Updates from July, 2008 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Akarsh Simha 2:45 pm on July 31, 2008 Permalink  

    Semester starts, less blogging 

    Well, I presume the title explains it all. There are lot of things I wanted to blog about, but plan to postpone indefinitely, such as “the most useless Kavalur trip ever” and “Are concerts recordable” and “TNK’s recent kutcheri I attended”.

    This means that I have less time, and if by my good fortune, you, one of those guys who ask me technical support for Linux, have stumbled on my blog, it means that YOU WILL NOT GET TECHNICAL SUPPORT FROM ME. There is this beautiful site that offers all possible technical support for every problem you may have, and you should really really look at it.

  • Akarsh Simha 4:58 am on July 22, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: dell, laptop,   

    Dell Inspiron 1525! 


    Finally got a Dell Inspiron 1525, Ruby Red Color, No Windows. It came with a nice CD of FreeDOS that said “with sources” and said that the stuff inside was licensed under GPL. But bleh, a whole lot of Windows drivers along with it. Anyway, Linux 2.6.25 supported both the network card and the sound card (Linux 2.6.22 did not).

    Well, I had an old image of Debian testing with a 2.6.22 kernel that Varun had given me. The installer did not detect my network card and I had to declare that I had no network card. I brought Linux 2.6.25 from my desktop in a thumb drive and installed it.

    I had trouble figuring out how to start the network because I thought the problem was with the driver, while the problem was actually with the cable. I replaced the cable, did:

    ifconfig eth0 inet up {IP Addr.} netmask {Subnet Mask} broadcast {Broadcast Addr.}
    route add gw default {Default Gateway}

    And added my DNS servers to /etc/resolv.conf and things started working beautifully. This helped me, because I didn’t know the correct usage of ifconfig.

    Yet to test the webcam, WLAN and so on. But what I need for my basic usage is working.

    I plan this to be my portable music player, KDE Development Device and communication device. So far, I’ve barely set up the minimum requirements on it (I started at about 11:00 PM and it’s been 6 hours so far) but I think I’ve done a fairly good job in setting up the KDE development environment this time. I added a small bit of code that changes my coloured prompt to indicate whether I’m in a build directory or source directory, and also the branch I’m working on into David Faure’s cd function.

    Right now, I’m compiling kdebase and hope to have KStars ready for tomorrow’s Kavalur trip 🙂 [What perfect timing!]

    • Subhodip Biswas 10:40 am on July 22, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      hey !
      This machine got a dell wireless card ..right ??
      well , if it has got one ..please do provide feedback of this working with linux distros ..

    • Kumar Appaiah 5:20 pm on July 22, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I also have hopes of purchasing such a machine. Please do give me your comments on this.


    • Prasanna 2:23 pm on July 24, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Congrats! Happy Laptoping!

    • Kartik Mistry 6:20 pm on September 6, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Nice report, Kmap got similar machine.. 🙂

    • bashers 3:09 am on September 7, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      i love the dell inspirons i got a pink from pc world 2 day but it came without battery but they said i could by one for not very much:D
      untill i found out the batterys were £124
      so i took it back got a refund and am now waiting for a red one from currys so if any one has a red one and i would rather appreciate it if u txt me telling me about the colour:D

    • Akarsh Simha 12:57 pm on September 20, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @Subhodip: I haven’t been able to get the Wireless working. It’s supposed to be a Broadcom 43xx, but the driver in the 2.6.26 kernel is not binding to the device. Please let me know if you find a solution.

      @KMap: Congrats on your purchase. Sorry for such a late response.

  • Akarsh Simha 4:36 pm on July 19, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: Development, ,   

    An idea for easy KDE development within IIT Madras. 

    I think the most painful part of developing KDE is to build the dependencies etc from the SVN checkouts, i.e. setting up the development environment. Now, let’s say I’m developing kdenetwork. I will need to have qt-devel, checkout and build kdesupport, kdelibs, kdepimlibs, kderuntime and then kdenetwork. Now, a newbie who does know C++ need not be very comfortable with the build process or with debugging the builds, but could be capable of coding for KDE.

    Why not set up a KDE development server within IIT Madras, to which you can SSH with X forwarding and just start developing?

