Saturday, November 30, 2013

Unbricking the OLPC XO-1.75 B1

A really long time ago I went to the X.Org conference in Chicago. It was actually the first tech conference I went to. At one point I nervously poured cream into the coffee tray instead of my cup; at a different point I signed up for a list to receive a developer version of the XO 1.75. The OLPC did actually send me one, but it was bricked...and having just started with Linux I was pretty intimidated by the idea of disassembling a laptop and using a terminal emulator to fix the firmware.

It's the holiday weekend in Chicago and I needed some distraction from studying for finals, so I decided to see if I could finally follow through and unbrick the XO. Somehow I always manage to misplace all of my Phillips-head screwdrivers, but after a while I found one \o/ (it was in the pencil holder :/). Soon the laptop looked like this:
disassembled XO

I connected the serial adapter to the XO. The directions said to use a USB type A to type B connector to connect the serial adapter to the host computer. Unfortunately that was vague. I spent some time Googling and looking at pictures before I gave up, wandered over to my desktop computer, and started unplugging anything that looked promising. It turned out that the printer to USB cable was the right one.

The XO 1.75 booting linux

I installed the Screen package on Fedora, changed some permissions so Screen could access the new firmware that I had on a USB drive, installed the new firmware via the terminal emulator, and then I was done :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The last month in Chicago...

Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon 

The first weekend of November I went to the local edition of the Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon. I had class in the morning so I got there around 3 pm. I grabbed some cold coffee from the table and wandered around looking for something to hack on. Peter Harkins was working on a web ui for email archives that include some of archives of Aaron Swartz's email lists, old Linux Kernel archives, etc. He was re-writing the app using Riak and Ruby. After a few hours of installing packages and working through errors I got it running. Peter was using an older version of Ruby so I found a nice hack to get RMail working on my computer.

Sheila Miguez gave a talk at Chipy this month on what happened at the Hackathon. If you'd like to hear details about the whole hackathon or follow the progress of the various projects, watch her talk for more info or check out the hackpad. Thanks again to Doejo for sponsoring :)

Chicago LUG 

Erik Johnson demoing SaltStack at the Chicago GNU/Linux User Group

Last weekend we had our LUG meeting. Erik Johnson from the SaltStack community gave a talk. In order to prepare he set up a four server demo environment on Rackspace and made a clone for each person attending. Throughout the talk he showed us how to switch between the various servers by using the Grains interface as well as make changes to all the servers at once. He walked us through using Pillars to set up user-defined variables, and how to use States to create modules. One thing that I found to be particularly nice about States is that Salt maintains a repo with definitions for packages across supported distros, so installing a package does not usually require the user to know the specific name a distro defines for a package. This feature is something I've often wished we had for JHBuild.

If you want to learn more about using Salt you can find links from Erik's talk on Github. Thanks again to Erik for coming into the city to give the talk. Thanks also to Rackspace for donating our server space, and to Carl Karston for taping the talk.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, December 14th at 12 pm. Note that we are changing back to our regular time this month (because I'll be done with Saturday classes \o/). More news (and a link to the SaltStack talk) when we have it.

See you next time, and happy hacking :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

GNOME Sound Recorder Preview Release for 3.12

I've been really busy the past two months with a full time course load at school, thesis work, and working a full time web development job. Since the job requires me to work at the office, I haven't had much time to contribute to GNOME or hang out on irc.

 So...if you have been looking for something to hack on, I am looking for help :) I'm planning to do a preview release of the Sound Recorder I wrote during this past summer's GSoC. The app is in JHBuild gnome-apps-3.12-modulesets and has a brand new Bugzilla product (thanks to Matthias Clasen and Andre Klapper for adding these for me).

Today I started filing bugs with details of what needs to be changed or improved before 3.12. I haven't finished this task yet, so if you see something that needs work please file it :) If you would like to contribute to the app you can choose a task from bugzilla to work on or file a bug with a task you think should be done.

Thanks to everyone who has helped so far, and happy hacking :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon November 9th, and Chicago LUG Meeting November 16th

Brian Rey from Chipy is organizing an Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon. It will take place this coming Saturday, November 9th, from 10 am to 10 pm, at Doejo, located at 3128 N. Broadway in Chicago. You can RSVP here. Please note that they are still seeking sponsors for food for the event, so if you would like to donate, or know of a person/company that does, you can donate via the buttons on the event page.

The Chicago LUG is having a meeting and hackfest the following Saturday, at Pumping Station: One at 2:30 pm. Erik Johnson will be giving an introduction to SaltStack, a server orchestration and configuration tool. We'll learn how to use SaltStack on CentOS to configure and manage Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and FreeBSD servers. Erik is a Python Engineer with SaltStack, and also organizes the Fox Valley Linux User Group in Aurora. We will just be having one talk this time, and plan to spend the rest of the time hacking on our website.

Hope to see you around in the next few weeks, and happy hacking :)