Search Results: "praveen"

14 October 2023

Ravi Dwivedi: Kochi - Wayanad Trip in August-September 2023

A trip full of hitchhiking, beautiful places and welcoming locals.

Day 1: Arrival in Kochi Kochi is a city in the state of Kerala, India. This year s DebConf was to be held in Kochi from 3rd September to 17th of September, which I was planning to attend. My friend Suresh, who was planning to join, told me that 29th August 2023 will be Onam, a major festival of the state of Kerala. So, we planned a Kerala trip before the DebConf. We booked early morning flights for Kochi from Delhi and reached Kochi on 28th August. We had booked a hostel named Zostel in Ernakulam. During check-in, they asked me to fill a form which required signing in using a Google account. I told them I don t have a Google account and I don t want to create one either. The people at the front desk seemed receptive, so I went ahead with telling them the problems of such a sign-in being mandatory for check-in. Anyways, they only took a photo of my passport and let me check-in without a Google account. We stayed in a ten room dormitory, which allowed travellers of any gender. The dormitory room was air-conditioned, spacious, clean and beds were also comfortable. There were two bathrooms in the dormitory and they were clean. Plus, there was a separate dormitory room in the hostel exclusive for females. I noticed that that Zostel was not added in the OpenStreetMap and so, I added it :) . The hostel had a small canteen for tea and snacks, a common sitting area outside the dormitories, which had beds too. There was a separate silent room, suitable for people who want to work.
Dormitory room in Zostel Ernakulam, Kochi.
Beds in Zostel Ernakulam, Kochi.
We had lunch at a nearby restaurant and it was hard to find anything vegetarian for me. I bought some freshly made banana chips from the street and they were tasty. As far as I remember, I had a big glass of pineapple juice for lunch. Then I went to the Broadway market and bought some cardamom and cinnamon for home. I also went to a nearby supermarket and bought Matta brown rice for home. Then, I looked for a courier shop to send the things home but all of them were closed due to Onam festival. After returning to the Zostel, I overslept till 9 PM and in the meanwhile, Suresh planned with Saidut and Shwetank (who met us during our stay in Zostel) to go to a place in Fort Kochi for dinner. I suspected I will be disappointed by lack of vegetarian options as they were planning to have fish. I already had a restaurant in mind - Brindhavan restaurant (suggested by Anupa), which was a pure vegetarian restaurant. To reach there, I got off at Palarivattom metro station and started looking for an auto-rickshaw to get to the restaurant. I didn t get any for more than 5 minutes. Since that restaurant was not added to the OpenStreetMap, I didn t even know how far that was and which direction to go to. Then, I saw a Zomato delivery person on a motorcycle and asked him where the restaurant was. It was already 10 PM and the restaurant closes at 10:30. So, I asked him whether he can drop me off. He agreed and dropped me off at that restaurant. It was 4-5 km from that metro station. I tipped him and expressed my gratefulness for the help. He refused to take the tip, but I insisted and he accepted. I entered the restaurant and it was coming to a close, so many items were not available. I ordered some Kadhai Paneer (only item left) with naan. It tasted fine. Since the next day was Thiruvonam, I asked the restaurant about the Sadya thali menu and prices for the next day. I planned to eat Sadya thali at that restaurant, but my plans got changed later.
Onam sadya menu from Brindhavan restaurant.

Day 2: Onam celebrations Next day, on 29th of August 2023, we had plan to leave for Wayanad. Wayanad is a hill station in Kerala and a famous tourist spot. Praveen suggested to visit Munnar as it is far closer to Kochi than Wayanad (80 km vs 250 km). But I had already visited Munnar in my previous trips, so we chose Wayanad. We had a train late night from Ernakulam Junction (at 23:30 hours) to Kozhikode, which is the nearest railway station from Wayanad. So, we checked out in the morning as we had plans to roam around in Kochi before taking the train. Zostel was celebrating Onam on that day. To opt-in, we had to pay 400 rupees, which included a Sadya Thali and a mundu. Me and Suresh paid the amount and opted in for the celebrations. Sadya thali had Rice, Sambhar, Rasam, Avial, Banana Chips, Pineapple Pachadi, Pappadam, many types of pickels and chutneys, Pal Ada Payasam and Coconut jaggery Pasam. And, there was water too :). Those payasams were really great and I had one more round of them. Later, I had a lot of variety of payasams during the DebConf.
Sadya lined up for serving
Sadya thali served on banana leaf.
So, we hung out in the common room and put our luggage there. We played UNO and had conversations with other travellers in the hostel. I had a fun time there and I still think it is one of the best hostel experiences I had. We made good friends with Saiduth (Telangana) and Shwetank (Uttarakhand). They were already aware about the software like debian, and we had some detailed conversations about the Free Software movement. I remember explaining the difference between the terms Open Source and Free Software . I also told them about the Streetcomplete app, a beginner friendly app to edit OpenStreetMap. We had dinner at a place nearby (named Palaraam), but again, the vegetarian options were very limited! After dinner, we came back to the Zostel and me and Suresh left for Ernakulam Junction to catch our train Maveli Express (16604).

Day 3: Going to Wayanad Maveli Express was scheduled to reach Kozhikode at 03:25 (morning). I had set alarms from 03:00 to 03:30, with the gap of 10 minutes. Every time I woke up, I turned off the alarm. Then I woke up and saw train reaching the Kozhikode station and woke up Suresh for deboarding. But then I noticed that the train is actually leaving the station, not arriving! This means we missed our stop. Now we looked at the next stops and whether we can deboard there. I was very sleepy and wanted to take a retiring room at some station before continuing our journey to Wayanad. The next stop was Quilandi and we checked online that it didn t have a retiring room. So, we skipped this stop. We got off at the next stop named Vadakara and found out no retiring room was available. So, we asked about information regarding bus for Wayanad and they said that there is a bus to Wayanad around 07:00 hours from bus station which was a few kilometres from the railway station. We took a bus for Kalpetta (in Wayanad) at around 07:00. The destination of the buses were written in Malayalam, which we could not read. Once again, the locals helped us to get on to the bus to Kalpetta. Vadakara is not a big city and it can be hard to find people who know good Hindi or English, unlike Kochi. Despite language issues, I had no problem there in navigation, thanks to locals. I mostly spent time sleeping during the bus journey. A few hours later, the bus dropped us at Kalpetta. We had a booking at a hostel in Rippon village. It was 16 km from Kalpetta. On the way, we were treated with beautiful views of nature, which was present everywhere in Wayanad. The place was covered with tea gardens and our eyes were treated with beautiful scenery at every corner.
We were treated with such views during the Wayanad trip.
Rippon village was a very quiet place and I liked the calm atmosphere. This place is blessed by nature and has stunning scenery. I found English was more common than Hindi in Wayanad. Locals were very nice and helped me, even if they didn t know my language.
A road in Rippon.
After catching some sleep at the hostel, I went out in the afternoon. I hitchhiked to reach the main road from the hostel. I bought more spices from a nearby shop and realized that I should have waited for my visit to Wayanad to buy cardamom, which I already bought from Kochi. Then, I was looking for post office to send spices home. The people at the spices shop told me that the nearby Rippon post office was closed by that time, but the post office at Meppadi was open, which was 5 km from there. I went to Meppadi and saw the post office closes at 15:00, but I reached five minutes late. My packing was not very good and they asked me to pack it tighter. There was a shop near the post office and the people there gave me a cardboard and tapes, and helped pack my stuff for the post. By the time I went to the post office again, it was 15:30. But they accepted my parcel for post.

Day 4: Kanthanpara Falls, Zostel Wayanad and Karapuzha Dam Kanthanpara waterfalls were 2 km from the hostel. I hitchhiked to the place from the hostel on a scooty. Entry ticket was worth Rs 40. There were good views inside and nothing much to see except the waterfalls.
Entry to Kanthanpara Falls.
Kanthanpara Falls.
We had a booking at Zostel Wayanad for this day and so we shifted there. Again, as with their Ernakulam branch, they asked me to fill a form which required signing in using Google, but when I said I don t have a Google account they checked me in without that. There were tea gardens inside the Zostel boundaries and the property was beautiful.
A view of Zostel Wayanad.
A map of Wayanad showing tourist places.
A view from inside the Zostel Wayanad property.
Later in the evening, I went to Karapuzha Dam. I witnessed a beautiful sunset during the journey. Karapuzha dam had many activites, like ziplining, and was nice to roam around. Chembra Peak is near to the Zostel Wayanad. So, I was planning to trek to the heart shaped lake. It was suggested by Praveen and looking online, this trek seemed worth doing. There was an issue however. The charges for trek were Rs 1770 for upto five people. So, if I go alone I will have to spend Rs 1770 for the trek. If I go with another person, we split Rs 1770 into two, and so on. The optimal way to do it is to go in a group of five (you included :D). I asked front desk at Zostel if they can connect me with people going to Chembra peak the next day, and they told me about a group of four people planning to go to Chembra peak the next day. I got lucky! All four of them were from Kerala and worked in Qatar.

Day 5: Chembra peak trek The date was 1st September 2023. I woke up early (05:30 in the morning) for the Chembra peak trek. I had bought hiking shoes especially for trekking, which turned out to be a very good idea. The ticket counter opens at 07:00. The group of four with which I planned to trek met me around 06:00 in the Zostel. We went to the ticket counter around 06:30. We had breakfast at shops selling Maggi noodles and bread omlette near the ticket counter. It was a hot day and the trek was difficult for an inexperienced person like me. The scenery was green and beautiful throughout.
Terrain during trekking towards the Chembra peak.
Heart-shaped lake at the Chembra peak.
Me at the heart-shaped lake.
Views from the top of the Chembra peak.
View of another peak from the heart-shaped lake.
While returning from the trek, I found out a shop selling bamboo rice, which I bought and will make bamboo rice payasam out of it at home (I have some coconut milk from Kerala too ;)). We returned to Zostel in the afternoon. I had muscle pain after the trek and it has still not completely disappeared. At night, we took a bus from Kalpetta to Kozhikode in order to return to Kochi.

Day 6: Return to Kochi At midnight of 2nd of September, we reached Kozhikode bus stand. Then we roamed around for something to eat. I didn t find anything vegetarian to eat. No surprises there! Then we went to Kozhikode railway station and looked for retiring rooms, but no luck there. We waited at the station and took the next train to Kochi at 03:30 and reached Ernakulam Junction at 07:30 (half hours before train s scheduled time!). From there, we went to Zostel Fort Kochi and stayed one night there and checked out next morning.

Day 7: Roaming around in Fort Kochi On 3rd of September, we roamed around in Fort Kochi. We visited the usual places - St Francis Church, Dutch Palace, Jew Town, Pardesi Synagogue. I also visited some homestays and the owners were very happy to show their place even when I made it clear that I was not looking for a stay. In the evening, we went to Kakkanad to attend DebConf. The story continues in my DebConf23 blog post.

8 October 2023

Sahil Dhiman: Lap 24

Twenty-four is a big number. More than one/fourth (or more) of my life is behind me now. At this point, I truly feel like I have become an adult; mentally and physically. Another year seem to have gone by quickly. I still vividly remember writing 23 and Counting and here I m writing the next one so soon. Probably the lowest I felt ever on my birthday; with loss of Abraham and on the other hand, medical issues with a dear one. Didn t even felt like birthday was almost here. The loss of Abraham, taught me to care for people more and meet cherish everyone. I m grateful for all the people who supported and cared for me and others during times of grief when things went numb. Thank you! Also, for the first time ever, I went to office on my birthday. This probably would become a norm in coming years. Didn t felt like doing anything, so just went to office. The cake, wishes and calls kept coming in throughout the day. I m grateful for the all people around for remembering :) This year marked my first official job switch where I moved from MakeMyTrip to Unmukti as a GNU/Linux Network Systems engineer (that s a mouthful of a job role, I know) where I do anything and everything ranging from system admin, network engineering, a bit of social media, chronicling stuff on company blog and bringing up new applications as per requirement. Moving from MMT to Unmukti was a big cultural shift. From a full-blown corporate with more than 3 thousand employees to a small 5-person team. People still think I work for a startup on hearing the low head count, though Unmukti is a 13 year old organization. I get the freedom to work at my own pace and put my ideas in larger technical discussions, while also actively participating in the community, which I m truly grateful of. I go full geek here and almost everyone here is on the same spectrum, so things technical or societal discussions just naturally flow. The months of August-September again marked the Great Refresh. For reasons unforeseen, I have had to pack my stuff again and move, albeit to just next door for now, but that gave me the much need opportunity to sift through my belongings here. As usual, I threw a boatload of stuff which was of no use and/or just hogging space. My wardrobe cupboard finally got cleaned and sorted, with old and new clothes getting (re)discovered. The Refresh is always a pain with loads of collating stuff in carry worthy bags and hauling stuff but as usual, there s nothing else I can do other than just pack and move. This year also culminated our four plus years of work for organizing annual Debian conference, DebConf to India. DebConf23 happened in Kochi, Kerala from 3rd September to 17th September (including DebCamp). First concrete work to bring conference to India was done Raju Dev who made the first bid during DebConf18 in Hsinchu, Taiwan. We lost but won during the next year bid at DebConf19 Curitiba, Brazil in 2019. I joined the efforts after meeting the team online after DebConf20. Initially started with the publicity team, but we didn t need much publicity for event, I was later asked to join sponsors/fundraising team. That turned out to be quite an experience. Then the conference itself turned to be a good experience. More on that in an upcoming DebConf23 blog post, which will come eventually. After seeing how things work out in Debian in 2020, I had the goal to become a Debian Developer (DD) before DebConf23, which gave me almost three years to get involved and get recognized to become a DD. I was more excited to grab sahil AT, a short email with only my name and no number of characters after it. After, quite a while, I dropped the hope of become a DD because I wasn t successful in my attempts to meaningfully package and technically contribute to the project. But people in Debian India later convinced me that I have done enough to become a Debian Developer, non uploading, purely by showing up and helping around all for the Debian conferences. I applied and got sponsored (i.e. supported) for my request by srud and Praveen. Finally, on 23rd Feb, I officially became part of Debian project as 14th (at the moment) Debian Developer from India. Got sahil AT too :) For some grace, I also became a DD before DebConf23. Becoming a DD didn t change anything much though, I still believe, it might have helped secure me a job though. Also, worth mentioning is my increased interest in OpenStreetMap (OSM) mapping. I heavily mapped this year and went around for mapathon-meetups too. One step towards a better OSM and more community engagement around it. Looking back at my blog, this year around, it seems mostly dotted with Debian and one OSM post. Significant shift from the range of topics I use to write about in the past year but blogging this year wasn t a go-to activity. Other stuff kept me busy. Living in Gurugram has shown me many facades of life from which I was shielded or didn t come across earlier. It made me realize all the privileges which has helped me along the way, which became apparent while living almost alone here and managing thing by oneself.

22 September 2023

Ravi Dwivedi: Debconf23

Official logo of DebConf23

Introduction DebConf23, the 24th annual Debian Conference, was held in India in the city of Kochi, Kerala from the 3rd to the 17th of September, 2023. Ever since I got to know about it (which was more than an year ago), I was excited to attend DebConf in my home country. This was my second DebConf, as I attended one last year in Kosovo. I was very happy that I didn t need to apply for a visa to attend. I got full bursary to attend the event (thanks a lot to Debian for that!) which is always helpful in covering the expenses, especially if the venue is a five star hotel :) For the conference, I submitted two talks. One was suggested by Sahil on Debian packaging for beginners, while the other was suggested by Praveen who opined that a talk covering broader topics about freedom in self-hosting services will be better, when I started discussing about submitting a talk about prav app project. So I submitted one on Debian packaging for beginners and the other on ideas on sustainable solutions for self-hosting. My friend Suresh - who is enthusiastic about Debian and free software - wanted to attend the DebConf as well. When the registration started, I reminded him about applying. We landed in Kochi on the 28th of August 2023 during the festival of Onam. We celebrated Onam in Kochi, had a trip to Wayanad, and returned to Kochi. On the evening of the 3rd of September, we reached the venue - Four Points Hotel by Sheraton, at Infopark Kochi, Ernakulam, Kerala, India.
Suresh and me celebrating Onam in Kochi.

