A gnome user’s tryst with KDE 4.1

I have been a gnome user for nearly the past two years. Having started my Linux experience with Ubuntu, which shipped gnome as default, I never felt the need to switch. There was nothing the Windows XP DE provided (and I used) that was missing in gnome. Wireless with network-manager was the only problem that I encoutered however I soon found an excellent alternative in WICD – and that has been the default for me from then.

However, KDE4 came along with a lot of fanfare. However, the reports suggested that there were a lot of bugs with it and the official view seemed to suggest that it was more of a development release and therefore I decided to stick with gnome. But then came along 4.1 and the feedback from other users was encouraging. I decided to give it a try. However, Gentoo (my current Distro) did not have ebuilds for the 4.1 branch in the official tree yet. A simple search at the forums yielded the answer that the gentoo devs are working on it and they were expected to hit the tree sometime in the near future. Meanwhile, those who were really interested can get 4.1 from the kdesvn-portage overlay. Not wanting to wait, I went ahead and fetched the overlay. Next step was to install kde4.1. After tweaking with the use flags and unmasking the packages (they are all hard masked) , I went ahead and installed the following split ebuilds:

kdm (separately)

It took a while to compile (:P) and the download speed was legendary ( <20 kbps) so it was ready when I woke up the next morning. No idea how long it took to compile (luckily there were no breakages during the night).

Well, I changed the default login manager to kdm, logged out and was presented with the kdm login screen. Nothing special there, no difference in functionality compared to gdm.

Well, I logged in and the default KDE4.1 splash screen was definitely very nice eye candy. Defintely better than the default gnome splash screen. The default wallpaper was quite artistic as well. Surprisingly, it read my gnome-session properties. I had a few scripts added to the startup and they were executed in KDE as well. That was quite nice.

So, a side by side comparison of the apps that are provided in the DE.

Dolphin > Nautilus (Dolphin feels more responsive, and is faster)

Gwenview > eog (no comparison here, gwenview in this regard is like the picture manager in vista)

Dragon Player = Totem (Totem is the front end for gstreamer and Dragon Player for xine, so there is not much of a difference. I am not discussing about the backend here. 🙂 )

kwin and Metacity (kwin is supposed to have compisite effects, but it does not work for me, so I do not know. :P) Other than that, it works fine.
EDIT: This is solved, kwin has to be built with openGL support if you want OpenGL as the compositing method. 😛

ksnapshot > gnome-screenshot (has more options)

konsole = gnome-terminal (not much difference)

Multimedia Keys (kde) < Multimedia Keys (in gnome) -> I have set the preferences for volume control at least a couple of times in systemsettings and it seems to stop working after some time. No dea why.

HAL Integration (kde) < HAL integration (gnome) -> First of all, no external drives would be automounted by default. It pops up in this new device notifier where you have to click on the new device to mount it. I mean, what the hell is this. If I plug in an external hard drive, I want it to be mounted and not wait for me to tell it to mount itself.
Secondly, my windows partition is not mounted by default. It pops up in the new device notifier when I log in, but when I click on it, it tells me something about having to thing extra options. So, I have to mount it manually. Quite irritating.

kmenuedit > alacarte. However, for some reason, I cannot get kmenuedit to recognize that gimp has an icon. 🙂

Plasma Panels > gnome panel. Not a surprise considering they were working on it for so long and it was one of the major feature of 4.0.

Konqueror and Kmail I did not try, same with kopete. Firefox, Thunderbird and Pidgin work for me.

As for the default audio player, I do not know why JuK is installed. It is of no use, when Amarok is there.

Other than that, there is not much of a difference, and it did not take me (I have never used KDE before) to get used to the settings and all.

But, I must say, that the system responsiveness of KDE4.1 is better than that of gnome-2.22. It loads at a faster rate, and is faster when it run as well. And of course, the looks and the finish are better than gnome, in my opinion. Therefore, this time it looks like that kde4.1 is there on my computer to stay.

Below is a screenshot of my desktop with one gtk app, one qt app, and one native kde4 app.


Aachen, Euros, Internship

The city is indeed full of students, and most of them are Chinese. (after Germans, of course). Then there are of course Indians as well. Apparently, the Audi Max at RWTH can house 1500 students. that is indeed a lot. And unlike Jacobs, there are no weekly quizzes or exams at RWTH. Just final exams, which count for 100% of the grade.
And yes, it is indeed amazing to watch the soccer fanaticism in Germany. Ponttor is definitely the street to be, full of restaurants and TVs. The scenes after the Germany Austria games were amazing. People blowing horns, jumping up and down in the middle of the street, quite a spectacle. Though the next match (Germany vs. Turkey) might be a bit volatile. Nonetheless, it would be one hell of a game. Rooting for a Germany vs. Russia final now that Italy is out.
And the Internship, have a desk and everything. Turns out that all the computers are named after German beers. The internship is interesting, though staring at assembly codes all day and checking for data aborts can get quite tedious. Still, the idea of booting linux on a virtual platform is cool enough to keep me interested.
Hoping the weather improves though, it is hot even for an Indian.


