Archive for the 'WBUT-LUG' Category - Ready and standing by for F9 bitflip

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Our mirror is ready and standing by for the Fedora 9 bitflip. Fedora 9 is planned for release at 15:00 UTC today. Out of the 141 global public Fedora mirrors that are supposed to carry the Fedora 9 content, about 41 has till now synced up for the i386 iso.

Thanks to Susmit’s efforts, the WBUT FOSS mirror is among these 41 mirrors globally that are first off-the-starting-block. Cheerio! :D

2nd CASTLE rollout begins

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

After Bijra High School, where we had earlier setup the first pilot of the CASTLE (Computer-Aided Studies, Teaching and Learning Environment) initiative, it’s now the time to start rolling out the second school - Radhakantapur High School in the West Midnapore (পশ্চিম মেদিনীপুর) district of West Bengal. This time, the engineering college at Chandrakona town will act as the local partner to the project just like BCREC has done for the Bijra project.

The boys - Soumen Bar and Anutosh Dutta, who will act as local support for the project at Radhakantapur, arrived in the city on Sunday. However, I still needed some volunteers to work on the deployment readiness phase of the project, and so sent out a call to the WBUT-LUG members. Within, 15 minutes, 13 of them (from 2nd and 3rd Year BTech IT) had enthusiastically responded. The teams are in place.

I’m visiting the school today for a site survey. Soumen will be accompanying me. He will liaison with the school in getting the site ready after we make the necessary recommendations. The project implementation ETA - 15th of May, 2008.

“Time you old gypsy man, will you not stay?” - the first registered NTP server in India

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

We are glad to announce that the first and sole (at this time) time server (NTP) in India has been setup at the West Bengal University of Technology.

You can verify this by synchronizing your computer clock to As root:

#ntpdate -u

This cluster is automatically generated. Due to this, the server may not be included in the cluster for very small time periods. Otherwise all clock sync requests from India should be redirected to this server which hosts the service. :)

At present, this is a Stratum 2 server, we are trying to ensure upgrading its status to a Stratum 1 server. Hopefully, we will soon get a few more servers across India.

FOSS contribs from India… where are the local mirrors?

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Debarshi “Rishi” Ray came over to my workplace today to collect the Fedora 8 x86_64 DVD iso. I set the disk to burn and went out for a quick lunch. It was all done by the time we’re back, thanks to the fact that it was readily available from the local mirror on the intranet.

Officially today is the end of the 3rd month of operation of the FOSS mirror at WBUT (for the pedantically inclined its more like 2 months and 20 days). The mirror has come a long way since Susmit & I started tweaking it in the early days of September. It started off quietly with a Fedora 7 mirror for (i386 and x86_64) and CRAN - The Comprehensive R Archive Network. The choice was driven primarily by “selfish” interests. It was to serve as resource base for the series of Amazing R Workshops by Dr. Arindam Basu, jointly organised by us and WBUT, and the first series of large-scale Linux InstallFests in this part of the country (a joint effort of WBUT-LUG and ILUG-Cal.ORG).

The mirror, which rsync updates itself at least once daily, how hosts :

b) Fedora 7 / 8 mirrors
c) Ubuntu (Feisty Fawn)
d) Debian (Etch)
e) Mozilla
f) OpenOffice.Org,
g) the Linux Documentation Project

So much for the background, here are some interesting facts that the server stats throw up. Do keep in mind that the mirror is physically located on an aging IBM x206 box, sharing a 3 MBPS pipe with around 250 desktops with about 80 - 120 simultaneous users at any given time during the peak working hours.

Stats snippets for November

Unique visitors Number of visits Pages Hits Bandwidth
Viewed traffic * 691 1526
(2.2 visits/visitor)
(14.73 Pages/Visit)
(32.16 Hits/Visit)
373.68 GB
(256768.12 KB/Visit)
Countries (Top 10)
Countries Pages Hits Bandwidth
Unknown Unknown unknown 10974 11335 26.19 GB
in India in 9145 34710 341.22 GB
at Austria at 545 547 15.21 KB
us United States us 398 486 3.57 GB
cn China cn 201 283 323.97 MB
ir Iran ir 183 280 243.99 MB
it Italy it 182 233 552.14 MB
pk Pakistan pk 100 139 161.97 MB
jp Japan jp 67 94 74.42 MB
bd Bangladesh bd 62 89 161.87 MB
Others 631 894 1.22 GB

File type (listing on the type with highest download percent)

iso 118 0.2 % 352.46 GB 94.3 %

The last stat, imho, tells the most interesting story. That 94.3% or 352.46 GB out of 373.68 GB comprised of ISOs.

