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Binh Nguyen: Diplomacy Part 2, Russia Vs USA Part 2, and More

Mon, 2016-09-12 23:22
This is obviously a continuation of my last post, - if you've ever been exposed to communism then you'll realise that there are those who have been exposed to the 'benefits' of capitalism look back upon it harshly. It's taken me a long while but I get where they're coming from. Many times regional and the global

Pia Waugh: Pia, Thomas and Little A’s Excellent Adventure – Final days

Mon, 2016-09-12 22:01

Well, the last 3 months just flew past on our New Zealand adventure! This is the final blog post. We meant to blog more often but between limited internet access and being busy getting the most of our much needed break, we ended up just doing this final post. Enjoy!

Photos were added every week or so to the flickr album.


I was invited to spend 4 weeks during this trip working with the Department of Internal Affairs in the New Zealand Government on and a roadmap for The team there were just wonderful to work with as were the various people I met from across the NZ public sector. It was particularly fascinating to spend some time with the NZ Head Statistician Liz MacPherson who is quite a data visionary! It was great to get to better know the data landscape in New Zealand and contribute, even in a small way, to where the New Zealand Government could go next with open data, and a more data-driven public sector. I was also invited to share my thoughts on where government could go next more broadly, with a focus on “gov as an API” and digital transformation. It really made me realise how much we were able to achieve both with from 2013-2015 and in the 8 months I was at the Digital Transformation Office. Some of the strategies, big picture ideas and clever mixes of technology and system thinking created some incredible outcomes, things we took for granted from the inside, but things that are quite useful to others and are deserving of recognition for the amazing public servants who contributed. I shared with my New Zealand colleagues a number of ideas we developed at the DTO in the first 8 months of the “interim DTO”, which included the basis for evidence based service design, delivery & reporting, and a vision for how governments could fundamentally change from siloed services to modular and mashable government. “Mashable government” enables better service and information delivery, a competitive ecosystem of products and services, and the capability to automate system to system transactions – with citizen permission of course – to streamline complex user needs. I’m going to do a dedicated blog post later on some of the reflections I’ve had on that work with both and the early DTO thinking, with kudos to all those who contributed.

I mentioned in July that I had left the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (where was moved to in October 2015, and I’ve been on maternity leave since January 2016). My next blog post will be about where I’m going and why. You get a couple of clues: yes it involves data, yes it involves public sector, and yes it involves an international component. Also, yes I’m very excited about it!! Stay tuned


When we planned this trip to New Zealand, Thomas has some big numbers in mind for how many fish we should be able to catch. As it turned out, the main seasonal run of trout was 2 months later than usual so for the first month and a half of our trip, it looked unlikely we would get anywhere near what we’d hoped. We got to about 100 fish, fighting for every single one (and keeping only about 5) and then the run began! For 4 weeks of the best fishing of the season I was working in Wellington Mon-Fri, with Little A accompanying me (as I’m still feeding her) leaving Thomas to hold the fort. I did manage to get some great time on the water after Wellington, with my best fishing session (guided by Thomas) resulting in a respectable 14 fish (over 2 hours). Thomas caught a lazy 42 on his best day (over only 3 hours), coming home in time for breakfast and a cold compress for his sprained arm. All up our household clocked up 535 big trout (mostly Thomas!) of which we only kept 10, all the rest were released to swim another day. A few lovely guests contributed to the numbers so thank you Bill, Amanda, Amelia, Miles, Glynn, Silvia and John who together contributed about 40 trout to our tally!


My studies are going well. I now have only 1.5 subjects left in my degree (the famously elusive degree, which was almost finished and then my 1st year had to be repeated due to doing it too long ago for the University to give credit for, gah!). To finish the degree, a Politics degree with loads of useful stuff for my work like public policy, I quite by chance chose a topic on White Collar Crime which was FASCINATING!


Over the course of the 3 months we had a number of wonderful guests who contributed to the experience and had their own enjoyable and relaxing holidays with us in little Turangi: fishing, bushwalking, going to the hot pools and thermal walks, doing high tea at the Tongariro Chateau at Whakaapa Village, Huka Falls in Taupo, and even enjoying some excellent mini golf. Thank you all for visiting, spending time with us and sharing in our adventure. We love you all!

Little A

Little A is now almost 8 months old and has had leaps and bounds in development from a little baby to an almost toddler! She has learned to roll and commando crawl (pulling herself around with her arms only) around the floor. She loves to sit up and play with her toys and is eating her way through a broad range of foods, though pear is still her favourite. She is starting to make a range of noises and the race is on as to whether she’ll say ma or da first She has quite the social personality and we adore her utterly! She surprised Daddy with a number of presents on Father’s Day, and helped to make our first family Father’s Day memorable indeed.

