OLPC XO Laptops for Africa

OLPC XO Laptop

BBC News special report on the OLPC XO Laptop experience in Nigeria.
The rugged, energy efficient laptops have been designed to be used in remote and environmentally challenging areas. They are currently being tested around the world, including at the LEA primary school, Galadima, on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria.
Don't miss this BBC News Special Report Audio slideshow: Laptops for Africa

Hyderabad based iChip Technologies to offer @box Linux powered sub-10k Home PC

Today's newspaper mentioned this new product powered by Linux called @box ® from a Hyderabad based company Ichip. The company product page proclaims @Box ® as " a complete entertainment device that plugs into your existing TV - no special skills or knowledge needed - if you can watch TV , then @Box can show you that entire web has to offer".

The product is yet to launched, we can expect it to hit the shelf's next summer (March 2008) but the overall cost of the product is not clear. The report in The Hindu puts it Indian Rs. 10,000 and the add-ons(don't ask me, I don't know) required for running it at home would cost almost an equal amount. Where as the Ciol.com says the product could be priced at about the cost of a mobile phone (say, about Rs 4,000), but it all depends on how the services associated with the box get bundled with the telco

I wonder how both reporters who covered the same press conference provide such conflicting details. We need to wait and see how this device fairs in Indian market.

Setting Timezone On Debian

Oops something went wrong with the last package upgrade on my Debian Desktop. This morning I observed that my system date had reverted back to UTC. Its not a big issue but let me take this opportunity to show how to change the timezone on your GNU/Debian Linux system.

The /usr/bin/tzselect tool from the libc6 package allows to set the proper timezone interactively. As I live in India (Asia) it is Indian Standard Time (IST) for me so I have to set TZ environmental variable to "Asia/Calcutta".

 $ /usr/bin/tzselect  Please identify a location so that time zone rules can be set correctly. Please select a continent or ocean.  1) Africa  2) Americas  3) Antarctica  4) Arctic Ocean  5) Asia  6) Atlantic Ocean  7) Australia  8) Europe  9) Indian Ocean 10) Pacific Ocean 11) none - I want to specify the time zone using the Posix TZ format. #? 5 Please select a country.  1) Afghanistan           18) Israel                35) Palestine  2) Armenia               19) Japan                 36) Philippines  3) Azerbaijan            20) Jordan                37) Qatar  4) Bahrain               21) Kazakhstan            38) Russia  5) Bangladesh            22) Korea (North)         39) Saudi Arabia  6) Bhutan                23) Korea (South)         40) Singapore  7) Brunei                24) Kuwait                41) Sri Lanka  8) Cambodia              25) Kyrgyzstan            42) Syria  9) China                 26) Laos                  43) Taiwan 10) Cyprus                27) Lebanon               44) Tajikistan 11) East Timor            28) Macau                 45) Thailand 12) Georgia               29) Malaysia              46) Turkmenistan 13) Hong Kong             30) Mongolia              47) United Arab Emirates 14) India                 31) Myanmar (Burma)       48) Uzbekistan 15) Indonesia             32) Nepal                 49) Vietnam 16) Iran                  33) Oman                  50) Yemen 17) Iraq                  34) Pakistan #? 14 The following information has been given:          India  Therefore TZ='Asia/Calcutta' will be used. Local time is now:      Tue Nov 27 02:31:35 IST 2007. Universal Time is now:  Mon Nov 26 21:01:35 UTC 2007. Is the above information OK? 1) Yes 2) No #? 1 You can make this change permanent for yourself by appending the line         TZ='Asia/Calcutta'; export TZ to the file '.profile' in your home directory; then log out and log in again.  Here is that TZ value again, this time on standard output so that you can use the /usr/bin/tzselect command in shell scripts: Asia/Calcutta  

After you set the TZ='Asia/Calcutta'; export TZ line in your /etc/profile or ~/.profile file. Type source ~/.profile and run 'date' to check if the changes has been reflected properly.

Is "OLPC Stomped" By Tech Giants (Intel) ?

OLPC XO Laptop

I haven't written about OLPC since the G1G1 (Give 1 Get 1) program started. Yesterday Wayan Vota of OLPCNews posted his views on Wall Street Journal's story A Little Laptop With Big Ambitions (How a Computer for the Poor Got Stomped by Tech Giants).

