Older blog entries for etbe (starting at number 929)

Some Notes on DRBD

DRBD is a system for replicating a block device across multiple systems. It’s most commonly used for having one system write to the DRBD block device such that all writes are written to a local disk and a remote disk. In the default configuration a write is not complete until it’s committed to disk locally and remotely. There is support for having multiple systems write to disk at the same time, but naturally that only works if the filesystem drivers are aware of this.

I’m installing DRBD on some Debian/Squeeze servers for the purpose of mirroring a mail store across multiple systems. For the virtual machines which run mail queues I’m not using DRBD because the failure conditions that I’m planning for don’t include two disks entirely failing. I’m planning for a system having an outage for a while so it’s OK to have some inbound and outbound mail delayed but it’s not OK for the mail store to be unavailable.

Global changes I’ve made in /etc/drbd.d/global_common.conf

In the common section I changed the protocol from “C” to “B“, this means that a write() system call returns after data is committed locally and sent to the other node. This means that if the primary node goes permanently offline AND if the secondary node has a transient power failure or kernel crash causing the buffer contents to be lost then writes can be lost. I don’t think that this scenario is likely enough to make it worth choosing protocol C and requiring that all writes go to disk on both nodes before they are considered to be complete.

In the net section I added the following:

sndbuf-size 512k;
data-integrity-alg sha1;

This uses a larger network sending buffer (apparently good for fast local networks – although I’d have expected that the low delay on a local Gig-E would give a low bandwidth delay product) and to use sha1 hashes on all packets (why does it default to no data integrity).

Reserved Numbers

The default port number that is used is 7789. I think it’s best to use ports below 1024 for system services so I’ve setup some systems starting with port 100 and going up from there. I use a different port for every DRBD instance, so if I have two clustered resources on a LAN then I’ll use different ports even if they aren’t configured to ever run on the same system. You never know when the cluster assignment will change and DRBD port numbers seems like something that could potentially cause real problems if there was a port conflict.

Most of the documentation assumes that the DRBD device nodes on a system will start at /dev/drbd0 and increment, but this is not a requirement. I am configuring things such that there will only ever be one /dev/drbd0 on a network. This means that there is no possibility of a cut/paste error in a /etc/fstab file or a Xen configuration file causing data loss. As an aside I recently discovered that a Xen Dom0 can do a read-write mount of a block device that is being used read-write by a Xen DomU, there is some degree of protection against a DomU using a block device that is already being used in the Dom0 but no protection against the Dom0 messing with the DomU’s resources.

It would be nice if there was an option of using some device name other than /dev/drbdX where X is a number. Using meaningful names would reduce the incidence of doing things to the wrong device.

As an aside it would be nice if there was some sort of mount helper for determining which devices shouldn’t be mounted locally and which mount options are permitted – it MIGHT be OK to do a read-only mount of a DomU’s filesystem in the Dom0 but probably all mounting should be prevented. Also a mount helper for such things would ideally be able to change the default mount options, for example it could make the defaults be nosuid,nodev (or even noexec,nodev) when mounting filesystems from removable devices.

Initial Synchronisation

After a few trials it seems to me that things generally work if you create DRBD on two nodes at the same time and then immediately make one of them primary. If you don’t then it will probably refuse to accept one copy of the data as primary as it can’t seem to realise that both are inconsistent. I can’t understand why it does this in the case where there are two nodes with inconsistent data, you know for sure that there is no good data so there should be an operation to zero both devices and make them equal. Instead there

The solution sometimes seems to be to run “drbdsetup /dev/drbd0 primary -” (where drbd0 is replaced with the appropriate device). This seems to work well and allowed me to create a DRBD installation before I had installed the second server. If the servers have been connected in Inconsistent/Inconsistent state then the solution seems to involve running “drbdadm — –overwrite-data-of-peer primary db0-mysql” (for the case of a resource named db0-mysql defined in /etc/drbd.d/db0-mysql.res).

Also it seems that some commands can only be run from one node. So if you have a primary node that’s in service and another node in Secondary/Unknown state (IE disconnected) with data state Inconsistent/DUnknown then while you would expect to be able to connect from the secondary node is appears that nothing other than a “drbdadm connect” command run from the primary node will get things going.

