Phoenix Debian live CD v0.0.9 ready

I had been busy with making the Phoenix Debian live CD, for the past four days. It was a job that totally absorbed you. Just when you think that everything is alright, and you are ready to make version 0.1.0 (to be named “version 1” it requires the kernel driver for the parallel port version of Phoenix), some issue would pop up. When most of the problems which required immediate attention were solved, Ajith sir said we would start again on a fresh Debian installation, so that we could verify and note down all the steps involved. The second time, we made a script to run all the steps, mainly installing the packages required. There again, we found some steps we had forgotted to document, and corrected some of them, and for the time being, made a Phoenix Debian version 0.0.9. It was installed to one of the machines and I’m doing the experiments to be documented, from it.

Since I was so busy with the live CD work, the experiment documentation work had come to a complete standstill. Yesterday, Ajith sir and I stayed till 9 at night, to try and complete the live CD work, because if we didn’t finish it off, we’d be working on it forever. I resumed the experiments today afternoon. Will write more about that when we finish documenting it.

The highlight of today’s events was that Ajith sir introduced me to Prof. G.K.Mehta, who is a retired former director of IUAC, and continues to work here. He came to see the gravity experiment being done, and gave his invaluable suggestions. He even offered to go through the documentation when it is ready!

Phoenix Debian Live CD

Successfully created a live cd of Debian etch yesterday! It runs on the kernel 2.6.18-6-686, and successfully booted on different architectures- amd, intel celeron, P4. While booting, it takes some time to load the filesystem, but after booting, it’s quite fast to use. And the shutdown is ultra fast!

The ISO file came to around 300 MB, compressed from around 900MB on the installation. It now contains all the basic stuff to run Phoenix. What more, we were able to install it successfully to the hard disk using Ajith sir’s slax installation script in Python(with a minor modification to copy initrd.gz, which is absent in slax, as well) on the first trial itself! Some more work to be done to make it stable like the slax version…

Working on Phoenix

I have been working here at the IUAC for three days now. It is an invaluable experience to be in such an environment.

I started my work by documenting the experiment in which you find the value of acceleration due to gravity by measuring the time of fall of a metal ball (initially held by a solenoid and released by software) through a known distance. Ajith sir and Parmanand, the junior engineer in this lab, got together a make shift apparatus for performing the experiment. I took detailed readings of the ball’s free fall (every 5 cm from 10cm to 95cm, with 10 readings on each point) , and got a decent enough result on performing a curve fit. But Ajith sir was not satisfied with the accuracy of the setup, as a more careful scrutiny revealed that the readings on the extremities contained much more error than the ones in the middle. So he has asked Jimpson sir of the Machine Shop to make a special apparatus for the experiment.

We started working on another experiment, in the meantime. Determination of dielectric constant of a liquid by measuring the capacitance of an air variable capacitor dipped in it. First we tried de-ionised water, but the capacitor somehow started conducting when dipped in it. Today we tried with transformer oil. It gave a dielectric constant of 2 at room temperature, but on heating, it too started conducting, and at 120 degree Celsius, it charged upto only less than 4 V, when it should have charged up to 5V! On cooling, it again regained its dielectric properties. Strange…

Documenting the work gave me my first experience of using lyx. I am still in the process of getting used to it. I’m having to refresh a lot of stuff, especially python, as I haven’t done any coding for a long time. At the same time, I have also installed Debian on another machine, to try to make a new Phoenix live CD. I’m using this howto for the purpose. Upon Ajith sir’s instruction, I installed a bare minimum Debian system, and then added X and icewm. Got to work on that now.