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  • Kartik 9:18 PM on November 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hacker, , ,   

    You literally ought to be asking yourself all of the time – what’s the most important thing I could be working on in the world right now; and if you are not working on that, why aren’t you?

    Aaron Swartz, as quoted by @TarenSK in the upcoming documentary on Swartz (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3izOJ7zX5I0)
     
  • Kartik 2:03 PM on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , hacker, , ,   

    Of FOSSMeets at NIT Calicut 

    It’s been over a month and a half since the last edition of FOSSMeet at NIT Calicut. As an active member of organizing team for FOSSMeets ’10 and ’11 and a keen but silent observer for the 2013 edition, I want to share some history, some ideas & few observations with this post. The intent is to generate discussion among people who have been part of earlier FOSSMeets and to leave some things to ponder about (and act on) for juniors.

    Year One

    FOSSMeet 2010 and the preparations that led to it were a great experience for me as a fresher in the college. We have a Google Group for FOSSMeet discussions connecting alumni and others connected to FOSSMeet in some or other way together. The thing I liked most was the open discussions we had on the mailing list about the problems faced in our campus when it comes to organizing a technology focused event like FOSSMeet, the event structure of FOSSMeet itself, lots of suggestions and ideas being shared from alumni, seniors, and even freshers like me and Pranav. It was exactly like the way I imagined an open community works – involving everyone without bias on age, seniority, gender, etc. Much thought was given even to suggestions we gave as freshers (fresh perspectives), and questions/doubts/uncertainties that we raised were patiently addressed. We also had few IRC meetings, and even got trolled in one of them :D. I got to learn the history of FOSS culture at NITC and got connected to many interesting seniors and alumni. What more could a budding FOSS enthusiast ask for?

    I contributed to FOSSMeet that year by designing the website along with Pranav Ashok. It was my first complete website based on Drupal, and I can’t describe in words the amount of learning and fun I had working on it (working till midnight at SSL (that too in first year!); getting ourselves locked in the IT Lab Complex in the midnight of Dec. 31, it was Pranav’s birthday; etc). We made sure all kinds of information that participants/speakers would look for was easily available on the site, and even went on to properly archive the websites of previous editions of FOSSMeet so that visitors get a complete picture about our history. There was a small forum to answer queries raised by visitors (especially freshers of our campus), and registration of both delegates and speakers was handled through the website itself – thanks to the awesome contrib modules available for Drupal (guess the registration team was pretty much relieved that they could just export an Excel sheet of all registrations). The amount of support and freedom given to us by seniors (especially Amarnath) was heartening. Overall, this one website got me started with Drupal and can be credited as the reason for many other sites I did later (including my best website work yet – the CSED site). To happy memories of an upcoming web enthusiast…

    Another way I was able to contribute that year was as a volunteer in the Speaker Hospitality team. I recall asking Amarnath what would he choose, and I had my answer. It was a great experience getting to meet almost all the speakers in person (even Atul Chitnis!), sharing ideas and views with them, getting inspired in the process, and yeah running to and fro to the cool (literally) NITC Guest House to arrange accommodation for speakers and making sure they were comfortable. Seniors including Anil and Febin were very helpful in the process.

    Praveen’s birthday was celebrated on the stage in one of the halls, another example I saw of how people were close to each other while working on things of common interest. Some of my most happy memories include working with GeoHackers on their website in their FOSSHut and going out for dinner at Broast  (my first visit there) with the gang of geeks – 12 of us, each carrying heavy laptop bags, and only one, I, an NITC student. I don’t remember if I participated in any of the workshops, but talks by Dr V Sasi Kumar and Atul Chitnis were quite interesting. Overall, this FOSSMeet was a huge success with good participation, effective talks and workshops (most popular was one on Blender IIRC), and a lot of happy memories. :)

    Related Links

    Year Two

    Something was different this time, less enthusiasm among the team, lack of proper leadership and hence lack of a clear vision about the aim & purpose of the event, perhaps it was the fatigue of conducting another related conference just a few months earlier – FOSS in Education (which saw RMS visiting Calicut and we students getting to interact with him in person). There was comparatively lesser amount of discussion on the mailing list (intrusion of Facebook into our lives can be attributed to this), or if we look at it the quality of discussion was different this time.