Syndicated 2011-12-17 08:58:30 from etbe - Russell Coker

Hetzner Failover Konfiguration

The Wiki documenting how to configure IP failover for Hetzner servers [1] is closely tied to the Linux HA project [2]. This is OK if you want a Heartbeat cluster, but if you want manual failover or an automatic failover from some other form of script then it’s not useful. So I’ll provide the simplest possible documentation.

Below is a sample of shell code to get the current failover settings and change them to point the IP address to a different server. In my tests this takes between 19 and 20 seconds to complete, when the command completes the new server will be active and no IP packets will be lost – but TCP connections will be broken if the servers don’t support shared TCP state.

# username and password for the Hetzner robot
USERPASS=USER:PASS
# public IP
IP=10.1.2.3
# new active server
ACTIVE=10.2.3.4
# get current values
curl -s -u $USERPASS https://robot-ws.your-server.de/failover.yaml/$IP
# change active server
curl -s -u $USERPASS https://robot-ws.your-server.de/failover.yaml/$IP -d active_server_ip=$ACTIVE

Below is the output of the above commands showing the old state and the new state.

failover:
ip: 10.1.2.3
netmask: 255.255.255.255
server_ip: 10.2.3.3
active_server_ip: 10.2.3.4
failover:
ip: 10.1.2.3
netmask: 255.255.255.255
server_ip: 10.2.3.4
active_server_ip: 10.2.3.4

Syndicated 2011-12-14 22:44:05 from etbe - Russell Coker

Cocolo Chocolate

Cocolo Overview

I recently wrote about buying a fridge for storing chocolate [1].

Jason Lewis (the co-founder of Organic Trader [2]) read that post and sent me some free samples of Cocolo chocolate [3] (Cocolo is an Organic Trader product that is made in Switzerland).

It’s interesting to note that Cocolo seem very focussed on a net presence [3], their URL is printed on the back of the packet in an equal size font to the main label on the front (although the front label is in upper case). The main web page has a prominent link to their Twitter page which appears to be updated a couple of times a month.

PIcture of Cocolo chocolate packaging

Cocolo makes only organic fair-trade chocolate. Every pack lists the percentage of ingredients that are Fairtrade (presumably milk and some other ingredients are sourced locally in Switzerland and Fairtrade doesn’t apply to them). Their chocolate packages have the URL www.fairtrade.com.au printed on them and their web site links to an international Fairtrade organisation. The packages also list the organic and Fairtrade certification details and state that they are GMO free. The final geek data on the package is advise to store the chocolate at a temperature between 16C and 18C (I have now set my fridge thermostat to 17C). The above picture shows the front of a pack of Dark Orange chocolate and the back of a pack of Milk chocolate.

Reviews

One thing that is different about Cocolo is that they use only unrefined evaporated organic cane sugar juice to sweeten their chocolate. This gives it a hint of molasses in the flavor. Children who like white sugar with brown coloring might not appreciate this, but I think that the use of natural cane sugar juice will be appreciated by most people who appreciate products with complex and subtle flavors.

The Milk chocolate contains a minimum of 32% cocoa solids, this compares to the EU standard of a minimum of 25% for milk chocolate and the UK standard of a minimum of 20% for “Family Milk Chocolate”. The EU standard for dark chocolate specifies a minimum of 35% cocoa solids, so it seems that Cocolo milk chocolate is almost as strong as dark chocolate. If you are used to eating dark and bittersweet chocolate then the Cocolo milk chocolate is obviously not that strong, but it is also significantly more concentrated than most milk chocolate that is on the market. The high chocolate content combined with the evaporated cane sugar extract gives a much stronger flavor than any of the milk chocolates that I have eaten in recent times.

The Dark Mint Crisp chocolate has a minimum of 61% cocoa mass. The mint crisp is in very small pieces that give a good texture to the chocolate with a faint crunch when you bite it. It has a good balance of mint and chocolate flavors.

The Dark Orange chocolate contains 58% cocoa solids and has a subtle orange flavor.

The white chocolate tastes quite different from most white chocolate. While most white chocolate is marketed to children the Cocolo white chocolate will probably appeal more to adults than children. This is one of the few white chocolates that I’ve wanted to eat since the age of about 14.

They also have many other flavors, most common types of chocolate (such as with almonds or hazelnuts) are available.

I highly recommend Cocolo products!

