Search Results: "thep"

28 January 2011

Martin F. Krafft: The Phoenix Foundation in Switzerland

We ve known for a while and want to keep it no longer secret: New Zealand s famous band The Phoenix Foundation are in Europe at the moment, and will come to Switzerland on 17 and 18 February to play in Lausanne and Zurich. Penny went ecstatic when she found out and joined the street team, and we now have no excuses but to go to both shows. I am certainly looking forward. Even though I haven t really warmed up to their last two outputs (Buffalo and the Merry Kriskmass EP), their earlier stuff is heart-warming good-mood music that should put me back into chilled NZ summer mode. Choice! NP: The Phoenix Foundation: Buffalo

7 January 2011

Paul Wise: Another year, another log entry

It has been almost a full year since my last log entry. It has been a busy work year, I attended some nice conferences and did minimal FLOSS stuff. On the work side of things I was a third of an Australian VoIP startup that came and went. I setup Debian servers, installed OpenSIPS and associated software, wrote OpenSIPS scripts, wrote peripheral software and did customer support. We had a good thing going there for a while, some fans on the Whirlpool forums but in the end there wasn't enough money for the requisite marketing and local market circumstances were squeezing Australian VoIP providers anyway. On the conference side of things I went to LCA 2010, the Thai Mini-DebCamp 2010, DebConf10 and FOSSASIA 2010. Had a great time at all of them. At LCA 2010 in windy Wellington, New Zealand the distributions summit organised by Martin Krafft was one of the highlights. It was dominated by Debian/Ubuntu talks but there were some other interesting ones, especially the one on GoboLinux's integration of domain-specific package managers. Also excellent were the keynotes given by Gabriella Coleman (Best & worst of times), Mako Hill (Antifeatures) and others, which I felt gave LCA an improved and very welcome focus on software freedom. There were quite a few Debian folks at LCA, it was great to hang out with them during the week and afterwards. Monopedal sumo with mako and others was hilarious fun. At the Thailand Mini-DebCamp 2010 in Khon Kaen, I was glad to see Andrew Lee (Taiwan) and Christian Perrier (France) again and meet Yukiharu YABUKI (Japan) and Daiki Ueno (Japan). In addition to the five international folks, there were quite a few locals, including Thailand's currently sole Debian member, Theppitak Karoonboonyanan. The event was hosted at Khon Kaen University and opened with my talk about the Debian Social Contract and the Debian Free Software Guidelines. This was followed by a number of talks about Debian package building, a 3-day BSP where we touched 57 bugs, a great day of sightseeing and talks about i18n, derivative distros, keysigning, mirrors, contribution and a discussion about DebConf. During the week there was also the usual beersigning, combined with eating of unfamiliar and "interesting" Thai snacks. After the conference Andrew and I roamed some markets in Bangkok and got Thai massages. Beforehand I also visited a friend from my travels on the RV Heraclitus in Chiang Mai, once again experiencing the awesomeness of trains in Asia, unfortunately during the dry season this time. I took a lot of photos during my time in Thailand and ate a lot of great and spicy food. As a vegetarian I especially appreciated the organiser's efforts to accommodate this during the conference. At DebConf10 in New York City, by far the highlight was Eben Moglen's vision of the FreedomBox. Negotiating the hot rickety subways was fun, the party at the NYC Resistor space was most excellent, Coney Island was hot and the water a bit yuck, zack threw a ball, the food and campus was really nice. Really enjoyed the lintian BoF, ARM discussions, shy folks, GPLv3 question time, paulproteus' comments & insights, wiki BoF, puppet BoF, derivatives BoF, Sita, astronomy rooftop, cheese, virt BoF, Libravatar, DebConf11, Brave new Multimedia World, bagels for breakfast, CUT, OpenStreetMap & lightning talks. Having my power supply die was not fun at all. Afterwards I hung out with a couple of the exhausted organisers, ate awesome vegan food and fell asleep watching a movie about dreams. One weird thing about DebConf10 was that relatively few folks used the DebConf gallery to host their photos, months later only myself and Aigars Mahinovs posted any photos there. At FOSSASIA 2010 in H Ch Minh City (HCMC) was a mini-DebConf. I arrived at the HCMC airport and was greeted by Huyen (thanks!!), one of FOSSASIA's numerous volunteers, who bundled me into a taxi bound for the speakers accommodation and pre-event meetup at The Spotted Cow Bar. The next day the conference opened at the Raffles International College and after looking at the schedule I noticed that I was to give a talk about Debian that day. Since I didn't volunteer for such a talk and had nothing prepared, the schedule took me by surprise. So shortly after an awesome lunch of Vietnamese pancakes we gathered some Debian folks and a random Fedora dude and prepared a short intro to Debian. The rest of the day the highlights were the intro, video greetings and the fonts, YaCy and HTML5 talks. The next day the Debian MiniConf began with Arne Goetje and everyone trying to get Debian Live LXDE USB keys booted on as many machines in the classroom as possible (many didn't boot). Once people started showing up we kicked off with Thomas Goirand's introduction to the breadth of Debian. Others talked about Debian pure blends, Gnuk and building community and packages. The second last session was about showing the Vietnamese folks in the room how to do l10n and translation since Debian had only one Vietnamese translator (Clytie Siddall). After manually switching keyboard layouts (seems LXDE doesn't have a GUI for that) on the English LXDE installs, the two Cambodian folks were able to do some Khmer translation too. This was a great session and it resulted in two extra Vietnamese translators joining Debian. It went over time so I didn't end up doing my presentation about package reviewing. We rushed off to a university where the random Fedora ch^Wambassador was hosting a Fedora 14 release party in a huge packed classroom. There were a lot of excited faces, interesting and advanced questions and it was in general a success. Afterwards we had some food, joined up with some other speakers and ended up in a bar in the gross tourist zone. On the final day we hung around in the Debian room, went downstairs for the group photo and final goodbyes. Later we found a place with baked goods, coffee and juices and navigated the crazy traffic to a nice local restaurant. The next morning Arne & I went to the airport, others went on a Mekong Delta tour and Jonas hung out with the organisers. I took less photos than at other events but got a few interesting ones. I avoided doing a lot of FLOSS stuff over the last year, I hope to work on some things in the coming months; I'm also planning some interesting travel and acquiring some new technological goods, more on those in some later posts.

