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SchoolOS @ Outreach

October 29, 2010 21 comments

I am one of the member of cognizant outreach council (CSR wing of cognizant) . From cognizant we donated refurbished computers to schools. All the computers had pretty decent hardware configurations – mostly they are P4 processors with 256MB of RAM.  We donated 15 computers to “pallikaranai – Govt higher secondary school” and 2 computers to “Kannaginagar – Panchayat union primary school”.

Most of the computers didn’t have any operating systems installed. Some had Windows XP with no applications not even MS – Office. At the end of the day kids are not going to use P4 processors and 256 MB of RAM. They are going to use the applications and content inside the computer.

I learnt about School OS a Linux based operating system, built on top of ubuntu. It is a joint initiative by IIT-Delhi and NCERT – National council for Education Research and Training.  The creators of this operating system integrated lot of applications that targets students in schools.

Some of the applications worth mentioning here are,

1. Open Office – A software which is similar to Microsoft office.

2. Stellarium – A desktop planetarium

3. TuxPaint – A award winning drawing/painting program for kids

4.  supertux –  Addictive super mario type game

5. CodeBlocks – C/C++ IDE which is a better replacement for Turbo-C

6. Gnuplot, Octave– Math and plotting tools

and lot of programs related to maths,puzzles,chemistry,planets.

After getting approval from Outreach folks and my boss  i went to  ‘ pallikaranai’ school with a  bootable usb key  and my personal laptop. None of the computers had CD/DVD drive, so i had to install everything from usb and network.

When i was installing SchoolOS. A science teacher came inside the lab. She wanted to type something in Tamil and take a print out of it for the upcoming science exhibition . The computer teacher was using a Tamil Onscreen keyboard in Windows XP. It took her almost 30 minutes to complete typing a sentence in Tamil by clicking the onscreen tamil keyboard. The Geek inside me woke up!  I offered them to use school OS.  There is something called IBus in Linux , which helps people to type in almost any Indian language.  I enabled Tamil- Phonetic keyboard. With Phonetic keyboard if you type ‘amma’(mother) it will be converted into tamil equivalent to the sound  ‘amma’ .  I know know, with third party software you can enable this feature in windows XP 🙂 . With GNU/Linux it comes by default. Also  the whole SchoolOS user interface can be changed to use Tamil as the default language (Localized desktop).

It took 5 hours to install 10 systems with SchoolOS. I then spent some time with the teachers who used to manage the lab. I asked them to work on the operating system. They picked it up very easily. The teachers were amazed by the stellarium and  celestia. I showed them how to use codeblocks IDE to compile and run C/C++ programs. They agreed that it is better than Turbo-C.  I had to modify the C++ programs in the book a bit to make it work with the standard GCC compiler.

We are also planning to conduct events/training to students once in a week. To provide content and learning material for students, with the help from  Tamil Wikipedia community we started a mini project to download selected articles from Tamil wikipedia and make a CD out of it. Hope everything goes well :-).

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Categories: foss, fun, install, Linux, work

Dell vostro 3500 and Fedora 13

August 16, 2010 16 comments

Hardware

  • Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 350M(2.26GHz, Dual Core, 4T, 3MB L3)
  • 3GB (1X2G+1X1G) DDR3-1066MHz SDRAM, 2 DIMM
  • 320GB Hard Drive, 7200 RPM
  • Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller
  • Broadcom Corporation BCM4312 802.11b/g wireless
  • 8X DVD+/-RW Drive for N-Series
  • Dell Wireless 365 Bluetooth Module
  • 6-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery

Fedora 13 on dell vostro 3500

Installation

Fresh installation using Fedora 13 live usb works.

Details of lsmod,lspci,lsusb and cpuinfo

lsmod

lspci

lsusb

cpuinfo

Desktop Environment

I have tried Gnome, Gnome shell, Compiz fusion and sugar on my laptop everything works well.

Sound

Sound works by default.

VLC

Vlc 1.0.6 crashed initially , ran vlc using ‘MALLOC_CHECK=1 vlc’ to rectify the problem.

Wired network

Fedora uses r8169 module and it works

Wireless

Wireless won’t work by default, need to install kmod-wl package from rpmfusion non free repository.

Touchpad

Works fine. Tapping is not enabled by default, enable it by visiting System->Preferences->Mouse->Touchpad

Webcam

Webcam works. Clicked some pictures with cheese.

Bluetooth

Works. Transferred some files to my mobile.

Multimedia keys

Multimedia keys response is poor. (Play, pause,next,previous,stop,volume buttons ) I don’t know whether its the fault of my machine, because i can increase the volume with ease but cannot reduce it.

Setting up a Network installation Server

August 20, 2009 5 comments

Couple of days back , i have installed nearly 100 machines of my alma mater’s lab with Fedora 11. I used PXE based network installation instead of using DVD’s on each machine.I tried to document it here, as it might help someone who tries to do the same in future.

