Stuck at 600MHz

During this week I work on my Dell D400 laptop. It uses Pentium-M 1.6GHz processor which has few work frequencies available due to acpi-cpufreq kernel driver. The lowest one is 600MHz and normally this machine spends most of time with that speed but goes up when there is some work to do (due to ondemand governor which I mostly use).

But since yesterday it is not so nice… During boot CPU is often detected as 600MHz one:

[    0.693310] Detected 598.133 MHz processor.

instead of nominal speed:

[    0.693310] Detected 1594.845 MHz processor.

I tried rebooting but even if there was boot at nominal speed it sooner or later got stuck at lowest:

root@maluch:/var/log# cpufreq-info
cpufrequtils 002: cpufreq-info (C) Dominik Brodowski 2004-2006
Report errors and bugs to linux@brodo.de, please.
analyzing CPU 0:
  driver: acpi-cpufreq
  CPUs which need to switch frequency at the same time: 0
  hardware limits: 600 MHz - 1.60 GHz
  available frequency steps: 1.60 GHz, 1.40 GHz, 1.20 GHz, 1000 MHz, 800 MHz, 600 MHz
  available cpufreq governors: powersave, userspace, conservative, ondemand, performance
  current policy: frequency should be within 600 MHz and 600 MHz.
                  The governor "performance" may decide which speed to use
                  within this range.
  current CPU frequency is 600 MHz (asserted by call to hardware).

Weird it is… And this is not overheating because 44Β°C is nothing strange for this machine. Maybe CPU fan require replacing… but this also means splitting laptop into small parts to get access to it πŸ™

I found “nice” thing

Few days ago I gave my 2GB pendrive for my wife as she was going to fotolab to make some photos. It contained our wedding photos. Today I mounted it on one of my systems and discovered “nice” thing on it…

In root directory there were two files which were not present there before — MS32DLL.dll.vbs and autorun.inf which executes first one. From first look it does not make too many harm for Microsoft Windows systems — looks like it only change window title for Internet Explorer so many people will not even notify but I wonder how many fotolabs or other such places put even more nasty things on client’s media…

LinkedIn and checking email addresses

Some months ago Ross Burton wrote about checking email authors on LinkedIn:

I generally thought that LinkedIn was pretty useless for people like me. I have a community of like-minded associates available via Planet Gnome and so on, so apart from collecting friends it is pretty useless.

But recently it’s been becoming quite useful. For large companies it generally appears to be company policy that contact with open source projects is done via anonymous email domains, like GMail. This obviously makes it tricky to guess where someone is from when they appear on a mailing list… but LinkedIn to the rescue. Search for a name and hey presto, their CV!

Today I got interesting mail… It was technical question about my blog post “Recent Poky changes” where I wrote about updating QEMU in Poky to handle ARMv6/v7 rootfs. Question like question — but why it came to my OpenedHand email instead of private one? This is private blog…

The interesting part was mail author. As it came from private account which does not tell me anything so I did search on the LinkedIn. Result was nice — one of PDA vendors. I wonder when they will release phone with ARMv6 processor.

Anyway I answered and decided to share answer with other people which want to run ARMv6 Linux under QEMU. So to get it done few things are needed:

  1. recent Subversion snapshot of QEMU
  2. patch for Linux kernel to enable ARMv6 for ARM Integrator PB devboard
  3. ARMv6 rootfs
  4. some time to configure kernel

All those steps can be handled with Poky (or OpenEmbedded) of course. Kernel for “qemuarm” device use properly patched kernel — just kernel config change is needed to enable ARMv6 support. To get ARMv6 rootfs you can adapt “qemuarm” machine config to use proper optimizations (“tune-arm1136jf-s.inc” instead of “tune-arm926ejs.inc”).

Back in KDE 3.5

Some time ago I wrote that I am considering switching back to KDE 3.5 after few months with KDE 4.0/4.1-svn. Finally I did it.

Reasons are the same as in previous post — lack of stability and I for now I do not see bright future for KDE 4.1 (but this can change after release if developers will work on fixing bugs instead of adding new features/rewrites). With 4.1 svn snapshots there was guessing ‘what is broken today and how badly’ — mostly Plasma desktop was more or less unusable. For example panel which works in 4.0.72 stopped working with 4.0.73 unless enlarged to normal size, second panel nearly never worked (or even made Plasma crash each time).