Syndicated 2011-12-09 05:20:14 from etbe - Russell Coker

Some OWS Stuff

There is an interesting interview with Richard Wilkinson on ted.com about the damage to society that is caused by excessive inequality [1]. The conclusion is interesting, it seems that one part of the solution is to send the message that excessive greed is anti-social. The demonstrations against the greedy 1% seem likely to do some good in this regard. He also has a TED talk about this in which he shows that even the rich don’t benefit from great inequality [2]. If nothing else the links between great inequality and high rates of mental illness and murder should convince people that they don’t want to live in such a society.

Buying Cameras

Some of the radio news reports have claimed that some of the people in OWS camps in Australia are somehow unworthy because they have smart-phones and digital cameras. They seem to believe that people have to demonstrate great poverty to have standing to complain. The problem here is that owning a mobile phone is essential to getting employment in many industries, so the vast majority of people who are old enough to work but not near retirement age just have to own a mobile phone. Once you have decided to use a phone if you are going to use it a lot (which you probably will if living in a tent in a public place) then being on a contract usually makes economic sense. As the cheapest contracts include a “free” Android phone that means almost everyone who is old enough to be allowed out alone at night and young enough to be willing to sleep rough for a cause will have such a phone.

A related complaint is about people owning good cameras. One reason for this is the fact that the huge number of cameras deters the police from using excessive force – that’s a good justification for spending money on a good camera. But then a good camera doesn’t cost much nowadays, the specs on $100 cameras are quite impressive and a camera that costs $400 new will have features that are useful for professional photographers – and cameras are even cheaper on ebay.

In Australia social security payments for a single person who is out of work are as much as $486.80 per fortnight [3]. Therefore someone who is living on social security could buy a great camera if they saved up two weeks of social security payments or buy a similar camera on ebay for one week’s worth of payments.

When at a protest the widespread use of cameras is essential for protection against police brutality. It’s worth saving up for a camera.

But really they are missing the point, OWS is about representing ~99% of the population. Even people on the average income are suffering because of the greed of the rich.

Is Australia such a Great Place?

There have been claims that Australia is such a great place that OWS protests are not needed, supposedly we have a very egalitarian society. The ABS data shows that the level of inequality as expressed by numbers isn’t that great when restricted to just income if you restrict the analysis to the top 20% [4]. The mean gross household income per week is $340 for the lowest quintile and $2,380 for the highest quintile giving a ratio of 1:7.0. But when you look at total household net worth it’s $27,400 vs $1,720,700 – a ratio of 1:62.8! The ratio for the richest 1% would surely be a lot greater but a quick search of abs.gov.au didn’t turn up any statistics on them. Also Richard Wilkinson’s analysis puts Australia quite close to the US.

If the people who are in the top 1% earned their money, paid taxes, and didn’t pervert the political process then there wouldn’t be any OWS protests. The corruption in the political process and rent seeking by corporations isn’t as bad here as it is in the US, but it’s bad enough that we need some serious changes. Emily Manuel wrote an interesting article for Tiger Beatdown about the need for an Occupy movement in Australia [5]. Her description of the political problems in Australia is quite clear. But I wasn’t convinced by her analysis which suggested that Australia is different from the US in any significant way.

Really Comparing Income

To properly compare income it doesn’t make sense to compare a ratio of money earned, or disposable income which is often misleading due to disagreements about what is considered disposable. It’s really about which of the things that you want to do can be achieved on your income. One possible way of comparing it is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. The poorest 20% of households in Australia have a gross income of $340 per week. The ABS shows that the average of private rental prices in the 8 capital cities (where most of the population lives) is $218 per week [6]. Obviously the poorest households can’t afford an average rent unless you have lots of people packed in one house. No matter how you look at the numbers it’s going to be difficult for low income people to pay for rent and food. That puts them on the bottom level of Maslow’s higherarchy.

It seems to me that the benefits of increased income diminish and it becomes more of a contest to be richer than other people. Owning an old car is a significant benefit over having no car. Owning a new car has some real benefits over an old car. Luxury cars usually have safety features before they are introduced to cheaper cars, but apart from that the benefit of owning a luxury car is small. Owning multiple Rolls-Royces doesn’t seem to provide any real benefit, someone who would want to do that would probably be better served by hiring a good psychologist.

