Sunday, 25 November 2012

Just tested the Wheezy beta 4 netboot installer. Worked well, no regressions - well set for a good release.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Ken Starks - immediate need for help is over for the moment - but

From Ken Starks, of Helios Project / Reglue

From the desk of just-so-you-know.....

Thomas Knight and I have agreed that the fund drive to aid in paying for necessary surgery for me should be halted.  I will do a full blog about this entire effort this Monday but suffice it to say, you have donated more than enough to take care of my immediate needs and those down the road.  Asking for anything more would be taking advantage of a loving and generous community.  While it is far from adequate, the only thing I can offer you is my eternal thanks.  It just seems so....small of a thing to give in return.

They will not stop the Indiegogo campaign until it reaches its time limit unfortunately so that will remain in effect for the next 30-some hours.   Please do not donate anything further as  I have more than enough to cover my expenses.  I will explain more about that on my blog Monday.

If you helped spread the word about this campaign, please pass this posting along with the same intensity.  I would deeply appreciate it.

See also now: update from Ken:

Donations for Ken himself may be over: the work of Helios/Reglue still remains good, important and useful - the world benefits for investment in education. I would urge that this is still a worthwhile charity to contribute to as you get Linux into the hands of young people and the disadvantaged who can then USE it.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Raspberry Pi - Debian Wheezy rather than Raspbian

I note that the Raspberry Pi folks are recommending the Raspbian fork of Debian for the Pi. This is the hard float port to ARM version 6 undertaken by Mike Thompson and Peter Green (who is also a Debian developer).

That being said, though, they have also released an armel copy that is fully binary compatible with Debian Wheezy for use with software that can't readily be rebuilt e.g. Oracle Java. This is understood to be slower than Raspbian but otherwise contains identical software.

The changes made by the Raspberry Pi folks are fairly minimalist:  /opt contains some of the graphics example code which takes advantage of the non-free GPU and the raspi-config script under /usr/bin which allows initial configuration at first boot.

The /etc/apt/get/sources.list refers solely to Debian repositories and the software supplied by the Raspberry Pi project can be readily updated to latest Debian Wheezy. All in all a nice way to have a silent Debian machine in a tiny case.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Helios - Ken Starks - appeal for (time-critical) help

For anybody that doesn't know - Ken Starks is the man behind the Helios Project - recycling computers, putting Linux on them, donating them to youngsters and the needy in Austin Texas.

He has a cancer diagnosis but his disability pension is enough to defeat his state provided insurance. Now he himself needs the help of the community.

More details here: and his partner's post above.

and here: Thomas A. Knight, who is setting up donations.


There is now also a donate button at the Blog of Helios (

Enough has been raised so far to buy Ken an appropriate monitor - because of the effects of radiotherapy, he's been unable to tolerate using a monitor with backlighting.

One donor has also stepped in to buy a month's drug treatment.

The initial target -US $5000 - has been met but The cost of an operating theatre session is at least US $50,000. All donations continue to be gratefully received.

Should efforts for raising funds for Ken himself be unsuccessful, all surplus funds raised will be ploughed back into the Helios Project (now known as Reglue following a recent merger with another local computer charity).

The Helios Project has been associated with Software in the Public Interest [SPI - also the umbrella organisation supporting Debian] for some years.

UPDATE2 - From Thomas A. Knight's blog referenced above:

By Thomas A. Knight on Sun 19 Aug 2012 07:33:49 am $11,000 so far, and still going strong. The outpouring of support for this is amazing. My most humble thanks to all contributors.

Even though we are still far from our goal, this has been far more successful than I ever thought possible. Thank you.

UPDATE3 - From Ken Starks, Sunday 26 August 2012

The amount of money needed has been raised. Donations to Helios Project/Reglue are welcome, as ever - but Ken's immediate needs are satisfactorily met and he himself doesn't wish to profit further from the community's goodwill. As he says, he can't thank us enough
More news at is due on 27/08/2012

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Back to internet and Debian after a week without any network connectivity. Didn't quite go mad :(

A couple of installs recently of Wheezy: three by installing minimal Squeeze and then upgrading, two by using the new beta of Wheezy's installer.

