1. I got interviewed during Linaro Connect

    Half year ago at UDS-O in Budapest Michael Opdenacker interviewed some people from Linaro. I remember that at the end of event Kiko asked him did he talked with me cause he thought that it could be interesting for someone.

    Then we had another Linaro Connect (in Cambourne) and nothing happened. But in previous week I got an email that there will be interview with me in Orlando and that I should choose time slot for it. So I did and here is the result:

    What we were talking about? Check it yourself. And please comment did you enjoyed.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  2. Calxeda announced ARM server product

    It is not often when I am writing about just announced things but today Calxeda company has announced their EnergyCore cpu modules.

    Imagine processor which takes 5W energy, has 4 ARM cores, 4MB of L2 cache, 4 Serial-ATA connectors (lot of 4s ;D) and 5 10Gb links for connecting with other cpus. Then put four (again :) such chips on card. Then take 4U rack case and put 4 trays of cpu modules (72 cpus) and you have insane amount of nodes in small space. And all of that will take really small amount of power (5W per cpu, no network switches, no cables).

    HP Redstone server
    HP Redstone server

    In HP announcement they wrote that first servers will be available in 1H of 2012 — no pricing anyway. Presentation shown that half of rack of HP Redstone servers will take 9.1kW of energy and can replace 10 racks of x86 machines (eating 91kW). Of course that’s for situations when there is no need for more then 4GB of ram per node (which is limit of ARM cores used by Calxeda).

    I wonder when one of such beasts will land in Canonical build farm. It would make Ubuntu port of ARM flying when it comes to building software.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  3. Open Source Szczecin conference

    During 20-21 October there was a local conference about Open Source projects. There were interesting talks and also some not so interesting ones as usual.

    On first day we had a presentation about Minix — what it is, how it was done, what for etc. Nicely done cause there were many students here and some of them even knew what Minix is.

    Arch Linux was described by one of ‘trusted users’ (that’s how they name contributors). We got information what Arch is, what it supports, how development is made and why presenter thinks that packaging is easier then Debian one ;) Have to discuss more about it one day with him.

    Talk about Celery was interesting. What it is? Let me quote website:

    Celery is an asynchronous task queue/job queue based on distributed message passing. It is focused on real-time operation, but supports scheduling as well.

    Presentation shown it using video conversion as example. First set of ugly workarounds used by people in PHP code and then how to use Celery to make the same in nicer way.

    Second day started with presentation about Sonar code analysis tool and it’s role in software development. According to presenter it allowed them to cut code review times by not having to deal with many issues (like code duplication for example).

    The most interesting one was about using open source applications in local government. From Novell NetWare with mix of stations running MS DOS, MS Windows 3.11/95/98/Me/2000 with mix of applications to Debian/Mandrake based servers with one additional MS Windows server for Win32 applications. From commercial applications to open ones. Lot of movement was done due to low budget but also to increase security by having systems with good security updates. Also licensing issues with Microsoft Office applications when each year combinations of components were available or not for separate buy (accounting office does not need Powerpoint but require Excel for example).

    Education of users was mentioned — teaching users how to convert documents before sending them to outside people/government offices etc. Also dealing with users often used to use pirated software which do not understand that if there is no license available then they will not be able to get what they think they need.

    Resulting system got documented and installed in few local public schools. Structure was shown and described how it works from intruder detection/blocking, content filtering, hardware monitoring etc. Why no SSH from outside — VPN as the only way to access internal network. Long list of components was presented with description why each of them was used — nice part which got some comments from people with suggestions of changes and many questions were asked.

    Summary of talk: lower costs, less licensing problems, stability, security updates, better control and scalability. Cons? more work on configuration, users need education to use new tools.

    There was also talk about using WordPress 3.x as CMS. Interesting for me as I am using it for many years to handle this and few other services. Presenter told that sometimes it is hard to convince people as they are thinking of WP more like on blog platform rather then framework for running websites. He also presented few of his creations. During discussion later I got few nice suggestions on plugins which I use here and replaced few of them with different ones.

    In overall conference was good. Some talks resulted in discussions, got some new contacts. Hope that there will be next edition.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  4. Bought a bike

    Few days ago I went to shop and bought a bike:

    Giant Expression bike
    Giant Expression bike

    My third bike in entire life — previous one was recycled few years ago as I did not lived with my parents and there was no sense in restoring driving condition for it (it was ~20 years old I think).

    This bike is cool — especially fitted with extra set for my 3.5y old daughter. Yesterday we (my wife, daughter and I) went for cycling in forest and it was great experience. Lost track where we are once which ended in few kilometres of really ugly road but I learnt from it and next trip will be first consulted with Open Street Maps as it has coverage of Szczecin area.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  5. My opinion about Hannspree Hannspad SN10T1

    During Linaro Connect Q3.11 I had occasion to play with few Android tablets. Andy Green pointed me to Hannspree Hannspad at Ebuyer UK (as he has one at home) which looked as nice deal so I bought one. It arrived two days later so I was able to play with it during conference.

    Tablet was quite fast and nicely responding but… screen was disaster :( Problems with touch screen, very poor angle views made using it very uncomfortable for browsing web or watching videos. Later I found out that there are two versions of Hannspad tablet: 1633 (which I got) and 1653 (with usable, bright display).