So for now I am back on KDE 3.5 with few components from 4.1-svn (window manager, Okular, Dolphin) and wait for 4.1/4.2 releases to have something to test.

Car navigation with N810

During last two weeks I did two 250km trips. First PoznaΕ„ -> Szczecin, then return. Road into both directions is good and it is impossible to get lost but I took my N810 with me.

Before trip I started Maemo Mapper to generate route and fetch all needed maps (from Google Maps street view). This part was fast. I checked generated route does it have sense and stored on card as there is no offline route generation — you can do it only online by querying author’s website which send query to Google Maps, converts and returns XML.

Ok, time to go — I packed car with all our luggage and during that left N810 in car to get “gps fix” as internal GPS needs time for this operation. During trip we looked from time to time just to check are we on track. Few times tablet just rebooted which resulted in no GPS fix until next longer stop πŸ™ But it does not need to reboot to lose position — look at our return trip track (clean road, no tunnels etc):

I know that there are people who use Nokia tablets for car navigation. But how does it compare to TomTom Navigator which I had occasion to use one day…

Let’s see.

Function TomTom Maemo Mapper Wayfinder
price 99 EUR for PDA edition1 free (GPL) 9 EUR (1 month)
69 EUR (year)
70 EUR (3 years)
1 week free trial2
offline routing + require licence
detour planning +
finger friendly keyboard +
address lists with prediction + no such lists +

So it looks like I will not buy HH-12 car holder to use N810 for car navigation but rather TomTom device or some Windows CE/Mobile navigator with TomTom software to have something usable.


  1. often comes pre-installed on Windows Mobile devices 

  2. after trial period each run shows requester with “enter license key or purchase” and settings window (on right side of screen) is not available 

Am I programmer?

Many people think that I am programmer… But what is definition of programmer?

Wikipedia says: A programmer is someone who writes computer software. The term computer programmer can refer to a specialist in one area of computer programming or to a generalist who writes code for many kinds of software.

My last desktop program was Multiview for AmigaOS 2.04+ which ended life in 2000 year (after over 3 years of development). Then I changed platform to Debian GNU/Linux and started to mainly use software instead of writing it. Of course during studies I wrote some code in few languages (C, C++, Z80 Asm, PIC16 Asm/C/BASIC and maybe some other) but none of them was something to be used by normal people.

For few years my work title was “PHP programmer” (with some variants) but writing code for websites is different thing then for desktop computers.

Eric Sink wrote one day great post about programmers and developers. According to this I am rather developer then programmer.

My programmer part of me know how to fix code written in PHP (used this language for few years to get paid), Python (but never got proper amount of knowledge about it) and few others — one day I had to debug small application written in 8086 assembler which I saw for first time — and all I had was source code printout.

But I also many times worked with clients to get informations what they really need to be done in project and those discussions changed many aspects of first draft of specifications. Then transforming specs into design and finally into code which gives working service at the end. Providing help to few ~60 years old ladies which use CMS written by you can be hard job — especially when documentation is not yet created so no one else know each system parts.

But there are many work titles to choose from: Programmer, Developer, Engineer, Software (Engineer / Architect / Developer / Designer) so I probably will stay with Developer and will not try to explain too much what exactly I am doing for living πŸ™‚

Never say never

Years ago I had Gigabyte mainboard in computer at work. One day cpu fan died — it did not shut down but tried to operate with 85Β°C at CPU… That day I decided to not buy Gigabyte mainboards anymore (my home machine had in BIOS limit of working temperatures with 70Β°C set as temp to shut down).

Few days ago I upgraded my home machine. And it is Gigabyte powered πŸ™‚ To be exact: EP35C-DS3R is what I bought.

There are few annoyances:

  • Intel AHCI SATA BIOS adds few seconds on each boot for checking 6 Serial-ATA ports
  • Gigabyte AHCI SATA/ATA BIOS adds few more and ask for pressing key (with few seconds timeout)

But also nice stuff:

  • profiles in BIOS — so I am able to configure everything and store settings for later use
  • flashing BIOS from USB stick, hard drive or floppy (does someone still use floppies?)

I also added few other components: Core2Quad Q6600 CPU, 4GB RAM and new hard drive but that is other story.

