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

20May/160

Developers Conference 2016 – Day 1

Posted by Ish

The Developers Conference 2016 kicked off today with a keynote address by Jochen Kirstätter. I reached Voilà Hotel just a few minutes late, didn’t miss much of the opening ceremony. Jochen was still talking about the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community. He made the usual distinction of why «software craftsman» as he went on explaining that one needs to keep on practicing one’s skills, refining them just as a carpenter would do with woodwork.


Jochen spoke about celebrating three years of the MSCC and the two hundred meetups organized; mainly Code & Coffee sessions. He then mentioned the creation of Agile Media Ltd, a private company to give a «legal form» to MSCC. I’m sure more would be popping up in the coming meetups. Aww! There was also mention of a .mu domain for MSCC that could be happening soon. No ETA announced though.

There was a networking break and we were back for a session on «user groups in Mauritius».

Folks from the PHP Mauritius User Group talked about their passion. Wasseem and Nadheer related their experience/adventure on how they met the «don» of the PHP world.



Logan and Selven from hackers.mu talked about their passion for hacking. Selven, co-founder of the group, gave an introduction and highlighted aims of the group; which is to provide code/patches upstream in Open Source projects and make Mauritius known in the FOSS world.

The hackers.mu team at the Developers Conference 2016

The hackers.mu team at the Developers Conference 2016

I was next to speak about the Linux User Group of Mauritius, the community and why be there. I had no slides but just a quick story to relate why I am in the group and if that could motivate someone to join the group and spread «Linux love» then I’ll assume «mission accomplished».


Ajmal Dookhan, a passionate fellow, whom I also met during the WTISD 2016, recorded a few seconds from my LUGM experience. Thanks buddy. :D

The lunch time is another moment for networking. Ajmal, Pritvi, Akasha, Yash and I headed to Panarottis. The geek chat continued there for like an hour and we rushed back to attend other presentations. I met the LSL Digital team who just had a pizza lunch too.


I attended a «jumpstart session on PHP» presented by Pierre-Alexandre.


Pierre-Alexandre went through the thinking process & planning of a simple personal blog written in PHP. In his next two sessions on Saturday and Sunday, he surely will dive deeper in the code.

Developers Conference is also time to meet up old friends. Shared some more geek time with my ex-colleagues and distributed some openSUSE stickers.



I went to Bagatelle Mall, grabbed a coffee from Vida-e-Cafe, while talking to friends and we came back for the last presentation of the day; which was on AngularJS 2, presented by Yashin.

I reached home at 18h45, exhausted but happy after a wonderful day.

The post Developers Conference 2016 – Day 1 appeared first on HACKLOG.

21Apr/160

World Creativity and Innovation Day

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20160421-panelists

Every 21 April, we celebrate the World Creativity and Innovation Day in Mauritius.

This year, the Mauritius Research Council organised a workshop on Creativity and Innovation and the the ICT Advisory Council, which I preside, was given a slot of 30 minutes. I quickly prepared a few slides like I like them to be (beautiful, memorable and witty) and I asked Logan Velvindron and Ish Sookun, both members of the ICT Advisory Council, to join me in a panel on Creativity and Innovation among Youth.

20160421-albert-einstein

The first topic was about having fun when learning and creating. I mentioned that school and teachers can be boring, especially in our age of having Wikipedia and YouTube in our pockets. I said that it was time for our education system to become fun again, where young people can enjoy creating and learning a lot of new things in the process. Both Ish and Logan explained how fun they have everyday at work and how important this is for them.

20160421-steve-jobs

The second topic was about not to be afraid to be different. In Mauritius, we have a culture of conformism. Women have specific roles to play. Kids also. And, of course, everyone should remain at his place. This is bullshit! Our world is created by people who think differently and who are not afraid to take risks and disrupt existing establishments… Logan and Ish told the audience how they discovered computers, decided to become geeks and do things differently from others. They were very thankful to have supportive parents who didn’t try to impose anything on them.

20160421-linus-torvalds

The third topic was about being a geek and the value of open source software for a country like Mauritius. I explained that open source software is free and this is very important for Mauritius which is not a very rich country. But I also explained how having access to the source code of software is essential for Computer Science teachers like me to create the new generation of top programmers which Mauritius will need in the future. Young people cannot learn complex programming just by reading a book or listening to a teacher: they need to see real source code of real complex software. Logan and Ish explained how they got involved in open source software and how we all now form part of organisations such the Linux User Group of Mauritius and Hackers.mu and the value those organisations have.

