Today morning my home machine does not boot properly (was working yesterday evening). I suspected XFS on rootfs and it was that. Booted into /bin/sh and started xfs_check -f /dev/hda1 followed by xfs_repair -f -d /dev/hda1. There were some problems but looks like it solved them so I rebooted. Again system fscked.. Another boot into /bin/sh and another xfs_check/xfs_repair combo and again nothing.

Booted into single user and then SSH connection to other machine to get help on #xfs channel on freenode. ‘dtm’ suggested me to run badblocks on disc to check does hdd is ok. So I installed Debian ‘sarge’ on my swap partition and started badblocks -v -n /dev/hda1 — 0 bad blocks found.

So I decided to reformat partition and reinstall whole system. Mounted old rootfs into /mnt/, chrooted into this to get list of installed packages with dpkg -l and archived whole partition with tar. Then umount, mkfs.xfs -f /dev/hda1 and restoring from tarballs.

Next step: apt-get install --reinstall all-installed-packages is in progress now:

Need to get 389MB/676MB of archives.
After unpacking 0B of additional disk space will be used.

I hope that after this I will have working system again. System which will just works not like I had in last month when from time to time some files were missing from rootfs (kernel module or awk or other thing) but usually problem disappeared after reboot…

Maybe it is time to change something in machine — but how to find out what…

Debian 13th birthday

It was 13 years ago when Ian Murdock announced his new Linux distribution.

My usage of Debian started in ‘slink’ times. I chose it because there was no other maintained Linux distro for Amiga computers at that time (there was RedHat 5.1 available but it was unofficial build without any support). After few installations of ‘potato’ I updated some parts of ‘Short Amiga installation instructions’. Then it got released and I moved to ‘woody’ (which was ‘unstable’ then).

But usage of Amiga with 720x480x4 screen and VGA mono monitor was far from comfort. I decided to not upgrading and sold it. Next machine was x86 desktop powered by AMD Duron — ofcourse it was powered by Debian. I started to use ‘unstable’ on it and still use it (but hardware was replaced by another AMD x86 platform).

Few years ago I had a plan to became Debian developer but then I found OpenZaurus and OpenEmbedded projects and they are taking most of my free time spent on computer things.

Why I use Debian:

  • because it is FREE
  • it has many applications to choose from
  • it support all my hardware (but I use own kernels anyway)
  • if I want to hack something which is in ‘main’ I do not have to check license to know that I can

Thank you Ian for creating such nice distro, thanks goes also to all Debian developers for keeping it alive.

Sharp Zaurus JTAG cable

From time to time people are asking about schematics of JTAG cable for Zaurus machines. Such cable can be used to restore flash memory content after destroying it.

For all models newer then collie (SL-5000/5500) there is a hope still as they are much harder to brick. User can enter “Diagnostics menu” via magic keycombo (which usually is holding “D” and “P” during Power key on boot) and then use “NAND Restore” function (NAND Backups are available in few places — TRIsoft is one of them).

Anyway below you should see schematics of such cable — taken from collie service manual. On Zaurus side you have to use Hoshiden TCX3106 connector (docs were available on Sharp Deutschland website) and is available for few USD in Five Star Associates. How to use cable? Do not ask me — I never had to use JTAG.

Sharp Zaurus JTAG cable schematics

Private support emails

Over week ago Jeff Garzik wrote on LKML about private mails with support requests. Yesterday RMK started similiar thread on LAKML. After reading whole discussion I decided to write what do I think about it as I am also getting such requests in private.

From time to time someone asks me for help (nevermind which way: email, irc, jabber, forum message) even in subjects which were very often discussed or are in OpenZaurus FAQ. I have many things to do and answering to all such requests are very low priority — sometimes I answer after 2 weeks (if at all). Sometimes I do not know answer and redirect author to forum or mailing list.

On the other hand there are requests are about adding software into OpenZaurus feeds or providing support for exotic hardware. If software == unmaintained, very low quality applications for Qtopia enviroments (I wrote about them already) then I refuse to touch them at all as this takes too much time to get good results (tried once with Mileage). Another thing is hardware support — it is hard to support something which I lack (did it once with CF-XGA card) but even if I have it support can be hard because lack of time (like it was with Ir keyboard).

From time to time I am getting offer or paying development but thats other story 😀

Why Ask Questions in Public? is also worth reading.