Older blog entries for amits (starting at number 53)

KVM Forum 2011

The KVM Forum for this year is happening in Vancouver, Canada:


The schedule's jam-packed; this is the first time we're going to have parallel tracks (which sucks, since one can't attend all the talks).

There has always been interest from developers in KVM, being the nice, clean, modular solution that it is. But now that it's been dominating the SPECVirt results, businesses are looking at it as well, so there are a few end-user talks on the schedule this time, which is nice to see.

I'm going to be running a BoF session on guest agents and guest-host communication protocols.

I'm looking forward to meet the team.  I'm not staying back for the co-located LinuxCon Vancouver (though KVM Forum participants get a free entry; so you could register for KVM Forum instead of registering for LinuxCon if you haven't done so yet).


This is a post from http://log.amitshah.net/, licensed CC BY-SA.

Syndicated 2011-07-18 11:43:00 (Updated 2011-07-18 11:43:01) from Amit Shah

FUDCon India Planning: Weekly Meetings

If you want to keep track of how FUDCon India planning is shaping up, or want to lend a helping hand in deciding how it shapes up, there are two weekly meetings you should be aware of:

  1. The IRC meeting on #fudcon-planning on irc.freenode.net every Friday at 1300 UTC / 1830 IST.
  2. The weekly face-to-face meeting at the Red Hat office in Pune, India.  This happens every Tuesday at 1500 IST.  If you can't attend these and if some other day works for you, drop us an email at the India list.
The preparations for the FUDCon are well under way, watch the India list for minute-by-minute details.
This is a post from http://log.amitshah.net/, licensed CC BY-SA.

Syndicated 2011-07-18 04:57:00 (Updated 2011-07-18 04:57:01) from Amit Shah

First FUDCon India meeting

A few of us at the Red Hat Pune office strolled into a conf room to discuss plans and fix responsibilities for organising the FUDCon India 2011 at Pune. It was an impromptu session; we couldn't include non-RH organisers but we kept the details to what the people present in the room have already committed to, according to the list of organizers.

We agreed on a set of action items.  There are no dates attached yet; those should be discussed and decided in the next meeting.  Some clarity needs to come from others; the first planning meeting on IRC scheduled for the 15th of July should shed light over those matters.


In addition to all that's listed below, we might get extra sponsorship money (in addition to the FUDCon budget) from some companies.

If there's some budget surplus, who'd like a fully-sponsored elephant ride through the city?  (Or at least to the event venue?)  Be quick to nominate yourself!


  • All: blog about the activities you're doing. Ensure your blog is aggregated on planet.fedoraproject.org.
    • (Rahul to contact other organisers to do this) 
    • Done: Rahul sent an email to the India list.

  • Banners - Suchakra taking care of this
  • Booklet - Ankur Sinha with others.
    • Rahul to take part in this too

  • 1st priority: get international speakers to book flights ASAP. Get them to submit 'sponsorship needed' tickets.
  • 2nd priority: contact HR, get invitation letters for foreign delegates
  • 3rd priority: book hotels

All these 3 depend on:
  1. who's coming?
  2. who are we sponsoring for flights/hotels (visas are self-sponsored)
  3. other guidelines -- should get clarified this friday on irc meet

  • People not listed on talks page but will come:
    • Members from the Red Hat Community Architecture team
    • They will come from their own budget. Confirm if stay is also from their budget.
    • Get them and their talks listed on Wiki page.

  • T-shirt design: Rahul to contact design team
    • Done: Rahul opened a ticket
  • Videos: Ramki to contact pycon people who have offered to videograph + host videos

  • Swag: Can come from Ambassadors budget, but we could put our money if we have enough sponsorships.
  • FUDPub: Kushal to contact pubs.

  • Lunch: Should we sponsor till a cut-off? All? Only speakers + outstation delegates?
    • Only sponsor speakers + outstation delegates, have for-pay counters for everyone else. Rahul says he hasn't seen a conf where food is free.
    • If we get lunch out of the budget, we can do better things for fudpub (starters in addition to one round of drinks) and swag (for more people)

  • Website + online voting (for barcamp): Saleem
    • Rahul to send initial mail about website to fedora advisory board.
    • Done: Rahul sent initial mail.

  • Hotels + logistics: Satya + Murty
    • Get quotes
    • Book as soon as we know number of int'l / non-Pune delegates who we are sponsoring
    • We could book for people who are staying on their own budget, eg., self-sponsored delegates / speakers. 

