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

16Apr/170

Stopping by the #RiSk[Solutions] hackathon

Posted by Ish Sookun

A few weeks ago, Ajay Ramjatan, the President of the Linux User Group of Mauritius sent the executive members an email about a hackathon. It's organized by the "Fonds francophone pour l’innovation numérique (FFIN)" with the collaboration of OTAM, MITIA and the Ministry of Technology, Communication & Innovation. It is the fifth edition and this time it's happening in Mauritius.

#RiSk[Solutions] hackathon - Xavier

The event spanned over four days starting on Thursday 13 April 2017. I followed one presentation on Thursday where a « security consultant » talked about state-sponsored hacking. Well, he did talk about a lot of other stuff such as Ransomware, Password Managers etc but those are mainstream subjects. I was interested in the subject of state-sponsored hacking. In the slide the presenter mentioned "cybercriminel" rather than "hacker".

Is a hacker a cybercriminal?

That's an interesting topic but it's not within the scope of this blog post.

I could not attend the second day of the event but Ajay attended the rest of the days. In fact, both Ajay and Pritvi, an executive member of the Linux User Group, stayed for longer hours on Saturday while mentoring the participants. Pritvi stayed the whole night as the hackthon lasted 24-hours. On Saturday night I stopped by for a few minutes and met them.

On Sunday I arrived at the CyberTower 1 shortly after 10h00. The participants looked tired, due to lack of sleep most probably, but the enthusiasm was still there. Ajay was helping some participants with a PHP module that was not well configured on their Kali Linux virtual machine. I greeted them and wished the participants luck.

At 15h00 the ceremony started.

The jury panel was divided in two parts. A technical panel where the jury had already given scores after looking at the work/code of the participants and another panel who would give scores based on the quality of the presentation.

#RiSk[Solutions] hackathon - Jury panel

Members of the jury panel wore red t-shirt, mentors wore green, those from the organizing committee wore yellow and participants were in blue.

The first team that presented encountered a technical issue, which is very common when using virtual machines. Since they changed network after moving to the presentation room the machine IP address changes and possibly if they're on bridged network the virtual machine's address changes too.

The teams that did their presentations are in the following order:

  • Team X
  • Cybercure
  • Intruso
  • Team 42
  • Invictus

S. Moonesamy (SM) live streamed the presentations and jury questions on Periscope. They are available at:

https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853562017403351043
https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853570848007098369
https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853578838860812289
https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853583597629997056
https://twitter.com/sminmu/status/853585473314463744

After the presentations the jury members moved to a different room to discuss and tally the scores while the participants and attendees received a musical show by Indian artists. SM, Yash and I went downstairs in search of food but unfortunately on a Sunday none of the cafe or shop is opened in Cybertower 1. We came back upstairs and had a chat with Ajay. A few minutes later the musical/dance show was over and the jury panel was ready to announce the winner.

Zakiya called Pritvi on stage among others to offer the second prize. As she did that she reminded it's unique about Pritvi to be helping through several user groups in Mauritius and not just the Linux User Group.

Cybercure won the first prize!

Two special prizes were also given to Intruso and Team X.

6Apr/170

openSUSE Goodies Pack

Posted by Ish Sookun

As the Developers Conference 2017 was approaching Shelly asked me what am I doing with the openSUSE stickers and DVDs. I replied that I would distribute them to visitors when they'd come to the Installfest of the Linux User Group. That's when Shelly came up with the idea of having an openSUSE Goodies Pack. To keep it short it's a package containing various stickers, a bookmark, an openSUSE 42.2 64-bit DVD, and a laptop camera cover.


openSUSE Goodies Pack

In total Shelly made five such goodies packs. However, I couldn't make it to the Installfest as my presentation was on the same day. Bad timing.

I therefore decided to give away the goodies packs as prizes to questions that I would ask during my presentation. My talk was on Microservices and I explained the same using NGINX that ran on openSUSE 42.2. That was perfect to shoot some questions about openSUSE and yes, the attendees correctly answered that packages could be installed on openSUSE using RPM, Zypper and YaST. I had a question that asked which part of the home page of lexpress.mu is a microservice. One fellow answered « the notifications » and that's correct.

The openSUSE Goodies Pack garnered some attention on Twitter and MSP fellow Arwin Baichoo replied with a tweet showing the content of the goodies pack.

The rest of the stickers and openSUSE DVDs were distributed to attendees. Humeira gladly helped me with that.

31Mar/170

The real size of Africa

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

Africa is huge!

As seen in the Winkel tripel (Winkel III) projection above,  Africa is much much bigger than Europe and North America. Projecting the world’s surface (which is on a sphere) on a flat sheet of paper is impossible without introducing some distortions but the Winkel III projection has been proved to be the most accurate (preserving area, direction and distance).

It is high time for our schools and institutions to stop using the Mercator projection introduced in 1569 which distorts the size of objects as the latitude increases from the Equator to the poles, thus making Europe and North America appear much bigger than they really are.