Hotel overview The hotel had 14 floors, and featured a swimming pool and gym (these were included in our package). The hotel gave us elevator access for only our floor, along with public spaces like the reception, gym, swimming pool, and dining areas. The temperature inside the hotel was pretty cold and I had to buy a jacket to survive. Perhaps the hotel was in cahoots with winterwear companies? :)
Four Points Hotel by Sheraton was the venue of DebConf23. Photo credits: Bilal
Photo of the pool. Photo credits: Andreas Tille.
View from the hotel window.

Meals On the first day, Suresh and I had dinner at the eatery on the third floor. At the entrance, a member of the hotel staff asked us about how many people we wanted a table for. I told her that it s just the two of us at the moment, but (as we are attending a conference) we might be joined by others. Regardless, they gave us a table for just two. Within a few minutes, we were joined by Alper from Turkey and urbec from Germany. So we shifted to a larger table but then we were joined by even more people, so we were busy adding more chairs to our table. urbec had already been in Kerala for the past 5-6 days and was, on one hand, very happy already with the quality and taste of bananas in Kerala and on the other, rather afraid of the spicy food :) Two days later, the lunch and dinner were shifted to the All Spice Restaurant on the 14th floor, but the breakfast was still served at the eatery. Since the eatery (on the 3rd floor) had greater variety of food than the other venue, this move made breakfast the best meal for me and many others. Many attendees from outside India were not accustomed to the spicy food. It is difficult for locals to help them, because what we consider mild can be spicy for others. It is not easy to satisfy everyone at the dining table, but I think the organizing team did a very good job in the food department. (That said, it didn t matter for me after a point, and you will know why.) The pappadam were really good, and I liked the rice labelled Kerala rice . I actually brought that exact rice and pappadam home during my last trip to Kochi and everyone at my home liked it too (thanks to Abhijit PA). I also wished to eat all types of payasams from Kerala and this really happened (thanks to Sruthi who designed the menu). Every meal had a different variety of payasam and it was awesome, although I didn t like some of them, mostly because they were very sweet. Meals were later shifted to the ground floor (taking away the best breakfast option which was the eatery).
This place served as lunch and dinner place and later as hacklab during debconf. Photo credits: Bilal

The excellent Swag Bag The DebConf registration desk was at the second floor. We were given a very nice swag bag. They were available in multiple colors - grey, green, blue, red - and included an umbrella, a steel mug, a multiboot USB drive by Mostly Harmless, a thermal flask, a mug by Canonical, a paper coaster, and stickers. It rained almost every day in Kochi during our stay, so handing out an umbrella to every attendee was a good idea.
Picture of the awesome swag bag given at DebConf23. Photo credits: Ravi Dwivedi

A gift for Nattie During breakfast one day, Nattie (Belgium) expressed the desire to buy a coffee filter. The next time I went to the market, I bought a coffee filter for her as a gift. She seemed happy with the gift and was flattered to receive a gift from a young man :)

Being a mentor There were many newbies who were eager to learn and contribute to Debian. So, I mentored whoever came to me and was interested in learning. I conducted a packaging workshop in the bootcamp, but could only cover how to set up the Debian Unstable environment, and had to leave out how to package (but I covered that in my talk). Carlos (Brazil) gave a keysigning session in the bootcamp. Praveen was also mentoring in the bootcamp. I helped people understand why we sign GPG keys and how to sign them. I planned to take a workshop on it but cancelled it later.

My talk My Debian packaging talk was on the 10th of September, 2023. I had not prepared slides for my Debian packaging talk in advance - I thought that I could do it during the trip, but I didn t get the time so I prepared them on the day before the talk. Since it was mostly a tutorial, the slides did not need much preparation. My thanks to Suresh, who helped me with the slides and made it possible to complete them in such a short time frame. My talk was well-received by the audience, going by their comments. I am glad that I could give an interesting presentation.
My presentation photo. Photo credits: Valessio

Visiting a saree shop After my talk, Suresh, Alper, and I went with Anisa and Kristi - who are both from Albania, and have a never-ending fascination for Indian culture :) - to buy them sarees. We took autos to Kakkanad market and found a shop with a great variety of sarees. I was slightly familiar with the area around the hotel, as I had been there for a week. Indian women usually don t try on sarees while buying - they just select the design. But Anisa wanted to put one on and take a few photos as well. The shop staff did not have a trial saree for this purpose, so they took a saree from a mannequin. It took about an hour for the lady at the shop to help Anisa put on that saree but you could tell that she was in heaven wearing that saree, and she bought it immediately :) Alper also bought a saree to take back to Turkey for his mother. Me and Suresh wanted to buy a kurta which would go well with the mundu we already had, but we could not find anything to our liking.
Selfie with Anisa and Kristi. Photo credits: Anisa.

Cheese and Wine Party On the 11th of September we had the Cheese and Wine Party, a tradition of every DebConf. I brought Kaju Samosa and Nankhatai from home. Many attendees expressed their appreciation for the samosas. During the party, I was with Abhas and had a lot of fun. Abhas brought packets of paan and served them at the Cheese and Wine Party. We discussed interesting things and ate burgers. But due to the restrictive alcohol laws in the state, it was less fun compared to the previous DebConfs - you could only drink alcohol served by the hotel in public places. If you bought your own alcohol, you could only drink in private places (such as in your room, or a friend s room), but not in public places.
Me helping with the Cheese and Wine Party.

Party at my room Last year, Joenio (Brazilian) brought pastis from France which I liked. He brought the same alocholic drink this year too. So I invited him to my room after the Cheese and Wine party to have pastis. My idea was to have them with my roommate Suresh and Joenio. But then we permitted Joenio to bring as many people as he wanted and he ended up bringing some ten people. Suddenly, the room was crowded. I was having good time at the party, serving them the snacks given to me by Abhas. The news of an alcohol party at my room spread like wildfire. Soon there were so many people that the AC became ineffective and I found myself sweating. I left the room and roamed around in the hotel for some fresh air. I came back after about 1.5 hours - for most part, I was sitting at the ground floor with TK Saurabh. And then I met Abraham near the gym (which was my last meeting with him). I came back to my room at around 2:30 AM. Nobody seemed to have realized that I was gone. They were thanking me for hosting such a good party. A lot of people left at that point and the remaining people were playing songs and dancing (everyone was dancing all along!). I had no energy left to dance and to join them. They left around 03:00 AM. But I am glad that people enjoyed partying in my room.
This picture was taken when there were few people in my room for the party.

Sadhya Thali On the 12th of September, we had a sadhya thali for lunch. It is a vegetarian thali served on a banana leaf on the eve of Thiruvonam. It wasn t Thiruvonam on this day, but we got a special and filling lunch. The rasam and payasam were especially yummy.
Sadhya Thali: A vegetarian meal served on banana leaf. Payasam and rasam were especially yummy! Photo credits: Ravi Dwivedi.
Sadhya thali being served at debconf23. Photo credits: Bilal

Day trip On the 13th of September, we had a daytrip. I chose the daytrip houseboat in Allepey. Suresh chose the same, and we registered for it as soon as it was open. This was the most sought-after daytrip by the DebConf attendees - around 80 people registered for it. Our bus was set to leave at 9 AM on the 13th of September. Me and Suresh woke up at 8:40 and hurried to get to the bus in time. It took two hours to reach the venue where we get the houseboat. The houseboat experience was good. The trip featured some good scenery. I got to experience the renowned Kerala backwaters. We were served food on the boat. We also stopped at a place and had coconut water. By evening, we came back to the place where we had boarded the boat.
Group photo of our daytrip. Photo credits: Radhika Jhalani

A good friend lost When we came back from the daytrip, we received news that Abhraham Raji was involved in a fatal accident during a kayaking trip. Abraham Raji was a very good friend of mine. In my Albania-Kosovo-Dubai trip last year, he was my roommate at our Tirana apartment. I roamed around in Dubai with him, and we had many discussions during DebConf22 Kosovo. He was the one who took the photo of me on my homepage. I also met him in MiniDebConf22 Palakkad and MiniDebConf23 Tamil Nadu, and went to his flat in Kochi this year in June. We had many projects in common. He was a Free Software activist and was the designer of the DebConf23 logo, in addition to those for other Debian events in India.
A selfie in memory of Abraham.
We were all fairly shocked by the news. I was devastated. Food lost its taste, and it became difficult to sleep. That night, Anisa and Kristi cheered me up and gave me company. Thanks a lot to them. The next day, Joenio also tried to console me. I thank him for doing a great job. I thank everyone who helped me in coping with the difficult situation. On the next day (the 14th of September), the Debian project leader Jonathan Carter addressed and announced the news officially. THe Debian project also mentioned it on their website. Abraham was supposed to give a talk, but following the incident, all talks were cancelled for the day. The conference dinner was also cancelled. As I write, 9 days have passed since his death, but even now I cannot come to terms with it.

Visiting Abraham s house On the 15th of September, the conference ran two buses from the hotel to Abraham s house in Kottayam (2 hours ride). I hopped in the first bus and my mood was not very good. Evangelos (Germany) was sitting opposite me, and he began conversing with me. The distraction helped and I was back to normal for a while. Thanks to Evangelos as he supported me a lot on that trip. He was also very impressed by my use of the StreetComplete app which I was using to edit OpenStreetMap. In two hours, we reached Abraham s house. I couldn t control myself and burst into tears. I went to see the body. I met his family (mother, father and sister), but I had nothing to say and I felt helpless. Owing to the loss of sleep and appetite over the past few days, I had no energy, and didn t think it was good idea for me to stay there. I went back by taking the bus after one hour and had lunch at the hotel. I withdrew my talk scheduled for the 16th of September.

A Japanese gift I got a nice Japanese gift from Niibe Yutaka (Japan) - a folder to keep papers which had ancient Japanese manga characters. He said he felt guilty as he swapped his talk with me and so it got rescheduled from 12th September to 16 September which I withdrew later.
Thanks to Niibe Yutaka (the person towards your right hand) from Japan (FSIJ), who gave me a wonderful Japanese gift during debconf23: A folder to keep pages with ancient Japanese manga characters printed on it. I realized I immediately needed that :)
This is the Japanese gift I received.

Group photo On the 16th of September, we had a group photo. I am glad that this year I was more clear in this picture than in DebConf22.
Click to enlarge

Volunteer work and talks attended I attended the training session for the video team and worked as a camera operator. The Bits from DPL was nice. I enjoyed Abhas presentation on home automation. He basically demonstrated how he liberated Internet-enabled home devices. I also liked Kristi s presentation on ways to engage with the GNOME community.
Bits from the DPL. Photo credits: Bilal
Kristi on GNOME community. Photo credits: Ravi Dwivedi.
Abhas' talk on home automation. Photo credits: Ravi Dwivedi.
I also attended lightning talks on the last day. Badri, Wouter, and I gave a demo on how to register on the Prav app. Prav got a fair share of advertising during the last few days.
I was roaming around with a QR code on my T-shirt for downloading Prav.

The night of the 17th of September Suresh left the hotel and Badri joined me in my room. Thanks to the efforts of Abhijit PA, Kiran, and Ananthu, I wore a mundu.
Me in mundu. Picture credits: Abhijith PA
I then joined Kalyani, Mangesh, Ruchika, Anisa, Ananthu and Kiran. We took pictures and this marked the last night of DebConf23.

Departure day The 18th of September was the day of departure. Badri slept in my room and left early morning (06:30 AM). I dropped him off at the hotel gate. The breakfast was at the eatery (3rd floor) again, and it was good. Sahil, Saswata, Nilesh, and I hung out on the ground floor.
From left: Nilesh, Saswata, me, Sahil. Photo credits: Sahil.
I had an 8 PM flight from Kochi to Delhi, for which I took a cab with Rhonda (Austria), Michael (Nigeria) and Yash (India). We were joined by other DebConf23 attendees at the Kochi airport, where we took another selfie.
Ruchika (taking the selfie) and from left to right: Yash, Joost (Netherlands), me, Rhonda
Joost and I were on the same flight, and we sat next to each other. He then took a connecting flight from Delhi to Netherlands, while I went with Yash to the New Delhi Railway Station, where we took our respective trains. I reached home on the morning of the 19th of September, 2023.
Joost and me going to Delhi. Photo credits: Ravi.

Big thanks to the organizers DebConf23 was hard to organize - strict alcohol laws, weird hotel rules, death of a close friend (almost a family member), and a scary notice by the immigration bureau. The people from the team are my close friends and I am proud of them for organizing such a good event. None of this would have been possible without the organizers who put more than a year-long voluntary effort to produce this. In the meanwhile, many of them had organized local events in the time leading up to DebConf. Kudos to them. The organizers also tried their best to get clearance for countries not approved by the ministry. I am also sad that people from China, Kosovo, and Iran could not join. In particular, I feel bad for people from Kosovo who wanted to attend but could not (as India does not consider their passport to be a valid travel document), considering how we Indians were so well-received in their country last year.

Note about myself I am writing this on the 22nd of September, 2023. It took me three days to put up this post - this was one of the tragic and hard posts for me to write. I have literally forced myself to write this. I have still not recovered from the loss of my friend. Thanks a lot to all those who helped me. PS: Credits to contrapunctus for making grammar, phrasing, and capitalization changes.

17 July 2023

Shirish Agarwal: WordPress Cookies, Debdelta, RISC, Manipur, Libraries in Kerala.

WordPress Cookies, Debdelta One of the most irritating things about WordPress is whenever I start a firefox session, WordPress aks for cookie selection. I make my choices but it s not persistent. The next session the same thing happens again. It does keep my identity but for some unknown reason doesn t respect the Cookie selection. I usually use Firefox ESR (102.13.0esr-1) on Testing. Also, for more than a week I have found debdelta not working as it should. To give a brief history, the idea of debdelta is to save bandwidth, whether it 100 kbps or 1 mbit or whatever, the moment you give debdelta-upgrade it will try to see if there is a delta of the debs that you want to upgrade. The sequence is as follows or at least that is what I do
  1. $sudo apt update (updates the index files of apt and tells you how many packages are upgradable). IIRC, every 4-5 hours there is an index runs that basically catches any new debian packages. You can see the index generated dynamically each time you run the above command in /var/lib/apt/lists
2. $ sudo debdelta-upgrade Now the debdelta algorithim goes to work. Debdelta has its own mirror. I think sometime after the indexes are updated, debdelta does it own run, probably an hour or two later. The algorithim sees how big the diff between the two packages and generates a delta. If the generated delta (diff.) between the old and the new is less than 70% then the generated delta is kept or otherwise thrown. The delta is kept in debdelta mirror. You can from 1 day history how big it is. And AFAIK, it is across all the hardware and platforms that Debian supports. My issue has been simply that debdelta just doesn t work and even after debdelta-upgrade I am forced to get all the files from the server. Have shared more details here. 3. The last step is $ sudo aptitude upgrade or $ sudo aptitude install and give package names if you know some packages are broken or non-resolvable or have some bugs.

RISC I had shared about RISC chips couple of weeks back. One of the things that I had forgotten to share that Android is also supporting RISC-V few months back. How I forgot that crucial bit of info. is beyond me. There are number of RISC-V coming out in the next few months to early 2024. One of the more interesting boards that came up in 2021/2022 was HiFive Unmatched. The problem is that the board although interesting on specs is out of reach of most Indians. I am sure most people would be aware of the chicken and egg problem and that is where it is. Pricing will be key component. If they get the pricing right and are able to produce in good numbers, we might see more of these boards soon. At least with Android that issue gets somewhat resolved. There is possibility that we may see more Android set-top boxes and whatnot paired with RISC paving more money for RISC development and a sort of virtuous cycle. While I m in two minds, I decide not to share what chips are coming unless and until we know what the pricing is, otherwise they just become part of a hype cycle. But it s definitely something to watch out for. One of the more interesting articles that I read last week also tells how Linux has crossed 3% desktop space and his views on the same. I do very much agree with his last paragraph but at the same time biased as am an old time desktop user. I just don t find myself happy on small factor keyboards. I will leave the rest for some other time depending how things happen.

