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

30Nov/170

Informative and Restrained as opposed to Superficial and Flashy

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

Infotech 2017 has started.

And I am happy to notice that, except for one or two stands, things are much more “Informative and Restrained” compared to previous editions where things tended to be “Superficial and Flashy”.

Allow me to explain.

In Mauritius, for the past few years, we have become a nation of seminars, workshops, conferences and exhibitions and, unfortunately, many of them are quite superficial and very very flashy indeed. For the past six months, I have been to many such events where the venue was beautiful (a nice hotel with a beautiful view of the lagoon), the food was excellent, the hostesses out of this world but where, personally, I felt that there was not much to listen to and learn from, except from a minority of the speakers. This is what I call “Superficial and Flashy”.

What I would prefer to have, from a personal point of view, is the kind of chaotic geekish meetup as pictured above. An event where intelligent people of all horizons can meet, exchange views, share ideas and move forward together. Of course, there is a need for a venue and some food but nothing ostentatious. This is what I call “Informative and Restrained”.

The thing is that it is easier to do “Superficial and Flashy” than “Informative and Restrained”. The reason for that is that to be informative, the speakers need to be of high-caliber and need to be properly prepared.

This is your typical Googler. Similar people are changing our worlds everyday at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, etc. but also in the IT division of most of the companies in the world. And, before you laugh, let me remind you that they run the world.

Pictured above are some of the people who have basically built the world as it is known today. Without them, we would still be waiting for The A-Team to be shown on TV on Saturday night. They are Steve Jobs (Apple), Sergey Brin (Google), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Page (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon). The missing ones being Linus Torvalds (Linux) and Richard Stallman (Free Software Foundation).

Of course, we won’t have Steve (RIP), Sergey, Bill, Larry, Mark, Jeff, Linus or Richard at Infotech. Maybe next year…

But we’ll have the 2nd best thing: the (real) innovators of Mauritius, each on his/her respective “Informative and Restrained” stand and willing to share his/her passion with you.

You just have to put aside your tendency to value the “Superficial and Flashy”, walk toward them and talk to them.

Enjoy 🙂

(First photo, courtesy of Le Méridien. Second photo, courtesy of Concept7. Third photo, courtesy of Business Insider. Fourth photo, courtesy of Youth Connect. Fifth photo, courtesy of PC Risk).

30Nov/170

Informative and Restrained as opposed to Superficial and Flashy

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

Infotech 2017 has started.

And I am happy to notice that, except for one or two stands, things are much more “Informative and Restrained” compared to previous editions where things tended to be “Superficial and Flashy”.

Allow me to explain.

In Mauritius, for the past few years, we have become a nation of seminars, workshops, conferences and exhibitions and, unfortunately, many of them are quite superficial and very very flashy indeed. For the past six months, I have been to many such events where the venue was beautiful (a nice hotel with a beautiful view of the lagoon), the food was excellent, the hostesses out of this world but where, personally, I felt that there was not much to listen to and learn from, except from a minority of the speakers. This is what I call “Superficial and Flashy”.

What I would prefer to have, from a personal point of view, is the kind of chaotic geekish meetup as pictured above. An event where intelligent people of all horizons can meet, exchange views, share ideas and move forward together. Of course, there is a need for a venue and some food but nothing ostentatious. This is what I call “Informative and Restrained”.

The thing is that it is easier to do “Superficial and Flashy” than “Informative and Restrained”. The reason for that is that to be informative, the speakers need to be of high-caliber and need to be properly prepared.

This is your typical Googler. Similar people are changing our worlds everyday at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, etc. but also in the IT division of most of the companies in the world. And, before you laugh, let me remind you that they run the world.

Pictured above are some of the people who have basically built the world as it is known today. Without them, we would still be waiting for The A-Team to be shown on TV on Saturday night. They are Steve Jobs (Apple), Sergey Brin (Google), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Page (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon). The missing ones being Linus Torvalds (Linux) and Richard Stallman (Free Software Foundation).

Of course, we won’t have Steve (RIP), Sergey, Bill, Larry, Mark, Jeff, Linus or Richard at Infotech. Maybe next year…

But we’ll have the 2nd best thing: the (real) innovators of Mauritius, each on his/her respective “Informative and Restrained” stand and willing to share his/her passion with you.

You just have to put aside your tendency to value the “Superficial and Flashy”, walk toward them and talk to them.

Enjoy 🙂

(First photo, courtesy of Le Méridien. Second photo, courtesy of Concept7. Third photo, courtesy of Business Insider. Fourth photo, courtesy of Youth Connect. Fifth photo, courtesy of PC Risk).