State of ATI RS482 gfx driver

Recently my machine got series of instability problems. Current situation is — machine stable if Geforce 6600GT card removed. But this leaves me with ATI RS482 on-board graphics… And this chipset just suxx!

I use free driver — ‘radeon’ one. Does it works? Sort of. Problems noticed:

  • lack of EDID reading — so my 22″ lcd panel works in 1280×768 mode instead of 1680×1050
  • unreadable screen after switching to VT
  • X11 crash if qemu/SDL started
  • X11 crash if MPlayer with ‘x11’ driver used
  • X11 crash if VirtualBox started any virtual machine

Is it usable? Only if there is no other way. But I will rather work on getting my Geforce card working again then trying to get that ATI crap working properly.

TIP: to get 1680×1050 resolution working few commands needs to be run:

xrandr --newmode "1680x1050R"  119.00  1680 1728 1760 1840  1050 1053 1059 1080 +hsync -vsync
xrandr --addmode DVI-0 "1680x1050R"
xrandr --output DVI-0 --mode "1680x1050R"

Anyway according to XRandR there are no monitors connected at all:

12:36 hrw@home:~$ xrandr
Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 1680 x 1050, maximum 2560 x 1200
VGA-0 disconnected 1280x768+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 0mm x 0mm
DVI-0 disconnected 1680x1050+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 0mm x 0mm
   1680x1050R     59.9*
S-video disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
  1280x768 (0x41)   80.1MHz
        h: width  1280 start 1344 end 1480 total 1680 skew    0 clock   47.7KHz
        v: height  768 start  769 end  772 total  795           clock   60.0Hz

Going back to KDE 3?

After few months of using KDE 4 (4.0.1 — 4.0.3 and then 4.0.68 snapshot) I am thinking about reverting back to KDE 3.5.9. Why such decision? Software is just not yet ready for each day use.

Plasma based desktop

Plasma based desktop is overrated — you need KDE 4.1 snapshot to get possibility to have more then one panel. But still no way to re-arrange “plasmoids” on it… Not to mention that they will have totally broken sizes:

desktop4.jpg

Also padding between panel icons (bottom panel) is huge and non configurable. Option to group running tasks by desktop is missing too. And what for are “Zoom Out”/”Zoom In” options? I do not see sense in them.

Amount of plasmoids is small — few basic ones only so to have for example weather information I would have to launch SuperKaramba like it was under KDE 3.5.

Lack of PIM

KDE PIM team works on new features but it will be ready rather after 4.1 release. According to few developers current version is not yet recommended to each day use.

Remote desktop

KRDC from KDE4 is maybe better for developers but for me it is more broken then 3.5 version. I use it to VNC session to my WinXP laptop. With newer version I often have stuck Shift/Ctrl/Alt keys after switching to/from KRDC. And even if I selected option “keep passwords in KWallet” it asks me for VNC password each time πŸ™

And I really like idea of “one window per connection” instead of tabs. I mostly use one connection so old style KRDC window is more usable for me.

System settings

Application is nice — but where is “Administrator mode” button for “Computer administration” modules? Normal user can launch “Date & Time” control panel and look at disabled GUI. In KDE 3.5 there was button to prompt for administrator password to alter configuration.

The annoying thing is that you cannot have settings application from KDE 3.5 and 4.x installed at same time. And KDE4 one do not set colours for KDE 3.x applications πŸ™

Bugs

As everything KDE 4.x has bugs. I gave up on reporting new ones as they too often bit rot for eons with “UNCONFIRMED” state even if few other people write that they have same bug on their systems.

One of nasty ones is broken support of SFTP links… On one system I have account with /home/users/hrw/ as $HOME. I am unable to open/save files from that location as KDE Filerequster is unable to handle this due to fact that /home/ is not readable for users. At least Dolphin handle this properly…

Konqueror which is unusable because most of time it end working sooner or later due to “Unable to connect to klauncher” – WTF?

Another small annoyance: launch Dolphin and press “Ctrl-L” to edit location. Why it can not automatically select current location? I catch myself each time that I am writing insane paths due to old one not being removed.

Good parts

I like KWin composite effects. But this can be installed even on KDE 3.5 system so less problem.

Was there more good things? Probably yes — I maybe did not noticed them or not get used to them.