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Posts Tagged ‘Linux’

First slice of Pi

April 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I have had a chance to do some power draw monitoring of my Raspberry Pi and to compare with other low power ARM devices devices such as the SheevaPlug. The Raspberry Pi is really hard to beat – pulling roughly 2.0w when idle (with nothing plugged in to the USB or A/V outputs) to 3.2-3.3w at load (with HDMI output and USB keyboard and mouse) when using a standard Amazon Kindle charger as the power source. Something I’ve not had a moment to try is decoding HD video as I’d imagine that would load both the CPU and GPU but I can’t see the load being much higher given the combined CPU and GPU part (I’ll update this post when I confirm this).

Contrast these figures against 4.0w idle to 4.9-5.2w load for the SheevaPlug (also without any USB attachments). Admittedly the SheevaPlug has a slightly faster (1.2Ghz vs 700Mhz) ARM processor than the Raspberry Pi, but it also lacks the RCA/HDMI video output circuitry and has a wonky integrated PSU.

Probably the biggest difference between power consumption of the two devices will be related to power supply efficiency. As I already mentioned, the SheevaPlugs are renowned for being let down by cheap and inadequate integrated power supplies. In fact, I’m on my second Plug for that very reason. Since there is no (easy) way to test both devices with the same power supply, any comparison should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

The Pi has landed

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

So my Raspberry Pi finally arrived today! Despite the launch morning kerfuffle I somehow (it’s still a mystery to me exactly how) managed to bag one from the first batch.

Here it is pictured alongside an Arduino for size reference – it’s slightly bigger but not by much. When I’ve had time to really explore what it is capable of I’ll write some more on the subject.

20120416-172652.jpg

Serious Android Flaw

November 10, 2008 2 comments

Just a brief post to direct anyone who has or is considering buying an Android device to an article detailing a rather shocking security glitch. It turns out, probably due to a botched debug code cleanup, that the devices run with a terminal in the background capturing any and all keystrokes!

When the phone booted it started up a command shell as root and sent every keystroke you ever typed on the keyboard from then on to that shell. Thus every word you typed, in addition to going to the foreground application would be silently and invisibly interpreted as a command and executed with superuser privileges. Wow!

Be careful what you type in your text messages or URLs otherwise you might end up with a trashed software stack…

Android G1 : Hands on review

November 2, 2008 Leave a comment

Since the first mobile running on Google’s Android software platform was announced, I have been eagerly awaiting it’s release here in the UK. Well this week it finally happened, so yesterday I went into a T Mobile shop to have a play with one. Unfortunately it is a bit of a mixed bag, whilst looking quite stylish (it looked a bit ugly from the photos) there are a number of bad points about the G1 which unfortunately terminally let it down.

First off, the slide. I actually rather like this part, despite being highly dubious about overly elaborate mechanisms, the G1 screen slides up and to the right cleanly and locks into place with a fairly reassuring click. The problem is the G1 is not comfortable to hold in the horizontal position, and I found the keyboard buttons to be inadequate for any serious use. However the most serious problem with this was that the screen was not fully locked into place. Given that it is a touch screen the fact that the whole screen section flexes backwards and strains against the sliding mechanism, even the smallest amount of force is exerted against it, is very worrying.

The touchscreen itself worked quite well and Android has definitely incorporated several design elements that Apple initially came up with. However it feels like Google were as eager to incorporate finger swiping functions as they were not to look like they were copying Apple and as such there are two different ways of scrolling through icon menus like the ‘desktop’ and the application menu which just feels silly and inconsistent. The overall layout and design of the menus and functionality felt poor and counter intuitive. This was felt especially in the web-browser which, whilst working well ( and really showing how nice the screen was) felt clunky and unfriendly to navigate and use. There was also an issue with flash plugins but I am assuming that would be fixed by an update.

Overall, the G1 very much feels like the unfinished article. The black one looks surprisingly nice in the person, but an inconsistent GUI / navigation system lets it down as well as the quality of the screen sliding retention mechanism. Still, thankfully this is not the Android phone, but the first version running the software platform. I have high expectations of future phones and can only hope that meager sales will not put off other companies from adopting this platform.

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex MD5 Checksums

November 1, 2008 6 comments

Well Ubuntu 8.10 has finally been released! I have been tinkering with prereleases for the past couple of weeks but now I am looking forward to trying out the release version on a machine! Once again however canonical have been a bit cryptic about providing good links to their iso MD5 hashes (or checksums), so as before, here are the MD5s for Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu, ubuntustudio, Mythbuntu, and Xubunutu 8.10:

ea6d44667ea3fd435954d6e1f0e89122 *ubuntu-8.10-alternate-amd64.iso
f9e0494e91abb2de4929ef6e957f7753 *ubuntu-8.10-alternate-i386.iso
f9cdb7e9ad85263dde17f8fc81a6305b *ubuntu-8.10-desktop-amd64.iso
24ea1163ea6c9f5dae77de8c49ee7c03 *ubuntu-8.10-desktop-i386.iso
8d35fea8c16597a6f4dd07f8e18e2166 *ubuntu-8.10-mid-lpia.img
e3028a105a083339be8e5af5afbe7444 *ubuntu-8.10-server-amd64.iso
a2ec9975a91e1228c8292ed9799dc302 *ubuntu-8.10-server-i386.iso
2796c696ab368415a30fddc8278e08b0 *wubi.exe