There is an interesting front page article on One Laptop Per Child this morning in the Wall Street Journal. Steve Stecklow takes the position that OLPC's computer for the poor was stomped by tech giants Intel and Microsoft.

I'd like to take the position that if OLPC is getting stomped (and I don't think its being "stomped" at all), its due to its own foolishness and arrogance, as much or more than any underhanded competition form Intel or Microsoft.

I've detailed my opinion here: www.olpcnews.com/commentary/press/wall_street....microsoft.html and I welcome your comments, opinions, and convictions.

Where to buy Asus Eee PC in India

Asus Eee PC

While sitting in a computer showroom today I glanced through a computer reseller magazine. It had an article reviewing the Eee PC from Asus but it did not mention the price of the product in India. However the article mentions Mr. S Jacob (phone #91-9444489272) in the contact section. I don't know if he works for Asus India or a retailer for this product in India. If you get in touch with him do leave the information as a comment.

How To Start StumpWM

Stumpwm Logo

That seems to be on minds of many who want to use the swanky StumpWM Lisp-based Window Manager for X. Written entirely in Lisp StumpWM takes REPL programming paradigm to the next level, some people have compared this one to the original Symbolic Lisp machines feature wherein any running program's source can be displaced and modified on the fly.

There is an open bug for StumpWM package (#356948) on Debian BTS for explaination about starting the StumpWM. Instead of launching StumpWM from Emacs or SLIME here created myself a simple shell script called "startstumpwm".

#!/usr/bin/env clisp (asdf:operate 'asdf:load-op 'stumpwm) (stumpwm:stumpwm)

After setting the execute persmission to file with chmod a+x startstumpwm I set an entry into my ~/.xinitrc and start the X server with 'startx' command.

exec startstumpwm

There you go ! Perhaps this will help you until the StumpWM gets its proposed /usr/bin/startwm binary in the next package upload.

Yahoo! Webcam support in GNU/Debian Linux

GYachI Voice / Video Chat IM client on Debian Linux

Following the Noumaans post "Debian Ubuntu - Webcam in Yahoo! Chatrooms" I checked out to see if GyachI (GyachE Improved) IM client was installable on my GNU/Debian Linux Sid box. Last time I tried this, the .deb package released by the project was hogged by package dependency problems. To my utter surprise the GyachI version 1.1.0-1 debian (.deb) package for Ubuntu Dapper installed right away and is working fine.

About GYachE Improved (a.k.a. GYachI)

Welcome to the home of GyachE Improved (GyachI) program. This is a fork from Gyach Enhanced Yahoo! client for Linux operating systems. It was born purely out of impatience. Since there was no progress on Gyach Enhanced for about a year, a couple of impatient GYach Enhanced users decided to continue development of that client, fearing that original author Erica Andrews lost interest or abandoned project altogether. Therefore, in the true spirit of Open Source we, the developers, thought of simply "carrying on the torch".

This Yahoo! client for Linux operating system supports almost all of the features you would expect to find on the official Windows Yahoo! client: Voice chat, webcams, faders, 'nicknames', audibles, avatars, display images, and more. Yet, it remains very light-weight and memory-friendly. GyachE Improved uses Gtk-2 for its user interfaces (Gtk-2 2.0.6 or better required).

GYachI IM Client Running on Debian Linux Sid

If you have the w32codecs from Debian-Multimedia.org (Christan Marillat's Debian Repository)then you can ignore the gyachi-codecs.deb package.

The GYachI program needs much work, but not bad at all!. Watch out this space for more news of any problems and bugs I find in next few days.

Review The New Debian Reference (v2) Draft

Osamu Aoki announced the new draft of the Debian Reference v2. The idea of new update-to-date Debian Reference was in the works for quite sometime now, kudos to Osamu for finally bringing out a draft. Please do try to read it and provide suggestions.

