Happy Easter

Easter is just around the corner. Happy Easter everyone

Posted on 18 Apr 2014, 4:30 - Categories: General
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Musl Libc 1.0 is released

musl libc is a new system library for Linux systems which features small, correct, and clean code; with full-support for static linking, and still being reasonably fast (in that order).

Because of its size, it can easily acts as a replacement for uclibc or even dietlibc, because of its completeness and compatibility it can even replace GNU libc (glibc) for many purposes.

After being in development for over three (3) years, musl has finally hit its 1.0 release.

Musl libc is included as part of Fatdog64 development package (devx.sfs) mainly for building small static executables; musl took over this role from dietlibc two years ago.

Go musl!

Posted on 24 Mar 2014, 17:06 - Categories: Linux General
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FatdogArm Beta1 kernel packages re-uploaded

If you have downloaded FatdogArm Beta1 recently, please re-download the kernel packages again. The ones I uploaded before have one leftover settings from my development that I forgot to turn off: they have SSH server enabled by default. You can easily turn them off using the Control Panel --> Services Manager, or just
chmod -x /etc/init.d/S50dropbear
but it is a hassle.

The newly-uploaded kernel packages have SSH disabled by default.

Note: I have just re-uploaded the kernel packages, and it usually takes about 24 hours for the mirrors to sync. So either hit ibiblio.org directly or wait 24 hours from this post before hitting your favorite mirror.

Posted on 13 Mar 2014, 19:33 - Categories: FatdogArm Linux Arm XO
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FatdogArm Beta1 is released.

After being in the cooker for over two months, I can happily announced the next release of FatdogArm: the Beta1 release.

Get it from ibiblio.org as usual, or from one of ibiblio's popular mirrors: nluug.nl and uoc.gr if you're in Europe, or aarnet.edu if you are in Australia. Many thanks for ibiblio and the mirrors for providing this public service.

Read the release notes first; and if you are new to FatdogArm, please also read the INSTALL instructions. Unlike many of Linux ARM distributions out there, FatdogArm is *not* distributed as images.

Forum announcement here.

FatdogArm Beta1 is the second-generation of FatdogArm; despite its name it is *not* a continuation of Alpha: it is in fact a full-rebuild using LFS 7.4 as the base (I would like to claim "the latest LFS" but LFS 7.5 had just been released as I was gearing for release, oh well) with glibc 2.18 and gcc 4.8.1 but otherwise with many of the packages remain identical with its Alpha counterpart (updates are only done for stability reasons).

The major goal of Beta is a change of hardware platform (from VFPv3-d32 to VFPv3-d16 *without* NEON) to enable it to run on larger class of hardware; as well as a fully-reproducible build system. As a bonus, Beta1 also supports 3D GPU acceleration for all supported platforms, which are: Odroid-U2, Odroid-U3, A10/Mele A1000, A20/Cubieboard2, OLPC XO-1.75 and OLPC XO-4.

Just like Alpha4, Beta1 also ships as a "meta-distribution" (now conveniently provided as a tarball instead of fossil repository) that enables you to build your own customised version as you see fit: headless console-only version; etc. All the kernel sources are provided (kernels were cross-compiled using Linaro cross-toolchain)) so you can also also build new modules etc if you need.

Special thanks to mavrothal and 01micko for OLPC XO support and testing.


Posted on 11 Mar 2014, 23:11 - Categories: FatdogArm Linux Arm XO
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Puppy Linux lives!

In case you haven't heard it, Puppy Linux Slacko 5.7 has been released !

This release is special in so many ways.

Firstly, it represents the FIRST ever official Puppy release from Woof-CE, the community-maintained version of Woof (the Puppy-builder, the meta-distribution of Puppy Linux).

Secondly, it represents the FIRST ever official Puppy Linux release after Barry Kauler (the original author of Puppy Linux) stepped down back in September last year.

More than everything else, this release is a statement of reassurance to the world that Puppy Linux will continue to live and grow strong under the new stewardship and community contributions.

It will continue to move with the times and adapts to new future. Already, a 64-bit thoroughbred Puppy Linux is in the works (Slacko64). The mailing list is rife with contributed ideas on how to bring Puppy to boot on UEFI machines.

Congrats and greets to the team: 01micko (Puppy Slacko), mavrothal (Woof-CE gatekeeper) and many other contributors (zigbert et al).

Posted on 10 Mar 2014, 18:22 - Categories: PuppyLinux Linux
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Gearing for FatdogArm Beta1 release

In preparation for FatdogArm Beta1 release, I have removed Alpha3 images and binaries from ibiblio to make some space. Alpha4 will remain for the moment, I will probably remove them when Beta is considered "stable" enough.

I have also updated the article about how to run FatdogArm in Qemu (and the example shell script) for use with Alpha4 onwards (which no longer ships as images) - the instruction will also be useful for Beta1 when it is released.

Posted on 10 Mar 2014, 17:48 - Categories: FatdogArm Linux Arm
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Beware of dud flash drives

I just found about this last week.

TL;DR: Sandisk changed their their USB flash drives to identify themselves as fixed disks instead of the more reasonable, and historical-standard, removable disks.

And what for? To meet Windows 8 certification.

And why is that? Because as everyone knows, Windows *even in its latest incarnation* is unable to read a USB removable flash drive that has more than one partition; but it has no problem reading *fixed disk* with multiple partitions.

So what is easier: change the code to enable reading multiple partition off removable flash drive (the code is already there anyway for "fixed disk", just the pathway to recognise or not recognise the partitions); or tell everyone else to mark their "removable" hardware as "fixed disk" so I don't have to do anything and it will just work - even if as the consequence that hardware would cause things to subtly break, including its usage on my own prior operating system?

Of course. Writing certification requirements is easier than digging through decades-old code, buried several layers deep, written by perhaps unrelated groups of persons. Better not upset the house of cards.

Funny thing is, practically any other operating system has accepted that USB flash drive can have multiple partitions for many years (regardless of how they are marked); it has become a standard trick that to hide data from windows we just create a second partition on the flash drive and put our data there. What does this tell you?

Good thing that, according to the link above (see last comment), Sandisk regained its sanity (no doubt provoked by market feedback) and restored marking removable devices as "removable". Just make sure you don't get those dud ones (marked ominously as "Windows-8 certified" or "Windows-8 compatible").

Posted on 6 Mar 2014, 16:55 - Categories: General
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Shady printing in cloudy weather

I don't usually blog about Android applications; but this one is interesting.

All I hear about printing on Android is "Cloud print" - mainly Google Cloud Print of course, but there are cloud-printing solutions too.

This "cloud print" is touted as driver-free, hassle-free solution. Never again you need to worry about looking for your printer driver discs. Never again you have to worry whether your printer will work with that new shiny OS that probably don't have driver for that old clunkers of yours. All you need to do is plug your printer to a computer that happens to be running Chrome web browser; or, if printer is already Cloud-ready, just plug it directly to the Internet and configure it with your account.

Then you can print from anywhere, from any device (that supports "cloud-print" of course). It's really that easy, amazing isn't it! Now you can finally print from your phone, to the printer under your desk, no matter what brand or model, using Cloud-print technology! Wow!! Breakthrough technology!! Save the world, now you can keep that old printer working !! Wahoo !!

But how do this Cloud-print actually works? How can it work without a driver? Does your computer and/or printer suddenly become so smart that it doesn't need a driver to talk to each other? Not so.

Cloud-print works by sending the print job (=that is, your documents: your bank statements, your tax reports, your company-confidential blueprints, for starters) to - aptly enough - the "cloud", to a bunch of undesignated servers that have the printer driver software for many printers (hopefully including yours) pre-installed. These servers take your print job, use the printer driver software to convert it to something that your printer can understand, and then send it back to your printer for actual printing. Nice. Apart from the obvious fact that no Internet == no printer, I'll leave it to your own pondering for other possible implications.

That's where this Lets Print Droid comes to the story. It enables me to print from my Android phone/tablet (when I really really need to) to the printer under my desk *directly*, without having to send my documents to halfway around the world first. It comes only with a limited set of printer drivers (mainly for Postscripts), but the beauty of it is this: for those printers that it doesn't support, all you need is a CUPS server that *can* drive your printer, and you're good to go. Well that CUPS server can be easily your Linux box (Fatdog64 and all versions of Puppy Linuxes comes with CUPS too, as does many other Linux and *BSD distros) - so if you can print with your Linux box, then you can print from your phone/tablet too.

Of course, if you really want to cloud print, the app also supports cloud print (of the Google variety) as well, for the last resort.

The app also has a companion app that enables direct PDF rendering on the phone itself (using the popular open-source mupdf renderer) so that you can print PDF files even if your printer doesn't speak PDF.

Now that's what printing should be. Printing is an embarrassingly local task that the idea of sending it to the "cloud" that I can have the convenience of printing from everywhere is too "shady" for me (pardon the pun). You can of course always find a scenario where remote-printing would be useful, but generally speaking there is not much point printing to a printer which is not physically reachable from where you are.

As a closing note. I just wish that that printer manufacturers continue to supply us with non-cloud version of their printers (and their drivers). Not all of their customers are happy with cloud-printing for the obvious reasons.

Note: I'm not affiliated with Blackspruce (author of the app), I'm just a happy user who would like to say thanks.

Posted on 28 Feb 2014, 2:55 - Categories: General
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3D hardware acceleration on FatdogArm Beta

FatdogArm beta hits another milestone today: I've got 3D hardware acceleration running on Mele/Cubieboard2 and Odroid-U2. As it happens all of them use the Mali GPU variants.

It's quite cool to watch es2gears and glmark2-es2 running on all these boards.
As a reference, here are their glmark2-es2 scores:
Mele A1000 (A10) - 53
Cubieboard2 (A20) - 63
Odroid-U2 (Exynos4412) - 123

Remember that FatdogArm Beta is built with VFPv3-d16 (just like Debian armhf) and no NEON.

The 3D acceleration on all these uses the same Xorg driver (fbturbo) and the appropriate version of Mali blobs, all coming from sunxi-mali (from linux-sunxi repository).

All of this is made possible by the hard work of linux-sunxi folks; especially Siarhei Siamashka (ssvb) who maintains xf86-video-fbturbo (formerly xf86-video-sunxi), Luc Verhaegen (libv) who maintains the sunxi-mali repo (Luc is also the man behind the Lima open-source Mali driver effort), and Dmitriy Beykun (rzk) who ported version 20 of Mali kernel interface from upstream to Odroid kernel.

Thanks guys!

Note: I managed to get 3D acceleration done (but not tested) on XOs much earlier last year (with dovefb/libgfx-marvell); but in FatdogArm beta it will ship disabled by default as enabling it will corrupt the display on some circumstances.

Posted on 26 Feb 2014, 5:57 - Categories: FatdogArm Linux Arm
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Connecting machines behind NATs

One of my friend asked me on how to use VNC when both the client and the server are behind NAT routers. He knows that he can re-configure the router to do port-forwarding and such, but it is not good enough because not everyone is comfortable (or competent) enough to do it.

So I looked into the matter and found out that yes it is possible to do so without re-configuring anything. I've written a wiki article to document the process using commonly available tools, it is located here. While it talks specifically about VNC, the methods discussed is readily extendable to any other protocols.

I hope it is useful for others who have similar problems.

Posted on 25 Feb 2014, 6:23 - Categories: Linux General
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