Salut Turangi

And so it’s with mixed feelings that we bid adieu to the sleepy town of Turangi. It’s been a great adventure, with lots of wonderful memories and a much-needed chance to get off the grid for a while, but we’re both looking forward to re-entering respectable society, catching up with those of you that we haven’t seen for a while, and planning our next great adventure. We’ll be back in Turangi in February for a different adventure with friends of ours from the US, but that will be only a week or so. Turangi is a great place, and if you’re ever in the area stop into the local shopping centre and try one of the delicious pork and watercress or lamb, mint and kumara pies available from the local bakeries – reason enough to return again and again.

Colin Charles: Speaking in September 2016

Mon, 2016-09-12 16:01

A few events, but mostly circling around London:

  • Open collaboration – an O’Reilly Online Conference, at 10am PT, Tuesday September 13 2016 – I’m going to be giving a new talk titled Forking Successfully. I’ve seen how the platform works, and I’m looking forward to trying this method out (its like a webminar but not quite!)
  • September MySQL London Meetup – I’m going to focus on MySQL, a branch, Percona Server and the fork MariaDB Server. This will be interesting because one of the reasons you don’t see a huge Emacs/XEmacs push after about 20 years? Feature parity. And the work that’s going into MySQL 8.0 is mighty interesting.
  • should be a fun event, as the speakers were hand-picked and the content is heavily curated. I look forward to my first visit there.

Stewart Smith: Compiling your own firmware for the S822LC for HPC

Mon, 2016-09-12 12:00

IBM (my employer) recently announced  the new S822LC for HPC POWER8+NVLINK NVIDIA P100 GPUs server (press release, IBM Systems Blog, The Register). The “For HPC” suffix on the model number is significant, as the S822LC is a different machine. What makes the “for HPC” variant different is that the POWER8 CPU has (in addition to PCIe), logic for NVLink to connect the CPU to NVIDIA GPUs.

There’s also the NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs which are NVIDIA’s latest in an SXM2 form factor, but instead of delving into GPUs, I’m going to tell you how to compile the firmware for this machine.

You see, this is an OpenPOWER machine. It’s an OpenPOWER machine where the vendor (in this case IBM) has worked to get all the needed code upstream, so you can see exactly what goes into a firmware build.

To build the latest host firmware (you can cross compile on x86 as we use buildroot to build a cross compiler):

git clone --recursive cd op-build . op-build-env op-build garrison_defconfig op-build

That’s it! Give it a while and you’ll end up with output/images/garrison.pnor – which is a firmware image to flash onto PNOR. The machine name is garrison as that’s the code name for the “S822LC for HPC” (you may see Minsky in the press, but that’s a rather new code name, Garrison has been around for a lot longer as a name).

Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) Announce: Software Freedom Day Meeting 2016

Sat, 2016-09-10 20:02
Start: Sep 17 2016 10:00 End: Sep 17 2016 16:30 Start: Sep 17 2016 10:00 End: Sep 17 2016 16:30 Location: 

Electron Workshop 31 Arden Street, North Melbourne.


There will not be a regular LUV Beginners workshop for the month of September. Instead, you're going to be in for a much bigger treat!

This month, Free Software Melbourne[1], Linux Users of Victoria[2] and Electron Workshop[3] are joining forces to bring you the local Software Freedom Day event for Melbourne.

The event will take place on Saturday 17th September between 10am and 4:30pm at:

Electron Workshop
31 Arden Street, North Melbourne.

Electron Workshop is on the south side of Arden Street, about half way between Errol Street and Leveson Street. Public transport: 57 tram, nearest stop at corner of Errol and Queensberry Streets; 55 and 59 trams run a few blocks away along Flemington Road; 402 bus runs along Arden Street, but nearest stop is on Errol Street. On a Saturday afternoon, some car parking should be available on nearby streets.

LUV would like to acknowledge Red Hat for their help in obtaining the Trinity College venue.

Linux Users of Victoria Inc., is an incorporated association, registration number A0040056C.

September 17, 2016 - 10:00

read more

Ben Martin: Houndbot suspension test fit

Fri, 2016-09-09 13:48
I now have a few crossover plates in the works to hold the upgraded suspension in place. See the front wheel of the robot on your right. The bottom side is held in place with a crossover to go from the beam to a 1/4 inch bearing mount. The high side uses one of the hub mount brackets which are a fairly thick alloy and four pretapped attachment blocks. To that I screw my newly minted alloy blocks which have a sequence of M8 sized holes in them. I was unsure of the final fit on the robot so made three holes to give me vertical variance to help set the suspension in the place that I want.

