Linux User Group of Mauritius Promoting open source software in our beautiful island

18May/150

World Telecommunication & Information Society Day 2015

Posted by Ish

I attended a workshop by the National Computer Board on the theme “Telecommunications and ICTs: Drivers of innovation”. I represented the Linux User Group of Mauritius. Though the workshop was scheduled to start at 09h30. I reached a little before nine. I signed the registration form, my name was properly written & clearly mentioned “Linux User Group of Mauritius”. That was good. I enquired if S. Moonesamy had arrived. They said no. SM was representing the Mauritius Internet Users.

The workshop was held at La Canelle, Domaine les Pailles. I went inside, found a cozy place and was going through the programme. Shortly after, SM arrived and we had the casual chit-chat if there was free WiFi available and all. I replied, no, I was using Orange Mobile Data. SM grinned saying attending a “telecom” event without free WiFi isn’t encouraging.

The Executive Director of the National Computer Board read the welcome address & then invited Mr. Biju Kadapurath of PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the major sponsors, to address the audience. Mr Kadapurath gave a broad overview of the day’s topic about innovation and took a few examples of Smart Cities like that of the city of Barcelona, he mentioned the Clinic-in-a-Container project and the National Fiber Optic project that bridges the bandwidth gap suffered by remote places in India.

ubuntu-mauritius-220The Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation then opened the workshop after addressing the audience. The one thing that was a highlight during his speech was the emphasis he laid on Open Source Software and his mention of Ubuntu as an example. It didn’t go unnoticed.

After the tea break there was a presentation on Innovation in the knowledge economy by the Executive Director of the Mauritius Research Council. At some point I was bored with the prez and I tweeted about the relation between seaweed and telecom.

mrc-prez-at-ncb-workshop

Then he mentioned about a National High-performance Computing (HPC) Center. I rose from my sleep and started paying attention. Yeah. That was interesting though I pondered why the Linux User Group of Mauritius hasn’t been made aware of the same. Oh… Oh… I reserved that for the question time. Indeed, as he finished his prez I shot my question. I briefly explained about the Linux User Group of Mauritius, showed my interest on this National HPC Center and I mentioned that there is an open source developer in Mauritius & what is the MRC doing to connect with the young bright minds of Mauritius. He explained that indeed the Mauritius Research Council should collaborate with user groups & make it easier for the bright minds to come forward with their ideas. He stressed that work should be done to connect the MRC with local talent. Then SM questioned about Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) saying that internationally it is used as a metric to measure innovation. The Director mentioned that there hasn’t been much IPR from the projects in Mauritius. SM was disappointed with the answer and proclaimed the Mauritius Research Council as a failure.

Then followed a presentation by Dr P.C Catherine from the University of Technology about an Ecosystem for Smart Cities in Sub Saharan Africa. By this time I was feeling hungry. Though I wanted to question Dr Catherine on his data & his conclusion about urbanization as I did not agree to compare rural Mauritius with rural Africa. For example, his conclusion about 200K people might move to urban regions in the coming years might not reflect in Mauritius. There is not much of a difference between the rural & urban in Mauritius based on accessibility of facilities within a few minutes drive in a car. Well, it’s not because FTTH is taking time to reach Providence that I am going to live in Quatre Bornes. There are many advantages attached to living in Providence than living in Quatre Bornes.

Mr. Biju Kadapurath made a comeback with his presentation on Driving innovation through Smart Cities. Oh, by this time, I was too hungry and nothing was getting inside my head.

hungry-at-ncb-workshop

At around noon we had lunch. Thank you NCB for the good vegetarian food :-)

I made some acquaintances during lunch and we discussed about 100Mbps local access. We looked at the different pictures to have such a local bandwidth. It could empower individuals to run applications & share resources over a localnet. User groups could chip in to set up cache servers and consequently decrease the load of international bandwidth when it comes to downloading huge files.

After lunch there was a prez by Dr Mahen Soobron from the Central Informatics Bureau. He explained about innovative Public Service with ICT. His slides went through the Government Web Portal and he talked about mobile apps. During the same time I was checking the mobile responsiveness of the Government Portal on my mobile phone. At the bottom of the page there is a “Pay Online” option. When I clicked on it, the same opened a blank page with a gov.mu URL.

