Just married

Hello,

Finally, we managed to wake up.. This weekend I celebrated my wedding with Paula, the woman I chose to spend the rest of my life with. These were the happiest and the more exciting days of my life to date. It was a very busy weekend, with lots of things to prepare and bear (the hardest was the Orthodox religious service that took more than an hour), but over all we had a lot of fun in the process.

Sure, there were some glitches, like anytime you have to satisfy a crowd of 120 people with totally incompatible musical tastes (and not only!), but we did our best and over all it all was great and most of them were delighted from what we could tell.

The ring was hardly bearable at first, just like a tooth filling 🙂 but I’m starting to get used to it. The priest made a mistake at first and in the middle of the service I had to insert/extract twice Paula’s ring off both my annular fingers with great effort and help from my godfathers. I’ll try to avoid churches as much as possible from now on, and only enter again in a church if really necessary 🙂

We’re now eagerly preparing for the honey moon^H^H^H^Hweek, and we hope to get some pictures by the time we return.

See you soon,
Cristi&Paula

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My impressions about Fedora 11, as compared to Ubuntu

Hello,

After I presented a slide show at the last saturday’s Fedora Launch Party event, I decided to give Fedora 11 a try for a few days, and switched from Ubuntu 9.04, and by now it seems it will be for a long time.

My first impression about it was when it told me some bad news, it found out that my disk drive is having a bad sector, right from the install medium. Ubuntu didn’t show this kind of info at all.

I’m glad that my garbled fonts are gone, but I was a bit badly surprised that they didn’t customize Nautilus at all, and by default it behaves just like Windows 95’s Explorer.

The system is moving quite well, compared to Ubuntu. The newer kernel, EXT4 and 64bit made a huge difference performance-wise, the system seems quite stable, and Evolution seems not to leak any more the way it did in Ubuntu.

Their new fingerprint-based feature behaves as badly as I managed to get fprint work In Ubuntu(maybe the problem is because of my hardware or my fingers you never know…), just that it is better integrated with the system, so I turned it off after a few swipes 🙂

They have nice KMS support, but unfortunatelly I’m not using console mode (GNU screen is a nice replacement). By the way, the screen configuration in Ubuntu rocked, and should be installed by default in here too, IMHO.

I was expecting to see a better display manager tray applet in gnome, but hopefully that will come in a later release, and that the dual display feature works at lease as good as in Ubuntu(the resolution is hardcoded at a bigger value, and my second old 17″ LCD display flashes like hell)…

A nice feature I noticed is that yum allows installation of software from other arch’es (like x86 on x86-64), which APT forbids, and that yum is moving faster than I expected (it was damn slow in Centos on some of my servers). Still, zsh completion is unusable with yum, and queries in the Yum GUI tool could benefit from some speed-ups.

The only major thing that I’m missing currently is the VPN pptp client, which fails with “no valid secrets” even if my password is correct. It works just fine in Ubuntu.

Their “free software only” policy is not quite appreciated by pragmatic users like me, who just want the stuff work, despite the licenses are not that open, so I had to manually install EasyLife to get rid of this problem (It provides native 64bit Flashplayer and Java, Skype – whose sound is broken with Pulseaudio – and codecs among other nifty features).

That’s about it for now, I’ll update this as I find other issues/qualities as time goes by.

Cristi

Hello,

After reading some articles on phoronix that revealed some benchmarks where the older generation kernel appeared quite slow compared to those >= 2.6.29, I decided to change my default linux kernel from the default 2.6.28 provided by Ubuntu 9.04, to 2.6.30-r7 from the Ubuntu ppa. I got amazed about its speed and responsiveness and I can only recommend it to anyone.

Cristi

New hardware

Hello,

After my last post I did a little hardware shopping. I bought a motherboard well-supported by coreboot with socketed DIP8 BIOS flash that’s both easy to replace and supports large SPI flash chips, namely an Asus M2V-MX-SE. Also, I bought an AMD Opteron CPU and some RAM, and used some old components for the rest of the system.

Carl-Daniel Hailfinger, the main flashrom developer provided me with some large (4MBytes) SST25VF032B flash chips whch provide enough space so that AVATT could fit inside. Some coleagues from my university’s electronics faculty soldered one of the chips on a PCB, something like this: my flash chips

I hacked a few days on getting coreboot run properly on this new motherboard of mine, but unfortunately a couple of days ago I mistakenly burned my main BIOS image with some garbage. I tried to recover it using the latest proprietary BIOS image, which obviously failed after the next reboot, and rendered the board unbootable until Rudolf Marek – another coreboot developer who owns the same motherboard as me – provides me with a working flash, hopefully soon…

Until then, I’ll be working on a new project of mine which aims to build a  GUI utility that helps porting coreboot to new motherboards.

I’ll post updates as soon as my new flash arrives or my new project advances notably.

Stay tuned,

Cristi

AVATT/OpenVZ

Hello,

As I promised in my previous post, the OpenVZ support is getting usable. I have a coreboot ROM image containing a payload consisting of a Linux kernel, the OpenVZ tools vzctl and vzquota, along with uClibc and busybox.

To test this stuff, you need to download the ROM image from here along with the qemu VGA BIOS. Put both of them in the same directory (let’s say ~/BIOS) and just run qemu like this:

qemu -L ~/BIOS -hda /dev/zero

You can see the tools are there, but In order for it to be really useful you need a disk image containing an OpenVZ template. I haven’t created such an Image yet, but stay tuned, soon i’ll post a link to such an image.

Cristi

Some news about the AVATT BIOS

Hello,

It’s been a long time since my last post… many happened in the meanwhile, but I almost forgot about this blog.

This time I’ll talk again about my progress on the AVATT project, at whichI worked ever since last summer’s GSoC. I got it built with KVM support (using buildrom), and I achieved starting an OpenBSD ISO image inside it. Soon after the boot, the image crashes with a strange error message, caused by missing Thread Local Storage(TLS) support from uClibc. The image also contains busybox and ncurses, and its compressed size is just a bit under 2MBytes.

Since the uClibc developers haven’t yet developed TLS support (and think I’m not yet ready to do it myself), I decided to move on to another virtualization software, namely OpenVZ. To ease my work – which previously suffered from buildrom’s way of compiling the coreboot payload, that is not a cross-compiling toolchain so everything was made to compile using hackish compiler flags – I also decided to switch to a real toolchain, namely Buildroot. This eases a lot the process of compiling a Linux userland payload, making a lot easier the lives of those who want to make something similar to LBDistro.

So, now I’m working on porting AVATT to OpenVZ. I currently have a ROM image containing a kernel patched with OpenVZ support, and I’m working on the vzctl port to buildroot. See the AVATT wiki page for more, or maybe you can try it yourself, building it from source.

Stay tuned…there’s more to come soon!

Cristi

Hello,

As part of my GSoC project, I’m working on a coreboot payload that contains a Linux kernel with KVM enabled, and a small userland that will contain KVM-qemu.

Currently I only have the kernel and the userland without KVM-qemu, but I’m working on porting it to uClibc, which seems to lack some things present in glibc that KVM-qemu needs in order to compile and run.

Here you can find what I have by now. To run it, extract both of the .bin files to your home directory and run

qemu -L ~ -hda /dev/null

The code can be seen at http://repo.or.cz/w/kvm-coreboot.git, but it’s work in progress
More to follow on this topic…

Cristi