6Oct/170

How to reduce the amount of disk space used by the systemd journal

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

We, Linux people, generally use systemd now and one of its components is the journal controlled by the journalctl command line tool.

As explained on the Arch wiki,

systemd has its own logging system called the journal. The /var/log/journal/directory is a part of the systemd package and the journal will write to /var/log/journal/

The journal is always appended and therefore grows in size. On my laptop, the journal was taking 1.8Gb of space and was full of details which, I believe, I’ll never need. So I decided to clear all old contents (which the systemd people call a vacuum). I issued:

journalctl --disk-usage
journalctl --vacuum-size=64M
journalctl --disk-usage

And the journal immediately became smaller. I then issued a

journalctl --verify

which made ma realise that some of the remaining journal files were corrupted (for some reason). There is no journal repair tool in systemd so I simply removed the offending files (with rm).

Now, I can easily check my journal entries for today and I know everything will be all fine:

journalctl --since today

6Oct/170

How to reduce the amount of disk space used by the systemd journal

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

We, Linux people, generally use systemd now and one of its components is the journal controlled by the journalctl command line tool.

As explained on the Arch wiki,

systemd has its own logging system called the journal. The /var/log/journal/directory is a part of the systemd package and the journal will write to /var/log/journal/

The journal is always appended and therefore grows in size. On my laptop, the journal was taking 1.8Gb of space and was full of details which, I believe, I’ll never need. So I decided to clear all old contents (which the systemd people call a vacuum). I issued:

journalctl --disk-usage
journalctl --vacuum-size=64M
journalctl --disk-usage

And the journal immediately became smaller. I then issued a

journalctl --verify

which made me realise that some of the remaining journal files were corrupted (for some reason). There is no journal repair tool in systemd so I simply removed the offending files (with rm).

Now, I can easily check my journal entries for today and I know everything will be all fine:

journalctl --since today

15Mar/170

Open and not extract .docx, .xlsx and .pptx files in the latest Gnome 3

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

In the latest version of Gnome 3, a subtle change was brought to Nautilus, the file manager, to automatically extract the content of a ZIP file in a new folder when it is double-clicked on instead of open an application to do so. The problem is that Microsoft Office files (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc.) are ZIP files. This means that double-clicking on a .pptx file extracts its content instead of opening the file in, say, LibreOffice Impress!

This makes life miserable for all those who need to open Microsoft Office files on a regular basis and, of course, this is a bug (as acknowledged by the Gnome people  and the Red Hat / Fedora people).

Fortunately, it is quite easy to make Nautilus become sane again. Open Preferences and in the Behavior tab, unselect “Extract the files on open” in the Compressed Files section.

Phew!

15Mar/170

Open and not extract .docx, .xlsx and .pptx files in the latest Gnome 3

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

In the latest version of Gnome 3, a subtle change was brought to Nautilus, the file manager, to automatically extract the content of a ZIP file in a new folder when it is double-clicked on instead of open an application to do so. The problem is that Microsoft Office files (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc.) are ZIP files. This means that double-clicking on a .pptx file extracts its content instead of opening the file in, say, LibreOffice Impress!

This makes life miserable for all those who need to open Microsoft Office files on a regular basis and, of course, this is a bug (as acknowledged by the Gnome people  and the Red Hat / Fedora people).

Fortunately, it is quite easy to make Nautilus become sane again. Open Preferences and in the Behavior tab, unselect “Extract the files on open” in the Compressed Files section.

Phew!

15Jun/160

Automatically raise windows in Gnome

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20160615-automatically-raise-windows

I love Gnome 3… except when I am using a terminal, decide to launch Chrome by clicking on its icon in the Dash and not realising that the terminal still have focus despite Chrome being shown on screen. Consequently, typing, say, www.noulakaz.net and pressing enter only sends these keystrokes to the terminal (despite Chrome being shown) with potentially serious consequences.

But lo and behold, I have just found a solution. Just launch the Gnome Tweak Tool as shown above and put “Automatically Raise Windows” to ON.

I have regained my sanity!

15Jun/160

Automatically raise windows in Gnome

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20160615-automatically-raise-windows

I love Gnome 3… except when I am using a terminal, decide to launch Chrome by clicking on its icon in the Dash and not realising that the terminal still have focus despite Chrome being shown on screen. Consequently, typing, say, www.noulakaz.net and pressing enter only sends these keystrokes to the terminal (despite Chrome being shown) with potentially serious consequences.

But lo and behold, I have just found a solution. Just launch the Gnome Tweak Tool as shown above and put “Automatically Raise Windows” to ON.

I have regained my sanity!

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 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.