23 Sep

Back at College | Final year | Life in US |Thoughts on Linux!


Finally blog post after long time! 

Last few months were busy with US trip, and roaming around.  Things are pretty much funny as usual at college. US went OK as usual – finding better infrastructure, more politeness in general but weird relationship and culture in few cases. Quite a different food in Michigan and those $8-$10 bills for each dinner! It is always interesting to see how much different US is in reality then what we always hear from people around us and movies etc. 


Things which look strange to me whenever I visit US:

  1. How well system works with discipline
  2. No predicable eating pattern – a Apple can be breakfast one Monday, while entire Pizza on Tue!
  3. People drink more soft drinks in general then water. It is easy to find drinks over water.
  4. Internet is way too faster then India. (Will fix ours in a while!) 🙂
  5. Quite a few people live life on paycheck with absolutely zero savings.
  6. Too much of “step” brother/sister/father/mother concept, which isn’t fun when looking from Indian eyes.
  7. McDonald food is cheap (which is relatively expensive in India!) + no vegetarian food!
  8. Size of Walmart & Best Buy itself is a surprise & mystery!
  9. Efficient & quick legal systems help regulators to great extent 
  10. How inefficient & ridiculous Indian paper oriented bureaucracy has become!
  11. How boring a place looks with less population to Indian eyes which are used to crowd all around! 🙂





Finally I am back in village into my “student life“. We have some interesting courses including Linux and Broadband Communications.  Syllabus for Linux looks good but classes are going awful. Well no offence to our teachers but seriously entire design of Linux courses in B.tech degree is crap. 

The course in B.tech 7th semester under Kurukshetra University covers basics of Linux from commands to basic idea of Linux Kernel, GRUB boot loader, Linux Networking (yay!), LDAP and other integration methods with Windows and finally Linux security concepts via PGP keys, firewall, NAT etc. To be true – course pretty much covers a lot if done in right manner but seriously based on few classes I have attended so far I can clearly see there won’t be much to learn for students in general from this “yet another subject” at college.


Here’s the image of Linux which most of students have:

  1. It’s all CLI and that too from UNIX days 🙂
  2. Fedora and CentOS are awesome, while simple ones like Ubuntu aren’t “powerful enough” to even try!
  3. Linux is all about cramming commands with all their arguments (well no concept of man tool here!) 
  4. Linux is all for geeky servers and can’t be used on desktop
  5. Linux is without any pre-compiled debian .deb or red hat .rpm packages and one must hit head on tasteless .tar.gz for installation
  6. File system is super hard to understand!
  7. No clue on Debian based Vs Red Hat based! (strange bird names huh?)


Now almost all these points are wrong based on what I have seen so far. I have been using Linux from over 6 years and being working a Linux systems admin from over 4 years. Linux has way too cool GUI  with gnome and KDE. Though I personally never liked KDE much due to instability but still it is way too better then assuming Linux is all about commands and one can’t even move a file without remembering mv command! 🙂

With regard to commands, this is a core fault in University’s course design. I expect students to be getting Linux GUI only version in one semester where one can get familiar with “life outside windows”, meaning of Linux file system etc rather then just cramming commands whole day long. Also, I was myself surprised on number of arguments taught for each command – seriously way too high and mostly useless. One can always find most of less used ones via manual tool (man $command) and thus there’s no point in cramming all of them in start or even ever!

With regards to distro – for some strange reason everyone prefers Fedora or CentOS missing the fact that they run laptops on their laps and servers tops! 🙂 
Most of these hard core Linux distros are more for non-GUI based servers and surely graphics look so un-developed and scary one. One has to understand that a powerful distro on server is not really the most powerful one on Laptop too. I would love to go for CentOS on my servers but would stick with Ubuntu, Mandriva, or Mint for desktop experience.  

Also, to start with one should stick with distro which has better repository as we don’t expect new Linux users to be messing up with compiling software packages. With regards to file system – college/syllabus does puts enough effort but still this all look meaningless to people unless they could simply roam around into file system with decent GUI rather then looking at / on testing ls command. 🙂


With hope that we will have more Linux admins out of young B.tech students, time to end this post!



