Older blog entries for Zaitcev (starting at number 425)

Go Seth!

I cancelled a yum update because I suddenly remembered that it's Friday and I had to download Tower of Druaga finale. It seems like only yesterday doing so involved ^a-c and kill -9, but today two ^c were sufficient. Yay.

Syndicated 2008-06-21 02:22:45 from Pete Zaitcev

Jim's strategy

Jeremy posted a shorthand of a meeting with Jim, our CEO. I think it's pretty interesting, although it's not very new for me, because it's consistent with his internal message and I've met with him before.

Jim talks about the need to involve companies (and their member individuals) into the Open Source in general. I quite agree, although in my like of work I see it in a very narrow way. I interact with all kinds of customers. Some are used to the old, "black box" way. If a test round is needed, I send them a kernel, they run it, collect the results, I think about it, change something, send it again... etcetera. Other (for example, Stratus, Fujitsu) chose "open box" approach: they look at my patches and produce feedback on patches.

Even though I never play favourites with customer problems, "open box" people tend to come to solutions much quicker.

I used to think that there must be some downside to "open box", because they have to have some expertise in-house to deal with source, and expertise costs money. But it is more and more apparent that basic reading of the source is not black magic. Customers always have engineers who can read it. Sure, they may not have intimate understanding of it, but that's what they pay Red Hat for. The basic advantage is essentially free for them.

Another thing Jim talks about is taking a high road relatively Ubuntu. From ethical standpoint, he is right, of course. But I keep thinking... Ubuntu is popular. Not as popular as Windows, I guess, but it is a success, and you never argue with success. Fat lot of good will it do to Free Software if everyone moves to Ubuntu. Fortunately, Fedora is a success too, for now at least. But it looks like Jim just believes that truth will always prevail... I am not so sure. It is not how the world works.

Syndicated 2008-06-21 02:03:35 (Updated 2008-06-21 02:23:48) from Pete Zaitcev

Whitelist your cookies

I followed the suggestion at DaveJ's comments as an experiment, because I visit way too many forums and other identity driven sites, but so far it worked very well. There was not a single case of website failing to work with explicit permissions to set cookies, and the work required to add permissions was not too onerous.

It would be even better if Firefox threw up a dialog or something, to let me whitelist a website on the fly, without opening the preferences dialog with its tabs.

Syndicated 2008-06-12 18:35:03 from Pete Zaitcev

10 Jun 2008 (updated 11 Jun 2008 at 02:18 UTC) »

I will never fly

I took a glider ride at Moriarty, NM on Sunday. It was pretty incredible. Also, I suck as a pilot so much, it's incredible too. I don't think I had the string centered for more than 3 seconds at a time, if at all.

We took a tow to about 1800 AGL or 8k and from there climbed above 15k, where we caught the mountain wave. My pilot, Dave, said that on a good day people fly from Moriarty to Colorado and back, by hopping from a cloud to cloud.

One unexpected thing is just how loud the wind noise is. Even when doing 40 knots I have to raise my voice above it to be heard.

UPDATE: A Google search unearths an interview with my pilot, Mr. David Sharp.

Syndicated 2008-06-10 19:42:37 (Updated 2008-06-11 01:46:00) from Pete Zaitcev

3 Jun 2008 (updated 4 Jun 2008 at 05:09 UTC) »

Firefox and CPU

On my main laptop, running Rawhide, Firefox burns CPU when idle (firefox-3.0-0.65.cvs20080416.fc10). It's not much, top shows 5..7%, but it's persistent. Bram asked about [tools to debug] this just recently, and Jeff Daly replied that Mozilla is working on it. Apparently there is an add-on for it already.

Syndicated 2008-06-03 20:48:38 (Updated 2008-06-04 05:09:21) from Pete Zaitcev

3 Jun 2008 (updated 3 Jun 2008 at 21:11 UTC) »

Games... I remember those

I did not play any games in years and years, and the last on I played was Myth. But a couple of days ago someone threw together a game where I was the main character (ok, my alter ego inspired the main character). I just had to try it.

Doing so quickly reminded me just why I'm not a gamer. First, I had to find and attach a mouse to my laptop. The game is based on the RenPy, but mostly consists of 3 shooting galleries and a couple of puzzles. So, to pass with a touchpad is next to impossible. And next, my arm hurts. That's right, I'm an official ninja, yet my arm hurt from playing a computer game.

As for the game, I laughed myself out of my chair, but it was fun in an inside joke way only, so don't bother downloading. For a kernel guy, the equivalent would be a gallery where you shoot Hans Reiser, Adrian Bunk, and Dick Johnson in the face. Nobody too famous, but notorious.

P.S. This episode got me thinking about the open-source gaming (yes, I know, I'm becoming an ESR, drop dead). Speaking of RenPy, I enjoyed Starlight, but so far I've never seen anything anywhere where people would bunch together and do something. The RenPy based VNs and games are usually carried out by one creator, so they tend to be one-offs. Starlight, for example, haven't seen the next chapter yet. Maybe I should check out Wesnoth... Develop those underutilized arm muscles. I heard Rusty poked at it.