  • Food/catering: PJP
    • multiple options
      • boxed set
      • stall
    • explore both for two days. 3rd day will be paid for by individuals (or adjusted if budget permits).
    • Check with COEP if they can keep canteens open for all three days

  • To check with COEP - Logistics team + Rahul
    • infrastructure - wireless
    • canteens remaining open for all 3 days
    • stalls for food allowed near conf rooms?
    • set up a fedora mirror

  • Barcamp voting
    • Need to have printers, stationery at site on first day.
    • Stick schedule per room and per day on each room.
    • Possibly display schedule on projector
    • Suggestion: Have 2-3 keynotes (talks w/o parallel tracks) on first day and ask participants to vote online or on a board somewhere before breaking for lunch. This can reduce confusion.

  • Fudcons generally have 4 parallel tracks
  • Keep a schedule ready 2 days before event; minor changes allowed after voting on first day.
This is a post from http://log.amitshah.net/, licensed CC BY-SA.

Syndicated 2011-07-14 13:16:00 (Updated 2011-07-14 13:16:31) from Amit Shah

FUDCon APAC 2011: Pune, Nov 4-6

Jared Smith, the Fedora Project Leader, has announced the Pune bid has won for the APAC FUDCon for 2011.


If you're planning to attend, there's information on travel and costs on the bid page above.  A few community volunteers who will speak at the event can be sponsored, subject to budget restrictions.

Make sure to get your proposed talks or hackfests listed on the link above.  We already have a healthy list of topics; I'm eagerly looking forward to the event.

For people local to Pune, you can help organising the event. Please contact Rahul Sundaram, the event owner, or send an email to the fedora-india mailing list for details.

This is a post from http://log.amitshah.net/, licensed CC BY-SA.

Syndicated 2011-07-08 04:55:00 (Updated 2011-07-08 04:55:44) from Amit Shah

Japanese Tragedy

It's a terrible tragedy that has struck Japan: first the earthquake, and then the tsunami. The earthquake shocks were handled quite well by the structures: it was a very high severity earthquake. However, the tsunami that followed later caused a lot of damage: water flooding the streets, houses floating on water, cars and ships being washed away. The most destructive effect, however, could be the

Rather than believe the media's hype, here are a few websites that can help you track the developments at the nuclear reactors:


That is the International Atomic Energy Agency website providing updates on happenings at Japan.


That is the website by MIT's Nuclear Science and Engineering department that's providing updates and information on the happenings at Japan.

It's best not to panic; the radiation levels are not high as of now but it's safest to take precautions and help others.

PS: I'm amazed by the restraint shown by the Japanese people themselves; images show they're swamped with water, snow and aftershocks but they're still helping each other and there's no looting in the streets.  Excellent! I hope we can re-get that culture in India, but it looks like we've moved too far away; people injured in accidents are left lying on the roads with vehicles making their way around them. Forget about taking them to the hospital, they aren't even taken the the side of the roads.. as a visitor recently said: "Pune has lost its humanity."

This is a post from http://log.amitshah.net/, licensed CC BY-SA.

Syndicated 2011-03-18 12:34:00 (Updated 2011-03-18 12:34:49) from Amit Shah

On Mind Maps

I wrote an article on mind maps in the BenefIT magazine for the March 2011 issue.  The people at BenefIT are nice enough to license the content under a CC license, so I can host the pdf and point you to it:


This article talks about how mind maps are beneficial for the thought process and how you can use them to make decisions.

This is my second article that got published in the BenefIT magazine.  I've written one on taking frequent breaks from the computer earlier.  Writing for non-tech, business-oriented people is different, and not very straightforward :-)

This is a post from http://log.amitshah.net/, licensed CC BY-SA.

Syndicated 2011-03-12 13:43:00 (Updated 2011-03-12 13:43:10) from Amit Shah

Maximum LCD Brightness Lower Than Before?

If you're trying out a kernel newer than 2.6.38-rc6 and find your LCD brightness doesn't go up to its maximum, here's some help:  boot into an older kernel, set the brightness to maximum, then reboot into the newer kernel, and now you'll get the max. brightness that you're used to.

The git commit by Indan Zupancic explains why this happens:

drm/i915: Do not handle backlight combination mode specially

The current code does not follow Intel documentation: It misses some things and does other, undocumented things. This causes wrong backlight values in certain conditions. Instead of adding tricky code handling badly documented and rare corner cases, don't handle combination mode specially at all. This way PCI_LBPC is never touched and weird things shouldn't happen.

