About me

Introduction

I am Chandrashekar Babu - an experienced Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Technologist with passion and flair for teaching. I was born in Bangalore (India), and currently reside at Chennai (India). I have spent the last 10 years living out of luggage due to my regular engagement with corporate training and consulting assignments in various other cities of India and sometimes abroad. While not on any assignments, I spend time at home either with my daughter, or at my office (Slashprog Technologies) working on my dream products and sometimes mentoring students on FOSS related technology and career prospects. Being fully independent with liberty to decide on what I want; and to pursue my passion - has been my long-term goal since the beginning of my career. This is one of the primary reasons for not being employed in an established company. I am passionate about two things in life - to learn something new, without any barrier; and then to train what I learn to others :-). I spend a lot of time in learning new technologies, new trends and devote a lot of time in front my computer - installing and playing around with various free/open source software, toy operating systems, learning new libraries, tools, programming languages and at times reading articles, books and journals related to the same.

Professional background

Initial days of my career

When was about 11 years old (sometime during 1988), I used to dream about building my own computer that would solve all puzzles, answer every question and do my homework ;-). Perhaps, I was too young at that point in time to understand how computers work. I learned electronics starting at the age of 11 and eventually gained mastery on both analog and digital electronics. I used to design and build my own hobby electronics circuits and have won prizes in a couple of electronics gadget exhibitions held by IETE, Bengaluru during the the late 80's and early 90's while at school. My career into computers started at the age of eighteen back in 1994-95 when I enrolled for a training program on computer hardware and networking at IIHT, Jayanagar (Bengaluru). I joined the institute to learn how computers work, so that I could pursue my dream of building one of my own. By the time I completed the training program, I was proposed a job offer that was too tempting to refuse: to work as a part-time instructor for the same institute. I remember training electronics, digital electronics, microprocessor concepts (8085 and 8088/88), computer hardware internals, IBM PC architecture, LAN networking and administration using Novell Netware 3.x/4.x for two batches - one between 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and the other between 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. In my spare time between 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM during that tenure - I had access to the labs where I learned and mastered x86 assembly language and also Turbo C programming on MS-DOS platform. Very soon, I was promoted as a full-time instructor of the institute and worked in that position for 2 years.

While working at IIHT, I managed my spare time by learning system programming for the MS-DOS platform using Turbo C and Turbo Assembler (and yes, using MS-DOS Debug utility most of the time). I was deeply inclined towards understanding the anatomy of various programs using DOS debugging tools (Borland's Turbo Debugger and MS-DOS Debug) - today, we term this as reverse engineering of binary programs. Initially, out of curiosity, I also investigated a couple of DOS virus samples and understood how they worked (Die-Hard 2, One Half, Raindrop, Joshi - to name a few of them) - thanks to infected machines/floppy disks that made their way to my training institute/home computer. I had a glimpse of Linux (and Minix) sometime in the mid '95 while attempting to create my own Operating System with help of my colleague. At a later stage, I was deeply impressed with IBM OS/2 Warp 3 and spent time trying to understand its internals.

Geared with enough skills and confidence in system programming/hacking on the MS-DOS platform, I joined an antivirus company called Proland Software Private Limited where I worked for a short duration as a systems developer. My job there was to understand, debug and add new features to an existing program written in assembly language for their antivirus card (a hardware add-on card plugged into the PC to detect viruses during OS boot). I learned a lot about many virus samples and wrote detection/cure engine for a few virus variants.

After spending enough time with different virus samples, and a painful effort trying to debug and add features to their flagship antivirus product which comprised of 35,000+ lines of code written on Turbo C, contributed by various programmers who joined and quit the company during the event, my interest on MS-DOS system programming slowly faded. I began to focus more on proper software engineering principles and designing scalable software architecture.

