Sheevaplug updates

Half year passed since I started using Sheevaplug at home. Currently it is my IRC station (with self-compiled irssi due to Perl problems in OpenEmbedded) and today it will also became central file server as I just received 1.5TB Samsung drive + USB enclosure for it.

It got several updates today:

Yes, two storage serving daemons. Samba will provide access to multimedia data when NFS will be more used for developer board root file systems and such.

Now hard drive is working connected via ESATA but after copying it will be connected to Sheevaplug instead of my workstation.

Just to cut questions — I bought Welland ME-752H enclosure. It allows to use Serial ATA 3.5″ drives and connect them by USB or ESATA interfaces. The bonus part is 2 port USB hub so I will not be out of USB ports in Sheeva 😉

ELC-E 2009

Some time passed since ELC-E took place. I did not wrote about it before because I was busy with other things and wanted to wait for presentations to be available.

The whole event took place in Grenoble, France on 15-16 October. I was there as a guest of ST-Ericsson company and had one talk there.

There were just 3 tracks so it was much easier to choose which talks to attend. I was on:

  • Jon Masters “Porting Linux” — interesting and it was nice to see the person which do LKML summary podcast
  • Grégory Clement “How We Got a 3D Application Booting in 5 Seconds Under Linux” — author told about few tricks they tried in a bit boring way
  • Sascha Hauer, Marc Kleine-Budde “U-Boot-v2” — project looks nice and I hope that my devices will migrate to this one day
  • Cedric Hombourger “Why OpenEmbedded Proved a Good Foundation for MontaVista” — lot of people attended, interesting talk it was. Nice part was when Cedric told that they checked all of currently available free build systems and chosen our one.
  • Samuel Ortiz “Linux Wifi Solutions for Mobile Platforms” — lot of technical informations but now I know more about Linux WLAN stack that I did
  • Matt Porter “Mythbusters: Android” — nice talk about this system and which parts of it needs lot of work to be usable on other devices then just phones. I was also interested in it as I had Android on Nokia N810 during ELC-E but finally decided to go back to Maemo.
  • Alessandro Rubini “Use of the Fast IRQ (FIQ) in ARM-Linux” — again lot of technical informations but I really like how Alessandro do his talks.
  • Alex de Vries “Technical Features and Components of Open Source Build Systems” — nice summary of what open embedded distributions lacks and what needs to be done. Was fun to listen how Alex tries to not say “open embedded distributions” too often 😉
  • Pierre Pronchery “Hackable Devices: The New Possibilities of Open Hardware”
  • Michael Opdenacker “Small Business” — most of small companies which attended have OpenEmbedded services in a list of what they do

I planned to attend few more but decided that Friday will be a good time to see Grenoble in other places then just hotel and conference centre.

What was a nice surprise for me was the amount of people familiar with OpenEmbedded. Most of people which I spoke with used it for misc projects. I had a talk with one guy about “stable” branches and how our view differ. For me “stable/2009” branch is what has to be buildable all the time but can take some updates, he prefers project branches with halted development and just very important fixes related with project.

My “Hacking with OpenEmbedded” talk got some interesting questions. Mostly about Maemo5 support but I do not know too much about it’s status.

Was it worth going? Definitely yes. Met friends, got new contacts, discussed about different projects. Was good to be there. I just hope that next time it will be in a place easier to get to — I had to fly thought Amsterdam so whole trip took me about 12 hours (each way). But on return trip I had interesting talk with Ruud Derwig during flight 😀

Will something from ELC-E lands in OpenEmbedded area? Few things:

  • I had a talk with Atmel guys about their work on updating linux4sam website and their OpenEmbedded support. AT91 devices will get 2.6.30 kernel in OE and it will land also in “stable/2009” branch on which they plan to base their repository (instead of old stable branch).
  • my work on ST-Ericsson NHK-15 board starts to appear in official metadata. I still need to test it on board but base is added.
  • one company plans to release OMAP3 based developer board soon and this will be their first use of OpenEmbedded

Nokia N900 discount

On Friday evening I got email from Quim Gil (Nokia) with information that I was selected for Nokia N900 device discount. Yes, even I got it. Not decided yet will I apply for it or not (need to check cash state).

Why “even I”? Some of Maemo people know my opinions about it. And it does not stopped me from buying N810 for full price. I also have 770 (got it for free from Nokia guy with words like “sorry, we are out of N800”). I sort of ignored all previous developer programs (I sent email when the 770 one was done).

During ELC-E conference I played a little bit with N900. It feels a bit too heavy for me but I was nicely surprised by keyboard — it is even usable when I though that it will be worse. Whole system feels more advanced then Diablo (finally more proper Contacts application). But there are still some annoying bugs: Contacts app does not always scroll to just added field or lack of portrait mode. And that launcher without any categories…

Basically I will treat N900 not like “Internet tablet” but as a Smartphone. I tried to use 770 and n810 and the software most of time did not allowed me to make it fit for me.

