Friday, November 14, 2014

Moving to Xubuntu

I've decided to completely move to Xubuntu 14.04 LTS as my main OS. My Windows 7 Home Premium is almost crushed under the weight of its own security updates, though I must admit it survided 3 years without reinstall, which is sort of a record to me, so cudos to M$ :)

Issues I have met so far:
  1. There is no good replacement for the MS Office. I desparately need Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Project and Visio for my work, so I'll go with corporate Windows 7 running on a VirtualBox VM
  2. Not sure if my 3G Huawei modem will work. Linux has detected it correctly, but still I have not succeeded to connect
  3. I have managed to connect to my company's VPN with AnyConnect client, but would like to migrate to the OpenConnnect integrated with NetworkManager. OpenConnect does not work correctly so far due to some issues with host scanning
  4. Evernote desktop client is not supported on Linux. I have to stick to the web version and use the desktop in the corporate Windows 7 running on a VM
  5. Google Drive desktop client is not supported on Linux. There are some replacements available, I'd like to stick to the one which integrates with Fuse but not yet succeeded
  6. Ubuntu 14.04 has a bug with 802.1x which is a bit annoying but possible to overcome
  7. I'd like to run a VM with interface to the corporate network trough VPN running on Linux. I have no idea yet how to configure it (IP tunnel? not sure)
  8. Connecting Bluetooth input devices required some hacking in HID autoconnect scripts
  9. Opera browser is available for Linux only in beta stage

Saturday, June 15, 2013

X10 is alive!

Just before my another trip to US I've decided to restore my ol' pal - SE Xperia X10, now with AOSP JB 4.2.2. After purchasing a brand new battery, here's what I got to install:
I have not installed any apps on top of that so I have it only as a 'data pipe' for my Galaxy Nexus (on UA SIM) and ... well ... as a phone, just to make calls :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sparse is dead?

Just noticed that Linux kenel sparse tool is not maintained well anymore. It has two repositories actually:
but unfortunately both are not seem to be supported anymore. In order to make my small program work with cgcc I had to apply few patches fixing GCC incompatibilities, but reviewing sparse code further I see lots of other issues; there are lots of fixing patches hanging in the internet, too. It's pity but this nice tool seem to be dead.

Update: sparse cannot even handle arrays of boolean, what a shame...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Conky GUI on xUbuntu 12.04 and Oracle JDK 1.7

Recently I have found a nice tool to replace Gnome Screenlets on my XFCE desktop and provide all sorts of technical details - memory usage, CPU usage, IO load, network stats, etc. - Conky. It is highly flexible and provides a Lua interface and also whatever you can imagine for this kind of tool. More info on the project page or on the Wikipedia; you can find there good examples of config files, different tweaks and additional software.

Unfortunately, there is no GUI to write conky configuration scripts except Conky GUI which does not seem to be maintained anymore. Last thing was done in May 2012 when project has been moved to Github. The .deb package from the website didn't worked for me so I have decided to build my own version. It turned out that some minor fixes were needed to run it with Oracle JDK 1.7 and new JUnit, patches can be found here.

UPDATE: Amazing samples of Conky configuration!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


While playing with Android libsensors virtual HW access I have decided not to torture my PandaBoard with soldering additional serial port (note it has only one with console connected to it by default) and use some sort of a virtual serial port instead connected to real HW over the network:

After googling a while I have found a nice tool 'socat' that allows to... well, it can do almost everything, checkout on the project website:

It only turned out that Android build script has a minor bug in it I had to fix (see below 'android_termios_shift_fix.patch') and also there is a problem with PTYs support. By default openpty() and other related functions are absent in Bionic library, while Linux kernel configuration used in Android implements UNIX98 PTYs. In order to get my small system working I have ported openpty() function from uClibc which seemed to be quite enough for socat to get it working. The 'enable_android_pty.patch' adds an 'openpty.c' file to the build and modifies Android build script to perform following changes when it is invoked:
 - enable HAVE_OPENPTY and HAVE_GRANTPT features in config.h
 - add openpty.c to the Makefile
Actually this is a quick-n-dirty solution: it produces a warning for openpty() since no pty.h header exist, the port itself is a license violation, etc., but I don't really care at the moment - the whole '' distributed with socat is a dirty hack.