6 December 2010

Raphaël Hertzog: State of the Debian-Ubuntu relationship

Debian welcoming contributions from derivativesThe relationship between Debian and Ubuntu has been the subject of many vigorous debates over the years, ever since Ubuntu s launch in 2004. Six years later, the situation has improved and both projects are communicating better. The Natty Narwhal Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) featured like all UDS for more than 2 years a Debian Health Check session where current cooperation issues and projects are discussed. A few days after that session, Lucas Nussbaum gave a talk during the mini-Debconf Paris detailing the relationship between both projects, both at the technical and social level. He also shared some concerns for Debian s future and gave his point of view on how Debian should address them. Both events give valuable insights on the current state of the relationship. Lucas Nussbaum s Debian-Ubuntu talk Lucas started by introducing himself. He s an Ubuntu developer since 2006 and a Debian developer since 2007. He has worked to improve the collaboration between both projects, notably by extending the Debian infrastructure to show Ubuntu-related information. He attended conferences for both projects (Debconf, UDS) and has friends in both communities. For all of these reasons, he believes himself to be qualified to speak on this topic. Collaboration at the technical level He then quickly explained the task of a distribution: taking upstream software, integrating it in standardized ways, doing quality assurance on the whole, delivering the result to users, and assuring some support afterward. He pointed out that in the case of Ubuntu, the distribution has one special upstream: Debian. Indeed Ubuntu gets most of its software from Debian (89%), and only 7% are new packages coming from other upstream projects (the remaining 4% are unknown, they are newer upstream releases of software available in Debian but he was not able to find out whether the Debian packaging had been reused or not). From all the packages imported from Debian, 17% have Ubuntu-specific changes. The reasons for those changes are varied: bugfixes, integration with Launchpad/Ubuntu One/etc., or toolchain changes. The above figures are based on Ubuntu Lucid (10.04) while excluding many Ubuntu-specific packages (language-pack-*, language-support-*, kde-l10n-*, *ubuntu*, *launchpad*). The different agendas and the differences in philosophy (Debian often seeking perfect solutions to problems; Ubuntu accepting temporary suboptimal workarounds) also explain why so many packages are modified on the Ubuntu side. It s simply not possible to always do the work in Debian first. But keeping changes in Ubuntu requires a lot of work since they merge with Debian unstable every 6 months. That s why they have a strong incentive to push changes to upstream and/or to Debian. There are 3 channels that Ubuntu uses to push changes to Debian: they file bug reports (between 250 to 400 during each Ubuntu release cycle), they interact directly with Debian maintainers (often the case when there s a maintenance team), or they do nothing and hope that the Debian maintainer will pick up the patch directly from the Debian Package Tracking System (it relays information provided by Lucas pointed out that those changes are not the only thing that Debian should take back. Ubuntu has a huge user base resulting in lots of bug reports sitting in Launchpad, often without anyone taking care of them. Debian maintainers who already have enough bugs on their packages are obviously not interested in even more bugs, but those who are maintaining niche packages, with few reports, might be interested by the user feedback available in Launchpad. Even if some of the reports are Ubuntu-specific, many of them are advance warnings of problems that will affect Debian later on, when the toolchain catches up with Ubuntu s aggressive updates. To make this easier for Debian maintainers, Lucas improved the Debian Package Tracking System so that they can easily get Ubuntu bug reports for their packages even without interacting with Launchpad. Human feelings on both sides Lucas witnessed a big evolution in the perception of Ubuntu on the Debian side. The initial climate was rather negative: there were feelings of its work being stolen, claims of giving back that did not match the observations of the Debian maintainers, and problems with specific Canonical employees that reflected badly on Ubuntu as a whole. These days most Debian developers find something positive in Ubuntu: it brings a lot of new users to Linux, it provides something that works for their friends and family, it brings new developers to Debian, and it serves as a technological playground for Debian. On the Ubuntu side, the culture has changed as well. Debian is no longer so scary for Ubuntu contributors and contributing to Debian is The Right Thing to do. More and more Ubuntu developers are getting involved in Debian as well. But at the package level there s not always much to contribute, as many bugfixes are only temporary workarounds. And while Ubuntu s community follows this philosophy, Canonical is a for-profit company that contributes back mainly when it has compelling reasons to do so. Consequences for Debian In Lucas s eyes, the success of Ubuntu creates new problems. For many new users Linux is a synonym for Ubuntu, and since much innovation happens in Ubuntu first, Debian is overshadowed by its most popular derivative. He goes as far as saying that because of that Debian becomes less relevant . He went on to say that Debian needs to be relevant because the project defends important values that Ubuntu does not. And it needs to stay as an independent partner that filters what comes out of Ubuntu, ensuring that quality prevails in the long term. Fixing this problem is difficult, and the answer should not be to undermine Ubuntu. On the contrary, more cooperation is needed. If Debian developers are involved sooner in Ubuntu s projects, Debian will automatically get more credit. And if Ubuntu does more work in Debian, their work can be showcased sooner in the Debian context as well. The other solution that Lucas proposed is that Debian needs to communicate on why it s better than Ubuntu. Debian might not be better for everybody but there are many reasons why one could prefer Debian over Ubuntu. He listed some of them: Debian has better values since it s a volunteer-based project where decisions are made publicly and it has advocated the free software philosophy since 1993. On the other hand, Ubuntu is under control of Canonical where some decisions are imposed, it advocates some proprietary web services (Ubuntu One), the installer recommends adding proprietary software, and copyright assignments are required to contribute to Canonical projects. Debian is also better in terms of quality because every package has a maintainer who is often an expert in the field of the package. As a derivative, Ubuntu does not have the resources to do the same and instead most packages are maintained on a best effort basis by a limited set of developers who can t know everything about all packages. In conclusion, Lucas explained that Debian can neither ignore Ubuntu nor fight it. Instead it should consider Ubuntu as a chance and should leverage it to get back in the center of the FLOSS ecosystem . The Debian health check UDS session While this session has existed for some time, it s only the second time that a Debian Project Leader was present at UDS to discuss collaboration issues. During UDS-M (the previous summit), this increased involvement from Debian was a nice surprise to many. Stefano Zacchiroli the Debian leader collected and shared the feedback of Debian developers and the session ended up being very productive. Six months later is a good time to look back and verify if decisions made during UDS-M (see blueprint) have been followed through. Progress has been made On the Debian side, Stefano set up a Derivatives Front Desk so that derivative distributions (not just Ubuntu) have a clear point of contact when they are trying to cooperate but don t know where to start. It s also a good place to share experiences among the various derivatives. In parallel, a #debian-ubuntu channel has been started on OFTC (the IRC network used by Debian). With more than 50 regulars coming from both distributions, it s a good place for quick queries when you need advice on how to interact with the distribution that you re not familiar with. Ubuntu has updated its documentation to prominently feature how to cooperate with Debian. For example, the sponsorship process documentation explains how to forward patches both to the upstream developers and to Debian. It also recommends ensuring that the patch is not Ubuntu-specific and gives some explanation on how to do it (which includes checking against a list of common packaging changes made by Ubuntu). The Debian Derivative Front Desk is mentioned as a fallback when the Debian maintainer is unresponsive. While organizing Ubuntu Developer Week, Ubuntu now reaches out to Debian developers and tries to have sessions on working with Debian . Launchpad has also been extended to provide a list of bugs with attached patches and that information has been integrated in the Debian Package Tracking system by Lucas Nussbaum. Still some work to do Some of the work items have not been completed yet: many Debian maintainers would like a simpler way to issue a sync request (a process used to inject a package from Debian into Ubuntu). There s a requestsync command line tool provided by the ubuntu-dev-tools package (which is available in Debian) but it s not yet usable because Launchpad doesn t know the GPG keys of Debian maintainers. Another issue concerns packages which are first introduced in Ubuntu. Most of them have no reason to be Ubuntu-specific and should also end up in Debian. It has thus been suggested that people packaging new software for Ubuntu also upload them to Debian. They could however immediately file a request for adoption (RFA) to find another Debian maintainer if they don t plan to maintain it in the long term. If Ubuntu doesn t make this effort, it can take a long time until someone decides to reintegrate the Ubuntu package into Debian just because nobody knows about it. This represents an important shift in the Ubuntu process and it s not certain that it s going to work out. As with any important policy change, it can take several years until people are used to it. Both issues have been rescheduled for this release cycle, so they re still on the agenda. This time the UDS session was probably less interesting than the previous one. Stefano explained once more what Debian considers good collaboration practices: teams with members from both distributions, and forwarding of bugs if they have been well triaged and are known to apply to Debian. He also invited Ubuntu to discuss big changes with Debian before implementing them. An interesting suggestion that came up was that some Ubuntu developers could participate in Debcamp (one week hack-together before Debconf) to work with some Debian developers, go through Ubuntu patches, and merge the interesting bits. This would nicely complement Ubuntu s increased presence at Debconf: for the first time, community management team member Jorge Castro was at DebConf 10 giving a talk on collaboration between Debian and Ubuntu. There was also some brainstorming on how to identify packages where the collaboration is failing. A growing number of Ubuntu revisions (identified for example by a version like 1.0-1ubuntu62) could indicate that no synchronization was made with Debian, but it would also identify packages which are badly maintained on the Debian side. If Ubuntu consistently has a newer upstream version compared to Debian, it can also indicate a problem: maybe the person maintaining the package for Ubuntu would be better off doing the same work in Debian directly since the maintainer is lagging or not doing their work. Unfortunately this doesn t hold true for all packages since many Gnome packages are newer in Ubuntu but are actively maintained on both sides. Few of those discussions led to concrete decisions. It seems most proponents are reasonably satisfied with the current situation. Of course, one can always do better and Jono Bacon is going to ensure that all Canonical teams working on Ubuntu are aware of how to properly cooperate with Debian. The goal is to avoid heavy package modifications without coordination. Conclusion The Debian-Ubuntu relationships used to be a hot topic, but that s no longer the case thanks to regular efforts made on both sides. Conflicts between individuals still happen, but there are multiple places where they can be reported and discussed (#debian-ubuntu channel, Derivatives Front Desk at on the Debian side or on the Ubuntu side). Documentation and infrastructure are in place to make it easier for volunteers to do the right thing. Despite all those process improvements, the best results still come out when people build personal relationships by discussing what they are doing. It often leads to tight cooperation, up to commit rights to the source repositories. Regular contacts help build a real sense of cooperation that no automated process can ever hope to achieve.
This article was first published in Linux Weekly News. You can get my monthly summary of the Debian/Ubuntu news, all you have to do is to click here to subscribe to my free newsletter.

