boogdesign posts

Longer posts on standards based web design, portable web development and Linux, intermingled with some stuff on my other nerd interests.

Rob Crowther, London, UK based Blogger, Web Developer, Web Designer and System Administrator - read my Curriculum Vitae

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Categories: Linux, Debian / Ubuntu, Fedora / Red Hat, Gentoo, SuSE


12:55:00 am Permalink Upgrading a Geeksphone Keon to Firefox OS 1.1

Categories: Gadgets, Linux

Note: This is not a technical post, it's more in the way of a story. If you're looking for step by step ROM flashing instructions this is not the post you are looking for, please refer to the Geeksphone docs.

A few months ago I bought a Geeksphone Keon in order to play around with Firefox OS. My brother did an unboxing video and, not too surprisingly, the comments from his audience of (mostly) high end smartphone users weren't too positive. This didn't bother me overly, I knew what I was getting: a developer phone with a beta operating system, what excited me was the idea of an open phone platform for which the web technologies I am well familiar with were the primary app development paradigm.

The thing that did disappoint me about the phone was that GPS seemed to be non-functional. I tried a few things like leaving it by a window or visiting wide open spaces, waited for some OS upgrades and tried them again, but however long I left it the GPS never got a lock; instead it just flashed away in the notification bar and drained my battery. Since pretty much all the useful apps I could think of depended on GPS this failure quickly drained my enthusiasm both for the device and any potential app development adventures so I put the device aside for several weeks.

During this time Google has set about removing the most useful feature of Android and the top device manufacturers seem to be hell bent on only providing you with top end processing power in phones that are too big to be comfortably operated with one hand. Now that they've achieved market dominance Google seem to be locking down the bits that made Android interesting to me as an open alternative to iOS in the first place. So I've started to consider other options for my next 'proper' phone. In this frame of mind I came across Geeksphone's new device, the Peak+ - doesn't seem to be significantly less powerful than the HTC One Mini, lets you plug in a MicroSD card and about half the price. Plus I'd get the warm, glowy feeling from owning a 'properly' open device. But of course none of that would be any use to me is something as basic as GPS didn't work, which leads directly to today's adventures in ROM flashing.

Geeksphone provide an easy download page for all their ROMS, you can choose from stable (1.0), beta (1.1) and nightly (1.2):

Download page for Geeksphone ROMS

Download your chosen image then the process is quite straightforward:

  1. Unzip and cd into the directory
  2. Connect your Keon by USB and enable remote debugging (Settings > Device Information > More Information > Developer > Remote debugging)
  3. Issue the command: sudo ./
  4. Answer the question about keeping user data
  5. Wait until the phone reboots; you're done

Simple. So, of course, the first time I tried it the phone wouldn't reboot. I saw the startup screen but not the Firefox OS splash screen. I found a blog post with a section ?Ok, I bricked my phone? and followed the steps, unfortunately the same result. In desperation I tried downloading the image again and noticed I'd been trying to install the 9th August build when the 10th August build was available. Downloaded the new build, flashed and voilą I once again had a working phone.

The first happy news:

Keon showing my location
Keon showing my completely different location

GPS works! The second thing I noticed, as I was taking the screenshots, was that it's now optional to have an SD card. Firefox OS 1.0 wouldn't even let me take pictures until I put a card in, now stuff is saved to the device by default:

Settings for default media locations

The other major change from Firefox OS 1.0 is the home screen. Previously there was a basically empty home screen and, one swipe to the left, an 'apps search' screen with a bunch of icons on it (though not for apps, just links to websites). Now there is just the home screen with a search box, typing stuff into it brings up the icons like before along with a relevant background image:

Firefox OS home screen
Firefox OS search for HTML5 books
Firefox OS search for Firefox OS

Overall I'm very satisfied. Upgrading is easy, the upgrade actually fixes stuff as well as improving performance. I'm going to seriously consider getting a Peak+.

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11:02:56 pm Permalink Fedora 10: No fonts after update

Categories: Linux, Fedora / Red Hat

I setup Fedora 10 on a new (to me) IBM ThinkPad the other day. I've run into a couple of little niggles - the wireless network decided to stop working with NetworkManager, however system-config-services won't currently run so it still starts by default...

