Nokia 770 – first observations

At FOSDEM I got Nokia 770 device. Today I flashed latest system release on it: IT2006. And here I got first not nice thing — flasher is available as binary only ;( Anyway it works.

Booted into IT2006. Looks a bit other then IT2005 (which I had on device). Annoying things:

  • no clock applet
  • no way to switch from AM/PM to 24 hours time
  • taskbar occupied mostly by Web/Email/Menu buttons
  • no possibility to change UI colors/fonts (only via themes)
  • connection applet does not give information which one is in use
  • to get rootshell you need to enable it from PC first
  • no option to remove/disable some applets
  • no good package management
  • no good repositories with software

Device itself is interesting but very, very slow. GUI waste so much screenspace that if you want to use something you need to switch to fullscreen…

But there are also good things:

  • connection via WiFi works after few clicks and entering WEP/WPA keys
  • simple connection to mobile phone via BT
  • nicely working WWW browser
  • form factor
  • easy to get batteries/chargers

FOSDEM 2007

FOSDEM 2007 is ending now. This was my first one and I enjoyed it. I met so many people, which I know from IRC, that I can not even list them 🙂

Lot of interesting devices we had on OpenEmbedded booth including:

  • Neo1973 phone (OpenMoko powered) prototypes
  • Trolltech Greenphone (which got donated by Trolltech)
  • Skeye.pad brought by Kernel concepts
  • Skeye.integral (also brought by KC)
  • Motorola A780 phone with GPE^2
  • Ipaq 5xxx running OpenZaurus (unofficial image)

First day took more of my attention then second because I spend more time on OE booth answering lot of of questions from users, other developers, giving informations about OE, what software is running on Neo1973 phone (and showing same software on my Progear webpad)… I also managed to view some talks. At the end of a day I was so tired that I get to the bed and slept whole night.

Second day was a bit other. I had more talks on a list, there was GnuPG keysigning party too. One of talks was Lorn Potter talk about Qtopia which was too boring. The funny moment was when I get back to the booth one time and was asked by someone who I do not met before (he was Michael Dominic Kostrzewa (one of Maemo developers)) “Do you have Nokia770 device?” After my negative answer I got brand new Nokia770 device (it is charging now). So probably soon new device will join Angström world 🙂

Tomorrow we will have small OE discussion session and return to homes.

Next year I will be here for 100% 🙂

New desk

Today I switched to new desk. It is a bit smaller and lower then old one but as it has other orientation I was able to configure it better. Currently on desk I have:

  • Progear webpad + USB keyboard
  • Logitech X-230 speakers
  • small lamp
  • 20″ wide LCD monitor
  • 3 palmtops (under monitor)
  • wireless phone (with cradle)
  • cup heater with integrated USB 1.1 hub
  • 4 slot card reader
  • lollipop with “Kocham Cię” (“I love you” in Polish) which I got from Ania some time ago
  • Microsoft Natural ergonomic keyboard
  • mouse (with mousepad)

But I feel that this desk is better then old one was. I got rid of printer from it and have better access to Progear.

BTW — do not try to look under desk — too many cables…

Linux 2.6.21-rc1 released

Normally I do not write about new Linux releases but this time I have a reason.

commit 7a208463b20e893e8e2074b2d41b8dc09568ddee
Author: Marcin Juszkiewicz 
Date:   Wed Feb 7 22:24:01 2007 +0000

    backlight: Add Frontpath ProGear HX1050+ driver
    
    Add control of LCD backlight for Frontpath ProGear HX1050+.
    Patch is based on http://downloads.sf.net/progear/progear-lcd-0.2.tar.gz
    driver by M Schacht.
    
    Signed-off-by: Marcin Juszkiewicz
    Signed-off-by: Richard Purdie

Now I am waiting for battery subsystem from OLPC to be merged into mainline — ProGear AC/battery support is in my queue.

Annoying software bugs

There is no software without bugs. But there are bugs and BUGS. Second ones are annoying, well known and no one work on getting them fixed. Few examples:

  1. FireFox/Iceweasel — many people use it, many people want to kill their developers. Why? It leaks memory, it eats memory, it can take 6GB of memory just because there is no more memory available in system. Problem exists in 2.0.x but also in 3.0 trunk version. No solution developed.

  2. KMail — flagship of KDE PIM. It can fetch mail, send mail and do many other things with mails. And it can handle OpenPGP/GnuPG signed/encrypted ones. But a way how it handle them is horror. Whole UI freezes, no updates for several seconds just because someone decided to sign all his mails. Bug was submitted over 5 (FIVE) years ago, there was one major KDE release and many minor ones but bug is still present. No one even marked is as important.. No comments

I can live with first bug as for most of time I use Konqueror. But solving second one needs to wait until Mailody will get more usable so I will be able to switch to it. I lost faith that KDE PIM will get into more usable state then it is now.

