Saturday, September 16, 2017

Setting up Windows 10 and Linux dual-boot in UEFI

Back in the days when Ubuntu was still know as a "Debian based" Linux distro, installing it in dual boot in a computer with Windows already installed used to be pretty difficult.

On top of the setup conundrum, these systems used to be all MBR based systems where you were limited to only 4 primary partitions. If you needed more, you were needed to partition the last partition into separate logical partition.

Obviously with time, just like everything 32-bit moved to 64-bit, the world quietly moved from MBR to UEFI based systems which mainly worked on GPT. MBR remained as a legacy support option. Windows being the largest consumer OS in the market, moved their whole stack to this GPT, and can now only be installed in that way. MBR is officially out.

Setting up my personal computer

I had to replace my HDD in my computer. After installing the new one, I decided to setup the usual dual-boot I used to have, just this time in with Windows 10, which installs only in UEFI. But once the Windows was set up. My UEFI bootable pendrive won't even go to the setup screen. It was just showing "Error parsing PCC subspaces from PCCT" and would abort the process.

Turns out this is a classic issue from the BIOS side and the methods BIOS makers adopt to retain legacy support for the OSs trying to be installed in BIOS mode. This type of issue would be lower and lower with time, until then this would be relevant to know why your bootable drive would be detected by the BIOS, but the installation won't go through. I finally solved the issue and set my linux distro up in UEFI mode.

If you are having the same problem as mine, you might want to follow the same process. This would differ a little depending on your BIOS, and where it puts it's settings, but overall the concept would be quite similar.

Make bootable USB drive with Rufus
  1. Download Rufus
  2. Make bootable drive with "Partition scheme and target system type" set as "GPT partition scheme for UEFI". The Rufus window should look similar to this:

    Notice the Red and Green marked areas, select them properly and point the proper ISO of your linux distro.
  3. Hit START and wait until it shows ready as shown in the image above.
  4. Congratulations! You now have a bootable disk.
Setting up BIOS
Now you need to restart your PC and get into BIOS settings.
I use an ASUS X555LA, and I need to hit F2 at bootup time to access it. Your's might vary.
So once you're in the BIOS settings the screen would kinda look like this:
BIOS Settings

Now comes the real understanding, that you need to disable USB legacy support. The idea is, the moment you enable legacy support, your USB drive will only be read in BIOS mode, not UEFI.
My laptop goes as you can see here:

When you hover over legacy support enable/disable selection, you might see some tool-tips on the side. Mine looked like this:
Save and exit the bios config. Restart the computer and boot from the USB drive - UEFI option.
For my BIOS, I can select it directly, like this:

For some other BIOS, it might be that you need to setup the boot order in order to boot from that particular drive.


The linux installation starts.

Choose your preferred setup method there, and select the bootloader location as /dev/sda(or the root of the device tree for your HDD). Modern distros are smart enough to detect where your existing bootloader is installed, and will make change to that EFI partition only, you don't have to do anything at all.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Unwanted Holidays

I have nine compulsory holidays this year. I'll be spending them sitting in the tiny room I have, and given Bangalore, won't have power or water or both for the major part of those days.

Doesn't sound much like a holiday, right?

I could spend those nine days at my hometown or somewhere in a hill station, and in turn might have helped that place's tourism economy by a very tiny margin. But my government decided that I must celebrate the day. Even though I don't want to. Nobody wants to. Because we don't really care about the day Gandhi was born. Most of us have no clue about details of his work or ideals either.

Why can't we have those days added to our paid leaves? For most part of the developed world people get close to 30 or more days of paid leave. We don't. We're IT sweatshop. Can we at least have the liberty to spend the leave at our own time? We make so much fuss about freedom. Is freedom supposed to be only "freedom of protest" or "freedom of shoddy journalism"?

We forget the main reason why freedom is attractive. It's called CHOICE. And we drive it straight out of the window in our excitement to force other to celebrate.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Social Baitwork

It was the time I just completed college and at home for last 2 months and preparing to leave for the job to the another end of the country.

My desktop was sold off, too old. I couldn't carry my laptop either. My parents are going to be using it. Good for them. Finally, they will have a computer to fiddle with whenever they feel like, I won't be occupying it anymore.

