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

16Apr/170

Stopping by the #RiSk[Solutions] hackathon

Posted by Ish Sookun

A few weeks ago, Ajay Ramjatan, the President of the Linux User Group of Mauritius sent the executive members an email about a hackathon. It's organized by the "Fonds francophone pour l’innovation numérique (FFIN)" with the collaboration of OTAM, MITIA and the Ministry of Technology, Communication & Innovation. It is the fifth edition and this time it's happening in Mauritius.

#RiSk[Solutions] hackathon - Xavier

The event spanned over four days starting on Thursday 13 April 2017. I followed one presentation on Thursday where a « security consultant » talked about state-sponsored hacking. Well, he did talk about a lot of other stuff such as Ransomware, Password Managers etc but those are mainstream subjects. I was interested in the subject of state-sponsored hacking. In the slide the presenter mentioned "cybercriminel" rather than "hacker".

Is a hacker a cybercriminal?

That's an interesting topic but it's not within the scope of this blog post.

I could not attend the second day of the event but Ajay attended the rest of the days. In fact, both Ajay and Pritvi, an executive member of the Linux User Group, stayed for longer hours on Saturday while mentoring the participants. Pritvi stayed the whole night as the hackthon lasted 24-hours. On Saturday night I stopped by for a few minutes and met them.

On Sunday I arrived at the CyberTower 1 shortly after 10h00. The participants looked tired, due to lack of sleep most probably, but the enthusiasm was still there. Ajay was helping some participants with a PHP module that was not well configured on their Kali Linux virtual machine. I greeted them and wished the participants luck.

At 15h00 the ceremony started.

The jury panel was divided in two parts. A technical panel where the jury had already given scores after looking at the work/code of the participants and another panel who would give scores based on the quality of the presentation.

#RiSk[Solutions] hackathon - Jury panel

Members of the jury panel wore red t-shirt, mentors wore green, those from the organizing committee wore yellow and participants were in blue.

The first team that presented encountered a technical issue, which is very common when using virtual machines. Since they changed network after moving to the presentation room the machine IP address changes and possibly if they're on bridged network the virtual machine's address changes too.

The teams that did their presentations are in the following order:

  • Team X
  • Cybercure
  • Intruso
  • Team 42
  • Invictus

S. Moonesamy (SM) live streamed the presentations and jury questions on Periscope. They are available at:

https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853562017403351043
https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853570848007098369
https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853578838860812289
https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853583597629997056
https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853585473314463744

After the presentations the jury members moved to a different room to discuss and tally the scores while the participants and attendees received a musical show by Indian artists. SM, Yash and I went downstairs in search of food but unfortunately on a Sunday none of the cafe or shop is opened in Cybertower 1. We came back upstairs and had a chat with Ajay. A few minutes later the musical/dance show was over and the jury panel was ready to announce the winner.

Zakiya called Pritvi on stage among others to offer the second prize. As she did that she reminded it's unique about Pritvi to be helping through several user groups in Mauritius and not just the Linux User Group.

Cybercure won the first prize!

Two special prizes were also given to Intruso and Team X.

6Apr/170

openSUSE Goodies Pack

Posted by Ish Sookun

As the Developers Conference 2017 was approaching Shelly asked me what am I doing with the openSUSE stickers and DVDs. I replied that I would distribute them to visitors when they'd come to the Installfest of the Linux User Group. That's when Shelly came up with the idea of having an openSUSE Goodies Pack. To keep it short it's a package containing various stickers, a bookmark, an openSUSE 42.2 64-bit DVD, and a laptop camera cover.


openSUSE Goodies Pack

In total Shelly made five such goodies packs. However, I couldn't make it to the Installfest as my presentation was on the same day. Bad timing.

I therefore decided to give away the goodies packs as prizes to questions that I would ask during my presentation. My talk was on Microservices and I explained the same using NGINX that ran on openSUSE 42.2. That was perfect to shoot some questions about openSUSE and yes, the attendees correctly answered that packages could be installed on openSUSE using RPM, Zypper and YaST. I had a question that asked which part of the home page of lexpress.mu is a microservice. One fellow answered « the notifications » and that's correct.

The openSUSE Goodies Pack garnered some attention on Twitter and MSP fellow Arwin Baichoo replied with a tweet showing the content of the goodies pack.