5 comments Liked this article? Click here. My blog is Flattr-enabled.

7 November 2010

Adnan Hodzic: Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS-N) Debianized Summary

Last week I was on my first Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS-N), I wanted to attended this summit for couple of reasons: 1. Developer, I m part of Debian Java, working on Eclipse IDE, and as you re developing Debian, you re automatically developing Ubuntu, no? Nerd 2. DebConf11 main organizer, I really wanted to see how it s all done on corporate level, for instance we re going with hotels instead of student dorms and so on. 3. Migration to Linux infrastructure, make contacts and have some talks on this topic, because after DebConf11 in Bosnia a lot of institution will most probably open doors to open solutions such as Linux. I went to this summit without any expectations or plans, just said I ll play it by ear. This years UDS was held in Orlando, Florida before Orlando I was planning to stay in NYC for couple of days, therefor my whole plan was to get to NYC, then Orlando then head back home Smile I Heart NYC I spent couple of days here with my cousins and friends, as always NYC never fails to surprise me, and I ll always stop by even if it s only for couple of days Wink I wanted to meet up with couple of Debian people as well, but unfortunately my schedule was too tight so Caribe Royale, Orlando Please note that this whole trip was crazy (in a good way) starting from Sarajevo; on my flight from NYC to Orlando I see a guy that s sitting in front of me is wearing Canonical Landscape tshirt, I approach him and it turns he was Jamu Kakar working on Landscape. Since my luggage was late we had conversations from Debian over Ubuntu to Java to everything pretty much. While we were still at the airport, we bump into two more people going to UDS. As we got to hotel, same moment we walked out of cab there he was Jorge Castro, was he there just to smoke a cigarette or whatever doesn t even matter, what matters is that even before walking into hotel building I knew where reception, my tower and bar was, everything I needed to know at that moment High Five! Hotel where everything was held was Caribe Royale and even though I looked at their website I thought there was no way it s all going to be that nice, to my delight it was exact replica. Place is All-Suite Hotel and Convention Center , which meant that both accomodation, venue and everything else was in one place which is Yes 15 minutes later after I checked in, I was at a bar talking to Jim Baker about Java, Jython and Python, exact things I wanted to talk about at that given moment. What I said in these last couple of paragraphs sounds pretty cool eh? Well to me this whole UDS was just like this, everybody was so accessible and open for discussion, from Jono Bacon walking around offering candy to UDS reception staff Michelle, Marianna and others who were always there whether you had a complaint, problem or a praise. I really should stop mentioning names, because I ll forget somebody, and since it s just not fair because I had a feeling everybody was just there for you, whatever it was you needed. Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS-N) Ubuntu, Debian, DebConf, differences? Even though I said I ll play it by ear, from very beginning I thought I d be complete outsider, being part of Debian and all. Quite contrary, I was everything but outsider, and even more there was plenty of Debian people there, including current DPL Stefano Zacchiroli, Colin Watson, Riku Voipio just to name few. There was also a Debian Healt Check plenary. But overall, there are differences between DebConf and UDS. One of the things is that you can attend UDS remotely I m not sure how much is this doable on DebConf, but then again vast differences are that UDS is filled with BOF s (as we would call it in Debian) meetings of different teams, I attended a lot of these, and most of them end with some kind of conclusion. While each day there was (only?) an hour of lectures on various topics, which on DebConf we would characterize maybe even as speed talks . However, everything was high paced, and it all ended up on You think that s a problem? How do you think we could solve it? . I had a feeling even if I didn t say something out loud that someone would hear me and approach me to discuss it. Everything was straight forward, all in goal to resolve certain issue or a problem, which I absolutely loved. Clap Fun It wasn t all work, even though Orlando doesn t seem to be my kind of city from what I saw, it s way too magical for my taste Party There was a lot of places where you could go to enjoy yourself. Good people at Canonical even offered me free ticket to Disney World, there was a lot of destinations to visit and transpiration was also organized by Canonical. Unfortunately I missed the notorious UDS party on Friday because I had to head home early, but possibly I ll make it next year Razz Even though, hotel was that great and to be honest you didn t have to leave to look for party. My favorite was Universal City Walk, one night I decided to go to see Blue Man Group, best part of it was that I got pulled up on stage by one of the members and was part of one of the acts! ROTFL This is definitely something everyone should see during his life, one moment you re laughing like a lunatic, while other moment you re just having goose bumps from the performance itself. Amazing stuff. After all I wrote here along with the pictures, is there even anything else I need to say? Smile I believe that even if I didn t play it by ear, this whole trip would exceed all my expectations in every possible sense. Because that s really what happened, those three reasons I was going to UDS for? Far more happened than that. All I can say in the end is that I ll move closer to having a part in Ubuntu development, and yea, I ll try to be regular on UDS from now on Smile See you in Budapest? If all these photos weren t enough, you can find official group photo as well as personal set of photos can be found on: UDS-N photos by 2010 Sean Sosik-Hamor

21 October 2010

Matt Zimmerman: Looking forward to UDS for Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty)

For some time now, we ve been gearing up to begin development on Ubuntu 11.04. While some folks have been putting the finishing touches on the 10.10 release, and bootstrapping the infrastructure for 11.04, others have been meeting with Canonical stakeholders, coordinating community brainstorm sessions, and otherwise collecting information about what our priorities should be in the next cycle. We re using what we ve learned to plan the Ubuntu Developer Summit next week in Orlando, where we ll refine these ideas into a plan for the cycle. We re organizing UDS a little bit differently this time, with the main program divided into the following tracks to reflect the key considerations for Ubuntu today: You can click on the links above for a preview of the schedule for the week, with links to more detailed blueprints which will develop during and following UDS. If you ll be joining us in person, then I ll see you there! If not, be sure to review Laura s guide on how to participate remotely.

13 September 2010

Amaya Rodrigo: Of inner peace and struggle

[Nothing related to Debian here, move on if you don't care about my recurring obsession with the end of the world, Cassandra pains, or Big Phat Living Room Revolution yearnings].

Although I am still looking for a community of anarcho-primitivists that want to accept me joining their frugal living, and simply slip off the social construct, the system, the fucking face of earth, call it what you will, I could find some comfort in my favourite feminist blogger's take on the subject of my midlife crisis regarding ecology, capitalism, patriarchy, child bearing, overpopulation, meat consumption and all the rumination of consuming thoughts that (still) make my life miserable and have kept me running away from human contact for a year.

[Emphasis mine]

At what point does human culture depart from the Natural? With the invention of computers? TV? Cars? The cotton gin? Electricity? Taco stands? Gunpowder? The printing press? Written language? Shoes? Crop cultivation? Yurts? The wheel? Did humans become unnatural when the good old days of picturesque, endless agrarian toil, feudal oppression, unchecked disease, ignorance, and death from dysentery at 35 turned into the bad new days of urban post-industrial capitalism where a pound of fair-trade organic coffee costs $12.99 and your email inbox is full of spam?

ah. Everything humans do, or have ever done, is natural. We can t do anything else. The idea that modern culture is un-natural is nostalgic and inaccurate. Living off the grid in a yurt is good in some absolute sense, whereas driving an SUV from a suburban bungalow to the stripmall is bad ? Come on. This a romantic, but misguided view. The cosmic reaction to a 20 Ford Expedition is the same as to a sanctimonious Prius: bupkis. The universe doesn t give a fuck about you or your lifestyle choices. It doesn t give a fuck about the economy, oil spills, or civil unrest in Blargistan. It doesn t give a fuck about katydids. Eventually our whole planet will be erased from space, and the galaxy won t bat an eye. The inevitable extinction of our species (imminent, according to research here at Spinster Laboratories) via the exhaustion of available resources is as natural as a fresh-picked peach. As Andre 3000 and other dude philosophers have observed, nothing is forever.

Yes, yes, when people use the word natural what they really mean is free of chemical additives and maybe some of the assorted hippie concepts that go with that narrative. Barter economies, home furnishings made from bamboo, vegan cookbooks, living in the country. While I would argue that it is just as natural for people to put chemical additives in things as it is to not put chemical additives in things, I admit that it is appealing to fantasize that the source of human misery is an unnatural isolation from Nature, and that doing yoga on an organic rubber mat and drinking organic spinach smoothies will put me back in sync with the cosmos.

