filed for lekhonee-gnome. We told them just create a text file, but many already sent RFPs! I told them how to close a bug and all of them closed it. Though it added a little bit of noise to BTS, I hope it has helped in the long run, hopefully these over enthusiastic folsk would help close more bugs!

We skipped copyright file as many wanted to leave. We just created a blank file for copyright and moved ahead with changelog and rules. Both these files caused bit of problem with formatting. Many did not have dch installed and they eneded up figuring out extra space or character causing error. Whitespaces instead of tab caused rules file breakage. We fixed all of them and I was happy every one had a working deb at the end of the day. First day we were explaining anatomy of a binary package most of them saw the control file, I think it would have been a rewarding experience for all of them when they opened up the binary file and saw their names inside it.

Third day was coordinated by Vasudev Kamath online. I had to leave for Sujith’s marriage. I have to mention about Sajith sir here. It was really encouraging to see a lecturer sitting through the whole session. I was happy to meet Raju sir after a long time. I remember two of my previous sessions at MES. I am sure we will see more contributors from MES. Anish and Sooraj had come from Thiruvananthapuram. Manu was running around fixing proxies all the time. I was happy to meet to aethiests there – Aneez and Nakul. Aneez was calling me agnostic 🙂 I remember few more names – Shuvaib, Jasir, Muzafir, Jamal, Sunaiba. If you don’t see your name here, sorry, please shout your name as a comment 🙂 Overall it was a really memorable experience. Now looking forward to Mini DebConf India tour stops in Mangalore, Pune and Ahamedabad.

Update: Jishnu told me there were about 12 students on third day. Ershad complained that I missed his name 🙁 Ershad was playing with GNOME 3 release party balloons with every one and took pictures too. He has uploaded photos on diaspora and facebook, I will link it here once I get net access on my computer (now using my mobile and wifi sharing is too slow that only ping works and even that takes 5000-6000 msec for response).


Copyleft and Free Software business models – a discussion on cofsug list

Posted in Free Software, Pune at 3:55 pm by Pirate Praveen

2011/1/21 Devwrat More :
> Really nice one lokesh…..:) 🙂
> @ Praveen:
> Please elaborate on how Copyright is used for CopyLeft and who OWNS
> copyleft… ( really smart thing!!! )

Copyright law says copyright holder (author of a creative work) has all rights to his or her work. Nobody else can use, distribute or remix the work without his permission.

Now with copyleft, the author gives such a permission (called a copyright license), it can be GPL, LGPL, AGPL etc (difference copyleft licenses with slightly different conditions, will explain the difference below). which says you have all the freedoms, but when you give the work to others they are also entitles to all the freedom you got in the first place.

GPL (General Public License) – strong copyright, any work that uses a GPL covered work (derivative work) should also be GPL. For example you use a shared library (.so file on unix systems and .dll on windows systems) in your code and if that library is released under GPL, then your code also should be GPL. quid-pro-quid. Take my code, but give back what you write. gnu readline is an example.

LGPL (lesser General Public License) – weak copyleft, any change to the code covered under the license need to be released, but if you are just linking to it, you decide license for your code. GNU C Library (glibc) is an example. You write C programs and it uses functions from GNU C Library like printf, scanf etc. You include these functions when you say #include . If glibc were under GPL, you would have to release any code that uses these libraries also under GPL.

Between GPL and LGPL, the decision is a strategic one. If the code we write is a new feature, our interest is to give advantage to Free Software developers, we may use GPL. But if what you write is already available and there is no advantage to Free Software developers, you may chose LGPL so that more people may use the work. Read more details about this case written by RMS

“Which license is best for a given library is a matter of strategy, and it depends on the details of the situation. At present, most GNU libraries are covered by the Lesser GPL, and that means we are using only one of these two strategies, neglecting the other. So we are now seeking more libraries to release under the ordinary GPL.

Proprietary software developers have the advantage of money; free software developers need to make advantages for each other. Using the ordinary GPL for a library gives free software developers an advantage over proprietary developers: a library that they can use, while proprietary developers cannot use it.

Using the ordinary GPL is not advantageous for every library. There are reasons that can make it better to use the Lesser GPL in certain cases. The most common case is when a free library’s features are readily available for proprietary software through other alternative libraries. In that case, the library cannot give free software any particular advantage, so it is better to use the Lesser GPL for that library.”

