Archive for February, 2004


Wednesday, February 25th, 2004

[ from the Free-and-Open-events dept. ]

I returned from FOSDEM 2004 on Monday evening, having spent most of the weekend at various talks on Linux and Embedded Linux, talking with various people, and of course drinking beer too. Some photos are available covering both the main event and my separate trip to visit some guys in Leuven on Monday also. Notice some scenic stuff in there.

I have agreed to begin writing a regular column on Embedded Linux and have various other stuff now hopefully in the pipeline which should be useful. Gamecube Linux now boots over NFS following my workaround suggestion.


I travelled to Brussels on the 10:42 Eurostar service on Friday morning, along with various other geeks and the O’reilly guys. Tim and Josette were representing O’reilly along with some others I am not familiar with. We arrived at lunchtime (see NT crash screen photo for rough timeline of arrival at the Gare Du Midi) and I wondered around getting rather lost for a while before calling STA in the UK and after some more wondering around, eventually finding that my hotel (NH Central) was actually near La Grand Place and the centre of town, not far from the Central station and in fact just down the road from the Cathedral.

In the evening those of us from the UK met up with others at Le Roy d’Espagne in La Grand Place after some food in Chez Leon. I especially enjoyed meeting p1 and p2 from Mind. The evening was a big geek fest and lots of random discussion took place from Transmeta to homebrew JTAG dongles and debugging processors, of course depending upon the inclination of each person present. The food was good and beer was too although I think they did quite well from the central fund being maintained as I drank only coke but paid quite a bit more (it all goes to a good cause of course so that is fine). The Skol Linux people collected signatures as a sponsor had offered to donate in exchange.

Afterwards a few of us went to a random kebab place in La Grand Place and eventually made it back to our separate sleeping arrangements for 02:00. Tim O’reilly began the next morning at 10:30 and the late night provided the combined stimulation and motive for a taxi to ULB (the University) where the talks were taking place – I had not used a bus in Brussels before but now having done so would probably use one more often in future.

Tim O’reilly talked about how web services offer an interesting challenge – because we cannot possibly have our own Google at home and even having the code and technology would not give us the same service. The point being that there is more to modern technology than Freedom and Open Source and data control is becomming more and more a key factor concerning all of us.

RMS did an RMS talk although he was actually pretty reserved and seemed in good spirits (certainly a lot [oops I said log and not lot here originally - 26/02/2004 fixed] less tired than when I had last seen him speaking in Cambridge). He mentioned various stuff about founding the GNU project and about the nature of releasing source code as well as danger of software patents I believe – however the key moment was when St. Ignucius made an appearance.

During lunch I moved to the Embedded Developers room and listened to Tom Rini discussing the issues faced in this kind of work, based in part upon his experience at Montavista. I later talked to him about a number of issues which I had with various things and this proved very useful.

Patrick Pelgrims and Jiri Gaisler spoke after lunch about various soft core processor technologies and went in to some detail on Xilinx and Altera solutions as well as the LEON soft core processor designed for the ESA (replacing the older ERC12).

I joined the panel debating GPL issues in Embedded Linux systems before the day officially moved on the buffet and other evening events. Photos of these are in the gallery but basically I enjoyed the food – I got to talk to Robert Love and some of the other kernel guys (Jonathan Corbet for example) and sat with Tim O’reilly and his mother for some food and drink (I actually had a beer but mostly coke and coffee). After several of us went in to town and found two bars where we could drink until late, a club and various other places which shall remain nameless :-) .

On Sunday I went to the talks a bit later. I arrived at the end of a Wookey talk on JAFFS before a lunchtime meeting on Embeded Debian involving numerous people including myself, Wookey, Nick, Justin, some Scratchbox developers and various others. I think Embedded Debian is a good idea.

The Embedded X talk was pretty interesting and brought up some points as well as allowing us to play with various PDAs which were there. I actually now think I chose one of the best devices when I got my Zaurus as I was not especially happy with Yoppy.

I went to Jonathan Corbet’s talk on kobjects in 2.6. This seems a lot reminiscent of the PowerPC IEEE1275 Open Firmware used in Apples and fed in to a later discussion that I had with some guys on Monday about bi_records being implemented [oops I originally said implement instead of implemented - fixed 26/02/2004] in linuxppc. Maddog ended the day elegantly with a great talk and I got to talk to him briefly afterwards about Higher Education standards and take some vanity photos with him.

On Sunday evening I went to dinner with a bunch of the Embedded Developers. I enjoyed discussing the Balloon boards with Nick and Wookey as well as talking to Philippe about various JTAG interfaces which one could build. This was a really cool group of people in a Turkish restaurant near to ULB. Afterwards a number of us headed back to La Grand Place and had drinks in the Novatel where the speakers where staying until the bar closed. I talked to Justin about HPC and the Oxford BSP work before we found another little quiet pub which was still open until late, and had some quiet drinks before returning to our hotels.

On Monday I visited Leuven before returning to my Hotel. Other stuff happened but not all of it is going to be mentioned here.


Xilinx Coolrunner II devkit

Friday, February 20th, 2004

[ from the playing-with-random-hardware dept. ]

I bought a Xilinx Coolrunner II devkit and it has arrived. The photos show what it looks like, I fixed rather a tricky bug today too, and now I need to get ready for FOSDEM.


Gallery Installed

Tuesday, February 17th, 2004

[ from the this-scheme-is-managed-by-jcm-cctv-services dept. ]

I installed Gallery after it came up in conversation during my visit to see hussein. Please test it out.



London Trip

Monday, February 16th, 2004

[ from the g5-process-spawn-testing dept. ]

I popped in to London to visit Hussein and we went shopping on Oxford Street for various items among which included some new shoes for me and an espresso cup to keep my coffee machine company. We went to Bella Italia for supper and I popped down to the Thames on the way back to test how well my camera performs in the dark. I need to practice.

Hussein showed me the mods to his Xbox and I am fairly determined to get either or both of an Xbox and Gamecube over the next couple of months. Right now I am overcoming a weekend of incidental expenditure of the necessity kind and mulling over ordering my Xilinx dev. kit.


Coffee Machine

Sunday, February 15th, 2004

[ from the dept. ]

I am taking pictures…



Nikkon Coolpix

Saturday, February 14th, 2004

[ from the yes-I-finally-bought-a-digital-camera-hussein dept. ]

I bought a camera. Jessops had a Nikon Coolpix 3100 for 140GBP and that seemed like a reasonable buy so I picked it up this afternoon. No it does not have every possible feature under the sun but it was not three times the price and does enough to be useful.

I also booked my hotel for FOSDEM 2004.



Saturday, February 14th, 2004

[ from the er-um dept. ]

I downloaded the latest source for the ITE8212 Linux driver and started taking a look at the code. I need to learn a lot about how IDE devices fit in with the block layer in 2.6. Still with comments like “Fixed: Use kmalloc() and kfree() to allocate the buffer instead of automatic variables (use stack). The stack size is limited in kernel space.” and “First “dma thing doesn’t work” version.” I am reasonably confident that there is a lot of room for even me to improve what is already there. The driver as is seems to have been very hacked together and I am not so sure about the amount of testing which actually happened…I would not trust this driver.

However a bunch of people want me to see if I can do something to help and I do need to write a Compact Flash driver at work anyway so…

Catch you all later.