On 13 May 2009, I participated in the democratic process of the world’s largest democracy. The election process has become so cliched and ripped apart by the insatiable politicians that electors feel in fool’s paradise only till they cast their vote. This time I cast my vote and felt somewhat emotionless and empty. Come whatever may, the political parties will woo the voters during the time of elections and make political issues out of anthills and bend truth as they wish and create so much of a ruckus to fool the normal ignorant Indian voters.

The moment the results are out, we get to see a different persona of the politicians. I can’t help feeling like crap as whomever I vote for, even if he is going to get elected, is not going to any good at all or the good-bad ratio is going to be hopelessly bad for the good things.

So when a provision like ’49-O’ was present, I was hopeful that many people could use it to express their displeasure at such a meaningless exercise called ‘General Elections’. But unfortunately, the voters have to fill in a form and submit it to be able to cast a ‘Do not wish to vote for any of the candidates’ vote, which is starkly against the secret ballot system being followed in our country. An individual casting such a vote can be at mortal peril too as his choice of vote is not a secret.I heard rumours that a button for ’49-O’ option will be present in the EVM itself from the next elections, I don’t know if it will be implemented and even if it is implemented, how effective and useful it will be is a big question.

The political parties try to woo the voters by showering them with illegal bribes and compete fiercely with competing parties. It is no longer the agenda of the parties, what they have done for the people and what they promise to do, that matter, but only the damn money! In a world where extremes like counting more votes than polled happens so silently and easily, bribing voters is absolutely normal and sane.

The ink mark on my nail hasn’t vanished yet and it is still dark and black looking to stay on a lot more days. It will go off in some time, but our nation is getting newer indelible and permanent blackmarks every instant that people like me tend to lose faith in democracy. I can’t help feeling that good-bad ratio is far more better in cases of a monarchy or a dictatorship rather than “Democracy”

I wanted to install OpenSolaris 2008.11 in a machine that had 512 MB RAM which is just about enough to install and use OpenSolaris. But to my misfortune, GNOME Desktop environment took too long to load from the LiveCD and the system hung up every time I tried starting the installation. I was irritated and wanted to try the Text mode provided in the LiveCD and wanted to see if OpenSolaris has a text-based or ncurses-based installation available but to my misfortune, it left me at a login shell beyond which nothing happened. On googling, I found out that OpenSolaris doesn’t yet have a text-based installer and there were a few workarounds that were given like ssh X forwarding which was Greek and Latin to me and I couldn’t do it either.

So I decided to post this issue to BOSUG and immediately Moinak Ghosh, the man tirelessly and enthusiastically working for Belenix replied by telling me how to start the installation without loading the GNOME stuff at all and it worked perfectly. Here are the steps.

1. Boot into Text mode in the Live CD.
2. Login as user ‘jack’ in the login prompt that appears. (password is jack)
3. See if there is a .xinitrc file in the home directory. If there is, delete it.
4. Type the command ‘xinit’ and it will start X with a terminal.
5. Click on the terminal and type the command ‘pfexec /usr/bin/gui-install’ and the installer will start fine.

Thanks to Moinak and BOSUG for letting me know about such a way to install OpenSolaris on machines with just about enough RAM. With this, I was able to install OpenSolaris 2008.11 on a lot of machines.

“FOSSConf will focus on new users and contributors to FOSS together with advanced learning sessions. People can improve their knowledge and gain experience in speaking on and presenting FOSS related topics” – so says the official FOSSConf website (http://www.fossconf.in).

Yep, this year’s FOSSConf was held at my college and the organizers were the ever-enthusiastic and cooperating ILUGC, my college FOSS Community and NRCFOSS. Last year, FOSSConf was held at MIT, Chennai and with feedback from the organizers of that event, we at TCE, had valuable feedback about the issues faced and areas to improve.

Sun Microsystems sponsored the prizes for the Quiz contest to be conducted during FOSSConf and myself & Venkatachalam designed a web application for the Quiz contest.
There were a lot of technical talks from expert speakers and budding students and there were also demo stalls on various FOSS technologies and FOSS projects. Perfect arrangements for the same had been planned and made well in advance.
We had thousands of visitors throng FOSSConf and participate in Tech-talk sessions and visiting the demo stalls.