20160421-sheryl-sandberg

The last topic was about being a doer rather than a talker and that aiming for perfection, while sometimes a good thing, can sometimes prevent us from achieving. This is something I have noticed over the years in Mauritius: we love our committees. Doers are not revered though. This mentality has to change. I told the audience that we are as good as anyone from anywhere, whether it is the USA or France or India. But we should stop focusing on doing speeches. We should identify small but important problems and find feasible solutions for them.

After the panel, I got a question from Anibal Martinez who is collaborating with the Government to set up an incubator. He asked me how we can solve the Computer Science education issue in Mauritius.

I told him that in the short term, a lot can be done with ad-hoc training courses, such as the ones that I provide at Knowledge Seven. But this is not a viable model for the country. In the medium to long term, state-funded universities should find a way to revamp their Computer Science departments, which are absolutely substandard at this moment, to produce an adequate number of very competent computer scientists every year. The industry is ready to move up a level but there are not enough competencies.

Thanks to Ish and Logan for participating in the panel.

21Apr/160

World Innovation Day celebrated by the Mauritius Research Council

Posted by Ish

The Mauritius Research Council (MRC) organized a full-day seminar on Innovation and Technopreneurship to commemorate the International Day for Creativity and Innovation. I received an email on the 13th of April 2016 from the Mauritius Research Council with the invitation and draft programme attached. Shortly afterward the Chairperson of the ICT Advisory Council, Avinash Meetoo, emailed saying that the Mauritius Research Council would like to have us as panelists for a discussion on creativity and innovation among youth. It was decided that three members of the ICT Advisory Council will be among the panelists, Loganaden Velvindron, Avinash Meetoo and I; while Avinash will also chair the panel.

We needed a group presentation and the great thing about email brainstorming is that it did not require us to meet personally to decide what to present and how. I proposed I’d need a 5-mins quick presentation to talk on creativity and maybe we could have something just running in the background. Avinash proposed a few slides with quotes to just run there while we’d present. He prepared the slides. A Great touch, that work was.

How to manage a full-time job with community activities?

If you’d read this page on the website of the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation, you’d notice that on the council I represent the interests of consumers, purchasers and users of ICT services. Being a council member isn’t a full-time job neither a paid one. It’s more a voluntary activity that you accept for the sake of sharing ideas that could shape the ICT landscape of the country. I deliberately say “could” and not “would”. More on the “functions” of the ICT Advisory Council can be found under Section 35 of the ICT Act 2001. Attending the meetings of the council and related activities/events requires time. How to manage? Support from one’s employer helps a lot and I thank La Sentinelle Digital for granting me permission to attend to such activities; be it government or community related.

The seminar

The seminar happened at the Mauritius Sugarcane Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), Réduit. I could only reach there by 13h00 since I had some work-related activity in the morning. When I arrived at the MSIRI, Mr Moonegan from Ceridian Mauritius was presenting “innovation in the ICT sector”. The presentation was reaching its end. Right after that there was the lunch break; but I already had lunch, so I only looked for a bottle of water and met a few people around. I met Jay, an old acquaintance from the education & professional training sector; maybe we were meeting after years. We had a nice chat. Then I saw Elizabeth from Turbine Mauritius and we had an interesting chat on entrepreneurship and the local culture. As we were still exchanging ideas, Jessica joined the chat. That was great, I was meeting a lot of cool people after quite some time. Arnaud Meslier, another cool fellow from Microsoft Indian Ocean & Microsoft Student Partners was there and we talked about the recent Global Azure Bootcamp. I also met Vincent and Louis from ICT.io. In short, networking was fun. :D

Then just as we would resume the workshop, Avinash and I discussed a bit about how we’d proceed with the panel discussion. Yes, we were next.

Mauritius Research Council

Avinash projected the slides, we had no more than four, and started the discussion about having fun in what we do; while sharing a quote by Einstein that says “creativity is intelligence having fun”. He turned to me and asked how do I have fun while working? My answer could not be brief. Being a Linux System Administrator, it often comes to me that I have to explain to people the nature of the work. I replied I started having fun with Linux more than 10 years ago without ever thinking it could have anything to do with my career. Then I find myself landing on a Linux career path and I am still having fun as I did years ago.

