Sunday, 8 November 2015

MiniDebconf 2015 ARM, Cambridge - ARM, Cambridge 1640 - final wrap-up - thanks to all

Two days worth of sprints - lots of hugely good work done.

Two days worth of open days with talks - lots of interest, feedback, chatting out of earshot in the breakout rooms.

Two days worth of monetary and other input from all the sponsors:  ARM, Codethink, Cosworth, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Collabora  - PRICELESS

Sociableness in pubs and so on overnight

Thanks also to Steve and Jo McIntyre for a houseful of guests and to all on front desk

And also lastly, again to ARM, as in all these posts because of this great venue and for the small army of ARM pass holders who have let us in and out of doors all this time.

MiniDebconf, ARM, Cambridge - ARM 8 November 1600

 Peter Green's talk very clear and well received.

Now for (almost) the last of the day - Steve McIntyre (93sam / Sledge) for his annual presentation on the state of UEFI

MiniDebconf ARM Cambridge 1525 8 November

Good talk on what it means to transfer LARGE data sets in academia and the downfalls of networking.

Peter Green is about to give a talk on Raspbian - these talks filling in for the missing talk mentioned earlier

Raspbian project - What is it, why it was needed, who is behind it etc.

Lots of typing around me and IRC on #debconf-cambridge

Edit methods - ARM Cambridge - 1500

MiniDebconf postings are being typed on my lap on a laptop real time.

I can't remember the consistent format of how I titled them last time :)

Thanks to all for coffee carrying, to Planet Debian for getting the postings up so quickly, to front desk, organisers, facilitators.

Next up - Network Performance Tuning: Lessons from the Coal Face by Christopher J Walker

[And yes, elgriff, I'm breaking all your good advice I heard less than an hour ago]

MiniDebconf ARM CAmbridge 1400 - ARM, Cambridge 8 November

Andy (rattusrattus) on Video team sprint over the last few days with Ivo de Decker and Stefano Rovera

Background/Existing infrastructure/Why change? [DV/Firewire are EOL]
Things to do

1. Replace twinpact video slide capture system with something that can capture HDMI - better resolution,- digital all the way
Using a pre-production prototype at the moment. CCC also hoping to use this. All kit needs to go into one big box with sensible power supplies
2. Replace DVswitch
Better resolution, select sources, record all inputs, record all edits
Gstreamer based transport solution - import/output format agnostic
GST-Switch - possibly dead? VoctoMix looks more promising - CCC are testing this. First use in anger may be December
3. Improve streaming - single stream out. Encode stream on in-room hardware.
Sharing is a thing ... CCC workflow and setup are good  - everyone should share technology. FOSDEM has 25 rooms ...
4 Replace/expand AV equipment 
Workstation PC - SDI capture/video mixing/local record and encode
Laptop for remote UI
2 cameras
Opsis frame grabber
5 BoF Room recording - lots of options to handle differently
1 Operator maximum / preferably automated
Video conferencing camera / microphone setup
Frame grabber for slides / Gobby feed
6 Logistics
Organise equipment by room
Kit must be kept deployable
Quartermastering necessary
Checklists for each box
Set up a lab for development and release

MiniDebconf Cambridge - ARM, Cambridge, 1340

Lightning talks -

David McBride Scalable infrastructure package distribution - even more mad idea than last year for his scalable package distribution round University of Cambridge - npn

Iain Learmonth - Vmdebootstrap sprint report detailing the work from the Sprint on Thursday/Friday. Live-build-ng needs more unit testing, boot testing, documentation. Working now and some images have been built but still in progress

Helen (elgriff) talking about her weird keyboard
Repetittive strain injuries, carpal tunnel injuries.
Extensive computer use / brass instrument playing AND ignoring pain doing the above. Dont do this.
Vertical keyboards - SafeType and Yogitype.
You should care. If it hurts stop.You don't come with a five year warranty

Stefano Rovera (stefanor) - SVN-Git migration. Debian Python migration team did this for hundreds of packages. "Subversion is really, really evil - it's more evil than you thought"

Sledge - Update on ARM ports. Three ports - armel - older hardware. Armhf - ARMv7 hard float ABI. ARM64 / aarch64 - in Jessie - mostly working. Bits and pieces to be done. Over time, requirements have gone up and there are bits and pieces to work on. For the oldest machines in armel there's an amount of  work to do - port may not survive beyond stretch: manpower / people who care is critical.

