Morsels of life!

Moving to 4096 bit RSA GPG key AA544AA1

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 04:37:14 GMT

This is an annoucement that I am moving to my 4096 bit RSA GPG key AA544AA1, henceforth please try and use this.

I created and have (sparingly) been using this key ever since SHA1 was found to be weak, and larger RSA keys and stronger signatures began to be the norm. There weren't many signatures on the key and the WOT was not strong but it looks good now. The older key in the Debian keyring (1D389887) has also been replaced with the new key and I will revoke it when the number of signatures on the new key crosses those on the old key (that might be in an year or two, I suppose).

Fingerprint information:

Current key:

pub 1024D/1D389887 2006-04-08
      Key fingerprint = 5B6B F223 B769 63E9 E2CB 0A3F E1EB BEA5 1D38 9887
uid                  Y Giridhar Appaji Nag <>
sub   2048g/73EAF0B5 2006-04-08
sub   2048R/DBBECADC 2009-04-04

New 4096R key:

pub 4096R/AA544AA1 2009-05-22
      Key fingerprint = BF81 3A99 E07C D0F8 653D 9666 A8D2 CD13 AA54 4AA1
uid                  Y Giridhar Appaji Nag <>
sub   4096R/843A5776 2009-08-08

It has been ...

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:46:29 GMT

Dear life,

It has been a pretty crazy couple of months, had to stay away from most of the things that I would normally breeze through, including but not limited to a few aspects of my real life day job, Debian work, movies, the routine yearly Oct-Nov time vacation that I take etc. Obviously, hobbies took a big hit. Also had to let go of an opportunity to travel to one of my favorite places, IIT Guwahati; something that I don't usually pass up. Sigh! But such is life.

Been bouncing back slowly:

I finally moved a few domains that I run (including my personal domain) and their email to a linode and I am quite liking it so far (I would've been great if I had some more disk space at my disposal but 16GB isn't all that bad).

On the Debian front, finished attending to package sponsorship requests, I've been updating packages (there is one elinks RC bug that I'll fix next) and work is finally under progress for the clang ITP in the Debian GIT repository.

There are a ton of pictures in RAW format that I haven't yet had the time to convert to JPEG (I use UFRaw but the output that I got from Bibble Pro is fairly impressive -- perhaps I should consider getting myself a license) but that could wait.

Found a decent place to rent (I should be moving in about a month or so). I would've liked a place that isn't an apartment or at least in a smaller community, preferably something in-town but good places are difficult to come by.

I am back,


New computing toy - Lenovo X200

Thu, 29 Oct 2009 20:17:14 GMT

The 5 year old IBM Thinkpad T43 that I have been using at work was showing its age: overheating, poor response on disk operations (saving a small file in vi seems to be taking increasingly long times), it doesn't boot sometimes and I have to power cycle it. However, I was putting up with it because the newer T series laptops from Lenovo don't come anywhere close to the quality of the T43. But the final nail in the coffin was a crack in the LCD.

So I got myself a Lenovo X200 about a week ago and I am liking it so far. The weight, battery life, performance and the form factor are a big win. What I don't like about it is:

I guess these complaints are just a hangover from my T43 years and and I am nit-picking.

The machine has been running Debian testing since the day it fell into my hands. Installation and configuration have been a breeze. I hope it will serve me as well as the T43 did.

One attitude away from success

Mon, 19 Oct 2009 18:21:10 GMT

We are often just one attitude away from success

  -- Anonymous

Today's vote

Thu, 23 Apr 2009 02:12:38 GMT

Dear Friends,

When you go out to vote today, please remember that it is most likely not local issues that should dominate your choice. The fact that there is a perpetual ditch on your way to work, no bus shelter at the bus stop that you use, or a poor neighbourhood road that disappears each monsoon should not determine the choice of candidate. Your MP doesn't have much to do in these areas, at-best they can spend the Rs. 2 crore under the MPLAD scheme to try and keep you happy. Local issues should be your primary concern in the municipality elections or perhaps in the legislative assembly elections, not in the general elections.

The members of parliament decide policy, laws and future of the country at a national level. You should be worried about their participation in the law and policy making process (what issues did they bring up in the parliament, which laws do they support, what questions do they ask in the sessions etc.). Please do keep that in mind. Some of the candidates may even take up issues that are clearly not important for the city in which you live, that is OK (like I said before, these are not your local elections).