Some important life changes…

Sidenote: I am not with Cloudaccess.net anymore. It was very nice experience of setting up AS54456 from scratch along with design of anycasting DNS instances.  Wishing Cloudaccess.net good luck for time ahead.

I just started working with Packet Clearing House (PCH). Looking forward towards exciting time ahead! Interesting pages to checkout – Anycasting DNS for TLDs  & Peering information

Thanks for reading. 

01 Feb

Sify broadband in rural areas


Sify is one of really interesting companies. One time pioneer of Indian internet market via chain of cyber cafes. Good old days. Present situation of Sify in consumer market is not significant. Latest earing figures clearly state company is moving towards enterprise segment.

Company is quite aggressive in enterprise segment offerings specially datacenters & corporate leased lines.
Is consumer market really over for Sify or there’s still some hope?


Well, consumer broadband market isn’t really over! Infact this is the main market which is yet to explode in India!

These are the factors which went against Sify:

  1. Company over estimated growth via Cybercafe chains. Cheap computers killed market of cyber cafe itself!
  2. Company failed to capture high end consumer segment and lost it to DSL players like BSNL/MTNL & Airtel. Quality of services was way too low (due to franchise model) adopted for distribution via last mile cable operators.
  3. Low end users were stolen by cheap wireless internet via 2G (and now 3G).
  4. Company tried using pointed wireless links when technology was very new & yet to become advance with MIMO & beam forming.
  5. Indian regulation which prohibits VoIP-PSTN connectivity again put them on back seat against main telcos like BSNL & Airtel.


Despite of these issues, I still see a huge potential for market which Sify tried to capture. Taking example of this village Radaur (where I am staying) – I can see over 20 connections to small computer shops, cell phone shops etc from Sify broadband. This is very interesting as a private broadband player is in village besides Govt. telecom player BSNL. Infact I can see lot of small shops giving priority to Sify over BSNL. I tried asking them for reason and here’s list of those:

  1. Fast installation 1-2days Vs 30+ days for BSNL.
  2. Fast fix in case of downtime – in few hours Vs 2-3 days for BSNL.
  3. No issues of breaking of cable (as in case of BSNL)


Well, these all issues are quite true. Most of these shops have subscribed to 256Kbps to 512Kbps plans and they work pretty well (as per my tests). Here Sify is using a “point to multi-point wireless network” to reach last mile. They run last mile over 60 degree sector antenna located in front of Radaur bus stand pointed towards village. Here’s the picture:



and here’s one of end user CPE antenna’s pointing towards it:




Unfortunately 1st picture isn’t clear.
It has small antenna with two parabolic antenna’s on top – one towards Yamunanagar city & other towards Ladwa village. It uses high end frequency band of 5.8Ghz which has over 40Mhz of bandwidth in free WiFi spectrum for tower backhaul. This sort of backhual works pretty well since one can get over 100Mbps for 40-50Km of distances (in this case Yamunanagar district is 20Km off from here) where they feed core network from leased fibers and run a MPLS on top of it. Though backhual capacity of such towers is quite high and for small village (with less users) – even last mile shared sector antenna too isn’t a problem. What surprises me is that – still at the end of day Sify offers similar or worst plans as compared to BSNL. Reason remains bit of backbone bandwidth costs, high amount of commission taken by middle re-sellers etc. Sify offcourse failing here to realize big market and capturing it with good marketing followed by massive deployment. At this point low end market will be again grabbed by cell phone players with 2G/3G while high end will sooner or later go to BSNL or other telcos (if last mile unbundle happens) since DSL is way more scalable then this technology apart from fact that BSNL won’t have any issue in backbone (when they have 104 pair fiber landing in village exchange!). Unless last mile unbundle happens, there’s hardly any technology which can provide wired broadband equivalent speeds for this network.


With hope for good future of broadband in India, time for me to wash my clothes! 😉