So I've got everything working and I can also capture and analyze packets going trough serial port with Wireshark by just writing a simple dissector! sweeeeet...

Patches are available here.

Socat is used on host (sandbox) with following command:
socat tcp-l:54321,reuseaddr,fork /dev/ttyS0,raw,b115200,echo=0
and on panda with:
socat pty,link=/dev/ttyS0,raw,echo=0 tcp:sandbox:54321

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

KS2011: Patch review (by

I have read an interesting article by Jonathan Corbet on the "patch review" session on 2011 Kernel Summit. Needless to say, patch review process in both open-source and proprietary projects is a very interesting and challenging topic, especially when it goes to a big software systems with thousands people working on them. While reading the article I have found a point not really relevant to the review process, but very interesting from the prioritization POV
As one might imagine, the discussion became rather unfocused and fragmented for a while. It came back together when Linus took the microphone and stated that, simply, code that actually is used is the code that is actually worth something. The Android code is certainly being used; the in-kernel code aimed at the same problems is just a vague idea that is worthless in comparison. We should, he said, consider merging suspend blockers as a real option. Even if it truly is crap, we've had crap in the kernel before. The code does not get any better out of tree. Alan Cox agreed that it is probably a good idea to merge that code. The interface is important and has a lot of users; getting the code merged is the best way to fix the implementation. Ingo also agreed, saying that when code has millions of users, we have to say "yes" to it. 
This is a really interesting statement, I do fully support it. It does not neglect the need to improve code quality with time - it only sets priority. It is really weird that so many people (including really good software engineers) do not understand this...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ubuntu 11.10 sucks

Recently I have switched to Ubuntu 11.10 as a primary OS on my Dell D630 laptop. Of course, I have disabled the Unity... and surprisingly found that Gnome 3 new UI (which I have not tried before) is taking same direction as Unity. Moreover, most of system settings disappeared, default Alt-Tab switching does not work without special tweaking, no status bar. Oh, almost forgot - they are not going to continue using Compiz anymore. So the system is basically not usable without good hacking and fine tuning... It is pity, what happened with Ubuntu, I think I will switch to a different distribution or roll back to some previous version. Too bad.

Friday, June 24, 2011

kernel development using Eclipse (OMAP4 pandaboard + 2.6.35 + Android)

Working with kernel sources

Just found out that guys in my team are using all different editors for kernel code debugging - and all not very effective enough... Of course the best solution IMHO is till gvim + ctags, but if you wish something more fancy :) you can go with Eclipse - so I've tried to set it up on my fresh Ubuntu 11.04 x64

1. Download and install toolchain
For the reasons unknown I have decided to use Linaro toolchain for my games. According to Linaro HOWTO this is as simple as entering one command for natty:
  sudo apt-get install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabi
of course, I have all my Ubuntu build tools preinstalled.

2. Download the kernel sources
Since I am going to use OMAP4 pandaboard with 2.6.35 kernel on Android - I am following instructions on OMAPpedia wiki to pull the kernel:

  git clone git:// kernel
  git checkout -b p-android-omap-2.6.35_local remotes/origin/p-android-omap-2.6.35

Before building the kernel with latest Linaro toolchain I need to apply a patch that resolves binutils architecture issues with 2.6.35 kernel.

diff --git a/arch/arm/mach-omap2/Makefile b/arch/arm/mach-omap2/Makefile
index 884eb1f..6854066 100644
--- a/arch/arm/mach-omap2/Makefile
+++ b/arch/arm/mach-omap2/Makefile
@@ -30,8 +30,10 @@ obj-$(CONFIG_HOTPLUG_CPU) += omap-hotplug.o
  obj-$(CONFIG_ARCH_OMAP4) += omap44xx-smc.o omap4-common.o \

