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Welcome to the World of Software Freedom!!

Posted by srksinger2 on September 29, 2010

Hi there, lemme start by assuming that you are an absolute beginner in GNU/Linux. Well, GNU/Linux is an Operating system that can run your Computer/ Mobile device. You must be very familiar with Microsoft Windows Operating System (if you are a beginner, most likely you are reading this blog from Windows Operating System). GNU/Linux does the same jobs that Windows does for you, but in a totally different way. GNU/Linux are mainly two different entities; GNU and Linux.

GNU :-
The GNU movement was started by Richard Mathew Stallman. GNU is a movement which aims at making software Free (as in Freedom). Which means you will be able to study, copy, modify and redistribute a software any way you want. For this purpose, GNU movement has released a software license called the GPL or GNU General Public License. Any software licensed under the GPL will have the above stated freedoms given along with it to the end user.

Me and Other members of ILUG-Cochin (Indian Libre User’s Group) with Mr.Richard Stallman

Linux :-

Linux is an operating system kernel which was developed by a Finnish software engineer Linus Torvalds. A kernel is supposed to be the heart of the operating system. It is a bridge between applications and the actual data processing done at the hardware level.A project which started off as a Thesis paper by him, has now become a full fledged highly powerful operating system thats becoming immensely popular day by day world over.

These freedoms that came with GNU/Linux has made it possible to create a large number of Variants for this beautiful operating system, giving you the freedom to choose which variant you would need. You can check out the list of available GNU/Linux variants on .

Some Popular GNU/Linux Distributions

Also, GNU/Linux has now become so mature that its become possible to do your day to day computing jobs like Browsing, Listening to Music and watching videos, Chatting, Office Work etc, with out using proprietary Software like Microsoft Windows. And as its seen very clearly that a good number of Developing countries are using ‘pirated’ versions of Microsoft Products which is by the way illegal; this beautiful operating system is very fast becoming the ultimate alternate solution to all their problems. So its time dear friends, to awaken to a new world, where sharing is caring… Enlighten yourself with GNU/Linux and lets make a difference in this world. I will be adding more info in this site regarding GNU/Linux and other Free (As in freedom) Software which will help you to switch to GNU/Linux in the near future…

You can mail me at :


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Why Free Software ??

Posted by srksinger2 on September 29, 2010

Hi all. Well, this is one post that i believe every person who comes to this Blog must read. There have been many arguments made by many people to me regarding why they should use Free Software. This post is regarding this matter. And this post is made  from my heart rather than from my mind :)… coz Free Software and its ideals are a part of my heart rather than my mind :).

Lemme start by asking you a common question i usually ask to people. “Are you using an Original version of Microsoft Windows operating system in your machine??”. In 99% of the case, i get the answer “NO”, and that too especially in India. The other 1% will most probably be Laptop/Netbook/PC owners who got Windows pre-installed with their machine; who may not receive the Original OS disk; making it almost impossible to re-install.  If you belong to the 99% i mentioned above, then you are “intentionally breaking the law”. I don’t think this is what you wish to do :). Most people do it knowingly or unknowingly. And the companies who make these proprietary software, say that you are doing “Piracy” !!!. This is not just limited to Microsoft; well-known proprietary companies like Adobe, Steinberg (creators of Nuendo), Digi Design etc…all follow the same principle of “Piracy”…

“Piracy” is a very controversial term which is linked to software. Pirates are people who hijack ships at sea and steal all the goods and things…and sometimes even kill you!!. But in software, you are taking a copy of the software from someone else. Which means, the person from whom you copied the software, is still having that software with him. So how can it ever be “Piracy”??… you havent stolen anything from him/her !!. As far as i know, this process of taking copy is called “Sharing” and not “Piracy”.

All the companies who release proprietary software discourage you from “Sharing” with anyone else. They have pictured sharing as an act of Theft !!!.. I don’t think you will agree with this. Well, I don’t. Its nothing but GREED that runs these people. Do you think its fair??. And they even have legal backing from the court of law. Which means, if you are caught, you could be put in Jail. Then you might argue with me that, if i wont get caught, then why bother ??.. Well as i said, then you are a thief…no matter how decent you are in this society, and you are intentionally breaking the law!! ..

I was also once in such a dilemma. My conscience was telling me that i am doing something wrong… but i did not have a choice.. So went on a quest to find a solution for the problem and found out about “Free Software”. Free Software gave me freedom to share and give as many copies as i wanted to my friend and it was encouraged!!.. You have no idea how happy I was :).  Later on i came to know that i also got the freedom to view the source code of the program, Modify it and re-distribute it any way I wanted. And now I am enjoying the fruits and Benefits of the migration i made from proprietary software.