In my enthusiasm to get them habituated with what all the nitty-gritties possible in that time I started introducing to multiple social media channels. It was more motivated by the fact that the never ending flow of contents will keep them hooked to internet, or at least will keep them interested enough so they won't dump the PC and go back to age of postcards.

I got them the first mail accounts and ran a few demos of those. Then obviously came our eternal source of knowledge and wonder  YouTube. And then Quora. Yes, I wanted them to stay on the better learned side of the internet. But little did I realize that all my intentions are going to be undone by my one mistake every over-enthusiastic person has ever done, stepping over the safety line. I got them a free ticket to magic land where trolls reign like there's no tomorrow  Facebook.

I was used to getting different form of queries from them about all sort of odd details previously. But once they got the hang of Facebook, it all turned different. Earlier most of the queries used to be about the technicalities of using a website, like how to find more appropriate content or maybe how to save them. Now, it’s centered only around one product, Facebook and the details are less of any technicalities, more about the particular features of the platform that validates their choices — the instant gratification story all over again.

I never thought about it like this. Turns out our tendency to be validated by others is quite powerful. Also we became social around some natural inhibition factors that controls us from overdosing on our social behaviors/activity and now that is pretty difficult to model reasonably when your product is based on the idea of removing the inhibition at the first place. Thus, there goes the over-social populace of today.

Initially my conception on social media was that teenagers overreact in it. I often did when I was one. My friends took it to some other spectacular level, some to a level where no amount of face-palms were enough. But my expectation was I would see more matured behavior from the people older than me, my parents' generation. I assumed they know their way around humans from the fact that they have more experience around them.

Interestingly enough, it turned out to be more of a function of time than anything else. People who were the first group to join the networks were my age group. They overreacted there for like 10-12 years before life dawned on them. There were two factors, they were getting more used to meeting humans, as a function of age. And their mentality calibrated itself to work around the current low friction communication medium.

When I introduced my parents to Facebook I had the opportunity of noticing the nuances once again from their behaviour, under a similar condition like that of my friends. This gave a clearer idea of what impacts our behaviour.

Most people hesitate meeting new people and talking to them for the first time. But this barrier is removed online. So they seem to approach people in a manner which might seem over-enthusiastic for you, if you're not habituated doing it online regularly. We get a certain subconscious feed back from the other party in a conversation, we call it body language. This was useful in letting us know know what kind of response we might expect. Someone seemed uninterested in communication, most will not approach the person at the first place.

Our mind has calibrated itself in such a manner to save itself from handling the social rejection. Now this body language is absent online, we tend to approach people without having any clue about their attitude or preconception towards us. Thus people tend to get a overwhelming stimuli of negative emotion when the "Hi" on messenger goes ignored.

Now this all makes so much sense when I think back about the news of children committing suicides or going into depression over social media interactions. I used to think these are the folly of themselves, that they got involved so much into these superficial ecosystem. But the fact is quite far from these. By no choice of them they were born into a time when they have these products at disposal, but nobody to warn them about what to expect from it. Thus their natural function misfire and the result is classic cases of overshoot-and-collapse.

Obviously this will get fixed over time. People will learn to live and work their way around such products. And our brain will learn to actuate it's reaction for such stimuli, until something similar again disrupts the system. But until then so many people would be affected by it in various manner and we will see this impacting increasingly significant part our personalities.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Connecting People

In mid 1800s a German trained mining engineer decided to build a paper pulp mill in a far flung town in the western part of the Russian Empire. He would, in another few years, will build another mill and later would venture into other form of forest based and power generation business. This business will be relocated to the nearby town, after which he would name his company. More than a hundred and twenty years later, the company this Finnish engineer started, would build the most popular brand of the tool that will redefine the word connectivity in late twentieth century and will pave the path for the most breakneck competition in consumer electronics that we've ever seen.

Yes, it's mobile phone and the company, NOKIA.
Nokia 6110
I remember seeing a device that my uncle bought that weighed about 500 grams and he used to keep in his bag for carrying. It had a tiny antenna on top of it, which for quite some time to come will be the identity of a mobile phone. A simple multi-press keypad and six other buttons accompanied by a small inch-wide dot-matrix screen promised the unimaginable possibility of talking to someone on the other end of the country while you're walking in the busy streets of city.

But still these things remained quite a matter restricted to the riches. You had to pay for receiving calls and pay more than ₹10 a minute to make one.