Manipur Before I start sharing about Manipur, I should thank Praveen A. few years back, Praveen wanted to see the 7 sisters and in fact had even proposed to partially sponsor me so that we could together visit the 7 states of North-East. For reasons I don t remember, I just wasn t able to go. Probably some work and responsibilities at home. For almost 2.5 months now, Manipur, one of the States in the 7 states has been burning. There have been talks and sharing of genocidial murder of Christians in Manipur. This is not just me or some random person talking about, even BJP (the ruling party in the Center), their functionaries both in Manipur and its neighboring state Mizoram have been sharing. Mizoram s State BJP President in fact resigned just few days back saying it s state sponsored activity. Couple of days back, European Parliament held a session about Manipur and even passed a resolution. The BJP tried to hit back saying Colonial Mindset but when asked if it s the same when India invited European Parliamentarians to visit Kashmir in 2019, the silence is deafening. The Wire has interviewed all the prominent leaders and sort of players in Manipur politics but apart from calling Kukis foreigners they have no proof. In one of the interviews one of the Meitei leaders calls Kuki s foreigners but doesn t have any Government data to support his belief. The census of India was last held in 2011. People from the civil society have time and again asked the Government to do the census but GOI has been giving one excuse after another. They in fact, wanted to do a caste census but that too they themselves took on back foot probably as they believe that both census may give results not to their liking. In fact, this Government is also known as No Data Government as almost in everything, it denies data. I am not going to go to that otherwise would not be able to complete blog post till couple of days. I will just share this bit of info. that this Govt. hasn t given Household Consumption Survey data for last four years. Going back to the topic though, neither the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Defence Minister nobody has been able to utter the word Manipur till date. I have no idea when they will wake up. People from all ethnicities have tried to make representations to GOI but no one has been able to meet them, neither the Kukis, nor the Nagas, nor the Meiteis even though it is a sensitive border area.

Libraries in Kerala I wanted to end on a somewhat positive note. So just a few days back, the Miinistry of Culture shared the number of Libraries per state. As can be seen from the infographic, Kerala is a giant in that. If I do find a table, would share that as well, so those who can t see can hear the data. Till later.

15 December 2022

Abhijith PA: Running PostmarketOS on my phone

Couple of weeks back I installed PostmarketOS on my idle phone Leeco Le 1s , which was paper weight for some time now. It all started with a roadtrip to Pondicherry (I will soon write about this trip). As I was sitting on the front seat where Praveen s Librem 5 kept charing on the car dashboard. And we had a small discussion about PostmarketOS and how much new ports are available now. My idle phone came to my mind. After reaching home I started setting up porting pmOS to this device. Going through pmOS website, to my surprise there is already a port for this device. The OEM unlock is quite easy even though a little hiccup at begin (I suspect it is solely of my cable). The Xiaomi users knows the pain of unlocking bootloader. With the pmOS community preferred practice of using pmbootstrap, I built image for my device, flashed it. And phone boot stopped with pmOS logo. I thought I went to bootloop. I tried sxmo, xfce4, everything same nothing happening after boot logo splash. The pmOS troubleshooting wiki is quite good. They have documented most issues. Though screen is stuck I can still ssh to the phone. From wiki I came to know its a screen refresh problem. I installed msm-fb-refresher package and ran it as a daemon. Voila, I have a mate desktop. Mate Mate desktop is not at all touch friendly even though I tried to scaled up to read and tap things on the screen. Wiki suggest xfce4 is little more touch friendly. I started moving to xfce. Then again same problem, stuck at boot loop. This time it was with lightdm, I turned off CanGraphical issue warning and now I have xfce desktop. pmos xfce seems great comparing with mate. Nothing works as of now from a Mobile phone point of view. The phone maintainer says the battery is working, but I couldn t get it working. Its always in battery mode and 50% status. I thought the hardware buttons will never work. But with xev, I can see the hardware key event triggering.

10 August 2022

Shirish Agarwal: Mum, Samsung Galaxy M-52

Mum I dunno from where to start. While I m not supposed to announce it, mum left this earth a month ago (thirteen days when I started to write this blog post) ago. I am still in part denial, part shock, and morose. Of all the seasons in a year, the rainy season used to be my favorite, now would I ever be able to look and feel other than the emptiness that this season has given me? In some senses, it is and was very ironic, when she became ill about last year, I had promised myself I would be by her side for 5-6 years, not go anywhere either Hillhacks or Debconf or any meetup and I was ok with that. Now that she s no more I have no clue why am I living. What is the purpose, the utility? When she was alive, the utility was understandable. We had an unspoken agreement, I would like after her, and she was supposed to look after me. A part of me self-blames as I am sure, I have done thousands of things wrong otherwise the deal was that she was going to be for another decade. But now that she has left not even halfway, I dunno what to do. I don t have someone to fight with anymore  It s mostly a robotic existence atm. I try to distract myself via movies, web series, the web, books, etc. whatever can take my mind off. From the day she died to date, I have a lower back pain which acts as a reminder. It s been a month, I eat, drink, and am surviving but still feel empty. I do things suggested by extended family but within there is no feeling, just emptiness :(. I have no clue if things will get better and even if I do want the change. I clearly have no idea, so let me share a little about what I know.

Samsung Galaxy M-52G Just a couple of days before she died, part of our extended family had come and she chose that opportunity to gift me Samsung Galaxy M-52G even though my birthday was 3 months away. Ironically, after I purchased it, the next day, one of the resellers of the phone cut the price from INR 28k to 20k. If a day more, I could have saved another 8k/- but what s done is done  To my mind, the phone is middling yet a solid phone. I had the phone drop accidentally at times but not a single scratch or anything like that. One can look at the specs in greater detail on Before the recent price drop, as I shared it was a mid-range phone so am gonna review it on that basis itself. One of the first things I did is to buy a plastic cover as well as a cover shield even though the original one is meant to work for a year or more. This was simply for added protection and it has served me to date. Even with the additional weight, I can easily use it with one hand. It only becomes problematic when using chatting apps. such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Quicksy and a few others where it comes with Samsung keyboard with the divided/split keyboard. The A.I. for guessing words and sentences are spot-on when you are doing it in English but if you try a mixture of Hinglish (Hindi and English) that becomes a bit of a nightmare. Tryng to each A.I; new words is something of a task. I wish there was an interface in which I could train the A.I. so it could be served for Hinglish words also. I do think it does, but it s too rudimentary as it is to be any useful at least where it is now.

WiFi Direct While my previous phone did use wifi direct but it that ancient android version wasn t wedded to Wifi Direct as this one is. You have essentially two ways to connect to any system outside. One is through Wi-Fi Direct and the more expensive way is through mobile data. One of the strange things I found quite a number of times, that Wifi would lose it pairings. Before we get into it, Wikipedia has a good explanation of what Wifi direct is all about. Apparently, either my phone or my modem loses the pairing, which of the two is the culprit, I really don t know. There are two apps from the Play Store that do help in figuring out what the issue is (although it is limited in what it gives out in info. but still good.) The first one is Wifi Signal Meter and the other one is WifiAnalyzer (open-source). I have found that pairing done through Wifi Signal Meter works better than through Google s own implementation which feels lacking. The whole universe of Android seems to be built on apps and games and many of these can be bought for money, but many of these can also be played using a combination of micro-transactions and ads. For many a game, you cannot play for more than 5 minutes before you either see an ad or wait for something like 2-3 hrs. before you attempt again. Hogwarts Mystery, for e.g., is an example of that. Another one would be Explore Lands . While Hogwarts Mystery is more towards the lore created by J.K.Rowling and you can really get into the thick of things if you know the lore, Explore lands is more into Exploration of areas. In both the games, you are basically looking to gain energy over a period of time, which requires either money or viewing ads or a combination of both Sadly most ads and even Google don t seem to have caught up that I m deaf so most ads do not have subtitles, so more often than not they are useless to me. I have found also that many games share screenshots or videos that have nothing to do with how the game is. So there is quite a bit of misleading going on. I did read that Android had been having issues with connecting with developers after their app. is in the Play Store. Most apps. ask and require a whole lot of permissions that aren t needed by that app.

F-Droid Think Pirate Praveen had introduced me to F-Droid and a whole lot of things have happened in F-Droid, lot more apps. games etc. the look of F-Droid has been pulled back. In fact, I found Neo Store to be a better skin to see F-Droid. I have yet to explore more of F-Droid before sharing any recommendations and spending some time on it. I do find that many of foss apps. do need to work on how we communicate with our users. For e.g. one app. that Praveen had shared with me recently was Quicksy. And while it is better, it uses a double negative while asking permission whether it should or not to use more of the phone s resources. It is an example of that sort of language that we need to be aware of and be better. I know this post is more on the mobile rather than the desktop but that is where I m living currently.

30 May 2022

Bits from Debian: Debian welcomes its new Outreachy interns

Outreachy logo Debian continues participating in Outreachy, and we're excited to announce that Debian has selected two interns for the Outreachy May 2022 - August 2022 round. Israel Galadima and Michael Ikwuegbu will work on Improve yarn package manager integration with Debian, mentored by Akshay S Dinesh and Pirate Praveen.
Congratulations and welcome to Israel Galadima and Michael Ikwuegbu! From the official website: Outreachy provides three-month internships for people from groups traditionally underrepresented in tech. Interns work remotely with mentors from Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) communities on projects ranging from programming, user experience, documentation, illustration and graphical design, to data science. The Outreachy programme is possible in Debian thanks to the efforts of Debian developers and contributors who dedicate their free time to mentor students and outreach tasks, and the Software Freedom Conservancy's administrative support, as well as the continued support of Debian's donors, who provide funding for the internships. Join us and help extend Debian! You can follow the work of the Outreachy interns reading their blogs (they are syndicated in Planet Debian), and chat with us in the #debian-outreach IRC channel and mailing list.

25 May 2021

Shirish Agarwal: Pandemic, Toolkit and India

Pandemic Situation in India. I don t know from where I should start. This is probably a good start. I actually would recommend Indiacable as they do attempt to share some things happening in India from day to day but still there is a lot thatt they just can t cover, nobody can cover. There were two reports which kind of shook me all inside. One which sadly came from the UK publication Independent, probably as no Indian publication would dare publish it. The other from Rural India. I have been privileged in many ways, including friends who have asked me if I need any financial help. But seeing reports like above, these people need more help, guidance and help than I. While I m never one to say give to Foundations. If some people do want to help people from Maharashtra, then moneylifefoundation could be a good place where they could donate. FWIW, they usually use the foundation to help savers and investors be safe and help in getting money when taken by companies with dubious intentions. That is their drive. Two articles show their bent. The first one is about the Algo scam which I have written previously about the same in this blog. Interestingly, when I talk about this scam, all Modi supporters are silent. The other one does give some idea as to why the Govt. is indifferent. That is going to a heavy cross for all relatives to bear. There has been a lot that has been happening. Now instead of being limited to cities, Covid has now gone hinterland in a big way. One could ask also Praveen as he probably knows what would be good for Kerala and surrounding areas. The biggest change, however, has been that India is now battling not just the pandemic but also Mucormycosis also known as black fungus and its deadlier cousin the white fungus. Mucormycosis came largely due to an ill-advise given that applying cow dung gives protection to Corona. And many applied it due to faith. And people who know science do know that in fact it has that bacteria. Sadly, those of us who are and were more interested in law, computer science etc. has now also have to keep on top of what is happening in the medical field. It isn t that I hate it, but it has a lot of costs. From what I could gather on various social media and elsewhere, a single injection of anti-fungal for the above costs INR 3k/- and that needs to be 5 times in a day and that course has to be for three weeks. So even the relatively wealthy people can and will become poor in no time. No wonder thousands of those went to UK, US, Dubai or wherever they could find safe-harbor from the pandemic with no plans of arriving back soon. There was also the whole bit about FBS or Fetal Bovin Serum. India ordered millions of blood serum products from abroad and continues to. This was quickly shut down as news on Social Media. Apparently, it is only the Indian cow which is worthy of reverence. All other cows and their children are fair game according to those in power. Of course, that discussion was quickly shut down as was the discussion about IGP (Indian Genome Project). People over the years had asked me why India never participated for the HGP (Human Gnome Project). I actually had no answer for that. Then in 2020, there was idea of IGP which was put up and then it was quickly shot down as the results could damage a political party s image. In fact, a note to people who want to join Indian civil services tells the reason exactly. While many countries in the world are hypocrites, including the U.S. none can take the place that India has made for itself in that field.

The Online experience The vaccination process has been made online and has led to severe heartburn and trouble for many including many memes. For e.g.

Daily work, get up, have a bath, see if you got a slot on the app, sleep.
People trying desperately to get a slot, taken from Hindi Movie Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaygenge.
Just to explain what is happening, one has to go to the website of cowin. Sharing a screenshot of the same.
Cowin app. sceeenshot
I have deliberately taken a screenshot of the cowin app. in U.P. which is one of the areas where the ruling party, BJP has. I haven t taken my state for the simple reason, even if a slot is open, it is of no use as there are no vaccines. As have been shared in India Cable as well as in many newspapers, it is the Central Govt. which holds the strings for the vaccines. Maharashtra did put up an international tender but to no effect. All vaccine manufacturers want only Central Govt. for purchases for multiple reasons. And GOI is saying it has no money even though recently it got loans as well as a dividend from RBI to the tune of 99k crore. For what all that money is, we have no clue. Coming back though, to the issue at hand. the cowin app. is made an open api. While normally, people like us should and are happy when an API is open, it has made those who understand how to use git, compile, etc. better than others. A copy of the public repo. of how you can do the same can be found on Github. Now, obviously, for people like me and many others it has ethical issues.

Kiran s Interview in Times of India (TOI) There isn t much to say apart from I haven t used it. I just didn t want to. It just is unethical. Hopefully, in the coming days GOI does something better. That is the only thing we are surviving on, hope.

The Toolkit saga A few days before, GOI shared a toolkit apparently made by Congress to defame the party in power. That toolkit was shared before the press and Altnews did the investigation and promptly shredded the claims. Congress promptly made an FIR in Chhattisgarh where it is in power. The gentleman who made the claims Mr. Sambit Patra refused to appear against the police without evidence citing personal reasons and asking 1 week to appear before them. Apart from Altnews which did a great job, sadly many people didn t even know that there is something called WYSIWYG. I had to explain that so many Industries, whether it is politics, creative industries, legal, ad industries, medical transcription, and imaging all use this, and all the participants use the same version of the software. The reason being that in most Industries, there is a huge loss and issue of legal liabilities if something untoward happens. For e.g. if medical transcription is done in India is wrong (although his or her work will be checked by a superior in the West), but for whatever reason is not, and a wrong diagnosis is put (due to wrong color or something) then a patient could die and the firm who does that work could face heavy penalties which could be the death of them. There is another myth that Congress has unlimited wealth or huge wealth. I asked if that was the case, why didn t they shift to Mac. Of course, none have answers on this one. There is another reason why they didn t want to appear. The Rona Wilson investigation by Arsenal Experts also has made them cautious. Previously, they had a free run. Nowadays, software forensic tools are available to one and all. For e.g. Debian itself has a good variety of tools for the same. I remember Vipin s sharing few years back. For those who want to start, just install the apps. and try figuring out. Expertise on using the tools takes years though, as you use the tool day in night. Update 25/05/2021 Apparently because Twitter made and showcased few tweets as Manipulated Media , those in Govt. are and were dead against it. So they conducted a raid against Twitter India headquarters, knowing fully well that there would be nobody except security. The moment I read this, my mind went to the whole Fruit of the poisonous tree legal doctrine. Sadly though, India doesn t recognize it and in fact, still believes in the pre-colonial era that evidence however collected is good. A good explanation of the same can be found here. There are some exceptions to the rule, but they are done so fine that more often than not, they can t be used in the court of law in India. Although a good RTI was shared by Mr. Saket Gokhale on the same issue, which does raise some interesting points
Twitter India Raid, Saket Gokhale RTI 1
Saket Gokhale RTI query , Twitter India Raid 2
FWIW, Saket has been successful in getting his prayers heard either as answers to RTI queries or then following it up in the various High Courts of India. Of course, those who are in the ruling party ridicule him but are unable to find faults in his application of logic. And quite a few times, I have learned from his applications as well as nuances or whatever is there in law, a judgment or a guideline which he invokes in his prayer. For e.g. the Lalitha Kumari Guidelines which the gentleman has shared in his prayer can be found here. Hence now, it would be upto the Delhi Police Cell to prove their case in response to RTI. He has also trapped them as he has shared they can t give excuses/exemptions which they have tried before. As I had shared earlier, High Courts in India have woken up, whether it is Delhi, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha or Kerala. Just today i.e. on 25th May 2021, Justices Bela Trivedi and Justice Kalra had asked how come all the hospitals don t have NOC from the Fire De[partment. They also questioned the ASG (Assistant Solicitor General) as how BU (Building Use Certificate) has been granted as almost all the 400 hospitals are in residential area. To which the ASG replies, it is the same state in almost 4000 schools as well as 6000 odd factories in Ahemdabad alone, leave the rest of the district and state alone. And this is when last year strict instuctions were passed. They chose to do nothing sadly. I will share a link on this when bar and bench gives me  The Hindu also shared the whole raid on twitter saga.