Also, don't hesitate to vote for an independent candidate or a candidate from a small party just because they don't belong to a popular national level or state level party. While you may feel that your vote isn't being "used" well, you would want to encourage good people to contest elections. Having them lose their deposit each time they get into the fray is not the way to do that.

Thank you.

GNU/kFreeBSD added to the Debian archive

Mon, 06 Apr 2009 12:17:11 GMT

Yay! one more big step towards being a universal operating system. Please welcome kfreebsd-i386 and kfreebsd-amd64 versions of GNU/kFreeBSD to be among the list of official architectures in Debian.

The GNU/kFreeBSD installer is based on FreeBSD sysinstall and is not the regular debian-installer, but efforts are underway to build a native Debian installer.

e-mudhra digital certificate

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 07:26:06 GMT

I just applied for an individual digital signature certificate at e-Mudhra CA. They have an inaugural offer price of Rs. 248 for a class 3 individual certificate with a validity of two years. The price is good! There is physical presence verification with official documentation at a registration authority (RA) of e-Mudhra, but that should be fairly straightforward. I am hoping that I would be able to file my income tax returns digitally this year.

Experience with the RA, CA and the IT department would be reported.

External memory data-structures library

Tue, 17 Mar 2009 06:19:33 GMT

I have been looking for a free C library that supports common data structures (queues, trees, hashes etc.) and algorithms (sort, bulk search etc.) in external memory backed by regular files. One piece of software that I have been able to find as being closest to what I want was stxxl, a C+++ STL for extra large data sets. Please let me know if you happened to stumble upon something on these lines.

PS: I filed an RFP for libstxxl and I am willing to sponsor uploads in case somebody is interested in packaging and maintaining it.

Wagah-Attari and Hussainiwala

Mon, 26 Jan 2009 06:47:45 GMT

Pakistan flag and Emblem of India Fellow countrymen, happy Republic day to you all.

Any trip to Punjab is incomplete without atleast one visit to the daily tamasha at the Wagah-Attari border. This is probably one of the few places on earth where you would see the Pakistan flag right next to the Emblem of India.

I arrived at the place a couple of hours before the vening flag down ceremony but was too late to be able to get a comfortable seat in the crowd of a few thousands; the place was already packed. Luckily, a BSF ranger (who incidentally was not allowing the crowds in any more) looked at my tripod and camera, thought I was a journalist and led me to the VIP section which is as close to the gates as one can get.

For a very long time preceding the ceremony, there is nationalist music blaring on the tannoys, crowds screaming in unison: LA ilAha ill-Allah on the Pakistani side and vandE mAtaram, bhArat mAtA ki jai on the Indian side. On either side of the border gates, kids run up and down the road with their respective national flags while young men climb onto the top-most walls and wave flags high in the air. One gentleman was commenting that while women on 'our' side are allowed to dance and sit anywhere, 'they' don't allow that, "see how the men and the women there are grouped separately".

Thousands of spectators Waving the Pakistan flag Waving the Indian flag Women dancing

The half hour of the retreat ceremony is full of action with the Indian BSF rangers in their red turbans and khakhis, and the Pakistani rangers in black salwaar-kameez marching heavily down the road, glaring into each others eyes, competing on who can kick higher into the air and possibly also on who has the best kept moustache. The rangers on either side of the gates know that they are entertaining their home crowd and spare no effort to do their best.

Indian BSF rangers marching Indian BSF rangers at-ease
Indian ranger marching towards the gate Indian BSF ranger Indian BSF ranger
Border gate, Pakistan crowd and rangers India and Pakistan flags Crowds going back home

The retreat ceremony is so popular that it is difficult to allow in all the people that come in to watch. So a clone of the ceremony has been setup at the Hussainiwala border. However, Hussainiwala is popular not because of the flag retreat, much less because the 1971 war memorial still has a lot of marks of artillery firing, but because of Bhagat Singh's memorial. The memorial moves one to tears.