However, my question was going to be about the Google “Terms of Service” that one has to accept when entering the captcha on the login page of the portal. Oops! When I tried logging on my mobile, there was no captcha displayed. I thought they removed it and showed the same to SM. However, when I entered my username & password it reported that I need to enter the captcha. WTF!

govmu-org-mobile-no-captcha

Screens before & after logging. Where is the captcha?

I made this remark during the question time, to which Dr Soobron replied that I could call the technical team and report such issues. Wait, it only suffice replying my emails when I send, I’d be happy :-) I can’t spend long minutes on a phone call explaining tech issues to non-tech people.

I took the above screenshots for this article when I came back home.

Anyway, after getting the “call tech team” answer to my first question, I thought it would be futile to beat around the bush explaining the issue of a Google “Terms of Service” and an “unfound” captcha. I rather asked him about the several un-used tools on the portal, namely the forum, blog and chat rooms. I wanted to know if any study was carried out prior to implementation to assess the need of implementing these. I also asked if there is data available from such studies and if the same could be made available so that enthusiasts and developers from the community could use the data and may provide a better alternative. The answer wasn’t up to my satisfaction. I didn’t argue further.

Next there was a presentation by Dr Saumtally from the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI) and he presented some interesting work based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS). I did not comment on the same as the subject was outside my field.

The last presentation I attended was that of Mr Ben Mann from IBM UK. He went through 7 ways to boost innovation for a SMART Mauritius. I was eager to know these 7 ways. Well, he started by going to the basics of “innovation”, taking example of the famous lego blocks. The idea was to explain the audience about APIs and how they are changing the developer world. Well, changing? Hmm… Let’s say leveraging rather. He gave a quick intro of IBM Bluemix and Cloud Foundry. As he finished his prez I was first to question him about Bluemix. I already registered for the Bluemix trial some time back and noticed that Virtual Appliances are still in beta & not currently available. I am more interested in tweaking & deploying appliances rather than developing and writing code. I questioned about the engagement of IBM with regards to the latency that we Mauritians suffer. I tossed that Mauritius being far from the rest of the world, it takes much time for our requests to go to and fro the destinations such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Coupled with concurrency issues this latency can at times be a headache for us. I wanted to know what does IBM have in its pipeline to tackle this issue. That’s when Ben mentioned the acquisition of Softlayer by IBM and a long term plan to geo-localize resources. He also mentioned the possibility of having local instances of Bluemix. That does sound interesting vis-à-vis competitors such as Microsoft Azure and AWS. Only time will reveal the tech specs & we’ll know the real thing that is in the IBM pipeline.

I enjoyed the workshop, engaging with people & getting acquaintances. Though for a successful workshop I’d rather expect more of the Question & Answer happening. We (SM and I) were not allowed to more questions and that somehow didn’t let me broaden the different aspects that could have been discussed and brainstormed today.

Nevertheless, as I said, I did enjoy meeting new people :-)

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9May/150

Upgrade to Xubuntu 15.04 – Vivid Vervet

Posted by Jochen Kirstaetter

Running an operating system like Ubuntu or any of its derivates, like ie. Xubuntu, comes with some nice treats (and threats?). One of the nice things is that you'll get a scheduled upgrade approximately every six months. Usually, around April and October of each year. Meaning there are two releases per year resulting in those version numbers [Year].04 and [Year].10. Also, ever two years the April edition of Ubuntu is classified as a Long-Term Support (LTS) version which keeps an extended period of time. A nice touch and surely interesting for professional installations of Ubuntu but eventually not too practical for the daily use at home or when you're interested in latest versions.

Preparing the system

These steps are the same every time you decide to upgrade to the latest release. Eventually, you might be interested to update older installation and have a read here: 

In general, you should have a look at the official upgrade documentation of Ubuntu. Next, get your recent system up-to-date before you consider to upgrade. Also, take care that there are no pending partial upgrades or packages on hold. This might have a negative impact on the installation process of the newer packages. So, before you think about upgrading you have to ensure that your current system is running on the latest packages. This can be done easily via a terminal like so:

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade --fix-missing

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

Next, we are going to initiate the upgrade itself:

$ sudo update-manager

As a result the graphical Software Updater should inform you that a newer version of Ubuntu is available for installation.

