MiniDebconfPune2011 – Day1

This blog post would attempt to chronicle the experiences on day 1 of #minidebconfpune2011

For those who came in late, I am sharing some of the experiences we had in the recent minidebconf held in Pune from August 13th to August 15th. I have already blogged about Day 0 in the previous blog post.

Before I start day 1, there were couple of interesting things which happened on Day 0. We had given feedback forms to people to fill (either with their name or without) asking them to rate our presentation skills and whatever.

Most of the people were kind and generous although some of the people were not happy with our not so smooth handing off presentations to each other . In our defense, we are NOT professional speakers (who earn their living from speaking engagements alone) and we wanted to be more collaborative and inclusive in the approach rather than being part of who wins the trophy at the end.It would have been perhaps a fair criticism if it was a paid and commercial event.

One of the feedbacks I got which I do not still know how to react was that my Hindi was too ‘shudh’ or pure for the audience therein. For some of my friends and the whole extended family I get lots of earful whenever I visit them for my lack of Hindi vocabulary and diction. So do not really know/knew how to use that.

On the first day, Abhijit was also supposed to moderate a talk on ‘Issues plaguing the GNU/Linux desktop’ but as he had taken the whole time for the free software philosophy bit we let it slide. I had made quite a few notes for it but left it as well as they are good if you have been a GNU/Linux user for sometime and have had some issues that you faced.

Anyways Day 1 saw me climbing me the stairs to the third level in the building with just a small poster for guidance near the Auditorium.

The team should have made bigger banners and put them around so at least some people in the College apart from Comp.Sci. would have come in.

Anyways, I came in few minutes late and Praveen had started giving a brief summary of yesterday’s talks and processes bit. Being experienced for number of years in ‘free software conferences’ I was thinking it would be a small/er crowd but was astonished (for good) to find an audience of around 100 odd people.

As we had seen the feedback forms the last day we knew that there was a healthy amount of people who have been using some GNU/Linux distribution for number of months/years vis-a-vis number of people who had never installed a GNU/Linux distribution.

Hence, while it was not on schedule, it was decided by Pavithran, me and Sana to do an Installfest for the newbie crowd. We quickly gave a shout for some pen-drives/thumb drives which were quickly garnered (details of ownership of pendrives taken as well) and the volunteers quickly formatted and put the unetbootin image on it.

Now I had known and had seen images of the unetbootin project I had personally never used it. While I haven’t followed it much, it is a good tool which could be used in conjunction with a netinstall image (just as an example) to some system where the media does not have much space.

I was not in the lab when they were formatting and putting the image therein so not really aware if it was a 32-bit or a 64-bit image (it was a stable 6.0.2 CD image snapshot afai remember)

Then when we came in, we ventured into doing an expert install. In retrospect this was a mistake. It would have been better to show first the graphical installer and then guide them through the expert ‘ncurses’ installer. We muddled through a lot of stuff.

If I had known before that we would be doing an installfest would have taken a dry run beforehand.

While we did do the essential bits there were many concepts we just did not address.

For instance Pavithran,me and AbdulKarim chased around the netmask part while not touching at all the hostname and hostid at all, other than giving the rudimentary mandatory details to fill in.

If I knew that we would be doing an expert install, I would have at the very least made a screenshot of each page of the expert install and broken down the components at each level so they are/were more understandable. Right from high-level what filesystem is being used to make the image (isofs) to the various nuts and bolts gone to make that image.

I would have started from making the students make the image as it’s still hard and requires a bit of trickery to do it.

Anyways, there were many things we missed during the whole process. For instance while we did rally around a bit around the netmask stuff I would have liked to actually talk about hostname (from what little I know hostname and hostid is relevant only in a networking environment and not in single computer networked to the Net) if people were to actually use it other than doing a toy install in a lab.

Even in the netmask and gateway we did not even touch the basics otherwise we should have touched at least the definitions and types/class of networks (Class A,Class B and Class C networks). It would have been useful and interesting to plug in the role of network registers like APNIC and the various address block ranges given to various ISP’s. For e.g. like the series of the 59.92.x -59.95.x.x series of BSNL .

$ whois --verbose
Using server
Query string: "-V Md5.0"

% [ node-2]
% Whois data copyright terms

inetnum: -
netname: BB-2-2
descr: Broadband Project2.2, O/o DGM BB, NOC BSNL Bangalore
country: IN
admin-c: BH155-AP
tech-c: DB374-AP
mnt-by: MAINT-IN-DOT
mnt-irt: IRT-BSNL-IN
changed: 20110218
source: APNIC

descr: BSNL Internet
country: IN
origin: AS9829
mnt-lower: MAINT-IN-DOT
mnt-routes: MAINT-IN-DOT
mnt-by: MAINT-IN-AS9829
changed: 20060404
source: APNIC

person: BSNL Hostmaster
nic-hdl: BH155-AP
address: Broadband Networks
address: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited
address: 2nd Floor, Telephone Exchange, Sector 62
address: Noida
phone: +91-120-2404243
fax-no: +91-120-2404241
country: IN
changed: 20021108
source: APNIC

person: DGM Broadband
address: BSNL NOC Bangalore
country: IN
phone: +91-080-25805800
fax-no: +91-080-25800022
nic-hdl: DB374-AP
changed: 20110218
source: APNIC

While I have given just one block, there are quite a few more blocks with some reserved for triple-play, some reserved only for broadband and some reserved for sancharnet and some for FTTH as well. That would have been better and then could have introduced the whole IPv4 shortage and hence the resultant move to IPv6.

If we had done that we would have made the concept of dhcp = dyanmic IP (that what ISP’s are doing when they give us a dynamic IP for some time period)

I shared bits about the move from IDE/ATAPI to SATA but not in any detail as such. I made some statements which while good were correct with ATA-4 are no longer good with ATA-6. For e.g. it seems the master-slave concept has been dispensed with (in ATA-6), the partition sizes have been greatly enhanced although power and bandwidth requirements (currently) work against PATA being competitive vis-a-vis SATA. It would have been interesting to take the battle into bits of hardware design and bottlenecks in hardware as well.

During install or afterwards we also answered bits about the move to parallel/SMP programming but not in any detail. It would have been really fun to talk about programs where SMP/parallel programming makes sense and where linear programming is needed. Also complexities both in hard disk/s and memory access would have been interesting topics to touch upon but sadly was too tired out at that time.

Also we did not share any info. about DNS records and stuff but then it was all extempore. Anyways we did manage to squeeze a fair bit of info. about the Linux kernel and drivers, Desktop Managers such as GNOME and KDE and bits about the toolkits called GTK+ and QT and how they are an advantage when doing any sort of GUI/OOPS programming. Praveen (who had been floating at that time) also chimed in giving examples about MFC’s (Microsoft Foundation Classes) which is what LSB (Linux Standard Base) hopes to replicate/achieve.

All in all, while we managed to some part it could have been so much more. It was failure on our part not to use the opportunity to the fullest.

Anyways that lead to closure of Day 1 of the proceedings of #MiniDebconfPune . One can find the photos of Day 1 of MiniDebconfPune2011 here.

One thought on “MiniDebconfPune2011 – Day1

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