Monday, 27 July 2015

Bye SPARC - for now

So it looks as if it's the end for the Debian SPARC port that is primarily 32 bit, for now at least. Too little available modern hardware, too few porters and an upstream hardware provider emotionally tied to significant licensing and support agreements.

If 64 bit SPARC hardware were more available, I'd be interested again. SPARC has given me two of my favourite moments in Debian. I helped a colleague to duplicate existing software and move architecture from Intel to SPARC mainly by copying across the list of packages. 

It also allowed me in ?? 1999 / 2000 ?? to take a SPARC 20 to London Olympia to a Linux Expo where one of the principal sponsors was Sun. They laughed on their stand when I set up older hardware with minimal memory but were not so amused when I demonstrated Debian, full X Window environment and KDE successfully.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

CI20 - MIPS dev. board - first impressions.

Annoyingly, I've bought one of these just before the form factor changes and it becomes a nice square board.

Up and running immediately out of the box, which is nice.

The kernel supplied on NAND flash is recent enough that it supports CONFIG_FHANDLE which is needed for the upgrade to Jessie.

The instructions for Jessie upgrade are straightforward and appear to be working correctly: they also suggest apt-get autoremove and apt-get autoclean to clean up which is a very nice touch.

The sources.list in apt was already pointing to my country's Debian mirror which was even nicer.

Quite a good experience immediately from unboxing: it also adds to the number of machine architectures I've run Debian on:
alpha, amd64, arm, armel, armhf, i386, sparc - not bad for a start.

It's a bit slow - but it's a SoC, so what can you expect? The PowerVR graphics demos were spectacular  but the drivers are very definitely non-free - you can't have everything.

[I do notice that there is an FSF-friendly Debian variant, though not yet certified as such - presumably not including PowerVR drivers]

(Lots of occurrences of the word "nice" in this post that I've just noticed. It's either understatement or just that I'm British)

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Jessie - very nearly released as I write :) :)

I've spent a chunk of the day testing installs of Jessie on various hardware I have here.

About 8 AMD64 installs later, I've almost done testing many of the variants.

One i586 install done - that's a really old laptop :)

I'm about to re-install the Cubietruck to test an armhf install :)

It's been a really long day - but we're almost there for the final mirror push :)

This is what it's all about - time on IRC, lots of work, lots of fellow feeling: it may only be once every couple of years, but the value is immense.

Also see  :)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Windows 8.1 / Debian 8 dual boot on Lenovo laptop

Just proved this to be feasible on a new SSD. This was done using Windows bootable media and a Jessie netinst. The Debian netinst was copied onto a USB stick.

1. Switch  Secure Boot to "off" in BIOS / system settings

2. Set machine to UEFI boot.

3. Install Windows 8.1 to first part of the disk in a custom install. On a 128GB disk, I gave Windows 8.1 30GB.

4. Install Jessie from USB: allow Grub efi to install.

It does work and was a useful demonstration for a friend.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Cubietruck now running Debian :)

Following a debootstrap build of sid on one machine to complete the cross-compilation of mainline u-boot, I managed to get vanilla Debian installed on my Cubietruck

A USB-serial cable is a must for the install and for any subsequent major reconfiguration as the stock Debian installer does not have drivers for the video / audio. Various Cubietruck derivative distributions do - but the Sunxi kernel appears flaky

All was fine for a few days, then I decided to try and configure the Wifi by hand configuring /etc/network/interfaces and wpasupplicant files. I managed to break the network connectivity by doing things in a hurry and typing blind. I'd put it into the appropriate closed metal case so was rather stuck.

A friend carefully took the case apart by easing off the metal cover plates, removed two screws holding the whole thing together and precision drilled  the metal cover plates on one side so that four screws can be undone and the entire inner part of the case can slide out as one while the other metal clover plate remains captive. He will follow this procedure with his two later.

Very pleased with the way it's turned out. The WiFi driver has non-free firmware but I now have a tiny, silent machine, drawing about 3W tops and both interfaces are now working.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Formal key transitiion to 4096 bit key

Following mini-Debconf and submitting my key to keyring-maint, here's a copy of the note marking the transition. I do retain a copy of the old key: it has not been compromised or revoked (until I'm sure my new key reaches the Debian keyring) and my vote in the GR is validly signed with the old key.

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2014 08:11:53 +0000
From: "Andrew M.A. Cater"
Subject: Debian RT - new key for amacater
User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.23 (2014-03-12)

Hash: SHA1

pub   1024D/E93ADE7B 2001-07-04
      Key fingerprint = F3FA 2752 1327 7904 846D  C0DE 3233 C127 E93A DE7B
uid                  Andrew Cater (Andrew M.A. Cater)
sub   1024g/E8C8CC00 2001-07-04

pub   4096R/22EF1F0F 2014-08-29
      Key fingerprint = 5596 5E39 93E0 6E2B 5BA5  CD84 4AA8 FC24 22EF 1F0F
uid                  Andrew M.A. Cater (Andy Cater)
uid                  Andrew M.A. Cater (non-Debian email)
sub   4096R/923AB77E 2014-08-29

This is intended to replace the old key by the new key as part of a key transition from old, insecure keys

All the best,

Version: GnuPG v1


This because Google (and Planet Debian) are more reliable than my email inbox.

[Keys exchanged at the mini-Debconf have now been signed with the new 4096 bit key]


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Still at the mini-Debconf in Cambridge

Lots of talks, hopefully being live streamed.

Lots of side chats going on - also a room full of folk typing on laptops while lectures are going on - multi-tasking, as ever.

New ideas bouncing around as people see interesting possibilities - all good fun, as ever.