Since I was held up with organizing Quiz contest, I was unable to involve myself much in other activities. Here I must thank Venkatachalam for creating the web application for the Quiz contest in no time at all and without him, the automated quiz would not have been possible at all. Hats off friend!

I wanted to attend a lot of tech-talks but could attend only a couple – Parallel Programming by Mr.Rajagopal from Yahoo and Badam Halwa of Embedded Systems by Mr. Shakti Kannan and they were excellent and interesting to say the least. Amidst all this, I also conducted a Ubuntu installation session for the audience.

FOSSConf 2009 was a great learning experience in terms of FOSS, team work and organization and I would cherish it forever.

I will soon post the link to the FOSSConf 2009 gallery here.

Here is something I scribbled some time back! 🙂

உன் கண்ணில் நீர் வழிந்தால்
என் உதிரத்தில் இனிமை கலக்குதடி
காதலி துயருர இனிமை காணும் காதலன்
மனிதனல்ல மிருகம் என்பார் யாவரும்
அவர்களுக்கு எப்படி தெரியும்
என் இனிமை என் விஷமென்று?

I have been going through an emotionally turbulent period of time where there are wild swings in emotions. One of the main things causing all this misery is the feeling of being used by someone so mercilessly with a precision a surgeon might envy with his surgical tools. It became obviously clear where my position is among the people whom I live amidst.

People have the tendency to be selfish and self-centered. But when it goes to this bad an extent, I can only rant in helplessness. But the feeling of being used, kills all the sanity inside me.

I have been in worse situations and this seems to top all those and itself every day that I can only gasp for breath.

In these testing times, it is only my fault that I got myself into a big big mess with my schedule, academics and the most important health – mind you I am a diabetic for the past 3 years. And my health is going nowhere but to shatters.

Distressing times such as this, make me think a lot of drastic things like thinking about breaking out of all the shackles and the commitments and living a stress-free life that I want to live. Another thought in me thinks that I should pay back the people causing me this misery in the same coin. But alas, sanity butts in and prevents me from degrading to such cheap levels of behavior.

I am just waiting with “This will change” in my breath and guarded optimism which is helping me survive in this merciless one-heck of a world!

I have been spending all my time by doing wrong things at the wrong time, hence I missed out on a lot of things that I like to do and reading books is one of them. My ‘to-read’ book queue had been building up into a monstrous one and as I too was fed up with the routine life, I decided to read some books for a change. I got my hands on Chetan Bhagat’s famous three – Five point someone, One night @ the call center and Three mistakes of my life.

I started with One night @ the call center the day before yesterday. One thing which I immediately felt after reading a few pages was Chetan Bhagat’s style was so similar to the of R.K. Narayanan’s (whose immortal Swami and Friends is one of the best books I have ever read). Very simple and easy to understand language and the plot always goes in a way that we are able to relate something with it. R.K. Narayanan was a genius at that and Chetan Bhagat is a really good one at the same.

Even though the story wasn’t a path-breaking or a mind-boggling one, I still enjoyed reading it because of being able to relate to a lot happening in the story. Five-point someone was slightly better than One night @ the call center coz the plot was over a longer period and the protagonists were students fighting their ways through their college lives like me. :-).

I was tempted to start reading Three mistakes of my life straightaway, but when I was a few pages into it, I realized that I having an overdose of Chetan Bhagat and hence was unable to get myself into the story or enjoy it. So I decided to push it to some time in the near future when I am cured of this very enjoyable Chetan Bhagat overdose. 🙂

Status update: March 6, 2009 – I finished reading “Three mistakes of my life” today and I could conclude that it was the best of the three novels in most ways, but still I couldn’t help feeling cliched about the way Chetan Bhagat has portrayed the female lead characters in all his three novels whereas the male protagonist is shown in an entirely contrasting light.

