Category Archives: Freedom

Anything related to Freedom, both of the social and digital aspect

Configurations for enabling clean urls for Drupal


How to add spell checker (English) in OpenOffice

A normal installation (aptitude install does not install the spell checking capabilities. To install:

  • Install these packages: aspell, aspell-en, ispell, myspell-en-us,
  • To have “check-as-you-type” feature (the red curvy lines indicating wrong spelling), go to Tools=>Options=>Language Settings=>Writing Aids and in the options, check the option “Check Spelling As You Type”

Configuring network devices on sony vaio VPCEB24FX (and Debian device driver check & report)

Sony Vaio VPCEB24FX laptops come with Marvell ethernet card and Inter wireless cards. lspci says:

04:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. Device 4381 (rev 11)

02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Device 422c (rev 35)

In order to see which kernel drivers are required to run these devices, one can paste the output of “lspci -n” into . I did this and found out that the intel wireless  device is “Centrino Advanced-N 6200” which requires the iwlagn driver which is there in kernel 2.6.30- . The ethernet card is “80E8059 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller” which requires the sky2 driver which is present in kernel 2.6.33- . I installed Debian lenny which comes with kernel 2.6.26. For the intel wireless card, one can follow the instructions at . Its bit of a work in order to make the marvell ethernet card work since kernel 2.6.33 or above is not in lenny-backports or not even in sid. But we have 2.6.35-rc6 in debian experimental. In order to install it, add “deb experimental main contrib non-free” into /etc/sources.list and then do a “aptitude install linux-image-2.6.35-rc6-686” which installs the 2.6.35 kernel. This worked for me. Some sony vaio laptops come with atheros wireless chipsets. You can have a look at to see how to configure it.

Thanks for people on irc for their help. and thanks also to the dpkg bot on #debian. (we can ask the bot with : “/msg dpkg which driver” for example) 🙂

Free Softwares for Symbian Series 60 Version 3

I recently bought a Nokia E63 which runs Symbian Series 60 Version 3. To add more functionality I searched for Free and Open Source softwares to run on it. Following is a list softwares I found on the internet. The list will be updated as and when I find new stuffs.

  1. Alternatedjvu – To read djvu ebooks (
  2. Oggplay – To play ogg files (
    (Update: oggplay 2.0 beta can now play theora videos;
  3. s2putty – putty ssh client for series 60 (
  4. Office Reader – Read OpenDocument files on series 60 (
  5. Python for series 60 (

Accessing files from within a chroot jail

Recently, I had to create a Lenny chroot in my laptop running Squeeze. I also had to access, from the chroot environment, files which are outside the chroot directory. I asked around on IRC and received respose ranging from “Why do you need to access files outside your chroot” to “Try creating hard links”. After much asking and googling, the following method solved my problem:

Using sshfs
SSHFS  (Secure SHell FileSystem) is a file system for Linux (and other operating systems with a FUSE implementation, such as Mac OS X or FreeBSD) capable of operating on files on a remote computer using just a secure shell login on the remote  computer.  On the local computer where the SSHFS is mounted, the implementation makes use of the FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) kernel module. The practical effect of this is that the end user can seamlessly interact with remote files being securely served over SSH  just as if they were local files on his/her computer. On the remote computer the SFTP subsystem of SSH is used. — From man sshfs

The trick is to use sshfs to mount the required directory on your local machine onto a directory inside the chroot directory. Say, if u have your chroot directory at /srv/lenny-chroot and you have to access /home/user/stuffs from within chroot, you can simply do 
sshfs localhost:/home/user/stuffs/ /srv/lenny-chroot/stuffs/
This will mount the required directory under /srv/lenny-chroot/stuffs . You must already have the /srv/lenny-chroot/stuffs directory created beforehand.

Now when you do a chroot /srv/lenny-chroot , your /home/user/stuffs directory and its contents will be accessible from /stuffs directory in the chroot environment. Once you are done with working inside the chroot and you exit it, you can unmount the stuffs directory by doing
fusermount -u /srv/lenny-chroot/stuffs

Broadcom Wifi Card – Making it work with Free Software

Till now I have been cursing myself for not being informed enough to buy a laptop which has a wifi card that can run entirely on Free Software. The Acer Aspire 4710z has a Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g WLAN (rev 01) card. I have been using the wifi card with the Free b43 driver together with non-free firmware. All of this changed when i decided to rant about my misfortunes with the wifi card on #gnewsense on freenode. gnufs on #gnewsense pointed me to .  There, I came to know about OpenFWWF , a project “that provides an open source firmware for Broadcom/AirForce chipset based devices”.

The first link above lists steps on how to make the Broadcom wifi card work with the Free firmware under gNewSense. I tried to follow the steps to configure the card under Debian squeeze (presently testing) and it finally worked after I read some debian bug reports as well. The steps I followed are as follows:

Install kernel 2.6.30 from Debian Backports (Currently Squeeze has 2.6.26)

  • Add “deb lenny-backports main contrib non-free” to /etc/apt/sources.list
  • aptitude install linux-image-2.6.30-bpo.1-686 (specific pkg name and version may change with time)

Build and install b43-asm (Tool to compile/assemble the firmware from their source code (b43-asm is not in the Debian repo at the time of writing this article)

  • svn co svn:// b43-asm-debian
  • cd b43-asm
  • debuild -i -us -uc -b –lintian-opts -i  (this builds the .deb package from the source tree. Just running debuild without any options gives some gpg key error)
  • dpkg -i <name of the deb package built in the above step>

Build and install the openfwwf firmware from its source

  • svn co svn:// openfwwf-debian
  • cd openfwwf-debian
  • debuild -i -us -uc -b –lintian-opts -i
  • dpkg -i <name of the deb package built in the above step>. This installs the Free Software firmwares under /lib/firmware/b43-open/ .

OpenFWWF currently does not support hardware encryption and QOS yet. To force these module options automatically, it is recommended to install a module-init-tools override /etc/modprobe.d/openfwwf.conf containing the following line:

  • options b43 nohwcrypt=1 qos=0

Or, just copy the corresponding example /usr/share/doc/openfwwf/examples/openfwwf.conf
to /etc/modprobe.d/openfwwf.conf

Once the Free Firmware is installed, you can remove the previous non-free firmware from /lib/firmware/ directory. Now reboot the machine to see if everything has gone OK or not. On my machine, after rebooting, when i do:

dmesg | grep firmware , I get the following output:

[   34.301153] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43/ucode5.fw
[   34.484276] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43-open/ucode5.fw
[   34.602878] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43-open/pcm5.fw
[   34.609582] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43-open/b0g0initvals5.fw
[   34.627897] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43-open/b0g0bsinitvals5.fw
[   34.717116] b43-phy0: Loading OpenSource firmware version 410.31754 (Hardware crypto not supported)

Which shows that everything went ok and that I am now using the Free firmware.

One more non-free component removed!! Yay!!! /

My thanks goes to people on #gnewsense (gnufs, graziano and all the others), the OpenFWWF developers and everyone in the Free Software Community.

Important links:

Note: lspci says my wifi card is: 03:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g WLAN (rev 01)

My OLPC XO Experience

I got an OLPC XO today. Its not actually for me. Its from someone in America to a nunnery in Bumthang. They wanted me to install Dzongkha computing capabilities on the XO. Having never worked on this device, I do not know whether this would be possible or not. Anyways, I am happy to get this opportunity to use and work on an XO. Over the following days, I would be blogging my daily experience in using the device.
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