Arnt Gulbrandsen
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The year of linux on the desktop

Clearly, 2016 is the year of linux on the desktop. I bought a new box and everything just worked. My three screens all work without needing any configuration, the fans are silent normally but spin up if needed, the temperature sensors all deliver reasonable results.

(Well, pulseaudio doesn't work.)

Two headlines on Hacker News

This headline appeared in my Hacker News feed this morning: Why systemd is taking over. I fear it's right, systemd is taking over, and it's not good. I had a terrible time getting linux to work on my new laptop, which is why I have sworn to try Devuan on that laptop as soon as it's installable.

But what is systemd taking over, exactly? The next headline was Chromebooks spank Windows and might have added while traditional linux laptops disappear from view. Half my friends have switched to Mac laptops and last September I couldn't find a single ten-inch laptop with ≥4G RAM and capable of running linux. Not even one.


Custom filofax paper

The two pictures show things I usually bring along in my hand luggage on the plane. Guess which one the security screeners want to look at most often.

Correct! The razor gets a brief glance or no attention at all (usually), the organiser looks odd on their screens and is often inspected. Mine was going to become a 9600bps modem when it grew up, as I have told many a security screener.

Ever since I got my first duplex printer I've made my own paper for it. Nothing very fancy, really. Four constraints only: ⓐ I like to write on the right-hand side, ⓑ occasionally I want to measure something so there should be a ruler, […More…]

An ARM Chromebook arrived

The thing weighs nothing and feels cheap, but not badly made. I sort of like the way it feels — it's well engineered, but its flimsiness urges me to set up proper backups on day one. My reaction surprises me, but I like the compromise. Hardware does break, it's good to face that.

The SD card I need to install linux still hasn't arrived.

Ubuntu 12.10 on the Nokia Booklet

The Nokia Booklet will not resume from sleep using 12.10 and I cannot find the problem. 12.04 works, so today is the day when I learn whether my backup regime really works. (Update: It worked oh so slowly. I assume it's time to stop upgrading linux on this laptop and get a new one soonish, so I ordered an ARM Chromebook.)

More on Ubuntu 12.04 and the Nokia Booklet

I've written earlier that Ubuntu 12.04 runs well on the Nokia Booklet. True, it does. But I glossed over the pain of installing. Sorry.

My first problem was that I had installed an SSD, and the 3.0 linux kernel, the chipset and the SSD weren't friends. The installer would die immediately after partitioning the disk.

I got around that by booting ubuntu (actually kubuntu) from a USB stick, choosing try kubuntu, connecting to a wireless network, opening a terminal and […More…]

Linux, SCH, Crucial C300, and it works

I had replaced the Nokia Booklet, but somehow it replaced its replacement again. Something about its shape, about the keyboard. Whatever it is, the Booklet wants me to use it, and the replacement gathers dust. I'll try again when Apple releases retina macbooks, because 1GB RAM is really not enough.

The retima macbooks aren't here yet, so I tried to install Ubuntu 12.04 on the Nokia. It didn't work very well with the SSD I had installed. Apparently the Crucial C300 (or perhaps the Intel SCH controller) doesn't like a trim command of 1Mbyte or more, so the kernel reports a timeout during data set management, resets the drive, and from that point things don't work very well at all.

The only workaround is to boot into a live file system, open a console window, fdisk the disk (or do something else to make the kernel notice the disk), locate a file called /sys/…/scsi_disk/…/provisioning_mode, and write unmap into it. Then install linux as usual. Once you boot, write the same echo -n unmap > /sys/…/provisioning_mode command into /etc/rc.local so it's run at boot. I think the disabled provisioning mode would be more appropriate, but the kernel ignored me when I tried to set that, so…

The ReadyNAS broke down

After a few years of service, my ReadyNAS NV+ broke one day. The hardware was fine, but the software had painted itself into a corner and didn't want to boot at all.

Googling showed that lots of other people have been bitten by the same bug. I phoned support. The support person told me that my box was out of warranty, and would I please post to a web forum and I'm sure someone will help you. I could tell from his voice that he didn't really believe that.

I eventually moved the drives to a linux box. LVM (on ubuntu 10.04) recognised the drives automagically and ext3 let me mount the file system, so I bought a new Synology NAS and copied the data to it.

When I did a factory reinstallation (the hard way) the ReadyNAS booted without problems. From now on I'll use it to back up other devices, nothing more.

ReadyNAS runs linux, of sorts

It's debian. apt-get install works. But they removed some files without telling dpkg, and edited some, too.

For example, they removed the man pages. Why? It's a NAS: Disk is the one resource it has in abundance, and the man pages aren't even big.


Linux on the Nokia Booklet 3G

My previous laptop (a Lifebook P7210) grew bad-tempered. Investigate or replace? Stupid question considering how much netbooks cost.

My new laptop is a Nokia Booklet 3G, a moderately expensive netbook with good battery lifetime, a 3G modem, a high-resolution screen and no fan. Ubuntu 10.10 runs well […More…]

More on the Samsung SCX-4828FN

I've had the 4828 for half a year, and have had several bad experiences.

I have crashed the printer twice. Once by printing the guice guide using chromium and once by printing a book-length ΤΕΧ (dvips) document, mostly text with some tables and figures.

The copier is really, really bad at copying grey-on-white or green-on-white text. […More…]

Linux and the Samsung SCX-4828FN multifunction printer

I have a Samsung SCX-4828FN printer/fax/­copier/scanner, and use it with linux and BSD. (Update: I've a follow-up posting about the printer.)

The printer is fine for black and white text, such as I usually print: Fast, crisp text with fine edges, nicely readable. Duplex printing just works. The printer can print quite close to the paper's edge, too. […More…]

ReadyNAS NV+, WD Caviar Green disks

WD Caviar Green disks (WD15EADS-00S2B0 in my case) like to unload the drive heads to save power. The ReadyNAS likes to load them again. This causes two problems: Frequent eight-second delays as the drive heads move away from the platters and then back towards them, and in my case, the drives would reach their stated lifetime (300,000 load cycles) in less than a year.

Several solutions exist. […More…]

My monitor crashes the Linux kernel

If my Benq M108 mouse is plugged into the USB hub of my Eizo S2100 monitor while linux 2.6.31 (and several others) boots on my Zotac ION-ITX-B motherboard, then the kernel freezes after this line:

[ 0.828204] io scheduler cfq registered (default)

Numlock does nothing, I need to press the any key.

If I unplug the mouse from the hub, or the hub from the PC, then the boot succeeds. […More…]

ReadyNAS NV+

I bought a ReadyNAS NV+ years ago, and don't like it. It serves files, but does so many things badly that next time I want to add more disk space, I intend to purchase something else. […More…]

Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook S6010

I have a Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook S6010, a small laptop with good battery lifetime, WLAN, 100Mbps ethernet and some things I don't care about. I've never used its modem, USB and firewire ports, and hardly ever its sound chip.

During its lifetime, this laptop has had two stable configurations. […More…]

Sync cards

In a not-so recent thread on the defunct linux-isp list I wrote slightly harshly about Emerging Technologies' driver for its ET/5025 synchronous serial card, which I was using at the time to talk HDLC to a Cisco router at my ISP via a 64k line.

I had been using the ET card for almost a year and was getting rather restless, suspecting the card or driver to be the reason for my much too frequent crashes. David Mandelstam of Sangoma, one of ET's competitors, wrote to me and offered me a substantial discount in return for the card, and for my writing to linux-isp about my experiences with both cards. […More…]