Drivers in Linux land

Today I read post on about state of drivers for graphic cards. There are closed source propertiary drivers which works and give 3D acceleration and there are free drivers which cover some cards and provide kind of 3D acceleration for subset of them. The result is that user have to choose:

  • closed, propertiary driver which can contain security problems but gives working 2D, 3D
  • free driver which works in 2D but rather not in 3D

Similar problem exists with WiFi support. CompactFlash cards are now hard to get because good, working ones (Prism2/3 based for example) are not RoHS friendly so no one want to manufacture or sell them. Instead there are new cards which base on new chipsets with no drivers or pay us to get source which you can not share licensed ones.

USB dongles are in better situation as there exists few good supported chipsets:

  • Zydas (mainline kernel and also external one)
  • Ralink (external free one and also vendor provided one)
  • Prism2 (working, shitty one)

For a start let we forget that Prism2 exists in USB version (it does not support WPA, code is very low quality, will never merge into mainline kernel). Zydas and Ralink supports also 802.11g and are available from many vendors, have working drivers, firmware is available. As usual user has to triple check does this is version with blue sticker and not with red one because red ones use other chipset which is not supported.

There are also dongles with Marvell 8388 or 8338 chipset — first ones are supported by libertas driver done for OLPC, second one are not supported yet. BTW — this driver will also support 8385 chipset used in some CompactFlash cards.

And USB versions has other problem… they require +5V which is not present in many embedded devices. 3.3V, 2.5V, 2.0V and even 1.8V or less are common values for that kind of hardware. I know companies which solved it by rebuilding existing USB devices to work with 3.3V (many WiFi dongles use that voltage and have proper regulator on board to change +5V into +3.3V) — this way they can lower price and complication of device by not using extra regulators. This also improves power life. But you have to remember which dongles are changed to not plug them into PC — if you forgot then they get burnt after insert.

When few years ago I was buying my first PC I selected all components to be 100% sure that all will works under Linux. Those years passed but you still need to be careful when you buy new hardware ;(

Valentine’s^WOpenMoko day

Yesterday was Valentine’s day. I took Ania to cinema — it was “Córka botanika” (FR: “Les Filles du botaniste”, ENG: “The Chinese Botanist’s Daughters”) movie. Interesting and worth watching — but I propose to not read reviews before because of end of the story. On IMDB there is a comment that it is another “Chinoiserie customized for Western tastes”. Maybe he is right but I do not care as I enjoyed the movie.

It was also day when OpenMoko project released source code, new website, wiki, bugtracker so it is finally possible to watch Neo1973 p0rn, read what is inside and other stuff. There are many interesting mockups of interface but current version of phone is not capable of making such graphics (quite slow CPU and no graphics acceleration at all).

To build OpenMoko framework we have two choices:

  • OpenMoko way which consist old copy of OpenEmbedded and their addons
  • OpenEmbedded way which is in progress due to Koen Kooi awesome work

When I get phone it will contain OpenMoko built system but I hope that soon we will be able to make OM part of Ångström distribution.

Thanks goes to Michael ‘Mickeyl’ Lauer, Harald ‘LaF0rge’ Welte and other developers for creating something new and open in a moment when big companies try to close everything as possible.

OpenMoko release day

Today (2007-02-11) had to be OpenMoko release day as it was told in ‘Free your Phone’ announcement. But it looks like it will be delayed…

Their wiki is still 401 (HTTP Auth failed), same to bugtracker. At least projects hosting service is working for month.

And still no source release ;( Mickeyl told that current OpenMoko branch of OpenEmbedded is not buildable with current .dev tree and he does not want to publish something what does not build.

Weather differencies between Poland and Britain

I wake today and opened window to get some fresh air and discovered that there was snowing during night. It is winter here so snow is nothing special. But…

Few hours later at work I discussed with OpenedHand guys and talk switched to weather. British citizens were astonished that they have snow. Britain and snow? Cities paralyzed, trains not working all because there are few inches of snow…

Tomas Frydrych has nice summary for it:

I had real laugh at my previous job when two of my colleagues were discussing how unfortunate Britain was to suffer from such weather extremes; I could not resit asking which extremes exactly they had in mind.

He is from Czech (so he remember how winter should look) and live for several years in Britain. Another thing which he told was:

It has to be said that proper, cold, winder is actually more bearable than what we get here; because of the humidity, it feels much colder here at 2°C than at -10°C in the old country.

Now imagine how rest of talk was looking when there was mention about eyes freezing when temperature is below -25°C 😀

UPDATE: Rob wrote that this is normal behaviour there ;D

One gigabyte of memory is not enough?

Today I started to work at home. Here I use amd64 system powered by Athlon64 3200+ (2GHz) with 1 GB of RAM (64M used by onboard graphics). But it looks like it is not enough to have working system and build in background:

11:11 hrw@home:~$ free
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:        962312     949312      13000          0      57664    295256
-/+ buffers/cache:     645772     316540
Swap:       987988       5724     982264

After getting first payment I will upgrade this machine to atleast 2GB of memory…