Complete article is http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-not-lgpl.html

AGPL (Affero General Public License) – stronger copyleft than GPL itself, if you use the code as a website, all of its users should have access to its code. Example statusnet, silpa, launchpad, diaspora etc. Designed for web-based applications. I heard this story from someone, about bc (binary calculator). It goes like this, there was a known bug in bc and some people were curious and tried the same operation on google search box (in addition to web search google search box works as calculator, currentcy convertor and many other things). They found the same bug in google as well. After some time, they tried the same thing again and found google has fixed its site, but bc was still buggy, meaning google did not give back to the community. Current GPL implementation does not cover this case because web services were not common when it was written and it would be considered as normal use of the program. Just to reiterate, you don’t have to accept GPL if you are just using the program or even making private modification. GPL starts only when you give the software to someone else.

So what happens when someone does not follow the conditions of GPL? That is very common case for many embedded hardware like routers. Authors of the software (most of the time it is linux kernel developers, note this point carefully, only the authors can file a case, not you, me or even FSF can file a case if we don’t have copyright. You or me can notify the authors, if we see violations. FSF sues companies which violates code that FSF has copyright on like binutils – basic commands like ls, cat etc are part of binutils).

When the violator says, I did not read GPL, court asks show me the license. They don’t have any other license than GPL itself so it is a clear violation of copyright law. Distributing copyrighted work without a license – pay fine, stop distributing etc. Now if we say they don’t agree with GPL or they don’t like GPL, they again don’t have any other license, which means clear copyright violation. So if you are distributing GPL covered software, you have only two options

1. Agree with GPL and follow all its conditions
2. Don’t agree and stop distributing.

So you can go to court and enforce one of these conditions. And it has been proved in court.

Ask if you are not clear, because it is a very important and commonly mistaken concept.

For more legal savvy folks, read the court judgement against D-Link http://www.jbb.de/judgment_dc_frankfurt_gpl.pdf

See http://gpl-violations.org/ for more details on how GPL is enforced.

> Also you did not answer about how one earns his living with Free softare. (I
> could not understand what Lokesh has written about earning and No warranty
> … does it mean programmer earns by MAINTAINING a software ????? )

Abhijit has explained one way of making money, provide services, charge for your expertise etc. This is used by many compnies including my employer Red Hat. The concept is similar to how we pay a plumber or a lawyer. We can fix our taps or we can pay someone to fix it. We can argue our case or pay a lawyer on behalf of us. Same way you can fix the code yourself or you pay someone for it. It might not be financially feasible to hire programmers to fix such large a codebase. So you opt for paying someone who has expertise on the entire code base and can help fix things when it breaks. Some big companies can afford to have their own programmers and they don’t buy these support. But then again that is another model, those compies are employing Free Software developers.

Another option is dual-licensing model. It is commonly used with GPL license. You take the code, it is GPL, but you have to make your code also GPL. If you don’t agree, pay us and you can keep your code proprietary. So the software itself will always be Free under GPL, and any other Free Software developers can use that code, but proprietary compies who want to use the code has to pay. So proprietary companies fund such Free Software projects! How brilliant! MySQL uses such a model, QT used follow this model, now after Nokia aquired TrollTech – the company which developed QT, they changed QT license from GPL to LGPL. Now Nokia wants everyone to use QT, they have lot of money and don’t have to depend on proprietary companies for funding. For mobile companies the choice may be between Android and QT. If they don’t have to pay for Android, and pay some money to Nokia for QT, they might not want to use QT.

For some hardware companies, all they care is about selling their hardware, so they employ developers to write drivers, test on Free Operating Systems etc. HP develops drivers for many of its printers and scanners this way. They employ developers to write drivers, it is released as Free Software. HP cares about selling more printers and not about drivers itself.

There are many other models we will discuss more on this as part of our foss elective, we will keep the session open for every one.

The basic idea is this, the old model of developing a software, marketing it, restricting it and charging huge moeny for each copy if obsolete now. It opens up new opportunities for everyone to make money. So a Free Software business model is only limited by every one’s imagination.

I am sure, if you see something is not working in Free Software and realise people are ready to pay to get it repaired, that is an opportunity for you. Its completely upto you how you want to make money with Free Software.

And remember this too, many developers have other day jobs and write Free Software because they like doing it. So there is absolutely no requirement for you to get a Free Software job to contribute to Free Software. If you like doing it, just do it. Look for a career else where.