Syndicated 2008-06-03 19:30:46 (Updated 2008-06-03 20:42:53) from Pete Zaitcev

Attack of Sqlite

Recently it became fashionable to link Sqlite everywhere (for example, yum uses it). The awsum workout that Firefox gives to your kjournald is also Sqlite. But now I see a little problem. What if anything happens to the database?

XML was bad enough, but it is repairable, if with a bigger difficulty than plain text. When GNOME eliminated battstat-applet, and started to throw an funny dialog, I was able to fix it by removing a few files and directories in my ~/.gconf (Thank you, Federico).

Now my Liferea develped a problem. One of the feeds has a phantom item in it: it shows one unread even if there aren't any unread items. If I click "Mark All Read", Liferea crashes. How am I supposed to repair this? I suppose there may be some command line tools coming with Sqlite which allow to issue SQL statements, but without knowing how the database is laid out, I cannot formulate such statements.

I expect this kind of thing to become more common as more people jump on the bandwagon.

Syndicated 2008-06-01 21:11:07 from Pete Zaitcev

22 May 2008 (updated 23 May 2008 at 09:10 UTC) »

RSPoD on Rawhide

The Penny-Arcade game a.k.a. RSPoD is out today and it bombs on me with: "Could not find a compatible display device // Make sure your display device supports OpenGL 1.2 and the following extensions: ARB_multitexture ... ARB_texture_compression EXT_texture_compression_s3tc". On my system, OpenGL is provided by MESA 7.1-0.29.fc9, and according to glxinfo, some required extensions are missing. That wouldn't be so bad, but I have no idea what how this may be corrected. Hardware OpenGL in the video card, I guess. I have "Radeon Xpress 1100 IGP", which is a low-end mobile card.

UPDATE: Received the following e-mail:

Hi I had the same problem on Vista, because on my laptop the latest installed drivers were the ones I got from windows update. I then installed the ones that came from the manufacturers site and voilà..

. . .

UPDATE: See Anholt's entry.

Syndicated 2008-05-22 00:22:48 (Updated 2008-05-23 04:16:21) from Pete Zaitcev

Rio and Upstart

Seen at Rio's place:

Fedora9のupstart、すごいんですけど...。さすがに組み込みみたいな速さでは無いけれど、これならサスペンドしなくても良いんじゃ...。

Which, in my very approximate translation means:

Upstart of Fedora 9 is great, mostly. As expected it includes no visible speed, so not using suspend is not good.

So, I guess that Rio expected improvements which would allow to stop suspending and they did not materialize... Which makes sense, but why the superlatives then? The title of the post was "upstartすげい!" with the exclamation mark. I would understand if he wrote that Upstart allowed him to end suspends, but no, "速さでない" is simple enough even for me to understand. Oh well, perils of international blogging.

Once I figured out that the control file syntax is documented in events(5) of all places, Upstart became rather tolerable, even welcome. I think that our famously poor bootstrap times (which are not that bad in Fedora when compared to other distros — I've seen real hard benchmarks — but are just bad for me as a user) have more to do with trying to execute too much crap. Upstart allows us to do it more efficiently, but it's a palliative.

UPDATE: piyokun comments that the right translation is more like "Of course it's not as fast as embedded (linux), but with (upstart) you can get by without suspending." So, the "shinakute" is like "doing", "mo" is change of state (he suspended before, but not anymore), "n" is explanation tag, and "ja" is uncertainty. Casual, of course. Oh, and "kumikomu" is a verb meaning "to incorporate". I had no idea that they had a native word for "embedded", instead of a katakanized borrowed word.

Syndicated 2008-05-14 07:35:27 (Updated 2008-05-14 17:48:31) from Pete Zaitcev

13 May 2008 (updated 14 May 2008 at 03:10 UTC) »

John Carmack and Linux VT

Says John:

Our flight computer now has a display screen to show the current status to a pilot. My first inclination was just to mmap the framebuffer and pretend I was back in the days of DOS, but I decided to try and be a good linux programmer and use ncurses. It took me longer than I expected to get it working properly for displaying on the VGA for an application launched from a telnet session, and the performance was very bad. I wound up writing directly to the terminal device myself, spitting out all the escape sequences manually, but it was still quite appallingly slow. I have it working acceptably by only updating the various display items in a scanning fashion to avoid slowing it down on any individual frame, but I should have just followed my first thought and gone with a direct memory mapping.

I'm a little disturbed by the above, because I consider his application essentially equivalent to what Hercules does, and I never saw any performance issues with it. We all know that ncurses is a pig, and of course he should be using Slang instead of ncurses, but since he says that the result was slow even for the raw sequences, certainly this is not the issue. Weird.

It would be awesome if he posted his code somewhere.

UPDATE: John replies in comments:

The flight computer is only a 486-100, so it doesn't take much to bog it down, even with just text writes. I am doing straightforward fwrites and fprintfs to the console tty for everything.

It is at an acceptable rate now, so I probably won't make any other changes, but if RRL decides that they want anything fancy, like scrolling bar graphs, I will go straight to the framebuffer.

Syndicated 2008-05-13 01:25:22 (Updated 2008-05-13 20:14:59) from Pete Zaitcev

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