Ubuntu Pop Art Bug

Ubuntu Sleep Problem dialog Here is another interesting bug I discovered today on my Ubuntu GNU/Linux laptop. The console takes on these really Andy Warhol style pop art colors when I power down the system into sleep mode and back.

Ubuntu laptop

Ubuntu Laptop

Free Software User Group, Bangalore Wiki Relaunched

Free Software User Group, Bangalore now has a brand new site. It is built using Media wiki , which powers the Wikipedia project. The logo designed by Hiran Venugopalan is beautiful, its type and composition is just perfect. Kudos to Anivar and all the those who contributed towards this long pending task.

The old website was developed using oddmuse. It was generously hosted by deeproot for years, we had to turn off the wiki editing after I couldn't keep up with spam busting tasks anymore. Vikram has been bugging me for years to port it a better platform, it never really materialized until the task was taken up with gusto in the last gnu(s) grazing.

Debian Lenny Slogan Contest, Cast Your Votes

Debian Art Logo The creative chaps at Debian Art are looking for a great line for Lenny, the development codename for the next version of Debian GNU/Linux operating system. They are running a open ballot.

I cast mine for the line "The Spiral Strikes Back!". Perhaps I loved this line over more popular one due to its strong visual connotations. No one would miss the reference to spiral logo of Debian GNU/Linux project and the Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back has strong following in the community and elsewhere.

Right now the slogan "The Universal Operating System is leading the poll. Don't you think that human brain is supposed to be the true universal operating system on earth. Duh! :P

Poll Results So Far!

Debian lenny slogan contest poll results

Mapping The Internet

I watched the map of internet mentioned in the recent "Download: The True Story of the Internet " on Discovery Channel, it sounds like a great idea for a Information visualization project. Here is an old map that was published in December 1998 issue of Wired Magazine, Cool!.

The data is available and more information can be found on the Internet Mapping Project page.

Notes From Celliax Talk in Hyderabad

I spent the better part of Sunday on a 4 hour bus ride to Hyderabad. It was really wonderful to meet a person like Giovanni Maruzzelli who isn't afraid to roll up his sleeves and hack an idea into shape. Giovanni's talk introduced the Celliax project (see the slides of the talk) and the challenges of working with sparsely documented Asterisk and mobile phone hardware that sometimes seems to be designed by some deranged engineer ;o).

Celliax project addresses the issue of providing the mobile network connectivity, Skype VoIP support to the popular Asterisk free software PBX & telephony platform. chan_celliax and chan_skypiax are the two channel drivers that work in concert with Asterisk to provide this functionality.

This talk was hosted by the great folks at Phonestack Technologies. Kudos are in order for Farhan, Ali and also Bharat for giving me a ride back.

Free Software Free Society Conference 2008, Registrations Open!

Free Software, Free Society

Second International Conference on Freedom in Computing,Development and Culture

9-11 December, 2008,Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

After a gap of three years, the Free Software Free Society (FSFS) conference is back again. The first FSFS conference was held on 28-30 May, 2005 in Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), the capital city of south Indian state of Kerala. It was a joint effort of government and civil society organizations from Brazil, Italy, Venezuela and India. This was the first event that I blogged live, you bet! I am gonna do that again.

Come and join me there in truly good's own country!. The registrations opened this morning and you can register online over here

Watching WMV Vidoes with Gstreamer ffmpeg Codec Plugin

Last week, I received an email from a friend, his company Floating weeds has produced their debut film. I rushed to watch the film online and guess what the film was in WMV video format. The standard Ubuntu doesn't ship with proprietary codecs like WMV, but you can still watch these videos just with few mouse clicks.

Gstreamer Can't find the proper Codec, Let's Search...searching windows codec on linux

Found a GStreamer ffmpeg plugin! Let's Install...Gstreamer FFmpeg plugin found

Restricted software Warning, Click confirm Warning! you are install restricted software

Downloading the plugin package ....Apt download a ubuntu package

Success, Now sit back and enjoy the filmLinux Gstreamer player playing WMV video

Update 27 Jan 2009 : Other codecs for mp3, real media etc, are provided by the gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly package.