I reached the office at 9 am in the morning. Not big at all, just about 20 people and three interns including me. Both are masters, so I am the least qualified there.
A bit of a deja vu, as they all use Dells! And yeah, it is a Windows free place, every computer runs Linux! Nice to see that in a corporate environment. My supervisor is really cool, he is really chatty, and I feel nice when he comes and talk to me. I am terribly talkative myself, so I need someone to talk to.

Why I Use Gentoo?

So, I have been asked this question many times. And of course the assumption is that I am some sort of a masochist who enjoys wasting time on compiling packages. However, that is not entirely true. There are some other reasons why, after trying Ubuntu (started linux with it), Gentoo and then Arch I settled on Gentoo.

The main reasons in a nutshell would be:

1. Rolling Release – Arch does the same thing, while you could achieve the same if you keep using the development releases of Ubuntu. (However, once a feature freeze sets in, you have a wait of couple of months before new packages move into the repos). Arch, in fact, is more bleeding edge that gentoo. However, that is an advantage and a disadvantage as well. While it allows you to have the most bleeding edge system, minor breakdowns are expected. The same can be said for Gentoo – however, with the option of hard masking (not normal masking) a saner solution exists.

2. Portage – No other package management compares to it. Period. Not even the mighty and holy apt.

3. etc-update/dispatch-conf – Haven’t discovered a better way to manage configuration files in a better way in any other distribution. Very useful, if you like to edit your configuration files and do not want them to revert back with an update.

4. eselect – Modular configuration framework. In my opinion, the best feature of Gentoo.

5. Slotting – Install more than one version of the same package.

6. It forces you to learn command line – it is quite useful when you become used to it.

7. And before I forget, the famous USE flags. Trust me, once you get to know them, they are really helpful. And of course, there is no counterpart in any other distribution – this is a unique feature of gentoo (or rather source based distributions)

However, it is not that rosy. There are some disadvantages as well. The most obvious is the time consumed in compiling the packages and in getting the system installed. However, once everything is ready which would take anywhere between 3 days to a week, you would have a great system and you do not have to put in too much effort in maintaining it.

But still. only those who want to spend some time in building a system should try gentoo. Other than that, there is always Ubuntu, which is the best distribution if you are new to Linux.

India Downed Under

16th straight test victory for the Aussies at the SCG as they equal the record set by Steve Waugh. If I were Steve Waugh I would be hanging my head in shame at this moment. The current Australian team has blighted the game like no other has. It may have won matches and trophies galore but it has failed to win any hearts. I liked watching the Aussies play, they were quite good to watch at the 96 world cup. Under Taylor and then Waugh, they were a competitive side, tough to beat but gracious in defeat. However, during the past three years or so they have degenerated in a bunch of rowdy school boys who only care about winning. They are a bunch of school bullies who abuse, sledge and play hard but when someone gives it back to them they have no stomach to digest it. All went well at the Melbourne test – and why was that? Because Australia was winning comfortably, they had no reason to complain. Cut to the Sydney test. India have Australia on the mat, 6 wickets down for 134. And they have a chance to make it 7 when Symonds nicks one from Ishant Sharma and Dhoni takes it comfortably behind the stumps. The nick might have been easily heard in the Australian dressing room, but the umpire did not hear it. And of course Symonds did not walk, the Aussies only walk when they are not in trouble, he would not have walked and left his team in tatters. And then there is Micheal Clarke, he did earn my respect when he played in India in the test series in 2004. Seemed a very promising player. Nicks (or rather hits) one from Kumble to first slip. The deflection was probably wider than the Amazon, and he waits for the umpire to give him out. Can’t blame him, with the standard of umpiring that was on display he might have had the chance to survive. But if this is the man that is being groomed to be Ponting’s successor then there is something wrong with the Australian selectors. Or is there something wrong with the current Australian team which teaches its members to cheat? For while not walking might not be cheating, hoping to carry on through an umpiring mistake is surely cheating. Or something that school boys would do.The last day was not different, was it? Hoping to equal to Steve Waugh’s record, the Aussies played with an intensity that was expected of them. And they had an unexpected ally in Bucknor who seems to have developed a panache of ruining India’s chances in every game. He might have been a brilliant umpire once but he is surely past his prime. If the events in the world cup final of 2007 were not enough, Steve Bucknor had more in offer for us. Dravid is given out while the ball clearly hits his pad, and Ricky Ponting’s word is taken on two controversial catches when there was clearly the option of referring to the third umpire. And yes, I am openly questioning Ponting’s integrity here. As for Clarke, the mere fact that his word can be trusted for a catch is joke, he had already shown what he was capable of on the fourth day. And when it comes to close catching calls, the Australians do not have a great history, do they? Remember Slater and Dravid?