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

Ubuntu's Software Updater informs you whether an upgrade is available

Running the upgrade

After clicking 'Upgrade...' or 'Yes, Upgrade Now' you will be presented with information about the new version.

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

Details about Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet)

Simply continue with the procedure and your system will be analysed for the next steps.

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

Analysing the existing system and preparing the actual upgrade to 15.04

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

Next, we are at the point of no return. Last confirmation dialog before having a coffee break while your machine is occupied to download the necessary packages. Not the best bandwidth at hand after all... yours might be faster.

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

Are you really sure that you want to start the upgrade? Let's go and have fun!

Anyway, bye bye Unique Unicorn and Welcome Vivid Vervet!

In case that you added any additional repositories like Medibuntu or PPAs you will be informed that they are going to be disabled during the upgrade and they might require some manual intervention after completion.

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

Ubuntu is playing safe and third party repositories are disabled during the upgrade

Well, depending on your internet bandwidth this might take something between a couple of minutes and some hours to download all the packages and then trigger the actual installation process. In my case I left my PC unattended during the night.

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

At the end Xubuntu will ask you whether you would like to remove old and obsolete packages of the previous version.

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

Time to reboot

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

Finally, it's time to restart your system and see what's going to happen... In my case absolutely nothing unexpected. The system booted the new kernel 3.19.0 as usual and I was greeted by a new login screen.

Honestly, 'same' system as before - which is good and I love that fact of consistency - and I can continue to work productively. And also Software Updater confirms that we just had a painless upgrade:

xubuntu 1504 uptodate

System is running Ubuntu 15.04 - Vivid Vervet - and up to date

See you in six months again... ;-)

Post-scriptum

In case that you would to upgrade to the latest development version of Ubuntu, run the following command in a console:

$ sudo update-manager -d

And repeat all steps as described above.

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11Apr/150

Slackware & Debian packaging

Posted by Ish

As announced on the Linux User Group of Mauritius mailing list, today there was a meetup about Slackware & Debian Packaging. I attended the same. I’m usually lazy on Saturdays and no wonder I reached the University of Mauritius late, where the meetup was scheduled.

Good enough for me though the presentation by Pritvi got delayed too. Technically, I didn’t miss a lot. Pritvi brought his O-Droid running Xubuntu and ran his slides on the same. Oh… His prez was on Slackware packaging. In our little group of geeks I think Pritvi is the only human being having survived a Slackware experience :-)

pritvi-presenting-slackware-packaging

He explained the need of a couple of utils necessary during packaging; mktemp, chown/chmod, make, tar etc. He went into meticulous details during the compilation and the need for a temporary directory. By the end of his slides one could understand that Slackware packages are tarballs built with a specific structure that could be then deployed using the pkgtool. Some commands to retain when installing/removing Slackware packages are:

# installpkg option package_name

-m	Performs a makepkg operation on the current directory.
-warn	Shows what would happen if you installed the specified package. This is useful for production systems so you can see exactly what would happen before installing something.
-r	Recursively install all packages in the current directory and down. The package name can use wildcards, which would be used as the search mask when recursively installing.

# removepkg option package_name

-copy	The package is copied to the preserved packages directory. This creates a tree of the original package without removing it.
-keep	Saves temporary files created during the removal. Really only useful for debugging purposes.
-preserve	The package is removed, but copied to the preserved packages directory at the same time.
-warn	Shows what would happen if you removed the package.

# upgradepkg package_name

Next, Cyril talked about Debian packaging. He introduced himself and gave an overview about the Debian distribution and its package management. He had emacs opened and showed us the directory structure of the source files, files that need to be created etc. To create a .deb file from the downloaded source code, one needs a minimum set of 5 files under a “debian” directory in the source folder. The files are:

– changelog
– compat
– control
– copyright
– rules

Cyril went through the contents of each file and explained why they are important during the build procedure. His slides can be found on his website under : Debian packaging talk

cyril-bouthors-debian-packaging

For our better understanding, Cyril created a .deb package after downloading the source code for pbzip2. He explained us each step all while editing the required files.

Cyril Bouthors is a Debian Maintainer since around 2000 and has been maintaining several packages and Python modules. He explained us the procedure of package verification once the same is uploaded on the Debian infra before it goes public on the repository.