Conclusion In conclusion, I sincerely do not where we are headed. The only thing I know is that we cannot expect things to be better before year-end and maybe even after that. It all depends on the vaccines and their availability. After that ruralindia article, I had to see quite a few movies and whatnot just to get that out of my head. And this is apart from the 1600 odd teachers and workers who have died in the U.P. poll duty. Now, what a loss, not just to the family members of the victims, but a whole generation of school children who would not be able to get quality teaching and be deprived of education. What will be their future, God only knows. The only good Bollywood movie which I saw was Ramprasad ki Teravi . The movie was an accurate representation of most families in and around me. There was a movie called Sansar (1987) which showed the breakup of the joint family and into a nuclear family. This movie could very well have been a continuation of the same. Even Marathi movies which at one time were very progressive have gone back to the same boy, girl love story routine. Sameer, though released in late 2020, was able to see it only recently. Vakeel Saab was an ok copy of Pink . I loved Sameer as, unlike Salman Khan films, it showed pretty much an authentic human struggle of a person who goes to the Middle East without any qualifications and works as a laborer and the trials he goes through. Somehow, Malayalam movies have a knack for showing truth without much of budget. Most of the Indian web series didn t make an impact. I think many of them were just going through the motions, it seems as everybody is concerned with the well-being of their near and dear ones. There was also this (Trigger Warning: This story discusses organized campaigns glorifying and advocating sexual violence against Muslim women.) Hoping people somehow make it to the other side of the pandemic.

1 January 2021

Utkarsh Gupta: FOSS Activites in December 2020

Here s my (fifteenth) monthly update about the activities I ve done in the F/L/OSS world.

This was my 24th month of contributing to Debian. I became a DM in late March last year and a DD last Christmas! \o/ Amongs a lot of things, this was month was crazy, hectic, adventerous, and the last of 2020 more on some parts later this month.
I finally finished my 7th semester (FTW!) and moved onto my last one! That said, I had been busy with other things but still did a bunch of Debian stuff Here are the following things I did this month:

Uploads and bug fixes:

Other $things:
  • Attended the Debian Ruby team meeting.
  • Mentoring for newcomers.
  • FTP Trainee reviewing.
  • Moderation of -project mailing list.
  • Sponsored golang-github-gorilla-css for Fedrico.

Debian (E)LTS
Debian Long Term Support (LTS) is a project to extend the lifetime of all Debian stable releases to (at least) 5 years. Debian LTS is not handled by the Debian security team, but by a separate group of volunteers and companies interested in making it a success. And Debian Extended LTS (ELTS) is its sister project, extending support to the Jessie release (+2 years after LTS support). This was my fifteenth month as a Debian LTS and sixth month as a Debian ELTS paid contributor.
I was assigned 26.00 hours for LTS and 38.25 hours for ELTS and worked on the following things:

LTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:
  • Issued DLA 2474-1, fixing CVE-2020-28928, for musl.
    For Debian 9 Stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 1.1.16-3+deb9u1.
  • Issued DLA 2481-1, fixing CVE-2020-25709 and CVE-2020-25710, for openldap.
    For Debian 9 Stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 2.4.44+dfsg-5+deb9u6.
  • Issued DLA 2484-1, fixing #969126, for python-certbot.
    For Debian 9 Stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 0.28.0-1~deb9u3.
  • Issued DLA 2487-1, fixing CVE-2020-27350, for apt.
    For Debian 9 Stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 1.4.11. The update was prepared by the maintainer, Julian.
  • Issued DLA 2488-1, fixing CVE-2020-27351, for python-apt.
    For Debian 9 Stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 1.4.2. The update was prepared by the maintainer, Julian.
  • Issued DLA 2495-1, fixing CVE-2020-17527, for tomcat8.
    For Debian 9 Stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 8.5.54-0+deb9u5.
  • Issued DLA 2488-2, for python-apt.
    For Debian 9 Stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 1.4.3. The update was prepared by the maintainer, Julian.
  • Issued DLA 2508-1, fixing CVE-2020-35730, for roundcube.
    For Debian 9 Stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 1.2.3+dfsg.1-4+deb9u8. The update was prepared by the maintainer, Guilhem.

ELTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:

Other (E)LTS Work:
  • Front-desk duty from 21-12 until 27-12 and from 28-12 until 03-01 for both LTS and ELTS.
  • Triaged openldap, python-certbot, lemonldap-ng, qemu, gdm3, open-iscsi, gobby, jackson-databind, wavpack, cairo, nsd, tomcat8, and bountycastle.
  • Marked CVE-2020-17527/tomcat8 as not-affected for jessie.
  • Marked CVE-2020-28052/bountycastle as not-affected for jessie.
  • Marked CVE-2020-14394/qemu as postponed for jessie.
  • Marked CVE-2020-35738/wavpack as not-affected for jessie.
  • Marked CVE-2020-3550 3-6 /qemu as postponed for jessie.
  • Marked CVE-2020-3550 3-6 /qemu as postponed for stretch.
  • Marked CVE-2020-16093/lemonldap-ng as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Marked CVE-2020-27837/gdm3 as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Marked CVE-2020- 13987, 13988, 17437 /open-iscsi as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Marked CVE-2020-35450/gobby as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Marked CVE-2020-35728/jackson-databind as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Marked CVE-2020-28935/nsd as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Auto EOL ed libpam-tacplus, open-iscsi, wireshark, gdm3, golang-go.crypto, jackson-databind, spotweb, python-autobahn, asterisk, nsd, ruby-nokogiri, linux, and motion for jessie.
  • General discussion on LTS private and public mailing list.

Other $things! \o/

Bugs and Patches Well, I did report some bugs and issues and also sent some patches:
  • Issue #44 for github-activity-readme, asking for a feature request to set custom committer s email address.
  • Issue #711 for git2go, reporting build failure for the library.
  • PR #89 for rubocop-rails_config, bumping RuboCop::Packaging to v0.5.
  • Issue #36 for rubocop-packaging, asking to try out mutant :)
  • PR #212 for cucumber-ruby-core, bumping RuboCop::Packaging to v0.5.
  • PR #213 for cucumber-ruby-core, enabling RuboCop::Packaging.
  • Issue #19 for behance, asking to relax constraints on faraday and faraday_middleware.
  • PR #37 for rubocop-packaging, enabling tests against ruby3.0! \o/
  • PR #489 for cucumber-rails, bumping RuboCop::Packaging to v0.5.
  • Issue #362 for nheko, reporting a crash when opening the application.
  • PR #1282 for paper_trail, adding RuboCop::Packaging amongst other used extensions.
  • Bug #978640 for nheko Debian package, reporting a crash, as a result of libfmt7 regression.

Misc and Fun Besides squashing bugs and submitting patches, I did some other things as well!
  • Participated in my first Advent of Code event! :)
    Whilst it was indeed fun, I didn t really complete it. No reason, really. But I ll definitely come back stronger next year, heh! :)
    All the solutions thus far could be found here.
  • Did a couple of reviews for some PRs and triaged some bugs here and there, meh.
  • Also did some cloud debugging, not so fun if you ask me, but cool enough to make me want to do it again! ^_^
  • Worked along with pollo, zigo, ehashman, rlb, et al for puppet and puppetserver in Debian. OMG, they re so lovely! <3
  • Ordered some interesting books to read January onward. New year resolution? Meh, not really. Or maybe. But nah.
  • Also did some interesting stuff this month but can t really talk about it now. Hopefully sooooon.

Until next time.
:wq for today.

9 September 2020

Reproducible Builds: Reproducible Builds in August 2020

Welcome to the August 2020 report from the Reproducible Builds project. In our monthly reports, we summarise the things that we have been up to over the past month. The motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to ensure no flaws have been introduced from the original free software source code to the pre-compiled binaries we install on our systems. If you re interested in contributing to the project, please visit our main website.

This month, Jennifer Helsby launched a new website to address the lack of reproducibility of Python wheels. To quote Jennifer s accompanying explanatory blog post:
One hiccup we ve encountered in SecureDrop development is that not all Python wheels can be built reproducibly. We ship multiple (Python) projects in Debian packages, with Python dependencies included in those packages as wheels. In order for our Debian packages to be reproducible, we need that wheel build process to also be reproducible
Parallel to this, was also launched, a service that verifies the contents of URLs against a publicly recorded cryptographic log. It keeps an append-only log of the cryptographic digests of all URLs it has seen. (GitHub repo) On 18th September, Bernhard M. Wiedemann will give a presentation in German, titled Wie reproducible builds Software sicherer machen ( How reproducible builds make software more secure ) at the Internet Security Digital Days 2020 conference.

Reproducible builds at DebConf20 There were a number of talks at the recent online-only DebConf20 conference on the topic of reproducible builds. Holger gave a talk titled Reproducing Bullseye in practice , focusing on independently verifying that the binaries distributed from are made from their claimed sources. It also served as a general update on the status of reproducible builds within Debian. The video (145 MB) and slides are available. There were also a number of other talks that involved Reproducible Builds too. For example, the Malayalam language mini-conference had a talk titled , ? ( I want to join Debian, what should I do? ) presented by Praveen Arimbrathodiyil, the Clojure Packaging Team BoF session led by Elana Hashman, as well as Where is Salsa CI right now? that was on the topic of Salsa, the collaborative development server that Debian uses to provide the necessary tools for package maintainers, packaging teams and so on. Jonathan Bustillos (Jathan) also gave a talk in Spanish titled Un camino verificable desde el origen hasta el binario ( A verifiable path from source to binary ). (Video, 88MB)

Development work After many years of development work, the compiler for the Rust programming language now generates reproducible binary code. This generated some general discussion on Reddit on the topic of reproducibility in general. Paul Spooren posted a request for comments to OpenWrt s openwrt-devel mailing list asking for clarification on when to raise the PKG_RELEASE identifier of a package. This is needed in order to successfully perform rebuilds in a reproducible builds context. In openSUSE, Bernhard M. Wiedemann published his monthly Reproducible Builds status update. Chris Lamb provided some comments and pointers on an upstream issue regarding the reproducibility of a Snap / SquashFS archive file. [ ]

Debian Holger Levsen identified that a large number of Debian .buildinfo build certificates have been tainted on the official Debian build servers, as these environments have files underneath the /usr/local/sbin directory [ ]. He also filed against bug for debrebuild after spotting that it can fail to download packages from [ ]. This month, several issues were uncovered (or assisted) due to the efforts of reproducible builds. For instance, Debian bug #968710 was filed by Simon McVittie, which describes a problem with detached debug symbol files (required to generate a traceback) that is unlikely to have been discovered without reproducible builds. In addition, Jelmer Vernooij called attention that the new Debian Janitor tool is using the property of reproducibility (as well as diffoscope when applying archive-wide changes to Debian:
New merge proposals also include a link to the diffoscope diff between a vanilla build and the build with changes. Unfortunately these can be a bit noisy for packages that are not reproducible yet, due to the difference in build environment between the two builds. [ ]
56 reviews of Debian packages were added, 38 were updated and 24 were removed this month adding to our knowledge about identified issues. Specifically, Chris Lamb added and categorised the nondeterministic_version_generated_by_python_param and the lessc_nondeterministic_keys toolchain issues. [ ][ ] Holger Levsen sponsored Lukas Puehringer s upload of the python-securesystemslib pacage, which is a dependency of in-toto, a framework to secure the integrity of software supply chains. [ ] Lastly, Chris Lamb further refined his merge request against the debian-installer component to allow all arguments from sources.list files (such as [check-valid-until=no]) in order that we can test the reproducibility of the installer images on the Reproducible Builds own testing infrastructure and sent a ping to the team that maintains that code.

Upstream patches The Reproducible Builds project detects, dissects and attempts to fix as many currently-unreproducible packages as possible. We endeavour to send all of our patches upstream where appropriate. This month, we wrote a large number of these patches, including:

diffoscope diffoscope is our in-depth and content-aware diff utility that can not only locate and diagnose reproducibility issues, it provides human-readable diffs of all kinds. In August, Chris Lamb made the following changes to diffoscope, including preparing and uploading versions 155, 156, 157 and 158 to Debian:
  • New features:
    • Support extracting data of PGP signed data. (#214)
    • Try files named .pgp against pgpdump(1) to determine whether they are Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) files. (#211)
    • Support multiple options for all file extension matching. [ ]
  • Bug fixes:
    • Don t raise an exception when we encounter XML files with <!ENTITY> declarations inside the Document Type Definition (DTD), or when a DTD or entity references an external resource. (#212)
    • pgpdump(1) can successfully parse some binary files, so check that the parsed output contains something sensible before accepting it. [ ]
    • Temporarily drop gnumeric from the Debian build-dependencies as it has been removed from the testing distribution. (#968742)
    • Correctly use fallback_recognises to prevent matching .xsb binary XML files.
    • Correct identify signed PGP files as file(1) returns data . (#211)
  • Logging improvements:
    • Emit a message when ppudump version does not match our file header. [ ]
    • Don t use Python s repr(object) output in Calling external command messages. [ ]
    • Include the filename in the not identified by any comparator message. [ ]
  • Codebase improvements:
    • Bump Python requirement from 3.6 to 3.7. Most distributions are either shipping with Python 3.5 or 3.7, so supporting 3.6 is not only somewhat unnecessary but also cumbersome to test locally. [ ]
    • Drop some unused imports [ ], drop an unnecessary dictionary comprehensions [ ] and some unnecessary control flow [ ].
    • Correct typo of output in a comment. [ ]
  • Release process:
    • Move generation of debian/tests/control to an external script. [ ]
    • Add some URLs for the site that will appear on [ ]
    • Update author and author email in for and similar. [ ]
  • Testsuite improvements:
    • Update PPU tests for compatibility with Free Pascal versions 3.2.0 or greater. (#968124)
    • Mark that our identification test for .ppu files requires ppudump version 3.2.0 or higher. [ ]
    • Add an assert_diff helper that loads and compares a fixture output. [ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • Misc:
In addition, Mattia Rizzolo documented in that diffoscope works with Python version 3.8 [ ] and Frazer Clews applied some Pylint suggestions [ ] and removed some deprecated methods [ ].

Website This month, Chris Lamb updated the main Reproducible Builds website and documentation to:
  • Clarify & fix a few entries on the who page [ ][ ] and ensure that images do not get to large on some viewports [ ].
  • Clarify use of a pronoun re. Conservancy. [ ]
  • Use View all our monthly reports over View all monthly reports . [ ]
  • Move a is a suffix out of the link target on the SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH age. [ ]
In addition, Javier Jard n added the freedesktop-sdk project [ ] and Kushal Das added SecureDrop project [ ] to our projects page. Lastly, Michael P hn added internationalisation and translation support with help from Hans-Christoph Steiner [ ].

