ILUGC Monthly Meeting June 2009

The monthly meeting of ilugc, which usually happens every second Saturday, for the month of June 2009 happened yesterday. There were two talks, Emacs’ org-mode by Ashok Gautham and CUPS configuration in the Configuration Series by Raman P.

As we did not have projector this time, both of them had to resort using the white board, which made them actually finish the talk sooner than expected. Although Raman managed to make the talk interesting by including real life situations he had faced, thanks to his experience, Ashok struggled a bit as his was more a practical demonstration. We should try our best to get the projector for the meet from next time, as well as the speakers should be prepared to do without one.

There was a lot of first timers to LUG meet this time, and one of them is involved in a project developing custom made embedded boards, which they plan to make available for a cost of 3ooo INR so that students can buy and play with them. He will hopefully be demonstrating the board during the next meet, so embedded fanboys mark your calendar in advance.

Here are some snaps from the meeting,

Ashok Gautham during his org-mode talk

Ashok Gautham during his org-mode talk

Raman speaking about CUPS configuration

Raman speaking about CUPS configuration

wireless usage – february and march 2009

The day I read a blog post about setting up vnstat to monitor network usage, I had one setup for my wireless network which I normally use at home. It’s been running for the past two months and been providing some interesting stats on my internet usage at home. Here are some snapshots as of today,

Monthly

vnstat-monthly

Hourly

vnstat-hourly

Daily

vnstat-daily

Looks like my typical use of wireless at home happens between 4 PM to 10 PM on weekdays, maximum being 6PM to 8PM. During weekends am using extra internet as I usually leave my mail client and messenger/IRC on most times. Well, this is just my usage at home which obviously happens in the evenings. Will also have a watch over wired interface which might give day time usage at work.

For Reading (25th September 2008)

When I closed the Feed Reader this morning, I realized that I had a dozen tabs opened in my browser due to all the clicking I did from the feeds. I thought of making a blog post out of it as most of them seem to be interesting enough.

Gnome 2.24 is out

Gnone 2.24!!

Gnone 2.24!!

Next is an interesting article (which links to another lot of interesting articles) on 10 easy ways to attract women to your FOSS project. (This might become the most clicked link in my blog, soon! 😛 )

If you are using irssi and looking for one another hacked-to-look-nice theme, here is 88_madcows theme from Aaron Toponce and a preview of how it looks.

If you want to check out some kewl artwork which might get into Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid, checkout the stuffs in Kenneth Wimer’s PPA. (Note: PPA are personal playgrounds and neither Kenneth nor /me take responsibility for the darker side of your fate 😉 )

If you are a frequent Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps user, but would like to have your own personalized maps somewhere then you might like to check out GeoServer.

Today Ubuntu Bugs is celebrating another Hug Day, and today the attention goes to the Update Manager. Make use of this opportunity to jump in and hug some bugs. The Update Manager Hug Day announcement/bug list is here and if you want some help then please do read this debugging wiki page.

That’s all for today, I myself gotta check them out all yet! 😉

The Firefox Fluster

When people speak about successful Open Source projects, what tops the list is the famous Open Source browser that’s been used by people not only on GNU/Linux, but on Windows and Mac as well. Firefox has always been the one prime example that OSS projects can be successful and famous. But no project is without problems, especially when the number of people using it and thereby the expectations on it from different kinds of people keeps growing.

This is not the first time that a GNU/Linux distribution is facing a problem with people behind the brand Firefox, indeed many distros took the decision to denounce the brand name Firefox and stay as Free as possible. But there were other distros which managed to get into an understanding and could keep the Firefox ball rolling.

What has happened over the recent past is that Firefox has come up with a requirement that when the distribution makes it’s own changes to Firefox and still want to use the branding of Firefox have to display an EULA when it’s users start Firefox the first time. As the distro chose to bundle Firefox as the default browser, this means that when you install this distro and start the browser the very first time, you have to face an EULA and agree to it to continue using the browser.

The second wave of problem associated with this is that it is conspired that the distro chose to implement this without consulting, debating and discussing with the community. A recent thread started in its bug tracker, lead to a long discussion (which many felt should have happened in a mailing list and not in a bug tracker).

The possible outcomes can be,

  1. Firefox again agrees for Ubuntu to use it without EULA being thrown to its users, hence the problem ends, at least for now.
  2. Ubuntu decides to still have Firefox with EULA but somehow get the permission not to throw on its users at first start (i.e. meaning all users implicitly agree to EULA when they start it first time)
  3. Ubuntu, following Debian and other distros, decides to denounce the Firefox brand and go for a custom brand or use Icedove (or similar browsers)

A lot of people support solution #3, especially those who want Ubuntu to strongly adhere to being like a Free Software distribution. My knowledge is very limited to the legal fundas behind it, but lots of people like me are also concerned. At one side, it’s about the philosophy of freedom which had been keeping us with FOSS. On the other side, it might be losing a well matured and powerful browser like Firefox. But we all hope that the final decision taken by people behind Ubuntu will be to the best interests of its community and something a major portion of the community can accept.