Here the Osamu's post on Debian-doc mailing-list "Request for review: Debian Reference v2"

Hi, As has been repeatedly pointed out, Debian reference was getting old. It needed major rewrite. I finally got the initial draft of Debian Reference v2 ready. Please give me your feed back. RESULT: http://people.debian.org/~osamu/pub/getwiki/en_US.UTF-8/ I appreciate if someone revise my English to more readable one. This can be easily done by editing the wiki page as the source file. SOURCE: http://wiki.debian.org/DRIndex You may need to create account to login to wiki. http://wiki.debian.org/DebianWiki/EditorQuickStart Some special things on Debian Reference is mentioned at the bottom of : http://wiki.debian.org/DRIndex Regards, Osamu

Review The New Debian Reference (v2) Draft

Osamu Aoki announced the new draft of the Debian Reference v2. The idea of new update-to-date Debian Reference was in the works for quite sometime now, kudos to Osamu for finally bringing out a draft. Please do try to read it and provide suggestions.

Here the Osamu's post on Debian-doc mailing-list "Request for review: Debian Reference v2"

Hi, As has been repeatedly pointed out, Debian reference was getting old. It needed major rewrite. I finally got the initial draft of Debian Reference v2 ready. Please give me your feed back. RESULT: http://people.debian.org/~osamu/pub/getwiki/en_US.UTF-8/ I appreciate if someone revise my English to more readable one. This can be easily done by editing the wiki page as the source file. SOURCE: http://wiki.debian.org/DRIndex You may need to create account to login to wiki. http://wiki.debian.org/DebianWiki/EditorQuickStart Some special things on Debian Reference is mentioned at the bottom of : http://wiki.debian.org/DRIndex Regards, Osamu

Firefox/Iceweasel Tip: Use Safe Mode To Fix Broken Extensions and Themes

Recent Gray Richmond's article on Free Software Magazine "How to fix broken Firefox extensions" covered this issue extensively. The article talks about getting dirty with XPI files (a.k.a extension files) but not everyone is familiar with XUL so disabling a troublesome extension/theme/custom setting using safe mode is the best way out.

If you are still having problems, your best bet is to start Firefox in what is called Safe Mode. To do this you will need to fire up a console and type firefox -safe-mode. Firefox should now start but all extensions will now be disabled, including any offending ones which caused the problem in the first place. It is simply a matter of disabling/removing the relevant extensions, closing Firefox and restarting it in the normal manner. You can find out more about using Safe Mode from Mozillazine.

Lets see the safe mode in action here. First get rid of any existing process of the browser with killall command. And then start the browser with --safe-mode option on the console (Firefox users use "firefox-bin" instead of "iceweasel").

killall -11 firefox-bin iceweasel --safe-mode

The browser will start in the safe mode with a dialog box which temporarily allows you to disable the offending extension/theme/custom setting. Either you can choose to continue loading the browser in safe mode and disable the extension from Tools > Add-ons manager or just disable everything and restart the browser in normal mode.

Firefox runnning in safe mode

Emacs Annoyance with Multi-line SSI directives

Talking about SSI(Server Side Includes) is out of place in the world abuzz with web applications developed with programming languages like PHP, ASP, JSP, Python, Ruby and Perl. But do note that there are a lot of web pages out there( perhaps like your universities information pages ;o) that are still powered by SSI.

Here is one annoyance that I face while editing SSI directives using Emacs. When I type a SSI directive with a certain value that spans more than a line Emacs warps around the line which it is not what we want. To avoid this try turning off the "Word Wrap in Text Modes (Auto Fill)" setting in Emacs.

Editing a SSI Directive in Emacs

Emacs Word wraps the line (ooops!)

Emacs SSI word wrap problem

Turn off Emacs Auto Fill Mode

emacs disable auto fill

PS: After writing this entry I realised that the file name in screenshot is ".shmtl" instead of ".shtml". Please kindly excuse I am getting too lazy

Running Debian on Asus Eee PC

Asus Eee PC

If you are one of the few who brought the tidy new Eee PC from Asus (lucky buggers!) then you need not stick with Xandros for long. A new project is currently underway to provide GNU/Debian Linux as an alternative Free OS for Asus Eee PC.

For now you can resort to apt-pinning to install Debian packages on Eee PC. Hang around for more updates on debian-eeepc project.

Stopping Bittorrent client after finishing downloads

Leaving your bittorrent client running after finishing download is a generally a good idea. However for sake of geek curiosity I tried a simple method of stopping my transmission bittorrent client after finishing the download with ....

