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

27Oct/140

Beautiful fonts in Linux

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20141027-beautiful-font

I love Fedora Linux and I love beautiful fonts. And, to be frank, these two do not easily love each other.

I’ve tried learning the complexities of subpixel rendering and bytecode hinting using freetype, I got fonts from our friends in Redmond and dabbed with infinality, which is a set of patches for freetype.

infinality worked really well until I realised that some software, especially Gimp 2.8 which I use on a daily basis at Knowledge Seven, do not work very well with it.

Fortunately, I also love Reddit and I stumbled upon this comment by ununununu:

You don’t need Infinality for pretty text rendering in Fedora. Here’s how to do it.

You may have noticed that fonts appear jagged and generally terrible-looking in Fedora 17 (and possibly in 18) while they appear smooth and lovely in Ubuntu. Both distributions use freetype for their renderer (kind of), though with different default settings.

The first step is to upgrade from the default freetype package to freetype-freeworld from the RPM Fusion repository. This version of freetype makes use of RGBA subpixel rendering which isn’t included in the default package for, uh, licensing reasons maybe?

Next, use gnome-tweak-tool to set Font Hinting to “None” and Font Antialiasing to “Rgba”. But that’s not all! There’s one more setting that Tweak Tool can’t set.

Create a file called .Xresources in your home directory. Its only contents need be Xft.lcdfilter: lcddefault which actually enables the subpixel rendering.

That’s it. I works great and I’m now looking at gorgeous fonts on my Fedora Linux laptop.

I couldn’t install the latest version of the Liberation fonts though because of Wine. I’ll try later.

[Thanks to Cuong, I did it, at the end, by downloading the Liberation 2.0 TrueType files and overwriting the existing Liberation 1.0 files in /usr/share/fonts. Then I changed my default font in Chrome to be Liberation and used the Stylish extension (with this script) to have this gorgeous font in Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.]

[A second update: Some fonts from our friends in Redmond (e.g. Calibri) look crap at small sizes because of the bitmaps embedded in them. To make freetype ignore all these crap bitmaps, put the following in, say, ~/.config/fontconfig/conf.d/10-ignore-embedded-bitmaps.conf:

<match target="font" >
 <edit name="embeddedbitmap" mode="assign">
 <bool>false</bool>
 </edit>
</match>

[A third update: Arial is a crap font when rendered onscreen (it’s not bad when printed though — but Helvetica is way better) and it’s a pity that so many websites use that font as their default font. The following freetype configuration (in, say, ~/.config/fontconfig/conf.d/10-replace-arial-by-liberation-sans.conf) replaces Arial by Liberation Sans (which is gorgeous) throughout:

<match target="pattern">
 <test qual="any" name="family">
  <string>Arial</string>
 </test>
 <edit name="family" mode="assign" binding="same">
  <string>Liberation Sans</string>
 </edit>
</match>

Have fun!

7May/140

Running a booth at a conference

Posted by Ish

I have been an openSUSE advocate for years now & it’s always been pleasure to talk for the Gecko at events, seminars etc. Prior to that the word advocacy was much an ambiguity to me. If someone would toss about project advocacy or technology evangelism, I might not have understood at first. The advocacy I do right now, I owe a lot to the openSUSE project and folks in the community.

I was today watching the videos from openSUSE Conference 2014 and I saw Jos Poortvliet doing a presentation on “How to run a booth and present your project”. This reminded me of folks in the Linux User Group of Mauritius (LUGM), especially the new recruits, asking about what to do when we attended Infotech 2013. I was then able to share some advocacy skills and I could say everyone faired well.

openSUSE_Conference_2014

Today I realise we have so much resources within LUGM that could be a reservoir of information if properly channeled during future seminar/conferences. Some of the points Jos emphasized in his presentation are about “having content” and “knowing the audience”. Jos classifies the audience in 3 groups:

  • Newbies
  • Advanced users
  • Experts

The newbies are generally new to Linux/FOSS or might know nothing at all. For such an audience it’s always a good starting point to have a demo; like showing how to accomplish daily stuffs in Linux. Advanced users are most of the time already acknowledged to various FOSS projects and might be around with questions rather than seeking a demo. Experts are usually people having greater technical skills and might perhaps even be contributing to FOSS. They are usually the happy going folks who come to cheer & share their passion. It’s always a good thing to have some experts visiting your booth.