Notice that the high tensile M8 bolt attached to the top suspension is at a slight angle. In the end the top of the suspension will be between the two new alloy plates. But to do that I need to trim some waste from the plates, but to do that I needed to test mount to see where and what needs to be trimmed. I now have an idea of what to trim for a final test mount ☺.

Below is a close up view of the coil over showing the good clearance from the tire and wheel assembly and the black markings on the top plate giving an idea of the material that I will be removing so that the top tension nut on the suspension clears the plate.

 The mounting hole in the suspension is 8mm diameter. The bearing blocks are for 1/4 inch (~6.35mm) diameters. For test mounting I got some 1/4 inch threaded rod and hacked off about what was needed to get clear of both ends of the assembly. M8 nylock nuts on both sides provide a good first mounting for testing. The crossover plate that I made is secured to the beam by two bolts. At the moment the bearing block is held to the crossover by JB Weld only, I will likely use that to hold the piece and drill through both chunks of ally and bolt them together too. It's somewhat interesting how well these sorts of JB and threaded rod assemblies seem to work though. But a fracture in the adhesive at 20km/h when landing from a jump without a bolt fallback is asking for trouble.

The top mount is shown below. I originally had the shock around the other way, to give maximum clearance at the bottom so the tire didn't touch the shock. But with the bottom mount out this far I flipped the shock to give maximum clearance to the top mounting plates instead.

So now all I need is to cut down the top plates, drill bolt holes for the bearing to crossover plate at the bottom, sand the new bits smooth, and maybe I'll end up using the threaded rod at the bottom with some JB to soak up the difference from 1/4 inch to M8.

Oh, and another order to get the last handful of parts needed for the mounting.

Tridge on UAVs: APM:Plane 3.7.0 released

Fri, 2016-09-09 12:03

The ArduPilot development team is proud to announce the release of version 3.7.0 of APM:Plane. This is a major update so please read the notes carefully.

The biggest changes in this release are:

  • more reliable recovery from inverted flight
  • automatic IC engine support
  • Q_ASSIST_ANGLE for stall recovery on quadplanes
  • Pixhawk2 IMU heater support
  • PH2SLIM support
  • AP_Module support
  • Parrot Disco support
  • major VRBrain support merge
  • much faster boot time on Pixhawk

I'll give a bit of detail on each of these changes before giving the more detailed list of changes.

More reliable recovery from inverted flight

Marc Merlin discovered that on some types of gliders that ArduPilot would not reliably recover from inverted flight. The problem turned out to be the use of the elevator at high bank angles preventing the ailerons from fully recovering attitude. The fix in this release prevent excessive elevator use when the aircraft is beyond LIM_ROLL_CD. This should help a lot for people using ArduPilot as a recovery system for manual FPV flight.

Automatic IC engine support

ArduPilot has supported internal combustion engines for a long time, but until now the pilot has had to control the ignition and starter manually using transmitter pass throughs. A new "ICE" module in ArduPilot now allows for fully automatic internal combustion engine support.

Coupled with an RPM sensor you can setup your aircraft to automatically control the ignition and starter motor, allowing for one touch start of the motor on the ground and automatic restart of the motor in flight if needed.

The IC engine support is also integrated into the quadplane code, allowing for automatic engine start at a specified altitude above the ground. This is useful for tractor engine quadplanes where the propeller could strike the ground on takeoff. The engine can also be automatically stopped in the final stage of a quadplane landing.

Q_ASSIST_ANGLE for stall recovery

Another new quadplane feature is automatic recovery from fixed wing stall. Previously the VTOL motors would only provide assistance in fixed wing modes when the aircraft airspeed dropped below Q_ASSIST_SPEED. Some stalls can occur with higher airspeed however, and this can result in the aircraft losing attitude control without triggering a Q_ASSIST_SPEED recovery. A new parameter Q_ASSIST_ANGLE allows for automatic assistance when attitude control is lost, triggering when the attitude goes outside the defined roll and pitch limits and is more than Q_ASSIST_ANGLE degrees from the desired attitude. Many thanks to Iskess for the suggestion and good discussion around this feature.

Pixhawk2 heated IMU support

This release adds support for the IMU heater in the upcoming Pixhawk2, allowing for more stable IMU temperatures. The Pixhawk2 is automatically detected and the heater enabled at boot, with the target IMU temperature controllable via BRD_IMU_TARGTEMP.