But alas, I m already in sync with the cosmos, and so are you. In other words, this is it. This is what we ve become, and this is what we get. Which is not to say that a person can t fantasize about a verdant paradise full of songbirds and polar bears and Bengal tigers, untouched by human influence. Only, that world isn t a world we could actually live in. The minute you add contented children, lazy from a carefree day at the swimming hole, eating ripe plums on the porch at sunset to that scenario, natural history changes, and it s right back to our scorched-earth dystopia. Our giant brains use up resources, it s as simple as that.

As long as we re still here, though, we might as well try to make the best of it.

Though the comfort is somewhat ephemeral, because deep inside, I know she's wrong, I know another way is feasible, but I have given up already, I have very well come to terms with extiction, I get an enormous pleasure from the thought of the very well deserved human mass suicide-by-cop^Wnature, and in fact, I trust and hope it will save me personally from facing the hard times ahead, as I am a damn coward, paralized by fear, hopeless about the flock ever getting it (is it so hard, really?), while doing as much as I can but completely overwhelmed by the need of changing a world everyone seems to like just as it is. I can certainly empathize with much more disturbed ways of airing similar anguish, among many other examples, such as The Unabomber, or The Weather Underground. I don't even want to go there as I know violence all too well and it is not fun to be on the receiving end. But I see the screaming desperation behind the motives of acts I am not at the liberty to discuss here. I wonder if consumption of resources in the form of books will numb the disorder or make it worse and what sort of medical arrangement the stablishment has for it. As you click away the previous links will mean nothing to you because a)it is Wikipedia after all, and b)you probably don't even understand what the problem of eating animal corpses is, humans are omnivores after all, and what is all this nonsense about dropping language altogether.

WTF, there was no comfort after all, and I am still a nutjob.

10 September 2010

Bernd Zeimetz: refactoring the guruplug server plus

As mentioned in my last blog post the GuruPlug Server Plus needs some major refactoring before it can be used. Not doing so will make you end up with a fried brick. There are various stories in the forums about cooling it properly, so you might want to have a look first instead of following mine blindly. And of course - whatever you do - it is your fault when you end up with a brick, not mine!.

Replacing the power supply As I would never ever trust the PSU (see my last blog post for the gory details) and some additional free space in the case is necessary, it is time to rip it out. As replacement I've ordered an external 5V/20W PSU. To connect it to the plug I've drilled a hole into the case and added a proper connector after soldering the original cable from the old PSU to it. Make sure to add some retainer to stop the cable from touching the CPU/memory heat sinks later. GuruPlug Server Plus PSU replacement GuruPlug Server Plus PSU cabling

Proper heatsinks One of the biggest problems in the original GuruPlug design is the heat spreading and collecting piece of alloy, which probably makes things even worse than better. After some discussion in #debian-devel the idea came up, that the board should be able to run fine without a heatsink - at least when idling. That is the case, indeed. So let's get rid of that piece of alloy, together with the holders and springs. Unfortunately heat things are necessary to handle some work load. To mount them make sure you get some good thermal glue as you don't want to insulate the chips from their heat sinks. I've used Arctic Silver II thermal glue - not cheap, but working well. Make sure to clean the heat sinks and chips properly with alcohol (2-Propanol is my favourite for that), so there is no fat and dust left. When you use the glue be careful to read the documentation properly and make sure you apply only as much as necessary - a thin coating is enough. After applying the glue and mounting the heat sink you need a clamp to put some pressure on it while the glue dries.

Heat sinks for the memory As there is a lot of space around the memory chips, I've got some 14x14x6mm heat sinks. Luckily there are only small parts on the other side of the board, so it was not hard to attach clamps to ensure the glue is able to dry properly. In case largish amounts of glue are squeezing out between heat sink and chip you probably want to start from scratch and clean everything (quickly!) with alcohol again. GuruPlug Server Plus memory heat sink clamping

Gigabit Ethernet PHY and CPU heatsinks PHY and CPU need proper heatsinks as they're becoming pretty hot under load. Due to space limitations I had to stick with a 17x17x20mm heat sink for the PHY. I've tried to get a largish heat sink with BGA mount for the CPU, but I was not able to find one in short time and without ordering 1000 of them. So I've got another one of the 17x17x20mm model for the CPU. Later I found two other heat sinks which might fit on the GuruPlug's CPU: Malico 19x19x25mm or a Advanced Thermal Solutions Maxigrip. But for now the smaller one will have to do the job, also I'm scared to removed it without destroying the CPU. To mount the heat sink on the PHY a bit of preparation is necessary to ensure that the glue doesn't result in short cuts on the IC's pins. The arctic silver documentation recommends to use silicone on the pins to stop the glue. As I neither had the proper silicone nor did I want to make such a mess, I've decided to get a sticky insulating tape and some tooth picks to mount it properly on the IC pins. Make sure to do a proper job here! With good clamps you can work on the PHY while the memory heat sink glue is still drying. GuruPlug Server Plus - preparing the PHY The other problem on this side of the board is that some higher parts are mounted on the lower side of the board, so make sure to get some foam to protect them from your clamps. Except of the size of the heat sinks there is no real difference to the small ones: add glue, mount the heat sink and fix it with a clamp. GuruPlug Server Plus - mounting the PHY heatsink Before the glue dries completely make sure you remove the duct tape strips again. Be careful not to wipe any excess glue onto the IC pins. If you manage to do so you might want to remove and clean everything properly. So just be careful and everything should be fine. GuruPlug Server Plus - mounting the PHY heatsink 3 Mounting the heat sink on the CPU is easier as the CPU is a nice BGA package. No need to protect pins an there are none. GuruPlug Server Plus - mounting the CPU heatsink

Finished As you're able to see on the photo I did not the very perfect job, but fine enough to work properly. GuruPlug Server Plus - heatsinks

First tests with the new heatsinks Some tests with stress and some heavy network traffic showed quickly that the heat sinks are working well! But not well enough to be able to mount them into the original closed case (how the hell was this supposed to work before!?). Without any air to breath the temperature on the CPU heat sink went up to 85 deg C quickly. So on the CPU's die are > 100 deg C, which is at least close to the max allowed temperature. GuruPlug Server Plus - still too hot

Adding air holes Obviously some additional air holes are necessary. After meeting my drill and cutter, the original case looks a bit like a piece of cheese now. GuruPlug Server Plus - case with air holes 1 GuruPlug Server Plus - case with air holes 2 Some more tests show that the temperature sticks around 76 deg C under heavy load now. That is still pretty hot, especially when the temperature in the room becomes hotter in summer. As I'm not going to run a lot of traffic trough it (my cable connection is limited to 20 MBit/s anyway), I guess it will work. Below is a graph I've recorded with my multimeter and qtdmm. It shows that the temperature rises to ~76 deg C and stays there. GuruPlug Server Plus - temperature curve Not sure if I could introuce some more load, the CPU had a load of 6 running stress. Network traffic was around 2x100MBit/s again. I could imagine with 2xGBit the CPU and PHY would become much hotter (no idea if it would be able to handle it at all, though). The PHY was usually a bit cooler than the CPU, so I didn't spend time to measure the temperature properly.

Conclusion My opinion is still the the original design of the plug is an insane QA and design failure. There is no way that it could ever work as shipped originally. If I'd have to design a new case for it, it should have a single insulated compartment for a PSU to ensure that no contact with high voltage is possible. The case around all other parts should be made of alloy with a lot of air holes. So the case could be used as heat sink (properly done, not with these insulating duct tape strips) and at the same time allow air circulation and a nice view on the LEDs on the board. Of course the case would be much more expensive than, but I'm sure it would work properly and would be worth the money. And if done peoperly, it would look much better than this blinking plastic thing. I could imagine it would sell well! So at the end I'm wondering what GlobalScale Technologies will do. I doubt it will be possible to create the 'professional upgrade kit' as they had announced before. Replacing all units is the only proper way. We'll see what happens. At least my GuruPlug is working well now and it will be used as replacement for my OpenWRT router soon. WiFi is not working, but that will be handled by my media center anyway. GuruPlug Server Plus - running plug

29 August 2010

Bernd Zeimetz: the guruplug server plus - major design and qa fail

As a lot of people are coming to my blog to read the installing instructions for Debian on the GuruPlug Server Plus, I shall not hide my opinion about it: It is a major design and QA fail. Don't waste your money on it.

