I am Chandrashekar Babu - an experienced Free/Open Source Software Technologist (or FOSS Technologist) with passion and flair for teaching. I was born in Bangalore (India), and currently reside in Chennai (India). I have spent the last 10 years living out of a suitcase due to my engagement with corporate training and consulting assignments in various other cities of India and sometimes abroad. While not on any assignments which has been very unlikely, I spend time at home either with my daughter, or at my office (Slashprog Technologies) working on a couple of my dream products and sometimes mentoring students on FOSS related technology and career. Being fully independent with liberty to decide on what I want and pursue my passion has been my long-term career goal since the beginning - which is my primary reason for not being employed in an established company. I'm 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.
Initial days of my career
It was my dream since childhood to building my own computer that would solve all puzzles, answer every question and do my homework ;-). I was too young at that time perhaps to understand what a computer really was. 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 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 to build one of my own. By the time of completion of 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, 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 system programmer. I spent my time there understanding, debugging and adding 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. At work at the antivirus company, when I first encountered Windows system programming, device driver development and API for Windows '95 and Windows NT 3.51/4.0, 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 will never regret about the decision that I took. My career turned more exciting since then! I became a Linux fanboy and began to teach Linux to my friends, my old students from the institute and help 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 management. I moved on to work for various startup 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, co-ordinating 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 backend server architecture and the glue layers which I wrote using Perl. I 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 of 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 now), 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 is in my breadth of knowledge in diverse technology domains and my inclination towards training and being fully independent. I moved 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 engaging myself on short assignments with various clients (IT and non-IT companies) for corporate training programs on 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 still travel a lot for corporate training assignments. actively participate on LUGs and other technology user groups and communities related to FOSS, occasionally conduct free training programs and workshops to help students learn Linux and various FOSS tools and languages, deliver talks and guest lecture to colleges and universities on FOSS related topics and mentor 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 expand my breadth into free software and open source solutions, I co-founded an IT technology consultancy and solutions company called Slashprog Technologies and currently function as the managing director. The focus of Slashprog Technologies to create and mentor smart technologists and entrepreneurs for FOSS related technologies. 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++, system programming concepts and professional programming practices. I'm also working on 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.
I still continue to deliver corporate training to my esteemed clients on various FOSS related technologies and I'm proud of being one of the most sought after corporate trainers for a couple of FOSS related technologies - my calendar has been always full with training assignments for at least 3 months in advance since 2008.
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.
I come from a lower middle-class family. My ancestors were pre-dominantly farmers 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 has been my motivation and encouragement since my early age. I still remember my eldest brother teaching me the art of precision and perfection 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 remember my father buying me a soldering iron along with a bunch of hobby electronics assembly kit when I was 11 year old and renting electronics books from his company library that I read and learnt during my spare-time. My mother has always stood by my side with her constant motivation and encouragement even in 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.
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.
I am also known to be a nocturnal PC-worm at home as my room lights go off mostly at around 3:00 am or 4:00 am every night. Hobby electronics have been my favourite pastime since my school days. I also listen to music of various genre, though I'm more inclined towards heavy-metal and progressive rock music.
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. While my friends played, I used to keep myself engaged with 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.