[Fsf-friends] LinuxInIndia#5

Frederick Noronha fred@bytesforall.org
Mon, 26 Aug 2002 12:50:34 +0530 (IST)

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              CopyLeft2002 GNU/GPL v2 OR LATER * ISSUE005 * AUGUST 25, 2002 
Co-edited by Frederick Noronha and Parag Mehta <pm at linuxindia dot org> *
Issue released on the eleventh birthday of Linux, Aug 25, 2002

In this issue 	o Indianising GNU/Linux
		o The Penguin goes to school (Delhi, Goa, etc)
		o NevyOS, the debate rages
		o Project Elx
		o Seeking developers for Simputer apps
		o Elx Linux
		o FSF-India is one year young
		o Community site for GNU/Linuxers
		o Indians working in GNU/Linux
		o Special focus on....
		o Persian GNU/Linux
		o From the land of the Samba

Archives at: http://www.freelists.org/archives/linuxinindia

<karunakar@freedomink.org> that support for Indian languages is coming in
slowly, but there are several efforts going towards this end on the
GNU/Linux front. For instance: 

* IndLinux project  www.indlinux.org  /
www.sourceforge.net/projects/indlinux     A volunteer group working at
the desktop level (KDE/GNOME), using Unicode, but ISCII will also be
supported by providing convertor tools, Current focus on Opentype
fonts development, translations for GNOME 2.0 .

* IndiX  http://rohini.ncst.ernet.in/indix/
A modified X server to support Indian languages using opentype fonts. Uses

* IITM indlinux  http://www.tenet.res.in/Donlab/Indlinux/
Have modified X & console in kernel to support indian languages. Use ISCII
encoding only.

* Linux Localisation Initiative ( LLI ) - lli.linux-bangalore.net
A volunteer group working on translating  LDP documentation (starting with
HOWTOs) to indian languages.

* Indic-computing project.  indic-computing.sourceforge.net
Aim is to create a resource center for all indian language issues in

* Language Technology Resource center (LTRC), IIIT Hyderabad. -
Have developed language dictionaries, plugin for viewing ISCII, and font
convertors. Also doing a machine based translation tool (Anusaaraka). Most
of their work is release under GNU GPL.

Projects listed at # 2, 3 and 6 are sponsored by government. Rest are
volunteer based, looking for funds. Karunakar is himself involved with the
IndLinux project.

The active people (in the indian language area) at the Media Lab Asia are
Venky Hariharan <venky@medialabasia.org> who is one of the founders of
IndLinux project, and Tapan Parikh <tap2k@yahoo.com>. Both are actively
working towards Indian-language computing, through Indic-computing project
(indic-computing.sourceforge.net), and are also planning to hold a small,
informal and preliminary workshop for Indian language computing in Bangalore
in September. If you feel you'd like to share your ideas with them, please
get in touch.

PERL MODULE FOR INDIAN LANGUAGES: M K Saravanan <mksarav@comp.nus.edu.sg>
drew the attention of the Indian Linux Users Group in Chennai
<ilugc@aero.iitm.ernet.in> to this perl module to handle Indian language I/O
Check http://acharya.iitm.ac.in/perl_enhance.html

MALAYALAM GNU/LINUX PROJECT: Baiju M <malayalamlinux@yahoo.com> is one of
those who is planning to work with the Malayalam GNU/Linux project (being
undertaken by the KBIP and the Free Software Foundation-India, as he
recently mentioned, in passing. Could someone offer an update on how that's
going? All the best to you guys...

HANDLING TELUGU: AkRti is a framework to facilitate easier development of
applications that can handle the Indian language Telugu. The modular
architecture decouples the input method, the underlying syllable based
representation and the on screen display/print.

INDIAN HOLY BOOKS: Explores indian holy books that are in sanskrit &
translate them in english beside this project will also speak sanskrit
shaloks which user will select it is useful for the peoples working on
indian culture... http://sourceforge.net/projects/ved/

PATCH FOR LOCAL LANGUAGES: This is K Ratheesh's <rathee@lantana.tenet.
res.in> comment on Indianizing GNU/Linux (this point was made some time back
when he was a student at the IIT-Madras... email contacts might have

"I am working on enabling Linux console for local languages. As the current
PSF format doesn't support variable width fonts, I have made a patch in the
console driver so that it will load a user defined multi-glyph mapping table
so that multiple glyphs can be displayed for a single character code. All
editing operations will also be taken care of. 