One very desirable side effect: I gave away a laptop and a couple of other deskside machines and one of the recipients gave me a Thinkpad Z60t.
Installed perfectly with Wheezy beta installer, all hardware recognised and Wifi working without non-free drivers.

All good - sorry for blank post earlier to Planet Debian :)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Raspberry Pi - its's here in volume

The Raspberry Pi's are now shipping in volume and are gradually spreading. The site at has links to a map showing the spread worldwide. This post is being edited from a Pi on my desk and using Midori as a lightweight browser.

After all the hype: it works, it runs Debian Squeeze well and can update from Debian apt repositories. Graphics drivers are non-free but I'd hope there would be a way to work together with the development team to get them put into the non-free repositories.

Blogger doesn't like the browser and suggests an update to Google Chrome but that's life, I suppose :(

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Raspberry Pi - shipping in volume

Farnell are now shipping in volume worldwide and will shortly be relaxing the restriction to one Raspberry Pi per customer: RS are also in the process of inviting those with expressions of interest in time order.

The OS of choice is currently Debian - the developers at Broadcom in Cambridge are releasing SD card images fairly regularly at the moment.

There is a large amount of interest worldwide and this before release for education - this can only be good.

[Mine is due week beginning 28 May :) ]

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Raspberry Pi credit card computer - first two thousand shipping

RS and Farnell have started contacting the first wave of customers: some of the first Raspberry Pi boards will be shipping tomorrow and over the weekend.

Similarly, the two distribution companies are ramping up for constant rolling production and mass volume shipping.

Raspberry Pi post

[Courtesy - Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi foundation which is a registered charity in the UK]

Friday, 6 April 2012

Raspberry Pi ARM credit card computer - update

Still waiting for mine - though I did buy a case for when it comes. News from - the prototype submitted for EMC testing has apparently passed, though the paperwork has to be validated (blog posting). 
 It has passed CE marking, FCC part 15 marking, Canadian certification and the Australian C-Tick scheme. There is also an updated trademark policy at new trademark rules  ( ) and a video over at the Farnell/Element14 website from Eben Upton detailing how to set up the Raspberry Pi, shots of booting, explanations of how to use an editor, compile a first Python program and how to build the graphics demos provided. ( )

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Raspberry Pi - three distributions and media centre

Fedora 14 Raspberry Pi Remix now available. Debian 6.0.4 available and Arch Linux port also available. OpenELEC media player distribution has also  been ported to RaspberryPi - first port to ARM - but not yet tested on final production hardware, though working on the alpha boards.

Arch, Debian and Fedora torrenting - and proving very popular. It should be interesting to see how well the Raspberry Pi works in education - in the interim while the first batches go to developers, there will be a huge amount of use. What will be interesting is that this will mean LOTS of Linux hardware in people's hands at affordable prices.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Raspberry Pi - order

Farnell did take note of the pre-order: I've just had an email asking me to confirm an order. I've just put one in for 30 days delivery ...

A work colleague has also added me to a list he's putting together - this means I might get two :(

Torrent was running at 5.90 sharing ratio a couple of days ago when I stopped it. It's now running at 1.4 share ratio - there's a lot of interest

I put up most of the Debian AMD64 DVDs plus a couple of netinsts at the same time - only a couple of those have reached 1.0 share ratio or better and been deleted.

UPDATE - Using instructions on how to run the image in QEMU, I have managed to get the basic Debian image meant for the RaspberryPI to run on my small i686 laptop.

Well done to the folks at the University of Cambridge who've been using this as a development distribution: Fedora from University of Toronto will follow.
 LXDE, compilers - and all running in 256M :)

Monday, 27 February 2012

Raspberry Pi - announcement

_Something_ is going to happen at 06:00 GMT on 29th February. I predict a server meltdown ..


