Tuesday, September 28, 2010

27th Birthday of the GNU project.

GNU was a software computing environment envisioned by Richard M Stallman. The vision was to build an operating system(UNIX like) and then provide it with all the user mode tools so that users could use it, build upon it, share it and improve it. This is more of the principles of "freedom" expressed by Sri Mahatma Gandhi.

I would request the reader to refer to the first announcement RMS made about his passion and plan for the liberation of the software world http://www.gnu.org/gnu/initial-announcement.html. Well the operating system part did not turn out as easy as RMS envisioned. But with the advent of the Linux kernel the incomplete part was now complete. GNU vision with the free software foundation provided all the user mode tools. This gave rise to the GNU/Linux system. Anybody with the clear information about the history of both the projects(GNU and the Linux kernel) would like to call the Operating system they use as GNU/Linux. This pays gratitude to both the projects which has put to shame many propreitory protject software teams on the subject of its longevity and its productivity.

This is a true example of the human nature of "sharing". So will we have a "GNU" operating system? NO. RMS himself is not confident on the GNU/HURD project. GNU/HURD was also a micro-kernel OS. Now, we have a project (Minix 3) which is still alive and been funded by the European Union. If this project goes out and reaches to the developers of the linux kernel and convince them that the micro-kernel approach is the way to go(By the way I do believe in micro-kernels). I believe the ideas look great. But message passing through t the OS for any communication b/w processes looks complicated. I am hoping for one more option GNU/Minix. Which would be excellent owing to the multiple cores on todays desktops.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Forking times ahead!!!!

Forks everywhere. That is the beauty of FLOSS. Anybody with a little background about the working of Operating systems will know that "fork()" is the system call used to start a new process. When the "fork()" system call is called, the os makes a copy of the parent process(complete with data, program and stack content). After this the "exec" system call would replace the parent image with the child information.

Exactly the same is happening in the FLOSS world. It all started with the orphaning of the opensolaris project by oracle. There was an inevitable fork and there are two projects which have taken the original code and released their own taste of opensolaris. So Opensolaris lives on without the support of big daddy.

Sidux, one of my favorite distro also had the same problems with its sponsor. So, what happens, fork is called and you have aptosid, which is true to the sidux project in all respect. It prides itself in packaging software from the unstable(sid) branch of the debian GNU/linux project(Debian once again).

Now, can Redhat stand up and fork mysql so as to continue the flagship programming model of the GNU/linux universe. I meant the LAMP stack(GNU/Linux, Apache web server, Mysql DBMS, PHP scripting). I request redhat to take up mysql under its umbrella of development or I would suggest it to merge whatever possible code with postgresql(Dont flame me regarding the technicalities).

Corporations, beware!, nobody owns Free/libre software. It is and will be developed for the public good and in testing times, they will always be FORKED!!!!!!!!!!. ha ha ha ha!!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

GNU/Linux on Dell laptops

I happened to install Pinguy GNU/Linux on a friends' laptop. Everything went smooth except for one caveat. The installer made a grub entry to the first disk partition /dev/sda1 which is where windows can ever install. But I was shocked to see that the that partition had some testing tools specifically developed by and for Dell laptops. I do no know whether all models of Dell have the same feature. This is for somebody with a laptop and their windows grub entry takes them to the system testing.

Open the /boot/grub/grub.cfg and copy the menu entry of Windows and paste it below it(That is duplicate that entry). Now edit the (hd0,1) to (hd0,2) so that it points to the second partition. Now backup this grub.cfg because these entries are overwritten any time update-grub is run(which might happen when u upgrade grub). After any upgrade just replace with the backed up grub.cfg.

Thats it, now select the menu entry which relates to the second partition and u have ur Windog up and running(after all the runners have started running).

I welcome the new entrant(without any fee).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

LMDE(LInux Mint Debian edition) is here

Well, all the new users of GNU/Linux, Rejoice. http://www.linuxmint.com/blog/?p=1527.
Here comes a Debian GNU/Linux distribution (testing) combined with the Linux mint tools. Many new users I believe are at home with linux mint. That is owing to the fact that it comes pre-loaded with all the codecs and has an excellent hardware detection tool which offers the users the option of installing proprietary drivers the easy way. You are just to start the tool and the tool will come up with all the devices which are not running to their potential due to proprietary drivers not installed. Once you select the device from the list the installer will search for the proprietary drivers and install them automatically.

Add to this the excellent Mint menu, Software manager u have an excellent distribution which is as close to the roots as possible. But as the link explains it requires certain amount of knowledge to maintain an LMDE. The change is because of the philosophy behind Debian GNU/Linux. Debian GNU/Linux is designed to be installed only once. The system has to be upgraded regularly from the debian repositories. I have been using synaptic ever since I have installed debian and until now I do not have any problems at all.

I do not install debian GNU/Linux regularly. I have selected the testing branch of debian. As the testing branch reaches release stage, the unstable packages are promoted to testing stage(when ready). So I just have to update my repository metadata to get to know about the latest packages. Once I decide to upgrade any package I will be informed to install any dependencies. It has worked like a charm until this day.

This distro is for somebody who wants to cross the ubuntu line and go into higher prospects and more deeper into the workings of GNU/linux distro. LMDE would be the perfect gap stop for enthusiasts wanting to make the shift to Debian from ubuntu.

