FOSS-2007 @ TCE

The FOSS( Free Open Source Software) 2007 event is going on well at TCE. It was inagurated on the 8th of january and will conclude on the thirteenth. This six day seminar on FOSS is being attended by delegates around the state and this is the first of its kind being conducted here at TCE after I joined this college in 2004( May be this is the first ever time). The agenda included Installation of GNU/Linux (Debain), Programming tools, Networking tools, Debugging tools, Database tools, Web programming, CMS and so on. The resource persons included experts from the FOSS world, fortunately most of them being alumnis.

The first day of the seminar was made a ever-lasting event, as it was handled by Mr. Joe Steeve, a great FOSS enthusiast and GNU/Linux user from Chennai. Mr.Joe Steeve,now working at Terminus Graphics Studio, started with an introduction to FOSS philosophies. Then he gave a brief overview about the various licences in the FOSS world. He also spoke about the two FOSS models of software development- the Bazaar model and the Cathedral model.

The next day, we had Mr. Praveen doing the session on installation. He seems to have shown a demo of the Debian GNU/Linux.Unfortunately, we missed it. The afternoon sessions were lab sessions for the participants andwe had special lectures by the resource persons.

The third day was handled by an emminent person, Mr. Barathi Subramanian, a well known person in most of the GLUGs in india. But that too, unfortunately, we coudl not attend. We were in the midst of our internals 🙁 But then had a chance to meet him and exchanged greetings. He was kind enough to share a lot materials that he had collected and prepared.

The next day of the seminar was the most unforgettable, being handled by Mr. Ananth Shrinivas, an alumni of our college, now working at the SUN microsystems. A great UNIX programmer, Mr.Ananth handled the session on debugging tools and in that process, taught us all a lot about OS internals. Mr.Ananth is usually seen as an extremely brilliant geek and was seen more so as he began his talk on various tools like gdb and valgrind, all available in Linux and could be installed in a Debian system be apt-get install valgrind.

The fifth day, today, was handle by someone with whom I know personally,- Mr.SenthilKumaran from the spikesource. An alumni of our college who finished BE CSE in the year 2006, is well known to most of the third and final year students here. Mr.Senthil Kumaran spoke on DBMS tools and web programming tools. In DBMS tools, he spoke about the 2 major DBMS used in FOSS world, MySQL and PostgresSQL. He also made special mention about small foot-print databases like Apache-Derby and SQLite.

A GRUB problem

Hello folks, This time I am with a GRUB problem. Yes, it is true that I have installed Debian GNU/Linux in quite a lot of systems, but never got any GRUB error of the sort that I had yesterday. For the first time I saw the GRUB blurting out

GRUB Loading :Error 18 ….

I have seen other errors like GRUB error 17 or 16…. This never….

What exactly happened was this…. I was installing Debian Sarge in one of the systems. Evrything went well as ususal and the base system got installed. The system ejected the CD ROM as usual and rebooted….. Only for myself to see the abopve mentioned error… Googling gave told me that it was something related with the BIOS. And that we need to alter the partitioning as it was to big to handle… Luckly for me, Mr.Joe Steeve ( a GNU/Linux geek) was available online… I contacted him through IM and he gave the reply in an instant….That the LBA option in the BIOS must be set to enabled….. Then we rebooted the system, entered in to the BIOS setup and changed the state to AUTO from disabled….. and reboted the system and …. there it was… the GRUB displayed all the OSes available without throwing any errors…

And more on LBA…. LBA stands for Logical Boot Addressing. It is a simple type of addressing in which blocks are located by using an index where for the first block LBA=0, for the second LBA=1 and so on… This is advantageous as it provides a layer of abstraction to the software of the operating system unlike the earlier schemes which exposed it. LBA was initially used in SCSI disks…. but now it is used in all major storage devices and colpmex storage structures like SAN etc.


        Thiagarajar College of Engg will be organising a week long seminar on FOSS tools in January 2007 in its campus. The seminar is scheduled from 8-1-2007 to 13-1-2007. The specaility of the program is that it will be conducted by experts in the field from various industries and the GNU field. People among the resource persons are Mr.Amalan Joe Steeve, Mr. Ananth Shrinivas, Mr. Senthil Kumaran, Mr.Shakti Kannan, Mr.Bharathi Subramanian, and Mr.Nagappan.

