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Its a long time I have written something here. Everytime I think of it, I will get involved in something else and forget about it. This time, I can’t resist it.

Our friend, Shyam Karanattu passed away two days before. The saddest part is that it was a suicide. All people who know him are shocked to hear the news and has not yet recovered from it. Shyam was an active free software advocate and activist. Here is what Anivar has to tell about him.

For me, he was more than a friend. He was my senior at THSS Vattamkulam and also at MESCE, though he was in EC branch. He was one of the persons who has influenced me much. Even though I am attracted to FOSS a long time before, it was he who introduced me(and many others) to the FOSS Community and Swathantra Malayalam Computing group. Later, we became colleagues, organized many events at MESCE and participated in many events together. He was the major driving force for the formation of MES-FSUG group and GNULabs at MESCE.

He was so attracted to FOSS and whenever we talked, we end up with something related to it. After his B-Tech also, we kept in touch and the last time I contacted him was during the time of SMC Localization Camp at MESCE. He said he had some family functions and couldn’t attend and will try to be there for the next event. Now he left us without waiting for thee next event.

Here are few snaps of him from my collection.

He has also interviewed RMS during the conference.

Shyam Karanattu Interviewing Richard Stallman for Amrita TV

There are much more to say about him, but….
We all love you Shyam. You shouldn’t have done that, whatever the reason was.

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Today, almost all in my class(May be all @ college) came to college thinking of strike. But surprisingly, nothing was there in front of the college gate(For all strikes, we usually see a lot of students gathered there blocking the way to college). So, everyone went to classes sadly… 🙁

There were rumors that the class will be suspended by noon. After the 2nd period, few seniors came with the notice and all was happy. I have nothing to do at home, so, I stayed at college and with the permission of HOD, continued with the Debian installation in the Internet and Multimedia lab of CSE department. Though Mahesh was present, he was busy with some other works. My classmate Mansoor KPA also helped me in the installations. By 4.30PM, we installed 15 systems with Debian and the one alloted for GNULab with gNewSense.

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The first thing related to todays workshop I heard was that Mahesh is having fever and he won’t be coming and his session will be handled by Shyam. We really missed you Mahesh…

During the starting, there were a few problems with registration of students from ECE, EEE and AEI, as the HOD’s allowed a maximum of 5 per class to participate, but there were more than 15 from some classes willing to participate. And because of that, the participation was more than what we hoped and we had to go in search for more chairs.

Writing down the registration details was another problem. Writing down the name and roll number is not at all convenient(Its from my experience), especially after the students enter the auditorium. So, for next time, its better to find an alternative way for recording attendance, may be it could be computerized(hmm…. Another topic for time pass programming).

Anyway, a few of us including me, lost the first two sessions due to the rush and confusion. So, no comments about the first two sessions. In the introduction, the only thing I heard was “GNU is not UNIX”, not once, but more than thrice. Can someone tell me what was going on there?

Among the other 3 sessions, Hiran’s was the best(According to me). The tool, Inkscape attracted many and some were asking us for Inkscape software CD’s. We somehow managed to convince them that it is included in the Debian and Ubuntu DVD’s and made them buy those. Also, it was new to me that Inkscape could generate XML codes, which will be much helpful during web designing. So, now onwards, I am going to spend some time on it…

The unconference session was also interesting by the participation of students, even though the number reduced to 1/4th of those present during the starting. Everyone really enjoyed the videos shown, especially the animation movie made with blender.

Among the distros for sale, Debain Lenny recorded the most sale and there was hardly a CD of it left after the workshop. The cost was RS 20 per CD and RS 40 per DVD. I wonder why students brought it for that price; even though its available in the digital library.

A few students asked me how to change the interface to Malayalam. I think it was not explained during the workshop. So, here is how to do it in Debian.

1) Downloaad a Malayalam Unicode font. Its available in the SMC wiki.
2) Copy the font to /usr/share/fonts/truetype/. Suppose you downloaded “Meera_04.ttf” and you have it in your desktop, use the command “cp /Desktop/Meera_04.ttf /usr/share/fonts/truetype/
3) Now, you have to change the permissions of the font file. For that, use the command “chmod a+rwx /usr/share/fonts/truetype/Meera_04.ttf
4) Take Root Terminal and type: “dpkg-reconfigure locales“. You will get a screen as below:

5) In it, select “ml_IN UTF-8“, using arrow keys and by pressing space, so that a “*” appears on its side. Then press OK. Use ‘Tab’ key to navigate. You will get a screen like this now:

6) Select “ml_IN” and press OK. The locales will be generated.
7) Now restart your system. All the menu’s will be in Malayalam after restart. It can be changed back to English by selecting the Language option in the Login Screen.

Today, I also got a few new distros including Fedora.

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Tomorrow, there is a full day workshop on “Introduction on GNU”. The IT department has been suspended. Though we tried, CSE department was not suspended, but allowed duty leave for all who wished to participate. The program is conducted by IT department along with MES-FSF chapter.

Here is the final draft for the workshop.

**Topic** **Speaker** **Duration** **TimeLine**
Inauguration 30 mins 9:30-10:00
Various dimensions of Freedom Madhu Sir 30 mins 10:15-10:45
Introduction to GNU operating system Mahesh M 45 mins 10:45-11:30
Introduction to Designing Graphics in GNU Hiran 45 mins 11:30-12:30
Importance of Freedom in Scientific Domain Jinesh 45 mins 1:30-2:15
GNU Build Tools Raghesh Sir 30 mins 2:15-3:00
Unconference – GNU in college General Discussion 60 mins 3:00-4:00
Hackerdom Unni 30 mins 4:00-4:30
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Today, I thought deeply of managing web designing as a part time job. The main thing what I lack is support. Parents don’t like me spending lot of time with computer and Internet and they says that I am wasting lot of my time with computer. If I get someone with ideas like mine, it won’t take long for me to start web designing as a part time job… With my more than 5 years experience with the web and its technologies and services, I think I have got enough exposure with the field.

Another field is that of free software. I hope that the GNU Lab project at college will be helpful in gaining exposure in that field too.

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