ARMv7a hardware is like minefield

I have a bunch of ARMv7a boards at home. They are from different years, have misc CPUs and GPUs. All I think that some of them suck for some reasons.

Pandaboard was great board when got released. Then Texas Instruments fired everyone involved so now it is crap. Sure, mainline kernel works fine but no audio/video decoding in hardware, no OpenGLES due to PowerVR stuff which no one cares about because it is proprietary.

Wandboard Quad. Cool, fast, 2GB of memory, SATA. And hardcoded XGA (1024×768) resolution which can not be changed. Awesome? Not so much when you connect it to FullHD monitor. And forget about community — they are mostly stuck on 3.0 and 3.10 kernels based on Freescale code drops. I should dig deeper when looked at i.mx6 hardware ;(

Looks like it is time to check other boards. Minnowboard Max probably — x86 will fully open drivers.

Obsoleted but mainline

Lot was written about why upstreaming matters. And why it should be done earlier than later too. And I found out that I have perfect example.

Few days ago Linus Walleij contacted me with a question:

Hi Marcin, do you still have the Nomadik NHK8815 board? I’m contemplating fixing it to work some time, but haven’t got hold of one. I think it only needs a device tree actually, so we could hack it up at some conference if you’re at the same some time.

And then I realized that indeed — I still have it somewhere in my basement gathering dust. We quickly agreed on shipping it so Linus will be able to finish work on adding support for already obsolete board in mainline kernel.

For me NHK-15 is a perfect example of device which was supported in wrong way. When I got it 5 years ago it was already several kernel releases behind with 2.6.16.2 kernel (no stable updates even). I managed to get Poky Linux running on it but told clearly that it will gather dust after finishing task because for me board with no upstream support is worthless.

So board spent few weeks on my desk and then went back to the box and on shelf in basement. Then became forgotten. For 5 years. Today I opened box, checked contents, added some filling so it is ready for courier. Then I will forget about it again.

UPDATE: My Sim.One board joined NHK-15 as it is hard to find working device with EP93xx processor in it.

Sound under Linux got broken for me

I am starting to dislike current situation of handling sound under Linux.

On my desktop I am using Fedora which is using PulseAudio to handle sound. And recently something changed cause I have to reach mute button too often.

Normally I have Deezer in Chrome playing some background music with volume in web app set to the highest value. I can use KDE mixer to control how loud it is and it works fine. When I run YouTube, Vimeo it is fine. Adobe Flash videos? Fine as well. And according to PulseAudio mixers it keeps stream value at same level every time.

But I do not like that browser. I use Firefox for most of my web stuff. But every time I play YouTube video it jumps with PA stream volume to the highest possible setting so even my next street neighbors are probably able to hear it. Sure, I can change YT volume to nearly zero but when will have to do it with all other web applications as well (and many of them do not have loudness control).

MPlayer (which I use for movies) plays nicely with volume – alters only own PA stream volume.

I think that it is a time for me to report bug against Firefox.