/usr/bin/transmission-cli -f 'killall transmission-cli' elephantsdream-1920-hd-mpeg4-su-ac3.avi.torrent

The -f, --finish <shell script> is used to launch shell scripts. The 'killall transmission-cli' command kills (all) transmission-cli bittorrent clients running on this computer. It seems to work for me, do share your experiences

Xchat Tip: Binding actions to mouse clicks

Xchat2 L Chat Program for windows and linux

Here is a tip for XChat IRC client users. Wouldn't it be fun to just click a user's nick in a IRC channel and your IRC client automatically sends a "hi" message to that nick right away ;p .

Well, don't worry I won't suggest you to use any scripts for this. We can just bind this action to the mouse double click in XChat by changing the Action Upon Double Click execute command to "MSG %s hi %s" (%s variable holds the nick name string) under Xchat Settings Preferences > Interface > User List. Next time you start up Xchat,just click a nick to say hi!!.

Xchat Preferences dialog box on Debian Linux

Debian Beer & Wine (Humour) !!!

Debian Beer!!

An excellent take on the issue of unnatural delays in the GNU/Debian Linux release cycles. Kudos to Artem "artiomix" Nosulchik for this Linux Humour post.

Update: And found Debian Wine too

Disable emacs backup files on remote machines

Like most systems administrators of the day I learnt vi and used it extensively. Unlike Emacs, vi was standard text editor across many Unix platforms. However times have changed Emacs is now available almost everywhere and also that I have now moved away from system administration towards academics I find myself using emacs more often.

Whenever you save a file, emacs copies the current version to file with same name followed by a tilde(~). Its a good idea to allow emacs to back up files like this since you can revert back to older version of the edited files easily. However this not a good idea when editing files say on publicly accessible remote web server. Since I use AngeFtp to retrieve and edit file in emacs I set ange-ftp to disable backup files in my ~/.emacs file.

(setq ange-ftp-make-backup-files nil)

Entertaining Lisp Tutorial From Lisprati.com

Casting SPELs In Lisp Book Cover

Here is a very entertaining Lisp Tutorial Casting SPELs In Lisp from Lisprati.com's Conrad Barski, M.D . This comic book like tutorial teaches the basics of lisp programming language by writing a text based adventure like game.

If you are a Emacs user like me, then there is a Emacs Lisp Edition of the book too. However the book is only translated into only one language Turkish. I guess translating this book into other languages would be a wonderful idea. Get in touch with Conrad if you are interested.

Lastly, If you don't like lisp then you may try the examples in Ruby and Haskell (almost) too.

Happy Spell Casting!!

Changes in Debian Transmission package (transmissioncli renamed)

I just noticed that the light-weight bittorrent client Transmission package on GNU/Debian Linux has renamed its CLI(Command Line Interface) program name from transmissioncli to transmission-cli .

Here is note from transmission (0.90.dfsg-1) package changelog.
* debian/transmission-cli.*: binary upstream rename from transmissioncli to transmission-cli (Leo "costela" Antunes)

I have updated my old post Using Transmission Bittorrent client on console to suit this.

Fluxbox menu example launching multiple programs with single click

Always a lightweight desktop fan, my current window manager is Fluxbox. Here is a simple example that allows us to launch multiple programs like my pidgin (formerly gaim) Instant messenger client and Iceweasel (firefox) graphical web browser with a single click of fluxbox menu item.

Here is my flux menu configuration (~/.fluxbox/menu) for your perusal

[begin] (fluxbox) [exec] (Go) {/usr/bin/pidgin&/usr/bin/iceweasel} [exec] (xterm) {xterm} [separator] [include] (/etc/X11/fluxbox/fluxbox-menu) [separator] [exec](About Fluxbox) {fluxbox -info 2>/dev/null | xmessage -file - -center} [end]

You can read the Fluxbox Menu documentation for further information

Using Debian Reportbug

Reportbug is easy to use program for reporting bugs in GNU/Debian Linux. If you are using webmail services like yahoo, MSN, gmail and don't run a SMTP daemon on your computer, you can configure reportbug to reflect both.

Here is my ~/.reportbugrc configuration.