Ubuntu The Complete Reference :: Book Review

Ubuntu the complete reference

After reviewing the last two Ubuntu books, Beginning Ubuntu Linux and Ubuntu Unleashed I decided to call it a day until October 30 release of Intrepid Ibex.

However I felt the need for a reference book that discussed topics like AppArmour, SELinux, Encryption, FACL, Intrusion Detection etc.. for more advanced users. Well, I found one such book Ubuntu The Complete Reference.

Indeed the book lives up to its grandiose title and it does cover basis for new users and the advance users who are planning to run Ubunutu on desktop and servers would find it very useful too. While reading the book I felt that author could have covered a chapter in more detail, however given the wide range of topics (I dare say, just too many) that are already covered in this book, I felt it was asking for too much :) .

My kudos to Richard Petersen and technical editor Ibrahim Haddad for doing such a great job on this book and finish it too ! . The book is up to date covering Ubuntu Hardy Heron (8.04) and you need to have it on your bookshelf.

VOIP & Asterisk Meetup, Hyderabad, 26 October 2008

Giovanni (Photo Credit FN)

Giovanni Maruzzelli celliax project developer, writer and popular speaker is currently touring India. Frederick Noronha (FN) caught up with Giovanni for chat during his stopover in Goa.
Giovanni graciously responded to my query about his talk in Hyderabad and the complete details are blogged here.

About The Event

Mr Giovanni Maruzzelli, Developer of the www.celliax.org project will be delivering a Presentation on chan_celliax, chan_skypiax and how to add GSM and Skype channels to Asterisk on Sunday 26th October 2008 at 4 PM


Contact: Diyanat Ali
Phonestack Technologies
19 B, MLA Colony, Road No 12
Banjara Hills
Phone: 9885039230, 23300120
You can register online here @ http://asteriskpbx.meetup.com/9/calendar/8951633/

Gaming Fropper 'Hit' System

This one is freshly unearthed from my archives, its a nifty macro script that helped me win a bet. Fropper is India's leading social networking site, it features a 'Hit' user rating system. The idea of this hack is to increase your hit count by visiting and hitting as many profiles as you can. Web automation Imacros plugin for firefox is used here.

' comments start with a qoute VERSION BUILD=6011218 RECORDER=FX ' Don't stop on errors SET !ERRORIGNORE=YES ' Run on first firefor tab TAB T=1 ' close other tab's if open TAB CLOSEALLOTHERS ' window size SIZE X=750 Y=400 ' find next zone TAG POS=1 TYPE=A ATTR=TXT:NEXTZONE ' be nice to the servers, wait 100 seconds WAIT SECONDS=100 ' Give a hit and loop TAG POS=1 TYPE=A ATTR=TXT:GIMMEAHIT!

Disclaimer: (Ab)using this script will put your behind the bars, script kiddies beware! .

National Conference On Free Software, Kochi India

National Conference On Free Software 2008 is being organized in Cochin Kerala(India) on 15 and 16 November 2008. Last years event was held in Hyderabad and for some reason I didn't get news in time. Perhaps we should remedy this time around, I request readers to please spread the word about the conference widely.

The event is organised by Appropriate Technology Promotion Society(ATPS) , CUSAT, Government of Kerala's IT@School project and Open Software Solutions Industrial Cooperative Society Limited (OSS ICS)

Sometime back I spoke to the Joseph Thomas about the conference over the phone, he mentioned that he could use some feedback about the event programme. Perhaps active contributors from free software community can sign up as speakers or conduct workshops, do I see any hands going up?.

If you like to attend National Conference on Free Software please register as a delegate online.

Compiz Wobbly Windows (side) effect

Here is an interesting side effect to watch out for if you have enabled the Compiz-fusion wobbly windows visual effect. When a window is placed on a certain corner of the desktop, almost overlapping the next desktop, it develops this nervous twitch. (See the video)

Please do check if you can reproduce this issue on your desktop and post a comment.

Thoughts on Poverty

October 15 is the Blog Action Day 08 , Here is another contribution from our guest blogger.

Think for a moment what come to your mind when you hear the word 'poverty'? The over-sized belly of a starving child in Somalia or the rag picker digging through the dumpster across the street. We have learnt to ignore them, either they are far off in some poor nation on dark continent or just as far from our neatly trimmed lawn.

