Diesel engine and winter do not match

It is winter now — even here in Szczecin, Poland. Normally it is quite warm here — about 0°C but this year is different. Today we had -19°C at 8:00 in the morning, yesterday it was -13°C and few other days had similar temperatures.

Ok, I am spending most of time at home but my wife has to visit few places so each day gives me extra work for the morning: starting car. We have Citroën C3 with 1.4 HDI engine and as most Diesel cars it is fragile to low temperatures. Before Xmas I exchanged battery from 44Ah one to 60Ah (which should be there from start) so at least one problem less (carrying battery to home is extreme — I do not want to think how much force is needed to get it from car as it is very tightly mounted).

So each morning I go down, remove snow from car (if it was snowing during night) and do what is needed to get car running. There was just one day when it did not wanted to start, but we got it solved by using cables and second car ;D

But even due to this ‘problem’ I like this car. Uses about 5.5 l/100km of oil and drives nicely. Ok, maybe it’s 68PS is a bit too low for highway (as 130km/h is basically top of comfort driving with 150km/h being maximum usable) but we nearly do not have such roads here…

System updates repository online

Took me less time that I thought — Maemo5 updates repository is on-line.

How to use it? Instruction in few simple steps:

  • Fetch GnuPG key which I used to sign repository.
  • Add it to APT on Nokia N900: “apt-key add apt-key.asc
  • Add my repository to APT sources by storing following line in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/system-updates.list file:
 deb http://marcin.juszkiewicz.com.pl/download/maemo/repos/system-updates/2009.51/ ./
 
  • Run “apt-get update” or use Hildon Application Manager (H-A-M) refresh function.
  • Run “apt-get upgrade” or check did H-A-M listed some upgrades and tell him to install them.

So far my repository contains Modest with fix for bug #6541 and “Maemo 5” metapackage altered to allow system updates to be installed. Sources of all packages are provided of course.

System updates repository for Maemo5?

My Nokia N900 uses Maemo5 in latest version: 2009.51.1 which still have many bugs open. Some (like 6541) were fixed already but users have to wait for next firmware drop from nokia Maemo team to get them. Of course date of such “gift” is unknown (it can even never happen) so how to solve problem now?

I spent some time digging in Modest git tree to gather changes which will fix #6541 bug. Result works fine on my device, patch is quite small (less then 2KB) but system components updates are not allowed to be pushed into Extras repositories on maemo.org website.

So how to share such useful update? I think that will create repository for such system updates. Maybe will add some other packages there (for sure my version of “mp-fremantle-generic-pr” will be present so updates will be installable without breaking firmware upgrades).

My expansion board for BeagleBoard

Using BeagleBoard as development platform means lot of cables as I need:

  • serial cable
  • power cable for BeagleBoard
  • USB hub
  • power cable for USB hub
  • USB Ethernet dongle
  • Ethernet cable

So by default my BB setup looks like this (here with B7 version so OTG used instead of EHCI):

BeagleBoard in a box

I decided that I need to do something with it. The idea was to make simple expansion board which will just gather all components on board connected to BeagleBoard. First sketch was this (without keeping aspect etc — just elements):

BeagleBoard expansion sketch

I presented it to few people with better electronic experience then mine and got few nice suggestions.

After few days of collecting elements and soldering/glueing I got first version working:

s_20100112_004

USB Ethernet dongle is glued to PCB, USB Hub needs mounting and it’s power cable has to be replaced by better solution. But the good thing is that I have power, serial, Ethernet connectors on one side without any special cables:

s_20100112_005

When BeagleBoard is placed on top all what is needed to get it working is connecting 3 cables: power, serial and EHCI:

s_20100112_007

Audio, S-Video and HDMI connectors are on same way as rest so all cables are in one side:

s_20100112_008

The problem appears when reversed BeagleBoard has to be mounted on top… I have such one with BeagleBUG extension. Extra distances helps but cables are not so nice then:

s_20100112_009

Notice that SD card in this config is harder to reach.

s_20100112_010

Serial cable is twisted but still do job.

s_20100112_011

Audio and video connectors are easy to reach but on other side of board ;(

s_20100112_012

Yes… that hub needs replacing — note ugly way of attaching power to it.

Anyway this works and allows me to have all cables in one place instead of jungle of them.

Are Maemo5 developer tools obsolete?

As it can be read in many places Maemo is based on Debian. The problem arrives when someone asks “which version of Debian?”…

The answer is “oldstable” (etch) + parts from “stable” (lenny) + some updates from “testing” (squeeze). But what does it mean for developer?

  1. If you maintain Debian packages and want them to build for Maemo5 prepare to refresh your memory for (officially deprecated) Debhelper v5 (Debian uses v7 since Lenny).
  2. If you use Debconf then you are out of luck rather — 1.4.70 is not even from Etch…
  3. If you use Subversion then do not even try to touch repositories which you will checkout under scratchbox — 1.4.3 from Etch is too old for working with repos fetched with today’s 1.6.x versions.

For me it looks like they just refreshed Maemo from OS2007 times again and again and again without considering rebasing on newer release. But why?

On #maemo-devel channel I got answer that this was probably due to sticking with crap^Wscratchbox which has that old stuff. But moment…. Maemo is product made by Nokia, big company with big money, so why no one got paid to update it to at least Lenny?

Good that Mer people use quite recent Ubuntu as a base for their distribution which should make development for it easier (ignore fact that there is very small user base). But this project needs lot of love still.

2009 Timeline

The end of 2009 is ended. Was it good year? For me it is hard to tell…

January

  • got Atmel AT91SAM9263-EK — my first own developer board. I used it to test most of my images during 2009.
  • moved Zaurus to drawer — no need for it anymore as I have better platform to test stuff on (ok, VGA > QVGA but on-board ethernet is nicer then wifi)

February

  • FOSDEM — this year I was there and as always it was worth to be there.
  • got own branches on Poky Linux git server to get easier way to contribute
  • Koala Nano PC joined my devices and started discussion “is hdparm good for testing devices”. Now I know that it was not good choice. Maybe one day I will run better set of benchmarks.
  • offered serial cables for BUG device for free — sent few during year. Now new BUGbase uses iPod connector so Handylink cables are useful only for JTAG.
  • played a bit with syncing mobile devices and failed. OpenSync really needs new stable release.

March

April

This was month of getting new toys:

And they forced me to do some hardware updates:

May

June

July

August

  • NHK-15 board arrived from ST-Ericsson. It is nice board with interesting features. Too bad that there is no kernels newer then 2.6.20 for it (to make full use of it).
  • T-Com W500V arrived — I bought it to have VoIP functionality with normal analog phone. Need to move it to my room probably as it is too unstable to be used over WiFi 🙁

September

  • Finally we found time for some vacations and visited my parents. It was nicely spent time.
  • new BUGbase available worldwide — this one has WiFi, Bluetooth inside so not need for BUGwifi module. And no more HandyLink as iPod connector took it place. Too bad that BUGdock is not possible to buy (FCC not certified etc).
  • got third BeagleBoard — this time from Texas Instruments Germany. I think that I won it during LinuxTag.

October

November

December

  • Nokia N900 arrived and I have to admit that it is quite nice device. Software is not so nice — already filled some bug reports.
  • After few days of playing I sent N900 back to DDP — there were bad pixels on screen.