The power supply Although I've ordered the Guruplug pretty early with the promise, that I'd have it in April, it arrived at the end of May due to QA issues with the power supply. While I appreciate that they didn't deliver broken power supplies, I would have preferred not to receive one which was "fixed" by somebody who uses the soldering iron like an axe. Here are some macro photos to show the gory details: GuruPlug Server Plus PSU 1 GuruPlug Server Plus PSU 2 GuruPlug Server Plus PSU 3

Software issues The version of UBoot which shipped with the device was only able to boot from NAND and network. Booting from USB failed and ext2 support was missing, too. Didn't have a look if the community came up with a fixed UBoot version yet, but in my opinion a piece of hardware for >100 EUR should not have such flaws.

Thermal issues Using the Guruplug with more than one 100 MBit/s connection is just not possible, as it would toast itself to death. For the details have a look at this discussion in the NewIT forum, it links to a lot of interesting photos and postings. This issue is a major design and QA failure. Even without knowing what the datasheets say, it is easy to imagine that a thin piece of alloy is not the proper way to cool a CPU and network chip. Especially not when it is mounted with cheapish pads instead of a proper paste. GuruPlug Server Plus Cooling 1 As it seems the plan was to send the heat to the shielding of the network/USB/eSata ports (the area is marked red as my first plan was to remove that part of the alloy and reuse the heat-spreader), a strong indication for that is that this is the only area with holes for air circulation. I could imagine that it was not possible to have these holes next to the PSU, which was mounted above the heat-spreader, to avoid electrical shocks. GuruPlug Server Plus Cooling 2 As there was no other opening for the heat to leave the case, even the microSD card became pretty hot - I've measured temperatures around 60 deg. C next to the card - while CPU and 100MB/s network were idling. The official information from GlobalScale Technologies is that only 10/100MBit/s should be used as workaround to avoid overheating until a "Professional Upgrade Kit" is released. As mentioned here the upgrade kit announcement was removed silently from GST's website. To be honest, this doesn't make me wonder. There is no way to fix the Guruplug with an external fan or any other external magic as the only way to fix it is to cool the CPU and networking chip properly. There are various workarounds for the cooling issues posted to the forums. I've decided to rip out the power supply and heat spreader out of the case and get a nice external PSU. The new connector is mounted, ready to supply the GuruPlug's board with power. GuruPlug Server Plus power connector Currently I'm waiting for the new heat sinks and glue to arrive. Then I'll give it a try to mount eveything in the small case again, probably with some additional air holes. As soon as I have a workign solution, I'll blog about it again.

Bernd Zeimetz: the guruplug server plug - major design and qa fail

As a lot of people are coming to my blog to read the installing instructions for Debian on the GuruPlug Server Plus, I shall not hide my opinion about the Guruplug Server Plus: It is a major design and QA fail. Don't waste your money on it.

The power supply Although I've ordered the Guruplug pretty early with the promise, that I'd have it in April, it arrived at the end of March due to QA issues with the power supply. While I appreciate that they didn't deliver broken power supplies, I would have preferred not to receive one which was "fixed" by somebody who uses the soldering iron like an axe. Here are some macro photos to show the gory details: GuruPlug Server Plus PSU 1 GuruPlug Server Plus PSU 2 GuruPlug Server Plus PSU 3

Software issues The version of UBoot which shipped with the device was only able to boot from NAND and network. Booting from USB failed and ext2 support was missing, too. Didn't have a look if the community came up with a fixed UBoot version yet, but in my opinion a piece of hardware for >100 EUR should not have such flaws.

Thermal issues Using the Guruplug with more than one 100 MBit/s connection is just not possible, as it would toast itself to death. For the details have a look at this discussion in the NewIT forum, it links to a lot of interesting photos and postings. This issue is a major design and QA failure. Even without knowing what the datasheets say, it is easy to imagine that a thin piece of alloy is not the proper way to cool a CPU and network chip. Especially not when it is mounted with cheapish pads instead of a proper paste. GuruPlug Server Plus Cooling 1 As it seems the plan was to send the heat to the shielding of the network/USB/eSata ports (the area is marked red as my first plan was to remove that part of the alloy and reuse the heat-spreader), a strong indication for that is that this is the only area with holes for air circulation. I could imagine that it was not possible to have these holes next to the PSU, which was mounted above the heat-spreader, to avoid electrical shocks. GuruPlug Server Plus Cooling 2 As there was no other opening for the heat to leave the case, even the microSD card became pretty hot - I've measured temperatures around 60 deg. C next to the card - while CPU and 100MB/s network were idling. The official information from GlobalScale Technologies is that only 10/100MBit/s should be used as workaround to avoid overheating until a "Professional Upgrade Kit" is released. As mentioned here the upgrade kit announcement was removed silently from GST's website. To be honest, this doesn't make me wonder. There is no way to fix the Guruplug with an external fan or any other external magic as the only way to fix it is to cool the CPU and networking chip properly. There are various workarounds for the cooling issues posted to the forums. I've decided to rip out the power supply and heat spreader out of the case and get a nice external PSU. The new connector is mounted, ready to supply the GuruPlug's board with power. GuruPlug Server Plus power connector Currently I'm waiting for the new heat sinks and glue to arrive. Then I'll give it a try to mount eveything in the small case again, probably with some additional air holes. As soon as I have a workign solution, I'll blog about it again.

27 August 2010

Russell Coker: Links August 2010

Urban Honking has an insightful article about the Arduino and suggests that it is one of the most important factors for the development of the computer industry in the near future [1]. It compares the Arduino to the Altair. Wired has an interesting article about a company that provides a satellite kit and a launch into low Earth orbit for $8000 [2]. Arduino in space? Linux Journal has an interesting article by David Rowe about the Mesh Potato which is a Wifi mesh router that also runs VOIP [3]. One particularly interesting aspect of this article is the explanation of the way they designed and tested it. Susan Shaw gave an informative TED talk about the toxic effects of the attempts to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico [4]. It seems that trying to disperse the oil just makes it worse, and the chemical companies are refusing to disclose the chemicals that are being used. The New York Times has an interesting article by David Leonhardt about the value of pre-school teachers [5]. Some research on the difference that good teachers can make in economic terms suggests that the make an economic difference to the children to the value of $320,000 per annum (IE a class of 16 children who were taught for a year would on average each receive a benefit of $20,000 over their lifetime). Also there are social benefits which aren t counted by that study. While I can t imagine pre-school teachers getting paid $320,000 any time soon, it does seem obvious that good teachers deserve significantly better pay. Of course one problem is how to determine which teachers are good, better test results are not a reliable indication. Paul Krugman describes America as being on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere due to the policies of saving money by cutting funding for schools, street-lights, and roads [6]. The Chive has an amusing post about how to quit a bad job [7]. It would be good if someone really did this, I m sure that there are enough creative people who don t like their job. Hell Pizza in New Zealand published a zombie themed choose your own adventure on Youtube [8]. Unfortunately the options to choose the next segment don t work on HTML5 with Chromium so if you don t have flash you miss out. has an informative essay about airline security written by a commercial pilot [9]. The anecdote about the pilot not being allowed to take the type of knife that is issued to first and business class passengers is rather amusing. has an interesting analysis of Wikileaks and why the Pentagon and Fox News hate it [10]. Fred is a very skillful writer, while he s not the first person to say some of these things he may have said it best. The Wikipedia page on Borosilicate glass (which is best known under the trademark Pyrex) is really interesting [11]. Borsilicate glass was formerly known as Duran and it s main characteristic that makes it suitable for lab use is resistance to Thermal Shock, but it s also harder and has a higher melting point. Apparently you can get Pyrex drinking glasses, I want some! Eben Moglen gave an interesting talk Freedom in the Cloud about the development of free servers to manage personal data and replace Facebook etc (among many other things) [12]. The Debian Wiki has an articla about designing such a system [13]. The APNIC published an interesting paper on IPv4 background radiation [14]. Apparently some /24 s receive so much random traffic (from broken applications and viruses) that they can t be delegated. IPv6 will solve this problem by making it infeasible to scan all IP addresses. Also it s interesting to note the excessive amounts of traffic to which is from applications too broken to correctly send data to which have been installed by sysadmins who are too incompetent to watch what is being sent out of their network.