"Further, for Indian languages, there are various consonant/vowel modifiers
which result in complex character clusters. So I have extended the patch to
load user defined context sensitive parse rules for glyphs / character codes
as well. Again, all editing operations will behave according to the parse
rule specifications.

"Even though the patch has been developed keeping Indian languages in mind,
I feel it will be applicable to many other languages (for eg. Chinese) which
require wider fonts on console or user defined parsing at I/O level.

"Currently I have developed the patch for Kernel versions 2.2.14 and and am
in the process of making it for 2.2.16 and 2.2.17. I request people to try
out this patch and give comments and suggestions to me.

"Those who want to try out this patch can send mail to me in the address
rathee@lantana.iitm.ernet.in or to indlinux- iitm@lantana.iitm.ernet.in The
package , containing the patch , some documentation ,utilities and sample
files will come around 100 KB.

Try also www.ratheeshkvadhyar.com    ratheesh@rediffmail.com

COMPUTER VIA ONE BUTTON: Arun Mehta of New Delhi <mehta@vsnl.com> informs of
the site http://indataportal.com/software/hawking.htm

Check out the Hawkings project there. You will find links to both, the
executable and the source code. Do also go to

Says he: "Your suggestions on how to make using the computer a little more
convenient with just one button would also be welcome -- perhaps you will
consider joining the mailing list radiophony@yahoogroups.com, where this is
being discussed?" (Join via radiophony-subscribe@yahoogroups.com)

FINALLY, GNU/LINUX BECOMES A DEFAULT OS: This interesting story comes from
Raman.P <raamanp@yahoo.co.in> via the Chennai ILUG group. Raman is with the
Railway Hospital, Chennai: "Recently we ordered five PCs from M/s HCL
Infosystems through DGS&D, Govt of India rate contract (the Directorate
Supply of Supply and Distribution, the body which undertakes purchasing for
the government sector). We didn't order any OS or other softwares as we use
GNU/Linux. To our surprise we received the box with preinstalled Debian
Linux. It seems HCL has a policy of not sending out any machine without OS.
Hence, if no OS is ordered then Debian is loaded. Well at last GNU/Linux is
the default operating system."

GNU/LINUX IN SCHOOLS: Delhi and Goa, two regions trying to get GNU/Linux
into the classroom, are exchanging their own 'distros' and software... to
see how they could share experiences. Contact Pankaj <pankaj@sarai.net> or
Tom Fernandes <anyaddress@gmx.net> for details 

<delaneyashley@softhome.net> reports that the second shipment of once-used
computers to Goa (the first to use GNU/Linux) saw Goa Sudharopo send in some
380 PCs. Some 40 were Macs, and 70 had licensed Windows OS on them. Some 123
had hard disks, while the rest had none or were non-working PCs. These wer
edistributed to over 107 schools across Goa. For the 123 or so PCs, a
customized distribution of GNU/Linux was loaded by LUG volunteers, based on
Redhat 7.2. "It was made keeping in mind, the low hardware specs of the
machines, the hard disk space and programs needed," says Delaney (21).

"As a result, over a period of three weeks of brainstorming. they came up
with a customized version of RH which fitted on 1 CD, was capable of running
even on a pentium 100 with 32 MB ram with 1.2 GB of hard disk space. The
total installation did not exceed 800 MB with SWAP space. It has Gnome and
Windowmaker and excluded all the other desktops including icewm, and KDE....

"As a result, 20 schools all over Goa, are now running on this LTSP Linux
solution, and over approx 30 schools with the standalone Linux on their
donated systems," says Delaney.

But he adds: "However, the main source of backlash has been lack of support
and help." This mail, with other background, was recently shared on the
fsug-calicut mailing list... for others to learn from the experiences.

