August 26, 2012

From Bengaluru to Hyderabad In search of Opensource

In July, I relocated to Bangalore to join my first real job as a software engineer. The first week was nice, esp. the bootcamp. We started off by understanding the problem. We chose fast conference booking. The problem was to simplify conference room booking and develop a web/mobile app around it.

I started off by hacking a Tornado app with a NoSQL database and a backbonejs frontend but since we had limited time I stashed my work and we hacked a RoR webapp instead and I hosted that on my prgmr VPS, on

We had some innovative and disruptive ideas, like a booking can have non-adjacent time slots, responsive ui for tablets and mobiles, results based on user’s booking history, intuitive sorting and searching features, sending email for confirmation.

Meanwhile, the HR told us fresh-hires about an interesting position in Hyderabad and that those who would opt for it will lose some (cab, food) benefits but they would get to work on the opensource Apache CloudStack with the previously acquired team. Startup kind-of environment, amazing opensource product, small team, I was game!

I left for Hyderabad the very next day. I could n’t care less about bootcamp, I researched more about CloudStack and found that in a way it was similar to VMController, my B.Tech project. I missed the demo/keynote and we failed to grab a prize at the bootcamp but nevertheless our app was very well appreciated. Heck the VP emailed all the mentors and big guys telling ‘em about our app and that it was hosted on the Internet. On the last day of the bootcamp I got permission from my mentor to opensource the source code for everyone to checkout.

And here I am, in Hyderabad for more than a month now! I’m enjoying my job, learning new things every day, hacking through the source code and learning from the masters, trying to fix some interesting bugs and am super excited about what’s coming in next few months.

The best part is I’m hacking an opensource project (earning those ohloh points :) and getting paid to do that! I get to work on some sweet servers that would run a variety of hypervisors and even baremetal (excited to work on it soon!) and we do releases every month.

We had a nice welcome/team lunch recently, thank you team!

And I bike everyday to work and places; got myself a Schwinn Searcher (2012).

July 30, 2012

An Internet Story Politics of free Internet in BHU

During my time at IIT-BHU, Internet was primarily distributed by computer center (CC) there, which was terrible slow and with a lot of restrictions and banned ports (ssh, ftp etc). So, most of us opensource guys would buy a wireless broadband connection. The purpose of CC to provide Internet services to the students, was defeated by their own people.

Around Nov-Dec 2011, my hacker friend pk and I came in contact with WMG, the Website Management Group of IIT-BHU which manages institutional website and some infrastructure. At that time WMG had an unused NKN node and bunch of servers. NKN, the National Knowledge Network, is an initiative by Indian govt. to connect all the major educational instituions and govt bodies. Unlike the copper wire based Internet infrastructure that most of us use in daily life, the NKN node used fibre optics and had a bandwidth of 100Mbps.

Jackpot! It was awesome, the first thing we did was setup somes Linux boxes and install squid proxy server on it and share the credentials between the student crowd. It was an overnight success. Almost everyone on campus was using it.

During the next few days we contacted NKN to upgrade our bandwidth to 1Gbps, the only requirement was to show adequate consumption of bandwidth. So, we setup an Ubuntu repository mirror and the proxy server was already running; this way we got it upgraded to 1Gbps in about a week or two.

During the next few months, we found that a proxy server was not a good solution for most of us and so we setup an OpenVPN server. Our stack consisted of some python scripts, cron jobs, openvpn-server on RHEL. Below is a screenshot of the VPN Monitor I wrote.

We were very successful, by that time most students and even some faculty members were using the VPN we’d setup. Next problem we solved was scalability, we ran about 16 OpenVPN servers to tackle that and we requested the CC to open 1Gbps ports on their provided gateway/switches for our servers, sadly it was denied. Whatever excuse they may have given I just remember that they did not want anyone to have good Internet bandwidth. So, even if we’d 1Gbps link we were only able to serve 100Mbps of it to hostels and departments.