    I took the responsibility of Speakers Manager along with helping out with the website (logical promotion from my previous year’s responsibilities) this time. I had visited two professional FOSS related conferences that year – PyCon 2010 and FOSS.IN 2010 – and met a lot of geeks and hackers. Anjhan’s keynote at FOSS.IN had a great impact on me, and also made me realize how grand FOSSMeet used to be when he mentioned it there on that stage. I realized expectations were high and I had a relatively important role to perform.

    A lot of hard work followed in hundreds of email exchanges with potential speakers (some of them I had befriended the previous year or in other conferences), arranging for their travel plans, accommodation arrangements in the Guest House and hostels, making sure all their needs were met, etc. Anil Vishnu, my senior, again was a great help. One thing different this time was the visit of Chamba team to our campus a week before FOSSMeet started, this was a great initiative to try and get talented students from NITC involved in their team.  But I found myself burdened with work and responsibility and aghast with conflict of interests among FOSSMeet activities and some event by a group which was part of organizing bodies of FOSSMeet; perhaps it was just lack of communication among our whole team – a serious problem which scales with the size of teams.

    On the website front, we tried to make the session proposal process more open this time, and received a few proposals. I believe a smooth web experience matters a lot in making things open using technology and we faced few problems in that respect, but web team couldn’t be blamed completely for this because that year we faced problems with our hosting provider with one server upgrade and a last minute server crash. I learnt how difficult it becomes sometimes to convey ideas to others in the team. There were some heated exchanges and ego clashes which had long term impact much later. Alas, important lessons learnt the hard way.

    Another disheartening aspect of this year was low attendance in some of the best workshop sessions arranged that year – Git workshop by Noufal, Intro to GCC Compiler Collection by Praseed Pai, and many of the talks. I had even personally identified the best technical sessions and tried to promote them in our class but the response wasn’t as expected. Python workshop was overcrowded, the most popular session that year. It, indeed, showed the need of a better mechanism to allow entry to a workshop based on prerequisites and interest of participants. Otherwise, it becomes a problem for both the organizers and the speakers in effectively conducting the sessions. Some speakers mentioned missing prerequisite among the audience, and some were of course disappointed with low participation in their sessions.

    Some of the best moments from that year were my interactions with Niyam Bhushan and Praveen. Praveen inspired an urge in me to ask questions, and Niyam left a message to never give up on my passion. At the end of the event, the team faced a complete burn out, and not much effort was done to properly document the event – something I think is very important. One other thing I personally felt was a need to question ourselves – Was it all worth the effort? Were we able to realize a dream of having NITC community involved in open source development? Heck, were we gaining anything out of this, technically and otherwise (an inner satisfaction)? We were so tired that no other FOSS related activity was done that semester except for one preplanned LaTeX session.

    Year Three

    I remember meeting Jerrin, Shamil and a few others and questioning ourselves about last FOSSMeet and think about the next one. I had personally moved away from most of the FOSS activities in the campus (were they any left by then?) and wanted to play a minimal role in FOSSMeet that were to happen. We tried including all technical groups of campus this time, ISTE was a fresher. But there were internal troubles within our team, somehow we had failed to inspire our juniors to lead the effort. And again, there was minimal discussion over the mailing list or the Facebook group that had been formed. I also felt there was lack of interest in our team to discuss on questions like the aim of FOSSMeet, why should we even do it or how it could help change the face of technical activities in the campus, when I once raised them in a physical meeting. Sadly, after some efforts, some preparations and  some rescheduling of dates, the event was called off.

    Year Four

    Before starting on this one. I want to acknowledge the efforts of the team behind bringing FOSSMeet back! The efforts by Shamil, Jerrin, Arunanand (Taa), Nimish, Vipin and Jaseem are commendable. Especially, with the help of Taa’s professionalism & experience and a burning desire in Shamil to bring it back, the seniors were able to inspire the juniors to make FOSSMeet happen this year. The team composed of many dedicated second years – Govind, Karun, Shiv, Vinith, Adithya, Hemant, Pallab, Vimal and many more – who put their best efforts. Third years including Yazar, Prajith, Sudev, Ashwin, Bandna and many more helped with their experience and wherever they could. The speaker line up was good, both for talks and workshops. I heartily congratulate everyone in the team to make this happen, bringing something of legacy back to life isn’t an easy task, something I can tell from experience.

    But all wasn’t so well during the actual conduct this year. I observed few things myself and there were comments from speakers and participants as well (see links below). I couldn’t be an active part this year because of other commitments, but it was great and humbling experience being a silent observer for once.

