Tag Archives: linaroconnect

Remote Linaro Connect

As I left Linaro I am not at Linaro Connect in Dublin, Ireland. But decided to access at least keynotes (which were always interesting) and probably also some sessions.

George Grey introduction speech was fine. Number, standard Linaro information (what it is, how many people etc). Worth watching if you want some updates but may be skipped.

Then James Bottomley from Parallels spoke about server side of computing. Unix, Windows NT, Linux, Itanium, AMD64/x86-64, Atom, 64-bit ARM are good keywords for his presentation. I liked few things:

  • Itanium iceberg description (why IA64 was disaster without IA32 compatibility)
  • Atom contra ARM “power fight” (hard to tell which one will be better for servers when it comes to energy use)
  • mentioning of Blackadder (I know what it is but never watched more then one episode)

There were some issues with bandwidth so there are few moments in video where audio/video stops and you get group photo from previous Linaro Connect instead. But this is “normal” on first day and I hope that will get fixed by network team.

There are few sessions today which I plan to take a look. ARMv8 Status one and the one about Linux scheduler.

Linaro Connect Asia 2013 was fun

Second day in a row I managed to get 8 hours of sleep like I was not able at Linaro Connect Asia 2013. There was no time for sleeping as so many things had happened.

This time I decided to go to Hong Kong on Friday to have whole Sunday for shopping or sight seeing etc. Also to make things different I went though Helsinki (was Istanbul in 2012). It was interesting experience to hear English language with Finnish accent. There were moments when during in-flight announcements I was not able to recognize when they ended Finnish part and started English one ;D

HEL was cold but only outside so once I got to terminal it was fine. Rushed though, passed biometric passport gate and got a seat with electricity to charge my Chromebook and phone. Flight was “fine” as usual but as it was during night I tried to catch some sleep.

Finnair’s crew had some problems getting in-flight entertainment system working so we could watch how Linux booted on those NSC Geode GX2 based devices. Due to copyright note in bootloader (redboot) I assumed that it is not older than 9 years. Very slow boot anyway with lot of text printed. They should show some splash + potential progress bar instead. But finally it started working. Provided in-ear headphones are much better than ones on Lufthansa flights.

Landed, got prepaid sim from “3″ network, met Andrea Gallo and we went to hotel. I had plans to go to the city center but was too tired for it. I also lacked HKD due to other layout of keypad in ATM :D

ATM keypad in Hong Kong

On Sunday we grouped and went to Shim Shui Po to do some electronics related shopping. Prices in Hong Kong are similar/worse than in Europe so I bought only few things which I had problems finding in low price at home: mini-ITX case (16€), Nexus 4 back cover (6.5€), case for Samsung Chromebook (7.5€) and some cables. There are still no USB 3.0 cables in wide selection ;( I also bought crappy dual sim phone for 10€ as I needed one to get my Polish sim on network.

I also did some shopping on Tuesday — this time on Ladies’ Market. It is one long street with lot of sellers with clothes, wallets, toys, phone covers, headphones and other gift like things of unknown quality. I left there all money I had but got gifts for everyone I wanted. Haggling there is a must as 40% of starting price is easy to get. And you do not even need to tell anything to get price lowered…

We also went to Shenzen, China for one afternoon but that’s story for separate post.

But I went there for connecting with people. And to discuss/present our work done in last cycle and to be done in next ones.

Each day started with keynote (Friday one had Linaro awards). And we got speakers from outside of Linaro:

  • Jon Corbet (LWN)
  • Lars Kurth (Citrix)
  • Jason Taylor (Facebook)
  • Greg Kroah-Hartman

Each talk was interesting. Jon shown Linaro developers that Big.Little switcher should be taken for community review earlier, Lars presented Xen on ARM (v7, v8), Jason told about how Facebook handles servers and where is a space for ARM ones. Greg’s talk was best — he told why he does not want our code, what kind of mistakes people do in sent patches and gave us story how one code submission can break whole set of devices due to lack of testing. I wonder how Linaro Kernel WG will handle Greg’s new requirement of having all Linaro patches signed by senior kernel developer.

This was also first conference where I was fully ARMed. I left my x86 laptop at home and took Samsung Chromebook instead. Ubuntu runs fine on it, speed is comparable but size (13.3″ contra 11.6″) and weight differ. This also gave me few more occasions to talk with other developers.