Update:

In a comment Brendan Scott cited The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen. That’s a great point, and I’ll have to read that book! I still maintain that owning two Rolls Royces is a symptom of psychological problems, people who can sort out such problems won’t feel the need to try and prove that they have more money than others.

Charles Stross has an interesting article about wealth disparity etc [7]. Being a sci-fi author he also explores what life might be like after Drexler boxes satisfy most of our current materiel needs.

The Age has an informative article by Suzy Freeman-Greene contrasting the OWS protests in Melbourne which were broken up by police to the Catholic anti-abortion protests that have been going on for more than 20 years [8]. It seems that corporations aren’t the only large organisations that are pwning democracy!

Syndicated 2011-12-09 04:58:28 from etbe - Russell Coker

Some OWS Stuff

There is an interesting interview with Richard Wilkinson on ted.com about the damage to society that is caused by excessive inequality [1]. The conclusion is interesting, it seems that one part of the solution is to send the message that excessive greed is anti-social. The demonstrations against the greedy 1% seem likely to do some good in this regard. He also has a TED talk about this in which he shows that even the rich don’t benefit from great inequality [2]. If nothing else the links between great inequality and high rates of mental illness and murder should convince people that they don’t want to live in such a society.

Buying Cameras

Some of the radio news reports have claimed that some of the people in OWS camps in Australia are somehow unworthy because they have smart-phones and digital cameras. They seem to believe that people have to demonstrate great poverty to have standing to complain. The problem here is that owning a mobile phone is essential to getting employment in many industries, so the vast majority of people who are old enough to work but not near retirement age just have to own a mobile phone. Once you have decided to use a phone if you are going to use it a lot (which you probably will if living in a tent in a public place) then being on a contract usually makes economic sense. As the cheapest contracts include a “free” Android phone that means almost everyone who is old enough to be allowed out alone at night and young enough to be willing to sleep rough for a cause will have such a phone.

A related complaint is about people owning good cameras. One reason for this is the fact that the huge number of cameras deters the police from using excessive force – that’s a good justification for spending money on a good camera. But then a good camera doesn’t cost much nowadays, the specs on $100 cameras are quite impressive and a camera that costs $400 new will have features that are useful for professional photographers – and cameras are even cheaper on ebay.

In Australia social security payments for a single person who is out of work are as much as $486.80 per fortnight [3]. Therefore someone who is living on social security could buy a great camera if they saved up two weeks of social security payments or buy a similar camera on ebay for one week’s worth of payments.

When at a protest the widespread use of cameras is essential for protection against police brutality. It’s worth saving up for a camera.

But really they are missing the point, OWS is about representing ~99% of the population. Even people on the average income are suffering because of the greed of the rich.

Is Australia such a Great Place?

There have been claims that Australia is such a great place that OWS protests are not needed, supposedly we have a very egalitarian society. The ABS data shows that the level of inequality as expressed by numbers isn’t that great when restricted to just income if you restrict the analysis to the top 20% [4]. The mean gross household income per week is $340 for the lowest quintile and $2,380 for the highest quintile giving a ratio of 1:7.0. But when you look at total household net worth it’s $27,400 vs $1,720,700 – a ratio of 1:62.8! The ratio for the richest 1% would surely be a lot greater but a quick search of abs.gov.au didn’t turn up any statistics on them. Also Richard Wilkinson’s analysis puts Australia quite close to the US.

If the people who are in the top 1% earned their money, paid taxes, and didn’t pervert the political process then there wouldn’t be any OWS protests. The corruption in the political process and rent seeking by corporations isn’t as bad here as it is in the US, but it’s bad enough that we need some serious changes. Emily Manuel wrote an interesting article for Tiger Beatdown about the need for an Occupy movement in Australia [5]. Her description of the political problems in Australia is quite clear. But I wasn’t convinced by her analysis which suggested that Australia is different from the US in any significant way.

Really Comparing Income

To properly compare income it doesn’t make sense to compare a ratio of money earned, or disposable income which is often misleading due to disagreements about what is considered disposable. It’s really about which of the things that you want to do can be achieved on your income. One possible way of comparing it is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. The poorest 20% of households in Australia have a gross income of $340 per week. The ABS shows that the average of private rental prices in the 8 capital cities (where most of the population lives) is $218 per week [6]. Obviously the poorest households can’t afford an average rent unless you have lots of people packed in one house. No matter how you look at the numbers it’s going to be difficult for low income people to pay for rent and food. That puts them on the bottom level of Maslow’s higherarchy.