    One general observation was the same as earlier – audience not fitting in the right sessions, which leads to some of them being overcrowded and some being almost empty. Also, the expectations of a speaker aren’t met in terms of prerequisites and interest of the audience in their session. This is IMO a not-so-difficult problem to solve – IIT Madras has been doing this in their HackFest (during Shastra) at least for last 4 years since I know about it. A screening process for delegates, that could be easily implemented on the website, which helps them choose which sessions to attend based on their interests and earlier experience in those fields could be very effective. This is more important for the type of audience that FOSSMeet caters to – students, some of them completely uninitiated about how free communities and open source works. This could also help in scheduling the sessions depending on the numbers and difficulty levels of sessions.

    There were some complaints about arbitrary reschedulings, delays in initiation of sessions, etc. Also, something I observed myself, there were no volunteers in some sessions to introduce the speaker, to track the time taken in a talk or to present the memento at the end of the session.  I understand the problems organizers face (being one myself earlier) but I felt this could have been dealt with more professionally and carefully. An intro session on where to find information, how to identify volunteers, etc. during the inauguration of the event could certainly help.

    This time the team opted to use HasGeek’s Funnel for proposal acceptance. Funnel is a pretty awesome tool for the task, but switching to it should have been done well in advance. I observed there were some proposals on the website in the beginning which never appeared later on Funnel. Also, there was some gap in communication among the proposers and organizers (especially pointed out by students from Amritha – I was really happy to see so many proposals coming from students there), again this is something organizers should be very careful about in conducting a professional event.

    Another complaint was about the student audience being complete novice for some sessions. Personally, I was shocked to see the number of students who appeared for Django Hacknight who were completely clueless about even the syntax of Python (sadly, the hacknight that was supposed to be done among 4-5 people turned into just another beginner session on how to start with Django with about 25 participants). This is not an easy problem to solve, only thing that can help is regular meetups/sessions during the year by seniors interested in technology and open culture. Student organizations like CSEA, FOSSCell, IEEE have been trying to help but regularly tend to get lost in clearly defining their purpose of existence and things they need to focus on.

    My happy memories about the event were really good technical talks by Harisankar on Ruby and Rails and another by Ram on Advanced Git.

    Blogposts about FOSSMeet 2013

    Conclusion

    It’s been an interesting journey over last 4 years, with many ups and downs. I have tried to cover things which can be improved on, mixed with history and memories at this time of nostalgia while I am about to leave college. I might be biased in my views on things or might have failed to see the complete picture, for which I invite viewpoints from others. On a happier note, this long (and) overdue blog post is finally complete. :-)

     
    • Nitish Rawat 6:43 PM on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      FOSSMeet has been packed with many seminars. I know other chapter has more parallel events but my suggestion is to lessen parallel seminars as it may be attended by more.

      • Kartik 7:11 PM on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comment Nitish. This is debatable and depends on what an event is focusing on in a particular year.

        Parallel sessions are conducted to provide choice to participants, because all kinds of talks/workshops might not be suitable for everybody. Also, if there are very few parallel sessions, the speaker might face problem as stated in the post itself – a mix of beginners and experienced audience and not being able to cater to any in particular. Most speakers I have met prefer an audience who are, at least, genuinely interested in the topic being presented. And we observed, participants not being able to make those choices by themselves, being newbies, something that can be improved upon in future editions.

    • Pranav Ashok 9:00 PM on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Nice post Kartik! I had actually forgotten how much we’d worked for FOSSMeet 2010. This post made me open the mailing list and read through some of the archives. I couldn’t believe we were so mature in first year. After watching people come and go for the past four years, it makes me ask this question – was it because of the freedom we got, thanks to people like Amarnath, or was it because we were really mature?

      I feel that the quality of the people have been heavily decreasing over the years. Not just in the area of FOSS, in other fields too. It is hard to come across a junior who designs well or codes websites well. It scares me, for it may be our fault. That we didn’t train the juniors well. Whatever be it, there is an evident shift of interests among people to non-technical things. Personally, I feel that my technical aptitude too, has worsened in the past four years.

      I feel this matter is significant enough to be discussed on a public forum, about what we can do to increase the technical interests of the students in this college. Unless something is done about it, the technical quality of the people coming out of this college is going to rapidly fall in the coming years.

      • Kartik 10:24 PM on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I agree with you, our first FOSSMeet was just so different kind of experience. Perhaps it was both freedom and our slight maturity about both technical things and about open communities. (Even I went through multiple emails in the list while writing this :-) ).