To install Fedora , we need the iso image (DVD) inside the hard disk. If you have a DVD but not the iso file its easy to create the iso file from DVD, just insert the DVD inside the machine and issue the following command,

dd if=/dev/sr0 of=/media/disk-1/fedora11.iso

Install following packages in your existing Fedora installation by using,

yum install httpd syslinux tftp-server dhcp system-config-kickstart

Configure TFTP server:

The TFTP Server configuration file is stored in /etc/xinetd.d/tftp

Example configuration file,

service tftp
{
disable = no
socket_type =
dgram
protocol = udp
wait = yes
user = root
server = /usr/sbin/in.tftpd
server_args = -s /tftpboot/
per_source = 11
cps = 100 2
flags = IPv4
}

Note the server_args variable , it refers to the TFTP root.

start the TFTP server using,

/etc/init.d/xinetd start

Configuring DHCP:

The DHCP configuration file is stored in /etc/dhcpd.conf
Sample configuration file:

allow booting;
allow bootp;
ddns-update-style interim;
ignore client-updates;
authoritative;
subnet 172.16.16.0 netmask 255.255.240.0 {
option subnet-mask 255.255.240.0;
option broad
cast-address 172.16.31.255;
range dynamic-bootp 172.16.28.2 172.16.28.240;
next-server 172.16.24.199 ;
filename “pxelinux.0”;
}

Note 1:
In above sample configuration file, next-server is the IP address of your TFTP server.
The IP addresses in above configuration file should be adjusted according to your network.


Note 2:

If DHCP fails to start, check /var/log/messages for error messages.

Start the DHCP server using,

/etc/init.d/dhcpd start

Using Kickstart:

Kick start file is used to automate the installation process,

Open kickstart file creator by issuing following command,

system-config-kickstart

When configuring kickstart using GUI, it should be noted that, the “Installation Method” should be “HTTP” , “HTTP server” field should be the IP address of machine which is having Fedora DVD dump. The “HTTP Directory” should be the directory in which you dumped (mounted) the iso file (here it is ‘fedora11’).

The packages to be installed can be preselected from the GUI tool.

After selecting various options from the kickstart GUI tool, save the file as ks.cfg.

Setting up Apache Webserver:

I have assumed my machines IP address is 172.16.24.199

Create a folder named fedora11 in /var/www/html/ (need to be root)

Mount the Fedora’s ISO image (needs to be root) inside /var/www/html/fedora11/ using,

mount -o loop /media/disk-1/fedora11.iso /var/www/html/fedora11/

Copy the ks.cfg (kickstart file) inside /var/www/html/

Start Apache webserver using,

service httpd start

Copying files to TFTP root:

Create a directory named /tftproot

Copy the kernel (vmlinuz) and ramdisk (initrd.img ) from the DVD and paste it in /tftproot/ directory. (you can find kernel and ramdisk in images/pxeboot/ directory of the installation media or the ISO file.)

Copy the /usr/share/syslinux/pxelinux.0 inside /tftpboot/ directory.

Create a directory named /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg

Create a file named ‘default’ and place it inside /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/ directory,

The content of the ‘default’ file should be,

DEFAULT pxeboot
TIMEOUT 10
LABEL pxeboot
KERNEL vmlinuz
APPEND initrd=initrd.img ksdevice=eth0 ks=http://172.16.24.199/ks.cfg lang=en_US keymap=us
ONERROR LOCALBOOT 0

Booting clients:

Switch on the machine in which you wish to install Fedora, enter into Bios setup and Enable PXE booting with LAN. Set the first boot device to network interface card (if required) and start booting from the network. Thats it!

Further Reading:
Cobbler – Installation server https://fedorahosted.org/cobbler/
ks.cfg – Sample kickstart file http://sagarun.fedorapeople.org/misc/ks.cfg

Categories: fedora, foss, install, mepco, network

My Summer Training Task:Kannel SMS setup on fedora

July 1, 2009 1 comment

I came to know about dgplug’s summer training when kushal announced it in ilugc,i didn’t know mbuf will be there to guide us [:)] ,my task in summer training is to setup a SMS gateway on fedora with kannel, test it and document it.

With the help of kannel you can send/receive sms from your GNU/Linux box.(Don’t just think of some third party text message sending sites [:P], its more than that )

Here are the use case scenarios i am trying to address:

* User sends us a text message.

* We might send them a reply after processing it (web application is used to process the text message).

* We might also periodically able to send the user text messages.

I successfully completed testing the last use case and in the process of documenting it.

I always wanted to create a desktop app for GNU/Linux with GTK+ ,i am thinking of picking up another project after finishing this task [;)].

Apart from summer training i am now teaching php in a private training centre for free,you know what teaching is the best way for doing some GNU/Linux advocacy [:D].

btw: Switch to firefox 3.5 😉

Categories: dgplug, fun, hack, install