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LUGM mini-meetup | The gang of sixteen

Last week I was contacted by the UoM Computer Club folks telling me they have a slot for the Linuxfest 2013. That was indeed a great news. I didn’t waste any more time & announced the same on LUGM’s mailing list. Secondly, I created a facebook event for LUGM mini-meetup and set the main topic as Linuxfest 2013.

By yesterday afternoon I had some 24 RSVPs on the event page. Yet I guessed not everybody would be able to make it today. So, I sent en email to Pizza Perfect to reserve a table for 15 people. If others show up, we would adjust accordingly. Seems like my guess was kinda right. 16 penguins (including me) showed up. Wohooo! That made a great meetup indeed. So, who were today’s penguins? Yuram (Kurtish), Nitin Mutkawoa, Nirvan, Pawan, Avinash Mayaram, Ajay, Selven, Tisha, Ashley, Nuvin, Adarsh, Neha, Darshini, Nayar, Toshan & me.

I reached Pizza Perfect exactly @ noon (while meetup time was set to 13h00). A few minutes later Yuram, Nirvan, Nitin & Pawan came. Everyone was kinda hungry, so we ordered one large pizza, chips & Nitin asked for a burger. The fun was ON!


Initially we had Internet connection issues. Nirvan & Yuram volunteered to help the Pizza Perfect folks to troubleshoot the same :)

Little by little others showed up. When Selven & Ajay came we started a full discussion about the upcoming Linuxfest 2013. Well, I won’t post the details to spoil the surprise but ideas that popped were awesome. We discussed & assigned who would share certain responsibilities. We also made a draft list of the kinds of presentations that should be happening. Everybody showed enthusiasm. The ladies Neha & Darshini; they got some nice roles as well :) Nirvan helped me by taking notes while the discussion remained ON (along with pizza munching).


Oh! Thinking about where are the ladies? Here they are … but for some weird reason the photo blacked-out (while one of the ladies, Tisha, was left out; couldn’t find her in any of the photos).


Around 16h00 Ajay tossed the topic on Apache configuration. I had completely forgotten about this one, which was in today’s technical discussion. I thought with all the fun talking on Linuxfest everyone would be tired but the penguins were not. In fact, all of them were so eager to have the technical fun on Apache.

Ajay described us a scenario where Apache does not load the PHP module leaving the content of PHP files view-able via the browser. This can expose database related credentials (username, password, hostname etc). To prevent such mishap he advised us to include a condition in httpd.conf that instructs Apache not to give access to files with certain extensions (like .inc) if mod_php isn’t loaded. We could therefore put the sensitive data in .inc files & they won’t be exposed when PHP module fails. Here’s how it goes into the Apache configuration :

<IfModule !mod_php5.c>
<Filesmatch "\.inc$>
Order allow,deny
Deny from all
Allow from none

We also talked a bit about mod_deflate. In case you have it enabled, put the following for older/buggy browsers :

BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html

Next, Ajay pointed the vulnerabilities when using open_basedir in PHP (more reading here).

Finally, if the meetups gonna be like today’s, I’ll have to remove the word mini from the title :)


Me, having evil ideas brewing in the mind...

Photos, courtesy of Nirvan Pagooah.

LUGM mini-meetup … Epic!

While rushing to the bus-stop I missed the Port-Louis bus. That’s how I got late for today’s LUGM mini-meetup. Well, I reached Bagatelle at 13h25. Pawan & Nitin Mutkawoa called me earlier informing they had reached. I saw Nitin sitting opposite to Talking Drums & we went to Mugg & Bean. I called Pawan and told him we’re on the upper floor. It was our lucky day since the table near the power socket was free :) I also called Nirvan since he pinged me earlier after his university class but he was in P. Louis by then.

We ordered some mocha javas and I took a cheese & tomato sandwich. Pawan brought his Acer netbook for a Linux Mint installation. I got a Live pendrive ready and we installed all while having some general chit-chat. Topic then came about blogging and Nitin told us about the issues he was having with his Apache config. He logged on his VPS and I guided him through the WordPress installation.


Photo, courtesy of Yuram
Edited in GIMP :)

Yuram arrived with a power extender which I asked for earlier on facebook. Conversation was full fledged by that time. Jochen joined us through facebook ( yup, I know I should have set up the G+ hangout session :P ). He pointed out several security loopholes in Nitin’s website & the PHP configuration. To see the fun check out Pawan’s status on facebook.

At some point Nitin asked about Binutils & Coreutils. We briefly talked about those. Nitin & Yuram then shared some LPIC preparation tips. I was on the other hand teaching Pawan some basic Linux commands. It was the first time he had hands on a Linux terminal and he was enjoying playing around. In fact, he was so mesmerized with the ease of getting things done through command-line that he installed a shell emulator on his Sony Xperia phone. Everything else was working on his netbook except the WIFI. He has a Broadcomm BCM4312 network adaptor. We needed a wired connection to install the firmware. I gave Pawan the instructions from a previous blog post. He applied the same at home & confirmed me his WIFI is fine now.

Since the beginning of LUGM mini-meetups I told Yuram to get on IRC when needing help. Today I showed them how to connect to IRC servers and join a channel. We connected to the openSUSE channel on freenode and had a quick chat among ourselves. I then helped him signing up to the openSUSE mailing lists.

We had a lot of sporadic topics but we concentrated in helping Pawan getting comfortable with Linux. At the same time we could see Nitin’s head on fire with Jochen’s comments bombarding him on facebook. That was fun & we let him handle those alone :)


Nitin was too busy solving Jochen's puzzles

We finished at 17h00. Everyone smiling & saying that was an epic meetup!