    For starters, let’s say I do this on my machine. What I would do is to create a new user account for “public” KDE development, and then learn to use kdesvn-build to automatically maintain fresh copies of KDE. Then I could request anyone who is interested to create an SSH key and mail me their public keys, so that I could put it in the authorized_keys of this account. This way, there will be no password sharing hassles.

    Whenever someone wants to kontribute, all he need to do is to login through SSH, make his changes and build. Of course, once a developer has created a patch of his work, he could do an svn revert, so that it keeps the work clean.

    The major trouble of making a public server of this type would be the bandwidth limitations that would cause SSH with X forwarding to be unmanageably slow. Any suggestions / ideas?

    • Shreyas 10:05 pm on July 19, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Over a long term its better for people to learn to build stuff. Its one of those skills which can only be learnt by breaking your head.

      I think the base idea is good, basically one server which maintains some source code dependency map and a simple script which when one does “develop konqueror” automatically checks out all the dependencies. This was the premise behind jhbuild (http://www.gnome.org/~jamesh/jhbuild.html)

      Although this can quickly become very complicated. Worth a try nevertheless

    • Akarsh Simha 10:09 pm on July 19, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Well, since I’m planning to do it at a local-intranet-level, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. If someone wants to develop something for which the dependencies aren’t met, he could contact the server maintainer and let him know.

    • Akarsh Simha 10:10 pm on July 19, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Yes, over a long term it’s better that developers learn to build, but that should not be a hindrance for contribution.

    • Tarique Sani 6:32 am on July 20, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      FWIW I am with Akarsh on this one, learning to build is a barrier to entry in many cases and a needless one!

    • Akarsh 12:38 pm on August 3, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I’ve implemented a simple version. Let’s see how it goes 🙂

    • Akarsh Simha 6:23 pm on August 26, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Well, I thought this will be a very useful thing in crossing the “activation energy” barrier, but it seems to be absolutely useless.

  • Akarsh Simha 1:28 am on July 17, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    Memory Management UI – Trial #2. 

    I’m going on my third north Indian trip tomorrow, spiritual purposes only. So I’m off the net for next 2 days. I happened to hurriedly do this:

    I’d want comments on that UI, because I have no idea about UI design.

  • Akarsh Simha 4:59 pm on July 16, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , preseed, Ubuntu   

    Debian installer for universities? 

    How would it be, if we developed unified Debian / Ubuntu installer addons that would solve all the painful issues that somebody in a campus like ours at IITM faces while installing Debian / Ubuntu?

    I initially had these plans for IITM. Interestingly Ritesh Bhat from NITK had similar plans (and I gave him the scripts I had written). Why not have a community project under a relatively free license where we extend the Debian / Ubuntu installer for institutes, universities and colleges?

    What should such a project do, ideally speaking?
    1. Set up specifics for the campus network. Configure proxy, DNS etc and configure apps to use services available on the local network. Eg: IITM has a local Debian/Ubuntu mirror, so we should use that instead of the default mirrors. NITK has a local Ubuntu cache, so we should be using that instead within NITK.
    2. Configure things that a college student would typically want to configure – GMail chat, IRC (to get help), Firefox web browser etc.
    3. Solve typically faced Windows-compatibility issues – like gstreamer-ugly-plugins, realplayer or NTFS support.
    4. Preseed the Debian Installer, so that we ask only those questions that should really, really be asked.

    Now, this is like converting Linux into Windows! But I think this is the best way to help newbies set up Linux on their systems.

    I notice that most of these scripts are going to be similar across institutes, with only certain settings that need to be changed. I don’t know how far I am right in this. Everyone would want pidgin to be configured, for instance, irrespective of the campus environment. Every campus would have a proxy server, so we would need to configure proxy settings in all cases.

    How much sense does it make, to have a unified framework to do this? Can we open a project on sourceforge? Is there already some project that does this?

    • rohitj 6:00 pm on July 16, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Some guys in IITK started working on a similar thing. Mainly, they wanted to fix proxy settings, and all major softwares under one distribution. You may want to contact guys on #navya to get their experience.

    • Kumar Appaiah 12:30 pm on July 17, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      It would be lovely if you could make this work. Actually, installing Debian is already easy, but this would make it trivial. 🙂

    • Akarsh Simha 3:03 pm on July 19, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @rohitj: Thanks. I’ll do that sometime. Who, in particular, are working on this? Is #navya a public channel?