AND... SOMETHING FROM DELHI. Check the Delhi issue... The archives are at:

GNU/LINUX IN GERMAN SCHOOLS: Winfried Truemper <me@wt.xpilot.org> informs
counterparts in India that there is a project about GNU/Linux in German
schools running for several years now. You may want to contact
info@pingos.schulnetz.org for exchange of experiences.

NEW VERSION OF GLUE: Ajith Kumar <ajith@nsc.ernet.in> announces a new
version of GLUE -- the GNU Linux Utilities for Education. This came on July
30, 2002.

You can browse the CD and install packages from it. Compilers for logo,
basic, pascal etc are include. Lot of tutorials on various topics. Graphics
Programming on GNU/Linux for the Turbo C fellows. The new version includes
an installation script and does the following: (i) Converts the GNU/Linux
installed machine to a Terminal Server. Installation and configuration of
LTS is done by the script. If the terminal video cards are autodetected by
XFree86-4, they just boot from the ether-boot floppy created. This has been
tested on Redhat 7.1 & 7.3. (ii) Installs and configures IceWM, a fast,
flexible window manager ideal for terminal servers, and puts a menu tailored
for school use. (iii) Installs other RPM & TGZ packages from CD

Anybody interested in getting a copy may contact the Free Software User
Group Calicut <fsug@rediffmail.com> or <ajith@nsc.ernet.in> or Rajeesh P.,
Calicut, (Ph. 355415)

COMMENTS ON THE NEVYOS: Rajesh <rk@coralindia.com> has this to say about the
NevyOS featured in an earlier issue of GNU/LinuxInIndia: Downloaded NevyOS,
have planned to put it on a Ricoh Touch Screen Device, lying with me since
long. Hope it will work. (It has a 486 processor.) Another one, which I
dunno if I can change the OS, is running on MIPS. Device called ePOD, one of
the slickest Tablets I have seen yet. Been using since over 1 year now with
a 802.11b Dlink card.

MORE ON THE NEVYOS PLAN: Mayuresh Kathe <mayuresh@mac.com> explains issues
arising out of the open source licensing of NevyOS. Says he: "We are
contemplating going Open Source with NevyOS. Reason: 1. Its time Unix took a
break from X. NevyOS is best poised to do that. 2. Its time we gave MS a run
for its money on the desktop too. Again, NevyOS is best poised to do that
(because, currently there are over 10 developers world wide developing
killer apps for NevyOS, they would like to go open source too). But, at the
same time what could be the alternatives for generating revenues if I have
to atleast gain back on the investment? Could someone be charged if he is
deploying NevyOS on a hardware platform of his design? If yes, what sort of
a license will we have to put NevyOS under? Any brain storms on how we can
enforce such licenses worldwide?"

PEOJECT ELX: DesktopLinux.com founder and executive editor Rick Lehrbaum
interviews Abhi Datt, Chief Software Architect and founder of Project ELX, a
new project to create a uniquely easy-to-use Linux distribution. Abhi Datt
describes his vision for Project ELX, lists the main features of the ELX
Linux distribition, provides an update on the status of ELX, and shares his
thoughts on how Linux can succeed on the desktop and elsewhere.
PEOPLE TO DEVELOP SIMPUTER APPS: Samyeer <sam@ncoretech.com> offers tips on
what to do if you're a developer willing to develop Simputer
<www.simputer.org> apps. Says he: "You can use GTK+ on the Simputer. If you
are looking to get started then download the App Framework that is available
at http://www.ncoretech.com/simputer/simputer/download.html and you can link
in your GTK+ applications too.... We are looking for people/companies who
will develop applications for the Simputer. Any help towards that would be
really appreciated." Don't miss your date with what could possibly be
computing making history in India.

SOME SITES/LISTS: Some GNU/Linux mailing-lists and sites in India:

ilugd@wpaa.org			  ILUG-Delhi
fsf-friends@gnu.org.in		  FreeSoftwareForum-India (Discussion list)
linux-india-general@lists.sourceforge.net	LinuxIndiaGeneral
http://www.ilug-cal.org		  Indian Linux User's Group-Kolkata 

ONE YEAR YOUNG: July 20, 2002 was the first anniversary of the inauguration
of FSF India in Trivandrum, as Rajkumar S <raj2569@yahoo.com> notes. Happy
burday mates!