Interestingly and obviously, Mauritius is bigger on the Winkel tripel (Winkel III) projection compared to the Mercator projection and this can only be a good thing for us 🙂

31Mar/170

How to administer Slackware 14.2?

Posted by Ish Sookun

The last presentation of Day 1 at the Developers Conference that I attended was that of Slackware 14.2 by Pritvi Jheengut.

Pritvi is a member of the Linux User Group of Mauritius and a usual suspect at such tech events. He is perhaps the most popular Slackware user on the island. He made a fierce reputation for that. Some know him for his weird methods of doing things but he remains just a geek with passion for a couple of things that he adores; Slackware being one of them.


Developers Conference 2017 - Slackware 14.2

I missed the beginning of his presentation. In fact, when I entered the room he was in the middle of some important explanation about installing packages using the installpkg command. The screen was black and the text green. Pritvi had worn a Darth Vader t-shirt and I heard rumours that he even started the presentation with the Darth Vader theme. That would be totally legit.


Pritvi made us visit the Slackware internals, a lot about the arrangement of system files and the way packages are kept simple.

The earlier thing that I missed was actually a question about Slackware packages which Pritvi asked the attendees; whether they found it weird to install something that's no more than just a tarball. It generated a discussion about package management, software repositories, the how and why of Slackware and above all its simplicity of software packaging vis-à-vis other Linux distributions.

I craved for some Linux fun which was missing on Day 1 but Pritvi's presentation fulfilled that. It was a cool and interactive session with questions that popped up like mushrooms.

I'm not sure I'll ever ditch openSUSE for Slackware but maybe I have a more decent opinion on Slackware administration now.

27Mar/170

Developers Conference 2017 – Linuxfest

Posted by Ish Sookun

Hey folks! We're back. It's time to meet up and have geek fun at the Developers Conference 2017. At its third edition, I am sure that, this great event of the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community will not disappoint you. Of course, there must be something in menu that will suit your appetite.

Shelly and I have planned our DevCon weekend carefully. We'll be there all three days.

I have a session on NGINX Microservices scheduled at 10h30 on Saturday at the Educator 2. The rest of the time that day you would find me hopping between Voilà Hotel and Flying Dodo helping folks from the Linux User Group of Mauritius with the full-day activities.


LUGM - Developers Conference 2017

Members of the Linux User Group will run a Linuxfest and help keen enthusiasts with Linux installs & troubleshoots in the conference room of Flying Dodo. You're all invited to come share your knowledge. We will be running demos on a projector and if you have some cool stuff about Linux which you'd like to share then get in touch, it'll be great to have more fellows around advocating Free Software/Open Source. Ping LUGM members Nirvan, Nadim on Twitter or get in touch with Ajay or Ronny on Facebook.


Care to tweet? Use the hashtag #DevConMru.

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!

8Feb/170

8 bad habits Rich Dad says we have

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

While travelling in India in December, I stumbled upon Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I read it cover to cover in a few days, taking notes while discussing a lot with Christina and the kids. The book is an eye-opener on a number of bad habits or beliefs we all have:

Naturally, I do not agree with everything Robert Kiyosaki says but his arguments are very interesting to read and think deeply about.

Have fun!

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31Aug/160

Software Engineering needs to be taught by Software Engineers

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

complexity_small

Software is eating the world.

Quoting ACM:

The availability of qualified software engineers has not kept pace with the demand from industry, so that systems are designed and built by people with insufficient educational background or experience.

In other words, Software Engineering is Hard and we do not have enough Software Engineers to create and maintain all the software which is eating the world. The fundamental reason is that software is unlike all other kinds of engineering artifacts (such as a bridge, a house or a computer):

  • Software is abstract and invisible.
  • Software has both static and dynamic properties.
  • Software is intrinsically complex in terms of its organization.
  • No universal measures of quality exist for assessing a software product.

Furthermore,

  • The manufacturing cycle for software products is not a significant element in software development, and it mainly involves the needs of distribution mechanisms.
  • Software does not wear out.

Quoting ACM again,

  • Software engineering practices are therefore largely concerned with managing relevant processes and with design activities.
  • A high-quality faculty and staff is perhaps the single most critical element in the success of a Software Engieering program.

And they conclude,

  • Faculty members who have a primarily theoretical computer science background might not adequately convey to students the engineering-oriented aspects of software engineering.
  • Faculty members from related branches of engineering might deliver a software engineering program or course without a full appreciation of the computer science fundamentals that underlie so much of what software engineers do.
  • Faculty members who have not experienced the development of large systems might not appreciate the importance of process, quality, and security.
  • Faculty members who have made a research career out of pushing the frontiers of software development might not appreciate that students first need to be taught what they can use in practice.

In other words, faculty members who teach Software Engineering need to be Software Engineers themselves. And this is là où le bât blesse (the main problem) in most universities: those teaching cannot do! This is true abroad but also true in most (all?) universities in Mauritius.

Mauritius needs universities with teachers who are doers and who know how to make students become doers.

And this needs to happen now!

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!