Doesn't Not Compute

My log of experiences with GNU/Linux and computers in general.

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yeeloong 8089B: Some Performance Tweaks

Some time ago, I purchased a Lemote Yeeloong 8089B from Tekmote Electronics. It’s not exactly a powerful device, even for a netbook — extremely weak graphics chipset, a single-core Loongson 2F CPU clocked at a maximum of 797MHz (despite the description’s claim of 900MHz), and a battery rated to last barely 2 hours. But, it has the advantage of not requiring any nonfree software. As most people who would buy one and search for “performance tweaks” for it would already know. 😀

I bought it hoping to run gNewSense‘s mipsel port on it, but found it to be lacking many packages I wanted to run on it. Most of these were frivolous anyway, so don’t let that stop you from trying it. 😉 I currently run Debian Wheezy’s mipsel port quite happily on it . . . but it took a little work to get the “happily” part. Read more of this post

Project Permafrost

Finally, after two months of work, the first part of my latest project is out in the wild for all to help with.

Project Permafrost is my attempt to create a central community for users of the Ice Window Manager to interact. I’ve set up a forum at http://icewm-themes.sourceforge.net/ where we can:

  • Post new themes for review and critiquing
  • Share configurations
  • Create up-to-date documentation that’s a bit less hapazard than the current official manual and how-tos
  • Socialize (in the “Oort Cloud” forum, requires being logged into a Sourceforge account to even see)
  • Make as many ice-related puns as possible. 😈

There are, of course, some rules for this new community. A few of the most important ones are listed below.

  1. No themes that don’t have a clear license. It can be GPLv2/3/later, LGPLv2/3/later, a BSD-like license, or any of the Creative Commons licenses, but IT MUST HAVE A CLEAR COPYRIGHT LICENSE SPECIFIED AND IN THE ARCHIVE.
  2. No themes that violate someone’s trademark. Sorry, but your super-slick theme that looks just like the latest Redmond OS interface? No Start Button logos.
  3. Don’t be a pain.
  4. No discussions of how to do illegal things. Debate of whether the thing should be legal or not? Maybe in the off-topic “Oort Cloud” forum, we’ll see how that goes.

The spreadsheet I linked before is hosted in the Project Permafrost files section, along with all of the currently redistributable themes from the motherlode mirror (under “TundraThaw”).

As mentioned before, the forums are here.

And there are plenty more ice puns available, don’t worry. 😉

Resurrection is Hard Work

Even when it’s just software, and not living beings! 😆

For the past month, I’ve been working on a long list of Ice Window Manager themes. Organizing, labeling, judging free-or-not-free (as in freedom, not beer). Determining whether they should be reorganized, and which need files renamed to fit the original authors’ plans.

This doesn’t seem like a hard job, does it? It isn’t. Just very, very tedious. Especially considering I examined and organized those themes by “Look” — the theme file option that decides how some things are drawn — by hand. All 184 of them. And then went back and input information on each one into a spreadsheet. 😯

For each one, I viewed the default.theme file, as well as any documentation provided about the theme (few had any) for the author name, email address, description, and various flags on whether each theme had a paticular option. For example, the gtk-look theme “Helix” does not have its own image for the menu button on the taskbar, no specified license :mad:, no trademarked images to the best of my non-lawyer research, is properly organized other than lacking a README file, does not have custom “ledclock” images for a fancy-looking clock, has one “desktop background” image (in PNG format, so you’ll have to compile in imlib support to use it), and no custom or recommended font, icons, or mouse cursors.

Note the “no specified license” part. If a theme does not have a specified license, it basically has no license. I haven’t perused *all* of the ancient IceWM mailiing lists yet, but I’ve found no explanation of what license the themes must be under. Under my (again, non-lawyer) understanding of United States law, that means the copyright/license is limited to the original author. Including the legal right to redistribute. *sigh*

Considering that some of the provided email addresses are now defunct, and other themes don’t even have an email address provided, there is no way to contact these authors for permission to redistribute them. Since they were provided to the old IceWM project, which is under the LGPLv2 license, I *could* risk assuming that the themes were intended to be under the same license as well, but this seems possibly unethical. There are very few that I have risked marking as redistributable, and only because they are based on the example themes that are provided in the source code repository — meaning that, as derivative works, they too have to be under the same license. See the benefit of specifying your work’s copyright license? 😀

I’m more-or-less sure about what themes are currently able to be redistributed at this point, and I plan to create a repository (not on Sourceforge) to share them as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can enjoy the spreadsheet — in both a single, multi-sheet ODS file or in a gzipped-compressed tar file of multiple, single-sheet CSV (comma-separated values) files, however you prefer.

Well, the files really are an ODS file and a .tar.gz file, but I had to rename them for WordPress to let me host them. I don’t like Javascript-heavy websites like Rapidshare, Megaupload, the perpetually broke Omploader, et cetera. Particularly because of the closed, nonfree nature of the system, but they’re just annoying regardless. 😐

Rename these as instructed in the parentheticals.

“Why didn’t you just provide REAL PDFs?” Because the spreadsheet looks AWFUL as a printout and in PDF form. 😉 Much too wide.