I spoke with Citrix guys about Chromebook kernel changes and their Xen backport will probably be merged into “linux-chromebook 3.4″ package. Also had some discussions with ARM Mali developers which resulted in removal of OpenGLES packages from Chromebook support PPA due to licence issues (I do not have redistribution permission).

We also had meeting about hacking Samsung Chromebook where ChromeOS, Debian, Linaro, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu developers had discussion about what we can expect, where we are, how to get some things fixed etc. After that Nicolas ‘Charbax’ Charbonnier from armdevices.net shot video about it:

Direct link to video

I remember that Charbax tried to make interview with me at one of earlier Linaro Connects but I always rejected that idea. This time he went for help… And I could not refuse to Zack Pfeffer :) How it went? You tell me:

Direct link to video

Hong Kong was great. Weather was perfect with +25°C, sun and no rain. Someone told me March is the last moment for being there :)

At a beach near hotel in Hong Kong

But then I had to leave. Problem with return flights is that they usually are around midnight. Add lack of sleep during previous nights and result is not nice mix. So we spent some time in airport lounge to charge batteries (our and devices) and then squeezed in economy class for 11 hours. Took a nap, watched movie in English with Finnish subtitles (learnt new word even) and read “Amiga, the future was here” book.

Imagine weather change when we landed in Helsinki… -13°C and snow. As I left my spring jacket in checked-in baggage (but I had sweater) those few minutes from airport -> bus -> plane were cold ones. Similar few hours later in Berlin. But I had some time for shopping. Skipped salmiakki cause it is hard to know which ones will be hardcore just enough but got some other things.

Helsinki with snow

Szczecin was nice on Saturday. Cold, but spring was visible. Winter came during night:

Szczecin next day

Next Linaro Connect will be in Dublin, Ireland. See you there!

I am going to Hong Kong

There will be Linaro Connect Asia next week. Which means: I am going to Hong Kong today. 21-22 hours trip like usual. This time through Helsinki ;)

But recently I started to count and got quite long list of Linaro events I attended so far:

  • 2010.05 UDS/M – Brussels, Belgium
  • 2010.07 Ubuntu/Linaro sprint in Prague, Czech Republic
  • 2010.10 UDS/N – Orlando, FL, USA
  • 2011.01 Ubuntu/Linaro sprint in Dallas, TX, USA
  • 2011.05 LC + UDS/O – Budapest, Hungary
  • 2011.07 Ubuntu/Linaro sprint in Dublin, Ireland
  • 2011.10 LC + UDS/P – Orlando, FL, USA
  • 2012.02 LC – Redwood City, CA, USA
  • 2012.05 LC – Hong Kong, China
  • 2012.11 LC + UDS/R – Copenhagen, Denmark

The “Linaro Connect” name is quite young and I do not remember which event got this name first. There will be three of them this year: Asia, Europe, US. But when and where? Do not ask me cause so far it was not announced yet.

So if any of my readers will be in Hong Kong next week — please say hi. And there will be Chromebook hacking session on Tuesday at 15:00 in Fountain 1 room (but please check schedule/ask me if not changed).

Used Chromebook for few days

Some days ago I got Chromebook and have to say that device is amazing. Light, small and fast enough for conference laptop. During Linaro Connect I did some hacking on it with help from Olof Johansson and Andrew Wafaa (he brought Chromebook for me from Cambridge). I also used script from Jay Lee to get all information required to resize STATE partition and fit Ubuntu on internal storage.

Now I am running Ubuntu ‘raring’ on my Chromebook with XFCE as a desktop — all running from internal storage (16GB eMMC from SanDisk). So far I did not remove original Chromium from device as I keep it as a reference system to be able to compare what I got with how it works with system from Google.

So what works? Most of things — suspend/resume, wifi, bluetooth, sound, touchpad, usb ports, sd storage, camera. But why they should not work when I am using same kernel binary as Chromium OS does ;) So far did not yet came to rebuilding kernel — there were more important things to do first.

During Wednesday hacking evening I updated xf86-video-armsoc driver to X11 ABI 13 used by packages in ‘raring’ so I got 2D accelerated environment. Tried to find all sources required to build xf86-input-cmt driver but then got hint from Olof that “evdev” driver is enough — all it needs is small snippet of X11 configuration. And yes — it works but is not precise. Andrew told that he will try to build “cmt” driver for OpenSUSE so we will know how better it is.