As a teacher,what can I do? all my efforts are towards my students community. I can educate them through my language classes, teach them good communication skills so that they can get a good better job with better pay and to take good care of themselves and their family. As a counsellor, I can inspire my women students to become independent, self sufficient on par with men in our society. With our extra curricular activities such as the National Service Scheme (NSS), the students learn to play a active role in the society helping by conducting blood donation camps and medical camps, literacy mission, AIDS awareness, spearding the importance of nutrition, hygiene and need for environmental protection. With the National Cadet Corps (NCC) program my students learn the discipline of regimented life and learn the courage to fight against all odds in their life ahead.

How can we fight poverty?

The government does provide provisions like education loans, housing or medical facility, education fee waivers for low income family , self employment loans for vocation training. Its not enough, if one person among us can help one needy family then we have indeed taken the right direction towards poverty eradication. Let us hope and work for a better society where there is happiness in every ones hearts and smiles all around. Learn more about Blog Action Day 08

Looking Forward

Learn more about Blog Action Day 08 October 15 is the Blog Action Day 08 , this is my contribution to the global conversation on poverty.

The sound of iron hammer smashing concrete woke me up, looking out of my bedroom window I can see labours working on demolition site few meters away from my house. There isn't a single impact drill or any kind of mechanical device in sight, work here in India is done manually with hand tools and brute human strength.

1. Action Point "Health"

From construction workers to BPO and software developers, India is perhaps one of the largest workforce in the world, coming next only to china. The health of workforce is of great importance, affordable health care and nutrition for the young would be the things to watch out for in the coming years.

Lately we have indeed taken few right steps to make affordable generic drugs available in the country and early diagnosis and prevention of genetic and epidemics is in place. However there is lot to be done for making life bearable for those living dangerous close to the poverty line.

2. Action Point "Education"

Education is the second important action point, I hope in a few years we will have laws to enforce compulsory primary education. Being able to letter ones name is not enough, Education encourages individuals to question what is wrong and unjust and brings about awareness to use laws such as the Right to Information (RTI) act to its fullest.

3. Action Point "Technology

As a technologist I strongly believe that the ICT technology can empower people, in once instance a group of farmers used Google earth to show that the land which was declared are barren and assigned to a Special Economic Zone(SEZ) project in Maharashtra was green and provided sustenance to many. Systems like eSagu allows farmers query timely information to largely agricultural Indian economy.

In the times when raising inflation is pushing new segments of society under the poverty line, if we the educated young men and women can't address this global problem then we are the indeed the poor.

Gnome Notification Area Applet

Gnome Notification Area Notification Area applet is a nifty tool that lets you keep an eye on application activity of your Gnome desktop. Quite often new users tend to accidental it in the applet adding and removing frenzy that we all succumb to one time or other.

Here is how you can get the applet back on to your desktop panel. Select the 'Add to Panel' option by right-clicking the empty space before the clock applet. Scroll down and type the name of applet you want to add to the panel as show in the screenshot below.

Adding Notification Area Applet to Gnome Panel

Floating Weeds Debut Film

Few months after I moved to Hyderabad, I caught up with Vinoo on IM, he too it seems had moved away from Bangalore to the tinsel town Bombay (nay, sorry Mumbai) to start Floating Weeds with Kaevan.
Blue City Picture by Floating Weeds In the following months I kept track of Vinoo and kaevan work tirelessly to start their company and produce their debut film for IBM. Kaevan who is a Film and Television Institute of India(FTII) graduate took on the mantle of directing the film. It was amazing to follow the making of the film in the small towns of Rajasthan, Jaipur and fishing boats at sea down south in Kerala. The film does capture how mobile networks changed how people communicate in India.

Watch the film here on IBM site or click this direct link (WMV, 6:00 min, 9,76MB)

Ebay India Security Problem

Its almost midnight I am surfing the ebay.in listings. To my surprise I found this page shows me that I logged in as viper something. I don't know if there are any security issues with ebay India site authentication system. Could someone enlighten me ?.

Ebay.in Login Goofup

Checked again this morning, same issues. No good , no good at all

On Motherhood

Please welcome the new guest blogger Ammayee and she writes about the trials of being a mother of a monster child called 'me'.