Rockbox: Bugfix and Feature For Nano2G

Just a quick note to myself, and to other users of Rockbox on the iPod Nano 2nd generation. I highly recommend using BOTH these patches, as the bugfix prevents a LOT of frustration and the feature saves some power.

Recently — for me, since I tried r27995 and updated the install procedure — the Nano2G has been plagued with odd, seemingly random panics when writing to “disk”.

*PANIC*
Stkov nand

Apparently this has to do with a stack overflow (I guess that’s what Stkov means :mrgreen:). The fix that actually works (even if the author thinks it’s a “kludge”) is a patch hosted at http://www.rockbox.org/tracker/task/11601. Note: the “underlying problem” was fixed and committed in r28011, this patch is not needed if you update to the current build. 😀

As for the feature, with another patch the actual screen will now shut off, not just the backlight! 😀 This is something I’ve been waiting for since I first started using Rockbox on the Nano2G. Here’s the patch: http://www.rockbox.org/tracker/task/11604, enjoy! Not really sure how much power it saves yet, but it works perfectly. About 4-5 seconds after the backlight shuts off, so will the screen itself. When you press a button (assuming the “hold” switch isn’t on, of course) both the backlight and the screen immediately come back on.

At the moment, these are not in the SVN yet, so they are not in the daily build. You’ll have to install Subversion and the packages needed to build the Rockbox toolchain, check out Rockbox’s svn repository, build the toolchain, download the patch into the root of the directory the repo was downloaded to, patch, and then configure and build Rockbox.

Don’t worry, if you aren’t familiar with the process the Rockbox wiki describes the process quite simply, and the process of building the toolchain is completely automatic. 🙂 Not a user of a GNU/Linux distro? Sorry to here that — the sections on developing with Cygwin (the recommended method if you have to use Window$) are here, for installing the toolchain, and here, for the build process.

Happy Rockboxing! 🙂

Metanote

Just letting you know — you can now disregard the previous note, I’ve decided to stick with the Titan theme.

I’ll miss the old shades-of-blue, CSS-only, image-free theme I had before though. I had put a lot of work into it — it was based on the Sandbox theme, had rounded corners, moved the sidebar to the right . . . *sigh*

I managed to get things looking generally right between browsers, too — although that took FOREVER, and STILL had some annoying, minor alignment issues that marred the perfection. And that was without zooming the page. 😡

Overall, though, I think this change is for the better. As much as I didn’t like having a lot of things stashed in the footer, it really helps keep things from being cramped in the sidebar. Specifically, I can have the links and widgets to help people navigate through the site more easily. In other words, it’s growing on me.

Well, that’s the Blog News for today. I already have a “real” post written up and scheduled to be published Monday morning, so be sure to check in then for some amusement/wonder. I need to go do some comparisions of a minimal Ubuntu 10.04 LTS install to an Arch Linux 2010.5 install. :mrgreen:

Computer . . . I Just Can’t See What You’re Saying

A week or two ago, the finicky backlight in my IBM Thinkpad 600E finally failed, leaving me with an impossible-to-read screen. I searched around, and ordered a replacement from Hong Kong.

It finally arrived today. I opened the envelope, and TADAH — it was too long. Apparently the directions I read at the time were wrong on which way to measure the screen. (For the record, for this machine you measure the *height* of the screen, not the *width*.)

I decided to try hacking together a way to use the backlight anyway, since I didn’t want to wait another several weeks for another backlight to arrive (and I couldn’t send it back for my ordering the wrong part). It went well — the plastic that spreads the light didn’t crack much after I scored through it partway from both sides with a razorblade, and after soldering the CCFL backlight it worked perfectly.

Then I tried to carefully wrap some electrical tape around where the wires were soldered to the CCFL. Not carefully enough, it seems — when I was just finishing the second end’s tape, the light snapped. 👿

I don’t want to rip the backlight out of my Dell’s old 1024×768 screen, even if it would fit, and I still don’t want to reorder, so this laptop is more-or-less out of commission for general usage as a laptop.

It uses an identical kernel configuration to the Dell Latitude C600 though, aside from the tricky sound. So, I suppose if I got another hard drive for it, and set the system up in the Latitude and transplant it into the Thinkpad, I could turn it into a practical torrent slave similar to what K. Mandla did with an even older machine. 😈 :mrgreen:

The LCD itself still works, though, so if I were to acquire one of those old-school “overhead projectors”, like this one on Wikipedia’s Overhead Projection article:

Overhead projector -- projects light through a transparent sheet with pictures, text, through a lense and onto a flat surface such as a wall.

I could make a cheapish video projector capable of 720p display. 😈 It would be noisy though, but perhaps it would be worth it. I should do some testing, though, as the LCD’s data ribbon plug only works with the Neomagic card in this laptop, and the card has only 2.5MB memory on it. Perhaps this info would help?

A tutorial from years ago on Tom’s Hardware can still be found on their site, here.

Here’s a video of one of these projectors in action. It was originally produced by Tom’s Hardware, and was available for download at the end of their article, but the download link is no longer functional. So, this is it from Youtube.

Sorry about the Flash, but I couldn’t find a way to embed it as HTML5 that WordPress.com would allow. 😦