Within LUGM we in fact have already applied such tactics when setting booths. As seen in Infotech 2013, I attended a lot of people who were new to Linux, showed them demos on openSUSE & Linux Mint. Many students who were rather shooting questions about career propects, I was happy to clear their doubts. Whenever I felt overloaded with demos, I directed some of the audience towards other folks, like the cheerful UoM Computer Club. Some of them are kinda new to Linux too but their association with LUGM and MSCC already gave them much experience about FOSS & community, that helped them in talking to people & demo’ing cool tricks. Several other who showed up asking about licensing, we directed them to Ajay who is well versed in that subject. Kids asking for games on Linux were also directed to Ajay. Many young folks who wanted to know about penetration testing stuffs, we directed them to Nitin. That way we basically had a perfect mapping for info requests.

Jos explains several tricks about setting up a booth, the way to stand (not behind but rather in front of the table), how to start a conversation, what to do when idle etc. I believe the video will be useful to anyone who’s looking for some advocacy tips.

The post Running a booth at a conference appeared first on HACKLOG.

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19Mar/140

Fixing Bittorrent clients crashing on Ubuntu

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20140319-bittorrent

There are many Bittorrent client in Linux and, under Ubuntu (and this is surely true for other Linux distributions too), most of them depend on a library called libtorrent.

Under Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, libtorrent is buggy and causes Bittorrent clients to crash on a regular basis. The solution is, of course, to upgrade libtorrent from 0.15 to its latest version 0.16. The way to do that is to add the ppa:surfernsk/internet-software PPA and upgrade the whole system:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:surfernsk/internet-software

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

Doing that upgrades python-libtorrent to 0.16 and installs libtorrent-rasterbar7. Removing libtorrent-rasterbar6 (which is not needed anymore) is simply a

sudo aptitude remove libtorrent-rasterbar6

Since doing that, Deluge, the Bittorrent client I use, hasn’t crashed at all. Life is cool.

(Solution obtained in the Deluge forum)

19Mar/140

Fixing Bittorrent clients crashing on Ubuntu

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20140319-bittorrent

There are many Bittorrent client in Linux and, under Ubuntu (and this is surely true for other Linux distributions too), most of them depend on a library called libtorrent.

Under Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, libtorrent is buggy and causes Bittorrent clients to crash on a regular basis. The solution is, of course, to upgrade libtorrent from 0.15 to its latest version 0.16. The way to do that is to add the ppa:surfernsk/internet-software PPA and upgrade the whole system:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:surfernsk/internet-software

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

Doing that upgrades python-libtorrent to 0.16 and installs libtorrent-rasterbar7. Removing libtorrent-rasterbar6 (which is not needed anymore) is simply a

sudo aptitude remove libtorrent-rasterbar6

Since doing that, Deluge, the Bittorrent client I use, hasn’t crashed at all. Life is cool.

(Solution obtained in the Deluge forum)

25Nov/130

Infotech 2013 – Day 4

Posted by Ish Sookun

The fourth day at Infotech 2013 was tiring indeed. Tired out of awesomeness! I initially thought I would not attend the last day and instead concentrate on the Linuxfest event. However, the great moments of Saturday changed my mind. The NCB team had been encouraging us a lot & I kinda felt bad not to go.

Pawan, Pritvi, Nitin & I arrived at SVICC around 10h45. We left our gears at the NCB stand. Pawan & I went to have some refreshment. We discussed some raw photo editing stuffs using UFRaw. I am really a dumbo when it comes to cameras. My heart kinda broke when the night before I wasn’t able to view the photos taken from Ajay’s camera. Well … They were actually in a raw format, something I didn’t know. Pawan tried enlightening me in these things. Meanwhile Ajay arrived & was all set with his Gentoo machine. We finished the snacks and rushed back to the stand. Was kinda lethargic still … I guess it wasn’t tea but coffee that I should have taken but I hate coffee from those Nescafé machines.

I fired up the Linux Mint machine for the demos, opened my Linuxfest presentation slides and a couple of applications that can be demoed to public.

Infotech 2013

Ajay was humble enough to let us use his camera. I took it & tried shooting. That thing was heavy. I wondered how the photographers manage shooting for hours. I went around & took some snaps.

Reza and Riad from the National Computer Board.

There were less people visiting compared to Saturday but most who came were with family members. I demoed applications that people use on a daily basis, like web broswers (had Firefox, Google Chrome & Opera installed), VLC, Skype etc. Most people were kinda amazed by this new thing that was free (as in gratis) and secured enough to surf Internet with no risk of PC getting infected. Ajay was happy getting the kids playing on Steam.

I was there to evangelize Linux as well as openSUSE & Ubuntu in particular when students would show up.