    I was able to play with Froyo (was installed by default with some crappy tools), Gingerbread (community build of Cyanogenmod) and also with Honeycomb which is what I used for most of time. The fun of hacking Hannspad is that there are no kernel sources released by vendor so most of custom ‘ROMs’ are made for Viewsonic GTablet. Effect is that soft touch buttons does not work, volume buttons are reversed and some other issues exists while device is usable. But thanks to ab73 from SlateDroid forum most of them was solved and even more — Search button was found below Back one :)

    Today I sold it. Was it worth buying? Definitely no, but it was good opportunity to check do I need such device. For day to day use rather no, but it was nice tool to browse web from couch or checking social networks. And Freerunners HD were flying ;)

    But I plan to buy next tablet one day. Something with more square screen would be nice as I mostly used it in portrait mode to browse web and screen was too narrow for it. Who knows — maybe Amazon Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble Nook Color 2 (which was expected to be released in September too). 7” sounds better then 10” due to size. But for sure nothing less then 1024x600 resolution (1024x768 or 1024x1024 would be perfect).

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  6. Error: Boot loader didn’t return any data!

    Today I upgraded my virtual machine from Ubuntu 10.04 ‘lucid’ to 11.04 ‘natty’ + 3.0 kernel from 11.10 ‘oneiric’. For first time I used official way for upgrades and did that step by step (lucid -> maverick -> natty) with reboot on each step. Each upgrade ended with reboot of vm.

    But fun started when I wanted to install 3.0 kernel from 11.10 ‘oneiric’… Installation went fine — mostly due to Alex’s comment to my blog post about it. But after reboot machine did not wanted to boot at all ;(

    xm create NAME” resulted in “Error: Boot loader didn’t return any data!” message… After some googling (as I never was XEN administrator) and experiments I got what was wrong. We use ‘py-grub’ to boot VMs and this tool uses “/boot/grub/menu.lst” to get information which kernel to boot. But Ubuntu systems are using “/boot/grub/grub.cfg” due to grub2 instead of grub-legacy.

    Anyway I updated menu.lst by hand and VM booted fine. Need to remember for next kernel update ;)

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  7. My devboards lost power source

    When I returned from Linaro Connect Q3.11 I noticed that none of my Pandaboards are on. I though that powered them off before leaving but two days later I needed at least one online. Power cycling PSU did not helped so I took 5V/3A one from box and got board running leaving old one for inspection later.

    Today I disconnected all cables from PSU and opened it:

    Burnt elements
    Burnt elements
    Burnt PCB
    Burnt PCB

    This does not look good… So time to buy another 100-200W old pc power supply and adapt for use with developer boards:

    developer boards power connector
    developer boards power connector

    This big white connector had 12V, GND, 5V lines which allowed me to charge most of my developer boards and usb hubs.

    It served well for 2.5 years — now have to recycle it…

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  8. Unity? Thanks, but no

    Tried Unity, Unity 2D and GNOME3 today. Removed each after <0.5h of playing with them.

    Unity? Lack of visible settings. Tried CCSM — chaotic attempt to keep all Compiz settings in one place done in a way to make user say “WTF?”. Managed to crash Unity panels (left, top) after clicking something. Started Gnome-tweak-tool — this one allows to set theme and decoration. Selected least ugly ones, no way to get rid of orange title bars. Did not manage to get rid of icons from desktop… Ok, maybe it has to be that way (sorry for big pictures):

    Unity so called desktop
    Unity so called desktop

    Launcher always lists my permanently mounted partitions (playing with “keep in launcher” option did not changed anything).

    Funny situation happens after pressing Super (aka Meta aka Windows) key — it should open window with all installed recently used, installed, suggested-to-install applications. But what if you did not notice it due to clicking on other window? Panels will switch to transparent:

    Transparent Unity?
    Transparent Unity?

    The whole “let me show you list of apps” looked as strange idea for me — too many clicks required and lot of space wasted. ADW Launcher on 1024x600 screen presents applications list in much better style.

    So I logged into Unity 2D — but here I got one box over all windows (I could click though it and it disappeared after re-login):

    Ugly box in Unity 2D session
    Ugly box in Unity 2D session

    Clicked few times and decided to avoid — normal Unity had better look.

    GNOME3? No comments — I have only FullHD monitor so will not waste screen space for panel which does not even give me usability of older one. Harder to run apps even then under Unity.

    So I decided to stay with XFCE. It is not perfect as I have few “sorry, unable to find icon” applets shown (GNOME Bluetooth, NetworkManager, sound) but this bug is known and who knows… maybe will get fixed before release (was fixed before 11.04 and broken again after).

    UPDATE: I run Ubuntu 11.10 ‘oneiric’ on all my systems which have some kind of display (other is router which runs 11.04 with 11.10 kernel). I never run stable release cause my systems migrate to next release at start of development cycle as this makes my work easier for me (with 10 years of using Debian ‘sid’ I am able to deal with upgrade problems). Trying other desktops from time to time, usually around Ubuntu beta phase when all features are frozen even if they do not fully work, was fun and allowed me to find new tools for my daily use. But each time I expect some way to configure a look & feel and this is where Unity fails for me.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
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