Hussainiwala: Sukhdev, Bhagat Singh and Raj Guru Hussainiwala bridge: Sympathetically detonated in the 1971 war

Few more pictures from the Hussainiwala memorials:

Hussainiwala: Sukhdev, Bhagat Singh and Raj Guru Hussainiwala: Bhagat Singh memorial Hussainiwala bridge piers and war memorial Artillery fire on Hussainiwala bridge piers Artillery fire on Hussainiwala bridge piers

Movies for the day

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 15:39:43 GMT

I went to watch Slumdog Millionaire this afternoon. The movie is good, but doesn't live up to the hype around it. However, the initial sequence where the kids are chased by the police through the slums of Dharawi was excellent. The movie is very Indian, but one thing that stands out is that Jamal Malik is accused of cheating because he is a boy from the slums, and IMO, India is country where people believe that anything is possible and if someone from a slum wins on a game show, it wouldn't surprise a lot of people let alone make them suspicious.

Pretty much everybody seems to describe SDM as the story of a boy from Mumbai's slums who answers all the questions on who wants to be a millionaire and is suspected of cheating. While that is how the plot goes, I don't know if that was how Danny Boyle intended people to know the movie as. I felt that SDM is the story of a young man who wants to be on the TV game show for as long as possible so that his love can watch him. Neither the money nor the intellectual challenge of being on the show matter to him at all.

I am watching The Mystic Masseur at home right now. Most movies from The Merchant Ivory 'period movie' collection are available at a discounted price in the stores these days :-).

Oh, I finally made myself a Hackergotchi hackergotchi

Gurudwara Tarn Taran Sahib

Fri, 23 Jan 2009 14:07:13 GMT

About 25KM from Amritsar is Tarn Taran. Tarn Taran was founded by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjun Dev who also built a Gurudwara there and named it after the town. The Gurudwara has the largest Sarovar (lake) among all the Sarovar's across all Gurudwaras. The place is calm, peaceful and a treat to the senses. I was there one winter morning and took some pictures.

The Sarovar:

Tarn Taran Sahib Sarovar

And a few more pictures from the Gurudwara:

Tarn Taran Sahib Tarn Taran Sahib Tarn Taran Sahib Tarn Taran Sahib

The Mozart of Madras

Thu, 22 Jan 2009 13:39:42 GMT

I have been listening to music from the Laya project since a few days. It is a set of CDs I picked up from an interesting hippie-ish place called Psybabas on Castle street. Actually, one rarely gets to listen to such sounds. Ideas of similar music can be found scattered in the movies from the early 90s; Hai la sa reminds me of ETilOni sEpalanTa from donga donga. My favorite track though is LA ilAha ill-Allah which sounds very fresh and different from how one would expect it to be.

On a related noted, ETilOni sEpalanTa was composed by A. R. Rahman. I have great respect for the gentleman and recently H pointed me to an article in Tehelka titled The Mystic Master. While a lot has been written about him recently, mostly in the backdrop of The Golden Globe that he won, this article dwells on the person unlike probably anybody did before. Must read.

Nek Chand rock garden - Chandigarh, India

Fri, 21 Nov 2008 17:59:32 GMT

When I was in Chandigarh, I visited the Nek Chand rock garden. The place has a lot of art (mostly sculpture) built out of a large amount of household and other waste. The park has sections of arrays of similar sculptures of all kind. This rock garden was the pet project of one Mr. Nek Chand which city authorities discovered a few years after he starting it.

While most of the park is very interesting and beautiful, it looks like the authorities also expanded the original creations with quite a few things that Mr. Nek Chand certainly did not build himself. A few pictures:

Pots, pillars and electrical sockets Bicycle forks and electric sockets Electric sockets and a switch
Maidens on the grid Geometrix Some monkey business
The bangled peackock Humble beginnings Lone warrior
Saucers and Pebbles We are a family Welcome home Tea anybody? Pebbles on a door

Proud to be an official part of Debian

Tue, 14 Oct 2008 06:24:04 GMT

I am proud to be officially a part of what is quite possibly the largest free software project on the planet. To all the people (few of you don't even use Debian - you know who you are) who have been motivating and helping me, and some that actually spent time working in past few days/weeks towards making this happen: hazaar thanks!

te_IN translation for Debian Installer

Sun, 12 Oct 2008 05:12:59 GMT

My parents found it strange that I spend considerable time in the night doing "some Linux thing", so the other day I explained to them what Free software is and we talked about copyright and licensing. I was very happy that they were able to appreciate it. I also gave a Debian Installer demo.