Testing framework The Reproducible Builds project operate a Jenkins-based testing framework to power This month, Holger Levsen made the following changes:
  • System health checks:
    • Improve explanation how the status and scores are calculated. [ ][ ]
    • Update and condense view of detected issues. [ ][ ]
    • Query the canonical configuration file to determine whether a job is disabled instead of duplicating/hardcoding this. [ ]
    • Detect several problems when updating the status of reporting-oriented metapackage sets. [ ]
    • Detect when diffoscope is not installable [ ] and failures in DNS resolution [ ].
  • Debian:
    • Update the URL to the Debian security team bug tracker s Git repository. [ ]
    • Reschedule the unstable and bullseye distributions often for the arm64 architecture. [ ]
    • Schedule buster less often for armhf. [ ][ ][ ]
    • Force the build of certain packages in the work-in-progress package rebuilder. [ ][ ]
    • Only update the stretch and buster base build images when necessary. [ ]
  • Other distributions:
    • For F-Droid, trigger jobs by commits, not by a timer. [ ]
    • Disable the Archlinux HTML page generation job as it has never worked. [ ]
    • Disable the alternative OpenWrt rebuilder jobs. [ ]
  • Misc;
Many other changes were made too, including:
  • Chris Lamb:
    • Use <pre> HTML tags when dumping fixed-width debugging data in the self-serve package scheduler. [ ]
  • Mattia Rizzolo:
  • Vagrant Cascadian:
    • Mark that the u-boot Universal Boot Loader should not build architecture independent packages on the arm64 architecture anymore. [ ]
Finally, build node maintenance was performed by Holger Levsen [ ], Mattia Rizzolo [ ][ ] and Vagrant Cascadian [ ][ ][ ][ ]

Mailing list On our mailing list this month, Leo Wandersleb sent a message to the list after he was wondering how to expand his project (which aims to improve the security of Bitcoin wallets) from Android wallets to also monitor Linux wallets as well:
If you think you know how to spread the word about reproducibility in the context of Bitcoin wallets through WalletScrutiny, your contributions are highly welcome on this PR [ ]
Julien Lepiller posted to the list linking to a blog post by Tavis Ormandy titled You don t need reproducible builds. Morten Linderud (foxboron) responded with a clear rebuttal that Tavis was only considering the narrow use-case of proprietary vendors and closed-source software. He additionally noted that the criticism that reproducible builds cannot prevent against backdoors being deliberately introduced into the upstream source ( bugdoors ) are decidedly (and deliberately) outside the scope of reproducible builds to begin with. Chris Lamb included the Reproducible Builds mailing list in a wider discussion regarding a tentative proposal to include .buildinfo files in .deb packages, adding his remarks regarding requiring a custom tool in order to determine whether generated build artifacts are identical in a reproducible context. [ ] Jonathan Bustillos (Jathan) posted a quick email to the list requesting whether there was a list of To do tasks in Reproducible Builds. Lastly, Chris Lamb responded at length to a query regarding the status of reproducible builds for Debian ISO or installation images. He noted that most of the technical work has been performed but there are at least four issues until they can be generally advertised as such . He pointed that the privacy-oriented Tails operation system, which is based directly on Debian, has had reproducible builds for a number of years now. [ ]

If you are interested in contributing to the Reproducible Builds project, please visit our Contribute page on our website. However, you can get in touch with us via:

7 April 2020

Shirish Agarwal: GMRT 2020 and lots of stories

First of all, congratulations to all those who got us 2022 Debconf, so we will finally have a debconf in India. There is of course, lot of work to be done between now and then. For those who would be looking forward to visit India and especially Kochi I would suggest you to hear this enriching tale
I am sorry I used youtube link but it is too good a podcast not to be shared. Those who don t want youtube can use the link for the same as shared below. I am sure there are lot more details, questions, answers etc. but would direct them gently to Praveen, Shruti, Balasankar and the rest who are from Kochi to answer if you have any questions about that history.

National Science Day, GMRT 2020 First, as always, we are and were grateful to both NCRA as well as GMRT for taking such good care of us. Even though Akshat was not around, probably getting engaged, a few of us were there. About 6-7 from the Mozilla Nasik while the rest representing the foss community. Here is a small picture which commentrates the event
National Science Day, GMRT 2020
While there is and was a lot to share about the event. For e.g. Akshay had bought RPI- Zero as well as RPI-2 (Raspberry Pi s ) and showed some things. He had also bought up a Debian stable live drive with persistence although the glare from the sun was too much that we couldn t show it to clearly to students. This was also the case with RPI but still we shared what and how much we could. Maybe next year, we either ask them to have double screens or give us dark room so we can showcase things much better. We did try playing with contrast and all but it didn t have much of an effect  . Of course in another stall few students had used RPI s as part of their projects so at times we did tell some of the newbies to go to those stalls and see and ask about those projects so they would have a much wider experience of things. The Mozilla people were pushing VR as well as Mozilla lite the browser for the mobile. We also gossiped quite a bit. I shared about indicatelts , a third-party certificate extension although I dunno if I should file a wnpp about it or not. We didn t have a good experience of when I had put an RFP (Request for Package) which was accepted for an extension which had similar functionality which we later come to know was sharing the sites people were using the extension to call home and share both the URL and the IP Address they were using it from. Sadly, didn t leave a good taste in mouth

Delhi Riots One thing I have been disappointed with is the lack of general awareness about things especially in the youth. We have people who didn t know that for e.g. in the Delhi riots which happened recently the law and order (Police) lies with Home Minister of India, Amit Shah. This is perhaps the only capital in the world which has its own Chief Minister but doesn t have any say on its law and order. And this has been the case for last 70 years i.e. since independance. The closest I know so far is the UK but they too changed their tune in 2012. India and especially Delhi seems to be in a time-capsule which while being dysfunctional somehow is made to work. In many ways, it s three body or a body split into three personalities which often makes governance a messy issue but that probably is a topic for another day. In fact, scroll had written a beautiful editorial that full statehood for Delhi was not only Arvind Kejriwal s call (AAP) but also something that both BJP as well as Congress had asked in the past. In fact, nothing about the policing is in AAP s power. All salaries, postings, transfers of police personnel everything is done by the Home Ministry, so if any blame has to be given it has to be given to the Home Ministry for the same.

American Capitalism and Ventilators America had been having a history of high cost healthcare as can be seen in this edition of USA today from 2017 . The Affordable Care Act was signed as a law by President Obama in 2010 which Mr. Trump curtailed when he came into power couple of years back. An estimated 80,000 people died due to seasonal flu in 2018-19 . Similarly, anywhere between 24-63,000 have supposed to have died from Last October to February-March this year. Now if the richest country can t take care of their population which is 1/3rd of the population of this country while at the same time United States has thrice the area that India has. This I am sharing as seasonal flu also strikes the elderly as well as young children more than adults. So in one senses, the vulnerable groups overlap although from some of the recent stats, for Covid-19 even those who are 20+ are also vulnerable but that s another story altogether. If you see the CDC graph of the seasonal flu it is clear that American health experts knew about it. One another common factor which joins both the seasonal flu and covid is both need ventilators for the most serious cases. So, in 2007 it was decided that the number of ventilators needed to be ramped up, they had approximately 62k ventilators at that point in time all over U.S. The U.S. in 2010, asked for bids and got bid from a small californian company called Newport Medic Instruments. The price of the ventilators was approximately INR 700000 at 2010 prices, while Newport said they would be able to mass-produce at INR 200000 at 2010 prices. The company got the order and they started designing the model which needed to be certified by FDA. By 2011, they got the product ready when a big company called Covidgen bought Newport Medic and shutdown the project. This was shared in a press release in 2012. The whole story was broken by New York Times again, just a few days ago which highlighted how America s capitalism rough shod over public health and put people s life unnecessarily in jeopardy. If those new-age ventilators would have been a reality then not just U.S. but India and many other countries would have bought the ventilators as every county has same/similar needs but are unable to pay the high cost which in many cases would be passed on to their citizens either as price of service, or by raising taxes or a mixture of both with public being none the wiser. Due to dearth of ventilators and specialized people to operate it and space, there is possibility that many countries including India may have to make tough choices like Italian doctors had to make as to who to give ventilator to and have the mental and emotional guilt which would be associated with the choices made.

Some science coverage about diseases in wire and other publications Since Covid coverage broke out, the wire has been bringing various reports of India s handling of various epidemics, mysteries, some solved, some still remaining unsolved due to lack of interest or funding or both. The Nipah virus has been amply discussed in the movie Virus (2019) which I shared in the last blog post and how easily it could have been similar to Italy in Kerala. Thankfully, only 24 people including a nurse succumbed to that outbreak as shared in the movie. I had shared about Kerala nurses professionalism when I was in hospital couple of years back. It s no wonder that their understanding of hygeine and nursing procedures are a cut above the rest hence they are sought after not just in India but world-over including US and UK and the middle-east. Another study on respitory illness was bought to my attention by my friend Pavithran.

Possibility of extended lockdown in India There was talk in the media of extended lockdown or better put an environment is being created so that an extended lockdown can be done. This is probably in part due to a mathematical model and its derivatives shared by two Indian-origin Cambridge scholars who predict that a minimum 49 days lockdown may be necessary to flatten the covid curve about a week back.
Predictions of the outcome of the current 21-day lockdown (Source: Rajesh Singh, R. Adhikari, Cambridge University)
Alternative lockdown strategies suggested by the Cambridge model (Source: Rajesh Singh, R. Adhikari, Cambridge University)
India caving to US pressure on Hydroxychloroquine While there has been lot of speculation in U.S. about Hydroxychloroquine as the wonder cure, last night Mr. Trump threatened India in a response to a reporter that Mr. Modi has to say no for Hydroxychloroquine and there may be retaliations.
As shared before if youtube is not your cup you can see the same on Now while there have been several instances in the past of U.S. trying to bully India, going all the way back to 1954. In fact, in recent memory, there were sanctions on India by US under Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government (BJP) 1998 but he didn t buckle under the pressure and now we see our current PM taking down our own notification from a day ago and not just sharing Hydroxychloroquine but also Paracetemol to other countries so it would look as if India is sharing with other countries. Keep in mind, that India, Brazil haven t seen eye to eye on trade agreements of late and Paracetemol prices have risen in India. The price rise has been because the API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) for the same come from China where the supply chain will take time to be fixed and we would also have to open up, although should we, should we not is another question altogether. I talk about supply chains as lean supply chains were the talk since late 90 s when the Japanese introduced Just-in-time manufacturing which lead to lean supply chains as well as lot of outsourcing as consequence. Of course, the companies saved money but at the cost of flexibility and how this model was perhaps flawed was shared by a series of articles in Economist as early as 2004 when there were lot of shocks to that model and would be exaberated since then. There have been frequent shocks to these fragile ecosystem more since 2008 after the financial meltdown and this would put more companies out of business than ever before. The MSME sector in India had already been severely impacted first by demonetization and then by the horrendous implementation of GST whose cries can be heard from all sectors. Also the frequent changing of GST taxes has made markets jumpy and investors unsure. With judgements such as retrospective taxes, AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) etc. it made not only the international investors scared, but also domestic investors. The flight of the capital has been noticeable. This I had shared before when Indian Government shared about LRS report which it hasn t since then. In fact Outlook Business had an interesting article about it where incidentally it talked about localcircles, a community networking platform where you get to know of lot of things and whom I am also a member of. At the very end I apologize for not sharing the blog post before but then I was feeling down but then I m not the only one.

5 July 2017

Shirish Agarwal: Debian 9 release party at Co-hive

Dear all, This would be a biggish one so please have a chai/coffee or something stronger as it would take a while. I would start with attempt at some alcohol humor. While some people know that I have had a series of convulsive epileptic seizure I had shared bits about it in another post as well. Recovery is going through allopathic medicines as well as physiotherapy which I go to every alternate day. One of the exercises that I do in physiotherapy sessions is walk cross-legged on a line. While doing it today, it occurred to me that this is the same test that a Police inspector would do if they caught you drinking or are suspected of drunk driving. While some in the police force have now also have breath analyzer machines to determine alcohol content in the breath and body (and ways to deceive it are also there) the above exercise is still an integral part of examination. Now few of my friends who do drink have and had made expertise of walking on a line, while I due to this neurological disorder still have issues of walking on a line. So while I don t think of a drinking party in the near future (6 months at least), if I ever do get caught with a friend who is drunk (by association I would also be a suspect) by a policeman who doesn t have a breath analyzer machine, I could be in a lot of trouble. In addition if I tell him I have a neurological disorder I am bound to land up in a cell as he will think I m trying to make a fool of him. If you are able to picturize the situation, I m sure you will get a couple of laughs. Now coming to the release party, I was a bit apprehensive. It s been quite a while I had faced an audience and just coming out of illness didn t know how well or ill-prepared I would be for the session. I had forsaken/given up exercising two days earlier before the event as I wanted to have loose body, loose limbs all over. I also took a mild sedative (1mg) the day before just so I will have a fit night sleep and be able to focus all my energies on the big day. (I don t recommend sedatives unless the doctor prescribes) and I did have a doctor prescription so was able to have a nice sleep. I didn t do any Debian study as I hoped my somewhat long experience with both Ubuntu and Debian should help me. On the d-day, I had asked dhanesh (the organizer of the event) to accompany me from home to venue and back as I was unsure of the journey as it was around 9-10 kms. from my place and while I had been to the venue about couple of years back, I had just a mild remembrance of the place. Anyways, Dhanesh compiled with my request and together we reached the venue before the appointed 1500 hrs. As it was a Sunday I was unsure as how many people would turn up as people usually like to cozy up on a Sunday. Around 1530 hrs everybody showed up The whole group It included couple of co-organizers with most people being newbies so while I had thought of showing how to contribute via reporting bugs or putting up patches, had to set that aside and explain how things work in free software and open-source world. We didn t get into the debate of free vs open-source or free/open-source/open-core as that would have been counter-productive and probably confusing for newbies. We did however share the debian tree structure debian-tree-structure-discussion I was stumped by /var and /proc . I hadn t taken my lappy as it is expensive (a lenovo thinkpad I love very dearly) and I was unsure if I would be able to take care of it (weight wise). Dhanesh had told me that he had Debian on his lappy + zsh both of which are my favourites. While back at home I realized /var has been relegated to having apache/server logs and stuff like that, I do recall (vaguely) a thread on debian-devel about removing /var although that discussion went nowhere. One of the bugs that we hit early on is that nobody had enough space on their hdd to have Debian comfortably. It took a while to get an external hdd and push some of the content from somebody s lappy to the external drive to have space for the installation. I did share the /. /home, optional swap while Dhanesh helped by sharing about having a separate /boot partition as well which I had forgotten. I can t even begin to remember the number of times having a separate /boot partition has helped me in all of my systems. That done, we did try to install/show Debian 9 without network but were hit with #866629 so wasn t able to complete the installation. We had got the latest 9.0.1 as I had seen Steve s message about issues with the live images but even then we were hit with the above bug. As shared in the bug history, it might be a good idea to have the last couple of RC s (Release Candidate releases) as pre-release parties so people have a chance to report bugs and get them fixed. It was also nice to see Praveen raising the seriousness of the bug shared above. The next day I also filed #866971 as I had mistaken the release to be a regular release and not the live instance. I have pushed my rationale and hope the right thing happens. As installation takes a bit of time, we used the time to share about Google s Summer of Code and absence of Debian from GSoC this year. I should have directed them to an itfoss article I wrote sometime ago and also shared that Debian is also looking to having a similar apprenticeship within Debian itself. There were questions about why Debian would like to take the administrative overhead, my response was that it probably had to do with Debian wanting more control over the process. While Debian has had some great luck getting all number of seats that it asks for in GSoC, the ball is always in Google s court. Having that uncertainty off would be beneficial to Debian both in short-term as well as long-term. One interesting stat that was shared with me was that something akin to 89 students from India had been selected this year to GSoC even with the lower stipend and that is a far cry from the 10-15 students who are able to complete GSoC every year. Let s see what happens this year. One of the interesting fact/gossip I shared with them is that Google uses a modified/forked Debian internally which it probably would never release ever. There were quite a few queries about GSoC which resulted into how contributions are made and how git had become the master of all VCS (Version Control Systems). While I do have pet bugs about git (the biggest one being for places/countries having not big bandwidth git fails many a times while cloning). I *think* the bug has been reported enough times but haven t seen any improvements yet. There is a need of a solution like wget and wget -c so git just works even under the most trying circumstances (bandwidth wise) We also shared what a repo is and Dhanesh helpfully did a git shortlog to show people how commits are commented. It was from his official work so he couldn t show anything apart from the shortlog. I also shared how non-technical people can help with regard to documentation, artwork but didn t get into any concrete examples although would have been a good start. I also don t know if it s a fact or not but it seems/seemed that moinmoin (the current wiki solution used by debian) seems to have got sectional edit feature which I used sometime back. If moinmoin has got this feature then it is on par with mediawiki, although do know that mediawiki has lot more features going for it. Dhanesh did manage to install a Debian 8.0.7 (while 8.8.0 was the last release) which might have been better. The debian-installer (d-i) looks the same even though I know there are improvements with respect to UEFI and many updated components. There are and were many bugs which I wanted to share but didn t know if it was the right forum or not, for e.g. #597176 which probably needs improvements in other libraries along with the JPEG 2000 support #604859 all of which I m subscribed to. We also had a talk about code documentation and code readability, python (as almost everything in Debian is based on python) I had actually wanted to show but had seen it was down the day before and again checked to see it is down now as well, hence reported it, will hopefully come on Debian BTS some time soonish. The idea was to share that Debian does have/uses other programming languages as well and is only limited by people interested in a specific language and be willing to package and maintain packages in that specific programming language. As Dhanesh was part of Firefox OS and a Campus Ambassador we did discuss what went wrong in Firefox OS deployment and Firefox as a whole, specifically between the community and Mozilla the Corporation. In this there were lots that was lot that I wasn t able to share as had become tired otherwise would have shared that ncurses debian-installer interface although bit ugly to look at is still good as it has speech for visually differently abled people as well as people with poor sight. There is and was lots to share about Debian but was conscious that I might over-burden the audience and my stamina was also stretched. We also shared about automated builds bud didn t show either or We also had a small discussion about Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and how the outlook for people coming in Computer Science looks today. One thing I forgot to share we did do the cake-cutting together Dhanesh-Shirish cutting cake together Dhanesh is on the left while I m on the right. We did have a cute 3-4 year old boy as our guest as well bud didn t get good pictures of him. Lastly, the Debian cake itself Debian 9 cake We also talked about the kernel and subsystem maintainers and how Linus is the overlord. Look forward to comments. I am hoping Dhanesh might recollect some points that I might have missed/forgotten. Update 07/07/17 All programming languages stats. can be seen here
Filed under: Miscellenous Tagged: #alcohol humor, #co-hive, #crystal-gazing, #Debian bugs, #Debian cake, #Debian-release-party-9-pune, #live-installer, #moinmoin, #planet-debian, debian-installer, Pune

14 June 2017

Antoine Beaupr : Alioth moving toward pagure

Since 2003, the Debian project has been running a server called Alioth to host source code version control systems. The server will hit the end of life of the Debian LTS release (Wheezy) next year; that deadline raised some questions regarding the plans for the server over the coming years. Naturally, that led to a discussion regarding possible replacements. In response, the current Alioth maintainer, Alexander Wirt, announced a sprint to migrate to pagure, a free-software "Git-centered forge" written in Python for the Fedora project, which LWN covered last year. Alioth currently runs FusionForge, previously known as GForge, which is the free-software fork of the SourceForge code base when that service closed its source in 2001. Alioth hosts source code repositories, mainly Git and Subversion (SVN) and, like other "forge" sites, also offers forums, issue trackers, and mailing list services. While other alternatives are still being evaluated, a consensus has emerged on a migration plan from FusionForage to a more modern and minimal platform based on pagure.