As for Harbhajan Singh, I highly doubt that words of racial nature were uttered by him. And even if they were, the fact that there must have been enough provocation for it, can not be denied. The Australians are afraid of him, because he has got their number. His partnership with Tendulkar was frustrating them, and it is now a common site to see the Aussies muttering insults out of the corner of their mouths. Heis a hot headed guy, Harbhajan is, and he just gave some back to Symonds. The first question that arises is why was there no censure on Symonds for provoking him. Or is there a category of insults – you can insult someone personally, but as soon as you fire a racial slur you are in trouble. That, in my opinion, is pure nonsense. Even if Harbhajan abused Symonds racially, the lack of evidence ( the on filed umpires nothing, and it was again the word of the Australian team that was taken for it) and the presence of several mitigating factors should have ensured a better handling of the case.

As for the Indian team, they must surely be gutted. They at least deserved to draw the Sydney match and had the umpiring decisions gone their way, or had the Aussies played in the spirit of the game, they might have even won it. If the supporters can not swallow this defeat it must surely be impossible for the team to swallow it. I personally no reason for the team to stay in Australia, there is no respect for them there. Kumble, Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly are some of the most respected and talented cricketers to have graced the game of cricket in the past two decades and to play against a team which has neither respect for the game, nor for the opposition must surely pain them. 2.3 million, that is the price that they have to pay to bunk the tour. The Indian board is more than capable of paying that price. No reason for the team to stay and endure more contempt, for the current Australian team does not deserve to share the same space with the Indian team.

Come back, Team India!

A night to remember

An expectant crowd

The expectant crowd had started coming in an hour earlier, the Mercator Servery, bedecked with decorations was unusually festive, was buzzing with excitement; for it was the night of the Indian Country Information Day and everybody wanted to make sure that they got a front row view of the proceedings. The audience were given an official welcome by Vikram and Nicole, the Mercator college masters. The fact that the Pakistanis on campus had helped in the organization of the Indian CID came in for special mention. And then it was time for the show to begin.


The Indian CID, themed on an Indian wedding,  began fittingly with the clip of a cricket match. Time to show everyone how mad Indians are about cricket. The groom, ( played by Devashish) in stead of attending his wedding was engrossed in the match along with his entire family. Only when India won the match did they all proceed to the wedding. And then, Jensen gave a presentation on the sports played in India which apart from cricket also include hockey, polo, kabaddi, chess and tennis.

Baraat Dance



Meanwhile, the bride’s family was anxiously waiting for the groom’s family and they arrived amongst much singing and dancing. And when the bride (played by Neha) finally arrived flanked by her sisters the groom was so captivated by her beauty that he took a walk down the memory lane thinking of the first time they met. He soon snapped out of his dreams and the “pandit” (An Indian priest, played by Rahul) continued with the wedding rituals. The bride and the bridegroom exchanged garlands symbolizing their mutual acceptance of each other.


And then lightning struck. The bride’s grandmother (played by Radhika) was infuriated that her granddaughter was marrying someone from another caste. The pandit managed to placate her and also gave us information about the evils of the Indian caste system and its historical background. The Granny was soon as calm as a lake and even agreed to bless the couple.

The argument ends amicably

Then Deepika told us about the secular India, about the 7 different religions practised in India, and about the numerous festivals that the country as a whole celebrates irrespective of religion.

Vilasini, Charitra, Swetha, Sheetla, Ravi, Anneysha and Ankur wanted to discuss where the couple should go for honeymoon and thus we were introduced to the various scenic locales of India, from the Royal Rajasthan to the Romantic Agra, from the backwaters of Kerela to the tea gardens of Darjeeling, from the serene beaches of Kanyakumari to the party all nights in Goa and then to the only paradise on earth – Kashmir.

And for those wanting to travel to India, there was interesting information from Tanmay who informed everyone that there are more than 1500 languages spoken in India and it might not be easy to communicate with everyone you meet.

Roy, Hozefa and Pranjal then decided to challenge the triumvirate of Ananya, Anneysha and Swetha to a dance session and what followed was a fun filled dance performance to some groovy bollywood tunes.