At home, I used to spend my spare time playing around with GNU/Linux (Slackware 2.0), Minix and FreeBSD. As an assembly language and C programmer on MS-DOS platform, I felt like being in the midst of a vast ocean of knowledge during my initial attempts to learn the GNU/Linux environment. I began to love the UNIX paradigms of simplicity and succinctness. I slowly learned various tools, scripting languages (Bash, Perl, Python, Tcl, Ruby), UNIX and Linux related concepts and the art of thinking, designing, programming on the GNU/Linux environment. When I first encountered Windows system programming, device driver development and API for Windows '95 and Windows NT 3.51/4.0 at my work-place, the overwhelming complexity of their architecture and design perplexed me and l was left unimpressed. I decided that this was not where my career should be heading and quit the antivirus company - waving a long good-bye to MS-DOS and MS Windows to embrace GNU/Linux and the whole new world of Free and Open Source Software - I have never regretted about the decision that I took. My career turned more exciting since then! I become a Linux geek and began to teach Linux to my friends, my old students from the institute and help them learn and install Linux on their computers.

My career as a FOSS specialist

After quitting my job at the antivirus company, I started a small-scale electronics product development company with plan to sell a couple of electronic gadgets for home automation that I had designed on my own - which includes a low-priced automatic water level controller for overhead water tanks, theft alarms, universal remote control for home electrical outlets and emergency lighting for home. Unfortunately the company did not survive for long due to lack of funding. But the experience that I gained was immense - I learned business, marketing, negotiations and team management. I moved on to work for various start-up companies as a freelance consultant with specialization on GNU/Linux till 1999. I was involved in deploying various application servers (web, email, proxy, database, NFS, Samba) for these companies, and also conducted corporate training on Novell Netware and GNU/Linux for others. During this time, I learned a lot about the art of marketing, building contacts, coordinating with teams and managing small projects.

From 1999 to mid 2003, I worked full time for an e-learning product-based company called Liqwid Krystal (India) Pvt Ltd. (a newly founded start-up at that time) as their in-house open source solutions specialist. While working at Liqwid Krystal, I learnt more about company processes and also hardened my technology skills. Initially I wrote programs using C and Java and authored an e-learning module titled Introduction to C Programming. At a later stage, I moved onto developing a large-scale project completely using the Perl programming language. I worked with the team that built an e-Learning product called CodeSaw and worked extensively on the back-end server architecture and the glue layers which I wrote using Perl. I also worked on various Linux security and application sandbox frameworks like SELinux (which was not very familiar and still at an incubation stage at that point in time), RSBAC, Medusa/DS9, LIDS, Immunix, Bastille Linux, GRSecurity, Usermode Linux, FreeVSD (yes, I spelt that correctly! but it seems like the project is dead long ago), Bochs, Qemu and a commercial product called Pitbull/LX by Argus Technologies. I also developed programs that use remote access technology like VNC, Remote X, HTTP and SSH Tunneling. I'm glad that I was working on technology and framework even before it had a nice term to it - Cloud Computing and Virtualization. Gradually, I began to realize that my strength lie in scaling the breadth of knowledge on diverse technology domains. I was also becoming more inclined towards being independent and decided to move on from Liqwid Krystal to pursue my long term career goals by mid 2003.

My progress as an Independent FOSS Technologist

From 2003 to 2010 - I worked independently as a technology consultant and a corporate trainer for various FOSS related technologies. During this tenure, I have worked for many IT and non-IT companies on corporate training assignments in technologies that range from Linux system administration, UNIX Shell Scripting, Perl, Python, Ruby, Tcl, Java to web development related technologies that include PHP, CodeIgniter, DJango, Rails frameworks and so on. As of date, I am still a frequent traveler to various IT-hubs and cities in India on corporate training and consulting assignments. I also actively participate on Linux User Groups (LUG), other technology user groups and communities related to FOSS. I occasionally conduct free training programs and workshops that help students in learning Linux and various FOSS tools and languages, and I deliver talks and guest lecture to colleges and universities on FOSS related topics. I have also been mentoring students and freshers out of colleges for choosing their career path using FOSS related technologies that match their skills.

