Author Archives: Ish Sookun

Petition for the re-election of the openSUSE Board

Back in March, openSUSE member Pierre Böckmann wrote to the project mailing list calling for a non-confidence vote following recent events . Technically that means he was calling for a re-election of the current elected board.

The board election rules state:

If 20 per cent or more of the openSUSE members require a new board, an election will be held for the complete elected Board seats.

The openSUSE Election Committee was tasked to find our whether 20% of the community are actually calling for the re-election.

We have at our disposal the Helios voting platform which we can use to register an "answer" from community members. Instead of running a vote with several answer options, we consulted among Election Officials, and agreed that there will be only one answer to select, which will represent a virtual signature, similar to like signing an electronic petition. That will allow us to effectively measure whether 20% of the community are petitioning for a re-election of the openSUSE Board.

I sent an email to the project mailing list, on behalf on the Election Committee, explaining this process and called for comments by community members. If you are reading this post and would like to share your views about the procedure, then the deadline for comments submission is 20 May 2020 23h59 CET.

२० मिनट में एक Ktor बैकएंड विकसित करें।

पिछले हफ्ते कोलकोटा कोटलिन यूजर ग्रुप ने एक ऑनलाइन मीटअप का आयोजन किया था जिसमें साथी डेवलपर एनरिक लोपेज़ मानास ने Ktor वेब फ्रेमवर्क का त्वरित अवलोकन किया।

मीटअप को meetup.com पर प्रकाशित किया गया था और उपस्थित लोग YouTube पर प्रस्तुति को लाइव देख सकते थे। उपस्थित लोग YouTube लाइव प्रस्तुति पर भी टिप्पणी कर सकते हैं और उन टिप्पणियों को मॉडरेटर्स रिवू और अत्री, एनरिक को सूचित कर रहे थे। रिवू और अत्री कोलकाता कोटलिन यूजर ग्रुप के मीटअप आयोजक हैं।

गलत स्क्रीन डिस्प्ले की तकनीकी त्रुटि के कारण, पहले अट्ठाईस मिनट के प्रस्तुतीकरण का पालन करना आसान नहीं होगा। इसलिए, मेरा सुझाव है कि आप वीडियो को अट्ठाईसवें मिनट से देखना शुरू करें। प्रस्तुति के अंतिम दस मिनटों में एनरिक ने Ktor वेब फ्रेमवर्क की मूल बातें कही।

Managing the Linux /home directory is about to change

systemd 245 came out on the 6th of March 2020.

In this release, among many changes brought, a notable one is that regarding how we see and think of the Linux /home directory. A new service systemd-homed.service has been added, whose role is to manage home directories.

Traditionally, user information on Linux systems have recorded in the /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow files. The former contains details about the user name, id, group id, shell, home directory, among other details, while the latter contains the user password information.

On the other hand systemd-homed.service stores user information in a ~/.identity file in JSON format. The choice of JSON was mainly due to its popularity and easiness to process with the majority of programming languages.

Thus, every directory managed by systemd-homed.service contains both the user information and the user data.

To create, remove or change home directories one would use the homectl command.

$ sudo homectl create john --real-name="John Doe" -G wheel --disk-size=500M

What if you could carry your home directory in a pendrive and work from any (Linux) machine as if you are "home" ?

$ sudo homectl create john --real-name="John Doe" --image-path=/dev/disk/by-id/usb-SanDisk_Ultra_Fit_476fff954b2b5c44-0:0 --tasks-max=500

The above command creates the user john in a pendrive and assigns a maximum of 500 concurrent task to him.

systemd-homed.service also allows you to have an encrypted home directory, but that, I will write about on another day. 😉


Twitter/Facebook card image source: auroria.io

MicroOS – The OS that does “just one job”

The openSUSE Summit 2020 kicked off yesterday. Like many others this summit was a virtual one too. It ran on a platform managed by openSUSE fan and user P. Fitzgerald.

I was busy with work stuff and couldn't watch the presentations live. I hopped on and off on the platform. I didn't want to miss Richard's presentation about MicroOS but yet I missed it. Luckily he was quick to record his session and upload it on YouTube. I got a chance to watch it afterwards. Surely, all other presentations will be available on openSUSE TV soon and I'll be able to catch-up.

If you didn't rush to watch Richard's presentation on YouTube right-away, here are a few hints that may encourage you to watch it.

openSUSE container registry

I'm not going to tell you what MicroOS is, you got to watch the video to learn about that, but did you know that the openSUSE project had a containers registry available publicly at https://registry.opensuse.org ? You can add it to the /etc/containers/registries.conf file and Podman can now search & pull containers from it.