Another very important factor why people prefer Free Software, is because most of these softwares that are released for General use are Free of Cost too. There are some excellent replacements for many proprietary softwares available in Free Software. And most of these are Multi-Platform. Which means, they will work in GNU/Linux, Windows, Mac OS etc. This has been made possible only because of the source code availability.Free Software addresses the Human-ness in us. Encouraging us to share our knowledge and do good to others. Its principles are not just focused on software, rather, using software as a tool to spread good thoughts in the society; eliminating anti-social factors such as greed for money, theft etc.

I believe I have now addressed the 99%; why you need to switch to Free Software and encourage its use. Well, now i will address the rest 1%; ie the people who have “Original” copies of proprietary software. Well, the question I ask them is this – “Do you know what the software you are using is doing behind the screen??”. Well, the answer is a definite NO!. Only the people who made this Proprietary software of yours will know exactly what your software is doing behind the screen. And trust me, they “don’t want you to know” whats going on behind by saying that “It’s a business secret..” or that “End user need not know whats inside. He just needs to get his work done efficiently.” . And this is exactly what whole world is doing. People don’t wanna know whats going on inside !!!

Well, imagine this situation. What if… and I am saying it again “WHAT IF…” this proprietary “original” software of yours is designed to secretly spy on your data??. Now you will tell me “stop raising false notions about proprietary software….can you prove they do it???”. So i humbly reply.. “No i cant… because I don’t have their source code… But i can prove to you that Free Software doesnt…because i can view the source code and learn exactly what it does… even modify it, if i find a flaw!! . So why risk my machine and data on something that i am uncertain about like proprietary software.” .  Millions of users around the globe are viewing the code and using it. And they are telling me that its safe to use it… Whom would you listen to??? A company that claims that its safe, or a million people telling you in a single voice that its safe by showing you proof???.. I would prefer to stand with the latter :).

I believe this post gave you a clear-cut idea on “Why you opt for Free Software??” . Also in this age which is highly dependent on technology and Internet, your freedom is of utmost importance. If it’s not valued, then one day a “Corporation” may take charge of your life and become your dictator online.. I request you to opt for Free Software if you value yours as well as the freedom of your children and the generations to come… 🙂

Also please read this link. It’s about the issues related to “Windows 7” operating system. Its a campaign which points out some serious security issues of “Windows 7” operating system as well as the Monopoly nature of Microsoft, who purposefully included these security threats into the operating system :

Windows 7 Sins

A Little bit of History :-

Software was not always Proprietary, nor is Free Software something that sprouted up recently. In the early days of computing, Software was passed around together with the code for all to study and modify. But in the early 80s, certain companies like Microsoft came into picture and decided to make a business out of it. It’s these companies that started to sell software without giving out the source code. They felt that giving of source code would take away their edge in the business and their competitors would make better software out of it. More over, it was easier to implant a spy code into the software, so that the company could monitor the use of their clients secretly if wanted. And once the computers and software became popular, people started to take it for granted that source code will never be given with software. More and more companies sprouted up which followed the same mode of business; ultimately making the End Users or people like us totally dependent on them. Even if there was a small issue, we had to depend on them and wait for their mercy to get it fixed. And more over, whats most frustrating is that… We were not permitted to share the software amongst our friends and relatives; thus creating a divide. They started to colonise the virtual world with the tried and tested “Divide and Rule” policy. Well, the Free Software movement is the Freedom Struggle against this colonisation. Join and be liberated… 🙂

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The GUI or Desktops in GNU/Linux…

Posted by srksinger2 on September 18, 2010

                      “Variety” and Freedom to choose…The two major things that attracted me to GNU/Linux were these :). The first shot at variety as i mentioned earlier is that of the number or GNU/Linux distributions. There is so much choice out there that you sometimes loose your breath looking at the list. This same variety is also seen in Desktop Environments for GNU/Linux.

                    First let me explain to you what a desktop environment is. When you log in to your Windows operating system, you get the “Start” menu, panels, My Computer icon and things like that. This is basically called the Desktop. Well coming to the point, GNU/Linux also has its own “Variety” of Desktop Environments. And each of these Desktop Environments give you the ability to have Multiple Desktops (You will know what i meant when you reach the end of this post 😉 ). I will be discussing some of the most popular ones here; the ones that most of the time you will run into.

1) GNOME :-

                     GNOME stands for GNU Network Object Model Environment. Its a desktop environment that is common in most of the GNU/Linux distributions that you may find. The distributions modify it according to their style and use it. The below given picture is how a GNOME Desktop looks like…

GNOME 2.30.0 running on Open SuSe

             GNOME has its own libraries and tool kit called GTK or GNOME Tool Kit which makes it possible for programmers to develop GUI applications to run on GNOME Desktop. 

Official Site :

2)  KDE :-

                        Yet another desktop environment is called KDE which stands for K Desktop Environment. It is an Independent desktop environment like GNOME and has its own libraries and tool kit called Qt, which like GTK helps programmers to create Applications on KDE. Here is a screen shot of KDE.