See the whole thread of this discussion on cofsug list.

PS: College Of Engineering Pune has a vibrant Free Software community and it is rewarding experience to work with them. We are running a Free Software Development course as an elective for final year Information Technology and Computer Engineering students. The enthusiasm of the students is evident when I see some students who took it as an audit course – which means, they don’t get any credits for the course, but they come an sit for the course anyway! There are some second year students who also attend this course regularly! Not many teachers are this lucky to have such interested students, plus great flexibility to deliver it!


Chale Chalo Dilo Me Ghav

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:18 am by Pirate Praveen

This beautiful song was sung at yesterday’s sabha demanding justice for Dr Binayak Sen.

HTML5 Video

Flash Video

Chale chalo dilo me ghav leke bhi chale chalo,
Chalo lahuluhan pao leke bhi chale chalo,
Chalo ki aaj sath-sath chalne ki jarurate,
Chalo ki khatm ho na jaye jindagi ki hasrate.

Jameen, khawab, jindagi, yakeen, sab ko batkar,
Woh chahtehe bebasi me aadmi jhukaye sar,
Woh chahtehe jindagi ho roshni se bekhabar,
Woh ek-ek karke aab jala rahe hai har shahar,
Jale hue gharo ke khawab leke bhi chale chalo.

Woh chahtehe hai baatna yeh jindagi ke kafile,
Woh chahtehe baatna yeh jindagi ke walwale,
Woh chahtehe hai khatm ho ummid ke yeh silsile,
Woh chahtehe hai gir sake na loot ke yeh sab kile,
Sawal hi hai aab jawab leke bhi chale chalo.

Woh chahtehe hai jatiyon ki, boliyon ki phoot ho,
Woh chahtehe hai dharm ko tabahiyon ki choot ho,
Woh chahtehe hai jindagi me ho fareb, jhoot ho,
Woh chahtehe hai jis tarah bhi ho magar yeh loot ho,
Siro pe joh bachi hai chav leke bhi chale chalo.


US response to Julian Assange of wikileaks

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:01 pm by Pirate Praveen

US response to Julian Assange of wikileaks
Uploaded by thesasikkuttan. – News videos hot off the press.

“We have come to the conclusion that Julian Assange of Wikileaks is royally screwing us. People believe and respect him. We have to break it.

We need to trap him in some rape case and get rid of him. Once our propaganda succeeds he will lose his credibility.”


A campaign for no UID – Till complete transparency, accountability and people’s participation

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:09 pm by Pirate Praveen

21st August 2010

Dear Friend,

Since May 2009, the UID project is under implementation. Even though any legislation sanctioning it is yet to be passed in parliament, the UID authority is functioning. Rs.19,500 million have been allocated to the project. In addition to this allocation, the census expenditure has a budget of Rs. 30,230 million. The UIDAI plans to use the census data, to issue Aadhar numbers. The total project is estimated to cost Rs. 1500 billion. The budget for the Authority was passed with the GoI annual budget but without discussion on it or setting up of UIDAI.

The UID project envisages recording ten finger prints and iris scan of all people residing in India, allocating a unique number to each individual whose biometric data is captured, and storing it in a database with other basic information such as: name, parent’s name, date of birth, gender, and address. Clearly, the UID project will affect everyone residing in India. To ensure proper implementation it is important to carry out a detailed study of the project’s viability and feasibility. That the project has been launched without such a study is a matter of grave concern.

The authority presents the UID project to the public as a way to prevent leakages in the PDS and MGNREGS. If the project could achieve this, it would be a welcome solution, but even a cursory examination reveals several reasons why this objective seems impossible to achieve. Among these is the fact that many countries, after trying similar projects, have abandoned them because they were found to be incapable of achieving their projected objectives and posed high security risks. For example: in a study that was conducted by the London School of Economics on the UK Government’s National ID card scheme, it was found that it would not achieve the objective of preventing illegal immigration and further that such a central database would itself become a target for terrorists, The new elected UK government scrapped the project in June 2010.

The UID project also raises many questions concerning the abuse of personal data gathered in the process. The collection and logging of data, done in the manner proposed by the UIDAI, is in effect similar to “phone tapping”, a practice which can be abused by those overseeing it. The data collection itself is outsourced to private agencies. The linkages provided by UID to a person’s data that is collected for the UID to other databases, such as bank accounts or mobile phone companies have the potential for serious abuse. Despite these concerns, the UIDAI has already taken initiatives, such as collaborating with many multinational and Indian private companies for gathering data and setting up / maintaining the database.