During the last 12 months or so, I have had the opportunity to travel, meet and work closely with a lot of young engineering students in West Bengal. Of those I interacted with, many were interested in exploring / learning more about FOSS. This interest I consider to be the first step towards creating the users, some of whom are also potential contributors, given the proper hints and nudges to the right direction.

The primary question I faced was how / where do I get hold of updated distributions / software. Setting up of the mirror was our bit in trying to meet that challenge, that the bits that are required for contribution are available to the potential developers irrespective of the connection / bandwidth quality.

For sure, it will be *really* nice to have “Official” country (IN) mirrors of the distros and other major FOSS software in India. For example, taking up Fedora Project as a case in point, I seriously doubt how soon we are going to have one in India (Fedora requires a minimum of 100Mbit connectivity for being a official fedora public mirror).

In fact, instead of “Official Country Mirrors“, IMHO, we need several “local” (read regional / state-wise) mirrors in India. Our Indian community requires up-to-date access to new software, including access to _unstable_ developmental trees and branches. For example, I met quite a few enthusiastic FOSS users in the small town of Siliguri in North Bengal, all using Fedora Core 3 or 4 - the latest available with them.
The bottom line, ensuring distribution of Free / Open source software, include the developmental branches is the key to the Indian Contrib to FOSS. Developer attention is primarily focussed on the devel branches. So, let 100 mirrors bloom! ‘Nuf said!

More mirror news from WBUT

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

We have taken yet another step ahead in terms of supporting the FOSS Initiative at WBUT. As of the last week the public mirror at the WBUT, has added the Linux Documentation Project to the list of mirrored projects.

In other mirror news, Fedora 8, the Fedora 8 Updates and Fedora8 Livna repos are also now online and we are seeing quite a few downloads everyday. We are also in the process of increasing the bandwidth available from 2Mbps to 5 Mbps shortly.

All of the credit for maintaining the mirror as well as driving me nuts by asking for more and more storage goes to this guy. Of course, none of these would have ever been possible without the active support from Prof. Ashoke Thakur. Personally, I’m yet to meet an University Vice Chancellor who insists of viewing the daily transfer stats. He now wants to put up a ticker style display in the area where he receives the visitors - “We have uploaded $x GB today. What has been your contribution to that?“. Thanks to all our friends for the support and words of encouragement. It means a lot to us. Thanks a lot guys! :D

It’s getting better…

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Exactly two weeks after 25th of August, yesterday was the occasion of the next installfest @ WBUT, organised by the WBUT-LUG in association with ILUG-CAL.ORG. Due to some classes being held, it started off about an hour later. Also, I was a little late in reaching the venue and hence Rabi and Ankur got a bit jittery and there were a few frantic phone calls :P

The number of participants this time was larger, around 27. The number of volunteers from ILUG-CAL was less this time, those present included Susmit Shannigrahi, Abhisek Datta, Debarshi Ray, Soumyadip Modak and Arindam Ghosh (travelling down all the way from Durgapur, once again). However,  about four of the first installfest participants volunteered as instructors in this second edition. This included Abhishek Pandey, Sanjeev Kumar, Shibabrata Basak and Shreya Roy Chowdhury. Adding to this list was Anurag Khan from BE IT 3rd Yr. Eight personal systems (including 3 laptops) were present at the Installfest, and for the first time, it included an external participant - Smita Bhadra, a GLT-Madyamgram member.

It started off with me giving a little “speech” about the history of GNU/Linux, the FSF and the basics of GNU GPL, the stage where FOSS is poised at the moment, ending it with a show to the “Truth Happens” video from Red Hat. The atmosphere in the room was rather charged up and some actually clapped when the short film ended. Susmit and the other ILUG-CAL volunteers took over from there on and got down to the business of installing Linux.
This time, as the 64-bit repos were also up, there were few problems unlike the last time. Since we managed to clear the installfest agenda - installation, basic configuration, adding additional repos, user management, playing mp3, DVDs, games, configuring the
internet etc, we decided to carry on for some more time.