Tiny openSUSE containers

When deploying your application in a container you always look for the fattest container, right? Of course, no!

ish@coffee-bar:~$ podman pull registry.opensuse.org/opensuse/busybox
Trying to pull registry.opensuse.org/opensuse/busybox...
Getting image source signatures
Checking if image destination supports signatures
Copying blob b6fc9a391c78 [====>---------------------------------] 515.9KiB / 3.8MiB
ish@coffee-bar:~$ podman images
REPOSITORY                               TAG      IMAGE ID       CREATED        SIZE
registry.opensuse.org/opensuse/busybox   latest   c19f82628d9f   44 hours ago   9.4 MB

openSUSE offers a small (Tumbleweed) busybox container that is just under 10 MB. Mini but mighty! 💪

How to keep a system patched & running?

If it's running you don't want to touch it, but, systems need security updates. Someone has to do the dirty-job. Who? Can a system update itself without breaking the applications that are running?

I had to screencap this :)

Health checks during boot-up

Have you ever had a system that fails to boot after an update? I had. MicroOS checks for errors during the boot phase and if a snapshot is faulty the system then boots up with the last known working snapshot. MicroOS does so without any manual intervention, so, automatic reboots are safe.  😀 🎉 🎊

Debugging your MicroOS container host

MicroOS is a lightweight system that doesn't come bundle with debugging tools (for obvious reasons). Once in a while though you need to troubleshoot things like network issues. There you go, you can spin a toolbox container and inspect the network interface on the host. 🛠️

I hope these are enough to convince you to watch the presentation and that openSUSE MicroOS becomes part of your servers infrastructure. 🐧

Lawyers booked for breach of curfew while accompanying their client to the police headquarters

Mauritius is under a sanitary curfew since about a month now. People are advised to stay at home and not to venture outside unless they have a Work Access Permit and are going to their workplace or going out to get essential items (e.g food provision, medicines, etc).

Police officers are on regular patrols across the island and they have also set up road blocks in certain places to ensure that the curfew is being respected.

In the early press conferences of the National Communication Committee on COVID-19, a representative of the Mauritius Police Force informed people that officers will ascertain the urgency of traveling on a case-by-case basis and an officer will be allowed to book a person for breach of curfew if the latter provides an unjustified reason for traveling.

Recent press reports show that at least three lawyers have been booked for breach of curfew because they did not carry (with them) a « memo » which has been given to lawyers requiring to travel to assist their clients. The lawyers had accompanied their client to the Central Criminal Investigation Division, Police Headquarters, Line Barracks, Port-Louis.

The common factor among these three lawyers is that they are representing clients who said something that « annoyed » somebody with close ties with the government.

Are people abusing the ICT Act of Mauritius?

Disclaimer
People who are easily annoyed, distressed or may feel an « inconvenience » should not read this post. I will not be liable for any inconvenience caused to the reader.

Information and Communication Technologies Act 2001

Section 46(h)

Any person who —
uses, in any manner other than that specified in paragraph (ga), an information and communication service, including telecommunication service, —

(i) for the transmission or reception of a message which is grossly offensive, or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or

(ii) which is likely to cause or causes annoyance, humiliation, inconvenience, distress or anxiety to that person;

(iii) for the transmission of a message which is of a nature likely to endanger or compromise State defence, public safety or public order.


The ICT Act of Mauritius was amended in 2018 and it made a specific section of the legislation more ambiguous than before. Section 46 of the Act describes the offences under that legislation. The amendment introduced words such as humiliation, distress and anxiety to the list of "inconveniences" in part (ii).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says that the amendments of the ICT Act are in line with the laws of countries such as Egypt, the UAE and Jordan — none of which are democracies.


On 15 April, while the whole country was under curfew, a team of policemen proceeded to arrest a young woman for breach of the ICT Act, after receiving a complaint by a government nominated board member of the ICT Authority.

The Centre for Law and Democracy expressed their concern regarding such an arrest for political satire.

The young woman spent a night in police custody for having posted an image showing a news broadcaster with a captioned photo of the Mauritian Prime Minister and text that joked about world leaders who are going to hold a press conference to ask the Mauritian Prime Minister about his miracle treatment & method for COVID-19.

As it appears the meme or joke caused such annoyance and inconvenience to the ICT Authority's board member that he decided to spend 2 hours at the CCID Cybercrime Unit to complain about it. L'express newspaper reported that the board member expressed on Facebook that he did so for his boss, his PM, and his country.

Now, one may wonder whether this board member of the ICT Authority really has acted out of love for his prime minister or is it a show of loyalty; often the case with persons holding a nominated position in government offices. Whichever reason the complainant may have, this particular incident points towards an abuse of the ICT Act, through the manner of the arrest and act of intimidation of behalf of people of authority.