While there are a bunch of Indian languages supported in the Debian Installer, ?????? (Telugu) isn't one of them. They noticed it and motivated me to work on te_IN translation for d-i and promised to help me. So the three of us have been discussing translation strings. I have been committing changes slowly and intend to complete this activity in a few months.

Lack of interest in translation meant that I never gave much thought to it but I see that translating software is rather difficult and it is an activity that would benefit a lot from two or three people doing it together. I found a glossary at but there are a bunch of problems

I am using these simple guidelines for translation:

A few resources that I have been using:

I will have to find a good quality comprehensive Telugu general knowledge book or an official A.P. govt. document to translate ISO 3166 codes etc. The Manorama yearbook would've been great, unfortunately Telugu is not one of the few languages it is published in. I will also bring my copy of Sankaranarayan's dictionary from my next month Hyderabad visit.

If you have suggestions on any of these (pointers to guidelines, resources that are DFSG free and I could copy from etc.) that would make doing this easy for me, please do let me know.

Naidu does good one-off Telugu string translations in Launchpad (so does praveenkumarg, btw), and Naidu has promised to do some of the work as well as review. If all goes well, I will try and create a debian-10n-telugu sometime in the future.

One for

Sat, 04 Oct 2008 10:19:05 GMT

This one derives inspiration from revealing errors site that Benjamin Mako Hill runs.


The kid in the picture was trying to use the Tata Indicom kiosk at Richmond Road (Bangalore) and suddenly a Windows start menu turned up on the screen. Sound and tested technology backing is what the kiosk reads in bold; well, if you insist!

BOSS Distribution

Mon, 29 Sep 2008 07:27:38 GMT

I came across a news item in The Hindu business section written by a Corporate Reporter about BOSS GNU/Linux 3.0. The piece said that BOSS is a linux based operating system (OS) in 18 Indian languages, but the main features were described saying

The OS is endowed with Bluetooth for short range communications along with salient features such as RSS feed reader and PDF viewer to edit documents.
I would've expected better from The Hindu.

Then I hopped onto the BOSS Linux website, and even though it is a Debian derivative, Debian has not been acknowledged. The FAQs and a bunch of other documents have been copied directly from Debian without the copyright notices and the original authors have not been credited. Most changes were s/Debian/BOSS/g (with a few mistakes). What a shame, BOSS comes from CDAC and NRCFOSS, Govt. of India.

I suppose we could learn a thing or two from Bhutan.

/whois appaji

Sun, 14 Sep 2008 09:33:12 GMT

Since the past few months I've been getting a lot of email at not intended for me. Initially I thought it was spam but I realised that people have been inadvertently sending me mail thinking appaji is somebody else. So I get:

Obviously, I also get mail that sometimes says "I did not get your response". I've often tried responding explaining to the senders that I am not who they think I am, but there is no use. There is a LOT of personal or otherwise important information like addresses, phone numbers, financial transactions, passwords to some web-service accounts, domain transfer authorisation keys etc. in these emails. This makes me very uncomfortable.

It had to be a UFO

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 19:53:18 GMT

I just got back from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a movie in which Steven Spielberg takes his obsession with the extra terrestrial to the next level.

Please watch it if you feel that times goes too fast, the two hours that you are watching the movie will seem like two years.

And it had to be a UFO in the end :)

Update: I should have kept the spoiler under lj-cut, but now that I think of it, that wouldn't help people aggregating the posts. I suppose I will avoid posting spoilers.

Alumni mail service moves to Hotmail

Fri, 30 May 2008 18:43:57 GMT

I knew better when I neither advertised nor used my IITG Alumni forwarding email address, and I suppose I'll not do that, ever.

For one, the ID given was ridiculous, connected to my name in a rather weird fashion with a number thrown into it and nobody bothered to reply when I asked if I could change it. And now the domain-name part of the email ID has been changed forcing people to tell all their contacts about the change, but this takes the cake -- the service has been moved to Hotmail with 2GB free space.

Huh! Thanks but no thanks.

I really disapprove of such widespread services (which should really not have a commercial angle to them) being taken over by the Googles, Ciscos and the Microsofts of the world.

What should be NEW?