      @kmap: I agree. I want someone to do this instead of me, because I want to work on other things. Besides, testing this is a most painful task, because emulators are rather slow. Most of the scripts seemed to work, IIRC, but they need to be run from /etc/rc.local on first boot.

  • Akarsh Simha 6:13 am on July 14, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    KDE.IN Monsoon hacKathon – Photos 


  • Akarsh Simha 2:33 am on July 14, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Tycho-2   

    2.5 million stars in trunk! 

    Yay! All the machinery for loading 1e6 stars has been moved to trunk and the 2.5-million-star Tycho-2 catalog has moved to the ‘Download Data’ (Get Hot New Stuff) feature. I plan to put up a screencast on how to use this and the conjunction tool from KStars sometime, along with a whole lot of other features.

    To get the Tycho-2 deep catalog, just click on File->Download Data and click ‘Install’ next to ‘Tycho-2 Star Catalog’.

    • Carlos Scarsi 3:53 am on September 2, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hi. I’m new in linux and kstars. My kstars only goes up to mag 9, not 12. The tycho-2 catalog is installed. I’m using it on ubuntu (gnome). Do you know why? Thank you very much. Carlos Scarsi

    • Akarsh Simha 1:02 pm on September 20, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @Carlos: Sorry for such a late response. It is probably because you aren’t using the latest version.

      The Tycho-2 catalog works only with KDE 4.1.60 or something like that (and above). Currently, the 2.5 million stars are in what we call the ‘trunk’ (the source code that developers work on). You will either need to wait till Ubuntu ships the new version of KStars or compile it from the sources.

      Mail me at akarshsimha () gmail ! com if you need a faster response. (Replace the brackets by @ and ! by .)

  • Akarsh Simha 5:45 pm on July 13, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    KDE.IN Monsoon Hackathon – Day 3??? 

    Day 3 was a flop show for me :P.
    I got up at 1:00 PM, when the Hackathon was _over_. But, well, that was a slightly well-deserved sleep. I joined the folks from the Hackathon over lunch, just like that. Shashank taught me how to enable his Panaromio plugin, and I think I must investigate it sometime.

    Great, so I’ve done nothing today, other than fart on the way to the BIAL (seeing of Pradeepto and Sharan Rao). And I hope to start right away.

    Well, I will put a consolidated blogpost about the KDE.IN Monsoon Hackathon and the photos sometime. Unfortunately, I have not been able to capture anyone in an uncomfortable position or doing something funny, and they are straight, honest photos. But before that, I must thank:

    • Atul, for sponsoring the event via GEODESIC and FOSS.IN
    • Tejas, for giving good hacking company, and helping us get comfortable at GEODESIC
    • Pradeepto, for organizing the whole thing.
    • Gopala and Shashank, for being great hacking company
    • Shreyas, for giving us someone to GNOME-bash all through, and for making good company too 🙂

    I’d like to have more hackathons. There’re four of us in Bangalore till 17th… so maybe?

  • Akarsh Simha 3:15 am on July 13, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    KDE.IN Monsoon Hackathon – Day 2 

    Day 2 turned out to be very productive for me. As you have figured out, my hacking ends only by 3:00 AM, back at home. It’s just that the “spirit” of the Hackathon gets carried home with you, because when you leave a problem half-solved, you have the itch of solving it completely.
    I am completely satisfied with today. I’ve made about 8 commits today.

    Today, I made some improvements the Conjunction Tool. To think of it, the conjunction tool is a very generic tool – it can do eclipses, lunar occultations, planetary conjunctions and shortly should be able to do comet rendezvous too. Now, those are four different names for the same problem – that of finding the occurances of small separations between objects. I like the conjunction tool all the more, because it was the first feature I added to KStars (with Jason’s help, of course). The changes I made to the conjunction tool:

    • Add Deep Sky Objects and Stars (named) to the conjunction predictions
    • Double click on a conjunction and you see the conjunction happening!
    • Add Comets and Asteroids to the conjunction predictions

    Other work that I did, on my GSoC:

    • Test whether the duplication is solving the expected issues with proper motion – things worked beautifully
    • Modify binfiletester to check star data files for jumps in magnitude or other inconsistencies – this revealed a lot of inconsistencies in trixel N000
    • Modify mysql2bin to correct the error causing the inconsistencies, and create/commit the new data files
    • I am also prepared to move deepstars.dat (Tycho-2 Deep Catalog) to the Get Hot New Stuff feature, and have already requested for commit access to GHNS

    So, here are my TODOs for tomorrow:

    • Remove restrictions on second object in a conjunction and make it possible to have a comet / asteroid as the second object
    • Implement Jason’s idea of filtering by Ecliptic Longitude
    • Move deepstars.dat to GHNS
    • Merge the summer branch into trunk
    • Start work on the Auxinfo hash??

