CompactFlash card problems – why it is worth to report them

Few days ago 脜ngstr枚m distribution was released. Currently machine mentors tests images and release them so their devices will be also supported and ready for users.

Users often have CompactFlash cards which we (developers) do not have. Some of them will be hit by miscellaneous problems. For example their WiFi card which was nicely working with HostAP driver now works only with Orinoco one so they can not connect to WPA encrypted access points.

How to solve that? Such users should report those cards. What report needs to contain:

  • pccardctl ident output
  • information does card was working with other distribution (it can be any Linux distribution — I test cards under Debian on my laptop)

What developer has to do then? Creation of patch to in-kernel driver is simple — there is one table per driver in source and few simple macros. Examples can be found in my submissions to kernel tree.

Zaurus kernel config generation

During last months I did few attempts to unify kernel configuration for all PXA Zaurus models (so no collie). As last one did not generate working ones and I do not have time to fix it (or devices for testing) I decided to release last version so maybe someone will look at it and try to get it fixed.

To generate configuration files run make.

Zaurus bootloader starts to be a real PITA

Sharp Zaurus palmtops have separate flash ‘partition’ for keeping kernel. The problem is that it is only ~1.2 megabyte… It was good enough for 2.4.18 kernel which was used by vendor but with 2.6 kernel maintained by OE community it is really hard to fit there.

We started to remove some features from kernel. With 2.6.23 release we were forced to choose: SD/MMC support or PCMCIA/CF support goes into kernel. As many people keep rootfs on SD cards we moved CF into modules. To get 2.6.24 fit I had to choose another parts…

In near future we will probably end with a kernel which will be stripped from everything possible. This will leave only framebuffer and rootfs access support — Everything other moved to modules.

Other solution is to change a way of booting device. There are few solutions:

  1. Use kernel space for really minimal kernel + initramfs which will use “kexec” functionality to boot kernel stored in rootfs.
  2. Change Sharp bootloader into something more sane — like U-Boot, Apex or RedBoot.

First one require some patching to get rid of everything other then MTD + JFFS2 or CF + ext2 (for spitz). Then adding simple initramfs which will contain tool which will check rootfs for kernel and parameters. Then load/execute new kernel with “kexec”.

Second way… this one is more tricky as it also change a way of updating device to newer kernel/rootfs. We can get more space as Sharp “rescue” system used for updating can be replaced with much smaller one but this also require work. There is a patch from pdaXrom which adds c7x0 and akita/spitz support for 1.1.4 U-Boot. After few tweaks it applies to current version but need updating configuration and also adding some code for Flash operations. But this does not help for Tosa/Poodle devices as they would need more work.

Which way to choose… For now we will rather stick with removing all what can be removed. All other options require more work which require developers. But our Zaurus hackers usually moves to newer platforms now

Merry Christmas

Today is 24 December — a day when some people celebrate Christmas. Some will celebrate it tomorrow as it depends where you live and how your culture handle it.

I want to wish Merry Christmas to all my blog readers — spend them with the ones you love.

Due to flu I will spend this year Christmas at home only with my wife. It was not planned to be this way but I hope that we will not die from boredom 馃槈

Hrw tag cloud widget

I use tags on my blog for years. First it was done with UTW and when WordPress MU 1.3 got released I switched to native WP tags.

The first thing which I missed was nice Tag Cloud widget. Default WP one just printed all tags without giving any control to user about how it have to look. So I looked at source and wrote own version.

How to use it?

Fetch archive, unpack into wp-content/plugins/ directory and enable “Hrw Tag cloud widget” in “Plugins list”. Then go to “Presentation/Widgets” and replace “Tag cloud” widget with mine. You will see configuration options.

Download archive.

Nokia tablets in Poland part 3

Today I got email from nokia care Europe:

Uprzejmie informujemy, 偶e na dzie艅 dzisiejszy nie posiadamy szczeg贸艂owych informacji na temat planowanych premier produkt贸w. W przedstawionej przez Pana sprawie uprzejmie prosimy wi臋c 艣ledzi膰 na bie偶膮co informacje, pojawiaj膮ce si臋 na naszych stronach internetowych. W celu uzyskania szczeg贸艂贸w dotycz膮cych mo偶liwo艣ci zakupu telefon贸w lub akcesori贸w oraz cen nale偶y skontaktowa膰 si臋 bezpo艣rednio z autoryzowanymi punktami sprzeda偶y Nokia. Podajemy link do adres贸w owych punkt贸w: http://www.nokia.com.pl/A446706

For those which do not understand Polish:

Currently we do not have information about planned premi猫re. Please track our website. If you want to get details about how to buy our phones or accessories or to know price please contact our authorized shops.

In other words — no plans to sell N800/N810 tablets in Poland 馃檨

UPDATE: Matthew Allum told that N810 is available in UK online store. I know that but it is too insane to buy hardware there as if something break costs of sending/receiving device will be too high. Not to mention that I would have to learn how English law handle such things.

UK – my observations

During last summer I was at GUADEC in Birmingham, UK and enjoyed that. Then I was at OpenedHand X-mas party. Both trips gave me some time to observe other culture and this is what I want to write about.

I will not write about cars on wrong side of road because this is already known and it is easy to get used to it. Did not have problems with it even when I was sitting in front left seat during car trip.

The thing which annoys me is “double taps”. At GUADEC place it was OK as hot water was only warm so I did not needed cold one but during my recent trip they were everywhere… I wonder how they use as hot water is too hot usually and cold one is rather not warm enough. One of solutions is plugging washbasin and wash hands in mixed water — but this is not too hygienic rather…

What was nice to see is mix of people on streets — in Poland we basically have only one type of people — white, Slovian, usually catolics. There were too many of them to count.

Next thing — all those informations everywhere… “Garage in constant use — parking not allowed”, “Fire doors — keep open”, “Private parking — you will be towed”, “No parking here — 拢75 penalty”, “Keep this place clean — use ashtrays”, “It is against the law to smoke at those premises” etc… Those kind of messages were in nearly each place which I visited.

During walk through GUADEC building I saw few nice places. First was a bunch of shelves — each one signed and it looked as place to use if you want to give something to “owner” of shelf as there were many books, compact discs and other stuff there. Another thing was message table with many informations for lonely people, for victims of sexual molestation or voluntary offers.

It is other type of country then Poland. I am not yet ready to move there I think… Never mind that Matthew asks me each time (nearly – last time he forgot) we meet when I will move to London.

Nokia tablets in Poland part 2

As I wrote in previous post I called official Nokia shop again today.

The guy who answered call lacked knowledge. First he tried to tell me that tablets are only for US market not for Europe. When I told him where in Europe they are available he finally told that they (official shop) still do not have any official information at that subject.

So Nokia (if you read this) — what is official way? Will it be possible to buy your tablets in Poland or we should just forget about their existence and move to things like ASUS EeePC? Or maybe Nokia prefers us to spend cash at German/French/British market where those toys are freely available…

I think that if there will be next tablet (N820?) I will ignore any moral things and will apply in developer program as person from UK.

Bromley is not part of London

Few months ago in post about my OpenEmbedded related trips I wrote that Bromley is part of London. Since then I was there during OpenedHand X-mas party and was told that it is not true.

So it looks like all my trips related to OE ends in cities which names starts with “B”. I just hope that next one will not be to Brisbane or Beijing 馃檪