Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The current state of Free / Open Mobile systems

Having had a N900 , I was very much excited about Free / Open mobile systems.

So the choices we have are :

Sorted by Availablity

Firefox OS phones like ZTE Open, Alcatel fire etc are available for world wide shipping .  Jolla with sailfish os  is also currently available for europe and has announced new asian countries in line up. Maemo devices are out of production and are only found in used conditions in ebay.

Sorted by Free or openness
Getting the GSM drivers is tricky and Openmoko came a bit close . The same devices also run debian which is open to the core. While maemo had lot of propreitary components it still gives a root shell and you can apt-get install whatever you want . Just like maemo even sailfish you can get a root shell and use zypper to install applications but its not as easy as maemo. Firefox os just runs on top of android kernel , everything on the top is all accessible via open web api's . You can't run a native linux shell on firefox os.

Sorted by user base
ZTE open was dirt cheap , hence it sold like hot cakes. Even N900 due to Nokia's reputation had sold well . Jolla is catching up but I am not sure of the numbers if it had exceeded N900 sales .I am guessing it didn't . N9 definitely didn't sell well because of the 'doomed platform' news.  Still in places like finland it did make some good news. Freerunner and other hardware hobby project devices are always expensive compared to normal devices in market hence didnt sell well but are the favourite devices of hackers.

Sorted by price
ZTE open is the cheapest device , while you can still buy the good old maemo devices N9 and N900 at ebay . Their prices and availability might change. Geeksphone revolution dual boots android and firefox os while jolla has awesome touch interface and can run android applications.

 Neo900 continues in the spirit of N900 and is a hobby hardware project which every geek worth his salt must support !

Friday, July 19, 2013

Buggy broadcom driver

YES , I hate them for the entire nuisance in wireless linux . They did announce that in 2010 they would be releasing open source drivers .

The situation still is worse , I am using the package broadcom-sta-dkms  which was buggy for my kernel version 3.9.0-2 which I accept is the version from Kanotix a distribution based on wheezy . I found out that the package in unstable has fixed the issue . Well just installed it and all my wireless issues are gone .


Friday, April 19, 2013

Trying Open suse 12.3

undoubtedly its the Klyde availablity which brought me back to OpenSuse after quite a long time and I am impressed :)

Installer of Open Suse is just amazing . The GUI tools are clear cut professional and they work just right .

And No there hasn't been a single crash . Its that stable! The biggest plus point is how Opensuse integrated browser with  Package installer Yast . There is lot of click and install available from Opensuse wiki . I did install ATI propreitary drivers and other stuff all with simple clicks .

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lennovo thinkpad Edge E530 simply rocks on LMDE !

I have never seen such a seamless installation though I faced minor glitches with a package called live-installer-slideshow which I understand is the reason why installation hangs on LMDE march 2013 cinnamon edition. I found the solution thanks to mint forums  So I removed the package and continued with the installation. I came back and posted the updated solution at the forums from where I got the idea. Loved the fact that I gave back directly to the community which helped me solve the issue.

I did start with the partitioning tool in windows 7 from where I shrunk the main windows partition. So it created a non partitioned space. So while installing LMDE I just gave the space as root and swap and installed. Everything went seamlessly.

I was presented with the beautiful cinnamon desktop . I did try changing the theme to see how it is , just amazing is all I could say and love the mint and debian team for their efforts in bringing such a nice distro.
So I need not even make a check list

  1. Sound - works
  2. Webcam - Works
  3. Wireless - Works 
Thats all I care as of now, Thank you again lennovo, debian and mint!  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Debian sid - intel + ati graphic driver issue

Having both intel and ATI hybrid graphics is a pain and you definitely need some tool to switch between the graphic cards . One thing which perfectly works is the ATI propreitary driver catalyst . I dont want to get into that mess hence started looking at setting up only the intel driver .