What next? I have to create package for “cgpt” (GPT manipulation tool with support for Chromium OS extensions), tools and keys needed to sign kernel and kernel itself. Then some work would be needed for OpenGLES stuff but this can wait. I plan to upload everything needed into Debian and then request syncs to Ubuntu. From yesterday’s discussions I know which mailing lists I should go.

But I do not plan to cover everything. There will be no installation support from me. Users have to do it on their own cause there are several ways of getting other operating systems on Chromebook:

  • boot from SD card
  • boot from USB storage
  • resizing STATE partition to put system on internal eMMC (I did that)
  • removing Chromium OS completely to get more space for own system

Then there are also systems when user has developer firmware installed (that’s different that developer mode) or even setup where normal U-Boot is used as bootloader.

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Today is 2.5 year of my work at Linaro. It was very good time. But good things have one thing in common — they end at some moment. For me that moment will be 30th November — after that I will be working at Canonical.

For me it will be like starting new job because they hired me to work at Linaro so I never really worked “at” Canonical — always “for”. Hope that it will be at least as interesting as Linaro work was.

When I think about all those 30 months few things came to my mind. First one is people. Linaro gathered many good engineers (and non-engineers as well) and it has many stars as well.

For example: Nicolas Pitre. I had big respect for him since I started work on embedded Linux. But until sprint in Prague, July 2010 I did not realise that he is blind… We went for some beers, chatted about things we did at previous jobs, spent good time (and I managed to not fail too much as a guide).

Other example: Few days ago Arnd wrote on Google+ about mold problem which forced him to throw some books into trash. Beside cookbooks and Discworld ones he found one written by David Rusling (CTO of Linaro)… It is hard to check Linux history and not meet someone who works at Linaro.

I learnt a lot during those 30 months. Not only about toolchains, cross toolchains and toolchains (yes, ‘toolchains’ are repeated) but also on Debian/Ubuntu packaging, relations between those two projects, how to get own packages into them, how to get fixes there etc. Now I am member of Ubuntu MOTU team (can upload to ‘universe’ part of Ubuntu) and since this week also Debian Maintainer. But at same time also learnt how OpenEmbedded works today and managed two Linaro layers for it.

AArch64 porting was/is a great project. There were some issues because it was internal only for some time when we had some internal patches which we preferred to not show to public. But that feeling when I got “hello world” compiled as one of first people outside of ARM Ltd. will always be something to remember. And now everyone can check how it works ;)

When I was at ELC/E 2011 in Prague there was a talk by Paweł Moll about running Linux on non-existing hardware. At that time it sounded like science fiction to me but later when I had to use Fast Models to boot AArch64 kernel I realised that it is not s-f.

But technical things are just one side. I enjoyed Linaro Connect meetings, chatting with people from different countries on technical and non-technical matters. It helped to improve my spoken English which I was not using so much before. I even had discussions about English itself with people like Andrew Stubbs — thanks man!

There were also funny moments. I remember when in Budapest David Rusling told me that I got unofficial title “main complainer at Linaro” due to my post about what is wrong with all those cheap developer boards we supported. We were sitting at a table during “Meet & Greet” and there was one guy sitting there. I did not saw his badge and asked him which boards he used so far. He told: Freescale Quickstart. I answered: Ah, that square one with five edges? And then I told what I like and dislike in it. We had interesting discussion and at the end I saw his badge – he was Freescale person at TSC ;)

Or visit in Computer History Museum. Man, I should follow Paul McKinney there — he recognized probably most of the devices there and know what they are for. We had interesting talk about it next evening in a bus.

So, there are few weeks of Linaro work for me. During this week I am be in Copenhagen at Canonical’s Summit where I met my next team to find out what exactly I will be working on. Then we have Linaro Connect co-hosted with Ubuntu Developer Summit. It will be a strange week for me. Will attend ARMv8 Summit sessions due to work I did in last weeks but other sessions? For sure will attend some, both Linaro and Ubuntu ones but this time not as much as on previous summits. If you need me on you session then add me to the list of attendees or contact me.

Week after LC/UDS I will spend in Spain. There is Embedded Linux Conference Europe in Barcelona where I will have a talk about AArch64 support in OpenEmbedded. There will be also similar session by Wookey about ARMv8 in Debian — check LinuxCon Europe schedule for it.