        Regarding the technical interest among college mates, this used to haunt me all the time from first year onwards. In fact I was about to write a post titled, NIT = Not Interested in Technology, in the beginning of last year to vent out my frustration. Somehow this campus loves, respects and enjoys cultural and other non-technical activities more than those it should, going by its name.

        And mine has worsened a lot more than even I can imagine.

      • Kartik 6:16 PM on April 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Pranav, just found a blog post by Amarnath I was looking for while replying to your comment last night: http://blog.vaamarnath.co.in/2011/01/open-life/

        Particularly the quotes from Deepak Sir:

        “Philosophy had stopped inspiring this campus about 20 years ago. Now it seems like that even technology don’t inspire this campus.”

        and

        “When students get enrolled here they are like horses. But after 4 years they pass out as donkeys.”

    • Ashutosh Raina 10:49 PM on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I am total outsider ( but Karthik does know me :) ). Firstly, I have zilch idea about Python, Django and all the related technologies. I do write but using tools that will make the FOSS guys frown.
      Having said that I will make a few quick points.
      1) I had zero interest or aptitude for coding/programming/development/computers. I first laid my hands on a computer when I was closer to 20. So, it is never too late to kindle the fire not only in yourself but also in the people around you.
      2) Gone are the days when Science was the tool for the brightest. It is now PR , marketing , law ( throw in socialising as well , if that is a thing at all). We need to make a serious effort not only to retain talent but also to create.
      3) I second your frustration. I was in the same situation in college. My seniors were awesome. They were geeks, they had their own companies and they taught us well. Sharing knowledge was the cornerstone of all our meetings and interactions. We were inspired by them and they continued to encourage talent and all the time.
      4) When they left and we were in in-charge the battle was just to get volunteers and other people to help run a technical festival ( one of the most important ones in Mumbai after IIT and VJTI ).
      5) My batch especially were all too busy doing everything for ourself, we forgot to teach and interact. So, the question is did you guys fail at that too ?

      The battle for attention of students is a tough one and requires for us to create a culture and heritage. We cannot be in this for the short-term and think about just for the year we are in-charge. Create mechanisms of sustainable learning throughout the year. Hopefully, then in a decade we will have some real technology enthusiasts.

      P.S. Hopefully I did not bore everyone on a nice Sunday evening.

      • Kartik 12:03 AM on April 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        You bring out an interesting point in number 5. I felt a bit lonely trying to share my knowledge among juniors (I believe I did enough on my part), perhaps if there were more of my batch mates interested in this interaction and sharing of knowledge, things could be different. @Pranav, remember I asked you once, we should perhaps pass things we learnt to juniors?

        Number 4 is what I observe happening these days in most of the technical groups that exist here in our campus – getting juniors to work on mostly pointless events. I led one, CSEA, this year and tried to do things differently, can’t say we succeeded at a level of my satisfaction but still it was a good experience.

        “Sharing knowledge was the cornerstone of all our meetings and interactions.” This was the most important thing missing in our meetings and hence a disappointing factor. I also observed a serious gap in interaction between us and our immediate juniors.

        PS: It’s Kartik, not Karthik :P I don’t expect this coming out from a Northie in general. ;-)

  • Kartik 12:29 AM on February 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hacker, , ,   

    The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future. You’re going to look like you have magic powers compared to everybody else.

    Gabe Newell, Founder and President, Valve (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU1xS07N-FA courtesy of code.org)
     
  • Kartik 4:09 PM on December 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CSEA, hacker, , juniors, , ,   

    Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live. Code for readability.

    John F Woods. Source: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/comp.lang.c++/rYCO5yn4lXw/oITtSkZOtoUJ (With special attribution to two juniors who posted this on homepage of CSEA’s upcoming website.)
     
  • Kartik 1:59 PM on July 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hacker, , ,   

    It is necessary to work, if not from inclination, at least from despair. Everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself.