COMMUNITY SITE FROM GNU/LINUXERS: Himanshu <himanshu_s@myrealbox.com>
announces he has launched a new site, http://www.thefreespeech.org which is
basically a community web site for GNU/Linuxers. Its main aim is "to
initiate, collaborate and contribute" to the GNU/Linux cause.

The site itself, is home to the ILUG-BOM's novel "Project Resource Centre"
idea, which will help ease the collaboration between students undertaking
GNU/Linux projects and self appointed "mentors".

"I guess, in the future it will also be home to dead projects, or very small
projects / scripts, which have not been (or are to small to be) hosted at
Sourceforge," he adds. Neat idea! 

<ravi__at__india__dot__com> for an interesting compiliation on Indiaians
working on GNU/Linux worldwide. Below are his descriptions; looking forward
to the additional list he'll be sending:

*  Ambarish Malpani of Valicert inc.,( http://valicert.com/ ) --- he's the 
   guy who ported Apache to windows NT and he's also the key contributor 
   to the Apache project. 

*  Karthik Ram ( http://karthikram.org/ ) --- he is an ecologist by 
   profession but a great enthusiast of open source and he is famous for 
   his award winning ecology search engine ( http://ecocrawler.org/ )  
*  Manish Singh (YOSH) ( http://yosh.org/ ) --- he is the official 
   release manager of gimp ( http://gimp.org/ ) he is one of the 
   developers of script-fu and net-fu. He is considered as one of the 
   masters in the gimp foundation (others are "xach" (http://xach.com), 
   "Larry Ewing" (http://www.isc.tamu.edu/~lewing/) etc.)
   even off the gimp world, this guy is one of the most respected guys in 
   university of Berkeley.
*  Mukund S (http://mukund.info/) --- a guy from Auroville( a township 
   in pondicherry) He's now starting a new company called TESSNA 
   (http://tessna.com/) he is yet another gimp developer and he also 
   worked for Ximian, linux.com.
   His buddies include Garrett LeSage (http://linuxart.com/), tigert 
   (http://tigert.gimp.org/), Jimmac (http://jimmac.musichall.cz/), Miguel 
   de Icaza ( http://primates.ximian.com/~miguel/ )
   He is also one of those Gtkhtml hackers.

WROX INDIA: Wrox India's (www.wrox.com)'s Programmer to Programmer site is
http://p2p.wrox.com/ Search and Read Libraries of our Books Online at

LIBYAHOO2: Check Philip's <philip@konark.ncst.ernet.in> work on

<pstreet@worldbank.org> informs about a new conference, which indicates the
growing interest in Open Source/Free Software. It's called 'Open Source: A
Case for e-Government' and will be held in Washington, DC Oct. 17 - 18, 2002

The conference will draw participants from local, national and international
organizations from both the public and private sector.

The goals of the conference include:  the presentation of best practices;
raising awareness sharing of experiences among policy makers, donors
users/consumers; universities, and industry specialists in Open Source,
e-Government and related fields. Speaking and demonstration proposals are
invited.  More details from the conference website http://www.egovos.org

SPECIAL FOCUS ON... Sayamindu Dasgupta (17-1/2) a self-defined "Crazy
GNU/Linux-er". Website http://www.peacefulaction.org/sayamindu

ON HOW HE GOT INVOLVED WITH GNU/LINUX: Well, to be honest, I was bored with
the same old Windows, and so, looking for an alternative OS. I could not
afford a Mac, and so, I went to the local computer bookstore, and bought a
book on Linux. That book had 3 CDs with it and one of them was Debian
GNU/Linux 2.1. I decided to try that out, and popped the CD into my cdrom
drive, and rebooted. But once the installation started, I could make neither
head, nor tail out of that, and aborted the installation. Then after a few
months I decided to try out Caldera OpenLinux 2.3. That worked brilliantly
and I was in love with Linux within a few days.