It seems to me that the benefits of increased income diminish and it becomes more of a contest to be richer than other people. Owning an old car is a significant benefit over having no car. Owning a new car has some real benefits over an old car. Luxury cars usually have safety features before they are introduced to cheaper cars, but apart from that the benefit of owning a luxury car is small. Owning multiple Rolls-Royces doesn’t seem to provide any real benefit, someone who would want to do that would probably be better served by hiring a good psychologist.

Syndicated 2011-12-08 21:58:28 from etbe - Russell Coker

CyanogenMod and the Galaxy S

Thanks to some advice from Philipp Kern I have now got my Galaxy S running CyanogenMod 7.1.0 which is based on Android 2.3.7 [1]. CyanogenMod has lots of configuration options that seem to be lacking in the stock releases and also supports some advanced features such as OpenVPN and a command-line. I can’t properly compare CyanogenMod to the stock Android as I’ve only used versions 2.1 and 2.2 of the stock Android. Presumably some of the things that I like about CyanogenMod are in the stock Android 2.3.7 release.

The process of updating a phone is difficult and has some risk. Fortunately Samsung provided “Download mode” in the BIOS to allow recovery. If you mess up the process of updating a Galaxy S and you can get Download mode by holding down volume-down, home, and then power buttons then you can almost certainly recover (so don’t panic).

The CyanogenMod people don’t provide any documentation on upgrading from Android 2.2 (which is what Optus is still shipping AFAIK). So you will probably have some difficulty when upgrading a Galaxy S that you get in Australia (it seems that Optus is the only company shipping them in volume).

As an aside if you want to buy a Gel Case for a Galaxy S in Australia then visit an Optus store. It seems that Optus is the only phone store that hasn’t run out their Galaxy S accessories in favor of the Galaxy S2.

I have previously written about the Galaxy S and Three Networking [2]. Now that I have the Galaxy S as my primary phone on the Virgin network all my data corruption problems are solved, the problem is entirely related to Three. With CyanogenMod there is an option to be able to toggle the LED “Flash” as a torch from the drop-down menu, this makes the lack of such a LED on the Galaxy S even more of an annoyance.

I have also discovered that the Galaxy S apparently doesn’t have a status LED! This makes it the only phone that I’ve ever owned that has no clear way of informing me when the battery is charged! It’s also really useful to have a flashing LED to indicate low battery when running a full screen app, and to have a flashing LED to indicate that email has been received.

Someone should design a phone with multiple LEDs to indicate different things. I’d like to have one LED to indicate charging status and another to indicate whether there is unread email or SMS. Whatever the cost of including a LED during manufacture it would have to be almost nothing compared to the ~$500 sale price of a phone. Wikipedia says “The Samsung Galaxy S features a PowerVR graphics processor, yielding 20 million triangles per second, making it the fastest graphics processing unit in any smartphone at the time of release. Also, upon release, the Galaxy S was both the first Android phone to be certified for DivX HD, and at 9.9 mm was the thinnest smartphone available”. I don’t care about any of that, I want a phone with decent battery life, a LED “Flash”, and a status LED.

The main benefit I get from the Galaxy S over the Xperia X10 is the greater storage. The Xperia X10 has a total of 1G of storage and only 465M of that is available for application install. My Galaxy S has 16G of internal storage of which 1.8G is available for phone apps and 13G is available for pictures and other mass storage. Having 1.8G for phone apps and internal phone storage used by such apps (which includes the offline IMAP cache) is a massive benefit, enough to outweigh the lack of a staus LED and a Flash LED.

What I Really Want

I’d rather have a Samsung Galaxy Note. The Note has a LED flash, a 5.3″ screen with 1280*800 resolution which is much better for running as a SSH client and also good for web browsing. I’m not inclined to spend money on a phone now, so I’ll probably use the Galaxy S until Virgin offers me a new phone or someone just gives me a new phone (I can always hope). One of the many nice features in the Galaxy Note is a built in stylus. When using my current phones for web browsing I sometimes find it difficult to have a touch registered to the desired part of the screen, this is a real problem with the Opera web browser which requires a long press to open a URL in a new tab.