A little after noon, Ratna & Ashmita came. They are from the UoM Computer Club team & were actually helping us for the Linuxfest as well. I introduced them to Ajay and the other folks at NCB. We in fact had lengthy discussions about the education system in Mauritius together with Riad. Later in the afternoon Nadim came. I handed demo sessions to him & took a pause. By late afternoon I felt like kaput. Was so tired, even Ajay several times told me to sleep early when I’m home :P

Oh … Epic moment was when NCB folks told me MBC needs a short introduction about our open source initiative & asked me if I could talk to them. Yup, sure I could. I was short on coffee, was feeling drowsy due to fatigue & MCB journalists show up. Ahaaan … Well, I thought open source is something I talk about all the time, so there’s no big deal talking the same in front of camera. We shot a first intro but it got ruined because of Orange making a lot of noise for their promos. Grrrr! On the second one, I just summed-up & made it shorter.

By the time Infotech 2013 ended we met everyone from the NCB team and thanked them. We were all very tired & needed rest. Yet, we had now the Linuxfest ahead … the next day. So, no rest, since I still needed some amendments in my slides. We walked towards the parking lot all while chatting about the great moments during this Infotech.

24Nov/130

Infotech 2013 – Day 3

Posted by Ish Sookun

Oh! What a great day.

It was a damn sunny morning but I liked the weather. Better be sunny & great than cold & lethargic. So, what was up in today’s list of activities? Firstly, going to University of Mauritius and meeting folks from the Computer Club. When I reached, Yunus was enjoying some loneliness at the entrance on Cafeteria. I greeted him and at the same time Darshini arrived. We had some general chat about the day’s schedule, things that were still pending for Linuxfest and I inquired about Ibraahim’s health.

A short while later Nirvan came with the lanyards. Those look great indeed & I’m happy Ibraahim did some green ones as I requested. Then got Nayar’s call informing that everyone is waiting at Raised Plaza. Ahaaan … They had quite a nice team there. It was a pleasure to meet them all. We had some quickie brainstorming for Monday’s event. The girls wanted some content materials for hosting the event. Well, I’m most of the time sporadic rather than setting things down on paper. Writing speech isn’t my skill but I told them I’ll improvise a couple of things during the weekend. By that time Neha, Pawan & Antish also had arrived.

We left UoM around 10h30 … for Infotech. A nice drive all way chatting some casual stuffs & at some point someone got me in an emotional nostalgia. Anyway, geek talks get me back in mood. When we arrived at Infotech I rushed to NCB’s stand, thought Ajay was there already but nah. We were first ( : I met Reza & Riad from the National Computer Board’s team. These guys have been helping us a lot. In fact, their support has made LUG’s presence something possible at Infotech 2013. I plugged the power cords & set my Linux box live on that wall-mounted wide-screen as we did yesterday. The NCB team is helpful & kinda like the vibrant energy our Linuxfest folks have. I was chatting with the guys while setting up things & it seems we will be having some nice collaboration in future events. Woohoooo! May the penguin army keep rising.

Reza on left, Riad on right.

I went outside for a while, when coming back I see the geek girl from day 1. Now, those who’re wondering who’s this geek girl… well, let’s go into flash back…

Day 1 – Conference was over & while we were queued up at the food-court, someone whispered, “there at 3 o’clock” and I was like “where, where, where?”. Of course, like a dumbass I don’t understand army’s code. Yet, my eyes fell upon a gorgeous girl in a fine black dress with the nerdy specs. Oh Lord! Those fitted her so well … Anyway, back to reality we continued our Linuxfest chat & folks gave me some great feedback on my presentation.Day 2 – I just had the panini episode in the food-court. While I was walking back to my seat I noticed the same geek girl I saw a day earlier. She was soothing to the eyes … I fired up twitter & tweeted : Oh! The chashmish girl in the foodcourt is cute <3. Brruuuaaaaah happened next. Twitter re-posted the same on my facebook wall & all the folks woke up eager to know whom I’m talking about. Camera was up & we got a blurry shot … Yet that wasn’t really my style, to shoot people without permission. So, I thought why not write about her ( : Pawan got on flirt mode & went for a shoot. I had already left Infotech by that time.

Coming back to day 3 … When I saw her again, I approached her asking if we could talk later & that I needed some info for my article. I actually wanted to know more about her geek look. It fitted her perfectly.

