Older blog entries for mjg59 (starting at number 259)

Meego kernel watch

sgx535 drivers in today's Meego kernel tree: 3 (GMA600, CE4100, N900)
sgx535 drivers submitted upstream: 1 (Tungsten GMA500 driver, submitted March 2009, rejected due to significant chunks of functionality there purely to support closed userspace)

To be fair, the rest of the Moorestown support code seems to be shaping up fairly nicely. But the lack of a coherent story about what graphics support is going to look like isn't hugely reassuring.

Syndicated 2010-07-23 19:22:22 from Matthew Garrett

Power management at Plumbers

I'm running a power management track at the Linux Plumbers Conference again this November. Unlike most conferences which focus on presenting completed work, Plumbers is an opportunity to focus on unsolved problems and throw around as many half-baked solutions as you want in order to try to find one that seems to stick. The suspend/resume problem in Linux is mostly solved[1], which means that it's time for us to focus on runtime power management and quality of service.

This has been an especially interesting year in the field. We've landed the infrastructure for generic runtime power management, glued that into PCI and started implementing that at the driver level. pm_qos is being reworked to improve performance and scalability as we start seeing more drivers that need to express their own constraints. And, of course, we had the wakelock/suspend blockers conversation that didn't end in a terribly satisfactory manner, although Rafael is now working on an implementation that presents equivalent functionality with a different userspace API. Runtime full-system suspend isn't solved yet either - the current cpuidle-based solution doesn't work well on multicore systems. And maybe we could be more aggressive still by looking at reclocking more system components on the fly even if the existing interfaces don't allow that. Do we have all the hooks we need to identify which system resources are being used? Are we doing the best we can in terms of avoiding trading off performance for power savings?

So if you'd like to talk about any of these things, or if there's any other problems that you don't think have been solved yet, head on over to the call for submissions and help make sure that we can make Linux the most power-efficient OS possible.

[1] Yes, some machines are broken, but those tend to be individual weird bugs which we're gradually tracking down rather than fundamental issues in our core code, so they're not really in the scope of Plumbers

Syndicated 2010-07-12 13:53:43 from Matthew Garrett


It turns out that it's actually really, really easy to set up an l2tp tunnel. You just need to install xl2tpd, configure some address ranges and then add an authentication entry to chap-secrets. It's just that the entire known universe appears to be more interested in using ipsec as well, and that looks worse than setting up Kerberos and I've already done that enough in my life thanks. I don't care about my connection being encrypted (I've got encrypted protocols for that), so this seems to be an entirely reasonable solution.

Syndicated 2010-06-29 18:41:21 from Matthew Garrett

The paradox of choice

Searching for information on setting up an L2TP VPN takes me here, where I get to choose between OpenSWAN, KAME and some OpenBSD port. Searching for information on setting up a PPTP VPN takes me here, where I'm told exactly what I need to do.

Given choices, I chose the one that reduced my choices. THERE IS A LESSON HERE.

(Sadly, I'm now going to have to deal with L2TP anyway because something in the intermediate network is dropping GRE)

Syndicated 2010-06-29 17:37:04 from Matthew Garrett

In better news

The GNOME Foundation released their conference speaker guidelines today. This is an important step not just in helping speakers know what's acceptable, but also in helping audience members understand in advance what the community is likely to find objectionable and ensure that they can feel comfortable in raising concerns.

Of course, guidelines mean little without enforcement. My original draft of these suggested that event runners be able to stop presentations if they felt they were gratuitously in breach of the guidelines. Opinions on this were fairly strongly split, with several people concerned that this effectively allowed individuals to immediately shut down presentations with little oversight. That's a genuine concern, but it does seem to assume bad faith on the part of conference organisers in a way we've rarely (never?) seen. On the other hand, conferences in our field have endured presentations that have contained offensive material from start to finish. If an offended individual is in a minority then it's not easy for them to potentially challenge the audience by vocally expressing their unhappiness, and even standing up and leaving may be a difficult and obvious act.

But I don't set the behavioural standards of the community, and attempting to enforce standards that people don't agree with isn't going to fly. Some people are likely to feel that even the level of enforcement suggested is an unwelcome intrusion into free discussion of some topics, so I think this is a good compromise that is a great signal for our unwillingness to accept inappropriate presentations. With luck we'll see other communities enact similar guidelines and we can come to a broad consensus that covers the majority of our conferences.

