Linux filesystem hierarchy: time for a overhaul?

tux_compAn important aspect that often decides the success of a software is simplicity – how easily can end users understand and use it? Does it have a steep learning curve? While there are numerous Linux software which are a delight to use, the Linux filesystem probably doesn’t fall under this category because of its hierarchy and nomenclature. Continue reading Linux filesystem hierarchy: time for a overhaul?

Financial bonds in IT jobs should be made illegal ASAP

coffee_compThere’s a practice among many IT companies (at least in India) to solicit financial bonds from freshers during recruitment. Some of them take it a step further and demand the academic marksheets and certificates of the students as mortgage. What’s more unfortunate is that these include Indian companies. Continue reading Financial bonds in IT jobs should be made illegal ASAP

Consumer Electronics: is open source in store for the next generation?

opensource_compWith high performance quad-core smartphones and tablets dominating the market, more and more of our data getting stored in the cloud each second, the number of users carrying laptops and running desktop OS-es is diminishing each day. Continue reading Consumer Electronics: is open source in store for the next generation?

Koding: not fit for serious coding, not yet

coffee_compWhen I came across Koding for the first time, I instantly became a huge fan because of how generously they are providing a high network speed 64-bit Ubuntu VM in the could. However, after using (facing a lot of difficulties as I have explained below) it for a few months, I have decided to desert it. Continue reading Koding: not fit for serious coding, not yet

Long lives, untimely deaths…

Long lives, untimely deaths and material happiness are so important factors to men because they either love life incredibly or are oblivious of the reality of death. Now that I think of it, nothing other than a calm blissful mind and one’s work seem to be of any true significance in the universal scheme of things. The more you let outside factors disturb these the more you get entangled in life… more than it’s worth.

Ready wit vs. logical thinking

coffee_compSpeaking of being smart and being brilliant, most of the remarkable (in a good sense) people who managed to leave a lasting impression in my mind are surprisingly taciturn. The only times I have seen their brilliance sparkle was when they were involved in some serious discussion. In my observation, the process of disciplined and fruitful personal thinking is something that develops through time and needs a lot of practice. I have seen kids having exceptional ready wit and ending up being rather insignificant while the odd one who used to spend a lot of time to finish normal activities becoming extraordinary.

Is ready wit really worth bragging?

While parents and adults adore kids who talk taller than their age (as it seems rather cute) or teenagers who retort back with slapstick answers, correct and disciplined thinking needs a lot of time and nurturing. A person who thinks deeply can also handle more trains of thoughts in their mind than quick thinkers. Think of chess players. Strong Blitz players make occasional mistakes like novices but strong Standard players are less prone to those kind of mistakes.

In my case, I seldom give the expected answers to verbal questions immediately. In many instances I request others for some time and I get back with more clarification or correctness within an hour. The reason is that my mind is always pre-occupied and asynchronous questions seldom register so fast. And this experience is not only related to technicalities, it also happens often in daily life. For example, when someone asks me the time or when the bus conductor asks me my destination or a quick question-answer session. While it definitely appears I am slow, the reason is that my mind is already working on something which in most cases is much more important than the time on my watch.

Logical thinking takes time because it takes care of many aspects – facts, reasons, the conclusion, any possible gotchas, any possible counter arguments and so on. And note that the threads run more or less simultaneously towards the end. Let’s take an example. What’s the answer to – What’s heavier? 1KG iron or 1KG cotton? A smart guy will readily answer – both weigh same. Now let’s consider a guy who is really strong in Physics. His train of thought might be – 1KG cotton will occupy more volume and acceleration due to gravity will decrease with height. Definitely in its normal form a ball of cotton will be much larger in volume than equal mass of iron… and so on… He is taking care of the facts. He is trying to be accurate! Trying to make sense of a seemingly trivial question!

As a matter of fact, great innovations and discoveries in the history of human civilization were not results of fast developments (even if the inception was) but were results of meticulous research that took time. Quickies don’t really count.