Syndicated 2011-12-05 02:31:28 from etbe - Russell Coker

Links November 2011

Forbes has an interesting article about crowd-sourcing by criminals and law enforcement [1].

Ulissescastr0 made a Youtube video showing how to install SE Linux on Debian/Etch [2]. Probably no-one is using Etch nowadays so this video is outdated, but it’s a good way of teaching people. It would be good if someone made a similar video showing how to do SE Linux things on Squeeze.

I discovered the above SE Linux video through Explow which provides a neat interface to multiple searches and information sources [3]. I don’t think I will be using Explow much in future as I could get the same result through Google video search. They also have a news portal but there are other sites for that. But it does seem that Explow would be useful for newbies.

Eric Michael Johnson wrote an interesting article about the inherent bias in Psychological research based in the US [4]. People who live in urban environments think differently in some ways to people who live in different environments or who have different lifestyles. Therefore generalising from university students in the US to the entire human race is likely to get incorrect results. This is something to consider the next time you are tempted to generalise to the wider population from your own friends, colleagues, etc.

The Daily Kos has a scary article about the TSA having a woman detained for reciting part of the US constitution [5]. The US will remain on my list of countries to avoid for the forseeable future.

Vorlon has written an informative article about the use of hardening options when building Debian packages [6]. It’s now even easier to do this, so every package that simultaneously deals with data of differing levels of integrity or sensitivity should be built this way.

Bunker Roy gave an interesting TED talk about his Barefoot College that teaches useful skills to people in rural parts of India who don’t have a traditional school education [7]. His talk really shows up some of the arrogance in the people who run traditional education.

Justin Hall-Tipping gave an interesting TED talk about ways of solving the world energy problems [8]. He started with explaining the problems and why they need to be urgently solved and then described in detail some of the research that his group has done to solve the problems. This includes flexible photo-voltaic cells, infra-red vision to save on lighting, and a way of using carbon nano-tubes to control the thermal properties of windows.

Syndicated 2011-11-30 13:54:42 from etbe - Russell Coker

Receiving Death Threats

On occasion I receive death threats in comments on my blog. This doesn’t bother me, I had more than a few pathetic losers say similar things to me in high school but the difference is that a pathetic loser on the other side of the world can’t do much about it.

The latest one is on my post “Is Asperger Syndrome a Good Thing?” [1]. At 11:04AM my time (00:04 UTC) on the 23rd of November someone using IP address 82.14.50.190 (registered to “NTL Infrastructure for Tesco – Guildford”) and with the claimed email address of sharkbait @ tesco.net told me that I’m on his “to kill list“.

He was angry because my post apparently didn’t satisfy his need to “prove to people that they don’t want AS“. As it’s not possible to choose your DNA there is really no point in trying to prove that one set of genes is better than another, unless of course you want to harass people who have different genes to you.

Naturally he didn’t read my post, in fact the differences between his comment and what I wrote made me suspect that it’s something he was pasting in to lots of blogs, but it seems unlikely that he would use an iPhone for such a copy/paste job so he must just not read. For example he rhetorically asks “did you even mention it was a form of autism in your ‘negative points’” when I gave a link to the proposed DSM changes where Asperger Syndrome is being merged with “Autistic Disorder” and the word “Autism” appears 5 times in the post.

He has one specific complaint about people he knows who are on the Autism Spectrum, he says “Every time someone speaks to them they get angry and tell said person to back the fuck off. I’ve been on the receiving end.” Generally there are two possible reasons for being told to “fuck off”, one is that the person telling you is an asshole and the other is that you are being an asshole. If you are the type of person who sends death threats to bloggers then you really should consider the latter explanation.

He also suggests that I watch Boston Legal – presumably because that show has one character who is an Aspie. Now I have actually watched that show and it’s the worst legal show I’ve ever seen, when a legal show has such unrealistic portrayal of court scenes I don’t think it should be relied on for information on any other topic. I watched a couple of episodes of Boston Legal and only saw one scene with the Aspie guy, so I can’t even determine whether it’s a realistic portrayal – he’s a minor character. In any case there are plenty of Aspie guys in the Free Software community who I interact with regularly, I read forums such as AspiesForFreedom.com, and I’ve read some text books on the topic. So even if a TV show had a very accurate portrayal of an Aspie character I still doubt that I would learn anything by watching it.