All ubuntu users are welcome and Thank u Mint developers for taking the plunge. I request the Linux mint developers to please share their coding effort with the upstream also.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

pinguy OS "Just use it GNU/Linux"

I have been using pinguy GNU/Linux for the past couple of months and I am mighty impressed with this excellent ubuntu spin. It just works. The packager has collected the packages which would make the "perfect" operating system for a desktop user. While building it on gnome gives it that simplistic feel. I personally believe that the the GNOME interface is lesser intimidating than the others(persona opinion, I dont want any flames here!).

It combines the best of GNU/Linux mint, ubuntu, debian and a lot of other customizations like the dock and the very interesting TED. I just added few more things to the excellent selection of software like GNU/emacs and Transmission. I believe these two are required very much. The deluge client is too complicated and GNU/emacs as everbody know is more of religion.

I would recommend pinguy os to all the newbies who have to do some configurations to the basic GNU/Linux os to start using it in its full capability. All the codecs/flash are pre-installed. You have a well configured conky, hardware detection and driver installation tools taken from mint, mint updater etc.

Give it a try and u will be at home with this great ubuntu spin.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ps3 media server on GNU/Linux

Excellent job(patting myself!). I got that killer app which I have been dying to get working on GNU/Linux, ps3 media server. I think the audience owning a ps3 know that there is no hardware acceleration available when GNU/Linux is installed on the ps3. So to run movies encoded with various formats available to the public is a big no no for the general public. But with the RSX on the ps3 and genuine FULL HD Play back available with fantastic upscaling available with 7 cores available for processing, not using all these resources to have an immersive movie experience is a crime. This crime has been committed by me for the past 4 months.

The killer app for the above condition is ps3mediaserver by shagrath. I just loved the way the app was written and licenced under GPL(whoa whoa). But I got it work only with windows. Windows detected both my lan cards perfectly(one for the internet and one for the connection b/w the pc and the ps3). What is so special about this app?. It streams audio/video(It is a UPnP DLNA compliant server) and is "specifically" optimized for ps3(programmers itch). There are "n" number of UPnP servers but ps3mediaserver stands apart by its property of on the fly transcoding of audio/video files. (Purists not to frown) The transcoder converts the source format to a format which the recieving device(UPnP client like the ps3) understands. Ps3 understands the Divx/Xvid format. So the ps3mediaserver re-encodes the file available on your pc's hard disk and streams the data to the ps3 which in turn goes through the fantastic RSX graphics chip(nvidia) to display an upscaled view of the file on the pc.

The additional bonus is the support for subtitles, which is a boon for the non-english speaking countries to understand movies in their true sense.(Can u feel my adrenaline!). The ps3mediaserver is true to the UNIX, GNU/Linux philosophy which is very simple "Do not re-invent the wheel". Surprised how that applies here? hmmm. Ps3mediaserver makes use of GPLd software like mplayer,mencoder and java to come up with a piped command with a result which is the more than the sum of the individual parts.

So, what was it that did the trick.
1. Disconnnect the internet cable and connect the cable connecting the desktop and the ps3
2. Right click on the network icon in gnome(I am using pinguy os(spin of ubuntu))
3. select edit connections
4. select the card(eth0 or eth1) based on ur connection to the ps3 and click edit
5. Go to the IPv4 tab and select local connection and save it.
6. wait for a few seconds the notifier will tell that now u are connected.
7. start the ps3 media server app(run it from the cmd line or double click on it in gnome and select "run". do not create any short cut. If the program is started with a short cut it fails to load the ps3.conf which will result in an "Unknown renderer" in the status page. Which in turn will show files the ps3 cannot play natively as unknown format.)
8. Go to ur ps3 display screen and voila!!!, there it is, the ps3 media server is listed!!
9. Now connect ur internet cable to its lan card.

Thats it. Start downloading on one side and in the mean time enjoy ur favorite movie at the same time. I love the world. I love freedom software. I love debian and I really enjoyed using pinguyos.

Thank u, all the freedom software developers and supporters. Keep it going.

One more FLOSS "Interested user"!!!!!!!

Yes, It is certainly a happy day. There was an "Interested user" who wants to know more about freedom software. As usual there is a lot of FUD in his mind. There was one more "knowledgeable" user in my organization(H.N. Anandbabu) who took up the cause of coding as the highest priorrity and my "enthusiasm" as negligible or irrelevant. But according to me freedom software requires contribution in terms of code and contribution as much as the enthusiasm from the "users" to use freedom software and to spread awareness about it also.

It is happy to find one more mallu who is interested in freedom software passion in the same organization. It is a known fact that the govt of kerala and LUGs are very active and support FLOSS to the maximum extent compared to other states. But, let us welcome one more passionate FLOSS supporter with open arms in achieving the dreams of Sri RMS of a freedom software world. Now, he seems lost with all the definitions and the complications of freedom software.

My suggestion to any new freedom software enthusiast would be to understand the principles of freedom as defined by Sri M. K. Gandhi. The ideals would match with the propositions of sri RMS relate to software. If that appears to be daunting, then I would recommend them to read the GNU/GPL licence(complete text) starting from version 1 and end with version 3 or the latest. This would give them a knowledge of how the licence has evolved and how the propreitory world has tried means to grab freedom software into its repertoire. If not for the liberal policy of free bsd we would not have an OSX or the OSX would be lot different and would have taken a long time fo apple to come out with modern operating system. If the freebsd kernel was licenesed as per GNU/GPL(linux is) then apple wouldnt have dared to use it since it is the boss of propreitory companies.

I would suggest a visit to www.fsf.org and www.gnu.org and start using GNU/emacs to really appreciate the efforts of sri RMS. So, will the new freedom user become a freedom software enthusiast, or will his effort be just information, I will keep it posted.

Until then, Enjoy your freedom as long as it exists.