guruprasad@opensolaris-2008.05$ BUILD =`uname -v | sed -e “s/snv //” -e “s/[a-z]//”`

guruprasad@opensolaris-2008.05$ pfexec pkg refresh

guruprasad@opensolaris-2008.05$ pfexec install entire@0.5.11-0.${BUILD}

guruprasad@opensolaris-2008.05$ pfexec install SUNWipkg@0.5.11-0.${BUILD}

guruprasad@opensolaris-2008.05$ pfexec pkg install SUNWinstall-libs

guruprasad@opensolaris-2008.05$ pfexec pkg image-update

This is how we can upgrade from OpenSolaris 2008.05 to OpenSolaris 2008.11 – so says the official OpenSolaris site. Since the release of 2008.11, I have been wanting to install it on my notebook and start using it, but I didn’t have much time to do it. At last, today I decided to do the upgrade and not a fresh install because I would have to install all the software packages again.

All the above commands worked fine and pkg image-update showed that it had to download some 1300 odd MB for the upgrade and the upgrade started. After a couple of hours, when the upgrade was almost over at about 99%, the upgrade failed as the disk was full. 🙁 . So I, tried to free some space and proceed with the upgrade. But then I realized that even after freeing some space, I will have more or less no space left. As if to endorse my thought, the OS promptly froze and hung. So I decided to overwrite the existing installation with the brand new 2008.11 release.After burning the 2008.11 iso onto a CD, I booted into the Live Session and started the installation which was so simple. When the installation was happening, I wanted to try out some things.

My Intel PRO Wireless 3945 ABG adapter worked out of the box as in 2008.05 and it in fact got connected to the available wireless network in a flash without any problems unlike in the previous version where I had some issues with nwamd. I was happy about this and the Gnome Panel applet for the interfaces was nice.And the next surprise was Firefox and there was the latest Firefox 3.0.4 which is a great thing compared to 2008.05 which had if I remember right. And of course as usual drivers for my Nvidia GeForce 8600 M GS card was installed and Compiz-fusion worked out of the box.

I then ran the Device Driver utility and the Audio driver and the ACPI driver which were missing in the previous release were there and working fine and this meant that I had zero driver issues which is really really great.

Also in the previous release the Package Manager was so weak and feeble that it got grayed out every few seconds and it was impossible to use it at all. But this time the package manager works great.

So next, I wanted to install softwares and promptly installed amp-dev, sunstudio,HPC tools and etc. When I wanted to install the divine VLC player, my thoughts immediately turned to LifeWithSolaris repository. But when I added the repository and tried to install softwares I got errors. So I visited that site and found out the IPS repository has temporarily been disabled due to some copyright and licensing issues. I felt like a balloon pricked by a needle and was utterly disappointed. I then added the Blastwave Repository and refreshed the package list and had a lot of my favorite packages showing up in the package list. But unfortunately, when I tried to install any package from Blastwave, all I repeatedly got was HTTP 405 error, probably due to a problem with repository. I really felt dejected and what lifted my spirit was the presence of my favorite Emacs Editor(a lot lot more than an Editor too!), which was missing in the official IPS repository of 2008.05, in the official IPS repository and immediately I installed it.

In the war of editors, my loyalty is definitely to Emacs, which is one of the finest piece of software ever written. So to be able to install Emacs and use it in penSolaris was really really satisfying. I hate having to use GEdit! Then I tried to build VLC from source and gave up some distance into it. When a BeOS and Syllable have their pre-built VLC binaries, it is a pity that we still have to build VLC from source on OpenSolaris. LifeWithSolaris was a respite but it didn’t last too long. 🙁

And one more thing that took the sheen off, was the highly limited nature of the repository and the inability to easily save, reuse and redistribute the packages we download and install. GNU/Linux distros are light years better in this aspect. This is the reason which makes me favor a Ubuntu or a Debian as my primary OS and not OpenSolaris. With further development and a larger community participation over a period of time, this situation may change and we may have great, universal repositories. This must compulsorily happen or else OpenSolaris can never come out of Solaris shadow and grow,spread. It will end up into Solaris stream soon. So I sincerely hope and pray for great progress in OpenSolaris so that it escapes the mentioned ignominy. Issues with multimedia and codecs and a limited repository is the biggest obstacle to OpenSolaris in entering the Desktop environment and growing further. Any normal user will not use a OpenSolaris for DTrace or ZFS when he cannot listen to songs and watch movies in OpenSolaris.

