La Salle Debain

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Open Source @ Consolidated Braincells Inc.

About La Salle Debain

This is a weblog I'm keeping about my work on Debian and any other useful Debian related info I come across. It is not meant to compete with other news sources like Debian Weekly News or Debian Planet. Mostly it is just a way for me to classify and remember all the random bits of information that I have floating around me. I thought maybe by using a blog it could be of some use to others too. Btw. "I" refers to Jaldhar H. Vyas, Debian developer for over 5 years. If you want to know more about me, my home page is here.

The name? Debain is a very common misspelling of Debian and la salle de bains means bathroom in French.

If you have a comment to make on something you read here, feel free to write to me at

You can get an rss 0.91 feed of any page in the blog by appending ?flav=rss to the end of the URL.

Thu, 23 Sep 2004

Fahrenheit 451/Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

Update: Yes I am dumb and the book is actually called Fahrenheit 451. Tune in next week for my review of George Orwells' 1983.

I've spent a good amount of time today reading Ray Bradburys classic novel Fahrenheit 451. The title refers to the temperature at which paper burns. You see in the future, houses are completely fireproof. So firemen have been repurposed as book burners. The story concerns a fireman called Montag who has a crisis of conscience and becomes a saviour of books instead.

Bradburys observations make this a dystopia which seems more apropos to the present day situation in America than those of say Orwell. Montag is denounced to the authorities, and forced to flee. But it turns out the ones who betrayed him, are not the sinister agents of the surveillence state but his own friends and loved ones. And unlike in 1984, the reason they rat him out is not "thoughtcrimes" but because books make them uncomfortable. How did it get to this stage? special interest groups each vying to impose their own brand of political correctness had rendered literature so muddled and useless, they were effectively destroyed long before the burning started. No wonder society turns to the soothing immersion of non-stop, action-packed but totally soporific TV which continues the cycle of deadening genuine feelings and making thinking hurt even more.

Isn't this whats happening in politics? Both parties today are just conglomerations of pressure groups with disparate and often contradictory agendas. So much energy must be spent on keeping the base together, the candidates have to be as bland and non-comittal as possible. Making scapegoats of those who point out problems becomes more comfortable--for both the elected and the electorate--than actually dealing with the problems. Third parties won't help, on the contrary they make it even less necessary for zealots to compromise. It is the sheer scale of politics in a large and diverse country like the US which is the problem. The answer I think (and Bradbury may not agree) is to bypass the government altogether on important matters. Let it be gridlocked, as long as it is toothless, it won't be in a position to hurt.

On a cheerier note, the BBC has resumed the radio adaption of The Hitchhhikers Guide To The Galaxy. The first episode of the tertiary phase aired on Tuesday on Radio 4. It will be repeated again on Thursaday. If you are outside the listening range as I am, you can tune in via the web by using Realplayer or a compatible player. (I used kaffeine the KDE frontend to Xine.)

posted at: 07:23 | #

Sat, 18 Sep 2004

Monsters of Debian 2004 World Tour Comes To Hartford

Are you ready to rock?


No? Well are you ready to see a demonstration of the new Debian installer then?

I've been visiting a number of Linux user groups this year and today I was the guest of the Greater Hartford GNU/Linux User Group. (GHGLUG) Unfortunately there isn't a direct route from Jersey City to Hartford and I am averse to driving long distances if I can help it so I ended up taking the Gereyhound bus, a four hour ride each way. But it was worth it I think. There were about 20 people in the audience. Not the biggest crowd I've spoken too but a decent number especially considering the hurricane related bad weather the East coast of the US is still suffering from. I did a demo of the new installer which people found to be suitably impressive and took questions about the project. And finally I participated in a keysigning. I had a really good time and I hope my hosts did too.

Mike Newman of GHGLUG took this picture of the presentation. Debian presentation

posted at: 23:32 | #

Tue, 14 Sep 2004

Webmin Weltschmerz

I threaten to do this every now and again but now I've finally done it. I've orphaned all my webmin/usermin packages. Why now? It's not that I have bad relations with the upstream maintainer. On the contrary Jamie has been very helpul and responsive to Debian needs. It's not the users. As far as I can tell webmin is very popular and the users I've talked to have been very appreciative of my work. It's not the code itself. Although webmin for portability and compatability reasons is written a very grotty subset of perl, I get it and can work with it.

No I'm just losing interest in it for reason I can't quite put my finger on. Lately I've had to struggle to summon up the enthusiasm to work on it particularly because there are several other things I'd like to do for Debian--particularly Debian-IN. I decided that it is not fair to the author, users or myself to let the packages rot. So I fixed a bunch of bugs, uploaded the latest versions, and let them go.

Until proper new maintainers are found I do intend to keep an eye on the packages so they don't deteriorate too badly. For instance as soon as the current packages migrate to testing, I'll do another release to fix an RC bug and add some upstream bugfixes. But hopefully someone (or a group) will step up and take over.

posted at: 21:19 | #

Wed, 08 Sep 2004

Shailajas' First Day of School

Today was Janmashtami. There were record crowds at the mandir at midnight this year. But that's not the big news today.

As she is approaching the ripe old age of three, my wife and I decided it was time to put our daughter Shailaja in preschool. We found a nice one a little further away than we would have liked but still a manageable distance, filled out the forms and paid the fees and then spent a nerve-wracking Labor Day weekend worrying about how much Shailaja was going to miss us or more accurately how much we were going to miss her. Luckily for Jyoti, she had an 8:30 meeting so she spared herself a wrenching scene. Instead it fell upon me to take her.

So by 8am I had Shailaja ready to go. She did Saraswati puja and wrote 'a' for Vidyarambha. Then disaster struck when it suddenly dawned on her that although pappa was taking her to school, he would not be staying. By the time we got there, she was firmly attached to my leg and would not budge. However the schools large selection of toys soon tempted her away. I had to go upstairs to ask the director some questions and by the time I came down, she was engrossed in making new friends. In fact she didn't even notice when I left!

When Jyoti and I came to pick her up in the evening, Shailajas' teacher reported that she had been a good girl all day and had not asked for us once.


posted at: 02:14 | #