Using an IMU heater should improve IMU stability in environments with significant temperature changes.

PH2SLIM Support

This release adds support for the PH2SLIM variant of the Pixhawk2, which is a Pixhawk2 cube without the isolated sensor top board. This makes for a very compact autopilot for small aircraft. To enable PH2SLIM support set the BRD_TYPE parameter to 6 using a GCS connected on USB.

AP_Module Support

This is the first release of ArduPilot with loadable module support for Linux based boards. The AP_Module system allows for externally compiled modules to access sensor data from ArduPilot controlled sensors. The initial AP_Module support is aimed at vendors integrating high-rate digital image stabilisation using IMU data, but it is expected this will be expanded to other use cases in future releases.

Parrot Disco Support

This release adds support for the Parrot C.H.U.C.K autopilot in the new Disco airframe. The Disco is a very lightweight flying wing with a nicely integrated Linux based autopilot. The Disco flies very nicely with ArduPilot, bringing the full set of mission capabilities of ArduPilot to this airframe.

Major VRBrain Support Update

This release includes a major merge of support for the VRBrain family of autopilots. Many thanks to the great work by Luke Mike in putting together this merge!

Much Faster Boot Time

Boot times on Pixhawk are now much faster due to a restructuring of the driver startup code, with slow starting drivers not started unless they are enabled with the appropriate parameters. The restructuring also allows for support of a wide variety of board types, including the PH2SLIM above.

This release includes many other updates right across the flight stack, including several new features. Some of the changes include:

  • improved quadplane auto-landing
  • limit roll and pitch by Q_ANGLE_MAX in Q modes
  • improved ADSB avoidance and MAVLink streaming
  • smoother throttle control on fixed-wing to VTOL transition
  • removed "demo servos" movement on boot
  • fixed a problem with spurious throttle output during boot (thanks
  • to Marco for finding this)
  • support MAVLink SET_ATTITUDE_TARGET message
  • log all rally points on startup
  • fixed use of stick mixing for rudder with STICK_MIXING=0
  • fixed incorrect tuning warnings when vtol not active
  • support MAVLink based external GPS device
  • support LED_CONTROL MAVLink message
  • prevent baro update while disarmed for large height change
  • support PLAY_TUNE MAVLink message
  • added AP_Button support for remote button input reporting
  • support Ping2020 ADSB transceiver
  • fixed disarm by rudder in quadplanes
  • support 16 channel SERVO_OUTPUT_RAW in MAVLink2
  • added automatic internal combustion engine support
  • support DO_ENGINE_CONTROL MAVLink message
  • added ground throttle suppression for quadplanes
  • added MAVLink reporting of logging subsystem health
  • prevent motor startup on reboot in quadplanes
  • added quadplane support for Advanced Failsafe
  • added support for a 2nd throttle channel
  • fixed bug in crash detection during auto-land flare
  • lowered is_flying groundspeed threshold to 1.5m/s
  • added support for new FrSky telemetry protocol varient
  • added support for fence auto-enable on takeoff in quadplanes
  • added Q_ASSIST_ANGLE for using quadplane to catch stalls in fixed wing flight
  • added BRD_SAFETY_MASK to allow for channel movement for selected channels with safety on
  • numerous improvements to multicopter stability control for quadplanes
  • support X-Plane10 as SITL backend
  • lots of HAL_Linux improvements to bus and thread handling
  • fixed problem with elevator use at high roll angles that could
  • prevent attitude recovery from inverted flight
  • improved yaw handling in EKF2 near ground
  • added IMU heater support on Pixhawk2
  • allow for faster accel bias learning in EKF2
  • fixed in-flight yaw reset bug in EKF2
  • added AP_Module support for loadable modules
  • support Disco airframe from Parrot
  • use full throttle in initial takeoff in TECS
  • added NTF_LED_OVERRIDE support
  • added terrain based simulation in SITL
  • merged support for wide range of VRBrain boards
  • added support for PH2SLIM and PHMINI boards with BRD_TYPE
  • greatly reduced boot time on Pixhawk and similar boards
  • fixed magic check for signing key in MAVLink2
  • fixed averaging of gyros for EKF2 gyro bias estimate

Many thanks to the many people who have contributed to this release, and happy flying!

Colin Charles: Speaking at Percona Live Europe Amsterdam

Fri, 2016-09-09 00:01

I’m happy to speak at Percona Live Europe Amsterdam 2016 again this year (just look at the awesome schedule). On my agenda:

I’m also signed up for the Community Dinner @, and I reckon you should as well – only 35 spots remain!