Wed, 28 May 2008 08:27:26 GMT

For some reason, I was under the impression that uploading a new upstream release would place the package in the NEW queue. I was proved wrong because I was able to upload ELinks 0.12~20080527-1 to experimental yesterday and I am a DM who can't upload NEW packages.

To me, this did not make a whole lot of sense. NEW exists to keep the Debian archive legal and to prevent serious QA issues. Uploading a new upstream release of a package pushes a _new_ orig.tar.gz file to the archive and could contain potentially DFSG non-free material which is an issue if the package is being uploaded to main.

What is a bit ironic here is that a DM can't upload an updated package that is essentially the same except that it creates new debugging-symbols packages from the same source package. To a very large extent, these -dbg packages should neither be of questionable legality nor have serious QA issues. What I don't know is if it is necessary that these go to NEW because the FTP masters add overrides manually.

In the Valley of Elah

Tue, 20 May 2008 08:59:33 GMT

A brilliant commentary on how the mindless war in Iraq has been effecting the lives of people in the USA, In the Valley of Elah says a lot without speaking much. By the end of the movie, a father -- the same who tells his disturbed soldier-son over the phone: "it is your nerves speaking" -- hangs the US flag upside down.

A full week of high fever kept me down and even the "low hanging fruit" of life went undone. Then, another few days of blood-red eyes, thanks to some stiff antibiotics that I was on. The cause for this recurring fever seems to be an infection of the throat and tonsils, so it looks like I might have to consider getting my tonsils removed. To some extent, In the Valley of Elah shook me out of my moroseness. H says that Charlize Theron is a very cerebral actress and I must agree.

On a related note, I was pointed to this neat article titled Why Do They Hate Us? in which Mohsin Hamid says that the question that US-o-American's should be asking is Why do they love us?.

Harmandir Sahib

Fri, 18 Apr 2008 21:44:57 GMT

Harmandir Sahib (Popularly known as the Golden Temple).

Harmandir Sahib

This happens to be one of the favorite angles for people taking pictures of the golden temple. Certainly not for no reason. This picture is best viewed large.

Five fine movies

Sun, 13 Apr 2008 18:22:06 GMT

Five Six exceptional movies that I saw over the past few weeks:

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer: The rise and fall of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a genius perfume maker who scripts his own end.

The Illusionist: The story of a magician who returns after 15 years to do what his childhood sweetheart wants him to (make them disappear together).

The Black Dahlia: Based on James Ellroy's novel with the same name, the movie gives the unsolved-in-real-life mystery a plausible end.

The Lives of Others: Art moves, and changes people and every single action makes a difference. Stasi Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler (HGW) was _fantabulos_.

Infamous: A beautifully made movie about Truman Capote and his life while he is researching for his book In Cold Blood.

The Kite Runner: In which Aamir redeems himself -- of his guilt of being a coward and not helping his childhood friend Hassan, when he is raped -- by saving Hassan's son from the Taliban.

Links to the corresponding Wikipedia articles are rather unimaginative, but I am in no mood for a lot of text.

Remembering the Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Sun, 13 Apr 2008 07:54:33 GMT

Remembering the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Exactly 89 years ago this day (the 13th of April 1919), people were shot at from here:

Jallianwala Bagh - People were fired at from here
Quoting from the Wikipedia article:
A group of 90 Indian British Indian Army soldiers marched to the park accompanied by two armoured cars. The vehicles were unable to enter the Bagh through the narrow entrance.
The Jallianwala Bagh, or garden, was bounded on all sides by houses and buildings and had few narrow entrances, most of which were kept permanently locked. Since there was only one open exit except for the one already blocked by the troops, people desperately tried to climb the walls of the park. Many jumped into a well inside the compound to escape from the bullets. A plaque in the monument says that 120 bodies were plucked out of the well.
As a result of the firing, hundreds of people were killed and thousands were injured. Official records put the figures at 379 killed (337 men, 41 boys and a six-week-old baby) and 200 injured, though the actual figure is hotly disputed to this day. The wounded could not be moved from where they had fallen, as a curfew had been declared.
Few more pictures from the memorial:
Jallianwala Bagh - Wall with bullet marks Jallianwala Bagh Jallianwala Bagh - Wall with bullet marks
Jallianwala Bagh - Amar Jyoti Jallianwala Bagh - Memorial Jallianwala Bagh - Martyrs well