We had a short Q&A session and he gladly answered our queries.

ish-slackware-debian-packaging-meetup

Me, with my freedom-support laptop :-)

We finished around 15h00. Some of us dropped to Bagatelle Foodcourt for munching, drinking and chatting.

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5Apr/150

How to take a screenshot with GIMP?

Posted by Ish

During the past week a developer friend and I were talking about blogs and all. We discussed about the simplicity of posts and I realized he was right, that sometimes simple things that we write are actually highly sought. That same day another friend asked me how to take a screenshot on the modified Debian desktop he was using as he could not achieve it using the Print Screen (PrtSc) button. Using GIMP one can achieve the trick across all operating systems the same way.

How to take a screenshot with GIMP?

Open GIMP, navigate to File > Create > Screenshot, as displayed in the image below.

gimp-screen-1

A dialog box will appear with several options that you can use to customize the way to capture the screen. You can capture only a specific window (with or without the window border decoration), you can capture fullscreen (with or without the mouse pointer) and you can specify a delay before taking the capture.

gimp-screen-2

The delay part becomes handy as it allows one to prepare the window that needs to be captured. However, even if you have captured a whole screen but you need only part of it, it’s pretty easy in GIMP to select and edit. From the left toolbox, click on the Rectangle Select Tool, then select a portion of the captured screen.

gimp-screen-3

gimp-screen-4

Select the portion needed

Right-click on the image and do Edit > Copy.

gimp-screen-5

Then, right-click and do Edit > Paste as > New image.

gimp-screen-6

That should be all, happy GIMP’ing :-)

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22Mar/150

Bash source file

Posted by Ish

While I had no particular reason why to code it in Perl or Python, I ended writing my scripts in Bash on this Sunday afternoon. No huge tasks were meant to be executed, just some database reading. However, all of the short scripts would be using common variables, namely regarding the DB credentials. Sourcing variables from an external file could be achieved using . filename or source filename.

A little heck comes when passwords containing special characters such as $ < > [] {} ` ' " | & ; * ? are used. In your source file you need to escape each of those characters using a backslash symbol.

For example we could have a configuration file db.conf as follows:

HOST=localhost
DBNAME=testdb
DBUSER=user001
DBPASS=!p@ssw0rd$

Now, let’s get the variables as follows:

#!/bin/bash
. db.conf
echo $DBPASS

Copy the above in a file named getSQLPass.sh and we run it.

bash-source-file

The backslash symbols do not get printed.

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19Mar/150

Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet Release Party #DevConMru

Posted by Ish

The release of Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet is coinciding with Developers Conference 2015. We’re thus proudly having our release party during the event. Typically, all geek stuffs, that is hackathons, demos, installfests will run Flying Dodo, Bagatelle. Ubuntu release party is scheduled for Thursday 23rd April and I shall be there a whole, hopefully. So… Bring it ON and let’s have some Ubuntu fun.

Ubuntu Mauritius

ubuntu-mauritius-220Ubuntu Mauritius is a group comprising of Ubuntu enthusiasts who seek to promote the use of Ubuntu and free open source software. The group comprises of professionals as well as college & university students, who dedicate their time to plan and organize events around the island.

Should you wish to join the league, catch us on Launchpad. We’re reachable via our mailing published on our Launchpad page. We also have an event page on the Ubuntu LoCo Team Portal.

Meanwhile let’s just spread some Linux Love through #Ubuntu #Mauritius #DevConMru hashtags on social networks. Those who are on Facebook, feel free to use the following as FB Cover.

ubuntu-cover

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23Feb/150

Reviving an old notebook with Xubuntu

Posted by Ish

Last Sunday I spent some time reviving my old laptops. Had quite some gear lying around and I decided to clean up the trash. I gave my current Acer Aspire running openSUSE 13.2 to my mom, swapped the HP Compaq 6515b with an SSD drive and loaded Xubuntu.