    Charles Baudelaire (discovered this in Vinod Pathari Sir’s email signature and found it particularly interesting)
     
  • Kartik 1:09 AM on June 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Capture the flag, , ethical hacking, hacker, Hacking, , KaNiJe, Meetup, , Security,   

    A Fun Security Weekend with null and sCTF 

    I know it’s quite late to post about the last weekend when another weekend is around the corner, but couldn’t control myself as the last one was so eventful. :)

    It was almost 2 weeks back that I got to know about sCTF 2012. I have always wanted to learn about computer security (and the darker side of hacking), but haven’t been able to give time it to it. What followed was a quick search for team members from among my batch via FB – Nithin immediately showed interest, we pulled Jerrin in too. We quickly registered ourselves as Team KaNiJe (sounds Manga-ish right?) after calling Vinod Pathari Sir and convincing him to become our mentor.

    We were handed over the first set of questions for Round 1 via email. What I liked most about sCTF and its organizers was that they focused on being newbie friendly and were maintaining a decent level of quality with the contest. This was demonstrated in the Round 1 (christened – Learning Round by them) questions. They ranged from basics like installing VirtualBox, learning basics of PHP and SQL, and going up to buffer overflow exploits and reverse engineering. The sets of tasks were many and very few days with us – June 16 was the deadline. During this period I enjoyed hacking the basic missions at hackthissite.org, learnt a lot about iptables – default linux kernel firewall, buffer overflows, etc. I also went through my study report prepared for my Networks course assignment on common networking tools like ping, ssh, traceroute, ifconfig, netstat, wireshark, etc. to recall useful stuff and then tried to familiarize myself with the ethical hacking parlance using the suggested flashcards.

    I also happened to attend null Bangalore’s monthly meetup on Saturday (16th) and, need I mention, this was THE best community meetup I have ever attended! I got to learn basic SQL injection, some JavaScript obfuscation techniques and some memory forensics basics, the last one was arguably the best session in the meetup. Through the meetup I got in touch with an MCA alumnus from my college – Shruti (who apparently knew me by name already) and then enjoyed a buffet at a nearby restaurant with her friends (a gang of 6 white-hat hackers!). I was astonished to discover a whole new (for me) world of security professionals in India and how deeply they enjoy their work. This will definitely keep me interested in security area for a while, more so because I will be taking Vinod Pathari Sir’s elective on Computer Security in the coming sem. Sadly, I was unable to attend BangPypers June Meetup due to approaching deadline of sCTF’s first round.

    Earlier, on 15th night, we had divided the tasks among ourselves with 2 sections for each. On 16th afternoon, Jerrin and me met at CIS to finish up our submission for the first round, Nithin was collaborating from his home at Trivandrum. We had about 3 hours remaining for the deadline and I was yet to start on my sections (the lazy procrastinator that I am; and there had been a confusion about extension of deadline to add to my procrastination). My sections were Part 2 (mysql, apache, hardening, log file, php log file etc) and Part 4 (secure coding, attacks). Given my experience sysadmining for about past three years, it didn’t take me more than an hour to finish up the first section (of course, there were new things to learn as well). The other section was more of a problem with the time constraint but I managed to do most of it. Just near the deadline of 7 pm we submitted our partial solutions (the poor reverse engineering section was left blank completely!) and parted for the day.

    The next day was the second round (also online), scheduled from 10am to 4pm and which along with round 1 would decide our qualification for the finals. I reached CIS at 10 and logged in to the contest portal, Jerrin joined in soon and Nithin too remotely. There were questions divided into multiple sections – Crypto, Web, Binary, and Trivia. We got a good lead in the beginning when Nithin solved the first two in Binary section. I started with Trivia and found it fairly easy (Google was our assistant for that section ;-) ) in the beginning, but really got stuck at two questions in that section. Jerrin was solving Crypto questions one by one. The fun part was that all the teams and organizers were connected together with irc. We could ask doubts from them and they kept us entertained with their irc bot, live announcements of score board, and poking fun at each other and us. So, after a while I discovered that organizers had done a minor mistake which led to our advantage (I managed to finish those nasty 2 remaining Trivia questions) and put us on top for a while on the rankings. The next 2-3 hours were spent struggling on remaining questions with little progress and we ended up at rank 5 among the total 18 teams that were present.