    And as for the rest of us (a brief summary of what everyone else did, from twitter):

    • Gopala “ported NoteWidget to use TextItem classes” (although I don’t know what that means! :P)
    • Pradeepto did some good research on writing unit tests and the Qt test libraries
    • Tejas worked on a rather interesting bug encountered in Kopete, attributed to Qt 😛
    • Shashank made significant progress on his Marble – Panoromio integration. (I could see pics hanging all over the Globe. I’ll probably go and investigate more tomorrow 🙂 )
    • Gopala also ported ActivityWidget
    • Sharan Rao taught us the use of EMacs / KDE EMacs / EMacs + GDB scripts. [Screencasted]. GDB integration rocks bigtime!
    • Tejas quickly learnt to use GDB+Vim!

    We had a really nice chat about KDE development, KDE developers, aKademy, Contribution to KDE from India etc. over coffee. Dinner time was more of general talk.

    I’m sorry for such a disorganized blogpost, but that’s all I can write at 3:00 AM in such a sleepy state. Goodnight!

    • Akarsh Simha 3:23 am on July 13, 2008 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      1. I also happen to finish the GSoC targets today 🙂
      2. We’re trying to keep our twitter line updated: http://www.twitter.com/kdehackathon
      3. Gopala made another small fix to NoteWidget
      4. Total Solar Eclipse near Bangalore in 2010 January????
      5. Photos will get here shortly.
      6. Dinner was @ Pizza Hut, RMV Extn. 🙂

  • Akarsh Simha 3:50 am on July 12, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Proper Motion   

    KDE.IN Monsoon Hackathon – Day 1 

    Day 1 was almost entirely spent by me in the following activities:

    • Install Debian on one of the systems Atul had so kindly provided us with. (They have a local Debian mirror, so it rocks!!)
    • Copy the KDE sources from Sharan’s harddisk
    • Play around SSHing into my system
    • Build KDE
    • Discuss about FOSS.IN 2008 and KDE’s place
    • Frantically realise that you’ve done nothing at the end of the day and try to commit something that builds, whether it adds some value or not

    I had a nice time being with all the KDE kontributors around. We also had a few talks by Pradeepto, explaining David Faure’s method of setting up the KDE source tree and svnmerge.py.

    Other folks did useful things – Pradeepto made a release (of what, I don’t know. Definitely will have to do with KDEPIM or KMail). Tejas commited his Bonjour plugin for Kopete.

    I learnt something about Bonjour from Tejas. Nice thing it is. Sharan has agreed to help me use EMacs more like an IDE than like “Notepad”.

    Dinner @ Nandini, RMV Extension. Dinner back @ home as well, because I had promised the folks at home.

    Although we could only get the stuff building today, the inspiration from the KDE Hackathon got me working all night till now (despite the fact that I need to get to Day 2 tomorrow) fixing some stuff. Finally, it looks like I have “achieved” all my GSoC goals. Anyway, that apart, the proper motion code is tested and found to be proper – that’s a good thing. I finally learnt how KStars draws lines on screen (many thanks to Jason. I’d have been lazy to find out myself :P). I also commited the data files that had the duplicate entries, because they seemed to work without any trouble.

    Finally, I thought I must blog about ‘Day 1’. Atul was insisting that we all blog, so here it is :). We are also actively microblogging on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kdehackathon

    Looking forward to Day 2. I hope to:

    • Ensure that binfiletester also verifies sanity of data. That way, I’ll have the ultimate testing tool to receive that catalogs to come. That way, I’ll also get a hint on why KStars is spewing out trixel jump message of late. (Wasn’t doing that before I remodelled the trixel2number and number2trixel code).
    • Random bugfixes for KStars
    • Thankfully, I have access to my phpmyadmin from there 🙂

      BTW, Photos by Kushal are here.

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