Ever since Linux kernel 2.6.31 was released, my AMD Geode LX800-based FIC ION 603 can no longer boot; I get a fatal kernel crash near the end of the initramfs loading phase. At the crux of the issue seems to be a recently added kernel feature for caching filesystem ACL. I don't even use the ACL feature on my hosts, but there you go; it still crashes the kernel. Sigh. Having filed a bug on Launchpad and reported the issue upstream failed to produce a fix - despite the sustained involvement of two members of the Ubuntu kernel team members to help me narrow down the cause of this fatal kernel crash. Mentioning the issue to OLPC kernel developer Andres Salomon, he commented how he finds the new ACL caching code in the ext2/ext3/ext4 filesystem drivers downright creepy, but added that he currently lacks the time to further investigate the issue. I'm thus wondering if anyone else is experiencing this issue and might possibly have a fix to propose? Alternately, help towards debugging and fixing this issue is extremely welcome, as this bug will seriously affect users upgrading from older Debian and Ubuntu releases based on pre-2.6.31 kernels, when Debian/Squeeze and Ubuntu/Lucid are published in spring. PS: yes, the issue still exists in kernel 2.6.32 also.
In an hour the online part of this combined embedded+fai meeting in Badajoz in Extremadura, Spain, will sadly be over, but the sadness will hopefully be compensated by good food (yes, the food at the last dinner was great) and more fun! To me it were three intensive days (plus some two half days of intense travelling) which were really productive. This post is a summary of what I did here, to document how useful these meetings are. I'm only one person out of 18, who did some Debian work here, much more stuff was done, most of it I probably didnt even notice, as 14 people where working on embedded stuff, which I mostly ignored... ;-) That said, I think it was still very nice to have this meeting together, a.) because I'm quite interested in embedded stuff and b.) because the embedded crowd is a fun one to hang around with!
Right now I'm quite tired so that I dont fully remember what I have done on the first day :) It included uploading the DebConf7 mpeg videos which will now be used by Miguel Gea to create DVDs from those, so that he gets familar with the toolchain, so that he then can do the DebConf8 DVDs once those videos are (fully) ready. That will still take some time though, but hopefully not too long.
Unlike DebConf8 I also brought my fancy new fonera2 with me, in the hope to give it to someone to work on emdebian support for it. This is quite a longer road, as currently uclibc is not part of Debian, but thats only one step in this puzzle. Much to my joy Per Andersson took the opportunity to play with it and now took it home with him to document how to run Debian on it. I'm looking forward to see progress on this in the future ;-) Update: uclibc support is only needed for running Debian from the 4mb flash it has. But since it also has an usbport one can attach some storage there and run a full Debian system, just like on the nslug, which also has 32mb of RAM.
Unfortunatly I basically forgot about the FSG-3 I also took with me (which was for good reasons, one the second and third day I mostly did FAI work), but then I remembered 90min before the end, which was really too late. Narf. But Riku had a short look at it and told me one thing I didn't knew before: (at least) arm(el) kernels need to have the cpu id set in the kernel and the debian kernels don't have that, as they are build for more than one cpu type, so one has to prepend an arm assembler code instruction before running the kernel... I'm curious to do this soon :-)
But I have more hardware news to tell: C sar G mez Mart n (thanks for organizing this meeting, too!!!1) gave me back my OLPC laptop which I borrowed to him quite some time ago, so he could use it for a talk he gave at a university in Extremadura, so now I finally could give Andres Salomon new debian image for the XO a try. It was really nice to finally see a nice Debian gnome desktop on the device :-)
Today the FAI group, that was Sebastian, Michael, Thomas and me, also took a break to visit the Alcazaba de Badajoz (built around 1100, so roughly 900 years ago) which is an amazing building (thats why I linked to the spanish wikipedia entry as it has nicer pictures), from where you can see most of the city. I've been to Badajoz at least three times now and I'm really glad I finally did that, it's only 5min away from the office where the meeting was held and I highly recommend it to anyone going here.
Oh, and last and definitly not least I did a lot of work on FAI too. Besides discussing stuff which will hit planet after I posted this (hah! Michael already posted it, though without proper credit, so I will do a repost) I mostly reviewed changes and patches and discussed bugs, I didn't develop many patches myself (well, except one for the changelog..) but I've read every change at least twice, once as a commit msg and once in a full review. Plus many patches I read more often... all in all I think FAI is now in an great shape for lenny (which was the only thing we worked on during the weekend, we discussed some future plans, but work was only done for lenny), except that we want to another upload (with only documentation changes) after the upcoming one (which has quite some documentation changes already, but also some RC+important and some trivial bugfixes).
As you might have guessed, I started this entry on saturday and am finishing it now. According to the topic of the #extremadura2008 channel, which we created to coordinate between the groups, we also fixed 7 RC bugs (or 8? one should really document the bug numbers and not the number of bugs..) affecting lenny and 3 more which are only relevant to sid. Which is not as many as I would have liked to be fixed, but then, it wasn't a ("traditional") bug squashing party either. Which makes me wonder, are there any planned in the coming weeks?
So all in all I think this meeting was really very productive. Plus, I also enjoyed a special half an hour of real holidays: on saturday we had to leave lunch without having a chance to have a coffee afterwards, so I stumbled into a random cafe on the way to the venue. Turned out it was a very nice one, where due to its nice interiour I managed to reflect on life, 42 and all the rest almost immediatly. A totally unexpected but needed break. I wont say more here, because the thoughts and memories are really mostly relevant for me, but I'm really happy I found that space. DebConf8 and this meeting both were really fun, but I really didnt have a minute to reflect things. 30 minutes to do that is definitly not enough, but it was a good start. Now I just need to find another opportunity to continue with it. I hope this will happen before the next Extremadura meeting ;-)