Who are hackers and What is Hacking ?

I was reading “Free as in Freedom” suggested by Kushal on the #dgplug channel on IRC. We also had a session on “History of Free Software Movement” on Monday”. I bookmarked the page at that time and thought to give a read in free time.

After reading the book, I was surprised and disgraced at the same time that we have no knowledge of the history of this computer science world and even we never tried to know.

So,  I will start with short Introduction of the book. This book is “biographical snapshots of GNU project founder Richard Stallman with the political, social and economic history of the free software movement. This book examines one man’s 20-year attempt to codify and communicate the ethics of 1970s era “hacking” culture in such a way that later generations might easily share and build upon the knowledge of their computing forebears. The book documents Stallman’s personal evolution from teenage misfit to the prescient adult hacker to political leader and examines how that evolution has shaped the free software movement. ”

‘Hacker’, Whenever we read or find out this term, the image that comes to our head is “a person who secretly gets access to a computer system in order to get information, cause damage”. This is what we use to see in movies or media. This is definition by most of the dictionary we follow. But that’s not the fact.

According to Richard Stallman hack means “Playful cleverness.” Hacking meant playful brilliance.

Hackers amaze people with their intelligence and innovation. They gave life to novel ideas which people thought were impossible to do; to wrought into reality.

To understand the meaning of the word “hacker,” and to understand the hacker ethic culture, one should read this book.

This book beautifully explains how the terms cracking’,security breaking’ and prank’ mixed up and create a misunderstanding.  How the word ‘Hacking’ got the new definition as the time changed. That’s why writer of the book finished his writing with these lines

Using the term “cracking” rather than “hacking,” when you mean “security breaking,” shows respect for Stallman and all the hackers and helps preserve something which all computer users have benefited from: the hacker spirit.

After reading the book I can say “I am proud to be a hacker”


  1. Kushal Das’s Article on “Hacker Ethic and Free software movement”
  2. Free as in Freedom

Free software movement & Hacker culture

I will start this post with a quote by Kushal Das in between the session yesterday.

“The history is important, Learn about it!”

We had a session on IRC channel dgplug last night and the topic was “History of hacking and free software movement”.

The session started with this simple recent tweet by Gnome and a few replies

In this session, Kushal gave an inspiring talk on this topic, He told us about

  • TX-O computer at MIT lab,
  • How ‘Hacker Ethic’ word came into existence
  • The rise of Free Software Movement.
  • PDP – I computer
  • Richard Stallman
  • Founding FSF
  • Launching GNU
  • Open Source Initiative (OSI) by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond.

Whenever we use Linux, or an open source software, Everything that we see today in Open source world, It all started with Free Software movement, which is about the freedom of users.

He also suggested us some books and resources to read about “History of hacking and free software movement”

  1. Free as in Freedom
  2. Hackers: Heroes of Computer Revolution
  3. A documentary “Revolution OS”

You can check IRC logs of dgplug here.

Dotfiles: Customize your system

I heard this term first during dgplug Summer training in 2016 when sayan was taking a class on vim. Currently, I am setting up all of my dotfiles for a Fedora configuration. (Read more about Fedora here )

What are dotfiles?

Dotfiles are plain text configuration files on Unix-like systems for things like our shell in.bash_profile,  our editor in .vimrc,.gitignore,  and many others. They are called “dotfiles” as they typically are named with a leading . making them hidden files on your system.

Why Dotfiles?

Dotfiles are used to customize your system. these are not regular documents, and by default are hidden in directory listings.

Dotfiles basically contain the preferred setup of your computer. They usually come with a setup procedure so you can easily install everything again when you need to start from a fresh system. dotfiles also really useful for syncing preferences across multiple devices.

Configuration for my Fedora machine

I set up dotfiles for my vim configuration, bash profile and git configuration, these are the tools(packages) that I use regularly. I am currently using limited data package of Airtel prepaid connection, which is too costly to afford.  I will upload all my dotfiles to GitHub repository next month when I will have a broadband connection.




dgplug Summer Training

 a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

This summer, I have joined a summer training organized by dgplug. Training started on 18th June 2017 (Yes, India vs Pakistan Champions Trophy final was on the same day). So far at the time, I am writing this post, we have learned communication skills, shell commands, Vim, markdown, and git. I will discuss on all these in next blog post.

What is dgplug?

LUG  stands for “Linux Users Group”, dgplug stands for “Durgapur Linux user group”

dgplug conducts a summer training program every year, to train participants on how to become upstream developers and increase open source development. Its free of cost and anyone from anywhere can join in at IRC group channel! As mentioned in their summer training announcement page, pre-requisites are

  • A decent Internet connection.
  • Attitude to learn.
  • A computer with Linux distribution


How I came to know about dgplug?

I got to know about dgplug summer training by Sayan Chowdhury ‘s post on quora last year. I joined this program in 2016 also but I left training in middle because of health issue. Though I was connected to dgplug via IRC channel and mailing list. I also used to read blog posts by members of dgplug.

And, again this year, I am part of this summer training program.

My experience

Almost 3 weeks of training have passed and I must say it was awesome and I am learning something which is new and useful. We have a regular session or every day at 19:00 IST on the #dgplug channel at Freenode server on IRC.

It is same as a classroom, We have roll call system here too and here nicks(students) just have to type their name when Mentor type Roll Call. [No proxy ;)]

After the roll call, the session starts, first we discuss doubts or questions from the previous class and after that, we discuss and read up on a new topic. You have to type ‘!’ if you have a doubt and want to questions. Batul is a bot, which keeps record of queue of nicks and also batul helps in maintaining session logs (a record of all chat during session)

So far, at the time of writing, we have learned

  • How to use IRC
  • Mailing and Chat Etiquettes
  • How to ask questions
  • Importance of self-learning and googling
  • Basic Shell Command Usage
  • Importance of Blogging
  • Using command line text editor VIM
  • Markdown
  • Git (VCS)

I am very excited about learning new tools and technologies that are useful for upstream contributor and a computer science student.

One of the best thing that I liked about this training program is that they (mentors) focus on understanding the logic and structures instead of throwing a bag full of codes and commands to the student!

I will write more about this training program and its progress.