9 August 2010

John Goerzen: Being A Butterfly

Well, I m back in Kansas after a bit over a week in New York for Debconf. I didn t have time to write much, so I ll probably be posting about it a few times. I already wrote about the trip to New York, and now will say just a bit about the time there and trip back home. I have to start with a quote from Jacob. We went on the Q train from Coney Island a few stops down to Brighton Beach. It s elevated, and provides an excellent view of the amusement park. Jacob s excited comment, face pressed to window, was: Wow! I see lots of everything! Which, come to think of it, sums up NYC itself pretty well. Speaking of faces pressed to windows: this was Jacob s default mode of operating in NYC. Get into any subway car, bus, whatever and he wants to stand on the seat nearest the window and look out it. It s a real problem if no such seats are available. More than once, though, we ll get on the subway and he ll run to the nearest window seat to claim it, no matter who will be his neighbors for the next few minutes. And after a few days of this, Oliver started picking up on it. Pretty soon both boys wanted to be pressed to the windows watching interesting things (to me, it was a dark tunnel with occasional lights, but interesting to them) go by. Which brings me to today. Today was Oliver s first time flying, and Jacob s second though he was an infant the first time he flew and doesn t remember it. Jacob has been perhaps cautiously optimistic about flying. The idea of it was exciting, but then again it s something completely new, which he doesn t care for so much. So we had no idea what to expect. What was got was excitement. And lots of it. From the La Guardia terminal, Dad, is this our plane? No, not that one. Well, is THIS our plane? No, not that one either. Well, is *THIS* our plane? At this point, a parent has to confront the question: which is worse, causing serious disappointment to a 3-year-old and possibly inviting a meltdown in the middle of the D concourse, or a bit of harmless encouragement that might not be 100% literally true? Uhmm . that might be it (Ah, so I went for the literally true but still exciting route ) YAY!! *jumping and clapping* Terah reminds me at this point of our security adventure. I, wearing socks, carried Oliver (1 year old) through the security checkpoint at La Guardia. But oh! I failed to remove his shoes (not really shoes). TSA made me go back through, put them in the bowl, and run them through the scanner. A nearby pilot, getting screened, noticed this and made this ironic comment well within TSA earshot: Look at his face! He s gonna get us all! Good thing you re checking his shoes! Terah and the pilot both just about bust up laughing. Meanwhile, I m carrying Oliver through, and the agent that made me take off his shoes had this look of I m sorry, I know this is stupid, but I have to. (For an excellent pilot s rant about TSA, read this). Anyhow, we got on the plane, and of course Jacob nabbed the window seat. IMG_4458.JPG There was plenty interesting to see. At each step of the way, I told him what was going to happen next, so there wouldn t be any surprises. I told him once we got in the air, and got a breathy Woooooooow .. I told him, Jacob, we are flying! And his reply has to be his best quote of the week:
Dad, I don t know that I ve ever been a butterfly before!
I pointed out that we were above the clouds, which was also exciting. About every 5 minutes, he d poke me, and say, Dad, look out the window. Look down. WE ARE UP IN THE SKY! Meanwhile, Oliver slept. IMG_4461.JPG On the second flight, Jacob slept (and was in a very foul mood when he woke up on the ground) while Oliver tried his best to squirm out of the seat and onto the ground. Now, to wind up this post, I would like to leave you with some statistics and photos comparing my home with New York.
Item NYC Marion County, KS
Land Area 469 sq mi 954 sq mi
Population 8,391,881 12,952 (6871 excluding the 3 largest towns quite some distance away)
Population Density 27,532/sq mi 14/sq mi (7 if excluding large towns)
I think of this as a wonderful difference! I ve said before how much fun it is to spend some time in NYC, where we can just walk to a fruit stand, any number of grocery stores, restaurants, etc. And finally, I leave you with two street scenes. The first is from our hotel s front door. IMG_4352.JPG That s our fruit guy there, and the bagel and roll place is across the street by the RadioShack. Now, the street view from our front door after we got home: IMG_4466.JPG OK, so that s sort of misleading. You can t actually see the street scene because it s on the other side of the hill. That s just our driveway to get to the street. (Not that the street looks much different. It has the weeds growing on the sides instead of in the middle, as one notable difference.) We loved New York and I m certain we ll go back again. It s also nice to be home and enjoy the peace of the countryside. Thanks to Debconf for a wonderful conference a topic I ll have more to say about in the coming days.

29 May 2010

Bernd Zeimetz: installing debian on the guruplug server plus

Yesterday finally my GuruPlug Server Plus arrived. Took longer than expected, but as it seems Globalscale had some issues with the power supplies and they were replaced before shipping the GuruPlugs. GuruPlug Server Plus and JTAG Board

The GuruPlug Basically the GuruPlugs are an enhanced version of the well known SheevaPlugs, the biggest difference is probably the need for an external JTAG/UART<>RS232 board to access the serial console. Good thing is that the board comes with a normal JTAG connector and an additional RS232 connector and 2.5V DC power outlet, so it will be useful for other devices, too. Globalscale could have chosen different connectors with less wiggly cables, though. As I was not able to find a useful howto about installing Debian on the Guruplug, I've written down what I did to install Debian unstable on a micro SD card using the Debian installer for the GuruPlug. I did not have a look who modified the Debian installer to work on the plug, but thanks for that! The instructions below are based on Martin Michlmayer's awesome SheevaPlug documentation, the hints from and various forum posts in the plugforum.

Preparations Please note that I'm not resposible for whatever you're doing with your plug. If you follow this tutorial and end up with a brick, it is your fault, not mine. To install the GuruPlug you need the JTAG Board. Connect the UART port to the GuruPlug and the JTAG board to your computer, it should show up as FTDI (thanks for using good chips!) USB<>Serial converter. Serial port settings are 115200, 8-N-1, no hw/sw flow control. The other thing you should prepare is a working tftpd, I'm using aftpd.
apt-get install aftpd
Recent versions share files from /srv/tftp/, in case you're running Lenny /var/lib/tftpboot/ should be the place to drop your files. When everything is connected properly the boot process should show up in minicom, make sure to press some key to enter uBoot. The first thing you should do is to save the original uBoot environment in case you want to restore the factory settings later. Run
and save the output somewhere.

Upgrading uBoot Unfortunately the uBoot version on the GuruPlug is pretty old and seems to have some issues in booting from USB devices, so the first thing you should do is to upgrade it. You might want to investigate if there is even a better, more recent uBoot version available somewhere, or build one on your own, but I didn't bother and took the uBoot.guruplug.bin from here. The main issue with that is that booting from USB still seems to be buggy (even for FAT partitions) and that ext2load is still not supported. Otherwise it works well :-). I'm mainly following Martin Michlmayer's tutorial again. Download the uBoot.guruplug.bin and drop it into the tftpd directory. Make sure you always set the plug's IP address (ipaddr) and your server's IP address (serverip) properly. I'll use for the plug and for the server in all examples, make sure to change that for your own needs. Stop if something goes wrong, especially when the tftp download failed.
setenv ipaddr
setenv serverip
tftp 0x6400000 uBoot.guruplug.bin
nand erase 0x00000000 0x0100000
nand write 0x6400000 0x0000000 0x80000
Enter uBoot again after the reset.

Preparing the installer Download uImage and uInitrd to your tftpd directory. Although I've heard that setting mainlineLinux/arcNumber in the uBoot environment is not necessary anymore for very recent kernel, lets set them to make sure the Debian kernel works:
setenv mainlineLinux yes
setenv arcNumber 2097
Again, enter uBoot after the reset.