Why not GitLab? While this may come as a surprise to some who would expect Debian to use the more popular GitLab project, the discussion and decision actually took place a while back. During a lengthy debate last year, Debian contributors discussed the relative merits of different code-hosting platforms, following the initiative of Debian Developer "Pirate" Praveen Arimbrathodiyil to package GitLab for Debian. At that time, Praveen also got a public GitLab instance running for Debian (, which was sponsored by GitLab B.V. the commercial entity behind the GitLab project. The sponsorship was originally offered in 2015 by the GitLab CEO, presumably to counter a possible move to GitHub, as there was a discussion about creating a GitHub Organization for Debian at the time. The deployment of a Debian-specific GitLab instance then raised the question of the overlap with the already existing service, which is backed by Alioth's FusionForge deployment. It then seemed natural that the new GitLab instance would replace Alioth. But when Praveen directly proposed to move to GitLab, Wirt stepped in and explained that a migration plan was already in progress. The plan then was to migrate to a simpler gitolite-based setup, a decision that was apparently made in corridor discussions surrounding the Alioth Git replacement BoF held during Debconf 2015. The first objection raised by Wirt against GitLab was its "huge number of dependencies". Another issue Wirt identified was the "open core / enterprise model", preferring a "real open source system", an opinion which seems shared by other participants on the mailing list. Wirt backed his concerns with an hypothetical example:
Debian needs feature X but it is already in the enterprise version. We make a patch and, for commercial reasons, it never gets merged (they already sell it in the enterprise version). Which means we will have to fork the software and keep those patches forever. Been there done that. For me, that isn't acceptable.
This concern was further deepened when GitLab's Director of Strategic Partnerships, Eliran Mesika, explained the company's stewardship policy that explains how GitLab decides which features end up in the proprietary version. Praveen pointed out that:
[...] basically it boils down to features that they consider important for organizations with less than 100 developers may get accepted. I see that as a red flag for a big community like debian.
Since there are over 600 Debian Developers, the community seems to fall within the needs of "enterprise" users. The features the Debian community may need are, by definition, appropriate only to the "Enterprise Edition" (GitLab EE), the non-free version, and are therefore unlikely to end up in the "Community Edition" (GitLab CE), the free-software version. Interestingly, Mesika asked for clarification on which features were missing, explaining that GitLab is actually open to adding features to GitLab CE. The response from Debian Developer Holger Levsen was categorical: "It's not about a specific patch. Free GitLab and we can talk again." But beyond the practical and ethical concerns, some specific features Debian needs are currently only in GitLab EE. For example, systems use LDAP for authentication, which would obviously be useful in a GitLab deployment; GitLab CE supports basic LDAP authentication, but advanced features, like group or SSH-key synchronization, are only available in GitLab EE. Wirt also expressed concern about the Contributor License Agreement that GitLab B.V. requires contributors to sign when they send patches, which forces users to allow the release of their code under a non-free license. The debate then went on going through a exhaustive inventory of different free-software alternatives:
  • GitLab, a Ruby-based GitHub replacement, dual-licensed MIT/Commercial
  • Gogs, Go, MIT
  • Gitblit, Java, Apache-licensed
  • Kallithea, in Python, also supports Mercurial, GPLv3
  • and finally, pagure, also written Python, GPLv2
A feature comparison between each project was created in the Debian wiki as well. In the end, however, Praveen gave up on replacing Alioth with GitLab because of the controversy and moved on to support the pagure migration, which resolved the discussion in July 2016. More recently, Wirt admitted in an IRC conversation that "on the technical side I like GitLab a lot more than pagure" and that "as a user, GitLab is much nicer than pagure and it has those nice CI [continuous integration] features". However, as he explained in his blog "GitLab is Opencore, [and] that it is not entirely opensource. I don't think we should use software licensed under such a model for one of our core services" which leaves pagure as the only stable candidate. Other candidates were excluded on technical grounds, according to Wirt: Gogs "doesn't scale well" and a quick security check didn't yield satisfactory results; "Gitblit is Java" and Kallithea doesn't have support for accessing repositories over SSH (although there is a pending pull request to add the feature). In an email interview, Sid Sijbrandij, CEO of GitLab, did say that "we want to make sure that our open source edition can be used by open source projects". He gave examples of features liberated following requests by the community, such as branded login pages for the VLC project and GitLab Pages after popular demand. He stressed that "There are no artificial limits in our open source edition and some organizations use it with more than 20.000 users." So if the concern of the Debian community is that features may be missing from GitLab CE, there is definitely an opening from GitLab to add those features. If, however, the concern is purely ethical, it's hard to see how an agreement could be reached. As Sijbrandij put it:
On the mailinglist it seemed that some Debian maintainers do not agree with our open core business model and demand that there is no proprietary version. We respect that position but we don't think we can compete with the purely proprietary software like GitHub with this model.

Working toward a pagure migration The issue of Alioth maintenance came up again last month when Boyuan Yang asked what would happen to Alioth when support for Debian LTS (Wheezy) ends next year. Wirt brought up the pagure migration proposal and the community tried to make a plan for the migration. One of the issues raised was the question of the non-Git repositories hosted on Alioth, as pagure, like GitLab, only supports Git. Indeed, Ben Hutchings calculated that while 90% (\~19,000) of the repositories currently on Alioth are Git, there are 2,400 SVN repositories and a handful of Mercurial, Bazaar (bzr), Darcs, Arch, and even CVS repositories. As part of an informal survey, however, most packaging teams explained they either had already migrated away from SVN to Git or were in the process of doing so. The largest CVS user, the web site team, also explained it was progressively migrating to Git. Mattia Rizzolo then proposed that older repository services like SVN could continue running even if FusionForge goes down, as FusionForge is, after all, just a web interface to manage those back-end services. Repository creation would be disabled, but older repositories would stay operational until they migrate to Git. This would, effectively, mean the end of non-Git repository support for new projects in the Debian community, at least officially. Another issue is the creation of a Debian package for pagure. Ironically, while Praveen and other Debian maintainers have been working for 5 years to package GitLab for Debian, pagure isn't packaged yet. Antonio Terceiro, another Debian Developer, explained this isn't actually a large problem for services: "note that DSA [Debian System Administrator team] does not need/want the service software itself packaged, only its dependencies". Indeed, for Debian-specific code bases like or, it may not make sense to have the overhead of maintaining Debian packages since those tools have limited use outside of the Debian project directly. While Debian derivatives and other distributions could reuse them, what usually happens is that other distributions roll their own software, like Ubuntu did with the Launchpad project. Still, Paul Wise, a member of the DSA team, reasoned that it was better, in the long term, to have Debian packages for services:
Personally I'm leaning towards the feeling that all configuration, code and dependencies for Debian services should be packaged and subjected to the usual Debian QA activities but I acknowledge that the current archive setup (testing migration plus backporting etc) doesn't necessarily make this easy.
Wise did say that "DSA doesn't have any hard rules/policy written down, just evaluation on a case-by-case basis" which probably means that pagure packaging will not be a blocker for deployment. The last pending issue is the question of the mailing lists hosted on Alioth, as pagure doesn't offer mailing list management (nor does GitLab). In fact, there are three different mailing list services for the Debian project: Wirt, with his "list-master hat" on, explained that the main mailing list service is "not really suited as a self-service" and expressed concern at the idea of migrating the large number mailing lists hosted on Alioth. Indeed, there are around 1,400 lists on Alioth while the main service has a set of 300 lists selected by the list masters. No solution for those mailing lists was found at the time of this writing. In the end, it seems like the Debian project has chosen pagure, the simpler, less featureful, but also less controversial, solution and will use the same hosting software as their fellow Linux distribution, Fedora. Wirt is also considering using FreeIPA for account management on top of pagure. The plan is to migrate away from FusionForge one bit at a time, and pagure is the solution for the first step: the Git repositories. Lists, other repositories, and additional features of FusionForge will be dealt with later on, but Wirt expects a plan to come out of the upcoming sprint. It will also be interesting to see how the interoperability promises of pagure will play out in the Debian world. Even though the federation features of pagure are still at the early stages, one can already clone issues and pull requests as Git repositories, which allows for a crude federation mechanism. In any case, given the long history and the wide variety of workflows in the Debian project, it is unlikely that a single tool will solve all problems. Alioth itself has significant overlap with other Debian services; not only does it handle mailing lists and forums, but it also has its own issue tracker that overlaps with the Debian bug tracking system (BTS). This is just the way things are in Debian: it is an old project with lots of moving part. As Jonathan Dowland put it: "The nature of the project is loosely-coupled, some redundancy, lots of legacy cruft, and sadly more than one way to do it." Hopefully, pagure will not become part of that "legacy redundant cruft". But at this point, the focus is on keeping the services running in a simpler, more maintainable way. The discussions between Debian and GitLab are still going on as we speak, but given how controversial the "open core" model used by GitLab is for the Debian community, pagure does seem like a more logical alternative.
Note: this article first appeared in the Linux Weekly News.

20 February 2017

Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Setting up appliances - the new way

I own a Fitbit Surge. But Fitibit chose to remain exclusive in terms of interoperability. Which means to make any sense out of the data that the watch gathers, you need to stick with what Fitbit mandates. Fair enough in today's trends. It also is part of their business model to restrict useful aspects of the report to Premium Membership. Again, fair enough in today's business' trends. But a nice human chose to write a bridge; to extract Fitbit data and feed into Google Fit. The project is written in Python, so you can get it to work on most common computer platforms. I never bothered to package this tool for Debian, because I never was sure when I'd throw away the Fitbit. But until that happens, I decided to use the tool to sync my data to Google Fit. Which led me to requirements.txt This project's requirement.txt lists versioned module dependencies, of which many modules in Debian, were either older or newer than what was mentioned in the requirements. To get the tool working, I installed it the pip way. 3 months later, something broke and I needed to revisit the installed modules. At that point, I realized that there's no such thing as: pip upgrade That further led me to dig on why anyone wouldn't add something so simple, because today, in the days of pip, snap, flatpak and dockers, Distributions are predicted to go obsolete and irrelevant. Users should get the SOURCES directly from the developers. But just looking at the date the bug was filed, killed my enthusiasm any further. So, without packaging for Debian, and without installing through pip, I was happy that my init has the ability to create confined and containerized environments, something that I could use to get the job done.
rrs@chutzpah:~$ sudo machinectl login fitbit
[sudo] password for rrs:
Connected to machine fitbit. Press ^] three times within 1s to exit session.
Debian GNU/Linux 9 fitbit pts/0
fitbit login: root
Last login: Fri Feb 17 12:44:25 IST 2017 on pts/1
The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.
Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.
root@fitbit:~# tail -n 25 /var/tmp/lxc/fitbit-google.log
synced calories - 1440 data points
------------------------------   2017-02-19  -------------------------
synced steps - 1440 data points
synced distance - 1440 data points
synced heart_rate - 38215 data points
synced weight - 0 logs
synced body_fat - 0 logs
synced calories - 1440 data points
------------------------------   2017-02-20  -------------------------
synced steps - 1270 data points
synced distance - 1270 data points
synced heart_rate - 32547 data points
synced weight - 0 logs
synced body_fat - 0 logs
synced calories - 1271 data points
Synced 7 exercises between : 2017-02-15 -- 2017-02-20
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9 January 2017