Books or eBooks?

coffee_compI had been a voracious reader throughout my childhood. The quality faded with time and once I was into software professionally, it was completely lost. I had hardly touched books over years or read the newspapers regularly. eBooks and specifications or technical papers are the only things I would read and undeniably the advantage to easily search digital records empower even Google. eBooks also have their inherent advantages such as night-time reading: just before hitting the bed, you can enjoying reading you favorite author without interfering with your partner or roommate’s sleep. There are many eBook readers in the market for your handheld devices. They, to some extent, make the reading process easier. For instance, some of the readers come with inbuilt dictionary, so when you get stuck with a word, you can touch the word and the inbuilt dictionary gives the meaning of the word. So it takes less effort and avoids the trouble to refer to a physical dictionary.

However, I observed from two incidents that reading a book for joy or knowledge has more impact than reading the same material in ebooks. One is when I left Dostoevsky’s Notes from the House of the Dead half-read at home during a vacation. The other one was during my MS exam preparations: being naturally abhorrent to (and so ignorant of) DBMS related domains I had very little interest in Data Warehousing which was a mandatory subject. During my mid semester exams I tried to get an understanding from the eBook but it didn’t help me as I could not have a true grasp on the subject, something very rare of me because I saw the subject as a useless compulsion. But when I bought the book a few days before the semester finals and sat down to read it, I finished 3 chapters in a go and with proper understanding!

I believe the reason behind the above two incidents is true concentration. An internet connected device is a window to the world; and also an world of disturbances as long as the reading is concerned. When I am on my laptop reading an eBook, after each 5 minutes I tend to get distracted by one thing or the other… but the case is totally different when I am reading a real book – my full concentration is on the material I am reading. Moreover, there is always that special bond which you develop with the books you love to read. While reading, when we come across a touching or motivating sentence, we mark or memorize the sentence and the process becomes very engaging.

Many experts predict physical books may not stand the taste of coming generations. It might become true if we encourage the future to read only digital media. In my personal opinion, it would be a huge cultural loss and will lead to psychological devolution. We should always encourage kids to read books rather than ebooks so that they enjoy the content fully and develop their power of imagination in the process.

Why some open source projects fail: a case study in Slitaz

slitazSince I booted it the first time Slitaz has been my most favourite mini distro. However, since the release of Slitaz 4.0 (in April 2012), development has been very slow and there is no clear release schedule in the near future. To push a new release I put my efforts and cleared one of the major standstills: the new kernel configuration and an IDE related issue that was inherently a part of the new configuration and some reported bugs but clearly that wasn’t enough. A proposed beta is in a standstill due to a CDROM eject related issue (check here if you are interested in working on it) and it doesn’t seem like this is going anywhere. While I think that this should not be the reason why a beta release can’t be done (because USB is eventually going to seal the fate of CDs the same way the latter have done to floppies), officially I am not in a position to drive these decisions. However, from this experience I identified some probable reasons why an open source project might fail:

  • The project didn’t remain interesting enough for developers. I think Slitaz has lost its relevance due to strong competition from mini distros like Porteus. Though it isn’t as small as Slitaz, it is newer, more promising and being actively developed.
  • Reluctance to embrace the bleeding edge in fear of losing the backward compatibility. The kernel configuration I did for Slitaz was on 3.2 though their were later stable versions available. Maybe a fork with an older kernel could have been considered. In addition, there was not much interest in supporting newer technologies like UEFI.
  • Loss of visibility due to long absence from the news. I saw far too many users asking the status of the project in the forums but there was no concrete answer for that other than a lot of NULL talk on the reasons why there is no path. That leads to loss of interest in users; specially when alternatives like ArchBang, Linux Lite, Porteus are available.
  • The original developer(s) are gone and the new developers, even if interested need to start understanding things from the scratch. The completion path is too long to hold them.
  • What interested me more in Slitaz was the fact that it was developed independently on top of the kernel. However, now it seems that this was also its weakness. It did not have enough developers to backup and it never grew big enough to draw the attention as it would if it were an equally light and fast fork of any major distro like Arch Linux or Mandriva or Ubuntu.

Despite these I wish Slitaz all the best and hope that someone adds momentum to the release cycle and we see a Slitaz 5.0 someday.