Avinash was a good sport as he hosted the talk and triggered discussions in the right direction while we moved through the next three slides with quotes by Steve Jobs, Linus Torvalds and Sheryl Sandberg. I also got to speak about the Linux User Group of Mauritius.

Having an appointment at 16h00, I left the workshop after the panel discussion. It was fun to be there and great to network with fellows.

The post World Innovation Day celebrated by the Mauritius Research Council appeared first on HACKLOG.

19Apr/160

Setting up a quiet auto-update for openSUSE

Posted by Ish

I was having a discussion about openSUSE with a colleague when he questioned me on software updates that just run silently in the background. I replied that yes, it’s possible, in fact on the command line one may use the --non-interactive flag with zypper.

Otherwise, open YasT > Online Update and at the configuration window select Configuration > Online Update.

Auto-update for openSUSE

As shown in the above screenshot, check the “automatic online update” and finally select “skip interactive patches” and “agree with licenses”. You may set the update frequency to daily or weekly, as it suits you. Selecting “delta rpms” ensures that less bandwidth is used as delta packages contain only the difference between the old and new package rather than having to download whole packages every time a software has a version change.

That’s it. Your system should now update quietly in the background.

The post Setting up a quiet auto-update for openSUSE appeared first on HACKLOG.

Filed under: LUGM, openSUSE, Zypper No Comments
19Apr/160

Big news ahead

Posted by logan

We will be present together with Avinash Meetoo at the world innovation day !

Filed under: News No Comments
22Mar/160

Customizing the GNOME Shell

Posted by Ish

A couple of weeks back I was customizing the GNOME Shell on my openSUSE Tumbleweed laptop by tinkering with the CSS files of the desktop theme. A colleague of mine who peeked onto my screen at that moment, as he needed to show me something, nudged at the ugly rounded-corner buttons he saw on the taskbar. To be precise that was the “window list” that he saw, an extension that can be installed from gnome.org.

I told him it only requires editing the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) of the extension, which could be found at /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions/window-list@gnome-shell-extensions.gcampax.github.com, to adapt it to the desktop theme and make it more appealing. In fact, it did not take long to realize that removing the border-radius and the box-shadow actually blended the button better with the theme.

GNOME 3 - GNOME Shell, window list

.window-button > StWidget {
  -st-natural-width: 18.75em;
  max-width: 18.75em;
  color: #bbb;
  background-color: #393f3f;
  /* border-radius: 1px; */
  padding: 3px 6px 1px;
  /* box-shadow: inset 1px 1px 4px rgba(255,255,255,0.5); */
  text-shadow: 1px 1px 4px rgba(0,0,0,0.8);
}

He then pointed to title bar of the Firefox window and said “see, this thickness of the title bar makes it waste space.”

I looked at the window and replied “yeah, indeed but those should be configurable in some CSS file lying around.”

I then got back to work. Today, however, I looked at the title bar again and thought of reducing it’s size. A few hacks have been proposed by people who wished to achieve the same. The best proposal I saw was configuring through the gtk.css file rather than editing the individual theme files. If you do not find the gtk.css file, then create one ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css.

.header-bar.default-decoration {
    padding-top: 3px;
    padding-bottom: 3px;
}

.header-bar.default-decoration .button.titlebutton {
    padding-top: 2px;
    padding-bottom: 2px;
}

Adjust the padding value to get the desired result. The above gave me a slimmer title bar that would not waste space as before.

GNOME 3, GNOME Shell, window title bar

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20Mar/160

Build a personal wiki using Vim

Posted by Ish

I used to have random notes in text files scattered on the disk. Then I tried being an organized person by using things like Google Docs… but, after some time I would find myself coming back to the simple text editor when in need of quick notes. On my openSUSE laptop I would either fire up Gedit or if the terminal is already open I’d use Vim.

A few days ago while searching for some packages in the openSUSE repo, I came across the vim-plugin-vimwiki package for Vim. It turned out to be a handy plugin for the Vim text editor.

sudo zypper in vim-plugin-vimwiki

At next launch of Vim, type ww and press “enter” to start the wiki.

gVim text editor

Screenshot of gVim

A folder named “vimwiki” will be created in the home directory of the user. For example for the user “ish”, the following message will appear upon typing ww:

Vimwiki: Make new directory: /home/ish/vimwiki
 [Y]es/[n]o?