However, a much bigger issue occurred after I did an update late last week - the next time I booted up all the text had disappeared. The graphics were working fine, but there it was just blank where the text would be - in menus and dialogues as well as within applications. A quick Google revealed others with the same issue but no solutions. Finally, last night, Carter Weatherly worked out what the problem was (an issue with the latest version of the ATI driver) and posted a workaround in the bug report:

$ wget
$ yum remove xorg-x11-drv-ati
$ yum localinstall xorg-x11-drv-ati-6.9.0-54.fc10.i386.rpm
$ reboot

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12:30:36 am Permalink Amarok Issues with Ogg on Kubuntu

Categories: Linux, Debian / Ubuntu

I just spent an hour fannying around with Amarok because it suddenly refused to play Ogg Vorbis encoded files. The correct solution turned out to be in this thread on the Ubuntu forums. The problem I was getting in Amarok was a message like this every time I tried to add an .ogg file to the playlist:

Some media could not be loaded (not playable)

Several of the solutions I came across recommended removing my Amarok profile, which then meant a good ten minutes waiting for it to re-scan my collection before I could see if the solution worked. Which it didn't.

A few more helpful solutions pointed the finger at Xine, the sound engine which Amarok uses, though most of the solutions were based around installing missing codec packages I already had (I was playing these same files in Amarok with no problems last week). However, when I tried playing the files in Xine directly I got another error message about there being 'no demuxer plugin available'. Again I spent some time trawling through solutions which blamed Grip for using incompatible versions of the Ogg Vorbis codec, or generating incompatible ID3 tags, but these were unhelpful.

The solution, when I found it in the forum thread above (which links to this Fedora related blog post), was very simple - exit Xine/Amarok, remove the catalog.cache and restart:

rm .xine/catalog.cache

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06:28:15 pm Permalink Mugshot 1.1.45 on SuSE 10.3

Categories: Linux, SuSE

Previously I produced an RPM for Mugshot 1.1.40 for SuSE 10.1. I could never get a more recent version to build on SuSE 10.1, but since I recently upgraded to 10.3 I decided to have another go.

It seems the most recent Linux version is 1.1.45, whereas the Windows version is up to 1.1.93. I'm not sure if the Linux version is just not getting developed anymore, but I decided to stick to 1.1.45 for now as I'm not a C developer and I wouldn't be able to patch the newer version if it didn't work on Linux. If anyone knows what's going on, please post a comment.

So, I've built a new RPM (and here's the updated spec file). I think I've fixed the MIME type stuff now, but you might still have to right click and 'save as'.

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10:32:29 pm Permalink openSUSE 10.3 on a Toshiba SatellitePro 6000 (upgrade)

Categories: Linux, SuSE

A mere five months after the release of SuSE 10.3 I finally got round to upgrading my aging laptop. Of course, I was still on 10.1, so I'd already waited ten months before that :)

I downloaded the main ISO and the extras one, and booted off the CD. Encountered a slight problem getting it to boot initially, but when I clicked for 'view details' in the boot process I saw a helpful message about adding brokenmodules to the boot options. I also had to disable acpi, so I ended up with these options:

acpi=off brokenmodules=pata_ali

The next issue was I had a load of extra repositories enabled on 10.1, and it turned out the Guru repo is now part of Packman so you have to disable it before starting the upgrade, otherwise the upgrade hangs.

After that it was more time consuming than complicated, I had a load of package conflicts to resolve, and for a time it seemed like I was going round in circles with that. Then I just had to wait overnight while it did the actual upgrade, and now I have it all installed and working.

The default KDE theme is a bit different, lots of faux transparency, and there's a new, more compact, application menu which is quite nice, but otherwise not massively different from the end user point of view. With some updated underlying packages I'm hoping I'll now have a better chance of installing more recent software.

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01:58:03 am Permalink GPX2 Linux handheld gaming device

Categories: Gadgets, Linux

I used to use a second hand Zaurus for listening to MP3s and a second hand PocketPC for reading eBooks while commuting to and from work each day. Sadly they both deteriorated to the point where battery life was barely enough to cover the journey one way, let alone there and back. I switched back to dead tree book consumption and have learned to live with the general background noise of tube travel.

Recently I started thinking it was about time I got myself a new digital audio player and started looking into options. I was thinking I'd make do with one of the cheap solid state ones in the 2-4Gb range, but I wanted the player to support OGG encoded files to save me having to re-encode half my collection. These simple requirements limited my options on eBuyer somewhat, and I started investigating more expensive devices. That's when I came across the GP2X - a linux based, hand held game console with built in media player and eBook reader.

Now, if you were going to design a gadget specifically to push all my buttons then you'd probably end up with a GP2X - it plays MP3s and OGGs, has dual processors, runs Linux, plays games and reads eBooks, and ships with the SDK for free. You can even plug it directly into a TV and watch movies. And all for only £124.99 - though probably closer to two hundred quid once a few optional extras have been added in. I want one!

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12:52:30 am Permalink Mugshot 1.1.40 on SuSE 10.1

Categories: Linux, SuSE

Previously I produced an RPM for Mugshot 1.1.37-1 for SuSE 10.1. There's been a new release, 1.1.40, so I've built a new RPM (and here's the updated spec file). As before, you'll probably have better luck if you right click and 'save as'.

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