Friday, July 25, 2008

Doesn't Quite Work (tm)

It started when I tried an update of Kubuntu. Using the gui, Adept I think. It borked, and crashed with some error or other. I really, really want to forget the syntax of dpkg, but this gui that Doesn't Quite Work forces me to go to the command line to first diagnose and then fix it.

Then, having the desire to set up Asterisk, I purchased a SPA3102 phone adapter, which works fine. I installed AsteriskNow in a virtual machine, VirtualBox doesn't like AsteriskNow, or visa-versa. VMWare doesn't like the updated libraries on my distro. So back to what works, QEmu. Set up bridging, and attempted to set up Asterisk to talk to the SPA3102 through the web based interface. Quickly ran into limits, forcing me into a hackery of configuration file editor. Ssh'd into the vm, fired up vim, and edited the files as required. Got it working, but the nice web based interface Doesn't Quite Work.

Must be a bad week. A couple of months ago lightning smoked my trusty WRT54G router. Replaced it with a cheap Belkin, Linux based. Works ok for wireless and the like. Asterisk and sip want multiple ports accessible to the wide world, and the router has an option to enable upnp. Everything worked fine, asterisk talked to the provider as expected. For a few hours, then registration errors would occur. I thought maybe the bridge setup, the vm, rebooted, etc. Nope. Reset the router, and everything works. For a few hours, then the same problem. Is it the router? Next is to set up IAX incoming with the provider, which seems to bypass NAT and firewall issues. Doesn't Quite Work.

And finally, since it's friday, and we got caught up on most of the emergencies, I took advantage of my neighbor who builds canoes and rents kayaks. I took a kayak out on the lake, attempting to have my dog sitting on my lap. Doesn't Quite Work. Next time, I'll use a canoe.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Too Many Projects, Currency, Google Sucks

Google doesn't really suck, but when you use something as often as Google, well, it sucks sometimes. For example. If you live on the bleeding edge of things, and are having a problem with getting things to work. So you do a google search on "ati xorg 6.9.0" you get a whole listing of announcements. Great. I know it's out there, I'm using it. I want to find out if this or that works, and how to fix it. Eventually there will be search results for what I want, but by then I'll be using 7.1.0 or something. A more precise search term would help, but you need to know the words before you can search for them.

In my day job, if someone is willing to spill lots of real money, they get our attention. Free software works a bit differently. Not entirely, having $500 million or so to drop judiciously may even buy you a distribution, but I digress. For mere mortals, the currency is contribution. If someone contributes, they get attention. I can vouch for that. People read and comment on my semi-coherent rants possibly because I bought some currency by contributing.

The contribution doesn't need to be source code. How about someone collecting or linking all the current problems, fixes, development efforts on a particular piece of hardware or software that they use? I've enjoyed it when others have done that. The information is available, but spread all over the various forums and lists.

I've wondered why no one has written a regular summary of all the changes in xorg. It affects everyone, so there would be an audience.

What about a podcast or series of articles on using the KDE technologies to solve common business problems? This one has been perking in the back of my mind for a long time. Akonadi gives access to data that businesses always need. How could someone use the api's to accomplish what they need? That is one example. How about scripting workflows with KOffice? This stuff is the bread and butter of commercial desktop usage. When these types of questions are asked, solutions come forward, improving the software for everyone.

There is so much to do. Instead of wallowing in disappointment, jump in. Either work with the project, or do something on your own. KDE is today what individual contributions have made it. Oh, don't be anonymous. Building community is another word for building relationships.

Friday, July 04, 2008


It seems the radeonhd driver doesn't work for everyone. Here are some links that are surprisingly difficult to find using Google.

Xorg radeonhd wiki page with many helpful links. There is a section about monitor detection issues that may help with misresolution issues. Also, for getting OpenGL working, How to setup DRI with radeonhd. Requires quite a bit of bleeding edge stuff. The urge to fiddle with xorg.conf and xorg drivers comes and passes quickly, especially if I have a reasonably working setup.

For those who are vehement that this all should be working NOW, I have a suggestion that will really help. Get yourself comfortable, close your eyes, and start humming. Hmmmmmmm. Do it as long as it takes for the video stack to stabilize. If you get the urge to flame someone, control yourself. Close your eyes. Hmmmmmmmmm. How can you expect things to improve if you don't do your part?

a thousand years
a thousand years

these eyes
are full.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

ATI and KDE 4

I've got a cheap on board ATI 1200 series video. I've been using the Catalyst proprietary driver from ATI, with some success. I have become reaquainted with the hard reset button, but the free drivers have been not much better. Seeing notice of a new version that supported EXA rendering, it was time to try them again. Here is the announcement

What a nice surprise. Everything worked fine once I renamed the xorg.conf file. It detected the monitor and resolution just fine. The peripherals worked as expected. Plug and Play. Scrolling in Konqueror is quick, Dolphin is downright snappy. 2D is quite satisfactory.

When I turned on Desktop Effects using OpenGL, it didn't work at all, and I had to revert. Using XRender however, the effects are quick and tidy. I can watch a video with Dragon, which I couldn't do with the Catalyst drivers with Effects enabled. A slight problem with Dragon, it doesn't want to go full screen. I'm sure there will be other issues show up, but so far so good. I can't get the 3D Earth Model plasmoid to work, but it didn't work with Catalyst either. I may be missing something there. Xine ui doesn't work properly either, but mplayer does.

Ahh, the sweet smell of freedom. There has been enormous effort to get the video stack working, there is quite a ways to go. But how nice to experience the first fruitage of the efforts. Kudos to the ati radeon developers. And kudos to AMD for releasing specs that allow free drivers.

Oh, this was version 6.9.0 of xf86-video-ati, KDE svn version 827820.

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