Category Archives: geekkitudine

Rockbox: it rocks and it works!

More than 2 years ago, I wrote about Rockbox: the open source firmware for mp3 players, written from scratch.

I wanted to try it out with my iPod Nano but before I did it, it stopped working (exactly like my older iPod shuffle, around 1 year after having purchased, they “gracefully” expired) so, for this and for other reasons: no more apple products craps.
One Operating System after (of course GNU/Linux, what else?) I bought the Sansa Fuse player and I could not be any happier.
The other day I recalled about Rockbox and I wondered: “why not?” so I downloaded the installer and it worked like a charm!
Now I have a firmware with lots and lots of features and improvements over the old one, like:

  • Support for over 20 Sound Codecs, including Ogg Vorbis and FLAC
  • Gapless playback
  • 5-band fully-parametric equalizer, and crossfeed
  • High-resolution volume control, 64-100 levels
  • Ability to create your own themes or use user-uploaded ones
  • Advanced crossfading
  • ReplayGain support (volume normalization)
  • Cuesheet support
  • Album Art Support
  • JPEG image and text-file viewing
  • Doom!*
  • MPEG video support
  • Real Time Clock (RTC)
  • Customizable Tag Database
  • Unicode support
  • Advanced On-The-Go playlist creation
  • Multilingual Interface – 30 supported languages and counting
  • Optional spoken interface
  • Many plugins – games, apps, and demos
  • Open Source, so Rockbox is constantly improved

* Yes, you read well, Doom!

And I try, and I try, and I try

I can’t get no satisfaction! :)

No, definitively there’s no satisfaction in using *your* laptop and *your* operating system with a usb key or inside a virtual machine.
So, after some time mumbling about installing ubuntu side-by-side to – cough cough – win $even, I searched the internet for some article on this.

I didn’t find nothing like a step-by-step guide so I thought it could be a good idea to write here what I did, using info from forums, blogs, articles.

My laptop is a Sony Vaio VPCZ11Z9E with a SSD Storage RAID 0 array (4 x 64GB).
[singlepic id=390 w=320 h=240 float=none]
Since I had Win7 installed on the whole space (plus a couple of small “recovery” partitions), I first had to make room for the new kid on the block.
What I did was to delete all the unnecessary applications, delete old stuff, docs, pictures, temporary internet files, disabled the restore, the hibernation, the page file. Finally I defragmented the storage and shrinked the win7 partition to create as much contiguous unallocated space as possible.
I was then ready to reduce the size of the Win partition to create one for Ubuntu. To do it, I used the free MiniTool Partition Wizard (Home Edition). It went like a charm and I freed up about 200 GB for Ubuntu. Cool.

I tried to use the Ubuntu normal installer but it didn’t recognize the RAID 0 storage, so I had to use the alternate installer. It was not possible to use this release on a usb stick because the installation kept on asking for a CD to go on!!! So I had to burn a CD. FAIL! :)

Finally, inserted the CD and rebooted the system.
The following are the screenshots I shooted from the restart of the system until the end of the installation.
[nggallery id=11]
The first of the last 2 black screens is the grub option list at the reboot.
Since the touchpad will not work (eheheh!), you have 2 options here:

  1. connect a mouse;
  2. solve the above issue.

The first is intuitive or at least it should be. :)

To solve the problem, press “e” key, as it is suggested below the screen and append the following text, at the end of the line ending with “quiet splash”:

i8042.nopnp

Now ctrl-x and reboot the laptop.

Well, the laptop doesn’t work, right? The boot procedure goes on but you end up with a black screen, right?

Unfortunately it’s like this. :(

Two options again, to solve this: :)

  1. use a usb key to boot the laptop with an Ubuntu release having the kernel older than 2.6.30 (I used Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope and it worked), then restart using the right one;
  2. unlock the BIOS advanced options, as described here.

Well, to be honest, the first option is a (boring) work around. The second one is really a solution.

For now I’m sticking to the first one, happily typing this post, now. :)

Let me know what your findings are.

Reference:

Diaspora come soluzione?

Altro capitolo nella saga della proprieta’ dei propri dati.
Ne ho scritto qui e qui e ora, forse, forse, ci siamo.

Quattro ragazzi dell’Universita’ di New York, dopo aver ascoltato un discorso di Eben Moglen su liberta’, sicurezza e riservatezza online, si mettono insieme e decidono di creare Diaspora.

we’re going to build a great lightweight decentralized social networking framework and release it as AGPL software

Per fare questo, hanno usato kickstarter, una piattaforma per finanziare progetti.
Hanno trovato sufficienti sottoscrittori (soldi) e tra 15 giorni inizieranno la fase implementativa che dovrebbe concludersi a settembre 2010 con la prima versione del software.