If combination mode is enabled, then the only downside is that changing the brightness has a greater granularity (the LBPC value), but LBPC is at most 254 and the maximum is in the thousands, so this is no real functional loss.

A potential problem with not handling combined mode is that a brightness of max * PCI_LBPC is not bright enough. However, this is very unlikely because from the documentation LBPC seems to act as a scaling factor and doesn't look like it's supposed to be changed after boot. The value at boot should always result in a bright enough screen.

IMPORTANT: However, although usually the above is true, it may not be when people ran an older (2.6.37) kernel which messed up the LBPC register, and they are unlucky enough to have a BIOS that saves and restores the LBPC value. Then a good kernel may seem to not work: Max brightness isn't bright enough. If this happens people should boot back into the old kernel, set brightness to the maximum, and then reboot. After that everything should be fine.

For more information see the below links. This fixes bugs:


This is a post from http://log.amitshah.net/, licensed CC BY-SA.

Syndicated 2011-03-01 15:38:00 (Updated 2011-03-01 15:45:11) from Amit Shah

Stay Healthy By Taking Breaks

Most of us lead sedentary lifestyles these days -- most of our time is spent in front of computers. This slowly is causing a lot of problems people from previous generations haven't experienced: back aches, knee problems, wrist pains, myopia, among others. And just going to a gym or putting in one hour of physical activity a day isn't enough. It doesn't help balance the inactivity over the entire day.

I recently wrote an article in the BenefIT magazine that talks about two tools: Workrave and RSIBreak. Thanks to the publishers, the article is available in pdf format under a CC license.

I've tried both the software but have been using Workrave for quite a while now and am quite happy with it. To briefly introduce them: both software prompt the user to take a break at regular intervals. They have timers that trigger at configured intervals asking the user to take a break. Workrave also has some stretching exercises suggested that can be performed in the longer breaks. The shorter (and more frequent) breaks can be used to take the eyes off the monitor and to relax them. Read the article for more details.

I've reviewed Workrave version 0.9.1 in the article, though the current version as of now is 0.9.3, which has a few differences from those mentioned in the article. The prime difference is the addition of a 'Natural Rest Break' that gets triggered when the screen-saver gets activated, which is nice since if the user walks away from the computer for a prolonged period of time, the rest break in effect has been taken, and the next one is scheduled after the configured duration once the screen-saver is unlocked.

Both software are available in the Fedora repository: Workrave is based on the GTK toolkit (and integrates nicely with the GNOME desktop), whereas RSIBreak is based on the Qt toolkit (and integrates nicely with the KDE desktop). Give these software a try for a cheap but effective way of staying healthy!

Syndicated 2011-01-21 20:22:00 (Updated 2011-01-21 20:22:19) from Amit Shah

Idea: Faster Metadata Downloads With Yum and Git

The presto plugin for yum has worked great for me so far.  It's been very useful, not for the lack of download limits, but for the time saved in getting the bits downloaded.  The time saved is significant if the bandwidth is not too good (it never is).

However, I've observed in some cases the presto metadata is larger than the actual package size in some cases -- e.g., a font.  If a font package, say 21KB in size, has a deltarpm of 3KB in size, it results in a savings of 18KB of downloads.  This is a very impressive 85% of savings.  However, the presto metadata itself could be more than 400KB, nullifying the advantage of the drpm.  We're effectively downloading, in this corner case, 418KB instead of 21KB.  That is 19 times of what of the actual package size.

So here's an idea: why not let git handle the metadata for us?  The metadata is a text (or sqlite) file that lists package names, their dependencies, version numbers and so on.  Since text can be very easily handled by git, it should be a breeze fetching metadata updates from a git server.  At install-time (or upgrade-time), the metadata git repository for a particular Fedora version can be cloned, and on each update, all that's necessary for yum to do is invoke 'git pull' and it gets all the latest metadata.  Downloads: a few KB each day instead of a few MBs.