Met her around 13h00 while she was having lunch. A bit rude on my part maybe but I shot my questions. So, her name is Rachel Labour, a student of Architectural Design. She got into freelance modelling since a few years & did quite some projects; Salon de la Maison, Engen Motor Show among others. She’s passionate of interior designing. She aims to build her career as a professional interior designer rather than continuing with modelling. What about the geek look? Ahaaan … When she knew she’ll be hosting for Infotech 2013, she did her homework about technology & entertained a geek style to somewhere fit the environment. Mission accomplished! With so many eyes on her right from the entrance, she really cracked the code ( : Well, that was a nice meeting with a jovial person. Wishing her all the best in her career.

Oh… Did I miss something? Yup! Those who’ve been patient to see her. Here she is.

Ajay’s camera, photo shot by Nirvan.

Meanwhile at the NCB stand awesomeness was happening. We had a great response. In fact, Riad asked me if I could do an announcement of the Linux demos that we were doing. Sure, I could do. I improvised a quickie announcement both in English & Creole. At this point when I met colleagues from Orange Business Services, they asked what the noise was I making and instead of helping them with recruitment I was hopping around with penguins. Of course, I’m a geek & a bad-ass one. NCB has sponsored us a great platform, really pushing Linux & FOSS ahead. This greatly helps with all the activities we have in our calendar.

The rest of the day was awesome. I met a lot of students from University of Mauritius. There was a group which was particularly interested with the Linux Mint demo. I invited them to Monday’s Linuxfest. Met so many people, expanding the geek & professional network.

Ohh… It’s nearly 00h30 & I’m still writing. Ish, come on, have your milk & go to bed, you got another awesome day ahead.

22Nov/130

Infotech 2013 – Day 2

Posted by Ish Sookun

Pawan & I reached SVICC at 12h30 after a long wait at R. Hill bus-stand. Since we were hungry we went directly to the food-court. I ordered a vegetarian Panini but was given a ‘chicken’ one. Oops! I realise that only after the first bite. Thought the day will go bad … I went back & asked them to replace it with a vegetarian one. It seemed that things got messed up at the supplier as all Paninis with the ‘V’ tag were chicken in fact.

A short while later Nirvan. He bought some snacks too & we had a quick lunch. We then proceeded to the NCB stand to meet the team. We had kinda bad experience yesterday and hoped we could meet with the right persons today. Indeed at the NCB stand I met Reza, whom I had liased through emails & phone calls previously. He’s a great guy & seems to be an open source advocate too. I also met Riad from the same team. Well … They both seem to have great ideas when it comes to the promotion of open source & reduction of piracy in the country. I was happy to have met them & we had a lengthy discussion sharing ideas.

They gave me a stand where I could put my laptop. I logged into Linux Mint 16 RC since my openSUSE 13.1 box still needs some fine tuning (apps installation etc). Riad liked the look & feel of Cinnamon 2.0. He in fact asked one of his colleagues to connect the laptop to the wall-mounted wide-screen. We did and … ahaaan … display was awesome! I fired up a couple of applications & opened a video in VLC. I opened my Linuxfest 2013 presentation and showed Riad & Reza Monday’s schedule of talks.

I then approached people walking around & asked them if they knew about Linux or if they would like to see a demo. Many were keen to have a look at this new thing. They were mesmerized by the fact that’s it’s free (as in gratis). Some asked me for my card … which I don’t have obviously :P So, I wrote down my email address on pieces of paper. I also told people about Linux User Group & our weekly meetups. Some students that I met happened to have heard about us already … social network FTW!

Pawan’s cousin Antish joined us a little before 15h00 but unfortunately I had to leave. We had a quick chat, then Nirvan & I left.

Summing-up… Infotech 2013 – Day 2 was a positive one building contacts with like-minded folks. Looking forward for more community work tomorrow.

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21Nov/130

Infotech 2013 – Day 1

Posted by Ish Sookun

Last Saturday following some Infotech 2013 related discussions during MSCC meetup, I sent the team an email inquiring about the possibility of having a presentation slot for Linux & openSUSE Project. Monday morning I received a positive response and since then I’ve been in constant contact with the team via email & phone calls.

Jochen, Nirvan and I were going to present our topics (the same that we have prepared for Monday’s Linuxfest). Infotech’s website was updated with the presentation list 2 days ago. That gives a very short notice to people who could have been potential attendees to the talks. Besides I wonder if the Infotech team had been in contact with companies updating them about the various presentations in the conference schedule because when we reached the conference room, Symantec was doing a presentation with virtually no audience. That was kinda heart-breaking.