-AFLAGS_omap44xx-smc.o :=-Wa,-march=armv7-a
+plus_sec := $(call as-instr,.arch_extension sec,+sec)
+AFLAGS_omap-headsmp.o :=-Wa,-march=armv7-a$(plus_sec)
+AFLAGS_omap44xx-smc.o :=-Wa,-march=armv7-a$(plus_sec)
 # Functions loaded to SRAM
 obj-$(CONFIG_ARCH_OMAP2420) += sram242x.o

 obj-$(CONFIG_ARCH_OMAP2430) += sram243x.o
@@ -69,6 +71,7 @@ obj-$(CONFIG_OMAP_SMARTREFLEX_CLASS1P5) += smartreflex-class1p5.o

 AFLAGS_sleep24xx.o :=-Wa,-march=armv6
 AFLAGS_sleep34xx.o :=-Wa,-march=armv7-a
+AFLAGS_sleep44xx.o :=-Wa,-march=armv7-a$(plus_sec)

 ifeq ($(CONFIG_PM_VERBOSE),y)
 CFLAGS_pm_bus.o += -DDEBUG

diff --git a/security/smc/omap4/Makefile b/security/smc/omap4/Makefile
index af345a1..af545a2 100644
--- a/security/smc/omap4/Makefile
+++ b/security/smc/omap4/Makefile
@@ -38,4 +38,7 @@ tf_driver-objs += tf_comm_mshield.o
 tf_driver-objs += tf_device_mshield.o
 tf_driver-objs += bridge_pub2sec.o

+plus_sec := $(call as-instr,.arch_extension sec,+sec)
+AFLAGS_bridge_pub2sec.o :=-Wa,-march=armv7-a$(plus_sec)

This was already fixed on the latest kernels, refer to this thread for details. If you are using CodeSourcery toolchain referred in OMAPpedia wiki - you don't need it.
Compile the kernel with pandaboard defconfig (as per latest available L27.12.1-P2 release notes) with modified toolchain

  make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabi- distclean
  make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabi- android_4430_defconfig
  make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabi- uImage

Later we will need to follow full instructions - patches, folders, environment variables, but to start working with kernel this should be pretty enough.

3. Download and install Eclipse
I prefer not to use one that is supplied with Ubuntu so I am just downloading Eclipse IDE for C/C++ Linux Developers 64-bit  from Prefer to keep it in the opt folder usually...

  cd /opt
  sudo mkdir eclipse
  sudo chmod a+rwx eclipse
  tar -xvzf ~/Downloads/eclipse-linuxtools-indigo-incubation-linux-gtk-x86_64.tar.gz 

There is an ugly bug in the latest eclipse when it crashes during index rebuilding so I had to use a workaround offered by Marc-Andre Laperle with adding
to eclipse.ini file. Probably I will also need to increase the maximum memory usage limitations later.

4. Configuring Eclipse to work with Linux kernel
Some time ago I used to use one python script to generate kernel symbols for the .project file, but today I have found a very nice article on how to correctly index kernel with Eclipse on the wiki. My customizations:
  • Step 14: since we are doing cross compilation, I need to add custom build variables in the corresponding menu of the C/C++ Build options. Add ARCH with value arm and CROSS_COMPILE with value arm-linux-gnueabi- to all configurations. Maybe I will need to add some compiler options later here, but for now it is quite enough
  • Step 15: use arm-linux-gnueabi-gcc for compiler command
  • Step 25: here I have arch/arm/include, also I had to add arch/arm/plat-omap/include and arch/arm/mach-omap2/include
  • Step 33: here I have everything except arch/arm
  • Additionally in C/C++ Build options I am setting Build target in the Behavior tab to uImage and Build command in the Builder Settings tab to make ARCH=${ARCH} CROSS_COMPILE=${CROSS_COMPILE}
  • In the end you will need to clean and rebuild from Eclipse to get the list of issues 
Your Eclipse is ready to work with OMAP4 2.6.35 Android kernel code. Enjoy...