As a general tip for flamers, if you want to accuse someone of being a member of a NAZI or KKK type organisation then the word you are after is Aryan not “ayrien“. If you don’t know a word then don’t use it.

Please note the conditions of sending me email [2], I reserve the right to publish all threats in any way that I wish.

A Final Note

Thanks sharkbait for adding me to your “to kill list“, I’m sure that there are lots of nice people on it and I’ve got good company.

If I didn’t get the occasional death threat I would worry that I’m not writing well enough or failing to address important issues. I will write more about Autism in the future.

Syndicated 2011-11-23 14:14:52 from etbe - Russell Coker

Galaxy S vs Xperia X10 and Android Network Access

Galaxy S Review

I’ve just been given an indefinite loan of a Samsung Galaxy S which is more useful than the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 that I own.

I think that the main benefit is that it runs Android 2.2 instead of Android 2.1 on the Xperia. 2.2 is what gives it USB tethering support without extra software (something I haven’t tested yet but will use a lot if it works correctly) and Wifi AP support. Both phones are about the same size, the Galaxy S has slightly more RAM (reported as 304M vs 280M – which doesn’t really matter) and a lot more main storage (1.87G vs 465M usable after the OS is loaded).

The main down-sides of the Galaxy S is that it lacks a “flash“. I’m not aware of any phone camera having a proper flash, but the limited LED flash is useful for taking pictures at times and there are a variety of programs that can turn it on for use as a torch.

Also I wonder whether the Samsung people actually test their phones in real use or whether they just build them to spec. When you read the specs it sounds nice to have a phone that’s only 9.9mm thick (apart from the bulge at the bottom), but that makes it really difficult to hold. The Xperia X10 is 13mm thick and isn’t as slick so you are much less likely to drop it. I sometimes wonder whether phone companies are designing their products to be broken so that they can sell replacements.

Three Networking Sucks

My parents use 3G broadband from Three as their only connection to the Internet, this is fast enough for viewing Youtube on occasion and generally works well for them. However whenever I try to transfer any data to their system which has integrity checks it turns out to be corrupted. About every megabyte of data transferred has a corrupt packet that has a matching checksum – presumably it’s a bug in Three’s network. Because Three are desperate for customers they have given me a free 6 month subscription to a data SIM [1]. I’ve been using that SIM with my Galaxy S and found the same data corruption problem – and I’ve reproduced it in many places around Melbourne so this isn’t just one unreliable cell tower, it’s something broken in the core of the Three network.

The obvious solution to this is to use a VPN so the corrupt packets will be dropped. So I set up a PPTP VPN only to discover that it seems impossible to make the default route be via the VPN, there has been a bug report about this since 2009 – the iPhone allows configuring whether Internet traffic should go via the VPN, it can’t be that hard [2].

There is an option to use a proxy for web access, but when I tried that on Android 2.1 it only worked for the system web browser not for things like the Android Market. But there is no option for configuring a proxy for use when the VPN is active, so it doesn’t seem likely that I could run a proxy on the VPN network and direct all traffic to it.

Due to corruption on the Three network and the inability to get a VPN working correctly it seems that I can’t use the Three SIM.

Android isn’t Really Free Software

While Android implementations generally stick to the GPL and other free software licenses that are involved they seem to be a poor example of providing freedom to users.

My Xperia X10 is running Android 2.1 because Sony-Ericsson has locked the boot loader so I can’t install a newer kernel. They don’t care enough to release a new version – this is stupid of them because it means that I am much less likely to recommend their products. If Sony-Ericsson releases a newer Android release then it will be a total OS reinstall, unlike the way I can upgrade a Debian system an application at a time.

I can’t install new packages that replace system packages, so the Email and SMS programs that I’ve installed sit along side the ones that came with the system. Periodically the unwanted SMS and Email programs show up.

I can’t make my Android phones perform basic networking tasks that I’ve done on Linux systems since the early 90′s. Hiding the complexity from the newbies is OK, but they need to make the full capabilities of the system available to experts.

It seems to me that Android effectively gives the majority of users no more freedom than the iPhone does. Even for the small minority of us who are technically capable of rooting phones and installing CyanogenMod etc it’s often limited by technical measures and the amount of time required.