Just to give the participants a taste of GUI programming in Linux, Susmit fired up Glade and quickly demo-ed Rapid Application Development in Gnome / Linux style :) The participants also played around with changing locales and setting up SCIM. For most, it was a rather surprising experience to see the desktop change into their own native language, while some got tickled by some of the translations of english strings. I sent a BN_IN UTF-8 encoded email to the WBUT-LUG mailing list  (incidentally, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Thakur was the first to reply to that mail :) . Quite a few of the participants also wanted to join in the Freedom Toaster-alike project that Susmit has taken up recently. 

We wrapped it up and called it a day around 8:30 PM. Among other things, Prof. Debesh Chowdhury, Head of the Department, ECE at the JIS College of Engineering came down to pick up a copy of Debian 4.0 R1 DVDs and the latest version of Knoppix. Since, it took some time to burn the DVDs, he ended up sitting through a part of the Installfest. He was enthused enough by what he saw there, and has promised to try and organise a similar program at his college.
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Installfest Zindabad!

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Yesterday, 25th of August, 2007 will go down as a very special day in history of FOSS in eastern India. AFAIK, on this day the *first* successful Linux Installfest was organised by a student LUG - the WBUT-LUG. It was supported in this maiden endeavor by the ILUG-CAL.ORG.

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Despite being over-cast in the morning with heavy rains in between 9:30 - 10:30 AM, there were 5 desktops and 3 laptops which landed up along with 22 participants (including the 5 volunteers from the first year). The University provided about 12 computers additionally for playing around. From ILUG-Cal’s side, the following people turned up to act as volunteer instructors and as L1 and L2 support.

  1. Susmit Shannigrahi (WBUT Alumnus and Fedora Ambassador)
  2. Debarshi Roy (Author of Opyum, Fedora Ambassador and GSoC 2007 candidate, perhaps the only guy who did not have a WBUT connection)
  3. Soumyadip Modak (WBUT alumnus and GSoC 2006 candidate and long-time FOSS hacker)
  4. Arindam “mak” Ghosh (student under WBUT’s BCREC)
  5. Subhodip “beton” Biswas (student under WBUT’s BCREC)
  6. Ajitesh Chowdhury (student under WBUT’s BCREC)
  7. Swagnik Chatterjee (student under WBUT’s BCREC)

The last four deserve a special mention as they travelled down all the way from Durgapur, which is about 200 kilometres away from Kolkata. Thanks a lot guys for so overwhelming answering the call for volunteers :D

The biggest credit for setting up the installfest infrastructure goes to Susmit, who in his capacity as an intern with L2C2 Technologies, worked hard for the last couple of days to setup the local Fedora i386 repositories - base, updates, everything as well as the Livna repo. Not only did he lead the “show-and-tell” session at the Installfest, he made sure that bootable CDs for i386 and 64-bit ones were in place and that the infrastructure functioned without a glitch. All thanks to him, WBUT now has it’s own internal Fedora repository. :)

Ankur Kulshrestha (from 2nd Year MTech Biotech) and Rabi Kumar (from 2nd Year, BTech IT) as well as the first year volunteers (some 5 - 6 of them), for taking up the initiative and leading the preparations of the programme.

Support during the programme also came in from faculty members of WBUT, Subrangshu Supakar (Dept of Bio-Informatics), Santanu Chatterjee (School of Information Technology), Raju Chal (School of Information Technology), and of course the programme wouldn’t have happened unless Prof Ashoke R. Thakur, the Vice Chancellor had personally encouraged the students to go ahead.

The installfest, which was scheduled to start from 12 PM onwards, actually got underway around 1-ish, with last minutes preparations. The students asked me to “inaugurate” the programme. The InstallFest Howto had already been circulated earlier by email to all the participants to prepare them for the culture shock. So, I spoke on what to expect, some ideas of possible future roadmaps for the WBUT-LUG, introduced the ILUG-Cal volunteers as well as asking the participants to introduce themselves to their fellows.

We had a good mix. About 50% coming in from Biotech programmes and the rest from CSE and IT. And they came from all the years. Out of 22 participants, 7 were girls. While that may not be great, it’s better than the typical LUG atmosphere of nearly 100% male only participation.