I am a woman and mother of two grown-up children, I am proud of it and I owe it to my father who believed that educating a girl child was important in the days when women's education was considered to be no good. Now I teach and inspire my students about the importance of getting an education and earning a better livelihood for themselves and their offspring. Indeed an educated mother would educate her children and contribute back to the society in more ways than a father.

Changing Times

I grew up in a large joint family , always surrounded by five younger siblings and half a dozen rowdy cousins, loving grandparents , many aunts, uncles and endless flow of relatives visiting our house in the village.

We learnt the joy of sharing and values naturally, by the time I had my first child times had indeed changed, my first child grew up with his heap of story books and comics while I was out working. The joint family system had long disappeared. But at the end of the day, despite my tiredness I made sure that the my child never felt for the loss of my company. Perhaps this made an impression on children's personality, making them lovable and responsible. Do you think that an ayaa (house maid) would have done a better job?. Perhaps she might look after the children but no one can replace the role of mother.

As a Teacher

Education is important, but not at the cost of one's childhood. The other days I visited a doctor who kept on insisting that his 9 year old child is not doing enough (that is to satisfy his parents desires). After two hours of tennis practice and five hours of school and a hour of Abacus training, he wants the poor child to attend some classes to improve his English language. This sounds absurd to me and that too coming from such an educated parent and a doctor who should know the importance of happy and stress free childhood. As a teacher this is story all around and makes me wonder if the meaning of 'Education' has taken a totally different shape altogether. I feel that I must have failed as a teacher somewhere.

As a mother, I was the best friend to my younger child and her hoards of friends who tagged along. Even today after she left for her college studies aboard I would get stopped sometimes on my way to work by her friends who say 'Aunt, we missing polishing off your chicken curry'. Ask yourself whether you are a guide and counsellor to your children and remember this the true education is imparted by you as a mother. I would love to her your motherhood experiences, Please do share them here !.

Media Companies Adopt Drupal

Drupal CMS System TV and Radio audience don't want to be a passive consumers of airwaves no more, its not lost on the some media companies. They are exploring new technology to bring their audience together online. The Drupal the free software content management system(CMS) seems to be the new favourite of the media companies, they are using its reliability and rich features set to create digital communities.

radio cultura websiteRadar Cultura from Brazil, South America was featured recently on Beeb's Digital Planet
RadarCultura believes in the benefits of the usage of free technology and information. It is developed on Drupal mainframe and licenses its content by Creative Commons. All the material published may be used and distributed for free, except for commercial initiatives.

Closer home, NewsX the Indian television news channel (no relation to the famous TV show about paranormal) uses drupal to provide users customized news.

PS: Guess, its a good idea to add these sites to the Drupal Case studies page

GISS Multimedia Workshop in Sarai , New Delhi

Audio/Video production is no longer done solely by the trained media professionals, even the ordinary folks with a computer and Free Software tools like Open Movie Editor and a cheap camera produce and publish content on wikis, forums, blogs and social networking sites like Friends Reunited, Facebook and eBay

If you are interested to join the new media wave, you should head to this one day Multimedia workshop at Sarai, CSDS New Delhi. The event is organised by G.I.S.S. project , ILUG-D, Freed.in and Sarai,CSDS on 11 Oct 2008

Workshop schedule

We will start at 11am, and continue till about 6-7pm, depending on the level of interest. Food, snakes, and chai will be provided.

Presentations by Yves from the G.I.S.S. collective:

  • G.I.S.S. project, and live streaming: 1.5 h See, e.g., the distributed multimedia database
  • Pure data, and computer vision: 1.5h See, Pure Data, and openCV

Other potential topics, from Niyam Bhushan's list in the multimedia section here:

  • Edit, Produce and Publish Your Personal TV Programs on the Internet, with 100% FOSS.
  • How To Forge A Career in Digital Creativity with FOSS: Graphic Design, New Media, Multimedia.
  • Digital Photography Techniques using FOSS Software.
  • Do-It-Yourself iPod-wannabe [self-assembled hard-disk in a multimedia USB casing].