My current position

In order to scale myself better using my current expertise and my domain knowledge, I co-founded a software technology consultancy and solutions company called Slashprog Technologies and currently function as the company's Managing Director. I function as a catalyst to fulfill the vision of creating and mentoring smart technologists and entrepreneurs who would drive the world's future innovations using FOSS. I conduct training sessions at my office venue for professionals and academic freshers (mostly college students) on GNU/Linux system administration, shell scripting, programming on Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby, C, C++, Agile methodologies, system programming concepts and professional programming practices. I'm also working towards creating a couple of products for the Internet business verticals. Most of the company developments are on a very slow pace right now due to my engagement with corporate training - Slashprog currently remains as an experimental start-up.

I still continue to deliver corporate training for my esteemed clients on various FOSS related technologies.

To know more about the training sessions that I conduct, please visit the training section.

I have successfully performed deployment, development, migration, IT security management and have provided concrete solutions using Free software and Open Source technology for various small and medium sized organizations (including software companies) in order to help them keep their IT infrastructure at low maintenance cost.

Family background

My ancestors were predominantly farmers and cowherds until my grand-father's generation. My father migrated from Chennai to Bengaluru sometime during 1970 to work for Bosch India Ltd. (formerly MICO Ltd). I was born in Bengaluru on 1976 as the youngest son in my family. I have three elder brothers - each of them currently work on different engineering domains (mechanical engineering, theater projector and sound engineering, automotive engineering). My family members have been a driving inspiration, motivation and encouragement since my early age. I still remember my eldest brother teaching me the art of precision and perfection in engineering since my childhood. I learned electronics at a very early age because of my second elder brother who was learning television servicing in the mid 80s. My third elder brother always remind me of sincerity, dedication and commitment to family and work. My parents never made me feel like I belonged to a lower middle-class family - thanks to their encouragement and constant motivation. I can still remember the day when my father bought me a soldering iron along with a bunch of hobby electronics assembly kit while I was 11 year old, encouraging me to pursue my passion for learning hobby electronics. I also remember my childhood days when my father rented electronics books from his company library so that I could read and learn electronics better during my spare-time. My mother always stood by my side with her constant motivation and encouragement even during the most difficult of times. Currently, I stay with my wife and my daughter - though I'm still in touch with my parents and brothers who all live in different places.

Person

As a person, I have a reputation of being very absent minded - I do not remember dates, events and route to location or places. Sometimes, I mix-up names of friends/acquaintances. My memory seems to be very selective. I could till date remember all the 8086 assembly instructions and their opcode, the entire list of BIOS and MS-DOS software interrupts that I learned and mastered during the mid-90s; but I still seem to forget my wedding anniversary, my daughter's birthday or even my own phone number at the much needed hour. People know me as a highly self motivated and a highly energetic individual. However, my personal friends (who are very few) know me as a person who lives largely in a shell - I rarely ever contact or stay in touch with them. I have more professional and business friends than personal friends. And yes, most of my students eventually become by friends. I have personally trained many people interested on GNU/Linux and programming concepts since mid-90s.

My hobbies

I am known to be a nocturnal computer-worm at home as my room lights go off pretty late in the midnight with I keep hacking on anything at random. Hobby electronics have been my favorite pastime since my school days. I listen to music of various genre, though I'm more inclined towards heavy-metal and progressive rock music. Quite often, I also dabble on papers, articles and books related to particle physics and its related mathematics. I also ponder about the biggest question - the meaning of life, the universe and everything; trying to come up with a theory/answer only to be countered within my mind again a later point in time - with yet another more convincing theory/answer - in almost consistent evolution - I am of the belief that this pursuit is evolving and maturing my thought process with time.

I have a reputation of being a circus clown when it comes to sporting activities, for I make my audience laugh at my sporting inabilities. I've been a nerd since my childhood - sports (of any kind) never interested me. During my high-school days, while my friends played, I used to engage myself in scientific experiments (involving dangerous chemicals, or high-voltage electrical/electronics). I keep myself physically fit though, by long distance walking - which also helps me concentrate well and think better. Occasionally, I also try various meditation techniques (with no fruitful results as yet!) and involve myself into spiritual thinking.