The rest of the stickers and openSUSE DVDs were distributed to attendees. Humeira gladly helped me with that.

31Mar/170

How to administer Slackware 14.2?

Posted by Ish Sookun

The last presentation of Day 1 at the Developers Conference that I attended was that of Slackware 14.2 by Pritvi Jheengut.

Pritvi is a member of the Linux User Group of Mauritius and a usual suspect at such tech events. He is perhaps the most popular Slackware user on the island. He made a fierce reputation for that. Some know him for his weird methods of doing things but he remains just a geek with passion for a couple of things that he adores; Slackware being one of them.


Developers Conference 2017 - Slackware 14.2

I missed the beginning of his presentation. In fact, when I entered the room he was in the middle of some important explanation about installing packages using the installpkg command. The screen was black and the text green. Pritvi had worn a Darth Vader t-shirt and I heard rumours that he even started the presentation with the Darth Vader theme. That would be totally legit.


Pritvi made us visit the Slackware internals, a lot about the arrangement of system files and the way packages are kept simple.

The earlier thing that I missed was actually a question about Slackware packages which Pritvi asked the attendees; whether they found it weird to install something that's no more than just a tarball. It generated a discussion about package management, software repositories, the how and why of Slackware and above all its simplicity of software packaging vis-à-vis other Linux distributions.

I craved for some Linux fun which was missing on Day 1 but Pritvi's presentation fulfilled that. It was a cool and interactive session with questions that popped up like mushrooms.

I'm not sure I'll ever ditch openSUSE for Slackware but maybe I have a more decent opinion on Slackware administration now.

27Mar/170

Developers Conference 2017 – Linuxfest

Posted by Ish Sookun

Hey folks! We're back. It's time to meet up and have geek fun at the Developers Conference 2017. At its third edition, I am sure that, this great event of the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community will not disappoint you. Of course, there must be something in menu that will suit your appetite.

Shelly and I have planned our DevCon weekend carefully. We'll be there all three days.

I have a session on NGINX Microservices scheduled at 10h30 on Saturday at the Educator 2. The rest of the time that day you would find me hopping between Voilà Hotel and Flying Dodo helping folks from the Linux User Group of Mauritius with the full-day activities.


LUGM - Developers Conference 2017

Members of the Linux User Group will run a Linuxfest and help keen enthusiasts with Linux installs & troubleshoots in the conference room of Flying Dodo. You're all invited to come share your knowledge. We will be running demos on a projector and if you have some cool stuff about Linux which you'd like to share then get in touch, it'll be great to have more fellows around advocating Free Software/Open Source. Ping LUGM members Nirvan, Nadim on Twitter or get in touch with Ajay or Ronny on Facebook.


Care to tweet? Use the hashtag #DevConMru.

26Sep/150

Introduction to Flask

Posted by Ish

On the 14th of September 2015, Avinash Meetoo replied to this email on the Linux User Group of Mauritius (LUGM) mailing list and showed interest in doing a presentation for the next LUGM meetup.

The meetup happened today in Curepipe. I was not able to attend it physically, but thanks to Logan who did the necessary for setting up a Google Hangout session, I joined around 13h00. Shortly after, Avinash started his presentation “Introduction to Flask”.

flask-intro-avinash-meetoo

He welcomed everyone who joined and gave a quick brief about the underlying infrastructure of webapps. I particularly liked the way he explained the model-view-controller (MVC) software design pattern; taking from there he talked about Python frameworks. The popular Django framework comes first, Avinash says. Django should be a powerful framework when a lot is needed for a project, like an interface for backend etc. However, if someone wants a pretty quick setup, say for example a prototype for demo’ing to customers or a small web application, there is this Python micro-framework called Flask that comes handy. Avinash explains why it’s called a “micro” framework; reason being it’s limitation to a subset of functions that full stack Python frameworks would offer. Nonetheless, the functions in Flask are pretty enough for setting up web applications.

flask-logo

Avinash mentioned how he uses Flask in his many projects at Knowledge Seven and how he designed his web application electionsmauritius.com. He and his wife, Christina, came up with an idea about a web application to help Mauritians vote intelligently, two weeks before the General Elections 2014. Avinash then put his genius in the making of the “Elections Mauritius” webapp.