The Youngest "Learning GNU Emacs" Fan

My 11 month-old niece Guna takes liking to my Learning GNU Emacs book. Took few quick shots with my mobile phone, reminds me of Tim Pietzcker's Youngest "Learning Python" Fan post on O'Reilly way back in 2004.

kid playing with emacs book kid playing with emacs book kid playing with emacs book kid playing with emacs book

Blog Action Day 08 : Poverty

Blog Action Day 08 is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.
Learn more about Blog Action Day 08

Gnu/Linux Kernel Tutorial, IEEE Bangalore


DATE: 18th October 2008
VENUE: Atria Hotel Palace road, Bangalore

The Tutorial aims at increasing the technical excellence of programmers in defining technologies in free software domain. This is targeted at programmers in the industry and engineering students.


18th October, 2008

08.30 AM        Registration

09.00AM Inauguration and talk by IEEE Bangalore Section

09.30AM Basics of Gnu/Linux Programming & Tools
1.Simple C Programs
2.Simple Makefiles
3.Gcc, stace, Itrace, gdb, objdump, nm, LD_PRELOAD
4.Quick overview of a typical hardware on which Gnu/Linux runs (CPU,
Memory, Interrupt controller, IO Bus etc)

5.Overview  the Gnu/Linux Kernel
•       Kernel Layout
•       Coding Style
•       Important Subsystems
•       Kernel configuration
6.Building and booting a new kernel

10.30 AM: Tea

10.45AM Gnu/Linux Kernel Internals – An Overview
•       Process and threads 
•       Memory management
•       File systems
•       Interrupts and exceptions & System Calls
•       Kernel Synchronization
•       EXERCISE

1.00 PM: Lunch

2.00PM  Device Drivers
•       Kernel Module programming
•       Char and block drivers
•       Ioctls
•       Writing simple char device driver

3.15 PM: Tea

3.30 PM Kernel Debugging
•       Printk
•       Dynamic instrumentation techniques
•       System Tap [EXERCISE]
•       Kerec/kdump/ crash analysis

5.00 PM Free software philosophy
•       Introduction to the open source community
•       How to contribute
•       New exciting areas of work in the kernel

5.30 PM: Conclusion

Pre requisites

It is expected that all participants will have:

•       Basic knowledge of operating Systems
•       Good working knowledge of C
•       Hands-on experience desirable
•       Kernel   programming experience is  a bonus
•       Basic scripting knowledge (ex: shell scripts)
•       Working knowledge of Gnu/Linux

Resource Persons

Arun Krishnan, Huawei Technologies India.
Srivatsa Vaddagiri, Linux Technology Centre, IBM India
Balbir Singh, Linux Technology Centre, IBM India
Ananth N Mavinakayanahalli, Linux Technology Centre, IBM India
Sachin Sant, Linux Technology Centre, IBM India
Ankita Garg, Linux Technology Centre, IBM India

Course Fee per participant

Non-member: Rs. 1200/-;  Student  Rs. 600/-
IEEE member Rs. 1000/- ;  IEEE Student member Rs. 500/-

The course fee includes tutorial kit, inter session tea and lunch.

Organizing Committee

M. M. Babu Narayanan, IEEE Bangalore Section
Hitesh Mehta, IEEE Bangalore Section
Ravikiran. A, IEEE Bangalore Section
Dr. Debabrata Das, IEEE Bangalore Section
Dr. T. Srinivas, IEEE Bangalore Section

Please send your registration to:  
Mr. M.M. Babu Narayanan
Chair – Professional Activities
IEEE Bangalore Section
Central Power Research Institute
Sir C.V. Raman road
PB No. 8066,  Sadashivanagar PO,
Bangalore – 560 080
Telefax :  23605367
Email: babu@cpri.in

xvidcap Segmentation fault crash

xvidcap users on Ubuntu Hardy Heron are in for a nasty surprise. The moment you press the red record button, the program greets you with a segmentation fault error (bug #224355). This isn't a serious problem but it does make users shy away from using the xvidcap tool.

The solution is to tweak few settings on the Multi-Frame preferences page. The xvidcap preferences page can be accessed by right clicking on the first button on the left hand side marked test-0000.mpeg[00000] .