This meeting is organised to discuss UID’s lack of a feasibility study, huge cost, legality and real danger of abuse. Hence, we invite you to come for a public discussion where people from many diverse groups will express their viewpoints on the subject on –

25th August 2010 from 10.00 am to 6.00 p.m.

at the Constitution Club Auditorium, Rafi Marg, New Delhi.

High-Tea and meeting with MPs: 4 pm to 6 pm.

This will be an interactive meeting in which, we hope you will be able to gain insight into this immense project, its costs and impacts. Please confirm your participation in the workshop at insafdelhi@gmail.com. This would help us make the necessary arrangements for your convenience.

In Solidarity –
Alternative Law Forum, Citizen Action Forum, Delhi Forum, PEACE, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) – Karnataka, Moving Republic, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), Slum Janandolana – Karnataka, The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) and many other organisations and concerned individuals.

Read UID appeal to MPs (pdf)


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.


Converting videos to svi for Samsung YP-Q2 Portable Media Player with ffmpeg

Posted in Free Software at 1:41 am by Pirate Praveen

I have a nice little Portable Media Player, YP-Q2 from Samsung. The main reason for choosing this was its built in support for Ogg Vorbis audio format. It has video support as well but with its own format – svi. It is basically avi container with mpeg4 video and mp3 audio (it supports wmv as well).

I found out the right combination of ffmpeg options by comparing a sample file created by EmoDio software that came with the device.

I created a script ffmpeg2svi with correct options to make the conversion easier. Here is the script

if [ $# -ne 2 ]
echo "Usage: ffmpeg2svi <input> <output.svi>"
ffmpeg -i "$1" -vcodec mpeg4 -acodec libmp3lame -f avi -s qvga -aspect 4:3 -sameq "$2"


Hopefully this works with other models from Samsung as well.


webm support for fedora 13

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:29 pm by Pirate Praveen

It feels great to announce webm support for fedora 13 on the day of its release!

For the impatient download my repo file

First of all congratulations to Google for releasing VP8 codec as Free Software. VP8 and Vorbis in a customised Matroska container means webm and royalty-free multimedia on the web. Thanks to lardbucket for his step by step guide to building ffmpeg with webm/vp8 patches. Even though I was able to build x264, libvpx and ffmpeg easily, packaging it was not as easy as I imagined. x264 was pretty straight forward, I took spec file file from existing package. libvpx was tougher as it was not creating a shared library by default. But Tom “spot” Callaway had already worked on it and found a solution. Now the toughest was ffmpeg. It took quite a while to get all the patches to apply and fix incompatibilities between the patches Google provided and those accepted by ffmpeg. Finally I found out the secret sauce and you have the fedora 13 packages. If I’m correct this is the first GNU/Linux packages available for webm desktop support.

Once you have ffmpeg install

ffmpeg -i source .any target .webm
ffplay -f webm target .webm

Somehow ffplay is not able to recognise webm format without -f webm option. I have provided a sample webm created with this ffmpeg here. I converted a 12MB mp4 video to 7.7MB webm video. I thought running a browser with webm support would enable watching it directly. But both Chrome and Opera builds with webm support could not play it 🙁 Chrome offered to download it, which ffplay played, but Opera just showed the contents. Hopefully these will be ironed out by a stable release. I could not try firefox as they don’t provide a 64 bit version. If someone at Mozilla is listening, I would tell them to offer 64 bit downloads, because they might lose some of of their impatient users on 64 bit to Chrome or Opera.

Update: I had to move the repo from people.fedoraproject.org to j4v4m4n.in because of legal issues (fedora cannot host ffmpeg or x264). Thanks to Rex Dieter for bringing this to my notice. I want to say sorry to fedora admin folks to have caused this trouble.


Will P Chidambaram keep his word?

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:13 am by Pirate Praveen

“I was the first minister to propose that either this act should be amended or repealed” – P Chidambaram about Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 or AFSPA.

“Consensus is needed for that and different political parties have different views on the issue but I am working on that,” he added.

Will he act on his own proposal?