But Barcelona is also OpenEmbedded related for me. There will be General Assembly of OE e.V. and then Yocto Project Developer’s Day where I plan to discuss with OE developers about merging AArch64 support.

Then few days of holidays at warm country, visit Zygmunt and go back home for another 2-3 weeks of Linaro work.

So lot of work to do. Need to take a look at what exactly I did during those 30 months, which parts of it will need new maintainer, write some notes/documentation for it, check PPAs for things which may need updating etc. So far I did not yet decided will I maintain cross compiler packages in 13.04 and later releases of Ubuntu or not. For sure I will do that to android-tools which are now part of Debian.

But is it end of my Linaro journey? I hope not. Time will show will I stay at Canonical. Today it is hard to tell because there are interesting projects there as well. But I do not want to end my Linaro adventure.

And one more thing. As usual when I end my work at one place I gather recommendations on LinkedIn. If you have few spare minutes and want to write something then it will be appreciated: my LinkedIn profile.

Linaro Connect q2.12

Another week of conference passed. This time I was at Linaro Connect q2.12 which took place in Hong Kong Gold Coast hotel.

As usual everything started with packing. I have a list for it so it is usually quick job but you know — I was going to Hong Kong, world capital of cheap electronics so better have some space available just in case. So I borrowed bigger bag from friend, put some Linaro stickers on it (to be able to find it at baggage claim) and put all my stuff inside. Of course travel things went to backpack (have to buy more comfortable one).

And then trip began… In short: car, bus, wait at airport, plane, wait at airport, plane, catch Rob Clark, taxi, hotel. Total time: 22 hours.

Hotel was nice. View from room at “15th” floor (which was 12th due to 4, 13, 14 missing):

View from hotel window

Monday went with meeting people, sessions (scheduled and random ones) and some hacking. At end of day we had usual “meet & greet” dinner which was rather “seat & eat” style as we had it in room where we has lunch and there was not enough space to walk and discuss with people. For this I prefer UDS style where you have few points with food/drinks, lot of walking space and some tables here and there so you can grab something to eat and chat with many people during one evening.

Speaking of food… It was great! Breakfasts offered wide choice of Chinese, Japanese, Singapore food with Western options available too (some sausages, boiled eggs, British beans). Add fruits, sweets and all what was there to make sandwiches… Lunches were even more mixed. Something local, something European, salads, sweets — all that made me a bit heavier on return trip :D

Many people were surprised by lack of soda options as only coffee, tea and bottled water were available daily. For me it was not a problem as coffee + water were more than enough.

But back to sessions. There were many ARMv8 (aarch64-gnu-linux) sessions. I attended one of them where we discussed about building cross compilers, bootstrapping distributions etc. As rest of ARMv8 ones this was not broadcasted or recorded. Rest of sessions used Google Hangouts for remote participation. It worked well even with last-minute changes from Google which terribly broke setup we used for earlier Connects. I was on session where leader (Wookey) was remotely so we had “big brother is watching you” effect:

Big Wookey is watching you

Have to admit that this method of remote participation helps as users can just ask questions instead of relying on someone following IRC channel. But it is also limited to who can join so no use for conferences like UDS.

For me interesting sessions were ones around CI process. We have few such systems and each has different use. There is LAVA which gives us ARM boards to run tests on, Jenkins to run builds on x86 instances (Amazon EC2 like). Toolchain Working Group has “cbuild” which they use to build and test toolchain on x86 and ARM machines. And then there is also Launchpad which has daily builds from selected Bazaar branches. We had discussions about merging them and/or sharing resources (like a way to borrow ARM boards from LAVA to run cbuild). Hope that we will get something interesting from it.

But sessions are not the only thing to do. There are also after work activities. We got coaches available on Tue/Wed/Thu to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST in short) district, The Peak (Tue only due to cloudy weather) and somewhere else. I went to TST on Tuesday and we just walked around it, got some food (chopsticks only so we decided to not ask for cutlery and handle it — we managed) and for fun visited one of those shops with “TAX FREE” signs (which in tourist language means “YOU DO NOT WANT TO BUY HERE”).

On next day I went with Zygmunt Krynicki to Golden Computer Shopping Center near the Sham Shui Po station. Lot of computer shops compressed in small area. Everything from SSDs, mainboards etc to normal and weird cables. In one shop I asked for 0.5m long HDMI cables and got them so expect soon post about adding HDMI switcher to my devboards setup. Decided to not spend money on anything more expensive as there is no warranty that it will work and I do not want to ship hardware back to Hong Kong when it fail.