But Indian Music is not only about Bollywood and we were reminded of that by Radhika and Shikhar who informed us about Indian Classical Music and the various dances of India,  both classical and folk. Rahul chipped in with a performance on Tabla, one of the most popular Indian Classical Instrument.

Roy, Dipesh and Vilasini had some interesting information about technology and science in India which you just can not find on wikipedia. Everyone was amused by the concept of “jugaad” – a quick dirty fix.

And then it was time to go back to the wedding. The pandit over the “pheras”, the most important ceremony in an Indian wedding where the bride and the groom exchange seven vows which declare then husband and wife. There is also the ceremony of “kanyadaan” where the bride’s father (Mitul, here) gives his daughter in marriage to the groom.

But there was something missing, and it was the rise of India as an economic power. Mitul gave a detailed presentation on all aspects of the Indian economy, with the take away message to all other countries – Beware. We are coming!.

With the pheras over, so was the wedding. And it was time for the “vidai” where the bride;s leaves her father’s house to go to her new home – her husband’s house. Her parents and family bid her a tearful adieu and the curtains came down on what was a roller coaster ride through India and the life of Indians.


But wait, do not go away yet, for it is time for the most awaited part of all CIDs – food. The culinary delicacies prepared by the Indians, with help from some of their Nepali’s friends, were appreciated by one and all if the queue at the food counter was at any indication of this fact. Though nearly everyone seemed in a hurry to get a glass of water or the sweet and delicious “payasam” prepared by the college masters after the spicy food, yet they came coming back for second helpings.

All in all, it was a wonderful night, and the Indian community can be pleased of the fact that all their hard work paid off and they managed to stage a successful CID. And all this was realized on stage through the technical expertise of Prashant, Deepu and Kevin.

The End

Spring Semester, Home and back!

Yeah, after the intersession came the spring semester. Wasn’t much different than the fall semester, now was it. Yes, there was studying to do and there was homework to do. There was the same old Aramark and there was the same great Bremen weather. And in between, there was something called the cricket world cup to forget which is the duty of all Indians.
There was some fun to be had as well, I finally managed to pay a visit to the Other Side, after ignoring it nearly for six months. It was not that I could not resist it any more but then sometimes you have to give in to your friends as well!
Soon enough, or was it four months, it was time to go home. Before that there was this beautiful thing about having to clear your room which was no fun at all. Having never packed a suitcase in my life before, I was a bit apprehensive. Though, soon enough, I got hold of the general concept which is to get all the stuff that needs to go inside the suitcase inside it and then somehow close the suitcase. And yes, I managed it, without much difficulty. Within minutes, or it seemed so, I was on my way to India, my home!
The trip back was not long at all, Shx was traveling on the same flight, so there was no question of boredom. And the excitement of going home ensured that the time flew as fast as the airplane. My family was there at the airport to welcome me, and when my brother hugged me, I knew I was home. I was eager to New Delhi, so that we could begin our six hour journey to Dehradun, our home. And when we finally reached there in the evening I was home physically as well.
It was great being back, Everything seemed somehow new and yet it was the same. There was home cooked food to be had, and all I can say that my mouth is still watering at this moment as I am writing about it. Yes, and I did meet most of my old friends from school, and it felt wonderful to be together again, after a long year. Words are not enough to describe my feeling of satisfaction of being back, of spending three long and yet very short with people who genuinely care for me and whom I love more than myself. There is no need for me to say anything for it was time to go back to Jacobs University, to Bremen and to Germany.
And so here I am, back in Germany, back in Bremen and back at Jacobs University starting my second year, a crunch year. Just waiting to see what lies ahead.

The Intersession 2006-07

The Ahlen trip was wonderful but it had to come to an end and so it did and I was back to IUB. The first week of intersession was very boring to say the least, nearly everyone was home and there were only very few people on campus. And then there was the trouble of having to go to the College II servery to eat and that was the reason that I missed breakfast nearly everyday. There was literally nothing to do. Though we managed a trip to Hannover meanwhile. I guess it is even bad to call that a trip, that would be the wrong term for it. It was more of a hangout really, but it turned out to be nice.

With the start of the new year, people started to come back. Some people had BCCB labs and then there were some like me taking the Introduction to Law course. Guess that was probably not a cheerful reson to come back, but people did come back for that very reason.

And then there was the course, Introduction to Law. Guess it was a bit tiring to say the least with more that 6 hours of classes daily. We also had to prepare a presentation for it and write an essay as well. Inspired by exploits in the field of History of Science, I decided to do my essay in one night, and I did manage to do that, though I was not very satisfied with what I came up with. That is what happens if you leave stuff for the last minute.

