FOSS and data privacy

Hello folks, A few days back, there was an OT thread in the ilugc, which eventually ran into the topic of data privacy and FOSS. A few people on the list were commenting that data privacy was of supereme importance in FOSS.(The original post).

       I had raised my views over there and wish to highlight them.

File access permissions:

In GNU/Linux, or any other UNIX, the default file access permissions are 755. This means that, the owner can read, write and execute the files. The users in the same group as the owner can read and execute only, and the other users in the system can also read and execute only. (The file access is actually the decimal notation of the bitmask for the r-w-x, where 1 means allowed. So 1-1-1 means read, write and execute and 111 in binary is 7 in decimal).

So this 755 permission by default essentially means that, anybody who has a login in that system can read and execute your files. So the concept of supreme data privacy is lost. Infact, with default settings,any user can read any file in a GNU/Linux system.

There are ofcourse ways to modify the defaul permissions and make it such that the owner can read-write-execute and others can’t do anything, by setting the permissions to 700 using the chmod command. To make this as the default property, the users can also make their umask to be 077. by default umask is set to 022(umask XOR 777 gives the file access permissions).

            There were references to RMS opposing could computing etc. citing that data privacy is lost. In my view,  the probable disadvantage of cloud computing is that data ownership might be lost. But from my understanding, there will be no changes to the privacy.

TCENet bags yet another award

Hello folks, TCENet, the intranet portal of Thiagarajar College of Engineering has bagged yet another award. Already known by many in the opensource communities for being a FOSS product, TCENet now received the “Finalist 2008” for “The World is Open Award” sponsored by
Red Hat. It already received the “Most innovative ERP” award from the PCQuest magazine. Hearty congrats!!!

The bane of mailing lists

       Hello follks, back after sometime, i wish to put up a post on the difficulties and insults faced by newbies on mailing lists. I am myself part of quite a few lists and I have seen a lot of newbies being very harshly treated in the lists. Especially on GNU/Linux user groups, i often find experts often asking newbies either to RTFM or openly criticising their lack of knowledge in a particular subject. GLUGs apart, this mentality of experienced people is prevalent in open source project development lists as well.

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Linux Mint – The distro for those moving from windows

       Hi folks, Got something interesting this time. Bought this month’s Linux For You a bit late. Anyway, now that i have bought it, saw the media that came with it this time. One was a CD with software related to electronics etc. The other was a Live CD, based on Ubuntu. It was named Linux mint. I am not sure if I had been ignorant or if it was a relatively new distro, I had never heard that name. As it was a live CD, I was eager to try it out.

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Setting up MRTG in Debian

    Hello folks. After some setback, I have managed to setup MRTG in my Debian etch box. I thought of posting the process step by step so that it might be useful to someone someday. MRTG, The Multi Router Traffic Grapher, is used to see what a router does. It displays in the form of clean and pretty graphs showing how much traffic flowed through each interface.

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FStival ’07@TCE

GNU/Linux User Group Of TCE( GLUGOT) and GNU/Linux User Group of Madurai (GLUG-Madurai) are organising FStival ’07, the Free Software Festival at Thaigarajar College of Engg. Madurai on September 15th, Saturday. This is the fourth time the event is being conducted and it has always been successful. We hope to have a similar success this year as well.

FStival is celebrated as a part of the international event, the Software Freedom Day. The main objective of the event is to promote free software and propagate its advantages over other proprietary software. In our college, for FStival, we organise various demo stalls where various free software tools will be explained by students. We will also have an installation demo at the auditorium.

This year, we have intended to have stalls for Emacs and Vi, LaTeX, Gtk/Glade, Binutils, GCC, LAMP, Databases, CMS, Office, GIMP, Blender, Games in GNU/Linux etc. as usual and some new stalls like IDEs( Bluefish, KDevelop), Linux in day-to-day, Linux commands, GNU/Linux in industries etc. We will also have a stall on Beryl, a very attractive window manager. To popularise the concept of Live CD, we have a stall on Live CD. We may have a stall on GNU/Linux in industries and one on GNU/Linux history and propaganda.

TCE powered by a SAN, NAS and itanium machines — #1

A great unforgettable weekend pased by. From Friday morning to Monday evening, we had a beautiful, tech-packed weekend. As per the schedule, Joe and Sen came to the college on Friday for a 4 day visit. The first day had 2 sessions on FOSS to inspire the juniors at TCE. Then, for the remaining three days, it was all in the server rooms of TCE, upgrading, configuring and giving life to the servers.

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Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 released :)

       Hello folks, back to bloging after a long time. Exams kept me away from this great activity. But now, news to celebrate.. Debian GNu/Linux 4.0 has been released. Or in other words, Debian “etch” has been released after 21 months of development. Debain claims to support 11 architecures and seems have over 18000 installable packages.

Latest versions of all popular software packages such as the K Desktop Environment 3.5.5a (KDE), an updated version of the GNOME desktop environment 2.14, the Xfce 4.4 desktop environment, the GNUstep desktop 5.2, X.Org 7.1, 2.0.4a, GIMP 2.2.13, Iceweasel (Mozilla Firefox, Icedove (Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5), Iceape (Mozilla Seamonkey 1.0.8), PostgreSQL 8.1.8, MySQL 5.0.32, GNU Compiler Collection 4.1.1, Linux kernel version 2.6.18, Apache 2.2.3, Samba 3.0.24, Python 2.4.4 and 2.5, Perl 5.8.8, PHP 4.4.4 and 5.2.0, Asterisk 1.2.13 are also available.

The default desktop is GNOME and is available in the first CD. For the first time, a graphical front end will be used for the installation process. Also, for upgradation processes, the full file will not be downloaded. Onle the diff between the 2 versions will be downloaded and patched.

For more info, please visit Debian’s hompage

A simple c shell…

Hello folks, It was a great fealing for me. The first piece of coding for the YAOS project is done, though it was a utility tool. To put it straight, I wrote a crappy, nasty piece of code for a simple shell and it worked 🙂 . I named it the shell and am now using it. The coding part of it was very very simple. The entire shell was written in just 60 lines of C. It can do all that a simple sh shell can do, except the autocomplete feature.

As for now there are problems in catching and handling interrupts. Hitting a C-c doesnot make anything happen…. But I am working on it now and will implement that soon. But otherwise it has all the features of a perfect GNU shell. I also tested it by making it as the default shell for one of the user accounts in my system…. and it went well….

The problem I face is that I am not good at signal programming and am not sure how to handle the various signals that are possible… like it must logout when C-d is used and so on. Also I dont have the faintest idea of how to imlpement the auto-complete for my shell….. hope i soon learn it…… I would be really happy if I could get help from people who have a good knowledge and experience in this field……..

The Solaris GRUB

Hello folks, Again I will be talking on GRUB terms…. The first thing I noted after installing opensolaris was that, it overwrites the GNU/Linux. I had an older version of Ubuntu running in the drive in which I installed opensolaris, and found to my surprise that the GRUB was overwritten by solaris.

Only then I learnt that the original GRUB from the GNU does not understand UFS or ZFS. The GNU GRB can understand only ext2 or ext3…. So the people from the Sun Microsystems have modified it and have released their own versions of it…

So, inorder to get linux back to working, we need to edit the /boot/grub/menu.lst file and give the correct path for the GNU/Linux root….. Or the other way of doing it when linux and solaris are in different drives is, install soalris grub in its drive and install GNU GRUB in the MBR… Then do as follows…

root (hd1,*)

chainloader +1



where * denotes the location of solaris root….. then it will work….