When something new and innovative disrupts and challenges the workflow of life, there are haters and supporters. I faced the same kind of situation, we all did, all four of us who were involved with our little VPN project. Almost everyone on the IIT-BHU campus was using it, at one time I’d seen at least 1000 people using it. I’m happy with what we did and what we achieved and learnt during the whole chaos. And I’ve something to brag about ;)

Long story short, a friend who was involved with us and had issues with a big guy nuked the server which later on I had to re-setup and I ended up losing a hacker friend. Anyway when I graduated and left the place, some legal issue came up that had to do with logging the VPN servers and the big guy shut down the VPN servers.

June 27, 2012

Goodbye College Life Memories of BHU

Goodbye college life. I’ll will miss you and will cherish those memories in my heart; friends, bunking classes, my 12'x6' hostel room.

Evening snacks in hyderabad gate area.

And Nitin’s fav longlata shop.

Limbdi corner’s fine samosas and samosas in general.


Pehlwan’s lassi, Crytal bowl’s sizzlers, Ming’s brownies, but nothing would beat Idli breakfast near Ghats.


Long sleeping periods and above all full night bc.

That time I rode Nidhi’s bicycle.

That roadtrip…

to Sidhnathdari waterfall.

That time I smoked Tabrez in one panipuri match.

Geekery, the first workshop where we were introduced to GNU/Linux in 2007.

Graffiti, the first cool project ShowStopper and I hacked.

And that rare time, when the institute website was pwned by some crackers and I got the screenshot minutes before it was restored.

Seeing you all off to your trains.

April 23, 2012

BaagiChhaap Get yourself baagichhaap'd

The freaking IDD'07 watched a movie and Baagi became a popular meme among us.

Jain is from Dholpur which is near the famous valleys of the Chambal and having seen a bunch of photos of him posing with some country made rifle he was bound to become the baagi of our gang. And after a Saturday night dinner, the gang decided to do something about it, like open a dhabha or something to do with that meme. Believe me the hobby of domain searching and buying is evil and I warned ‘em but they all wanted it badly (intended exaggeration), all 0x7 of them (except tintin kookdookoo) so I booked 'em a domain.

I had to come up with a prank and as Baagis are known to wear awesome mustaches, I thought let’s take any picture and draw a moochh on it, programmatically of course!

And after a fun Sunday evening with python and opencv I hacked up the prank, baagichhaap that takes in a photo, tries to detect a face (red squares), a nose (blue squares) and a mouth (green squares) and based on the obtained information it draws a moochh on it.

It even works with big images with large number of people in it, with some errors though, blame it on opencv. The above baagichhaap’d photograph was taken by ShowStopper’s DSLR last year, some of the folks in it really look like they own their moochh-es.

We have an IRC channel #baagi on freenode if you care to hangout and we log! The prank lives in our baagi repository.

April 17, 2012

Pimp My Desktop Yet another Arduino hack for fun

I love computers! My primary computer is a heavyduty desktop which I’d custom built more than a year ago. I love to hack microcontrollers and I’m still waiting for my RaspberryPi. I’m not a big fan of laptops though. But, as long as any of ‘em can run GNU/Linux, I’m happy.

This morning I was going through some of my rarely used electronic parts (I’ve tons of electronic parts, and perhaps 100s of LEDs, buttons and all sorts of jumpers) which I’ve not used since last one year. Of them I found a UART controlled LCD display, a spare Arduino and bunch of sensors and I decided to make anything that adds some luxury to my desktop experience. A really small hack and this is the result:

A visual luxury to my desktop’s front panel which shows realtime CPU and Memory usage with average temperature of all the cores and bonus an audio visualizer. How was it hacked? It’s an Arduino board that is bolted inside my desktop and communicates with a python server to get the stats serially over an internal USB connection via a FTDI chip. I don’t know if hooking an alcohol or a LPG or a carbon monoxide sensor can be a good idea to implement an alternative method to (say) login. The server has its own fake REPL, the code can be found in my hacktools repository where I put silly hacks like this one every now and then.

Update! (April 19th) Now shows current time and bandwidth too!

So, what have you done lately to pimp your desktop?

I just realized I tend to write all my programs exclusively in Python first. After watchin' all those crazy animals talk in those Lang.Next.2012 videos, for me time has come to learn a new language which is 20+ years old ;)

© Rohit Yadav 2009-2012 | Report bug or fork source | Last updated on 30 Nov 2012
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