I sincerely hope that people in-charge of OpenSolaris hear this and act accordingly to make OpenSolaris a lot lot better.

Thats it for now, Ciao. 🙂

The Sun Club sessions that had been planned had to be put into hibernation for about two months as there were exams during that period.So the first thing I did after the college opened for a new semester was to plan for a session and organize it. I wanted to have a session introducing people to OSUM, Sun Academic Initiative (SAI), Certifications and of course, Code for Freedom contest.

So on 3rd December, we had a two-hour session at our college auditorium with a 250-odd audience. I talked about OSUM, SAI and the Code for Freedom contest. My friends – Anugraha, Jayalakshmi, Venkatachalam and Karthik talked on NetBeans IDE, Sun Studio and OpenSolaris in connection with the Code for Freedom contest.

We distributed the CDs and DVDs of NetBeans and OpenSolaris to the audience so that they can try them out and use it. A demo of the OSUM site and its featureset was shown and the benefits students wil get out of being a part of OSUM was emphasised. With my college being a slow starter in the OSUM member count, things can only get better from hereon.

I will post the photos taken during the session on my Picasa album soon – http://picasaweb.google.com/lgp171188

We have planned to conduct more demos, hands-on sessions and contests in the near future. I am very happy to be a part of this Free Open Source Software movement and I am trying my best to help it. 🙂

Its almost 3 months into my term as the Sun Campus Ambassador of my college. Though i have great plans, i could not put much into implementation due to a lot of issues I had to face. After I returned to my college after Induction training at Bangalore, about 10 working days were lost as we had an unexpected holiday during the last week of August. This caused a cramped and tight schedule for the remaining time and everyone was very busy. With the last working day scheduled at the end of third week of September, I virtually had about a month’s time to do some useful activities. I was unable to arrange sessions as the college closed after the last working day. In the available time, I couldn’t schedule much of events as I couldn’t catch even a few of the busy people in my college. 🙁

Still I was able to do some useful things. I had an informal meet with the Sun club members and had a long discussion on what kind of activities we can have in the year. I also conducted a small-scale intro session with not much people on September 3,2008 – the day of Ganesh Chathurthi. During that session, I talked about the CA program, SAI, proposed activities of the Sun club and how students could benefit. I also introduced various Sun technologies. Jayalakshmi, my friend and classmate, gave a short talk on “Free Open Source Software” and Anugraha handled a NetBeans intro/demo session. Then myself and G.R. Karthik introduced the audience to OpenSolaris.

To keep the audience involved and cheered up, we screened the legendary “Big Buck Bunny” movie and had them in splits. We also had a demo of Compiz fusion on OpenSolaris and had a few dropping jaws 🙂

In another session, I planned for a small install-fest of Free Open Source Software OSes – OpenSolaris 2008.05, Ubuntu Hardy Heron, Fedora 9 and Debian etch. We had a reasonable turnout and I happily demoed the installation on bare metal and also on Virtual Box. I enrolled a lot of people on the Sun club mailing list during this meet. The audience were clearly impressed and wanted to have more such sessions.

My biggest achievement till now is conducting the Software Freedom Day celebrations for the fifth consecutive year at my college. More about it on another post on this blog http://blogs.sun.com/guruprasad/entry/software_freedom_day_tce_for.

With the Code for Freedom contest for this year announced, I am all geared uo to participate in it and do a good contribution. Of course, my role as a campus ambassador would be to introduce a lot of people to this great contest and motivate, help them participate.

So, as soon as my college reopens on November 17, 2008 (My birthday :-)) for the next semester, I intend to go full throttle with my activities and do a great job as a CA. I have planned to hold full-day sessions that will be enlightening to the audience and give OSUM a big kick to get it up and running. I want people to know about SAI and make use of it to get certified. There are great dreams and I want to make them a reality. Looking ahead for the great time ahead! 🙂

My Picasa Web Album is at http://picasaweb.google.com/lgp171188