I know that I have some bugs to check on it. From what I saw there is a Polish translation of Maemo5 so some bugs will be harder to check. So first days would be probably full of bugzilla work.

Will I use it as a each-day-phone instead of my Nokia E66 (Symbian)? No idea yet but I would like to because it is more open platform then S60 so with some time spent I can adapt it more to my needs.

So far my list of things which I expect is not so long:

  • SyncML synchronization over the Internet for PIM data (I use ScheduleWorld a lot)
  • IMAP4 offline capable mailer which will make a use of screen resolution (no less then 10 emails in list view)
  • Calendar with Agenda view (all events from a week at once in a list)
  • Widgets for calendar, birthdays, todos (so it will give functionality of S60 Today screen)
  • one place to disable/enable roaming for data (no more having this option in Ovi Maps, mailer, IM app etc)
  • navigation with routing
  • time defined switching of profiles with running applications on change of profile, enabling/disabling bluetooth (like BestProfiles on S60 do)

And few other things which I forgot.

I am sure that it will take few Maemo5 updates to satisfy this list and that I will have to life with it or try to write my own apps for that. Time will show. I know that for start N900 will be degradation not advancing.

ST-Ericsson Community Workshop 2009

During Wednesday I was attending ST-Ericsson Community Workshop 2009 in Grenoble, France.

At that event ST-Ericsson presented their NHK-15 developer board and their work on getting U-Boot and Linux kernel support merged into mainline.

The interesting thing was that boards were given for each registered attender. What was inside you can read in one of my previous posts. But there was one more thing — 3Mpix camera daughter board. It is not visible on my pictures as decision about giving them to people was taken one day before event. It works as V4L device but I did not yet tried how good it is.

What was during event? Keynote was given by Harald Welte and it was really interesting talk. Next were:

  • NHK-15 presentation
  • U-Boot
  • Linux Kernel
  • Poky Linux & OpenEmbedded based environment

Last talk was mine – I said what Poky is, what it gives to the user and then same stuff about OpenEmbedded. Was it good talk or not is to be decided by others.

presentation to download

Using packages does not hurt

I have few different devices on my desk. Some has big community (BeagleBoards), some has forums with users (AT91SAM9263-EK), some have forums and irc channels (BUG) and I try to be present in most of them to help people, learn from mistakes etc.

The common problem which is shown there is “how to get XYZ working on my board”. People tries to use random toolchains without checking are they compatible with distribution running on board (usually it is CoreSourcery toolchain when board runs Ångström) to build software. Most of time they hang on irc to find some help about how to use configure, make, how to handle build time dependencies etc. Why they add themself so much trouble I have no idea…

Solution is mostly easier: provide some kind of network access for device and use package manager which came with root filesystem. For Ångström it will be “opkg” which is really easy to use. Basically user needs to know about few commands only:

  • opkg update to fetch repositories data
  • opkg upgrade to upgrade to newest available software
  • opkg list | grep NAME to check does NAME is available in repositories
  • opkg install NAME to install package (with dependencies)

For BUG commands are basically the same but “ipkg” is installed instead of “opkg”.

What it gives for users? More software available, less time spent on getting required applications and less problems. OK, not everything is available in repositories — but why not ask developers can it be provided?

Yet another theme change

WordPress has one nice thing — themes support. Effect is that I change theme from time to time.

I always preferred simple themes not overloaded with graphics. Like Barthelme, plaintxtBlog or BigBlue.

In most situations I modded theme for my own style each time. That made upgrading to newer versions harder but was worth most of time. What was changed? Removal of categories (which I do not use), replacing them with tags, removing not useful elements of page, changing CSS etc. Those changes which could be useful for others I usually sent back to authors.

Before this theme I used Atahualpa but it was overloaded with options and still used tables for layout which I find too deprecated. And lot of extra code was generated and inserted into page each time. And I had lot of problems when tried to upgrade to newest version.

Now my blog uses Carrington Blog theme and as usual some changes were made to it. I like that theme and it will stay like that for some time (until next change).

Home network speed++

Year ago I signed contract with my current ISP (UPC Poland) and got 10Mbps download with 1Mbps upload via cable modem. Few months ago they bumped download speed to 15Mbps but I would have to pay half of month price to get that speed so I refused to upgrade.

Then were vacations… During which they started with new offer — up to 120Mbps… But as this speed is available only in few cities in Poland I got 25Mbps download with 1.5Mbps upload rate. So far I got 19Mbps during my real time tests (fetching from few servers at one time).

So after 10 years I have faster network connection then when my Amiga 1200 got connected to Internet (it was 10Base-T Ethernet). Upload is still slower but I do not have big files to upload for clients so can live with that 1.5Mbps.