Saturday, December 18, 2010


I was watching #fossdotin till late into the night yesterday. I usually don't like/do social networking much. But, I could not resist this one. The channel showed a mixture of energy, enthusiasm, nostalgia and anguish. Kudos to all those who have made this happen.

Though I left early yesterday, I don't feel bad about it. There was surely a certain pleasure about being able to create that electrified environment in my mind sitting all alone in my room with my eyes glued to monitor and fossdotin channel on twitter. Such thought streams are usually far from the imperfections of reality and hence stronger and sweeter.

I saw the picture of team FOSS.IN in one of the tweets. My immediate thought was "most of them are kids". But, what they have achieved is tremendous. Probably the reason why they could achieve all these was that they were "kids" - People with Free and Open minds. Hats off to the this team and their leader who is now really proven to be "Atul".

I saw a few tweets about rekindling FOSS.IN again next year. I think that should only be done with the full consent of Atul Chitnis. This person has become the hero of the event and hijacking the event from him (for whatever reason it may be) is simply going to be cruel. After all, you can start your own FOSS event. Isn't that what the "Free as in Freedom" signifies?

Friday, December 17, 2010

QEMU/ARM hands-on (FOSS.IN) (Saleem Ansari)

This was the most interesting and useful session that I had in entire FOSS.IN. Above site will give details. However, I guess, there are some issues with instructions. For example, the kernel link is broken. But, it will work if you remove the .af from the url. Also, the image did not load the rootfs. I tried ext2fs instead of cpio and gzip and that loaded the image. Also, rcS is not present at the site. I wrote that from memory. Again, I seem to have missed something there. It fails with the message that "could not open initial console". I guess /dev/ttyX stuff might be missing. Will try to fix that later and post back here once I do that. Anyway, this was a enlightening talk and it now gives me enough confidence to try my own rootfs on different architecture. Many thanks to the presenter.

I fixed this stuff. For those who are interested, I am listing the important changes
0. The correct link for kernel is:
0.1 May be this was not needed. But, I did create a symlink from busybox to /init. Also, it only worked when I did a static build of busybox
1. Some device inodes were missing. Created /dev/{null,console,tty,tty0,tty1,tty2,tty3,tty4,tty5}
2. Created /etc/init.d/rcS and made it executable
mount -t proc proc /proc
mount -t sysfs sys /sys
/sbin/mdev -s
3. Most important of all, EABI support needs to be turned on in kernel. Else, nothing will work. Turn it on before compiling the kernel
4. The filesystem cannot be cpio. May be it can still work with a kernel config change. However, I tried with ext2fs and it worked perfectly well
4.1 To create a ext2fs,
dd if=/dev/zero of=root.fs bs=1M count=4
(As a side note, if you refer to the commands given in the above link, you will see bs=1. That is very slow)

mkfs -t ext2 root.fs
(Press 'y' for the question about root.fs not being a real device)

mkdir rootfs
mount -o loop root.fs rootfs
(Mount your new filesystem somewhere so that you can copy the contents to it)

(go to where your rootfs is)

tar c * | tar x -C /path/to/rootfs
(copy the contents to new your new filesystem)

umount /path/to/rootfs
(Now you can start using your root.fs just like rootfs.cpio.gz as described in the link at the top of this post and continue from mkimage part)
Thats all! you will have a bootable setup. I am thinking of creating a small script that will automate all these. Will post it here if I ever do that.
Update: I did make a script. Unfortunately, I was in office and our security policy does not allow me to upload that. Its like magic, u run it, have a coffee and when you come back,  you will see qemu running your own small Linux image :)

mediawiki (FOSS.IN miniconf)

Today I attended a miniconf on mediawiki that took place on the sidelines of FOSS.IN. It was a very interesting talk by Erik Moeller. During the talk Erik kept making notes using etherpad ( I have copied them below. It was really amazing to know about the kind of effort that goes into making these things happen (which sadly the user community, that includes me, takes for granted). It was also nice to know about a bunch of allied technologies and a number of new enhancements that are coming to mediawiki. I was really fascinated by the new enhanced editor and I downloaded and installed the svn trunk when the talk was on to get a feel of the interface. I will be soon upgrading the wiki at office.

Mediawiki Workshop 2010                                     
Erik Moeller           
FOSS.IN 2010             

Manual about how to write a MediaWiki extension:
Subversion check-out instructions:
Wikimedia configuration files for MediaWiki: 
Wikipedia's configurations:  
IRC: #mediawiki #wikimedia-tech DBPedia - extract info from Wikipedia

SPARQL - RDF extraction for DBPedia Semantic Media Wiki - semantic storage for MediaWiki
example:bases wiki  Info about non-judicial grievance mechanisms Wikimedia Subversion  Repository

how to enable the new toolbar of wikipedia in my mediawiki? WikiEditor extension is the answer and it works if we change the user preference.

browser toolbar: Go to click add to Firefox and then after 5 secs.addon is installed.   : old theme of wikipedia (new version: Vector) -wysiwyg ediing   : the sarcastic wikipedia

View Your Mind - a better alternative for mind mapping than freemind perhaps  -- Biographies Guidelines conducts research on user interaction  - Mobile version a conversion utility where articles may be easily converted into indic languages an open source map( edit and contribute :) ) - localizatioin translation communities, language communities, and free and open source projects.  alternate to google analytics

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flash plugin on 64 bit Chome OS running on Fedora 13 64 bit

I installed chrome and told me that I don't have flash installed
On going to adobe flash page, they told me that it has to be there as I am using chrome and I just need to enable it
about:plugins on chrome told me that it is not there :(
Now, what do I do? The answer follows

1. Download the 64 bit flash plugin preview from adobe (See my previous post)
2. Copy to a preferred location (I copied it to /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins)
3. Edit ~/.config/google-chrome/Default/Preferences file and add the section shown in reverse video
4. Restart chrome and don't mind about it complaining about issues with config getting corrupted. You will see new entry for flash when you do about:plugins

5. Just go to youtube and start watching your favourite videos :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

64 bit flash preview

Adobe is back with 64 bit flash for Linux. This is a preview and grab it before they close it again. Last time when they had tried this, there were a number of security issues and preview was pulled down soon.


  1. Download the preview version from Adobe labs site
  2. Untar the downloaded plugin 
  3. Copy the resulting plugin to your firefox plugin folder
    1. I had to first create this: mkdir /usr/lib64/firefox-3.6/plugins
    2. Copy to that folder
  4. Just re-start firefox and you are ready to browse the flash sites :)
Download link

(Its not easy to find the link. It took me 10 minutes to find this. Though there is a get beta note on the download page, it does not take you directly here)