The participants soon warmed up to the new concept of an Installfest. Excepting two systems, we managed to install all the systems, update and add support for stuff like mp3 and DVD playback. On one system there was a slight problem with the mouse. The mouse was working, but without a visible cursor. Soumyadip who is ILUG-Cal’s resident hardware geek, rose to the challenge and soon got that to work as well. Before that, nearly everything, from it being a 64-bit system to it being a Microsoft mouse, got blamed :D

One Acer Aspire 5000 AMD Turion64 based notebook, belonging to Ankush from MTech Biotech gave us hell, but by 9:15 PM it too got sorted out. Somehow, the participants didn’t expect the volunteers to stay back that late and really help out the way they did in sorting out “their” problems. Again, a culture-shock thing. However, it worked in the programme’s favor as I came to know when Ankur called me up this morning. He expressed their thanks to all the ILUG-Cal volunteers. Rabi and others wanted to know how to become a part of ILUG-Cal’s activities and how to drive the programme ahead within their own WBUT-LUG.

Also, while the programme was going on yesterday, some faculty members from other colleges who had come to attend an Intel Academic Initiative event that was being held in the adjacent lab, came over to our lab to watch. Some, like Kalyan Mahata, a lecturer in IT, at the Govt College of Engg and Leather Technology, wanted to know how *he* could participate in such a programme. To cut a long story short, he has offered to organise a similar programme at his college, provided that WBUT-LUG can assist them by the way of technical know-how and by providing resource persons as collaborators.

We called it a day/night at around 9:25 PM. The total expense incurred (as volunteers didn’t get any payments) was Rs. 1455/- only. The next two coming Saturdays are ear-marked for Installfest with other new participants, who couldn’t be accommodated in the first instance. Let’s hope we can keep up the pace, it is after all the Turn, turn, turn time.

Off to Siliguri…

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

In a few more hours, I’ll boarding the Darjeeling Mail from Sealdah and be on my way to the New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station, in North Bengal. From there, my host, Siliguri Institute of Technology (SIT) will be taking me over to their college which sits close to NH55.

A Techno-India Group College, SIT is organising a 2-day seminar on Linux System Administration, utilizing a AICTE seminar grant. The focus of the Seminar would be towards Network Administration. My guess, its the lowest common denominator. However, I believe my presentation may take them a little by surprise. More on that later.

The audience is expected to comprise of  the faculty, staff members and students of SIT, along with participants from other colleges. Speakers include, Prof. B. Maji Techno India Group, Mr. Kausik Halder, Netaji Subash Open Univesity, Mr. Swagata Pal, Techno India Group, and myself.

I’ll be carrying Shashank’s new book “Beginning Fedora : From Novice to Professional” with me. Thanks Julie from Apress for sending me a review copy, it arrived at a rather handy moment. I expect the book to  be a  major hit with new users of Fedora .
More when I get to Siliguri. I hope to connect to the Net from SIT, but you never know, with the weather being so bad.

Volunteers needed to support WBUT-LUG’s InstallFest

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

The nascent West Bengal University of Techology’s Student LUG (WBUT-LUG) is organising its first event - an InstallFest and Hands-on Workshop on Linux Installation of the 25th of August, 2007 (Saturday) from 12 PM onwards. This is most likely the *FIRST* Installfest to be “formally” organised in West Bengal, by students themselves.

Due to a huge expression of interest from amongst the students, it has been decided to hold repeat sessions on consecutive Saturdays, so as to accomodate the large number of students.

However, we need volunteers to assist these new, would-be users.Already Susmit Shannigrahi, a WBUT / HITK alumni and a Fedora Ambassador has volunteered. We need more volunteers for 25th and for 2 more Saturdays after that.

The volunteers can also bring in their own systems. There will be a 2 Mbps dedicated connection, with both wired as well as Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) networks available for downloading software updates.

FWIW, Susmit has already created a local YUM repository for Fedora 7. And we may use Cobbler ( for doing n/w based installs on the boxes.

So, who all are volunteering for the 25th August, 1st September and 8th September 2007? Also, if you know of somebody who may be in CCU during those dates and is interested in helping out, then please forward this message to them.
You can contact me at indradg at gmail dot com