MiniDebconf Cambridge - ARM, Cambridge 1115 8 November

Just had a really good couple of sessions: one from the DPL including Q&A, then a good overview of reproducible builds and where we are today  from Holger Levsen (h0lger) and Chris Lamb (lamby)

Then a 2 minute silence at 11.00 as is customary in the UK on this date.

Now Lucy Wayland - who says she has a brainful of IEEE754 from a few years ago working on safety-critical systems so she's unburdening by sharing with all of us - everything you wanted to know about floating point but were afraid to ask (and including a primer on signed/unsigned and fixed point as part of the explanation)

Steve Capper's Java presentation is unfortunately not going to take place, so this afternoon's live stream schedule will be different.

Coffee going down well.

Debian MiniConf Cambridge - ARM, November 8 0930

Auditorium fairly full - waiting for Bits from the DPL talk to kick off proceedings.

Thanks to ARM staff for getting me in, sat down, with coffee and ready to blog. Front desk friendly as ever ... and here we go.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Debian miniconf, Cambridge - ARM, 1430 7 November

A couple of good quick lightning talks from Dmitri Ledkovs, Daniel Silverstone and Phil Hands

A good talk on mass-deployment of Debian for Durham University's workstations. Cue a small huddle of people talking similar topics and exchanging useful information

Lars Wirzenius is now talking about how to speed up Obnam, his backup program.

Auditorium in silence - some of us heads down, hunched over  laptops, but laptop keyboards are silent these days.

Debconf, ARM, Cambridge - 1250 7 November

Lunchtime - full talks over for the minute. Lightning talks may happen soon-ish.

Isolated knots of people chatting: Video Sprint folk chatting about how much can be done in time for Debconf 2016 in South Africa in the break out room.

Three or four people on laptops immediately behind me. Activity never stops

Thanks go to ARM for the venue in a good auditorium space, and also to the other sponsors who have sponsored our lunches or other expenses - and the  staff here on the weekend / out of hours which I would guess is unusual.

Mini Debconf ARM Cambridge 1115 7 November

Between talks - coding and testing going on in the row infront of me - vmdebootstrap rework for Debian Live CD still going on.

Beaglebone SBC hanging from a Thinkpad in the row behind

Others talking - most getting coffee

Next up - Daniel Silverstone on Lua

Mini Debconf ARM CAmbridge 7 November 1022

Now watching Neil Williams (codehelp) on testing, continuous integration, ARM diversity and the problems of a huge spectrum of small ARM devices.

Mass testing == better for everyone using ARM but it's hard.

Betty Dall presented on HP Enterprise's The Machine as the first session: very interesting and dependent on ARM SoCs and Debian Linux. Linux running everywhere, even on huge hardware still being built.

Mini Debconf 2015 ARM Cambridge - ARM, 7 November

Belated thanks to the ARM folk who arranged car park spaces for me for Thursday and Friday. I'm mobility impaired so this made a huge difference.

Today is the more open day - not so much programming, more presentations and talks. Also being live streamed.

Schedule is slightly changed but the wiki is correct

The auditorium is pretty full even at 0925

Thanks as ever to front desk and the ARM security staff who have wekcined ** welcomed us. Here's to a good day

** typing on laptop balanced on lap

Friday, 6 November 2015

MiniDebconf Cambridge ARM, Cambridge 1020 6 November

Back here. Now a silent room - seven people on laptops in the Video Sprint rooom. A couple of low-key mutterings as various "stuff" is attempted to be ported.

Last night most folk watched the fireworks - November 5th is the celebration in UK which involves fireworks. [Obligatory Wikipedia link ]

Cambridge has a huge free public display and it was apparently well worth watching.

A side conversation on keyboards - Belgians, UK English, Germans - but most of us have US English layout in our touch typing fingers, I suspect. Changing keyboards is fun :)

I may have been talked into packaging something for Debian for the first time in a very long time :)

Thursday, 5 November 2015

MiniDebconf2015, ARM Cambridge 1320 5 November

Back after lunch - chatting about video and stuff with the Video Team sprint.
Thanks to the ARM employees swiping us in and out and shepherding the bunch of us over to lunch and keeping track of us.