Diaspora aims to be a distributed network, where totally separate computers connect to each other directly, will let us connect without surrendering our privacy. We call these computers ‘seeds’. A seed is owned by you, hosted by you, or on a rented server. Once it has been set up, the seed will aggregate all of your information: your facebook profile, tweets, anything. We are designing an easily extendable plugin framework for Diaspora, so that whenever newfangled content gets invented, it will be automagically integrated into every seed.

Un seed, quindi, si installa sul proprio spazio e si collega agli altri seed e ai servizi che si usano (Flickr, Facebook, ecc.) in modo da avere sempre il proprio flusso di informazioni nel proprio spazio.
Ma la cosa piu’ bella e che personalmente aspetto da tempo e’ questa.

Eventually, today’s hubs could be almost entirely replaced by a decentralized network of truly personal websites.

Bye bye Flickr, Facebook e gli altri accentratori della nostra presenza in rete.
Riprendiamo il controllo della nostra identita’.

You’re just too new to be GNU

(But) I can’t take my ubuntu off of you! :)

This post is the description of my adventures during and after the buying of the laptop. Maybe my findings could be useful to someone else.

For quite some month I was looking online to identify a new laptop to buy. One day I went to a shop and end up with the choice between a Lenovo X301 and a Sony Vaio Z.
I was more impressed by the Sony, so I bought the super new Vaio VPCZ11Z9E.
[singlepic id=390 w=320 h=240 float=none]
[singlepic id=391 w=320 h=240 float=none]

I wanted to buy it without the Redmond closed source operating system but unfortunately there was nothing to do with the shop guy. They sell it with that OS. Period.

One more requirement for me was to have OS, manuals, keyboard and everything else in English. Although at the moment I’m based in Germany, I’m not German.

Unfortunately it turned out that even the software to initialize my laptop (OS installation, drivers, etc.) is in German (of course) but thanks to their kindness they provided me an “English” version of the OS. I double quoted English because they told me that they have an utility that simply translate the German text to English (?). Unfortunately what comes before the OS loading is still in German.
Edit: I took the laptop once again at the shop and they put everything in English, even the recovery partition. Hurra’! :)

I thought to put Ubuntu Lucid Lynx into an usb key and play with it for a while. Then, after solving at least the most important issue, I would install it on the HD.

To create the Ubuntu bootable usb key, I used Universal USB Installer with the useful Persistence feature.

Findings:

  • touchpad not working -> solved!
  • brightness keys not working
  • ambient light sensor not working

Touchpad not working
Solving the touchpad issue was easy.
A simple search on internet revealed that it’s enough to simply insert in the kernel parameter:

i8042.nopnp

To be continued

L’ultima elettroscoperta

Da qualche mese sono alla ricerca di un laptop e di un netbook.
Cercando cercando, mi sono imbattuto in questo:
touchbook1
Visto cosi’ sembra un normale netbook, tastiera, schermo, niente di strano.
touchbook2
Lo schermo, pero’, e’ un po’ troppo ciccione e la tastiera sottile cosi’ da far sembrare che i componenti stiano nel pezzo dello schermo, invece che sotto la tastiera.
Infatti lo schermo si puo’ staccare e… si trasforma in tablet! :)
touchbook3
Carino, no? Se poi ci aggiungiamo che riguardo al sistema operativo l’home page recita cosi':

The first ARM device to propose all major distros: Ubuntu, Android, Mer, Gentoo, Chrome OS…

Viene proprio l’acquolina in bocca! :)

Le specifiche sono queste:

  • 9.7″ x 7″ x 1.3″ for around 3 lbs (with keyboard)
  • ARM Texas Instruments OMAP3 chip
  • 1024×600 8.9″ screen
  • 512MB RAM – 8GB SD card for storage
  • Wifi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth
  • 3-dimensional accelerometer
  • Speakers, micro and headphone I/O
  • 7 USB 2.0 (4 internal, 3 external)
  • 10 hours of battery life

E sul sito della casa madre, la Always Innovating e’ possibile vedere svariati video di questo touchbook, come viene da loro definito, nei diversi modi di utilizzo (office, gioco, ebook, gps, ecc.).

Il tizio che presenta il touchbook e’ il capo della compagnia ed e’, come si puo’ ascoltare, decisamente francese! :)

Io ci sto facendo seriamente un pensierino.