A first blank file named “index.wiki” will be created in the “vimwiki” directory. The wiki has support for links, which are created using double brackets, e.g [[Hello Wiki]]. The text between the brackets become click-able and the file “~/vimwiki/Hello Wiki.wiki” is created.

Vim Wiki links

One can navigate through the pages by pressing “enter” while the cursor is on the “link text” and using the backspace button to go to the previous page.

What about existing text files?

The existing text files can be renamed with a .wiki extension and moved to the vimwiki directory. Then use the double brackets to link to that file.

I find the Vim Wiki being a simple & effective solution to take quick (re-usable) notes in an organized manner. Surely other solutions exist but at the moment I’d stick to Vim Wiki.

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28Jan/160

LUGM Statement on Ish Sookun

Posted by admin

The Managing Committee of The Linux User Group Meta (Mauritius) notes that one of its members, Ish Sookun, is currently being detained under The Prevention of Terrorism Act. Ish Sookun is a valued member of the LUGM and has actively participated for the promotion of open source software and technology in general in Mauritius. The Association appeals to the authorities for the investigation to be conducted in accordance with all laws and also taking into consideration the rights of all parties while safeguarding public interest.

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments
27Dec/150

Tell your SSL vendor to randomize the serial number of your certificate !

Posted by logan

Are you using SSL for your business ?

Like many of you, we rely on SSL for checking our mails, and doing bank transfers. As I said previously, local banks reduce the amount of money spent of papers by actively encouraging clients to use Internet Banking. I have the latest Android on my mobile phone, and I can connect to Internet Banking using the latest security technologies. However, not everybody can afford the latest android smartphone. A lot of people are still using Android KitKat in Mauritius. If tomorrow, MCB or SBM decide to deprecate SHA-1 for their SSL (a hash algorithm which is getting dangerously weak), and go with SHA 256 (a more secure hash algorithm) only, a lot of clients might not be able to connect to Internet Banking. Why ? It's because many widely-used software do not support SHA-256 very well.

What can we do with certificates with SHA-1 hash ?

CloudFlare proposed here that generating certificates containing SHA-1 hash should randomize the serial number to make it more difficult to forge those digital certificate and impersonate your business. Note that this does not mean that you should not advise your clients to upgrade their hardware and software and relax. It buys your clients more time to properly budget for their upgrade costs of their hardware and software to be SHA 256 ready.

For example, hackers.mu uses SSL. We asked on our SSL vendor forum about randomizing the serial number. We recommend to Banks such as MCB and SBM to ask their SSL vendors about the possibility of randomizing the serial number, with 20-bit entropy. Any other businesses that rely on SSL for their business should consider formulating the same request to their SSL vendors. If your SSL vendor flatly refuses, then you have a reasonable argument for moving to another SSL vendor.

Filed under: tls No Comments
25Dec/150

Wrong advice on Tor Usage from hacklog.mu

Posted by logan

Hacklog.mu presentation on Tor

Hacklog.mu has a presentation on tor on the following page . On the same page, SM mentions that HTML5 elements could be used to leak information about an Internet User even with Tor. This is correct. Several developers were aware of the problem, and there were plans to fix this in orweb. See this URL for : details . This vulnerability was reported in 2013, and fixed in the same year . The presentation, by hacklog.mu, took place in 2014.

Firefox as the solution ?

Hacklog.mu uses firefox from Google Playstore, and configures it to work with Tor. From a security perspective, Firefox leaks more metadata than Orweb or tor-browser, due to the lack of patches that Orweb has. In fact, if you look at Tor-browser, you will realize that it's a modified version of Firefox, with a number of patches added on to protect the privacy of the users. Those patches are not in Firefox. Those patches provide several additional layers of security that Firefox on Android DOES NOT provide. The tor project constantly reworks the patches for their Tor-browser and applies the same design principles in Orweb/Orfox. See the design requirements for Orweb, OrFox and Tor-browser here We tested with Orweb & Orfox, and both do not leak, according to browserleaks.org. It is highly questionable to use Firefox, even with a Mobile proxy, as by default, Firefox is not designed to be as secure as Orweb, Orfox, and Tor-browser.

Conclusion

We recommend Internet users who want to remain anonymous to use orweb/orfox on Android and Tor-browser on their PCs instead of Firefox, and avoid the example presented on hacklog.mu. ^-^

Filed under: security No Comments