    Two days later, we were informed via mail that we had qualified for the finals! And that we were fully sponsored to attend the first International Conference on Security of Internet of Things to be held from August 16 to 19 at Amritapuri campus. The final round of the contest will be held on Aug 20 after the conference. I was overly excited because I was not aware that we were eligible to attend the conference just by qualifying for the finals. According to Vinod Sir it will be great to listen to Ross Anderson who is speaking at the conference. Looking forward for a great experience at our first academic conference (and lots of learning in the field of security to prepare for the finals). :)

     
  • Kartik 10:12 PM on June 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , hacker, , hardware hacker, , Open Hardware, , ,   

    (Bangalore) Summer of ’12… with BeagleBone 

    BeagleBone

    This post will be slightly long. Lots of exciting things happening over a Bangalore summer this year for me. :D

    Somehow I always wanted to learn more about hardware and with a mentor like Khasim the road seems a lot more exciting. I first met him when he came to conduct a workshop on BeagleBoard during Tathva 2009 at my college – NIT Calicut. I was just a fresher then and have since regretted that I could not attend that workshop completely (due to my participation in various CS related competitions).

    Well, life took strange turns and I along with friend Jerrin landed up in Bangalore and got to hack together on a BeagleBone (a low-cost, high-expansion hardware-hacker focused BeagleBoard). We initially learnt the very basics of working with a board like this using the serial output on UART console (and discovered that we couldn’t proceed further until R219 was plucked out, thanks to another mentor Mr. Satish Patel from Khasim’s team; fiola on #beagle channel on freenode was a great help in troubleshooting as well), then there was Starterware which enabled us to experiment with blinking LEDs and other small programs for Bone.

    I then learnt how to read a schematic using the great book by Barr & Massa which Amarjit Singh suggested (now I will recommend this book, Programming Embedded Systems, as a TO-READ if you want to learn basics of embedded systems programming) and tried to understand the schematics of BeagleBone (rev. A4). I was able to identify how various components on the board connect to the processor and the direction of data flow among them and to understand how simple things like power reset, user LEDs, SDRAM, USB host & connector, microSD and expansion slots interact with the CPU.

    Exploration of the design specifications of the board with some details about each external peripheral present on the board from the BeagleBone System Reference Manual followed. I even tried to read ARM335x datasheet and Technical Reference Manual to extract useful information (like memory locations of on-chip peripherals, handling of interrupts at CPU level, etc.) – datasheets are HUGE documents! Using this data, referring the book by Barr & Massa and taking help from Starterware example programs I was able to write my (own) code from scratch for blinking an LED on BeagleBone as a pure learning exercise – believe me it was total fun (no matter however it may sound in this post)!

    Just today, I got my hands on Microchip’s Accessory Development Starter Kit for Android (pictured below). I will be using this to understand the ins and outs of Android’s Open Accessory Protocol and try to port the firmware on BeagleBone such that it could be used as an ADK platform as well. Lots of learning, fiddling with USB APIs, Android hacking, and of course embedded C programming to follow next (and I am up for the game!).

    Here are some pics of the awesome things I am playing with these days (click on image for larger view):

    I will try to regularly post about my progress here and yes, there is a lot more I have to say about this Bangalore Summer, but some other post, some other time. :)

    Ciao

    k4rtik

     
    • appu sajeev 10:30 PM on June 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      from where did u buy the beaglebone?

    • Sajjad Anwar (@geohacker) 12:16 AM on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Yay! Super excited to know that you are enjoying your time in Bangalore! Good luck :)

      • Kartik 12:45 AM on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. And it’s because of you and so many other people I am meeting here in Bangalore. :)

    • Pranav 9:50 AM on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Awesomeness :D

    • Pramode 10:02 PM on June 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Have fun hacking the BeagleBone (and other stuff)!!

      • Kartik 10:06 PM on June 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, loving it.
        And this time I would really love if you could visit our campus for a workshop on hardware hacking. We two would be able to assist too. :)

  • Kartik 8:40 AM on February 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , hacker, , , , , , , ,   

    Control All Computers in a Lab from a Single System 

    Quoting Dhandeep, our super-cool lab-admin:

    now , all 70 systems in the lab can be switched on and switched off by single commands from the hostel…

    Yes, that and a lot more is possible in our Software Systems Lab now. How? Read on…

    The Setup

    We have over 70 systems with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS installed on them. There is an administrative account (let’s call it admin for this post) and a guest (limited privilege) account on each. Needless to say, admin password is known only to admins and guest password is known to all who use the lab. All these systems are configured to be able to controlled remotely (read: OpenSSH server is installed on each).

    Basic Idea

    1. Log in via SSH without a password
    2. Write your desired command and run it in background
    3. Run the above in a loop for the lab’s subnet.

    Detailed Steps

    See Tips for Remote Unix Work (SSH, screen, and VNC) for the first step (and for more immensely useful tips on remote usage of *NIX systems).