Update: Philipp Kern pointed out that his Galaxy S has a front facing camera. I have checked my phone and discovered that it has one too. When I published this post I criticised the Galaxy S for not having a front facing camera for video-calls based on a misunderstanding of the Wikipedia page (which says that SOME models lack it) and not testing it. Thanks for the correction Philipp and sorry for publishing wrong data.

Syndicated 2011-11-21 08:01:51 from etbe - Russell Coker

Galaxy S vs Xperia X10 and Android Network Access

Galaxy S Review

I’ve just been given an indefinite loan of a Samsung Galaxy S which is more useful than the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 that I own.

I think that the main benefit is that it runs Android 2.2 instead of Android 2.1 on the Xperia. 2.2 is what gives it USB tethering support without extra software (something I haven’t tested yet but will use a lot if it works correctly) and Wifi AP support. Both phones are about the same size, the Galaxy S has slightly more RAM (reported as 304M vs 280M – which doesn’t really matter) and a lot more main storage (1.87G vs 465M usable after the OS is loaded).

The main down-sides of the Galaxy S are that it lacks a front facing camera (which means it can’t usefully do video-conferencing) and it lacks a “flash“. I’m not aware of any phone camera having a proper flash, but the limited LED flash is useful for taking pictures at times and there are a variety of programs that can turn it on for use as a torch.

Also I wonder whether the Samsung people actually test their phones in real use or whether they just build them to spec. When you read the specs it sounds nice to have a phone that’s only 9.9mm thick (apart from the bulge at the bottom), but that makes it really difficult to hold. The Xperia X10 is 13mm thick and isn’t as slick so you are much less likely to drop it. I sometimes wonder whether phone companies are designing their products to be broken so that they can sell replacements.

Three Networking Sucks

My parents use 3G broadband from Three as their only connection to the Internet, this is fast enough for viewing Youtube on occasion and generally works well for them. However whenever I try to transfer any data to their system which has integrity checks it turns out to be corrupted. About every megabyte of data transferred has a corrupt packet that has a matching checksum – presumably it’s a bug in Three’s network. Because Three are desperate for customers they have given me a free 6 month subscription to a data SIM [1]. I’ve been using that SIM with my Galaxy S and found the same data corruption problem – and I’ve reproduced it in many places around Melbourne so this isn’t just one unreliable cell tower, it’s something broken in the core of the Three network.

The obvious solution to this is to use a VPN so the corrupt packets will be dropped. So I set up a PPTP VPN only to discover that it seems impossible to make the default route be via the VPN, there has been a bug report about this since 2009 – the iPhone allows configuring whether Internet traffic should go via the VPN, it can’t be that hard [2].

There is an option to use a proxy for web access, but when I tried that on Android 2.1 it only worked for the system web browser not for things like the Android Market. But there is no option for configuring a proxy for use when the VPN is active, so it doesn’t seem likely that I could run a proxy on the VPN network and direct all traffic to it.

Due to corruption on the Three network and the inability to get a VPN working correctly it seems that I can’t use the Three SIM.

Android isn’t Really Free Software

While Android implementations generally stick to the GPL and other free software licenses that are involved they seem to be a poor example of providing freedom to users.

My Xperia X10 is running Android 2.1 because Sony-Ericsson has locked the boot loader so I can’t install a newer kernel. They don’t care enough to release a new version – this is stupid of them because it means that I am much less likely to recommend their products. If Sony-Ericsson releases a newer Android release then it will be a total OS reinstall, unlike the way I can upgrade a Debian system an application at a time.

I can’t install new packages that replace system packages, so the Email and SMS programs that I’ve installed sit along side the ones that came with the system. Periodically the unwanted SMS and Email programs show up.

I can’t make my Android phones perform basic networking tasks that I’ve done on Linux systems since the early 90′s. Hiding the complexity from the newbies is OK, but they need to make the full capabilities of the system available to experts.

It seems to me that Android effectively gives the majority of users no more freedom than the iPhone does. Even for the small minority of us who are technically capable of rooting phones and installing CyanogenMod etc it’s often limited by technical measures and the amount of time required.

Syndicated 2011-11-20 15:01:51 from etbe - Russell Coker

920 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!