 
# reportbug preferences file
# Version of reportbug this preferences file was written by
reportbug_version "3.18"
# default operating mode: one of: novice, standard, advanced, expert
mode standard
# default user interface
ui text
# offline setting - comment out to be online
#offline
# name and email setting (if non-default)
realname "Rakesh 'arky' Ambati"
# email "My_Nick@yahoo.com"
# Disable fallback mode by commenting out the following:
no-cc
header "X-Debbugs-CC: My_Nick@yahoo.com"
smtphost bugs.debian.org
# You can add other settings after this line.  See
# /etc/reportbug.conf for a full listing of options.
 

You can also generate your custom configuration settings using the --configure option of reportbug.



 reportbug  --configure
Please choose the default operating mode for reportbug.

1 novice    Offer simple prompts, bypassing technical questions.

2 standard  Offer more extensive prompts, including asking about things that a
            moderately sophisticated user would be expected to know about
            Debian.

3 advanced  Like standard, but assumes you know a bit more about Debian,
            including "incoming".

4 expert    Bypass most handholding measures and preliminary triage routines.
            This mode should not be used by people unfamiliar with Debian's
            policies and operating procedures.

Select mode: [standard] 



Lastly, don't forget to read the How to report a bug in Debian page before rolling your sleeve's to report bugs to Debian BTS.
Happy Bug Hunting!!!!

Yahoo don't like linux! (Solution: Firefox / Iceweasel User Agent Line Fix )

Yahoo! Web page showing Unsupported Browser / Unknown User Agent Error I have few hours before leaving for Hyderabad for some R&R. I saw this post Yahoo don't like linux! . These reports of Yahoo! and other sites not working with Firefox / Iceweasel is not entirely uncommon there is a detailed fix available see if it works for you.

Reading RSS/XML feeds in Elinks Line Browser

Raggle RSS Aggregator on ConsoleThis one is for console monkeys out there. Reading RSS/XML feeds in your web browser is not limited to graphical browsers alone, even our light weight console based Elinks line browser can do it with Raggle console RSS aggregator written in ruby.

Using WEBrick-based Raggle web interface allows us to use raggle from your Elinks line browser itself instead of its default console interface (see above image). The raggle web interface listens on port 2222 by default (you change it with command line parameters), point your Elinks browser to http://localhost:2222 and enjoy reading RSS/XML feeds at your leisure.

Its a good idea to run 'raggle --server' inside a screen session, once raggle is started, open a new Elinks window and give the type this URL http://localhost:2222

$ raggle --server Raggle: Loading config... Raggle: Loading feed list... Raggle: Loading theme... Raggle: Loading feed cache... Loading templates from "/home/arky/.raggle/web_ui/inc". localhost - - [03/Nov/2007:20:45:05 IST] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 681 - -> / localhost - - [03/Nov/2007:20:45:08 IST] "GET /raggle/desc HTTP/1.1" 200 2186 - -> /raggle/desc localhost - - [03/Nov/2007:20:45:08 IST] "GET /raggle/item HTTP/1.1" 200 6934 - -> /raggle/item localhost - - [03/Nov/2007:20:45:10 IST] "GET /raggle/feed HTTP/1.1" 200 72146 - -> /raggle/feed localhost - - [03/Nov/2007:20:45:12 IST] "GET /titlebar.html HTTP/1.1" 200 1001 - -> /titlebar.html localhost - - [03/Nov/2007:20:45:20 IST] "GET /inc/default.css HTTP/1.1" 200 7345 http://localhost:2222/raggle/desc -> /inc/default.css

Here you can see raggle web interface in Elinks. There are some issue and bugs with the raggle web_ui but I guess they would be solved in near future.
Elinks page showing Raggle Web interface

Resume Downloads in Firefox / Iceweasel

After my recent post about Firefox Annoyances: Download Resume Problems I observed that some of my readers were trying to find out how to resume their half-downloaded files in firefox/iceweasel. Sorry, the Firefox / Iceweasel doesn't yet continue half-downloaded between network failure or crashes. However you can try this alternative method.

Here is how you can continue the download from a crashed firefox / iceweasel using wget. First lets get rid of '.part' extension that the browser adds while downloading.

mv BigFile.zip.part BigFile.zip

Now resume/continue the download with wget's "-c / --continue" option.

wget --continue http://www.SomeSite.com/files/BigFile.zip