    For Step 2, here is one example command:

    ssh -t admin@labsystem "echo  | sudo -S shutdown -h now" &

    In the above command labsystem is usually replaced with an IP address like 192.168.xxx.xxx and the <pass> with the password of the admin account.

    WARNING: it's not suggested to use the above command out in the open to save the password from prying eyes; also note that for additional security, you need to take a measure to make sure this is not saved in bash history or if the command is in a script, it's not accessible to others.

    The requirement of ampersand at the end depends on particular usage (if you want to run, let's say,  uptime command over ssh, you would not want the output to go to background, or you can redirect the output to some file). Putting the process in background, in this case, will help in the next step.

    The -S switch for sudo makes it possible to supply the password via stdin (we had discovered this switch from sudo's man page, but didn't manage to conclude "echo pass |" will do the trick until we discovered it at StackOverflow)

    Step 3: use your favorite scripting language (bash, python, etc.) and run the above command for all the systems of your lab subnet. An example in bash:

    for ip in {101..180}
    do
    	ssh -t admin@192.168.xxx.$ip "echo  | sudo -S shutdown -h now" &
    done
    

    The above code snippet will run the desired command for all systems in subnet within the IP range 192.168.xxx.101 to 192.168.xxx.180. Now, you can clearly see how putting the process in the background will help - the next iteration of the loop need not wait for the command in previous iteration to finish!

    In the passing, here's a small video I shot featuring Dhandeep when he got all excited to see this working:

    That's it. Try this out, share your tricks and have some *NIX fun in your lab. :-)

    PS: I have not covered how systems can be switched on with this setup. It basically involves broadcasting a magic packet to the subnet. Hope Dhandeep comes up with a blog post on that soon. ;-) Here it is: On the push of a button..

    Ciao

    Kartik

     
    • firesofmay 8:53 AM on February 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Sweet! I love it! ;)

    • Amarnath 8:54 AM on February 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting. But, I think you forgot to mention the important prerequisite for doing this task. Don’t you need to generate public keys for all machines to be controlled and pass it to the central control node? I believe only this would help in password-less remote login via SSH.

      Indeed Dhandeep seems to be pretty excited about it. :-)

      Cheers

      Amarnath

      • Kartik 10:03 AM on February 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comment Amarnath.

        Indeed, that is necessary and is mentioned as the first step. But instead of describing the whole process myself I chose to point to a good resource (Tips for Remote UNIX Work…) for that kind of setup. You missed out perhaps. ;-)

    • Lokesh Walase 5:41 PM on February 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Awesome !! :)

    • Imran 11:04 PM on February 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      You can use puppet to design more efficient system which gives you more flexibility in automation

      • Kartik 12:56 AM on February 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah, that’s right. I have that in my to do list to learn soon. :-) Though, I am not aware if it works for normal desktop systems too.

  • Kartik 6:13 PM on October 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hacker, , open source, , software engineering   

    …even if you wrote 100% of the code, and even if you are the best programmer in the world and will never need any help with the project at all, the thing that really matters is the users of the code. The code itself is unimportant; the project is only as useful as people actually find it.

    Linus Torvalds, on Software Development Management. Source: http://h30565.www3.hp.com/t5/Feature-Articles/Linus-Torvalds-s-Lessons-on-Software-Development-Management/ba-p/440
     
  • Kartik 10:31 PM on June 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , hacker, , , , ,   

    Root Samsung Galaxy S i9000 running GINGERBREAD.DDJV6 using Ubuntu Linux 

    I bought a Samsung Galaxy S i9000 just last month. The most prominent reason to buy an Android phone was that it’s based on Linux and I love the UNIX-based OS. Besides, Android as a platform provides so many opportunities into application development (and even kernel hacking) that I was simply tempted to buy one since last year.

    I have explored the phone since I got my hands on it – trying various apps, playing with 3G internet speeds (3.1 Mbps!), tons of widgets, shooting hundreds of pics with various modes and settings, upgrading to latest official firmware (from Froyo to Gingerbread), chatting (GTalk, Facebook), emailing, tweeting, keeping updated with latest news, instantly looking up words in dictionaries, managing my day with to-do lists, reading eBooks, playing Angry Birds, scanning random barcodes, watching videos, sending free SMS (via Free SMS Sender app), listening to music, blogging, etc. …the list is almost endless.