Thursday we want for team dinner. But before we decided to take a ferry from Avenue of Stars to Hong Kong Island and go for ice cream there:

Ice cream selection at "I Scream" place

I went for ginger and green tea flavours as both sounded crazy enough and I am sure that will not find them here in Poland. Ginger one was great (even if I do not like ginger) but green tea one was awful — tasted like concentrate of concentrated tea.

Hong Kong Island skyline

Me and Alexandros at Avenue of Stars

Then we went to “Spring Deer” restaurant. Crowdy, long queue (even with earlier registration). As usual in Hong Kong I had to watch my head in few places. When we got table it looked like disaster but got cleaned quickly and were served with food.

For start they give us some oiled peanuts so we had interesting challenge as a way of practising eating with chopsticks. We ordered some pork, fish, vegetables and duck.

Vegetables - no idea which Pork or fish Pork or fish

duck Lotus seeds Bananas

After dinner we were able only to grab taxis and go back hotel ;)

Friday was my last day there. During packing bag I realized that this is my first conference when do not have any extra hardware (cables do not count). But I hope that sooner or later I will put hands on some kind of ARM server hardware (maybe one node Calxeda board which I heard rumours about). As there were nearly no sessions I went to one of hacking rooms for coding and got my patches reviewed by Matthias Klose — have to work on few of them, some were described as “have to merge as look ok”.

After lunch we had usual “Demo Friday” where people presented work of miscellaneous Linaro (but not only) teams. One of interesting ones was comparison of ASOP build of Android 4.0.4 contra Linaro build which was present on two same Pandaboards. Both were running 0xbench and results were cleanly visible. Changes are in review and on a way to ASOP tree (due to usual “Upstream, upstream, upstream” philosophy of Linaro).

Day ended with dinner in Chinese style. Food was good and interesting — especially when we were trying to find out what menu entries mean ;) There was a show of Chinese “Bian lian” art with a guy changing his masks. I was wondering for a moment how we did that but did not bother with it too much.

20:15 was bus to airport. Then usual stuff: wait on airport, plane, wait on airport, plane, wait on airport, bus, car, home. This time 26 hours. Saturday evening was a bit hard but with a help of melatonin I managed to get rid of it with 8h sleep. So this is first trip without jet lag problems.

Want to buy Android tablet (again)

During my trip to Linaro Connect 2012q1 I want to buy Android tablet for myself. But this time I decided to spend more time on choosing one to not end with crap like Hannspree Hannspad which I bought half year ago.

Also situation on market changed. There are cheap tablets worth checking but there are also cheap crappy ones. So let me list what I checked so far.

Kindle Fire Nook Tablet Archos 80 G9 Classic Archos 80 G9 Turbo
price (USD) 199 249 259 299
RAM size 512MB 1GB 512MB 512MB 1
resolution 1024×600 1024×600 1024×768 1024×768
screen size 7″ 7″ 8″ 8″
internal storage 8GB 16GB 2 8GB 16GB
external storage none microSD microSD microSD
CPU OMAP4430 1GHz OMAP4430 1GHz OMAP4430 1GHz OMAP4460 1.5GHz 3
stock Android version 2.3 customized 2.3 customized 3.2 (4.0 in February) 3.2 (4.0 in February)
community Android version 4.0 4.0 not checked not checked
locked bootloader no yes (hacked) no no
USB Host no no yes yes
HDMI output no no yes yes

As you see my requirements are more or less simple:

  • dual core cpu (arm7)
  • 512MB ram (1GB preferred)
  • 1024×600 (or higher) resolution
  • 7-8″ screen size (I had 10″ and it was too big)
  • price below 300USD

During CES many vendors presented new tablets but I think that most of them will be released in Q2 or later. ASUS MeMo 370T looks nice for 250USD but it is not on market.

And I do not want 3G module in tablet — my phone has over 10GB of data limit to use for next months and so far I was not able to consume 1GB per month :)

Have I missed some devices? If yes then please share information in comments. Just remember that I do not want any of those NotionAdam/Viewsonic/Hannspad ones.


  1. rumours says 1GB in newer Turbo model 

  2. 13GB /data/ so it is hard to put own data over USB 

  3. if you are lucky and find them in store — OMAP4430 1.2GHz otherwise