From behind me, there's the chat over sorting out a switch to handle the LAN setup to test the video equipment later on.

Next door, they're busy, busy, busy - four tables full of people working fairly quietly. Steve McIntyre (Sledge) is running around facilitating, answering questions, sorting out "stuff"

Front desk are still front desking although most of us have arrived: I'm guessing they'll be busiest over the weekend.

Three of us on laptops doing whatever in here: Helen busy working to make sense of scribbled notes on whiteboards into a proper diagramming package - green and red marker pen on two walls full of whiteboard becomes a sensible project - objectives, bullet points, tasking - seemingly far too much organisation for this sort of thing and not the way some of us naturally work but necessary if we're not to forget something tiny but vital.

Thanks for this expertise, Helen, that most of us don't have :)

Cambridge MiniDebConf2015 - ARM, Cambridge 1030 5 November

Now safely here - good to be home with the family. Some old faces who were here last year, some new.

Roomful of laptops: fairly quiet hum of people coding. I've stolen what could be the largest table - but I have integrated a Cubietruck so far this morning :)

Next door is the Video team sprint - working to try and get something sorted to replace dvswitch - the software behind all the Debconf videos.

ARM staff helpful as ever, good surroundings and, of course, good coffee :)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Ken Starks (Helios) of Reglue could use your help

I'm not normally one to respond to online appeals for money: there are often far too many of them. Ken Starks is a well known Linux personality who set up a charity to provide needy local people with Linux and recycled machines. He's also a good guy who works hard for this as something he believes in: this is no scam. The Helios Project (from before his own charity merged with another known as Reglue) is also still an SPI project as far as I know

Ken is currently holding a fund raising drive to replace his vehicle used for the Reglue project on Indiegogo. This is probably most of interest to US readers who may be able to treat this as charitable donation - the things he's offering in return for donations are most readily shipped within the US and Canada.

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Rescuing a Windows 10 failed install using GParted Live on CD

Windows 10 is here, for better or worse. As the family sysadmin, I've been tasked to update the Windows machines: ultimately, failure modes are not well documented and I needed Free software and several hours to recover a vital machine.

The "free upgrade for users of prior Windows versions" is a limited time offer for a year from launch. Microsoft do not offer licence keys for the upgrade: once a machine has updated to Windows 10 and authenticated on the 'Net, then a machine can be re-installed and will be regarded by Microsoft as pre-authorised. Users don't get the key at any point.

Although Microsoft have pushed the fact that this can be done through Windows Update, there is the option to use Microsoft's Media Creation tool to do the upgrade directly on the Windows machine concerned. This would be necessary to get the machine to upgrade and register before a full clean install of Windows 10 from media.

This Media Creation Tool failed for me on three machines with "Unable to access System reserved partition'

All the machines have SSDs from various makers: a colleague suggested that resizing the partition might enable the upgrade to continue.  Of the machines that failed, all were running Windows 7 - two were running using BIOS, one using UEFI boot on a machine with no Legacy/CSM mode.

Using GParted live .iso  - itself based on Debian Live - allowed me to resize the System partition from 100MiB to 200MiB by moving the Windows partition but  Windows became unbootable.

In two cases, I was able to boot from DVD Windows installation media and make Windows bootable again at which point the Microsoft Media Creation Tool could be used to install Windows 10

The UEFI boot machine proved more problematic: I had to create a Windows 7 System Repair disk and repair Windows booting before Windows 10 could proceed.

My Windows-using colleaague had used only Windows-based recovery disks: using Linux tools allowed me to repair Windows installations I couldn't boot

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Poetry for Debconf15 poetry night

Debian's reached the age of 22
I wish I could be there with you
In Heidelberg, fair German city
To share, in person, this my ditty

Rhonda's worked hard - the work is done
With poems now begins the fun
While others play cards or hack new code
Or dream of running down the road

Free software, arguments, warmth, good cheer
Too soon all over 'til next year
 All of the best are there / on 'Net
Here's hope that it's the best Debconf yet

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.