    The only thing I had delayed to do was rooting/flashing my phone as it voids the warranty from the manufacturer and there is always a little risk of things going bad. Another reason for this delay was my ignorance of availability of any Linux-compatible tool to do the actual flashing as I have grown so used to my latest Linux Mint install that I simply forget to boot Windows every time. Almost all the guides out there describe the process using a leaked out utility from Samsung – Odin – that works only on Windows. Today I managed to root my phone using a cross-platform and open source utility called Heimdall.

    Disclaimer: Follow the steps at your own risk, the author can not be held responsible for any damage that may occur to your device in the process.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Go to http://www.glassechidna.com.au/products/heimdall/ and download the latest binary for your platform for both command line tool and the GUI front end. In my case I downloaded Debian Linux (AMD64 / Intel 64) editions of Heimdall 1.2.0 – Command Line and Heimdall Frontend 1.1.1 as I am running Linux Mint 64-bit (based on Ubuntu 11.04).
    2. Install them one by one by double clicking on the downloaded deb files – first the command line deb and then the front end one.
    3. Press Alt+F2 and launch ‘heimdall-frontend’ to check whether it installed properly.
    4. Carefully read instructions given at http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=788108, take necessary precautions as mentioned there and download proper version of CF-Root kernel from the same page. As JV6 is not listed, I downloaded JVO (v3.2) as it is known to work with most of the Gingerbread builds. Extract the zip obtained two times to get the zImage.
    5. Power off your Galaxy S and enter into ‘Download mode’ by pressing and holding VOLUME DOWN, POWER and HOME keys together till you see a yellow triangle with ‘Downloading’ message.
    6. Connect the phone to the computer via USB cable and make sure it is recognized by running lsusb command in the Terminal. You will see something similar to
      Bus 002 Device 003: ID 04e8:6601 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd Z100 Mobile Phone

      in the output if it is recognized.

    7. Launch 'heimdall-frontend' as in step 3 and load the 'zImage' obtained in step 4 in Kernel (zImage) section.

      Heimdall Frontend 1.1

      Heimdall Frontend

    8. Press Start and within a few seconds your phone will automatically reboot and you can disconnect the cable. You will find 3 new apps - CWM, Superuser, and Tweaks installed.

    Now you can enjoy even more applications on your phone which need root access (like backup apps), or go on to install a custom ROM (as rooting is usually the first step in installing most custom firmwares) or simply play with the Linux terminal by installing Terminal Emulator (this app doesn't need root access, but without rooting you don't get access to even the simplest of shell commands like cat or less).

    Comments and questions are welcome (as usual :-)

    References:

    Happy rooting,
    Ciao

     
    • Pranav 12:24 AM on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Great! I rooted my 1 week old ZTE Blade (XCD35) jus yesterday! :D

      • Kartik 9:31 AM on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah, I know. In fact, your tweet regarding the same encouraged me to do this for my phone too. :-)

    • jadi 11:12 AM on August 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks. Helped me a lot and worked like a charm

    • Karthik 11:16 AM on October 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Dude, what apps have you tried out after rooting? Anything interesting? I want to know if its actually worth making the warranty void.

      • Kartik 2:18 PM on October 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        It’s definitely worth it. My whole purpose of buying an Android was this level of customization available with the platform.

        I recently flashed my phone with CyanogenMod 7.1 based on latest version of Android Gingerbread – 2.3.7, while the official updates from Samsung are still stuck at 2.3.3.

        Among apps – I am using
        1. AdFree – get rid of ads in apps
        2. ConnectBot – easy SSH from phone
        3. Clockwork ROM Manager – helps in flashing the phone with most custom mods
        4. Terminal Emulator – with busybox on rooting, provides most basic shell commands on the phone itself.
        5. Titanium Backup – take any type of backups including apps, and restore easily
        6. Superuser – the app which grants root permissions to the above mentioned apps.

        Hope this will convince you enough to try out rooting. Also CyanogenMod provides loads of changes in the UI and performance and feature enhancements, check its website for more.

    • Pranjal 10:33 AM on January 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      everything goes as mentioned in steps but after heimdall finishes the phone does not auto start and no apps are installed, I believe that even though it is showing that device detection yet its not properly detected because same problem of detection is what I am facing in windows, odin does not detect phone in debugging mode only..!!
      please help

      • Kartik 11:58 AM on January 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        If the problem is similar for ODIN too, there might be some hardware issue. Try posting your query in xda forums for expert advice on this.

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