Syndicated 2010-06-25 00:09:17 from Matthew Garrett


I've had the opportunity to look into the Joojoo tablet recently. It's an interesting device in various ways, ranging from the screen being connected upside down and everything having to be rotated before display, to the ACPI implementation that's so generic it has no support for actually attaching most embedded controller interrupts to ACPI devices and so relies on a hacked kernel that exposes individual interrupts as ACPI events that are parsed in userspace, to the ChangeOrientation binary that's responsible for switching between landscape and portrait modes containing gems like ps aux | grep fgplayer | grep -v grep and containing references to org.freedesktop.PandaSystem, a somewhat gratuitous namespace grab. Hardware-wise it seems to be little more than battery, generic nvidia reference design board and touchscreen with an accelerometer and LED glued to the chipset's GPIO lines. The entire impression is one of an ambitious project not backed up by the level of technical expertise required to get things done properly. Frankly, I think Michael Arrington came out of this rather better than he could have done - behind the reasonably attractive UI, the entire device is pretty much held together by string and a following wind.

Of course, releasing shoddily put together technology isn't generally illegal and from that point of view Fusion Garage aren't any worse than a number of products I've had the misfortune to actually spend money on. But they're distributing Linux (stock Ubuntu with some additional packages and a modified kernel) without any source or an offer to provide source. I emailed them last week and got the following reply:

Dear Sir,

we are still actively making changes to the joojoo software. We will make
the source release available once we feel we are ready to do so and also
having the resources to get this sorted out and organized for publication.
We seek your kind understanding on our position and appreciate your
patience on this. Thank you.

Best Regards
joojoo Support Team

Strong work, Fusion Garage. Hardware and software may not be your strong points, but you're managing copyright infringement with the best of them.

Syndicated 2010-06-24 16:10:37 from Matthew Garrett


The benefits of Meego's "Upstream first" policy are amply demonstrated by the Meego kernel tree now carrying two separate PowerVR drivers with significant quantities of duplicate code, neither of which is upstream.

Wait. What?

Syndicated 2010-06-22 16:05:12 from Matthew Garrett


The WIndows 7 installer runs using vesa, in the wrong resolution and aspect ration, and does sub-pixel anti-aliasing anyway?

Syndicated 2010-06-10 19:39:51 from Matthew Garrett

Poulsbo still makes me sad

Meego 1.0 was released last month. Predictably enough, it lacks any form of support for the GMA500 graphics chipset[1], which is reasonably in line with Intel's placing of US15W as an embedded product for MID-type devices rather than having anything to do with netbooks. Of course, the market pretty much ignored that detail, so we're left with the release of a netbook experience that's incompatible with a large number of netbooks.

There's been hints that there might be some sort of new driver coming, though, and Intel's rapidly heading towards the release of Moorestown - their new MID platform that's x86 but not a PC, that replaces Poulsbo (unless you want to run Windows) and which has the same SGX 3D core[2] as Poulsbo. Moorestown support has started landing in the mainline Linux kernel and Intel are talking about devices shipping with it this year, so we ought to see the graphics driver soon, right?

Well, kind of. Digging through the Meego kernel git tree reveals an updated driver with Moorestown support. The blob is too big for gitorious to display, so I've put up a copy here. Things to note - this isn't a new driver (it's clearly derived from the PSB one), it includes a huge blob of Imagination's platform-independent code, the front end of the driver is still pretty much the i915 driver with a small number of PSB-specfic changes and despite the cheerily optimistic "Patch-mainline: 2.6.35?" at the top it stands pretty much no chance whatsoever of going mainline given that it's even more offensive than the previous version and that one got rejected out of hand.

So it's not clear what Intel's doing here. If this is the driver that Intel are developing for upstream then there's been a pretty serious breakdown in communication over what their driver has to look like. If it's not, Intel have another and presumably better driver somewhere that they're developing entirely behind closed doors despite having shipped millions of units of hardware that people would dearly love to be able to run mainline kernels on. Neither case looks especially good, so the continuing perception would seem to be that only a subset of the company understands the Linux development model - we'll see how this ends up interacting with Meego as a whole.

(Huh. I was about to hit "Post" on this, and then found that another and entirely different driver was submitted for the Meego kernel last week. A copy of it's here. "IVI" in this context appears to stand for "In-vehicle interface" and is aimed at those contexts rather than generic ones. It includes much the same Imagination glue code as the Moorestown driver, appears to be derived from a driver that has support for other Intel chipsets, was written to be at least partially OS-independent given that it abstracts things like PCI and stands even less chance of going upstream than the other driver - as acknowledged by "Patch-mainline: Never". Hilariously, if we include IEGD, that makes three different drivers for the same hardware from the same company, each having no chance to go upstream. Thintel.)

[1] Weirdly, it includes the kernel DRM for Matrox cards. No X driver though.
[2] It's clocked higher, though

Syndicated 2010-06-03 14:03:58 from Matthew Garrett

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