Well I end up with a keyboard + mouse freeze everytime I start the X server .  I was not sure what was causing the issue . During the freeze there is just a dark blank screen and I am left wondering if the X has started or not . The only proof that it had actually started are clean logs with no errors and the moment I switch the manual power butt I see X windows and mouse .

I tried ATI free drivers which didnot work and I was hell bent on getting the intel ones to work . I used xserver-xorg-video-intel  .

While I was searching for solutions I found something at debian-user list on running udevadm trigger and keeping it on a script didnt do much good for me .

Then I was searching for the card itself which gave me some results for the query "i915 input devices debian"
I found a solution in the forums that I need to reinstall the glx drivers which have some propreitary ATI components. I do remember that when I started with the debian machine I was on "free" , later had to add non-free for the drivers . So definitely some packages do need reconfiguration .

#apt-get install --reinstall xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-core xserver-xorg-video-intel libgl1-mesa-glx libgl1-mesa-dri 
#dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

Well it worked but how much of dependence is there on ATI driver ? I am not sure of that , sometimes randomly the ATI GPU turns on . Hopefully I can shut this GPU down permanently . And yes there is no BIOS switch for that . 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

BMSITGLUG - An impromptu session on OSM

It was pravi who made me stay in bangalore which actually was a stopover en route to Hyderabad from FOSS Meet @ NITC . And since we caught up with Raghavendra who luckily teaches at BMSIT and leads the GLUG - GNU/Linux user group over there on the earlier night I planned a openstreetmap session .

Raghavendra was kind enough to accommodate me in the afternoon time of schedule with a very good number of students who actually came from  diverse backgrounds with respect to technology  .

After my introduction to some core members , we walked over to the seminar hall which was awesome and it was my big mistake not to carry a HDMI -> VGA converter . My classic excuse would be " HDMI is the latest tech , arent you catching up with it ? " or another one would be " Even RaspberryPie would be coming with a HDMI but not a VGA" !

So I had to use another volunteers laptop for projector and the network was an issue , so while the volunteers and their teacher fixed the issues I wanted everyone to introduce themselves , year and branch  their love of technology . I did learn of some cool technologies and that made me happy as a speaker . I felt that speaking to a crowd who are more educated or who know more than you / know something else better than you gives a satisfaction .Some were also interested on "web" !

As the inroducutions were going on , we were joined by a senior from final semester CS who said "yes" and was quite vocal while taking a random survey on what "free software" , made her introduce free software to the crowd .  I had to later explain what
"free beer" is , with the redhat & CentOS example .

Another big blooper of mine was the absence of slides . I forgot to make them assuming that I could use my old slides while showing some URL's then and there . In this case we had a partial internet which was powere by raghavendra first and later by another students 2G/3G connections .

For the question of why not google maps , I had to tell about FUP - Fair Usage Policy and later explain how freedom on data can make you show cool stuff like show emphasis on transport routes ,Cycle routes etc .

I also explained each and every tool of OSM but unfortunately I didnt make a slide for each tool and written a line on it , I just dumped all the tools in 2 slides and was done with it .

Editing : I told about upcoming editor iD , but showed JOSM . I made few students draw lines , boxes and tag them appropriately . Also since we were running out of time I called all of them forward and then showed the mapnik instance running on my laptop and how panning heavily requested the tile numbers .

On a question on tile numbers I showed what X and Y means . Later on a question on database postgres . I panned heavily and showed via iotop the vanishing process of postgres "select" query . I had to pan very heavily which made me smile inside that my laptops fast enough :D

Later on an insistence to see the DB . We made some sample queries and I showed them how to simply query for amenities etc . Later I showed them a visualisation made ot of cuisine . There was alsoa  question on android app for OSM . I was like " Yeah its obvious , there are many" , little did I realise that this is a new project for them . Also I was hesitant enough to show bangalore :D

Overall we had to leave and the left over CS guys were whom I had a small chat on CS in BMSIT and how things could improve and asked them to encourage open access of internet by creating a network and it could be jointly paid by everyone . I also showed them the root shell on my N900 .