4dc5bad5ee18648cd9dfbb87d86880b5 *kubuntu-8.10-alternate-amd64.iso
04a2c5c8f394175e6d6579e626995c7a *kubuntu-8.10-alternate-i386.iso
b054fd985294c80dcd6400fede533c72 *kubuntu-8.10-beta-desktop-i386.iso
824de6bea59d41637a41f17c00d33f7d *kubuntu-8.10-desktop-amd64.iso

45c572d3bc95db05ed8ab37bae75b750 *edubuntu-8.10-addon-amd64.iso
7944aaaaf645571dd6e0a9db700394e9 *edubuntu-8.10-addon-i386.iso

3539726b4aa58801427578bb66da5fd1 *xubuntu-8.10-alternate-amd64.iso
db016f2f55ea2109b787a191b8115c67 *xubuntu-8.10-alternate-i386.iso
4153396adde6b210c07ef7d7ccb14231 *xubuntu-8.10-desktop-amd64.iso
53c50ff06f4ad659f0abf6474b58c8e6 *xubuntu-8.10-desktop-i386.iso

3231c37e95a4facf4106ddb6ed560981 *edubuntu-8.10-beta-addon-amd64.iso

82c02dc7386dfb6858a9ec09a5059e1e *kubuntu-8.10-desktop-i386.iso

c578db9752b22247100657bb70bf66de *mythbuntu-8.10-alternate-amd64.iso
077c387c1eaedc697dfd2c0039c92911 *mythbuntu-8.10-alternate-i386.iso

30de5bbfde9fee17b871c016fb35dc44 *ubuntustudio-8.10-alternate-amd64.iso
c721eee448b455ed19bd2a11f38a416e *ubuntustudio-8.10-alternate-i386.iso

Up in the cloud

October 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Microsoft has a number of core business revenue streams – otherwise known as cash cows. Despite strong indications that regardless of the recent lightweight application paradigm shift to the ‘cloud’ Microsoft have remained staunchly of the view that the operating system, as we know it today, will still be present in the future. So todays announcement indicating a potential branching from the desktop application centric philosophy is quite astonishing. According to ComputerWorld, Microsoft are looking to unveil a version of Windows codenamed  ‘Windows Clouds’ within a month. It will be very interesting to see the approach Mircosoft take with this project considering they are were quite keen to emphasise this will not detract from the ongoing Windows 7 work which is the planned successor to Windows Vista.

I previously weighed in on my opinion on cloud computing and very little has emerged to change my mind so far. I recently tried gOS v3 codename Gadgets which is the lightweight Linux distribution formally its own flavour based on the Enlightenment DR13 window manager and I am not that impressed. I found the integration between Google services (presented via barely concealed HTML widgets) and the operating system felt very amateurish. This coupled with the fact that version 3 is based on the more feature rich Gnome window manager, any assertion of this being a ‘stripped down’, light weight operating system for ‘netbooks’ sounds rather strained.

I do not doubt that one day, a certain percentage of desktops and laptops will be light weight (or thin client) systems accessing storage, applications and processing power from a ‘mothership’ in much the way cloud computing is evolving now. However it seems to make much more sense for a family or household or even a group of people to buy a central ‘home server’. This will however be very different to Windows Home Server and will resemble more the old style dumb terminals where multiple clients connect to one central machine.

Well that is my prediction, we will talk in ten years! For now, long live monster power rigs! :) As a final note, it will be interesting to see where Apple fit into this in the coming years. iSlim? iWeb? iJot?

Mesh Networking (or 802.11s) comes to Linux

September 4, 2008 Leave a comment

Since kernel 2.6.22 there has been a huge drive to rework and update the entire wireless networking stack in Linux. Back in July, 2.6.26 was released with over 600 wifi specific changes including :

  • mac80211 now supports draft mesh networking (802.11s; thanks to the open80211s project
  • mac80211 now supports more optional HT (802.11n) features
  • mac80211’s monitor interfaces can now be configured more precisely, “cooked” monitors were added
  • mac80211’s IBSS implementation now supports IBSS merging and received various bugfixes
  • mac80211 now has an in-kernel documentation book, help welcome!
  • b43 now has support for PCMCIA devices and QoS/WME

The following have been removed.

  • the bcm43xx driver
  • the old ieee80211softmac code

A while ago I discussed the deprecation of the bcm43xx driver so I welcome its official removal from the kernel as this means less time wasted disabling this legacy kernel module prior to installing / activating b43 on every new install. The mesh networking (draft specification designated 802.11s) support is largly thanks to the open80211s project however it is only in the fairly early stages. Support is not consistent across all the Linux wifi drivers but full support is progressing. I do wonder whether mesh networking will take off, it is however, an exciting concept. Imagine the following scenarios:

1. A dense build up urban area, where multiple nodes (flats / homes etc) could connect via one or two Internet connected nodes.

2. A neighbourhood which contained a lot of like minded PC users each connecting as a node in a local mesh network to create an ‘instant’ LAN/WAN or gaming network. Imagine being about to connect Xbox 360s / PS3 / PSP or even PC gamers wirelessly to your neighbours without using the Internet services.

3. A sparse, less developed environment where multiple nodes are greatly spread out and Internet access is rare.

The possibilities are endless, however with all such technologies, a lot of people need to jump on the bandwagon, particularly with ad-hoc technologies such as these.

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