Shirish Agarwal: The Great Indian Digital Tamasha

Indian Railways This is an extension to last month s article/sharing where I had shared the changes that had transpired in the last 2-3 months. Now am in a position to share the kind of issues a user can go through in case he is looking for support from IRCTC to help him/her go cashless. If you a new user to use IRCTC services you wouldn t go through this trouble. For those who might have TL;DR issues it s about how hard it can become to get digital credentials fixed in IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) a. 2 months back Indian Prime Minister gave a call incentivizing people to use digital means to do any commercial activities. One of the big organizations which took/takes part is IRCTC which handles the responsibility for e-ticketing millions of Rail tickets for common people. In India, a massive percentage moves by train as it s cheaper than going by Air. A typical fare from say Pune Delhi (capital of India) by second class sleeper would be INR 645/- for a distance of roughly 1600 odd kms and these are monopoly rates, there are no private trains and I m not suggesting anything of that sort, just making sure that people know. An economy class ticket by Air for the same distance would be anywhere between INR 2500-3500/- for a 2 hour flight between different airlines. Last I checked there are around 8 mainstream airlines including flag-carrier Air India. About 30% of the population live on less than a dollar and a half a day which would come around INR 100/-. There was a comment some six months back on getting more people out of the poverty line. But as there are lots of manipulations in numbers for who and what denotes above poor and below poor in India and lot of it has to do with politics it s not something which would be easily fixable. There are lots to be said in that arena but this article is not an appropriate blog-post for that. All in all, it s only 3-5% of the population at the most who can travel via Air if situation demands and around 1-2% who might be frequent, business or leisure travellers. Now while I can thankfully afford an Air Ticket if the situation so demands, my mother gets motion sickness so while together we can only travel by train. b. With the above background, I had registered with IRCTC few years ago with another number (dual-SIM) I had purchased and was thinking that I would be using this long-term (seems to my first big mistake, hindsight 50:50) . This was somewhere in 2006/2007. c. Few months later I found that the other service provider wasn t giving good service or was not upto mark. I was using IDEA (the main mobile operator) throughout those times. d. As I didn t need the service that much, didn t think to inform them that I want to change to another service provider at that point in time (possibly the biggest mistake, hindsight 50:50) e. In July 2016 itself IRCTC cut service fees, f. This was shared as a NEW news item/policy decision at November-end 2016 . g. While I have done all that has been asked by irctc-care haven t still got the issues resolved  IRCTC s e-mail id Now in detail This is my first e-mail sent to IRCTC in June 2016
Dear Customer care, I had applied and got username and password sometime back . The
number I had used to register with IRCTC was xxxxxxxxxx (BSNL mobile number not used anymore) . My mobile was lost and along with that the number was also lost. I had filed a complaint with the police and stopped that number as well. Now I have an another mobile number but have forgotten both the password and the security answer that I had given when I had registered . I do have all the conversations I had both with the as well as if needed to prove my identity. The new number I want to tie it with is xxxxxxxxxx (IDEA number in-use for last 10 years) I see two options :- a. Tie the other number with my e-mail address b. Take out the e-mail address from the database so that I can fill in
as a new applicant. Looking forward to hear from you.
There was lot of back and forth with various individuals on IRCTC and after a lot of back and forth, this is the final e-mail I got from them somewhere in August 2016, he writes
Dear Customer, We request you to send mobile bill of your mobile number if it is post paid or if it is prepaid then contact to your service provider and they will give you valid proof of your mobile number or they will give you in written on company head letter so that we may update your mobile number to update so that you may reset your password through mobile OTP.
and Kindly inform you that you can update your profile by yourself also. 1.login on IRCTC website
2.after login successfully move courser on my profile tab.
3.then click on update profile your password then you can update your profile on user-profile then email id.
6. click on update. Still you face any problem related to update profile please revert to us with the screen shots of error message which you will get at the time of update profile . Thanks & Regards Parivesh Patel
Executive, Customer Care
IRCTC s response seemed responsible, valid and thought it would be a cake-walk as private providers are supposed to be much more efficient than public ones. The experience proved how wrong was I trust them with doing the right thing 1. First I tried the twitter handle to see how IDEA uses their twitter handle. 2. The idea customer care twitter handle was mild in its response. 3. After sometime I realized that the only way out of this quagmire would perhaps be to go to a brick-mortar shop and get it resolved face-to-face. I went twice or thrice but each time something or the other would happen. On the fourth and final time, I was able to get to the big Official shop only to be told they can t do anything about this and I would have to the appellate body to get the reply. The e-mail address which they shared (and I found it later) was wrong. I sent a somewhat longish e-mail sharing all the details and got bounce-backs. The correct e-mail address for the IDEA Maharashtra appellate body is I searched online and after a bit of hit and miss finally got the relevant address. Then finally on 30th December, 2016 wrote a short email to the service provider as follows
Dear Sir,
I have been using prepaid mobile connection number xxxxxxx taken from IDEA for last 10 odd years. I want to register myself with IRCTC for online railway booking using
my IDEA mobile number. Earlier, I was having a BSNL connection which I discontinued 4 years back, For re-registering myself with IRCTC, I have to fulfill their latest
requirements as shown in the email below . It is requested that I please be issued a letter confirming my
credentials with your esteemed firm. I contacted your local office at corner of Law College Road and
Bhandarkar Road, Pune (reference number Q1 84786060793) who
refused to provide me any letter and have advised me to contact on the
above e-mail address, hence this request is being forwarded to you. Please do the needful at your earliest.
Few days later I got this short e-mail from them
Dear Customer, Greetings for the day! This is with reference to your email regarding services. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused to you and delay in response. We regret to inform you that we are unable to provide demographic details from our end as provision for same is not available with us. Should you need any further assistance, please call our Customer Service help line number 9822012345 or email us at by mentioning ten digit Idea mobile number in subject line. Thanks & Regards, Javed Khan Customer Service Team IDEA Cellular Limited- Maharashtra & Goa Circle.
Now I was at almost my wit s end. Few days before, I had re-affirmed my e-mail address to IDEA . I went to the IDEA care site, registered with my credentials. While the https connection to the page is weak, but let s not dwell on that atm. I logged into the site, I went through all the drop-down menus and came across My Account > Raise a request link which I clicked on . This came to a page where I could raise requests for various things. One of the options given there was Bill Delivery. As I wasn t a postpaid user but a prepaid user didn t know if that would work or not I still clicked on it. It said it would take 4 days for that to happen. I absently filed it away as I was somewhat sure that nothing would happen from my previous experience with IDEA. But this time the IDEA support staff came through and shared a toll-free SMS number and message format that I could use to generate call details from the last 6 months. The toll-free number from IDEA is 12345 and the message format is EBILL MON (short-form for month so if it s January would be jan, so on and so forth). After gathering all the required credentials, sent my last mail to IRCTC about a week, 10 days back
Dear Mr. Parivesh Patel, I was out-of-town and couldn t do the needful so sorry for the delay.
Now that I m back in town, I have been able to put together my prepaid
bills of last 6 months which should make it easy to establish my
identity. As had shared before, I don t remember my old password and the old
mobile number (BSNL number) is no longer accessible so can t go
through that route. Please let me know the next steps in correcting the existing IRCTC
account (which I haven t operated ever) so I can start using it to
book my tickets. Look forward to hearing from you.
Haven t heard anything them from them, apart from a generated token number, each time you send a reply happens. This time it was #4763548 The whole sequence of events throws a lot of troubling questions a. Could IRCTC done a better job of articulating their need to me instead of the run-around I was given ? b. Shouldn t there be a time limit to accounts from which no transactions have been done ? I hadn t done a single transaction since registering. When cell service providers including BSNL takes number out after a year of not using a number, why is that account active for so long ? c. As that account didn t have OTP at registration, dunno if it s being used for illegal activities or something. Update This doesn t seem to be a unique thing at all. Just sampling some of the tweets by people at @IRCTC_LTD , all of this just goes to show how un-unique the situation really is.
Filed under: Miscellenous Tagged: #customer-service, #demonetization, #IDEA-aditya birla, #IRCTC, #web-services, rant

2 January 2017

Ross Gammon: Happy New Year My Free Software activities in December 2016

So that was 2016! Here s a summary of what I got up to on my computer(s) in December, a check of how I went against my plan, and the TODO list for the next month or so. With a short holiday to Oslo, Christmas holidays, Christmas parties (at work and with Alexander at school, football etc.), travelling to Brussels with work, birthdays (Alexander & Antje), I missed a lot of deadlines, and failed to reach most of my Free Software goals (including my goals for new & updated packages in Debian Stretch the soft freeze is in a couple of days). To top it all off, I lost my grandmother at the ripe old age of 93. Rest in peace Nana. I wish I could have made it to the funeral, but it is sometimes tough living on the other side of the world to your family. Debian Ubuntu Other Plan status & update for next month Debian Before the 5th January 2017 Debian Stretch soft freeze I hope to: For the Debian Stretch release: Ubuntu Other

23 January 2015

Jaldhar Vyas: Mini-Debconf Mumbai 2015

Last weekend I went to Mumbai to attend the Mini-Debconf held at IIT-Bombay. These are my impressions of the trip. Arrival and Impressions of Mumbai Getting there was a quite an adventure in itself. Unlike during my ill-fated attempt to visit a Debian event in Kerala last year when a bureaucratic snafu left me unable to get a visa, the organizers started the process much earlier at their end this time and with proper permissions. Yet in India, the wheels only turn as fast as they want to turn so despite their efforts, it was only literally at the last minute that I actually managed to secure my visa. I should note however that Indian government has done a lot to improve the process compared to the hell I remember from, say, a decade ago. It's fairly straightforward for tourist visas now and I trust they will get around to doing the same for conference visas in the fullness of time. I didn't want to commit to buying a plane ticket until I had the visa so I became concerned that the only flights left would be either really expensive or on the type of airline that flies you over Syria or under the Indian Ocean. I lucked out and got a good price on a Swiss Air flight, not non-stop but you can't have everything. So Thursday afternoon I set off for JFK. With only one small suitcase getting there by subway was no problem and I arrived and checked in with plenty of time. Even TSA passed me through with only a minimal amount of indignity. The first leg of my journey took me to Zurich in about eight hours. We were only in Zurich for an hour and then (by now Friday) it was another 9 hours to Mumbai. Friday was Safala Ekadashi but owing to the necessity of staying hydrated on a long flight I drank a lot of water and ate some fruit which I don't normally do on a fasting day. It was tolerable but not too pleasant; I definitely want to try and make travel plans to avoid such situations in the future. Friday evening local time I got to Mumbai. Chhattrapati Shivaji airport has improved a lot since I saw t last and now has all the amenities an international traveller needs including unrestricted free wifi (Zurich airport are you taking notes?) But here my first ominous piece of bad luck began. No sign of my suitcase. Happily some asking around revealed that it had somehow gotten on some earlier Swiss Air flight instead of the one I was on and was actually waiting for me. I got outside and Debian Developer Praveen Arimbrathodiyil was waiting to pick me up. Normally I don't lke staying in Mumbai very much even though I have relatives there but that's because we usually went during July-August the monsoon season when Mumbai reverts back to the swampy archipelago it was originally built on. This time the weather was nice, cold by local standards, but lovely and spring-like to someone from snowy New Jersey. There have been a lot of improvements to the road infrastructure and people are actually obeying the traffic laws. (Within reason of course. Whether or not a family of six can arrange themselves on one Bajaj scooter is no business of the cops.) The Hotel Tuliip (yes, two i's. Manager didn't know why.) Residency where I was to stay while not quite a five star establishment was adequate for my needs with a bed, hot water shower, and air conditioning. And a TV which to the bellhops great confusion I did not want turned on. (He asked about five times.) There was no Internet access per se but the manager offered to hook up a wireless router to a cable. Which on closer inspection turned out to have been severed at the base. He assured me it would be fixed tomorrow so I didn't complain and decided to do something more productive thank checking my email like sleeping. The next day I woke up in total darkness. Apparently there had been some kind of power problem during the night which tripped a fuse or something. A call to the front desk got them to fix that and then the second piece of bad luck happened. I plugged my Thinkpad in and woke it up from hibernation and a minute later there was a loud pop from the power adapter. Note I have a travel international plug adapter with surge protector so nothing bad ought to have happened but the laptop would on turning on display the message "critical low battery error" and immediately power off. I was unable to google what that meant without Internet access but I decided not to panic and continue getting ready. I would have plenty of opportunity to troubleshoot at the conference venue. Or so I thought... I took an autorickshaw to IIT. There also there have been positive improvements. Being quite obviously a foreigner I was fully prepared to be taken along the "scenic route." But now there are fair zones and the rickshaws all have (tamperproof!) digital fare meters so I was deposited at the main gate without fuss. After reading a board with a scary list of dos and don'ts I presented myself at security only to be inexplicably waved through without a second glance. Later I found out they've abandoned all the security theatre but not got around to updating the signs yet. Mumbai is one of the biggest, densely populated cities in the world but the IIT campus is an oasis of tranquility on the shores of Lake Powai. It's a lot bigger than it looked on the map so I had to wander around a bit before I reached the conference venue but I did make for the official registration time. Registration I was happy to meet several old friends (Such as Kartik Mistry and Kumar Appiah who along with Praveen and myself were the other DDs there,) people who I've corresponded with but never met, and many new people. I'm told 200+ people registered altogether. Most seemed to be students from IIT and elsewhere in Mumbai but there were also some Debian enthusiasts from further afield and most hearteningly some "civilians" who wanted to know what this was all about. With the help of a borrowed Thinkpad adapter I got my laptop running again. (Thankfully, despite the error message, the battery itself was unharmed.) However, my streak of bad luck was not yet over. It was that very weekend that IIT had a freak campus-wide network outage something that had never happened before. And as the presentation for the talk I was to give had apparently been open when I hibernated my laptop the night before, the sudden forced shutdown had trashed the file. (ls showed it as 0 length. An fsck didn't help.) I possibly had a backup on my server but with no Internet access I had no way to retrieve it. I still remained cool. The talk was scheduled for the second day so I could recover it at the hotel. Keynotes Professor Kannan Maudgalya of the FOSSEE (Free and Open Source Software for Education) Project which is part of the central government Ministry for Human Resource Development spoke about various activities of his project. Of particular interest to us are: FOSSEE is well funded, backed by the government and has enthusiastic staff so we should be seeing a lot more from them in the future. Veteran Free Software activist Venky Hariharan spoke about his experiences in lobbying the government on tech issues. He noted that there has been a sea change in attitudes towards Linux and Open source in the bureacracy of late. Several states have been aggressively mandating the use of it as have several national ministries and agencies. We the community can provide a valuable service by helping them in the transition. They also need to be educated on how to work with the community (contributing changes back, not working behind closed doors etc.) Debian History and Debian Cycle Shirish Agarwal spoke about the Debian philosophy and foundational documents such as the social contract and DFSG and how the release cycle works. Nothing new to an experienced user but informative to the newcomers in the audience and sparked some questions and discussion. Keysigning One of my main missions in attending was to help get as many isolated people as possible into the web of trust. Unfortunately the keysigning was not adequately publicized and few people were ready. I would have led them through the process of creating a new key there and then but with the lack of connectivity that idea had to be abandoned. I did manage to sign about 8-10 keys during other times. Future Directions for Debian-IN BOF I led this one. Lots of spirited discussion and I found feedback from new users in particular to be very helpful. Some take aways are: Lil' Debi Kumar Sukhani was a Debian GSoC student and his project which he demonstrated was to be able to install Debian on an Android phone. Why would you want to do this? Apart from the evergreen "Because I can", you can run server software such as sshd on your phone or even use it as an ARM development board. Unfortunately my phone uses Blackberry 10 OS which can run android apps (emulated under QNX) but wouldn't be able to use this. When I get a real Android phone I will try it out. Debian on ARM Siji Sunny gave this talk which was geared more towards hardware types which I am not but one thing I learned was thee difference between all the different ARM subarchitectures. I knew Siji first from a previous incarnation when he worked at CDAC with the late and much lamented Prof. R.K. Joshi. We had a long conversation about those days. Prof. Joshi/CDAC had developed an Indic rendering system called Indix which alas became the Betamax to Pango's VHS but he was also very involved in other Indic computing issues such as working with the Unicode Consortium and the preseration of Sanskrit manuscripts which is also an interest of mine. One good thing that cameout of Indix was some rather nice fonts. I had thought they were still buried in the dungeons of CDAC but apparently they were freed at one point. That's one more thing for me to look into. Evening/Next morning< My cousin met me and we had a leisurely dinner together. It was quite late by the time I got back to the hotel. FOSSEE had kindly lent me one of their tablets (which incidently are powerful enough to run LibreOffice comfortably.) so I thought I might be able to quickly redo my presentation before bedtime. Well, wouldn't you know it the wifi was not fixed. As I should have guessed but all the progress I'd had made me giddily optimistic. There was an option of trying to find an Internet cafe in a commercial area 15-20 minutes walk away. If this had been Gujarat I would have tried it but although I can more or less understand Hindi I can barely put together two sentences and Marathi I don't know at all. So I gave up that idea. I redid the slides from memory as best I could and went to sleep. In the morning I checked out and ferried myself and my suitcase via rickshaw back to the IIT campus. This time I got the driver to take me all the way in to the conference venue. Prof. Maudgalya kindly offered to let me keep the tablet to develop stuff on. I respectfully had to decline because although I love to collect bits of tech the fact it is it would have just gathered dust and ought to go to someone who can make a real contribution with it. I transferred my files to a USB key and borrowed a loaner laptop for my talk. Debian Packaging Workshop While waiting to do my talk I sat in on a workshop Praveen ran taking participants through the whole process of creating a Debian package (a ruby gem was the example.) He's done this before so it was a good presentation and well attended but the lack of connectivity did put a damper on things. Ask Me Anything It turned out the schedule had to be shuffled a bit so my talk was moved later from the announced time. A few people had already showed up so I took some random questions about Debian from them instead. GNOME Shell Accessibility With Orca Krishnakant Mane is remarkable. Although he is blind, he is a developer and a major contributor to Open Source projects. He talked about the Accessibility features of GNOME and compared them (favorably I might add) with proprietary screen readers. Not a subject that's directly useful to me but I found it interesting nonetheless. Rust: The memory safe language Manish Goregaokar talked about one of the new fad programming languages that have gotten a lot of buzz lately. This one is backed by Mozilla and it's interesting enough but I'll stick with C++ and Perl until one of the new ones "wins." Building a Mail Server With Debian Finally I got to give my talk and, yup, the video out on my borrowed laptop was incompatible with the projector. A slight delay to transfer everything to another laptop and I was able to begin. I talked about setting up BIND, postfix, and of course dovecot along with spamassassin, clamav etc. It turned out I had more than enough material and I went atleast 30 minutes over time and even then I had to rush at the end. People said they liked it so I'm happy. The End I gave the concluding remarks. Various people were thanked (including myself) mementos were given and pictures were taken. Despite a few mishaps I enjoyed myself and I am glad I attended. The level of enthusiasm was very high and lessons were learned so the next Debian-IN event should be even better. My departing flight wasn't due to leave until 1:20AM so I killed a few hours with my family before the flight. Once again I was stopping in Zurich, this time for most of a day. The last of my blunders was not to take my coat out of my suitcase and the temperature outside was 29F so I had to spend that whole time enjoing the (not so) many charms of Zurich airport. Atleast the second flight took me to Newark instead of JFK so I was able to get home a little earlier on Monday evening, exhausted but happy I made the trip.

