Useful OLPC

hardware, olpc 4 Comments

So far, the “service machine” in my house was Power G5 running Ubuntu. 24*7. The main functions (beside being a desktop) was http proxying (squid + dansguardian) and X10 service (heyu).

Trying to save on my energy bills, and to make something useful of nice green OLPC laptop, I’ve decided to move these services to OLPC – that way, I could afford shutting down the Mac, at least sometimes (it just eats the energy).

So, yesterday I “yum install”ed dansguardian and tinyproxy (instead of squid) – and tried to make a transparent proxy of it. Unfortunately, the transparent proxying is disabled in Fedora’s build of the tinyproxy. So, I had to rebuild it. It was some kind of a challenge – the only machines I got was Mac (Power G5, as I said) and another laptop (Ubuntu x86_64). How would you build 32-bit x86 app in that world? Immediately I found that 64-bit Ubuntu cannot build 32-bit apps. At least I could not find the way. Well, “gcc -m32” works somehow – but some headers (like stub-32.h) and gcc libs and obj files are missing. Installing ia32-libs does not help (and they do not provide -dev package). But I was really lucky to have … some wreckage of (!!!) Maemo SDK (which I did not manage to enable under 64-bit OS BTW). Which includes, among other things, 32-bit gcc with all the necessary stuff. So … chrooting to that environment allowed me to build tinyproxy binary with transparent proxying support (even though I had to patch it a bit – there is an issue with binding). Now, this all is up and running.

Next thing would be to build heyu utility for x86 – I am going to do it the same way, using Maemo SDK. My X10 will be hosted on OLPC as well.

So, a bit of numbers. It is claimed that OLPC consumes about 3W of energy. According to Apple, Power G5 uses 140W (idle) to 604W (fully loaded). Actually, Ubuntu can not control CPU speed (constantly shows 2.0GHz) – so I guess even idle, my Mac eats around 200W. I do not even mention the 24″ monitor…

I want to make proxy work faster, so I guess I’ll get some cheap USB Ethernet adapter – in order not to use humble wireless abilities of OLPC. Recommendations are welcome.

If you participated in G1G1 program last year (or thinking about doing it this year) – you can do something similar with that nice little piece of hardware. It is much more than just a sexy toy.

gnome, hardware No Comments

I am very enthusiastic regarding Stormy Peters becoming the ED of the Board (being one of those people mentioning by Bastien btw;) I am convinced, there is a lot she can do to make the Board more effective, visible and rocking… My sincere congratulations to GNOME and to Stormy! It is a pity I am not attending GUADEC this year, so I cannot celebrate the event with the crowd.

Last Friday, I got wonderful set-top box ItGate TGM 220. Linux, PowerPC,  cool and sexy. The greatest disappointment was to find that unofficial plugin for VLC AKA “VLC Frontend” (very handy thing, allows streaming anything from VLC to set-top box) seems to be closed source. And it only works with the old version of VLC (I do not even mention it being somewhat unstable). What do these guys think about?… I searched high and low – there are only binaries on the net 🙁 And the development forum is in German – unpleasant surprise… Second disappointment – lack of support for UPnP and bonjour. It is 2008 after all, people…

n810 memory module format: Why?

hardware, maemo 10 Comments

I would really love to look in the eyes of the person who decided that n810 should use MiniSD. And I would ask that person to find the card (on ebay or anywhere else) of 8GB or larger capacity (preferably, class 4 or better). Dealing with MicroSD->MiniSD adapters is a bit too much trouble…

MiniSD is nearly dead, as I can see. MicroSD and SD are reasonably popular. So why on Earth they’ve chosen the worst of 3?… SD on n800 was a very good idea – I could take the card from my Nikon d80 and show the photos straight on the tablet (thanks to great Canola).

n810: random rants

hardware, maemo 14 Comments

The browser in OS2008 is a huge disappointment. It hangs after every couple of pages, only “kill process” helps. Is it me? Is it about adblock and greazemonkey extensions? I do not know… But at the moment my n810 can not be used for browsing at all 🙁

Regarding the built-in GPS – according to what I hear from various people, there are 2 sorts of devices – “good ones” and “bad ones”. The “bad ones” (like mine) take ages to establish the fix.

And the last (but not least) – the hardware keyboard does not allow to switch between Russian and English layouts. You can have either – but not both (welcome to the Control Panel if you want to change layout). What kind of usability is it? For the company located a couple of hundred kilometers from Russia, it is odd;) The on-screen keyboard is more usable for me ATM.

N810: here

hardware, maemo 11 Comments

So, yesterday I got it. Again, thanks to Nokia for the developer device program. Nice piece of hardware indeed – but nothing revolutionary, as I expected.  Some comments (mostly rants – but my gratitude is still there and it is huge):

  1. Built-in GPS is cool. But why does it take ages to establish the connection (I do not even mention the fact that it does not work in the room). I hope Nokia would fix it in the updated software (hopefully it is not a hardware issue).
  2. The car mount is well-thought. But I am not going to use screws to attach it to my dashboard. Probably there must be some other way to use it…
  3. The keyboard … well, I guess it will take some time to get used to it. I still did not figure out how to switch between English and Russian layout (which was trivial on n800 on-screen keyboard).
  4. Nokia added special lock/unlock hardware switch. Nice touch. But IMHO much more useful would be two hardware volume control keys (or dial or whatever).
  5. Why oh why they switched from SD to MiniSD? My 2G card I bought for n800 is useless here 🙁 And now I cannot take SD card from my Nikon D80 and show just made photos on shiny n810 screen :((( Seriously, could anyone explain? It seems MiniSD standard is dying (if you check on ebay). I could better understand switching to MicroSD… Strange move indeed. (as a side note, I do not quite understand the change of the USB socket as well).
  6. They added 2G unmountable internal flash. Good and wise decision. But why didn’t they move /usr to that volume (may be, along with /home)? Having 256M for all filesystems is not too much – I noticed it in n800 days. I simply cannot install all interesting stuff from Application Manager!

Overall – I think Nokia is moving in the right direction. My only concern is the pace of the move. While the change from 770 to n800 was a huge leap, the change from n800 to n810 is a small step. Lads, please do not slow down. You are making a very cool gadgets – and there is still a room for improvement, I strongly believe you can make great gadgets.

Nokia N810: ordered

hardware, maemo 4 Comments

The discount codes seem to be working now. My N810 is on my way to me. Thanks a lot Nokia.

As another bit of my humble contribution (expressing the gratitude, you know;) – I’m putting some effort into making freeciv run on OS2008. There was initial version, made by Markku Vire for 770 – but apparently it does not run on OS2008 (yet). At least now it builds and starts – but more work is necessary. So we’ll see how it goes…

hardware-happy, part 2

hardware 10 Comments

The things got more interesting when I changed original nv 5200 fx to ati 9800 pro. First, the wrapping effect immediately disappeared (does it mean ati and nv drivers read DDC dirrefently)? Second, the output is now _deadly_ slow. Scrolling (one line!) in xchat window is visible (takes a good fraction of second!). Tried both XAA and EXA acceleration. It seems something important is missing… DRI is also a mistery – in Xorg.0.log it is said to be enabled but glxinfo clams it is not.

Looking for some repository with xorg 7.3 for gutsy – may be it would help.


hardware 6 Comments

Got brand new Dell 2407WFP-HC. Great stuff – great image, color, everything… The only thing which slightly annoys is that the image is horizontally wrapped (in Linux only, not in MacOS). Either DDC provides wrong info (no modelines in xorg.conf) or the adapter (or nv driver) are broken somehow…