But the best part of the intersession was still to come. We planned a trip to Amsterdam and we did go there, as planned. The trip was great to say the least, it was nice to be in a city where people actually spoke English. We tried different cuisines everyday, Mexican the first, Indian the second, Chinese the third and Italian on the fourth. But that was not the interesting part was it, the interesting part was to see people stoned on all kinds of stuff. As Keno and I were the only one who had their feet firmly on the ground, we had fun watching the others. But I think that Keno had a bit more fun that I did for I was even affected by the smoke of the stuff and he was unaffected by it. It was fun watching him ask the high guys silly question to see of they remembered stuff or were they completely gone.

But in general, the trip was great fun. It was very nice to be someplace other than the university with all your friends and being able to chill out. Hope we could do that more often, but with the workload at IUB, that would be nearly impossible.

And so with the Amsterdam trip, we were done with the intersession, and the new semester started. Guess it didn’t start that brightly for me as I had to write an exam for introduction to law on the first day of the new semester – the joys of taking an extra intersession course. But well, there will be a lot more exams in the intersession and I guess I wouldn’t have much to complain them.

Till then, life is as normal and peaceful at IUB as it could be!

Ein Tag in Ahlen

The semester ended finally. It was a long and tiresome semester to say the least. Anyhow, all “good” things must come to an end! So, IUB went on holidays for ever as it will be (or already has been) rechristened as JUB. Anyhow, it was Christmas time! My host family had already promised that they will take me with them to Ahlen where they will be celebrating Christmas with their family. We left Bremen on the 24th. It was not a long ride to Ahlen! (If you can drive at 150 kph, I don’t think any distance would be long enough!)

We reached Ahlen safely, though. It was not that I was afraid that we would not, it is just that back home it is not possible to drive at 150 kph. The first difference between Ahlen and Bremen was the temperature. Ahlen was definitely colder, but still not cold enough to be uncomfortable. (thankfully!) We went to the church and the strangest imaginable surprise awaited me at the church. The head priest was Indian, imagine that! Well, Alexandra’s mom insisted that I meet the priest and she introduced me to him. He was from south India and thus could not speak hindi. Therefore, we conversed in English.

Coming back from the church, we got ready for dinner. Alexandra’s sister and her husband also arrived by then, and so it was a nice family gathering. And the food was simply delicious! What a pleasant change from Aramark. Wish I could have more pleasant detours like this. We sang some carols as well and Andreas seemed to be enjoting himself a lot! Then it was time for exchanging presents. Well, I got some nice presents (he he he). The Werder cup was good!

The next day was equally good! We first went to a tour of Ahlen. Alexandra’s father, Dieta (hope I spelled that correctly) took us! Then we got back, I guess I was half asleep in the car for most of the time! We then got back and I had some good proper German cakes. My word, they were brilliant, the way they were melting in my mouth. AHHHH! It still makes my mouth water. Easily the best cakes I had ever had in my life! Well, then Dieta showed me some really nice card tricks! Awesome man! We played Jenga and Andreas, showed us how good an Architect he was! He was impossible to defeat. If I remember correctly, I think he only lost once. Then it was time for dinner, and it was again brilliant! Why doesn’t Aramark learn something!

And then on the next day it was time to say goodbyes to everone! Oma, Dieta and Alexandra’s mom (I forgot the name, sorry! But her cooking was brilliant!) Well, it was a very nice Christmas and yes I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Diwali at IUB

Yes, we Indians do enjoy our festivals, don’t we? And it was no surprise when we decided to celebrate Diwali at IUB this year as well. The preperations were done in collobration with the Nepali Population at IUB, which doubled the fun. The festival was held in the Krupp College common room, and we witnessed quite a turnout.

For me personaly, the celebrations started with me and Shikhar cooking papars. Ha! That was not difficult was it? All we had to was to put them in the microwave and then take them out when they were cooked. Though some of us who knew how to cook made better stuff such as Chhole, Chawal, Mixed Vegetables(yummy) and there was chicken for the sizeable population of the non-veggies. So, we ensured that the preferences of a lot may people were taken are of. The actual celebrations were quite fun as well. My host family were here as well, and they said that it was quite enjoyable, and we had a presentaion where we explained all about why we celebrate this wonderful festival. Though we couldn’t burn as many firecrackers as we do in India because of the different festivals in Germany, we still managed to have quite a gala time, attired as we were in our Indian clothes. And yes, it was quite a experience celebrating Diwali with such a diverse population which was not possible bak home. Oh, I wish all life at IUB was like this.