Running the installer Run the following in the uBoot console:
setenv ipaddr
setenv serverip
tftpboot 0x01100000 uInitrd
tftpboot 0x00800000 uImage
setenv bootargs console=ttyS0,115200n8 base-installer/initramfs-tools/driver-policy=most
bootm 0x00800000 0x01100000
You should see the installer starting now. You might want to follow the following hints:
  • Before configuring the network, go back and set the debconf priority to low, Then continue. While chosing the Debian mirror, chose sid as the Debian version to install. If you don't have sid as choice, use a different mirror. The kernel in testing does not boot on the GuruPlug, you need 2.6.32-13 from sid.
  • You might want to load the 'network console' installer component and continue via ssh. Makes things fater and colourful.
  • Suggested partitioning: I've installed Debian to an 8GB micro SDcard. The SDcard reader is connected via USB and shows up as /dev/sdb (/dev/sda should be the internal NAND and not shown by the installer). I've used 150MB ext2 for /boot and the rest of the space for /, using ext4. You might want to use the noatime option on both filesystems to avoid unnecessary write access to the SDcard. You might choose to add a swap partition, but SDcards are so slow, so I've skipped that.
When you continue the installation, you will hit the following problem:
  • The installer might fail on 'Make the system bootable' (not sure if it does for you, it did so with the kernel from testing).
  • The uBoot is not able to boot from your /boot anyway. USB support is buggy and ext2load missing.
We'll work around these issues by writing the kernel and initrd into the plug's NAND. To do so, enter a shell in the installer and chroot into the install target. We'll then create the necessary uImage.bin and uInitrd and scp them to our tftpd directory:
chroot /target /bin/bash
cd /boot
mkimage -n vmlinuz -A arm -O linux -T kernel -C none -a 0x00008000 -e 0x00008000 -d /boot/vmlinuz uImage.bin
mkimage -n 'vmlinuz initrd' -A arm -O linux -T ramdisk -C gzip -d /boot/initrd.img uInitrd
scp uI* root@
Now leave the shell, finish the installation and reboot, enter uBoot again.

Make the plug bootable To write kernel and initrd to the NAND memory, we have to transfer it via tftp first, then erase the NAND area we want to write to and then write it to the NAND. The values I've chosen here should be fine for the current Debian kernel, but you might need to change the necessary size for the initrd. To do so have a look at the output while transferring the initrd - the transferred bytes are displayed. They have to fit into the amount of bytes you write (the last option to nand write.e).
setenv ipaddr
setenv serverip
tftp 0x6400000 uImage.bin
nand erase 0x100000 0x400000
nand write.e 0x6400000 0x100000 0x400000
tftp 0x6400000 uInitrd
nand erase 0x500000 0x1fb00000
nand write.e 0x6400000 0x500000 0x600000
Now we need to set the necessary boot options. Make sure to change the root device if you've chosen a different layout from that I've suggested above, or if you're not using a SDcard.
setenv bootargs_debian 'console=ttyS0,115200 root=/dev/sdb2'
setenv bootcmd_nand 'nand start; nand read.e 0x00800000 0x100000 0x400000; nand read.e 0x01100000 0x500000 0x600000'
setenv bootcmd 'setenv bootargs $(bootargs_debian); run bootcmd_nand; bootm 0x00800000 0x01100000'
run bootcmd

Finish Your GuruPlug should boot your new Debian installation now. Have fun! I'll try to keep the howto updated for changes in uBoot and the installer, but I might not have the time to so quickly. Patches and comments are welcome!.
root@guruplug:~# uname -a
Linux guruplug 2.6.32-5-kirkwood #1 Fri May 21 05:44:29 UTC 2010 armv5tel GNU/Linux
root@guruplug:~# cat /proc/cpuinfo 
Processor   : Feroceon 88FR131 rev 1 (v5l)
BogoMIPS    : 1192.75
Features    : swp half thumb fastmult edsp 
CPU implementer : 0x56
CPU architecture: 5TE
CPU variant : 0x2
CPU part    : 0x131
CPU revision    : 1
Hardware    : Marvell GuruPlug Reference Board
Revision    : 0000
Serial      : 0000000000000000

24 March 2010

Theppitak Karoonboonyanan: The Mini-DebCamp in Khon Kaen

So, Thailand Mini-DebCamp 2010 in Khon Kaen has already ended. It's another memorable event I've joined, and especially for this one, been in the organizing team. We owed many people for its success. I'd like to thank our guest DDs for their talks, many of which are improvised. Special thanks to Paul Wise and Yakiharu Yabuki for preparing the talks on Debian Social Contract and Debian packaging in one night, so our audiences can prepare themselves for the Bug Squashing Party in the next 3 consecutive days. Thanks Paul Wise, Andrew Lee, Yakiharu Yabuki, Daiki Ueno, Christian Perrier and our local participants for their efforts in tackling more than 50 bugs during the BSP, 30 of which have been closed and 14 with proposed patches. Thanks Christian Perrier for several talks in the last two days. We also had Andrew Lee's talk on Debian EzGo project, along with talks from our local distro developers (Linux SIS, Linux TLE) on what are being worked on and what can be pushed into Debian. And Neutron Soutmun had presented some future plan on the RahuNAS, a captive portal software based on Debian. A special agenda had been arranged to improve Debian mirroring in Thailand. Chatchai Jantaraprim, the maintainer, had shared us the backgrounds and motivations behind the official mirror setup for Thailand. Andrew Lee, the maintainer, had introduced us to the Debian mirroring infrastructure, and encouraged the local mirror Debian mirror maintainers to do it Debian way. We had exchanged experiences and problems found among the current mirror sites, which can be much useful for their improvements, as well as cooperation in the future. Christian Perrier had also introduced us to the Debian translation workflow and how to coordinate translation via mailing list. This can be useful in the future for Thai if we can form a team, rather than a single-handed translation as present. Christian's talk on Debian contribution paths, along with their fresh hands-on experience in the BSP, had indeed motivated many local people to join Debian. I've been told by some people that they wanted to actually join Debian after this event, after just having a wish to do so for a long time. And Christian's yet another talk on key signing, with live demonstration, was really helpful for Thai audiences, as few of us were familiar with the concept and practice. Yes, taking care of PGP key does require special cares! Night chats and parties were also cool. We enjoyed the drinks (especially, Debian wine!), snacks, and chats together, and exchanged many stories. For me personally, it made me feel Debian as a live community, with people living in it. For the record, we even had a real bug squashing party, as fried bugs are among well-known Esaan dishes. And we had immediately got new voluntary vegetarians because of it! Hee hee.. Hello Christian, I witnessed it. ;-) And thumbs up to Yabuki for his bravery! Yes, it's a wonderful event for me indeed. Thanks Khon Kaen University (Kitt Tientanopajai et. al.) for hosting it. Thanks NECTEC Information and Mobile Applications Program and Science Park KKU for the financial support. Thanks NECTEC people for taking care of foreign participants in traveling between Bangkok and Khon Kaen. And thanks all participants for their contributions to make this event a great one! Picture credits: Supphachoke Suntiwichaya, DebConf Gallery