What could be the reason? Improper communication & planning of event… Even on the official website you need to dig around before you stumble upon the presentations list. It was a poor design & even worst maintained. Anyway, after the heart-breaking scene at the conference room, we crossed fingers & went to meet the NCB team with whom I had liaised earlier. Ahaaan … Heart breaks again. The stands were the most boring I ever saw. No one seemed to know real thing about open source, Linux or the philosophy of free software. None of the personnel could give us the right information why there isn’t an audience at the conference room. Are the announcements not done properly? What was happening? All you could see around was business happening! Infotech! Is it really educating people about technology … or just doing business as usual? If the latter, it’s rather a Tech Bazaar.

Anyway, we went back to the conference room. I initially wanted to go & do the announcement for the Linux conference that was scheduled but it seemed that only the ladies there should do it. Pathetic!

openSUSE Advocate

By the time I had to do the presentation, audience number had lowered. I guess some needed to catch the bus. Indeed, another bad timing issue. Photos, courtesy of Pawan & Nadim.

Well… Finally, we decided to just practice our presentations for Monday & have some fun. Yes! Awesome that was. I was happy to do the presentation & get response from folks. We were maybe around 10 people in the conference room. So, it was rather a peer-review of the slides. I also got some nice tips for Monday. Things that I should add & things that I shouldn’t say :P

To sum-up in a few words, Infotech Day 1 was a complete de-motivational experience. Never mind, I believe it’s a lack of experience on behalf of some.

Never back down… So, we gonna gear up again & see how it goes tomorrow.

Ohh… As we were leaving seemed like the day wasn’t bad enough. Car broke down! Actually, it was the battery that got drained due to headlamps remaining ON. Yup! I had a friend’s car today. I called up a mechanic friend who said he can come to solve the issue. While waiting for him, Nadim, Nirvan, Pawan, Pritvi & I went back to the foodcourt & had some snacks. He came up a while later with a spare battery & helped starting the car.

I then went to drop folks and continued chatting about usual geek stuffs.

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6Sep/130

Two powerful Gimp plugins: Liquid Rescale and Resynthesizer

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

Whether at home or at work, I rely on Gimp a lot for my image processing needs.

Out of the box, Gimp has a lot of powerful features but, as it is an extensible software, people can add plugins to it to make it more powerful. Yesterday, I came across two excellent Gimp plugins, Liquid Rescale and Resynthesizer, which I would like to share with you.

20130906-liquid-scale

Liquid Rescale: this open-source plugin resizes pictures non uniformly while preserving their features, i.e. avoiding distortion of the important parts. In the example above, the picture has been enlarged while the lady has been preserved. I’ve spent some time with the plugin last night resizing some of my pictures in both the x- and y- directions and the results are impressive.

20130906-resynthesizer

Resynthesizer: this other open-source plugin restore missing parts in an image. In the example above, the image was rotated and, consequently, some parts were missing (the lower left portion for instance). Resynthesizer can create the missing part from surrounding pixels very quickly. I’ve done some tests last night and the generated portion seamlessly flows into the existing part. Here is an excellent tutorial.

Installation

I run Fedora and both plugins are in the official repositories. For me, this command did it:

yum install gimp-lqr-plugin gimp-resynthesizer

I suppose Debian and its derivatives should have the plugin too. As any open-source software, installation from source is also a possibility.

Have fun!

6Sep/130

Two powerful Gimp plugins: Liquid Rescale and Resynthesizer

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

Whether at home or at work, I rely on Gimp a lot for my image processing needs.

Out of the box, Gimp has a lot of powerful features but, as it is an extensible software, people can add plugins to it to make it more powerful. Yesterday, I came across two excellent Gimp plugins, Liquid Rescale and Resynthesizer, which I would like to share with you.

20130906-liquid-scale

Liquid Rescale: this open-source plugin resizes pictures non uniformly while preserving their features, i.e. avoiding distortion of the important parts. In the example above, the picture has been enlarged while the lady has been preserved. I’ve spent some time with the plugin last night resizing some of my pictures in both the x- and y- directions and the results are impressive.

20130906-resynthesizer

Resynthesizer: this other open-source plugin restore missing parts in an image. In the example above, the image was rotated and, consequently, some parts were missing (the lower left portion for instance). Resynthesizer can create the missing part from surrounding pixels very quickly. I’ve done some tests last night and the generated portion seamlessly flows into the existing part. Here is an excellent tutorial.

Installation

I run Fedora and both plugins are in the official repositories. For me, this command did it:

yum install gimp-lqr-plugin gimp-resynthesizer

I suppose Debian and its derivatives should have the plugin too. As any open-source software, installation from source is also a possibility.

Have fun!