AGE AND 'OTHER PERSONAL STUFFS': 17 and half. Occupation -- student at South
Point High School at Kolkata. Career plans -- to study physics (will try to
go abroad for undergrad.)

Present activities related to GNU/Linux: * Co-author : PCTel HSP Micromodem
configuration miniHOWTO for the Linux Documentation Project <en.tldp.org>
* Maintainer: PCTel HSP Micromodem GNU/Linux compatibility database
* Working on EricaOS - a web based Operating system designed mainly for
web tv users (it will be running on top of a GNU/Linux server)
* Writing the manual of KFstab - a KDE application which allows easy
editing of the /etc/fstab file through a graphical interface.
* Editor of the Linux - Support section of the Open Directory Project
* One of the most active members of iLUG-Cal (Kolkata LUG)
* Working in the LOST project <lost.sourceforge.net>
* Started work on a set of modules for drupal (drupal.org) that would let
Linux User's Groups use the drupal syetem as their website
(the modules will provide support for meeting management, minutes
management, GNU/Linux cd-rom burning and distribution network
management, mailing list management etc. along with the usual
features of drupal)
* Also done some work with regard to Bangla on GNU/Linux.
* Authored a few articles on GNU/Linux
* Founder member/admin of http://www.peacefulaction.org which deals with
GNU/Linux along with social and environmental issues.

Future plans related to GNU/Linux: A website which would enable users to
enlist, rate and write about compatibility of branded computers with
GNU/Linux. Will be a mix of dmoz.org and pctelcompdb.sourceforge.net . If
possible this will also certify, on basis of user ratings compatibility of
branded PCs.

Says he: "I also have plans to initialise an effort to translate the Gnome
and KDE interface to Bangla, and some work has already started in this
direction." Also plan to do something regarding desktop GNU/Linux (not sure
what though). 

Write some more documents for the GNU/Linux newbie and on GNU/Linux

Non GNU/Linux Activities: Is a member of the Mensa International
(mensa.org). Code in PHP (done some work for projectpi.sourceforge.net).
Also work for the Open Internet encyclopedia (open-site.org). Do some
amateur astronomy ("don't get much time nowadays... also obsessed with
physics"). Worked on a set of motion related graph generation system with
php ("just for fun"). Is also obsessed with Richard Feynman.

Phew! What a list at achievements... that too at 17-1/2!

PERSIAN LINUX. Roozbeh Pournader <roozbeh@sharif.edu> informs in a posting
to Pakistan's PLUC: "About Persian Linux, we don't have much information
published on our website (almost everything is in our mind), but it may be
worth looking: <http://www.farsiweb.info>. Actually it is the Arabs that
have a good community and are advancing with a good pace. Their website is
at: <http://www.arabeyes.org/>. For general information about Linux and
Unicode, one should see: <http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/unicode.html>. I
believe we are able to help anyone who wants to create and organize a Urdu
Linux project for a start. We are already familiar with many
internationalization groups, and can make sure the wheel won't be
reinvented. Feel free to find someone with enough time as hand as an
organizer, and introduce him/her to me."

FROM THE LAND OF THE SAMBA: Guilherme Lemos <guilherme@conectiva.com.br>
from Brazil recently wrote in to say that he works for Conectiva (the
GNU/Linux distro from the land of the Samba). His company also works on the
magazine 'Revista do Linux'. Lemos is currently writing an article about
GNU/Linux in India for the next edition. He's looking for info on
GNU/Linux's deployment in India. If you could offer him some pointers, write
to him at the above address.

* FOOTNOTE: Frederick Noronha <fred at bytesforall dot org> is a Goa-based
freelance journalist, who writes on IT-for-development and GNU/Linux themes
regularly, and is cofounder of BytesForAll <www.bytesforall.org>. In
the past year, he worked on a print media fellowship to study India's 
contribution to GNU/Linux, from www.sarai.net (Sarai-New Delhi) Parag
Mehta <pm at linuxindia dot org> is webmaster for Linux India, listadmin for
Ilug-bom, Country Manager of India for Linux Counters (do get counted as a
GNU/Linux user!). Visit his personal site at: http://pmehta.org