During the presentation, Avinash showed a demo of a simple web application and unveiled the code behind his “Elections Mauritius” web application. The prez lasted for approximately 50 mins including the questions & answers at the end. Those who missed the Hangout session can still catch up on YouTube and once again, thank you Avinash :)


Flask logo used from flask.pocoo.org.

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5Aug/150

LibreOffice 5 installation on openSUSE, Fedora, CentOS etc…

Posted by Ish

Twitter’s flooding with LibreOffice 5’s arrival. Oh! Flooding? Well, only if you’re following the *nix geeks :)

LibreOffice 5 was released today. Those who are used to only hear about the Microsoft Suite, well there exist other productivity suites out in the wild. LibreOffice is among them. It was forked from OpenOffice in 2010. Since then several Linux distributions bundled the LibreOffice Suite in their default install. LibreOffice is written in C++, Java and Python, and is available in 114 languages.

The LibreOffice 5 official package should be rolled out for the stable distros in the coming weeks, if not months. As for the curious who’d like to get hands dirty, just follow the article for a LibreOffice 5 installation. One thing, I’ve kept in the title openSUSE, Fedora and CentOS but the installation would cater for any RPM-based distribution. I haven’t tested the DEB archive but I guess it should be somewhat similar.

LibreOffice 5 installation

The tarball can be either downloaded by visiting the download page at libreoffice.org or from this mirror. Torrent links are available too. Once you have obtained the package LibreOffice_5.0.0_Linux_x86-64_rpm.tar.gz you uncompress it as follows:

tar zxvf LibreOffice_5.0.0_Linux_x86-64_rpm.tar.gz

The extracted files & folders include an installation script licensed under MPL v2. You may peek into if you’d want to know what it does.

Enter the directory that contains the install script and launch the installation as follows:

./install RPMS .

The second dot implies that it should be installed at the current path. Hit enter and the progress will be shown.

####################################################################
#     Installation of the found packages                           #
####################################################################

Path to the database:        /home/ish/Downloads/LibreOffice_5.0.0.5_Linux_x86-64_rpm/.RPM_OFFICE_DATABASE
Path to the packages:        RPMS
Path to the installation:    .

Installing the RPMs
Preparing...                          ################################# [100%]
Updating / installing...
   1:libreoffice5.0-ure-5.0.0.5-5     ################################# [  2%]
   2:libobasis5.0-core-5.0.0.5-5      ################################# [  4%]
   3:libobasis5.0-en-US-5.0.0.5-5     ################################# [  7%]
   4:libobasis5.0-writer-5.0.0.5-5    ################################# [  9%]
   5:libobasis5.0-base-5.0.0.5-5      ################################# [ 11%]
   6:libobasis5.0-impress-5.0.0.5-5   ################################# [ 13%]
   7:libobasis5.0-en-US-calc-5.0.0.5-5################################# [ 16%]
   8:libobasis5.0-en-US-writer-5.0.0.5################################# [ 18%]
   9:libobasis5.0-en-US-res-5.0.0.5-5 ################################# [ 20%]
  10:libobasis5.0-en-US-math-5.0.0.5-5################################# [ 22%]
  11:libobasis5.0-en-US-base-5.0.0.5-5################################# [ 24%]
  12:libobasis5.0-images-5.0.0.5-5    ################################# [ 27%]
  13:libreoffice5.0-5.0.0.5-5         ################################# [ 29%]
  14:libobasis5.0-math-5.0.0.5-5      ################################# [ 31%]
  15:libobasis5.0-draw-5.0.0.5-5      ################################# [ 33%]
  16:libobasis5.0-calc-5.0.0.5-5      ################################# [ 36%]
  17:libobasis5.0-pyuno-5.0.0.5-5     ################################# [ 38%]
  18:libobasis5.0-librelogo-5.0.0.5-5 ################################# [ 40%]
  19:libreoffice5.0-calc-5.0.0.5-5    ################################# [ 42%]
  20:libreoffice5.0-draw-5.0.0.5-5    ################################# [ 44%]
  21:libreoffice5.0-math-5.0.0.5-5    ################################# [ 47%]
  22:libreoffice5.0-dict-en-5.0.0.5-5 ################################# [ 49%]
  23:libreoffice5.0-impress-5.0.0.5-5 ################################# [ 51%]
  24:libreoffice5.0-base-5.0.0.5-5    ################################# [ 53%]
  25:libreoffice5.0-en-US-5.0.0.5-5   ################################# [ 56%]
  26:libreoffice5.0-dict-es-5.0.0.5-5 ################################# [ 58%]
  27:libreoffice5.0-dict-fr-5.0.0.5-5 ################################# [ 60%]
  28:libreoffice5.0-writer-5.0.0.5-5  ################################# [ 62%]
  29:libobasis5.0-ogltrans-5.0.0.5-5  ################################# [ 64%]
  30:libobasis5.0-postgresql-sdbc-5.0.################################# [ 67%]
  31:libobasis5.0-onlineupdate-5.0.0.5################################# [ 69%]
  32:libobasis5.0-ooofonts-5.0.0.5-5  ################################# [ 71%]
  33:libobasis5.0-filter-data-5.0.0.5-################################# [ 73%]
  34:libobasis5.0-kde-integration-5.0.################################# [ 76%]
  35:libobasis5.0-extension-javascript################################# [ 78%]
  36:libobasis5.0-xsltfilter-5.0.0.5-5################################# [ 80%]
  37:libobasis5.0-python-script-provid################################# [ 82%]
  38:libobasis5.0-ooolinguistic-5.0.0.################################# [ 84%]
  39:libobasis5.0-extension-report-bui################################# [ 87%]
  40:libobasis5.0-graphicfilter-5.0.0.################################# [ 89%]
  41:libobasis5.0-extension-mediawiki-################################# [ 91%]
  42:libobasis5.0-extension-beanshell-################################# [ 93%]
  43:libobasis5.0-extension-nlpsolver-################################# [ 96%]
  44:libobasis5.0-extension-pdf-import################################# [ 98%]
  45:libobasis5.0-gnome-integration-5.################################# [100%]