The agencies that recommended to repeal this draconian law

  • The Manipur Human Rights Commission
  • Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Commission
  • Administrative Reforms Commission
  • UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination

But people of Manipur and other 7 North-Eastern states are still under this military rule. Manipur’s Iron Lady Irom Sharmila is on hunger strike for repealing AFSPA since 3rd November 2000.

Sharmila Irom, a young woman from the Indian state of Manipur, has not eaten for almost 10 years. She is too angry to eat, too upset, too disgusted by the violence that surrounds her, too disturbed by her helplessness to do anything about it. She is hungry for justice, not for food.

So, three times a day for the past decade, two nurses have poured a liquified mixture of vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and laxatives into a plastic feeding-tube, which enters her nose, attached by a grubby piece of white tape. Initially this force-feeding was uncomfortable, but now she no longer feels a thing. – Andrew Buncombe, The Independent


Sharmila Irom stopped eating on 3 November 2000. The previous day, 10 people waiting for a bus at the village of Malom on the outskirts of Imphal, had been shot dead by a unit of paramilitaries belonging to the Assam Rifles.

Earlier, insurgents had attacked the paramilitaries’ base. There was nothing to suggest that any of the 10 people, aged from 18 to 60, were in any way linked to the insurgents, but the paramilitaries simply wanted revenge. It was nothing less than an execution of innocents.

Today, the bus stop has been transformed into a small memorial, sitting among the quiet rice fields and surrounded by mountains, with the names of the victims inscribed on a white block. Nimai Tsokchom, a farmer, lives in a shack opposite.

He had a fever and was lying in bed when the paramilitaries struck. “The paramilitaries came inside and I was badly beaten,” he remembers.

Sharmila, the youngest of five brothers and four sisters, was deeply disturbed by the killings. The following day she spoke with her mother, ate some food her mother had prepared and – having asked for her blessing – announced that she was launching a fast.

Sharmila had always been different to other young women, say her family. She had just two or three friends, she scorned the use of make-up and channelled much of her energy into journalism and poetry. She read the Bible, the Koran and Hindu texts. When she was born, her mother had been unable to breast-feed so one of her brothers took her to other local women with newborn children who would act as wet nurses. The deal was that the brother did the women’s chores while they fed his baby sister.

After she announced her fast, the family were unsure what would happen, but they knew they could not dissuade her. It was then that Sharmila and her mother decided they could no longer see each other.

“If I meet with her, she might lose her courage,” says Sharmila’s mother, Shakhi Devi, huddled over a steel bucket of glowing embers at the family’s simple home, less than a mile from the hospital where her daughter is detained. “So I will not meet her unless she gets her wish. I will meet her after getting our demand.”

The authorities – unsure how to respond to Sharmila’s actions – arrested her and charged her with attempted suicide, an offence for which she can only be jailed for a year. As a result, since late 2000, Sharmila has been repeatedly detained, force-fed and then set free for a day before being re-arrested.

All this time, she has not eaten or drunk a thing, nor washed her hair, which is now matted and twisted. Her fast has caused her to stop menstruating, while some reports say her internal organs have been damaged. She uses dry cotton to wipe her teeth, insistent that water will not pass her lips. Held in a shabby, peeling room that measures 20ft by 12ft, she spends her days reading books, newspapers and letters from well-wishers. She sometimes does yoga. She has made cardboard models from a kit of famous structures of the world, among them the Empire State Building and London Bridge. – Andrew Buncombe, The Independent

How to silence a silent protest?

How to silence a silent protest?

Now Khuman Leima, president of International Manipur Mother’s Association, is on a silent strike for the same cause.

“I began my silent protest after seeking the blessings of god. If the act is repealed, I will end my silent protest. If the act is not repealed during my lifetime, I will die keeping mum,” she wrote while starting her protest.

How long can the government remain silent towards the peaceful non-violent protests?


A group of cultural activists from the State of Kerala are undertaking a peace march to Imphal to express solidarity with Irom Sharmila from May 8 2010 to May 27 2010. A 13-member team led by social activist Civic Ramachandran, writer Sara Joseph and Gandhian Suresh George started the march to mark the centenary of publication of Mahatma Gandhi’s seminal work “Hind Swaraj” that advocated Indian Home Rule in 1909. More about their stop at Pune from Sakaal TImes and at Vijayawada from The Hindu.

It now the duty of every Indian who believes in our constitution and its promise of equal justice to everyone to put pressure on this government and make it follow its own promise to repeal this draconian law real.

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