Did you complain to the Consumer Protection Unit?

I watched the press conference of the National Communication Committee on COVID-19 last evening. A journalist asked Dr. Joomye a question pertaining to supermarkets that have doubled prices on certain products.

Dr. Joomye answered that only 38 complaints were received and that many people are complaining on social media rather doing it through the right channel. Despite this 180 commercial outlets were visited by the inspectors of the Ministry of Commerce on 7 April and several of them were booked for various contraventions.

I also see a lot of people complaining on social media. Officers of the Consumer Protection Unit do not spend their time reading comments on Facebook. If we want to fix unreasonable high prices in supermarkets then we should all use the proper channels to complain.

A few days ago I saw a post shared by a friend on Facebook. See the receipt from a supermarket in Mahebourg.

Source: Facebook (https://bit.ly/3e3PjI2)

As per the client, he purchased a packet of cigarettes which is Rs 150 usually but the supermarket charged him Rs 175 during this coronavirus confinement period. It is only afterward that he realized that the supermarket charged him the additional Rs 25 as miscellaneous. If this avers true then the person should have complained about it to the Consumer Protection Unit rather than posting on Facebook to draw likes & comments.

I cannot verify the authenticity of the supermarket receipt and whether the person having posted it is sharing the complete story, but I am only using it as an example.

How to report?

If you notice that shopkeepers and supermarket owners are abusing on the prices, please inform the Consumer Protection Unit through their hotline 185 or email consumerpu@govmu.org.

Data protection poorly understood in Mauritius 🥺

Mauritius counted 186 positive COVID-19 cases including 7 deaths as at 3 April.

With the rise of cases I notice a lot of people calling the authorities to release personal information of patients having tested positive for the novel coronavirus. People think the release of such personal information will make contact tracing a much quicker exercise.

I've had arguments with people on Facebook. I even reported people to the Cybercrime Unit for breaching the Data Protection Act by sharing the personal information of COVID-19 patients.

People argue that contact tracing will be faster if personal information of patients is released. Many are citing the example of how South Korea released information to accelerate contact tracing. Unfortunately, people do not read or enquire properly.

South Korea has an experience dealing from previous epidemics, such as the MERS outbreak in 2015. Their medical personnel and relevant authorities were able to quickly step up with containment plans.

South Korean authorities did not release personal information of patients. It is wrong to assume that.

Legislation enacted since then gave the government authority to collect mobile phone, credit card, and other data from those who test positive to reconstruct their recent whereabouts. That information, stripped of personal identifiers, is shared on social media apps that allow others to determine whether they may have crossed paths with an infected person.
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Information shared by the South Korean authorities were anonymized.

Chaos reigns as supermarkets re-open in Mauritius today

Despite the strict guidelines laid out by the authorities and all the sanitary precautions advised by medical officers through various channels, Social Distancing remains an alien term to many.

Supermarkets and shops started operating as from 09h00 today, as it was announced by the Prime Minister a few days ago.

Alas! It's chaos... at most of the major hypermarkets of the island. A long queue of people can be seen at Super U, Grand Baie. A similar trend is observed at other supermarkets, as posted by l'express.

Images source: l'express page on Facebook

Last night a 20 years old girl died at the New Souillac Hospital. She was admitted about a week ago after testing positive to COVID-19. She is the sixth and youngest fatal victim of COVID-19 in Mauritius. As per Dr. V. Gujadhur of the National Communication Committee, she might have gotten infected while frequently visiting a supermarket in her locality.

It appears that this story does not overwhelm people enough to prevent them from storming the supermarkets early on.

The supermarkets and shops will operate till 17h00 today. If you go there and find a long queue please don't be like the rest, just return home and check again later. Every family can make provisions twice per week as per the alphabetical order published by the National Communication Committee.

Also, you do not necessarily need to head to the hypermarkets as you will probably find the essential items in a nearby shop which might be less crowded.

Stay safe !

क्या openSUSE Asia Summit 2020 अब भी भारत में होगा ?

इस प्रश्न का उत्तर जानने के लिए हमें जुलाई के महीने तक इंतजार करना होगा।

१७ मार्च को openSUSE Board की बैठक हुई। यह निर्णय लिया गया कि इस समय हम केवल COVID-19 की स्थिति देख सकते हैं और जुलाई तक इंतजार कर सकते हैं जब बोर्ड द्वारा openSUSE.Asia Summit और oSLO 2020 को लेकर कुछ निर्णय लिया जाएगा।

तब तक सुरक्षित रहें और यदि आप का देश लॉकडाउन में हैं तो कृपया घर पर रहें।