Things changed soon enough. These tiny things were popping up more and more from pockets, and the ones relied upon most used to bear the same name in 5 capital letters on them.

Nokia didn't just sell mobile phones. They also sold a culture, cultivating a fan-base. One that will, a decade later spin off an entirely own market. Probably all first generation mobile users' first taste of handheld gaming was with Snake Xenzia. So much so, I recently saw a person playing a clone of the game on his phone, an iPhone.

When someone starts talking about Nokia, it's unfinished deal if the legend of 1100 and 3310 doesn't come up. Those were probably the sturdiest of consumer electronics ever sold on the face of earth. Countless stories of these falling from 2nd floor or drowning in a bucket of water, and eventually emerging out of them unscratched and functioning as good as new still sets the tone of conversation when people talk about build quality. Those were benchmarks; traditional benchmarks.

The first cellphone came to my family in 2006, a Nokia 1600. A device that would save my day after more than 9 years of first unboxing it. Time passed as fast as our demands outgrew itself. We soon upgraded our 1600 to a 5200, yes the famed XpressMusic version. That thing gave a quite good service for a while and started deteriorating. And we were not as much of a Nokia loyalist anymore as we were previously.

Situations changed, Nokia started faltering in it's tracks less than a decade later. Technological advancements were a little too much into focus and though quality remained top notch, the next billion, who were now the emerging market, were naturally common people who'd need their work done more than features they'll never use. They would gladly make compromise with build quality in favor of new features, and trade new features as easily for cheaper cost. It was a tricky market, an uncharted territory dominated by fierce competition to woo customers, who were not much sensitive to anything except cost. And with expensive devices with clunky UI, Nokia was at obvious disadvantage.

Things were looking bad already enough, the fatal blow was made when they decided to jump into the smartphone bandwagon, but with the wrong tools, Windows Mobile. Loads of conspiracy theories are still spun today, but overall it was a policy failure. Soon the fateful day arrived and a tearful Nokia CEO ended a press conference with the words,

We didn't do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.

Although I personally don't believe this statement to be anywhere close to true, the fact was real, there was no more Nokia, at least as an independent maker of mobile phones, but a subsidiary of Microsoft, whose mobile products were praised when people used the word sucks.

Fast forward to August, 2015. I have recently started my job and it's been less than a month I've been staying thousands of kilometres from home, when my smartphone smartly resigned from its job. It got bricked, and never woke up. Almost a month later, I got another phone. Guess who saved my day during this time? That good old Nokia 1600, the first cellphone we got a decade back in 2006. It was as good as the day it was bought. Ready to serve it's purpose as a device you can trust, you can depend upon.

So when a few days back the first Android device by the rebuilt brand of Nokia sold out it's stock in less than a minute in China, it made a conversation topic in social media. Much unlike anything else in recent times, all those posts had one thing in common — optimism. Friends texted the fact. Everybody seemed to buckle up to get their hands on one. Time will show how much of that hope is to realise, while we keep our fingers crossed; because it takes much more than grit, guts and gumption to make it in the market of the next billion. Because cheap and quirky things are interesting, maybe attractive too. But when you spend most of your day outside, and the 5 inch of glass slab in your pocket is pretty much your window to outside world, I'd much rather settle for one feature, reliability.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ant and Grasshopper - an Indian Version

Original Story:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs off, dances, plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

Indian Version:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant's a fool and laughs off, dances, plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN, Asianet show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

The World is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant's house.

Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter .

Mayawati states this as 'injustice' done on Minorities.

The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper.

CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers.

Railway minister allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the 'Grasshopper Rath'.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the 'Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act'[POTAGA], with effect from the beginning of the winter.

Education minister makes 'Special Reservation' for Grasshoppers in Educational Institutions in Government Services.

The Ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, it's home is confiscated by Government
and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV, BBC, CNN.

Arundhati Roy calls it 'A Triumph of Justice'.

Railway minister calls it 'Socialistic Justice'.

CPM calls it 'Revolutionary Resurgence of Downtrodden'

Years later...

The Ant has since migrated to the US and now runs a multi-billion dollar company in Silicon Valley.

Hundreds of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India.


As a result of losing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India is still a developing country.

(This is not my own writing, It's collected from Internet)