Product available from RS Components and - both servers not responding. Effectively a worldwide DDOS because of demand 29/2/2012

== 07:20 or so ==

Farnell sold out almost immediately: now taking pre-orders for the next batch
RS may be taking orders later in the week. [Per RaspberryPi Twitter feed]

Update: RS are also taking pre-orders and expressions of interest. Both companies will do their best to get stock to all ASAP. 

Please don't blame Eben, Liz or the other RaspberryPi folks for this - they've worked miracles to get this far.

To negotiate proper licensing agreements with the two largest UK electronics distributors and get them to undertake manufacturing and distribution is, actually, a masterstroke for a small non-profit organisation.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Open Advice - Free book detailing lessons for FLOSS

A very useful little book from various developers and others: things they wish they'd known before starting out. A very sensible contribution from Debian's own Evan Prodromou amongst other names I knew and recognised and some interesting folk I'd not heard of. is the downloadable PDF although source and so on is also available. There are likely to be forums for comments and improvements.

[UPDATE - I've just had a go at the training exercises listed at which are linked from the site. Not a bad revision on patching/SVN/git and generally using the tools needed initially to contribute to FLOSS. A good job well done]

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

UK Govt website rewrite == FLOSS

See -  UK major Government web site rewritten using primarily Free/Libre/Open Source Software :)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Computers here: mostly Debian :)

I've just had a quick look back - most of my blog posts here reference Debian and Debian installs. Most of the blog posts at (paid) work also reference Debian and Linux, of course :)

A quick retrospective: there used to be four computers under the desk and one above. At the moment, I've got rid of a few computers and there's a Sun in the garage

Desk is still 1.5 m x 0.75: On top of the desk, there's a mini-ITX board "home built" computer and an HP Proliant microserver. Above it there's a four port KVM, a cable modem and Wifi router - ANOTHER WiFi router (free FON Wifi for others).

Under the desk:  1 x mini tower machine waiting for a new home, 1 x tower machine, 1 x plug computer. All of these run Debian, though some of them are mostly switched off - at least one runs Debian testing.

The netbook has gone to Africa with a colleague who was building networks for rural Kenya, along with one of the larger computers, a SheevaPlug and an NSLU2 - all running Debian - and a Chinese netbook with ARM processor which was running a Debian derivative. The laptop I'm using was abandoned by my fiancee as unworkable under Windows - it still has slightly flakey hardware but runs Debian 6.0.4 fine.

[For completeness, my daughter's computer is three or four years old and runs Windows 7 for school work (but also had an Ubuntu VM for a while): my fiancee's laptop is potentially the fastest machine in the house and certainly has the most memory and runs Windows 7.]

Is this an abnormal quota of computers for three people?

A reference picture is above

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Repurposing an old machine

The old machine that I installed Windows XP on in 2009 is now under a desk next door. 1GHz Athlon 32 bit, 40G hard drive, old Radeon card and 512MHz of memory.

It does have 2 removable media drives: one DVD rewriter and one DVD drive.

This is, now, the sort of machine you'd throw away - it won't handle Windows 7 well: it barely handled Windows XP It flies under Debian 6.0 with libreoffice from debian-backports.

It will soon go on to a friend of mine whose computers are even older: he's likely to use this machine extensively because it has real serial ports.

Use Linux - it makes sense on any hardware.

Debian Wheezy

Just upgraded one of the computers here to Wheezy (currently Debian Testing).

The machine is an HP Proliant Microserver - 1.3GHz AMD Neo II processor, integrated graphics and 250G disk - so low power and low spec. I' ve added three more 250G hard disks.

Very impressed indeed by KDE 4.6 and the general speed of response of a desktop environment on a low spec system. No audio subsystem on the system - it's a server - so I can't speak for sound quality.

I say this every time round about now in the release cycle: the next release of Debian (due later this year sometime) will be excellent :)