The advantages are numerous:

  • Saves server bandwidth
  • Uses very less server resources when using the git protocol
  • Scales really well
  • Compresses really well
  • Makes yum faster for users
    • I think this is the biggest win -- not having to wait ages for a 'yum search' to finish everyday has to get anyone interested.  Makes old-time Debian users like me very happy.
There are some challenges to be considered as well:
  • Should the yum metadata be served by just one canonical git server, while the packages get served by mirrors?  Not each mirror may have the git protocol enabled nor can the Fedora project ask each mirror to configure git on the server.
    • Doing this can result in slow mirrors not able to service package download requests for the latest metadata
    • This can be mitigated by using git over http over the server
  • The metadata can keep growing
    • This can be mitigated by having a separate git repository for the metadata belonging to each release.  Multiple git repos can be set up easily for extra repositories (e.g., for external repos or for multiple version repos while doing an upgrade).
  • The mirror list has to be updated to also include git repositories that can be worked on with 'git remote'.
I've filed an RFE for this feature.  For someone looking for a weekend hack for yum in python, this should be a good opportunity to jump right in!  If you intend to take this up, get in touch with the developers, make sure no one else is working on this yet (or collaborate with others) and update the details on the Fedora Feature Page.

Syndicated 2010-12-30 20:58:00 (Updated 2010-12-30 20:58:48) from Amit Shah

Book review: The Grand Design

I just finished reading Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow's 'The Grand Design' (wikipedia link; Amazon link here). It's a great book to get up to speed on where physics stands as of today in our understanding of the universe.

Physicists come up with theories to explain why the world behaves the way it does. Those which show promise continue to be tested with new observations. Some of the theories stand the test of a few real-life situations, some don't. Some make sense in particular settings, some don't. Some are easily understandable by the layperson, some are not. All this doesn't mean that the theories which don't make sense or which don't stand up to real-world tests or observations are wrong. They just make sense in a particular setting and we use them to accurately model our world in that setting. We use other theories to explain other facets of our world. Or even the same ones, when put under a magnifying glass. If you think this doesn't make sense, the book will make it understandable. If you think it sounds crazy, it is, and the book will tell you why. If you think physicists are going mad, well, I don't think they are, unless you mean they're going mad in the search of the one true answer to life, the universe and everything that's beyond "42". (Yes, the authors are cool enough to include the Hitchhiker's reference (Amazon link) as well.)

The writing is very clear. The first two chapters can be read and understood by people who have not taken advanced courses in science. They're very clearly written and explained. These chapters lay the foundation for the details in the next six chapters.

Things start getting interesting and slightly complicated progressively in each chapter from chapter 3 onwards. Obviously, since the concept of quantum theory starts getting introduced.

The authors use great everyday analogies in explaining complex phenomena. They also make good use of humour to keep the readers engaged and the tone light. There are no equations used in the book, so they don't alienate people who have studied science back in their school and college years but have lost touch of it since. (Stephen Hawking mentions an editor telling him that for each equation he uses in 'A Brief History of Time' (Amazon link), he'll lose half the readership. I think that's a brilliant way to make the text easily accessible and understandable.)

I read about physics after a really long time. I don't even remember reading or studying the quantum theory. But I guess I would have. However, at many points while reading the book, I felt if I had such a resource by my side while studying for my engineering classes, it would have done a much better job at arousing and sustaining my interest in classical and theoretical sciences. I came up with a few questions while going through the text only to be explained later on in some cases, or the topics not broached upon by the authors for want of simplicity. I'm sure I can get the answers to some of the questions I have by poking around in very detailed literature on the topics. I'm glad I've retained my inquisitive nature when it comes to the sciences and also that I can raise questions that aren't answered in simple terms.

To conclude, this is a great book for people without science background wanting to learn about our universe, how it was formed, how it came into being by reading the first two or three chapters and glossing over the rest. It's a great book for people who have studied physics but lost touch with it to recollect some theory and understand the current understanding of the physicists on how the universe formed and why things are the way they are.

I haven't read 'A Brief History of Time' by Stephen Hawking nor the updated 'A Briefer History of Time' (Amazon link) by Stephen Hawking and Leondard Mlodinow, the authors of 'The Grand Design'. I guess that book would be the right starting point before one reads this book, but I didn't find myself getting lost too much. Perhaps it helps others. I intend to read 'A Brief History of Time', which I own for quite a while now, in the near future.

It's difficult being a genius and figuring out how the universe works and trying to put together its past and determining the future. It's doubly difficult to write about it in a way that laypersons can understand. Kudos to the Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow and the team behind 'The Grand Design' for doing just that.

PS:  I'm running an experiment again, this time with links to amazon product pages.  I'm putting the amazon links separately so you know you'll go to a company's site.  Let me know how this works -- does the '(Amazon link)' text hurt the flow?  Do you want links to Amazon product pages at all?  Should I make the Amazon link the default?

Syndicated 2010-12-30 19:43:00 (Updated 2010-12-30 19:43:45) from Amit Shah

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