Xvidcap Main Screen

Xvidcap Main screen

Xvidcap Preference

Xvidcap Mult-frame preferences dialog

Instant Messengers for Kiosk Linux

The ground floor of our campus library is lined with public access computers, anyone can surf the Internet, search library database and access the scholarly journals in digital form. These machines run one version of Microsoft Windows operating system or other, anti-virus and security updates are non-existent. The only kind of maintenance these machines see is when they crash and someone runs a re-install with a Windows boot CD.

It doesn't take much to migrate some of these machines to gnu/Linux (if you can cut the red tap) and provide a secure and safe browsing experience to the users. There are quite some documentation that help you turn a KDE desktop or the popular Ubuntu Linux to work as a public access kiosk machine. Its relatively easy to setup and makes economic sense too.

However there are still some (technical) problems that need to be addressed, the needs of the kiosk mode desktop environment are quite different. Instant messenger clients running on a Internet kiosk need interface that enable users to log on without storing the user name, password to a user account on the computer. I haven't yet come across any exist free software IM clients that have this kind of facility. You can use the web based IM clients but they aren't a very good alternative.

Pidgin (formerly gaim) is the most popular instant messenger client that comes with most gnu/Linux distributions, it can connect to multiple IM protocols including AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, XMPP, ICQ, IRC, SILC, SIP/SIMPLE, Novell GroupWise, Lotus Sametime, Bonjour, Zephyr, MySpaceIM, Gadu-Gadu, QQ ,Google's Gtalk and more. However pidgin logon interface to aimed users with personal accounts. Perhaps this is one of the issues that free software IM developer should remedy in near future.

My Niece Guna

Here is the new girl in my life, a great kisser, she shakes her booty to all my favorite songs and to top is all she shares my passion for gadgets.

firefox-3.0 Assertion failed error

Caught myself some FireFox crash bugs #240507 and #251891 this morning, great way to start the day.

Ubuntu is running in low-graphics mode

Ubuntu modules not loading problem

I haven't figured out what went wrong, must be a bug or my disk started to show its age. After couple of reboots and doing file system check everything went back to normal. The issue seems to be that half of modules went missing, Beats me!

Looking For Moderators

Its time for me to throw in the towel, I no longer have time and energy to moderate the India Engineering Students list anymore. The India Engineering Students is a community of Engineering students from the subcontinent and elsewhere, its hosted on Yahoo! groups. Most of early moderators, including the founder of the list is MIA(Missing In Action). So, I decided to look for some young blood to run the list and keep the spammer's, trolls, bots at bay.

If you are a active member of the list and would like to spend time as a moderator then do please leave a comment with your Yahoo! groups user name or links to your past threads on the mailing-list.

Ubuntu Unleashed 2008 Edition :: Book Review

Here is yet another review of a Ubuntu book before the release of the next version of Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex at the end of this month. In my last post I wrote about Beginning Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu Unleashed 2008 edition by Andrew Hudson and Paul Hudson is the second Ubuntu book I am reviewing this week. At 850 odd pages this book covers a lot of ground and is yet another wrist breaker from Unleashed series.

The book caters to a wide range of audience from beginner to advanced, this is the highlight of the book and its major defect. The book starts by teaching you the much feared task of installing your first Ubuntu system (Part I Installation and Configuration, Part II Desktop Ubuntu) and do some basics tasks like adding new users, configuring network connections, backup up the system and burning DVD disks (Part III System Administration) and advanced system administration tasks like turning Ubuntu machine into a File and Print server or LAMP server(Part IV Ubuntu as a Server) is also covered. These who are planning to learn bit of programming could get started with Perl, Python, PHP, C/C++ or Mono (Part V Programming Linux).

Also the book has a section on Linux gaming which is rarely given coverage in other gnu/Linux books . You will find out how to install games like DOOM 3 , Unreal Tournament 2004, Quake 4, Wolfenstein, Battle for Wesnoth on Ubuntu. The book lives up to unleashed series reputation of power packing information into a single book. If you are beginner learning Ubuntu Linux this is a book you should have on your bookshelf. As for advanced users you better stick with your O'Reilly books for now or read The Debian System book.

Search Amazon.com for Ubuntu Unleashed 2008