21 February 2014

Vasudev Kamath: Kontalk FLOSS alternative for Whatsapp and Co.

So Whatsapp has been acquired by Facebook and this news is still hot and people are discussing it all over the twitterverse. So I took this opportunity to stop using Whatsapp and removed it from my phone. Possibly I could have deleted my account but who cares. Anyway I've been searching for a secure and FLOSS alternative for Whatsapp for quite some time now, few days ago I found about Telegram but after reading post by Tincho on planet Debian, I decided not to use it. Recently while going through the talk list for I found link for Kontalk in a privacy awareness talk proposal by Praveen and thought I should give it a try. So below is my first feelings about Kontalk.
Installation and Activation Kontalk can be installed from playstore for verification purpose it requests your phone number and country code and request for verification. This should send a SMS with a code which should be entered in the text box given and app is ready to use. There is also a possibility to use pre-existing verification code (if you got one from developer directly, read below for details). I did see some glitches like I never got the SMS delivered to my phone after 2 attempts and a days wait. Then I went ahead and reported a bug and the main developer was quick to respond. After a discussion it was noticed that SMS was blocked by spam filters. He also mentioned its tough to get SMS delivered to India. He was kind enough to provide me with a verification code and I used the Use existing code option to enter it and get Kontalk activated. The SMS delivery inconsistency is still present for India (and may be other nations too) some people get code immidiately others may be after couple of days and some might not. Upstream is already working on a possible workaround.
User Experience Now coming to usage part, the UI is neat and clean, I won't say super polished as Whatsapp or other popular apps but its really neat and easy to use. Some points which I like are
  • Ability to hide presence, so others won't know you are online or offline. (unlike Whatsapp which advertises last seen)
  • Encrypted messages and ability to optin or optout.
  • Encrypted status messages! Only user with your phone number can see your status. (Cool isn't it).
  • Manually requesting to find contacts who already uses kontalk!. Right it doesn't read your contact list without your permission you need to refresh to check who in your contacts is using Kontalk.
  • Attach and smiley options in the top right corner of Chat window which allows easy accessing unlike keyboard - smiley switching of Whatsapp.
  • No automatic download of media contents which is shared. Yes by default it doesn't download any picture or video automatically if you want to see something click on it and select download.
  • Running your own server for Kontalk! Now thats something which is interesting for people who doesn't want to host their data on some other peoples infrastructure. Code for server is available at xmppserver repo.
But there are some rough edges also but I'm sure this can be improved. But some points which I noticed are
  • Contact name disappears and only number is displayed. This is something which happened with one of my contact so I'm not really sure its a bug.
  • My friend noticed all his existing contacts suddenly vanished when he refreshed contacts list. Again this is possible bugs and we are considering reporting it upstream.
  • No group chats yet. I don't see a option to do that yet.
  • Attachment at the moment is restricted only to pictures (and video? never tried) and uploading takes quite sometime and sometime hangs forever.
So I'm considering forwarding these to upstream and help them by providing enough data so these can be fixed.
Technical Side All code for client server and protocol specs are available under GPL-v3 at the Kontalk project site. Server software is written in Python and I guess uses XMPP (but I've not cross verified). Server also uses MySQL as database. These can be hosted on our own servers but possibly needs more than that like SMS sending options etc.
Conclusion In my views Kontalk can become a great alternative for Whatsapp and co from Free Software world and I encourage every one to give it a try which will be the first step to help improving it.
Disclaimer: I'm not a privacy or security expert so whatever I shared above are what I noticed and experts may see something different than this. In any case I welcome comments and suggestions.

15 June 2011

Christian Perrier: So, what happened with Kikithon?

I mentioned this briefly yesterday, but now I'll try to summarize the story of a great surprise and a big moment for me. All this started when my wife Elizabeth and my son Jean-Baptiste wanted to do something special for my 50th birthday. So, it indeed all started months ago, probably early March or something (I don't yet have all the details). Jean-Baptiste described this well on the web site, so I won't go again into details, but basically, this was about getting birthday wishes from my "free software family" in, as you might guess, as many languages as possible. Elizabeth brought the original idea and JB helped her by setting up the website and collecting e-mail addresses of people I usually work with: he grabbed addresses from PO files on Debian website, plus some in his own set of GPG signatures and here we go. And then he started poking dozens of you folks in order to get your wishes for this birthday. Gradually, contributions accumulated on the website, with many challenges for them: be sure to get as many people as possible, poking and re-poking all those FLOSS people who keep forgetting things... It seems that poking people is something that's probably in the Perrier's genes! And they were doing all this without me noticing. As usually in Debian, releasing on time is a no-no. So, it quickly turned out that having everything ready by April 2nd wouldn't be possible. So, their new goal was offering this to me on Pentecost Sunday, which was yesterday. comes the gift. Aha, this looks like a photo album. Could it be a "50 years of Christian" album? But, EH, why is that pic of me, with the red Debconf5 tee-shirt (that features a world map) and a "bubulle" sign, in front of the book? But, EH EH EH, what the .... are doing these word by H0lger, then Fil, then Joey doing on the following pages? And only then, OMG, I discover the real gift they prepared. 106, often bilingual, wishes from 110 people (some were couples!). 18 postcards (one made of wood). 45 languages. One postcard with wishes from nearly every distro representatives at LinuxTag 2011. Dozens of photos from my friends all around the world. All this in a wonderful album. I can't tell what I said. Anyway, JB was shooting a video, so...we'll see. OK, I didn't cry...but it wasn't that far and emotion was really really intense. Guys, ladies, gentlemen, took me a while to realize what you contributed to. It took me the entire afternoon to realize the investment put by Elizabeth and JB (and JB's sisters support) into this. Yes, as many of you wrote, I have an awesome family and they really know how to share their love. I also have an awesome virtual family all around the world. Your words are wholeheartedly appreciated and some were indeed much much much appreciated. Of course, I'll have the book in Banja Luka so that you can see the result. I know (because JB and Elizabeth told me) that many of you were really awaiting to see how it would be received (yes, that includes you, in Germany, who I visited in early May!!!). Again, thank you so much for this incredible gift. Thank you Holger Levsen, Phil Hands, Joey Hess, Lior Kaplan, Martin Michlmayr, Alberto Gonzalez Iniesta, Kenshi "best friend" Muto, Praveen Arimbrathodiyil, Felipe Augusto van de Wiel, Ana Carolina Comandulli (5 postcards!), Stefano Zacchiroli (1st contribution received by JB, of course), Gunnar Wolf, Enriiiiiico Zini, Clytie Siddall, Frans Pop (by way of Clytie), Tenzin Dendup, Otavio Salvador, Neil McGovern, Konstantinos Margaritis, Luk Claes, Jonas Smedegaard, Pema Geyleg, Meike "sp tzle queen" Reichle, Alexander Reichle-Schmehl, Torsten Werner, "nette BSD" folks, CentOS Ralph and Brian, Fedora people, SUSE's Jan, Ubuntu's Lucia Tamara, Skolelinux' Paul, Rapha l Hertzog, Lars Wirzenius, Andrew McMillan (revenge in September!), Yasa Giridhar Appaji Nag (now I know my name in Telugu), Amaya Rodrigo, St phane Glondu, Martin Krafft, Jon "maddog" Hall (and God save the queen), Eddy Petri or, Daniel Nylander, Aiet Kolkhi, Andreas "die Katze geht in die K che, wunderbar" Tille, Paul "lets bend the elbow" Wise, Jordi "half-marathon in Banja Luka" Mallach, Steve "as ever-young as I am" Langasek, Obey Arthur Liu, YAMANE Hideki, Jaldhar H. Vyas, Vikram Vincent, Margarita "Bronx cross-country queen" Manterola, Patty Langasek, Aigars Mahinovs (finding a pic *with* you on it is tricky!), Thepittak Karoonboonyanan, Javier "nobody expects the Spanish inquisition" Fern ndez-Sanguino, Varun Hiremath, Moray Allan, David Moreno Garza, Ralf "marathon-man" Treinen, Arief S Fitrianto, Penny Leach, Adam D. Barrat, Wolfgang Martin Borgert, Christine "the mentee overtakes the mentor" Spang, Arjuna Rao Chevala, Gerfried "my best contradictor" Fuchs, Stefano Canepa, Samuel Thibault, Eloy "first samba maintainer" Par s, Josip Rodin, Daniel Kahn Gillmor, Steve McIntyre, Guntupalli Karunakar, Jano Gulja , Karolina Kali , Ben Hutchings, Matej Kova i , Khoem Sokhem, Lisandro "I have the longest name in this list" Dami n Nicanor P rez-Meyer, Amanpreet Singh Alam, H ctor Or n, Hans Nordhaugn, Ivan Mas r, Dr. Tirumurti Vasudevan, John "yes, Kansas is as flat as you can imagine" Goerzen, Jean-Baptiste "Piwet" Perrier, Elizabeth "I love you" Perrier, Peter Eisentraut, Jesus "enemy by nature" Climent, Peter Palfrader, Vasudev Kamath, Miroslav "Chicky" Ku e, Mart n Ferrari, Ollivier Robert, Jure uhalev, Yunqiang Su, Jonathan McDowell, Sampada Nakhare, Nayan Nakhare, Dirk "rendez-vous for Chicago marathon" Eddelbuettel, Elian Myftiu, Tim Retout, Giuseppe Sacco, Changwoo Ryu, Pedro Ribeoro, Miguel "oh no, not him again" Figueiredo, Ana Guerrero, Aur lien Jarno, Kumar Appaiah, Arangel Angov, Faidon Liambotis, Mehdi Dogguy, Andrew Lee, Russ Allbery, Bj rn Steensrud, Mathieu Parent, Davide Viti, Steinar H. Gunderson, Kurt Gramlich, Vanja Cvelbar, Adam Conrad, Armi Be irovi , Nattie Mayer-Hutchings, Joerg "dis shuld be REJECTed" Jaspert and Luca Capello. Let's say it gain:

13 June 2011

Christian Perrier: So, what happened with Kikithon?

I mentioned this briefly yesterday, but now I'll try to summarize the story of a great surprise and a big moment for me. All this started when my wife Elizabeth and my son Jean-Baptiste wanted to do something special for my 50th birthday. So, it indeed all started months ago, probably early March or something (I don't yet have all the details). Jean-Baptiste described this well on the web site, so I won't go again into details, but basically, this was about getting birthday wishes from my "free software family" in, as you might guess, as many languages as possible. Elizabeth brought the original idea and JB helped her by setting up the website and collecting e-mail addresses of people I usually work with: he grabbed addresses from PO files on Debian website, plus some in his own set of GPG signatures and here we go. And then he started poking dozens of you folks in order to get your wishes for this birthday. Gradually, contributions accumulated on the website, with many challenges for them: be sure to get as many people as possible, poking and re-poking all those FLOSS people who keep forgetting things... It seems that poking people is something that's probably in the Perrier's genes! And they were doing all this without me noticing. As usually in Debian, releasing on time is a no-no. So, it quickly turned out that having everything ready by April 2nd wouldn't be possible. So, their new goal was offering this to me on Pentecost Sunday, which was yesterday. comes the gift. Aha, this looks like a photo album. Could it be a "50 years of Christian" album? But, EH, why is that pic of me, with the red Debconf5 tee-shirt (that features a world map) and a "bubulle" sign, in front of the book? But, EH EH EH, what the .... are doing these word by H0lger, then Fil, then Joey doing on the following pages? And only then, OMG, I discover the real gift they prepared. 106, often bilingual, wishes from 110 people (some were couples!). 18 postcards (one made of wood). 45 languages. One postcard with wishes from nearly every distro representatives at LinuxTag 2011. Dozens of photos from my friends all around the world. All this in a wonderful album. I can't tell what I said. Anyway, JB was shooting a video, so...we'll see. OK, I didn't cry...but it wasn't that far and emotion was really really intense. Guys, ladies, gentlemen, took me a while to realize what you contributed to. It took me the entire afternoon to realize the investment put by Elizabeth and JB (and JB's sisters support) into this. Yes, as many of you wrote, I have an awesome family and they really know how to share their love. I also have an awesome virtual family all around the world. Your words are wholeheartedly appreciated and some were indeed much much much appreciated. Of course, I'll have the book in Banja Luka so that you can see the result. I know (because JB and Elizabeth told me) that many of you were really awaiting to see how it would be received (yes, that includes you, in Germany, who I visited in early May!!!). Again, thank you so much for this incredible gift. Thank you Holger Levsen, Phil Hands, Joey Hess, Lior Kaplan, Martin Michlmayr, Alberto Gonzalez Iniesta, Kenshi "best friend" Muto, Praveen Arimbrathodiyil, Felipe Augusto van de Wiel, Ana Carolina Comandulli (5 postcards!), Stefano Zacchiroli (1st contribution received by JB, of course), Gunnar Wolf, Enriiiiiico Zini, Clytie Siddall, Frans Pop (by way of Clytie), Tenzin Dendup, Otavio Salvador, Neil McGovern, Konstantinos Margaritis, Luk Claes, Jonas Smedegaard, Pema Geyleg, Meike "sp tzle queen" Reichle, Alexander Reichle-Schmehl, Torsten Werner, "nette BSD" folks, CentOS Ralph and Brian, Fedora people, SUSE's Jan, Ubuntu's Lucia Tamara, Skolelinux' Paul, Rapha l Hertzog, Lars Wirzenius, Andrew McMillan (revenge in September!), Yasa Giridhar Appaji Nag (now I know my name in Telugu), Amaya Rodrigo, St phane Glondu, Martin Krafft, Jon "maddog" Hall (and God save the queen), Eddy Petri or, Daniel Nylander, Aiet Kolkhi, Andreas "die Katze geht in die K che, wunderbar" Tille, Paul "lets bend the elbow" Wise, Jordi "half-marathon in Banja Luka" Mallach, Steve "as ever-young as I am" Langasek, Obey Arthur Liu, YAMANE Hideki, Jaldhar H. Vyas, Vikram Vincent, Margarita "Bronx cross-country queen" Manterola, Patty Langasek, Aigars Mahinovs (finding a pic *with* you on it is tricky!), Thepittak Karoonboonyanan, Javier "nobody expects the Spanish inquisition" Fern ndez-Sanguino, Varun Hiremath, Moray Allan, David Moreno Garza, Ralf "marathon-man" Treinen, Arief S Fitrianto, Penny Leach, Adam D. Barrat, Wolfgang Martin Borgert, Christine "the mentee overtakes the mentor" Spang, Arjuna Rao Chevala, Gerfried "my best contradictor" Fuchs, Stefano Canepa, Samuel Thibault, Eloy "first samba maintainer" Par s, Josip Rodin, Daniel Kahn Gillmor, Steve McIntyre, Guntupalli Karunakar, Jano Gulja , Karolina Kali , Ben Hutchings, Matej Kova i , Khoem Sokhem, Lisandro "I have the longest name in this list" Dami n Nicanor P rez-Meyer, Amanpreet Singh Alam, H ctor Or n, Hans Nordhaugn, Ivan Mas r, Dr. Tirumurti Vasudevan, John "yes, Kansas is as flat as you can imagine" Goerzen, Jean-Baptiste "Piwet" Perrier, Elizabeth "I love you" Perrier, Peter Eisentraut, Jesus "enemy by nature" Climent, Peter Palfrader, Vasudev Kamath, Miroslav "Chicky" Ku e, Mart n Ferrari, Ollivier Robert, Jure uhalev, Yunqiang Su, Jonathan McDowell, Sampada Nakhare, Nayan Nakhare, Dirk "rendez-vous for Chicago marathon" Eddelbuettel, Elian Myftiu, Tim Retout, Giuseppe Sacco, Changwoo Ryu, Pedro Ribeoro, Miguel "oh no, not him again" Figueiredo, Ana Guerrero, Aur lien Jarno, Kumar Appaiah, Arangel Angov, Faidon Liambotis, Mehdi Dogguy, Andrew Lee, Russ Allbery, Bj rn Steensrud, Mathieu Parent, Davide Viti, Steinar H. Gunderson, Kurt Gramlich, Vanja Cvelbar, Adam Conrad, Armi Be irovi , Nattie Mayer-Hutchings, Joerg "dis shuld be REJECTed" Jaspert and Luca Capello. Let's say it gain: