New URL for this blog

This blog and its corresponding wiki is now accessible from So it's time to update your bookmark or your RSS reader . The original URL will remain for a while, but will eventually be removed.

Posted on 25 Aug 2014, 0:01 - Categories: General
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aufs - please support Mr. Okajima

Aufs filesystem is a full-featured, full-fledged layered filesystem for Linux, created by Mr. Junjiro Okajima. It is an alternative to "unionfs", Unlike unionfs, however, aufs is actively developed, and actively supported. Unlike other alternative Linux layered filesystems like "overlayfs", aufs is feature rich and has a lot of options. Aufs is mature and stable software, it is about 10 years old by now.

I don't know how extensive aufs is used in the field, but I have a suspicion that many "live" OS systems (with support for persistence) will use aufs in form or another. I also think that aufs would be widely deployed in the embedded world, where one needs to have "writable" rootfs while still having the base OS in ROM. What I *do* know is that aufs is used in Fatdog64, FatdogArm, Puppy Linux and its multiplicity of derivatives, Slax, AntiX, and perhaps many others.

I recently had the pleasure of working directly Mr. Okajima.

I had problems with kernel oops with FatdogArm on cubox-i. Researching the problems, I found that kernel oops was a known common problem in the official cubox-i kernel and there were some solutions - but they didn't seem to work for me. My oops symptoms were quite different, too - the kernel didn't immediately crashed; but all filesystem operation failed, which lead me to suspect that the problem may have had to do with aufs (the other popularly Linux distros on cubox-i - Arch, Ubuntu - they all don't use aufs as far as I'm aware).

I escalated the problem to Mr. Okajima through the public mailing list and to my pleasant surprise, found that he was all courtesy, and very responsive. Mr. Okajima is very knowledgeable person - not only he helped me to troubleshoot the problem, but he actually solved it. This is despite the fact this was his first time looking at problems in ARM systems (and the problem required looking at ARM code dissasembly to find the cause); and the fact that he didn't have any ARM boxes whatsoever to reproduce the problem. One rarely encounters this kind of support and talent - even in the commercial world.

I'd encourage those who beneftis from aufs - especially commercially - to support the work of Mr. Okajima in whatever means that they can. Donation link is here (this goes straight to Mr. Okajima - not to me).

Posted on 17 Aug 2014, 5:27 - Categories: Linux General
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Skype - please re-enable ALSA support!

I use Skype. Not because I'm a fan of it (after all, I wrote PSIP, but by necessity.

Recently I've got an email from Skype that they are terminating access from all Skype clients prior to 4.3 - so if I haven't upgraded to the latest and greatest, I'd better do it, or else no connection.

Which is generally fine and dandy except that Skype 4.3 drops support for ALSA. ALSA is the *native* audio system in Linux. Skype does, however, chooses to support PulseAudio instead. I don't have a problem with them supporting PulseAudio, but why the need to drop support for ALSA, which has been working for years and years?

I don't want to discuss the merits (of the lack thereof) of PulseAudio here - I'd just point out that not all of us Linux users run (or can run, or want to run) PulseAudio.

Since the ALSA back-end used to work beautifully (ALSA was supported in version 4.2 - one version before 4.3), and since PulseAudio usage is clearly optional (one can run Skype even without PulseAudio installed - but you don't get voice services (call/talk) - you can still send text and files) - I don't think it's that difficult to get ALSA support back in the next updates.

Skype - if you're listening, please, enable back ALSA support in your next update.

Posted on 17 Aug 2014, 4:51 - Categories: General
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Fatdog64 700 alpha1 is released

Two years after the debut of Fatdog64 600, and five (5) months in the making, Fatdog64 700 finally gets its first public release - the first alpha release.

Fatdog64 700 is built from scratch, using modified build recipes from LFS (Linux From Scratch) and BLFS, version 7.5 (the latest as of today). It features a brand new base: kernel 3.15.5, glibc 2.19 and gcc 4.8.2, and the latest or at least recent libraries of all the basic libraries, bringing Fatdog64 back to the contemporary world.

Fatdog64 700 left its PET legacy package management inherited from Puppy and switch to Slackware-style packages, using the excellent slapt-get and gslapt from

Forum announcement:

Get it from ibiblio or one of its mirrors: aarnet,, and

Posted on 3 Aug 2014, 1:19 - Categories: Fatdog64 Linux
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Xscreenshot is a simple program to take a screenshot of a selected area in your desktop.

You can run it in single-shot for multiple-shot mode; in multiple-shot mode you can use it to take successive screenshots of different area of the screen - very useful when capturing screenshots for documentation.

Xscreenshot is packaged as part of Xannotate.

Posted on 28 Jul 2014, 6:16 - Categories: Linux General
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Xannotate updated

If you've got the first released version of xannotate yesterday, you should get it again.

The new version (dated 2014-07-27) now supports three pens, eraser, and support for alpha transparency (if you're running a compositing manager) which makes it run faster.

Posted on 27 Jul 2014, 5:42 - Categories: Linux General
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Xannotate, a desktop annotation tool

I like gromit, but unfortunately it is not working for me. The code itself is good, the bug is probably due to the subtle changes of GDK/GTK behaviour over the years.

Anyway, I decided to write my own, and call it xannotate; because it does "annotation" and it only depends on Xlib.

Here's a shot:

More details (with download links) here.

Posted on 26 Jul 2014, 5:05 - Categories: Linux General
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Alternative URL for this site

Recently there was a fiasco between No-IP and Microsoft. You can google that yourself. The end result is, this blog went down for a couple of days.

To avoid that in the future, I'm planning to get my own domain; but for the time being if this site is down again, you can try to access it from instead.

Posted on 8 Jul 2014, 3:24 - Categories: General
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FatdogArm on Cubox-i - update

FatdogArm now runs with Cubox-i i2w and i4p; supporting all features of FatdogArm plus i.MX6-specific hardware acceleration (vivante video driver, VPU, gstreamer, ALSA hardware resampler). Cubox-i is the *the only* ARM platform I have where you xrandr works correctly and you can change resolution on the fly. Kudos to Freescale to make this happen.

On the other hand, the only thing currently not working on Cubox-i is the GPU (OpenGLES stuff). I have an open thread in the forum here: All my other ARM platforms have their GPUs running, this is the only platform which it isn't (you've got Xorg hard lockups when trying to run any OpenGLES programs with GPU acceleration).

Posted on 8 Jul 2014, 4:23 - Categories: FatdogArm Linux Arm
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Woof-CE Next Generation

Woof-CE is the Community Edition (CE) of Woof build system. Woof build system (currently at version 2, so often called as Woof2) is the meta-distribution of Puppy Linux. It enables one to build a fully customised Puppy Linux distribution from many parent distros.

I have been working on the next generation of Woof build system. It initially started as a tool running on top of Woof2 infrastructure (original blog post here and here; the original branch holding the code is called "deb-build" on my github Woof-CE fork) - and now I have modified them to *replace* the Woof2 infrastructure and completely run on its own.

Front-ends have been added, so deb-build is now only one of many (future) builders to build Puppy Linux from different parent distros (deb-build builds from Debian-like distros, like Debian, Ubuntu, and possibly even Mint - I haven't tried that, though).

The main premise of the new build system is that puppy adapts to the parent distro, rather than the other way around. Doing this means the original parent distro is kept as close to its original design (including the use of its original package management system) and thus making more of the parent distro packages usable in Puppy derived from it - because as far as I can see, that is the reason for having Puppy as a derivative anyway (if you're not interested in using parent distro packages, then may as well build Puppy from scratch where you control everything and can optimise everything).

The links section of this blog points you to the most recent and experimental version of this build system ("woof-next-james" branch on my github fork of Woof-CE - this branch supersedes the original "deb-build" branch posted in my earlier blog posts). As they mature they will be posted to the official Woof-CE repository under the same name; and finally the most stable code would be merged to "woof-next" branch of Woof-CE (note that "woof-next" is an integration branch and contains changes and contributions from others too)

"woof-next" currently builds an ISO capable of booting to Xorg. There are some little modifications I have not yet ported from deb-build, but they will be soon.

In the experimental branch, you will find builder for building Slackware-based puppy too. The builder works but the resulting ISO will not boot because of it is missing puppy-specific packages that are not available from standard Slackware repository (e.g. busybox, mingetty, etc).

Note that this woof-next is still in its early phase. It lacks both the diversity (not many distros supported as parents yet) and versatility (it will only build x86 puppies, x86_64 being experimental and arm is completely unsupported yet) compared to the Woof2 build system. In time, I hope to address all of these.

Posted on 15 Jun 2014, 18:25 - Categories: PuppyLinux Linux
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