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Pathagar: An update

Submitted by sverma on Tue, 06/04/2013 - 16:30

Back in May 2010, Sayamindu Dasgupta announced that he was working along with Kushal Das on a book server - Pathagar:

 

Hello,
Kushal and I have been working on a bookserver, which we believe,
would help deployments to distribute ebooks easily via the school
server/or any centralized infrastructure (with the help of Get Books
activity running at the Sugar end).

The prospect of a book server was exciting because while I work with Moodle every day (http://ilearn.sfsu.edu), Moodle is excessive for a reference style library of objects. For books and such, we need a way to organize the collection, make it indexable and searchable and have a plan to grow. OPDS, the spec behind Pathagar allows for such a federated expansion of the catalog across multiple sites. James Simmons has a nice writeup in his ebook E-Book Enlightenment. That was very helpful to get started.

 

After a brief stint with installing Pathagar on Debian and Ubuntu servers on multiple platforms - SheevaPlug, DreamPlug, Raspberry Pi (dubbed Bookberry Pi), and at a x64-bit server at Rackspace - Alex Kleider and I have been testing different variations to the installation and configuration process. We even have a virtual machine to test out Pathagar complete with a small pre-populated library. Along the way, we came up with the need to populate Pathagar with a large number of books. The presumption was that if we were to curate a large number of books from say, The Internet Archive, using their bookmark feature, we would like for a way to bulk-upload the books to Pathagar - metadata and all - and then be able to deploy it disconnected from the Internet and perhaps even disconnected from the electrical grid! 

We've been working with Raj Kumar at the Internet Archive for some time now. His script pulls items from the Internet Archive along with metadata, and then we bulk-upload the collection to Pathagar. Along the way, there were a few minor glitches with the tagging system. A chance meeting with Seth Woodworth at the p.irateship and a conversation about Python projects brought Seth into the project. He's modified the tagging system using django-taggit, which is able to handle spaces in tags used on different items. Next, we've been testing Pathagar to run on Fedora 18, so that it can run on a OLPC XO 1.75 running the XSCE school server. The plan is that Pathagar will run alongside the core XSCE server, serving books to the deployment. 

With Sayamindu's blessing and Seth's help, we've also consolidated all the work into a new "organization" on GitHub. You can find it all at https://github.com/PathagarBooks

Next steps are to package the django-app for distribution across different platforms. RPM? DEB? easy_install? pip? No clear answers, but we are still in conversation. Oh, and for conversations, we have an email list, thanks to our friends at The Internet Archive! Please do subscribe and join in the discussion: http://mail.archive.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/pathagar

Pathagar can be used to serve any kind of media. PDF, EPub. Even Ogg, or MP4. Perhaps it could serve as an offline repository of Sugar activities? Indexable, Searchable, Offlineable. Oh, the possibilities!