TouchWiz? Thanks, but no

Week ago I was at SmartDevCon conference where Samsung was main sponsor. They had some contest which I won and got Samsung Galaxy S4 (GT-I9505) phone.

Phone arrived on Friday just before my trip to WeCan demoparty so I had to spend some time with original software instead of starting from flashing CyanogenMod. It was painful experience…

Hardware is nice — Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 with 4 cores, 2GB ram, 5″ fullhd screen made it nice device but software… I had a dejavu and felt like travel back in time to moment when I bought Nexus S. Why? TouchWiz looks and feels like Gingerbread ;(

I have read many times posts where people complained about it, saw it on Galaxy S2 but never thought that it is so bad until played with it for few days.

As a person used to clean AOSP interface I had problems finding my place with it. For example dialer:

Dialer - keyboard Dialer - connection list

As phone is running Android 4.2.2 I would rather expect Holo compatible UI with tabs which can be switched by simple swipe. But no, Samsung decided to give users Gingerbread style with tab captions to tap if you want to switch. I did called few people by mistake as swipe right is call (left == send text message). Sure, dialer can be replaced by other application from Google Play Store but why?

Compare it with standard Android dialer on my Nexus 4:

Dialer on Nexus - keyboard Dialer on Nexus - connection list

Note also indicator icons on status bar. On Nexus WiFi icon is near to GSM signal one to not take precious space — not possible for Samsung. And while on AOSP network speed icon (GSM/EDGE/HSPA(+)) is above signal one, TouchWiz has separate one — just like it was in Gingerbread.

Or notification panel… This one is insane:

Notifications Quick Settings?

I already disabled brightness slider which was there as well. Note how pressing button in right top corner changed switches from ribbon to be full screen. I would like to remind Samsung that Android 4.2.2 has Quick Settings panel for such stuff (screenshot from my Nexus 4):

Quick Settings on Nexus 4

I could add more and more screenshots and complain about many things. But will not because I feel sick when have to use this UI. But just two more, Settings and recent apps:

Settings Recent apps

Note tab captions again, huge fonts (with text size already set to “small”). Recent apps list is another crazy thing. Device has “hardware” buttons so “Google Now” is harder to run now.

Speaking of buttons… Let me quote Android documentation for developers:

Beginning with Android 3.0, the Menu button is deprecated (some devices don’t have one), so you should migrate toward using the action bar to provide access to actions and other options.

And Honeycomb was released over two and half year ago. Recent apps button would be much more useful.

So what next? CyanogenMod 10.2 (Android 4.3 based) will land on device as usual.

My own company started 8th year today

Seven years ago I created my one person company. And it was one of best things I did in my life.

All started in 2006 when I started doing some small paid jobs around OpenEmbedded. Small things: solving build problems, updating recipes, adding new ones. But companies prefer to get invoice for such stuff instead of just giving money…

So one day I went to city hall and created what was then called “HaeRWu Marcin Juszkiewicz”. I changed name 2 years later and got rid of that ‘impossible to pronouce’ part.

There were many different clients for my consulting work. CELF was my first one, later I dropped my daily work and started remote work for OpenedHand. When they were acquired by Intel I got quite nice offer but preferred not to move to UK so went own way. From time perspective I do not know was it right decision 😉

So I looked at market around OpenEmbedded and started working with Bug Labs and few smaller jobs for other clients (some knew me from OpenedHand times). Also had job proposal from Canonical for their newly created ARM team but nothing came from it.

Time passed. One and half-year later Canonical made another attempt and this time I though “why not?”. So I went there just to be moved outside to a team which did not have any official name (other than NewCo or New Core which you may heard somewhere). And that team became Linaro some days later.

At Linaro I did lot of cleanup in Debian/Ubuntu toolchain components, added bootstrapable cross toolchain and fixed several packages (also created some new ones). But then, just when I was supposed to move to Canonical, new things came and AArch64 took my whole time.

ARMv8 work was great time. Learnt new things about OpenEmbedded, saw how project moved during those two years when I did not follow it’s development. Och it was good time.

But good things have to end one day. And so did my time at Linaro. But at around same time I started talking with several companies around Linaro to find a new place for me.

And I found it at Red Hat. Took a bit of time to get everything set up but I think that it was worth it. But due to the fact that I am employee not contractor I will suspend and in few months shutdown my consulting company.

It served me well. I came from being person not recognizable to someone who is known by people who I see for first time. It is good feeling 😉

My first day with Fedora

Yesterday I switched my home desktop from Ubuntu 13.10 to Fedora 19 to have work environment ready for my Red Hat tasks.

Installation was easy as Fedora installer does not ask too many questions. But also does not give any software choice so I took KDE one. Made a backup of Ubuntu rootfs and /home partition and 10 minutes later I was running same X11 session but with Fedora logo in a corner.

Installing extra packages is argh… There is yum and basically nothing else. I tried Apper and Yumex — none of them was useful. Apper was unable to remove Konversation and message I got was useless (“some package depend on it” like). Yum did not have any objections. Yumex was even worse as it gave me a list of all packages without any grouping applied. Even “dselect” was better in 1999 when I started with Debian.

So I installed APT. This one works but only kind of… “apt-cache search something” takes eons, installing packages is impossible due to a way how RPM works…

Because RPM allows to have more than 1 version of package installed at same time. WHY? How it is supposed to work at all??? And no, I did not have any filesystem corruptions or something like that…

Anyway those problems can be bypassed or ignored. But then there are other ones. I always thought that Debian legal team has very strict rules about what can go into distribution. Fedora proved that I was wrong. External repositories are a must have here. MP3 or AAC playback? Forget. Probably also video playback etc. Want Google Chrome? Forget. I understand why Adobe Flash is not in repo (but there is one with it as well) but all that? Probably there are more entries here but I did not yet finished installing stuff I use/need.

Will have to add few tweaks here and there (like bumping “nr_uarts” kernel option to have all 7 serial ports) but it works. And I like “journalctl -b” way of checking what was going on since system boot ;D

New boot setup of my Chromebook

After several recompilations I finally got what I wanted on my Chromebook. Clean and easy way of booting own kernel.

Now situation is clean and easy:

  • power on Chromebook
  • ChromeOS U-Boot from SPI flash starts
  • white screen of warning appears
  • Ctrl-d to skip it
  • U-Boot starts from mmcblk0p1
  • U-Boot reads boot.txt from mmcblk0p2 (ext2 /boot/ partition)
  • U-Boot reads uImage kernel and exynos5250-snow.dtb file from mmcblk0p2
  • Kernel boots directly to Fedora F19 stored on mmcblk0p3

This way I can quickly test mainline kernels (but this may require U-Boot change for simplefb support), manipulate 3.[48]-chromeos ones etc.

Next step would be replace bootloader stored in SPI flash but this voids warranty so let it wait a bit.

13:58 hrw@tygrysek:~$ sudo poweroff

Over month ago OVH started offering “KS 2G” servers for 15 PLN per month. Like few other friends I decided to take it.

Waiting for new machine took nearly a month but finally got it. I had a small problem with a name for it. But as “KS 2G” is smaller than i5 where my previous system was hosted I decided to reuse name “malenstwo” (Roo from “Winnie the Pooh”) which before was attached to PandaBoard(s).

Copied data from previous server (named tygrysek due to Tiger), updated Ubuntu to 13.04 and started to migrate services. And today I moved last one and sent my Xen VM instance to shredder…

What changed? I have “bare metal” machine on which I can do experiments and do not have to worry about users of other Xen instances like it was before. Have native IPv6 address so sending backups to my home will be easier.