March 16, 2009

Live USB Magic

Now a days almost all the computers have the ability to boot from USB. This ability can be put to use by installing an operating system on a usb stick. This makes it possible to carry your OS with you where ever you go. Live usb is an example of OS on usb stick. All you need to make a live usb is a live image of the OS and a usb disc with sufficient memory. This post explains in a step by step manner the process of creating a live usb.

1)Download the live image from the site

Here's the link for Fedora: Fedora10-KDE-Live

2)Check the size of your usb stick

You can do it by issuing this command:

df -h

3)Creating partition and filesystem on the usb stick

Issue the following command to get into fdisk and follow the steps:

fdisk /dev/USBDEVICE (/dev/sdc in my case)

Command (m for help): d (This deletes the partitions)
Selected partition 1

Command (m for help): n (This creates a new partition)
Command action
e extended
p primary partition (1-4)
Partition number (1-4): 1 (This gives the number of partitions)
First cylinder (1-960, default 1):
Using default value 1
Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (1-960, default 960):
Using default value 960

Command (m for help): t (This sets the file system type)
Selected partition 1
Hex code (type L to list codes): 83 (For Linux flesystem types-
ext3/ext2 etc)
Changed system type of partition 1 to 83 (Linux)

Command (m for help): a (This toggles the bootable flag)
Partition number (1-4): 1 (This is the partition number which is
to made bootable- /dev/sdc1
in my case. So '1')
Command (m for help): w (Writes the changes to the partition table)
The partition table has been altered!

Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.

Syncing disks.

4)Formatting the file system

First unmount the usb stick


Then issue the following command to format in EXT3 filesystem.

Caution: THis will erase all files on the disc

mkfs.ext3 -L usbdisk /dev/USBPARTITIONNAME (/dev/sdc1 in my case)

5)Copying the live Fedora image

su -c "livecd-iso-to-disk /path/to/ISO /dev/USBPARTITION" (/dev/sdc1 in
my case)
Copying live image to USB stick
Updating boot config file
Installing boot loader
USB stick set up as live image!

6)Booting from the live usb

Restart the computer and go to BIOS. Enable USB boot and change the priority of usb device to highest. This has to be done with the usb stick inserted. Then save the changes and exit BIOS. The computer will auto restart and voila. The live usb is in action. Behold the live OS (Fedora Live) coming up on your screen.

For troubleshooting refer to this Tutorial

March 8, 2009

Blooming Bijra

This post was supposed to be written one day back but since I was busy working on the offline repo and installing Fedora on friend's computer, so this post comes a little late. On the fine day of 6th March, Friday, Shreyank and me went for a visit to a high school in a village located on the outskirts of Durgapur and made famous by the DGPLUG project . This project set up a computer lab in a village school where you don't even get proper drinking water and where none of the students would have never had a chance of so as to even see a computer if not for this project. It was a farsighted one. Kudos to the DGPLUG people.

The Title Stone

Project Banner

I woke up that morning on a call from Ratnadeep informing me that they will be catching the 11:30 bus to Bijra and was telling me since I had showed interest earlier to go to Bijra. I confirmed our visit after getting the detailed route from him. After a hell lot of a trouble, we finally managed to reach Bijra.

That's Bijra Village

What I saw there was simply amazing. The students out there were in some ways more disciplined than Model School students and were so very enthusiastic about stuffs. Ratnadeep and gang were showing them some fun stuffs on Linux, not willing to overload their brains with blah blah information. DGPLUG had installed, with some help from WBUT, a computer lab out there which runs on LTSP. Several low grade network boot machines booting from a high grade server. This reduces the installation cost. After some time with showing them Marble and Kstars and other fun stuffs, they were moved to the lab in groups of 30, 10 per computer since only 3 computers were running. They were being showed the National Geographic videos which were archived there. Shreyank was explaining Global Warming to them. He was stammering a bit with Bengali since it's not his mother tongue. The small kids were actually telling him the bengali words for whatever he was trying to say. I was amazed by that.

Ratnadeep Teaching Geography

Marbles At Work

On other two consoles the small girls and boys were being taught how to use TuxPaint to write their names, change colours, styles, font size etc. Initally they were a bit rusty with the stuff but picked up easily with a little practice and encouragement. It was really awesome teaching them. Then colour filling was demoed and they were allowed to try it out themselves. They were so exhilarated with the experience of actually working with a computer. One thing that simply took me aback was the fact that they learned the 'ctrl+z' undo function just by observing me do it. I explained it to them. At this point I was almost killing myself for the fact that I didn't bring a proper camera. Every moment was photogenic. One incident happened that has to be, has to be mentioned here. A harmonium was lying on the table and its cover was on the other table. A small kid, yeah much smaller than me both in height and age, took the cover and put it on the harmonium, something I had never done in my whole school life. He actually made me feel small in front of him.

That Says "COMPUTER" in Bengali

Shreyank Showing Nat Geo Videos

The headmaster was quite nice and had warmth in his behaviour. He made acquaintances with us and we promised him to help him with the project whenever he needs any. He was very thankful about that. As we came out of the school and were waiting for the bus, the children kept waving at us from the windows (not Microsoft Windows). It was a sight to cherish. We too waved back Shreyank was pushed by all this to promise another visit to Bijra very soon. Thus a great day of enlightenment, for us, for the children there, came to an end.

If You Look Carefully You Could See
Tiny Hands Waing At Us