22 March 2010

Christian Perrier: Amazing week in Khon Kaen for Thailand MiniDebconf

I'm now on my way back from The first miniDebCamp and miniDebconf that happened from March 13th to March 19th in Khon Kaen, Thailand. This even was organized locally by a team of very motivated Thai Debian enthusiasts and contributors, such as Theppitak Karoonboonyanan (*the* Thai DD), Neutron Soutmun, Kitt Tientanopajai, and all those whose name I'm not remembering as of now (I hope they won't mind). The even had kinda the structure of DebConfs, with a few days of "Debcamp" to begin. See the full schedule. We were hosted in Khon Kaen University (KKU), one one the most famous universities in Thailand, a small "town in town" in a city with a few hundred thousand inhabitants (dunno exactly). Lodging was done in a hotel located inside the university. Interestingly, the hotel was also hosting youg students participating to "Summer Camps" (apparently training systems to get good school results) gving to all this a very young atmosphere. The hacking lab and talks location was a 30-seat room in the university library, and meals were brought in there very efficiently, with the very specific way that Thai people have to transport each and every kind of meal (in small plastic bags closed by rubber). I arrived only in the 3rd day because I had commitments at home that made it impossible to me to come for the first day. During these days, people have been very busy hacking and participating to the Bug Squashing Party. During that BSP, about 50 bugs have been touched, without about 15 or so closed. Other non Thai attendees were Andrew Lee from TW, Paul Wise from AU, Daiki Ueno and Yukiharu Yabuki from JP. Organizers were expecting some attendees from neighbouring countries such as Laos, Vietnam or Cambodia. Unfortunately, none of them could come, including Anousak Soupavanh, leader of Lao free software localization efforts, who I was very impatient to meet. Transport difficulties, or visa problems, do not make things easy in that part of the world. On Wednesday we had a "DayTrip" as it is common for such event. We went abotu 50 km away from Khon Kaen, to visit a nice place, close to a dam lake, and climbed a hill surrounded by a big temple and a giant Buddha statue. Then we had a wonderful lunch in a fish restaurant in the very specific Thai way to share stuff: everything is on the table and you pick your food here and there, at you rconvenience. Of course, local advice before trying apparently innocent food is always worth it because the fire might be hidden anywhere (for instance in that soja plate which I tried and that set my mouth as a burning hell for 20 minutes). The journey ended by a visit of a great temple in Khon Kaen and, very noticeably by a dinner in a very popular barbecue restaurant in "all you can eat" style for...100Bath (so, about 2.5 euros). Maybe only vegetarian people had more trouble enjoying the meal as it was mostly made of various meat (and sea food). The talk days were very intense, at least in my opinion. Probably because I ended up giving four talks, some of them completely improvised (about IP-over-DNS, which I was using at the hotel and about which many wanted to learn a little bit more, and GPG keysigning processes). It turned out that the GPG talk was well received and, discussing with Paul later on, we agreed that such a talk, mostly meant to explain the DOs and DON'Ts For good GPG keys signing, could be a good idea even for Debconfs. There were also a few talks about local initiatives and efforts to develop (and not only promote) free software. We have no recordings of these talks as we were infortunately missing some video recording installation (maybe next time, Thep) just like the miniConf that was happening in Panama at about the same time was having. Due to local regulation on the university network, we had some limitations with Internet access (some firewalling that for instance was preventing SIP to work properly, which made a video-conference with a japanese user group fail, unfurtunately). The event ended in a round table discussion about ideas to organize something bigger in the future. The local community in Thailand has apparently the energy, maybe ressources and local support to be able to organize a slightly bigger event as first try (somethign like an Asian DebConf or something similar, targeting mostly Asian contributors and about 50-100 people. Thailand seems to be a good target to host such event, with many things being relatively inexpensive (and not only beer!). And they even think about possibly hosting a Debconf at some time in the future (actually, Martin Krafft should also be credited for bringing this idea). That isn't as crazy as it seems and, provided that potential organizers start involving themselves in the current Debconfs, everything seems to be possible. After all, if we look back to 2005, only one person (hello, Safir) was seriously thinking that Debconf could really happen in Bosnia and Herzegovina, right? After this week (followed by 2.5 days of sightseeing in Bangkok for me, plus a small meeting today with local Thai Linux corporate users and IT company owners), I feel like the mood in Asia about Debian development is high and full of potential. The miniconf last year in Taiwan was already a good success, by establishing a good connection between people.....we need to keep that alive and, hopefully, there will be other miniconfs in this part of the world. And, well, if I can be there, I'll be there.

5 February 2010

Cyril Brulebois: G-I, part 3

Last night was the third one spent on playing around with X in a d-i environment. Making sure X actually works So far, running X was nice already, but is it really possible to run some applications inside? Bad news is that many trivial applications (xeyes, xclock, ) pull more dependencies than previously packaged. Finally, xev was chosen, and it indeed works fine (provided one makes sure it gets the focus). X was crashing when the (only last) client was exiting, and that wasn t normal. Thankfully the bug was reproducible outside d-i and Julien sent a patch a few minutes later. In the meanwhile, using -noreset did the trick to keep X running. Another way to run X applications there, is to point the host environment to the guest environment using DISPLAY=$GUEST:0 xterm. With VirtualBox, I followed those steps: Moving forward: cairo, pango, gtk The next step was to rework some udebs. Legend: Current situation, keeping only the relationships between udebs of interest: I took care of gtk+2.0 while Julien hacked pango1.0 and cairo. Some more libraries were needed, but being X libraries, tweaking the packaging was as trivial as for the first X libraries, and it only took a couple of minutes: libxcomposite, libxdamage, and libxinerama. Once those added to localudebs/ and to pkg-lists/local, and once the image rebuilt, I prepared a tiny Hello world -style application: Pango wasn t quite happy at first (message wrapped):
(hello:1991): Pango-WARNING **: failed to choose a font, expect
              ugly output. engine-type='PangoRenderFc', script='latin'
Indeed, since no fonts were included, there was a tiny issue. No big deal, adding ttf-dejavu-udeb did the trick. I wanted to play around with a non-Latin language, so I asked for an example (thanks, Theppitak!), and once ttf-thai-tlwg-udeb added as well, one gets: Of course, there are many more features to test, but that sounds like we re going in the right direction (and this is not a joke about RTL). Next step Have a look at the green boxes, which may require to have a closer look at g-i s integration within d-i (it might be needed to see how it s supposed to be started, that might help testing the tweaked packages).

23 January 2010

Debian News: Brief updates: OOo 3.2.0, java networking, oldstable support and mini-DebCamp in Thailand

22 January 2010

Theppitak Karoonboonyanan: Thailand Mini-DebCamp 2010

Hello, Planet Debian. I'm pleased to have announced about the first Debian event in Thailand: Thailand MiniDebCamp 2010. This is a follow-up to Taiwan MiniDebConf 2009 in last September in Taipei. At the end of that event, we discussed about having a mini-DebCamp in Thailand during the New Year holidays. However, with many factors, it has been moved to this March. And the date has been settled on 13-19 March. The place will be Khon Kaen University (KKU) in Khon Kaen, a north-eastern province of Thailand (close to Lao, if you look for it in a map). In this event, we plan to arrange a Bug Squad Party for the Squeeze release, and some meetings between DDs and local people, to encourage more Debian activities in Thailand and nearby countries. Thailand has started its GNU/Linux development and usage since no later than 1997. Currently, we have projects like Thai Linux Working Group for upstream Thai resource developments; OpenTLE.Org and for local distros (Ubuntu-based); and some communities like ubuntuclub, debianclub, and more others for other distros. The user base is slowly growing, while developer base is yet growing more slowly. We have had domestic events occasionally. But certainly, an international one like this would effectively encourage more prospecters, as well as create closer cooperations with the global projects. We also hope this event to be a meeting point for developers from nearby regions. And internationalization, among other issues, can be discussed and worked out. So, please be invited to join and discuss. Please make sure to add your name to the Wiki page so we can prepare things for you, including accommodation. And feel free to propose your agenda in BarCamp style. It will be summarized some time before the event date. We also have a mailing list for updates and discussions.

8 January 2010

Theppitak Karoonboonyanan: My Recent Deb Migrations Finished

I've just finished migrations on Debian packages under my maintenance: The last upload was done on the New Year (2010-01-01). Just have time to blog about it.

6 December 2009

Martin F. Krafft: Pilsner Urquell

I accompanied Penny to Prague, from where she embarked into the mountains today for a week-long Moodle developer meeting. We froliced in the city a bit, tried to avoid the hordes of anonymous tourists that flooded the city, steered clear of the Christmas kitsch that was all over, sampled Czech food wherever we could, and enjoyed the local beer. On Friday, Petr Baudis took us out to The Pub, an ingenious concept by the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell: every table has taps from where one can draw beers without waiting or having to get up, guests accumulate a tab measured in litres, and a huge screen shows which The Pub instance has the best beer throughput. Add to that an automated ordering system for salty snacks, and the brewery ensures a ready beer flow with need for no more than two staff members. Penny and I had already decided that Pilsner Urquell was our favourite Czech beer, mostly due to its bitterness. We also sampled the local Staropramen, and the well-known Budvar, and found our preference reinstated. At street prices of 50 CZK per half-litre of Pilsner, it was thus a punch in the face when the bartender at the airport bar asked for 145 CZK for the carelessly tapped beer, offering crap music and uncomfortable seating for the price. I refused the beer, because I prefered to keep only the good memories of the brew. NP: OSI: Blood

21 October 2009

MJ Ray: Royal Mail Rub Our Noses in it

So after Royal Mail shut down useful community websites causing MP comments on the idiocy of Royal Mail, I was rather surprised to get this little thing in the post today: postcode That s a postmark advert for Celebrating 50 years of POSTCODES 1959-2009 . So this is what Royal Mail does with some of the money it makes from its claimed monopoly on postcode databases: it spends it on ink to celebrate postcodes in the bit where they can t sell adverts. After the postcode-takedown, I suggested deleting postcodes from all our co-op s websites. Instead, another member has persuaded me to contribute to something like free the postcode, which I first saw on CycleStreets blog. As well as slapping its customers, Royal Mail is also currently taking on its workers who are campaigning for sustainable jobs and against the recent increase in bullying and harassment cases. I already send most of my letters, invoices and so on electronically since our three nearest post offices closed last year. I ve noticed Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op switching to DPD and Terry Lane suggesting more online use. Are those good approaches? How are you adapting to the postal delays? Have you put your postcode into free the postcode or a similar site?