It was a pleasant experience to give a session at BMSIT GLUG , would love to visit again !

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ubuntu release event + FOSS team hangout

It was as the title says both ubuntu 12.04 release and a hangout of old and new buddies revolving around various FOSS circles :)

Me and logic went to get the cake which me and praveen illa ordered yesterday at Karachi bakery . The pangolin on the cake attracted two girls who were like curious to know about the animal , we explained them how free software projects like ubuntu , mozilla and others use the names of animals which need conservation or more love . The bakery was also very proud of the cake which was not given to us until it was photographed .

Back in the venue met ritesh for the 3rd time though it was like a meeting for the first time !! I spent some time telling people on phone how the building is infront of a blue glassed white building of Shadan womens college .  I was very happy that Anivar was able to make time to attend the event despite his hectic schedule .  Krish and Atul were very surprised to see the numbers which were not there in our earlier meets .
Ritesh started his pitch on Ubuntu explaining why use linux, ubuntu etc and we couldn't get the projection in place . The venue owner Kashyap tried a lot getting the projection fixed with his laptop, praveen illas laptop , I made them settle for logics laptop which also had some graphic driver issue but was "ok" for presentation .
Atul and krish were in other room as there wasn't enough place to move . Atul took praveen illa's laptop to run the installation script  . Anivar joined us at that time and they had a  hell lot of catching up to do :)
  In the lecture hall we decided to go on with Cake cutting ceremony aka ubuntu release , but before the cake people were asked to introduce themselves as is the tradition of lot of our user group meets .  After that we had a photo session and the smallest ubuntu user in our group  of 14 years  was the chief guest and he cut the cake .

Icy orangy the taste really felt good as I was sick of eating the default chocolate/vanilla flavoured cakes . lol atul mailed me asking for the recipe as it raised some curiosity . Yeah asking something which the propreitary secret of Karachi bakery is pointless !!

Praveen Illa talked about issues with localisation and the status of projects like LXDE, Gnome,XFCE etc . Anivar did ask about the 100 % status of gnome telugu translations and said that it was good . Me and praveen later had a lil chat on why it was projected so as to show 100 % always despite the fact that there are major issues with translation quality and how important a glossary is .

 Vineel  talked about the various mozilla projects and how we could contribute to the project . I seriously wish he had used the projector atleast to use the project pages  or  atleast used the white board to write the names of the projects .

Atul wanted to talk before as there are two people one from bangalore who just came to attend the openstack talk . He talked about OpenStack and how a  private cloud works and he had some pretty neat diagrams on the functioning of the architecture . Some of my questions also drew paralell comparisions with EC2 offering of Amazon .
He says 
 "Openstack uses its own API which is completely open source unlike Amazon and as a result of which Openstack will increase in adoption of Hybrid cloud, using Open source Openstack API. You can have Public and Private cloud easily sharing workload."

Krish talked about puppet with the whiteboard drawing puppet server and clients . I was outside saying bye to Anivar who has to catch a bus .
Finally logic pitched about wikipedia and local wikipedia pages  and I am guessing also about wikimedia foundation .

The event didn't end so soon and the mother of our chiefguest was waiting for him. Well it was the time to say bye to folks . But after event parties are always exciting and I am never going to miss it . Logic was my pillion rider while ritesh came on another bike . Behind us were vipul, praveen Illa and atul on Krish's nano . We had some traffic disturbances thanks to someone jumping into Hussain Sagar , later went to Paradise where while others bought food , Me and logic drank something cool . I had falluda and I still love the fact that my first falluda was from Thrissur in Kerala , quite a contrast from hyderabadi drink its supposed to be .
Back in Army zone which is ritesh sisters home ( who was out of town) we ate ,drank and had fun chatting all night but it was tuxnani's call which was the most amusing . After my post on FB he called us up and everyone spoke to him on speaker .

That ends our party or get together or FOSS event .. lots of names but its the fun which we had matters the most .