The various sessions of the week long seminar/workshop include

  • Installation tools
  • System configuration tools
  • Server configuration tools
  • Networking tools
  • Application development tools
  • Desktop tools
  • Database tools
  • Web-programming tools
  • Content management tools

and the list goes on…And all the sessions will have a pratical hands on session for all these. The venue of the event will be the conference of the Dept of Computer Science in Thiagarajar College of Engg.Also accomodation is provide on request… For more details and for registering please loook into the site

Debian sarge (64-bit) installation

        Hey folks, we are really excited today, as we were for the first time allowed to something on the costly servers :-). We (Balachandran, Sai, Venkatapathy) installed the 64-bit debian sarge in the itanium server, or the SMP. This work must havebeen completed long back, but due to some problems with the hyperterminal present there, we were unable to do it.Now atlast we have done it.

But even today, with a guy from HP present, the installation was not as smooth as we had expected. We got stuck up for a long time with the partition… yes even thought all three of us have enough experience installing debian on lots of systems, we had that problem 🙁 Then we tried to use the LVM…. but that did not help…

We were stuck up because we saw a nwe type of partition there.. called the EFI boot. Now I understand that it is an Extensible Firmwire Interface Boot….Then after instructions from our staff we decided to erase the entire disk and install Debain. The server already had RHEL running on it.But we formated it and now the server has only a 64-bit Debian sarge running on it.

Though we spent nearly 2 hrs for that, we area really glad and happy that we learnt something new today about EFI and stuff. We are also glad to have done the first 64-bit debian installation in the college, that too in a costly itanium server, which will be our DataBase server.


        Hey folks… I got really excited today. I just learnt how to use the iptables command for various purposes :). I learnt how to use the command to set up new rules, append to existing rules, drop rules…etc. The site from which I learnt them was a good. the link is .

The commands that i tried were

#iptables -A INPUT -s <some I P> -p <some protocol> -j DROP

for blocking all packets of the corresponding protocol from that given IP. The -A command is used to add rule ro an existing ipchain.For droping an existing chain, the option is -D. For example, to drop packets of a ping command(icmp protocol) from the loclhost, the command will be

#iptables -A INPUT -s -p icmp -j DROP

To undo the same, that is to remove that iptbales rule, what we simply need to do is just repeat the same command with the -A replaced by -D. Another thing I tried was to block all internet traffic to the system in which I am logged in. This is easily done with some thinking… this is what I did. I blocked all tcp packets from the main proxy.The command for doing it is.

#iptables -A INPUT -s -p tcp -j DROP

Here, all tcp packets arriving from,the proxy to this system are dropped.Since web traffic is also a tcp based traffic, it also gets blocked…

My Tryst with Gtk/Glade

Hello folks, After nearly 2 months I decided to do something using glade, atleast to play aroud with it, and in doing so i did something useful– developed a small simple-very simple- wrapper for wget. To be frank, I am very new to Gtk/Glade. I started learning the basics a couple of months back and left it as such.

So, today, when after some struggles, I created my first proper Gtk/Glade application, I was really happy. I decided to work more on it now. To say more on my application, it is just a very, very small wrapper for wget. Actully it is not even complete.What it does is that, it has a text entry field where we need to give the complete url and press the button provided there.It downloads the corresponding file to the users home directory.

But, I hope that I will continue working on that and develop it into a full fledged wrapper for wget. Another important benefit of this tryst with Gtk/Glade is that I have for the first time understood invoking system calls from C. So

BSNL broadband on GNU/Linux

Finally I am browsing with GNU/Linux fro my home. I got a ethernet card and got it configured in linux and now i blog this from my linux destop at home.

Now, broadband from BSNL is working fine and I am having a good time browsing without worrying about possible virus attacks and unwanted pop-ups( I dont know how i dont get any here.Even with mozilla, I used to have a lot of pop-ups in WIN-XP.).