One day for freedom, for software

Most countries celebrate Independence Day to celebrate some kind of freedom associated with their countries history, a liberation from something which had been keeping them under chains, something which had been restricting them, confining them under the rule and wishes of someone else other than their own men. Indeed, Indians know the better of this story and we still feel proud of the freedom fight that a forefather (a few generations ago) participated.

Freedom is not just associated with this political or social liberation, but with technology as well. When the technology we used is controlled by a single company or individual, then that single entity starts controlling us indirectly through that technology. Think of a situation when someone says he owns all the water is this world. It may seem funny, stupid, but still if that situation becomes reality then the entire human race will be under the control of one single person. Thankfully it won’t be happening with water, but it might be happening with something else that has managed to become a part and parcel of our lives. Yes, computers have become very much crucial to all our lives. It’s there in our life in most objects we interact with, starting from mobile phones, to consumer electronics, in education, in hospitals, in banking, in our national security and what not.

It was in 1983, that this invisible thread was realized and an effort was started to educate humans about this threat and the solution to prevent it from becoming reality. A movement was started in the name of Free Software Foundation to this cause and been striving hard for the past 2 decades to make the freedom in software a reality.

As a part of this strive towards liberating the world from crutches of proprietary software, we celebrate one day for spreading the awareness of software freedom and it’s importance. This day is called as Software Freedom Day and it comes every year on September 20th. I have been participating in it for the past 4 years, in those celebrations which were organized by ILUGC.

This year, as am away from home turf, I was wondering where to join and thankfully Vincent Vikram called me up today and invited me to join FSUG Bangalore’s SFD celebrations in Christ College. There are indeed lots of other planning various things in India, like some Ubunteros organizing one in Mysore, ILUGC organizing a Demo Day at Kamban Engineering College, Jaya FOSS Club organizing SFD celebrations in Jaya Engineering College. Also a friend of mine, a fellow Ubuntero and an Ubuntu Tamil Team member Sri Ramadoss is releasing some of the RMS’s work in Tamil. This will help more local language readers to know about the Free Software movement and its ideologies in their own language and hence they can understand the importance of software freedom more effectively.

Looking forward to SFD @ Christ College and will keep you all updated on that 🙂

Reading docx files with OpenOffice

There are problems not because we use some lame software, but because our lesser sane friends decide to use some non-FOSS software which produces documents in some proprietary format. This has become too common since people started moving to Microsoft Office 2007 that the earlier .doc documents became a whole new challenge in the form of .docx documents.

My colleague had to face one such challenge today, while all he had was an Ubuntu box with OpenOffice. Hence, we had to make an effort to read the docx document with what’s available with us. And we founded a solution which is pretty easy to implement.

  1. Install libungif4g using apt or synaptic (or whatever your distribution uses)
  2. Download ODF Converter Integrator from here and install it
  3. If you had OpenOffice open during this process, just close it down and reopen it.

Now, you should be able to view .docx files in OpenOffice. I was told that it takes some time for it to load the file, which might be because it internally converts the docx file to doc and/or to odf. We encountered similar looking solutions from [1] and [2] as well, but the above one worked for us.

[1] http://ubuntuguide.org/wiki/Ubuntu:Gutsy#OpenOffice_add_ons

[2] http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/showthread.php?t=58275

mere updates

There are two reasons for this post, first is that people have started feeling I no more blog, and second is that I heard of certain things that I thought of blogging.

It’s not new to have heard a complain that Ubuntu, though accepting openly that they are based on Debian GNU/Linux, has never acknowledged that they are thankful to Debian for what it has taken from them. We had no answers till sometime back but not anymore. Just visit the Ubuntu Home Page and you’ll know. If you want more, we have this page for you which talks about our relation with Debian.

Today I got the news which I was awaiting for sometime, the dates for foss.in 2008 were announced. This is one of the premier FOSS conferences in India and attended by a majority of FOSS enthusiasts from India and a lot more from abroad. This conferences gives us an opportunity to meet contributors from all over the world, the lead developers of many projects which we use or even contribute to and finally sometimes our heroes and heroines in FOSS. Also, this is an opportunity to meet a lot of my Indian friends from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and other places at one place. We have to wait for some more days to know more in this front.

Ubuntu global bug jam was a great experience. Though we didn’t have too many people from Indian team participating, it was great interacting with lot of people around the world in squashing some bugs. There was indeed a global competition to get more bugs triaged and reach a better place in dholbach’s 5-a-day stats. Looking forward to more such bug jams and more experiences making me a better triager.