Category Archives: Open Source

Open Source, Free Software, and similar

Sound on Linux has some quirks left

I'm a stupid person.

When I bought a new PC the last time, I went for a ASUS M2NPV-MX motherboard with built-inASUS M2NPV MX Motherboard sound and nvidia graphics. I had been told that the nvidia open source driver is fine enough for 2D graphics, and since I never game or anything I'm perfectly fine with 2D-only.

Ok, it didn't take me long to realize two things about my motherboard:

  1. The built-in audio "nVidia Corporation MCP51 High Definition Audio" is not supported by Linux/ALSA. It seems to detect it fine and it can show what it is and everything but it can't produce any sound.
  2. The open source nVidia driver does not support DVI in resolutions beyond 1280x1024, and it made me wanna cry. I switched to VGA instead, only to realize that the analog output on this board is really noticeably worse than my previous and much older trustworthy Matrox card. (New MutePCI-Express board in the pipe.)

There's nobody to blame but myself. Lessons for next time: check the audio support better and do not go with nVidia graphics (at all) until they have a good open source driver - and really really check this. (No need to tell me there's a binary-only nvidia driver, I know about it but I hate it and I hate the inconveniences dealing with binary drivers cause when you upgrade your system etc.)

Funnily, the motherboard has built-in Ethernet (of course) but I don't normally use that, as I'm on 802.11g only. My work computer is on the upper floor and my (24 mbit) ADSL connection is downstairs and I like not having to connect all my computers with cables running all over.

Music NoteSo, back to the story, to get sound for my box I got an old SoundBlaster PCI card from a friend (hej Kjell) and inserted it in the last available PCI slot (the other slot has the wifi card).

Now, when I upgrade to a fresh new kernel version with Debian unstable the system boots up and defaults to the (detected but not working built-in) hda_intel stuff, and I must run alsaconf to select my ens1371-equipped SoundBlaster instead. But this is not enough. After I've ran alsaconf I can't get any sound out still, but I have to reboot and when it comes up again I must run aumixer and pull up the master volume and wham, now I have sound...

I'm quite sure this can be fixed in another way, but trying to learn this and figure how I can repair my situation to always work fine in the future is a mighty task that I haven't yet been able to overcome. I really should get involved in the ALSA project one day...

Rockbox on Gigabeat S

Toshiba Gigabeat SI thought that I'd just complete my recent series of talking about (possible) upcoming Rockbox ports, even though the guys working on this already have been in progress for a while.

This target is quite different than the (already supported) Gigabeat F and X series, and is in fact more like a Zune (claimed to be based on this hardware).

Anyway, Gigabeat S has a 530MHz CPU with FPU, 2.4" 320x240 LCD, 30 or 60GB disk and it runs a Windows(!) edition.

As all Gigabeat players, this is notoriously hard to get your hands on, especially in Europe.

Rockbox coming to Olympus m:robe 500?

Olympus m:robe 500A couple of Rockbox devs now work on getting a port up and running on the Olympus m:robe 500 player.

This beast has 640x480 resolution, touch screen and a camera! It is powered by the dreaded TI DM320 chipset, has 64 MB ram, 8MB flash and 20GB hard drive.

Anyway, the first code snippets have been committed to SVN so if you own one of these toys, now is the time to join in and make things happen!

Gathered hardware info, Cowon A2 and Neuros OSD both run Linux on basically the same main microcontroller.

Rockbox on c200

Sansa c200 Since Rockbox runs fine on the SanDisk Sansa C200 there are now C200 builds provided for download since a few minutes back. This being early C200 days, please have patience and don't feel shy to step forward and help us smooth out the remaining quirks...

Sansapatcher is being remade to be able to install the bootloader on either e200 or c200 models, so until there's an updated one available you'll of course have a slightly harder time to actually install this on your c200.

fscons curl talk, part II

Ok, it seems the pricing for the entire conference (7-8 dec 2007) is going to be:

Student: 60 euro
Private: 120 euro
Company: 240 euro

The blurb for my particular talk (that is going to be held in English, mind you) that is scheduled for 13.00 on dec 8 is drafcURLted like below:

curl and libcurl is a free software project for data transfers with well known Internet protocols. It's about to turn 10 years, is downloaded more than 1 million times per year and is the answer to all questions and problems

Daniel Stenberg is the founder and leader of the curl project and will talk about exactly everything that curl is good for, what it does for you, who uses it, who should use it and something about the background, the license, people, development and the culture within the project. Some words about the future and who's paying for the development will also be dealt with.

And no, the official site still hasn't gone live so this is still not possible to read elsewhere!

Rockbox on the iPod Classic?

Let me be perfectly clear on this:

Nobody has done any sufficient research or investigation on the iPod Classics for anyone to tell how feasable a Rockbox port is or not. But, based on the assumption that the firmware and design choices are similar to that of the Nano 2nd generation, it offers great challenges to any hacker wanting to go down this road.Rockbox

Many many people confuse this matter with the recently discussed Apple adding a new checksum to the itunes database, and then the subsequent "crack" of that system. This will only allow Linux-users to use these ipods. It certainly does not in any way make it easier to run alternative firmwares on them.

I would rather say that you should all take this as an indication that Apple really doesn't care one bit about Linux users. In fact, they only care for those who buy their whole package and that package is Windows with itunes or MacOS with itunes. If you're not buying that concept, you should avoid Apple. Yes I really mean that.

To get Rockbox running on these models or any of the other newer ipod versions, we need fearless and skilled people to get players, rip them apart and do some actual hard-core research on how their internals work and how the firmware is stored and how firmware upgrades are made etc. The same old new-rockbox port drill.

There might be "an opening" to this device using the DFU mode.

Update: during July 2009 some people in the #linux4nano-dev channel managed to run code on the nano 2g (thanks to an exploit of an buffer overflow) and since then there have been fierce activity and custom code seem to run on the iPod Classics too. Still a lot of work and problems to overcome for a Rockbox port to become reality.

Open Season

Large RSS feed iconSo I found theregister.com's new podcast Open Season the other day and I listened through the first two episodes the last few days (I spend some time commuting back and forth to work every day), and I must say they do offer a fresh new angle on open source and technology in general.

I'm actually thrilled to have found a new stream of interesting goodies to listen to and I hope they manage to keep the quality and keep delivering in a timely fashion - far too many podcasts stop getting produced after a while or the inter-episode intervals just increase until they're months apart.

Someone should just tell them that they need to provide a nice RSS feed for it so that we can find new episodes easier etc. Ooops. They do have a feed, even though it gets polluted by other stuff too and not just espisodes...