Official Site :

3) XFCE :-

                             According to me, the third most popular Desktop environment is XFCE. XFCE is actually based on GTK of GNOME, but is more lightweight than GNOME. Hence its very popular among GNU/Linux Distros (Short for Distributions) which aim to be more compact in size and less memory and CPU Consuming. Here is how it looks like :

                  Although it looks less stylish than GNOME or KDE, when it comes to getting the job done, XFCE is more efficent than either of them.

Official Link :

                           Now finally to add icing to the cake, we have what is called a compositing window manager. Before that let me explain what is a window manager. window manager is a system software that controls the placement and appearance of windows within a windowing system in a graphical user interface. Examples of a Window Manager are Metacity (in GNOME), KWin (in KDE) and XFWM (in XFCE). The main difference between a compositing window manager and other window managers is that instead of outputting to a common screen, programs each output first to a separate and independent buffer, or temporary location inside the computer, where they can be manipulated before they are shown. The advantage is that, we can add some very very fancy effects to your desktop ;). Its better seen than said :).. Check out the below given video and you will know exactly what i am talking about……

        The video given above shows a compositing window manager called Compiz-Fusion at work. 

Official Link :

                      There are several other Desktop Environments available in GNU/Linux such as LXDE, E16 etc. Also, certain Window Managers (as mentioned earlier) also serve as light desktops themselves. For example Fluxbox. A detailed list is given on

                   Newer and more innovative desktops are coming up all the time on GNU/Linux. So because of the immense variety here, we get the power to choose which one we want; rather than having no choice, but to stick to a single desktop environment like in Windows and Mac OS.

Well, hope that this post was very useful to you in terms of knowing how GNU/Linux actually looks like :). Will be back with another interesting post very soon :)… Till then..

Happy Hacking!! 🙂

(NB: Hacking is a term that has been misused in many places. Hacking stands for playful exploring and gaining knowledge from doing so in software. A Hacker is a person who learns software by exploring and experimenting on it. Where as people who gain unauthorized access into a machine and steal data, implant viruses etc are called CRACKERS… and not hackers 🙂 ) 

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Multimedia and GNU/Linux

Posted by srksinger2 on September 18, 2010

                           In my Five years with GNU/Linux, what i have found is that this wonderful operating system; even though filled with merits; hasn’t penetrated the Home user market as much as it should have. The major reason for this has been the lack of knowledge amongst the users that GNU/Linux is a great Multimedia operating system. People still believe that GNU/Linux is a Geek’s Operating System (or say you need to know programming to work on GNU/Linux) . As a matter of fact, It can do almost anything that Microsoft Windows can do. As being a singer myself, the major hurdles that i faced initially were that i couldn’t play some major audio/video formats out of the box; for example MP3. But rather than backing off, i decided to stay back and find a solution to this problem. To be frank, i was least prepared for the joy ride i was up against :). When i searched, i found that there are lots and lots of players available which can play these Multimedia Formats flawlessly!!… and that too without interfering with my freedom :). I am listing down a few players (popular ones; there are many other though) which can play almost anything you throw at it ;). These players are both “Free as in Freedom” as well as “Free as in Free Food”. Here goes…

1) VLC Media Player :-

                             I bet and i am sure that most of you people would have heard about this one :). Most probably, you would have used it in your Windows machines. Well the beauty about Free (As in freedom) software is that, since the source code is available, its very well possible to make the same program work in different platforms!!. VLC project was initiated for GNU/Linux, but was easily ported to Windows and Mac machines due to the availablity of the source code :). And from experience, you should be knowing that it plays almost anything you throw at it 😉

2) Mplayer – The movie player :-

                                     This is another player which matches the abilities of VLC. And that too, its possible to play a video or audio file from the command line !!!!!!!!!!!!! :).. Now thats something you wont find in any other OS in the market. Mplayer is also Free as in Freedom and Free as in Free Food. you can download the Source code as well as installable binaries from the site.

3) Totem Player :-
                             Totem has become a standard media player on almost all Distributions now. It is the official movie player of the GNOME desktop environment. Totem is actually works with a back end Multimedia framework called GStreamer, which is also Free (as in freedom and Food). Please find the Link below…

4) Amarok :-

                                    Well, Amarok is one player thats worth mentioning always. Amarok was the first player (its basically an audio player) that played MP3 for me!!.. It was the most delightful day of my life and i can never forget it :). That was the day when i said to myself “This is it… GNU/Linux is my way :)”. I still love the professional look it has. Many people usually complain ( as always ) that Free Software lacks quality. Well Amarok is the answer i give to them :). Do check it out. Its basically designed for a desktop environment called KDE or K Desktop Environment. But will work on GNOME or any other Desktop environments.  

                         There are many many other Multimedia players out there like Rhythmbox, Juk , XINE etc etc that can satisfy your hunger for Multimedia and Entertainment. Just search on the net…and who knows, you might well find a player that i haven’t seen yet ;). Well, i will be doing my next post on 2D and 3D Gaming in GNU/Linux…Wait for it guys…you are gonna love it 🙂

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