Next in line was a little bit of aesthetics. In fact, while exploring Evolve OS I came across the Numix Project. Thought of giving it a try. Ah, totally worth it.

xubuntu-desktop

The Numix Project offers a collection of GTK themes and icons. Get hands on those as follows:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa
apt-get install numix-gtk-theme numix-icon-theme

Hit the Appearance dialog and set the Style and Icons as Numix.

xubuntu-numix

One more tweak for the day. Though font anti-aliasing is enabled by default my fonts would not look good in Abiword. To fix the same I ran the Alt + F2 combination and executed xfce4-settings-editor. Went to xsettings and set Lcdfilter’s value to lcdlight.

xfce4-settings-editor

As and when I tweak the box further, I’ll be writing.

The post Reviving an old notebook with Xubuntu appeared first on HACKLOG.

23Feb/150

Reviving an old notebook with Xubuntu

Posted by Ish

Last Sunday I spent some time reviving my old laptops. Had quite some gear lying around and I decided to clean up the trash. I gave my current Acer Aspire running openSUSE 13.2 to my mom, swapped the HP Compaq 6515b with an SSD drive and loaded Xubuntu.

Next in line was a little bit of aesthetics. In fact, while exploring Evolve OS I came across the Numix Project. Thought of giving it a try. Ah, totally worth it.

xubuntu-desktop

The Numix Project offers a collection of GTK themes and icons. Get hands on those as follows:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa
apt-get install numix-gtk-theme numix-icon-theme

Hit the Appearance dialog and set the Style and Icons as Numix.

xubuntu-numix

One more tweak for the day. Though font anti-aliasing is enabled by default my fonts would not look good in Abiword. To fix the same I ran the Alt + F2 combination and executed xfce4-settings-editor. Went to xsettings and set Lcdfilter’s value to lcdlight.

xfce4-settings-editor

As and when I tweak the box further, I’ll be writing.

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7Feb/150

Ubuntu Jam 2015 – Mauritius

Posted by Ish

In-line with the Ubuntu Global Jam happening from 6 – 8 February 2015, we too, we had our share of jamming session at the University of Mauritius today. Due to work commitments, however, I could not put in too much energy and rather unloaded the same on Ashmita, the University of Mauritius Computer Club president, and a very good friend.

ubuntu_global_jam_badge_v1Though we had a tight schedule of just a couple of days, she managed to get some gear ready for the event. I created the event on the Ubuntu Loco Team Portal. Ashmita created an event page on Facebook as well.

Scheduled to start at 10h00, I reached the University of Mauritius around 10h15. Bad weather, bad timing, but geared for some fun. On the way, I picked up Shelly. As for Pritvi, really it’s time he gets himself a mobile phone to synchronize timing. He reached the university some 15 – 20 minutes after me.

As I arrived at the caféteria, the usual geek team was busy setting up what looked like a “chapiteau”. Oh great, we would need one in case the rain pours like hell. Ubuntu Jam in the rain, that’s rare but fun.

Minutes later we had tables set up, got power and plugged our gears. I brought two laptops. My work laptop was with me, I actually carry it everywhere ^^ so I just shot a Live Ubuntu on that one. Besides I had my second laptop running openSUSE which I used to build Live pendrives.

i-support-freedom-online

My openSUSE notebook

A few curious ones showed up and I discussed Ubuntu while demo’ing stuffs on the Live Ubuntu session. Some took ISO images while many others wished to have a Live pendrive. The irony was when I had Ubuntu running on a MacBook to copy a Linux ISO on a Microsoft pendrive :-)

macbook-ubuntu-microsoft

Kamal & Nadim were busy installing Ubuntu on laptops. It was great to see people bringing their gear for a Linux install. As far as I know, they did at least three installations.

ubuntu-jam-2015-install

Nirvan & Logan were intrigued as to why they had SSH issues on the university campus. They tried git-cloning using SSH and it failed flat on their face. Git via HTTPS worked though. Conclusion, port 22 (standard port for SSH) seems to be blocked. This did create some debate and it was argued that SSH is a popular protocol used in many “security-centric” applications and Github undoubtedly is the favourite code-sharing platform for aspiring computer scientists of the university.

git-clone

We packed up around 13h30 & settled at the cafeteria itself for a group lunch :-)

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3Feb/150

Let’s peek into Evolve OS

Posted by Ish

Taking advantage of being at home today, I dd’ed my spare pendrive with Evolve OS. To be fair, I’m a bit late in review writing this time. Evolve OS Beta 1 got released on 26 January and I scheduled a trial the same night.… Read more ➡

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