Category Archives: Free Software

Back from FOSDEM

Last friday I was very afraid that I was not going to be able to attend FOSDEM due to a large amount of snow in most of Denmark. Luckily our flight was not canceled so it was just a matter of getting to the airport. Easier said than done, the busses was not driving because of the weather and the taxi companies phone system was overloaded. But we managed to reach the airport in time and after several hours of delay in both Aalborg and Copenhagen, we landed in Brussels late friday night.

It was my first time there. I’ve been to linuxtag and linuxforum before and I must say that this event beats both hands down. There was a lot of interesting talks, some of which can be found here, and in general everyone seemed to be in a very good mood – especially sunday. My favorite talks was Jim Gettys OLPC talk, Miguel de Icaza’s mono talk and Federico Mena Quintero’s extremely funny Profiling talk. Be sure to watch that one, it’s both entertaining and learningful.

Getting Samsung SGH-E900 DUN working with Nokia 770 and Linux

It took a little while but now finally got my new phone working with the nokia 770. It doesn’t work out of the box because Samsung phones are a little different than nokia phones. To get Dial up networking (DUN) working one needs several files:

  • Dummy connection to simulate a real connection
  • gprs-ppp4 needs to be placed in /etc/ppp/peers/
  • gprs-chat needs to be placed in /etc/chatscripts/ and changed to your local operator. Currently configured to TDC DK.
  • rfcomm.conf needs to be placed in /etc/rfcomm/
  • start-gprs helper scripts
  • A resolv.conf file, since the nokia device doesn’t seem to get it automatically. One can get them by connecting using a normal Linux machine.

Then it’s just a matter of running the start-gprs script from a console. Hopefully Nokia will fix this is future versions so that this hack is not needed

Nokia 770

I recently bought a Nokia 770 to use as a remote control for MMS (among other things). The first thing one notices is the screen: very clear, big and with great contrast. The built-in IM client is great. It’s excellent for when you’re not near the computer but want to chat with people anyway. It’s quite easy to write on the screen, I’m currently using the virtual keyboard but have also tried the recognition briefly without much succes.

The Opera browser included is very light-weight and quite fast but doesn’t work correctly on all pages, so sometimes one needs to use Minimo (firefox port). Sadly Minimo is a lot more heavy on the system and can cause the system to spontaneously reboot?! I have no clue how a browser can cause the whole system to come crashing down. I thought we cured that when we moved away from Windows 98? 😉

Furthermore the built-in rss reader is quite nice. The font is nice and big which makes it easy to read. I like to read the latest news on the device when I’m eating breakfast in the morning and it saves booting up the computer. The Nokia is ready in seconds.

Before I bought the device, I read in a lot of reviews which claimed that the battery time sucked. That might be true if you’re using it constantly, but if you’re not using it for a little while it will shut down the screen and will wake up in ~1 second again. That way it can easily keep running for quite a few days of rss feed reading and browsing. So you get battery lifetime comparable to a normal phone.

A last thing that I have been using the device for is VOIP. The device has a built-in microphone and speaker so one doesn’t need anything extra to make it work. I would have liked to use my headphones but it appears that for the time being that is not yet supported. By downloading gizmo project software one is able to make very cheap (even free) phone calls to phones in Denmark (and to almost any other part of the world). The sound quality is comparable to Skype.

I havn’t started hacking on it yet but from the brief encounters I have had with the documentation and development enviroment it looks quite nice. To be continued 🙂

Have to praise Rockbox again

I blogged about rockbox two months ago when I bought my Ipod Nano and praised it to the skies. After a lot of use (almost daily) I can say that it almost just keeps getting better and better. I havn’t had a single crash or sound issue in the two months. The only weak points are the navigation which is a little to complex (or maybe I’m just stupid :-)) and a theme reset bug when it’s done charging and I unpluck it. The rate of improvements are very impressive. It’s very easy to upgrade so it has almost become a monthly ritual that when I charge it and put on new music I also update the software. Upgrading is just unpacking the new version on the Ipod so it couldn’t be much easier.

Ipod Nano

So last week I bought an Ipod Nano. Up until now I have been using my good old 20GB Neuros Audio which has worked very well but is a little big to carry around. Someone on AAU was selling an Ipod Nano that he won for 2/3 of the original price so I couldn’t resist and bought it 🙂

My biggest concern with the Ipod has been the lack of proper codec support. I have a large part of my music collection in Ogg and thus it would be unusable with the Ipod Firmware. For a while I have been looking at the Ipod since it’s rather slick and found that one can install rockbox on it and then play a whole range of codecs including ogg and flac.
So after I bought it I installed rockbox and so far it has really blown me away. The crossfade, games support (frozen bubble, pac man, doom? :)) are icings on the cake of a really powerful music player that plays everything worthwhile playing. Rock on! 🙂

bazaar rant

So arch has had two major implementations: tla and bazaar. Bazaar was a fork of tla and for a while was actively maintained by Cannonical. That was until they decided that the future was in bzr. That’s their right, but it left the users with a big void. Tla was not really maintained anymore since everyone was more or less using bazaar and bzr was not nearly stable enough to put your sensitive data into. It was still changing repository format 😉

Furthermore it causes big problems for distributions when upstream just suddenly disappears. What happens when critical external libraries are updated in a non-compatible way (libneon anyone?) with no way to SLOT them.

Luckily someone has picked up tla again and it is slowly putting out releases again, but bazaar is completely dead. I tried contacting the former maintainer but he doesn’t even respond to emails anymore it seems.

I have updated my free software patches page with the patches from Gentoo. It might come in handy for other people.

So what’s the future? bzr, git? I don’t know, but I don’t have a lot of faith in Cannonical with the bazaar stunt they pulled.

Profiling mmsv2

Inspired by the profiling work on Abiword by Hubert Figuiere, I installed Kcachegrind to try and profile mmsv2. His two posts on his blog explains very well how to find and fix bottlenecks in an application. What I thought was really cool about Kcachegrind, compared to other profiling solutions I have tried, was the way it handled threads and C++ perfectly. Guess being a KDE project helps a lot in this area 🙂