Installation done ...

If no errors occurred you should find a folder named opt created. This makes it easy if you want to move your LibreOffice 5 instance to the traditional /opt path. However, from the current path you can launch LibreOffice Writer as follows:

./opt/libreoffice5.0/program/swriter

LibreOffice 5 installation

You will get LibreOffice Writer, Calc, Base, Draw, Math and Impress with the following commands:

./opt/libreoffice5.0/program/swriter
./opt/libreoffice5.0/program/scalc
./opt/libreoffice5.0/program/sbase
./opt/libreoffice5.0/program/sdraw
./opt/libreoffice5.0/program/smath
./opt/libreoffice5.0/program/simpress

Otherwise, just shoot ./opt/libreoffice5.0/program/soffice and you get the LibreOffice 5 welcome screen with shortcuts to each application.

LibreOffice 5 installation


To have a clean setup, you could move the libreoffice5.0 folder to /opt and have some sweet symlinks. Let’s do it; stay on the current path and shoot:

sudo mv opt/libreoffice5.0 /opt
ln -s /opt/libreoffice5.0/program/swriter /usr/local/bin/writer

You could do for the rest, right? Now, press Alt + F2, type writer and hit the return button. LibreOffice Writer shoots up!

To my fellow non-Linux friendly folks, the free software community makes LibreOffice available for Windows and Mac OS X as well and installation is painless :)

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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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28Aug/140

Raspberry Pi Lab at Nicolay Government School

Posted by Ish

Finally the moment arrived. Today was the inauguration of the Raspberry Pi lab at Nicolay Government School. Remember, weeks ago I wrote about this project that was initiated by JCI City Plus.

The past two days we went to the school & finished cabling stuffs.… Read more ➡

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16Aug/140

Let’s rock with MariaDB and MySQL

Posted by Ish

A few weeks ago, Ronny the old guy of Linux User Group (Mauritius) who also happens to be the president announced a possible visit of Joffrey Michaie. I hadn’t met Joffrey before but I did hear a lot about him during my early days as a sysadmin.… Read more ➡

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12Jun/140

LUGM Saturday meetups. What do the geeks do?

Posted by Ish

Mid-year 2013, I used to shoot about Linux mini-meetups on facebook, then they became LUGM meetups, all planned for Saturdays over an exaggerated intake of coffee. In the beginning, we would be like 3, 4, maybe 10 people attending. However with successful events like Linuxfest & Corsair Hackers Reboot, having more than 10 people in nearly every meetup was like normal.… Read more ➡

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