Go ahead and register now. You should be able to search Twitter or the Percona blog for discount codes :-)

Stewart Smith: Standard versus Reality

Tue, 2016-09-06 16:00

While dereferencing a NULL pointer may be undefined, there’s a legitimate reason to do so: you want to store something at address 0. Why? Well, not all of us are fancy and have an MMU turned on.

Rod Whitby: Intercepting hotplug on the Freecom FSG-3

Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02

The Freecom FSG-3 wireless storage router has four USB ports, and has support for hotplug built into the kernel.  This makes it ideal for use as a docking station for OpenMoko phones.

Unfortunately, it does not have the normal hotplug agent scripts that you expect to find on a desktop Linux distribution.

So you have to roll your own:

  1. Run “mv /sbin/hotplug /sbin/hotplug.freecom
  2. Create a new “/sbin/hotplug” shell script (the following is an example of how to automatically enable USB networking for an OpenMoko phone): #!/bin/sh case $1 in ( usb ) case $PRODUCT/$INTERFACE in ( 1457/5122/212/2/6/0 ) # OpenMoko GTA01 cdc-ether case $ACTION in ( add ) ifconfig usb0 up ;; ( remove ) ifconfig usb0 down ;; esac ;; esac ;; esac /sbin/hotplug.freecom "$@"

  3. Run “chmod ugo+x /sbin/hotplug” to ensure that your new hotplug script is executable.
  4. See for the list of environment variables you can use to distinguish different devices.

Rod Whitby: Syncing Treo650 with Google Contacts using CompanionLink for Google

Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02

In preparation for a possible move from my Treo 650 to the new Palm Pre, I’ve decided to try and synchronise my contacts between the Treo and Google Contacts.

So I’m evaluating CompanionLink for Google as a possible tool to achieve this. Another option might be GooSync.

I tried syncing some sample contacts in both directions, with the following results:

  1. Google Contacts to PalmOS Contacts
  2. Syncing a new contact from Google Contacts to PalmOS Contacts results in the following fields being synched correctly:

    • Name
    • Title
    • Company
    • Home Phone
    • Work Phone
    • Mobile Phone
    • E-mail (synched with the Work Email field in Google Contacts)
    • Fax (synched with the Work Fax field in Google Contacts)
    • Home Address
    • Work Address
    • Other Address
    • Notes

    The following Google Contacts fields are not synched:

    • Home Email
    • Other Email
    • Home Fax
    • Pager
    • Other Phone
    • IM Fields (Google Talk, Skype, Jabber, etc)
    • Custom Field

  3. PalmOS Contacts to Google Contacts
  4. Syncing a new contact from PalmOS Contacts to Google Contacts results in the following fields being synched correctly:

    • Name
    • Title
    • Company
    • Work Email (synched with the first E-mail field in PalmOS Contacts)
    • Home Phone
    • Work Phone
    • Mobile Phone
    • Home Address
    • Work Address
    • Other Address
    • Google Talk (synched with the IM field in PalmOS Contacts)
    • Notes (synched with a combination of the Custom and Note fields in PalmOS Contacts)

    The following PalmOS Contacts fields are not synched:

    • Secondary E-mail entries
    • Other Phone
    • AIM
    • MSN
    • Web site

I then tried duplicating contacts to see if I could determine the primary synchronisation key. Duplicating a contact in PalmOS Contacts and then synchronising did not result in a duplicated contact in Google Contacts. However, changing the E-Mail field in the duplicated contact in PalmOS Contacts was enough to cause it to be created as a second separate record in Google Contacts. So it seems that the PalmOS E-Mail field (which syncs with the Google Work Email field) is the primary key.
Interestingly, even while the PalmOS Contacts HotSync conduit is set up to sync with Google Contacts, the syncing with the Palm Desktop still happens. Indeed, the deletion of a record in the Palm Desktop is reflected in PalmOS Contacts on each sync, but it seems does not trigger a corresponding deletion in Google Contacts (perhaps there is some QuickSync vs SlowSync thing happening here). Modifying the record in Google Contacts which had already been deleted in PalmOS Contacts (through the Palm Desktop) did cause it to be reinstated in PalmOS Contacts on the next sync.
Adding a new E-Mail field to the PalmOS Contacts record (before the existing field) causes that new field to be the one that is synched with the Google Contacts Work Email field. So it seems that synchronisation happens between the first E-Mail field in PalmOS Contacts and the Work Email field in Google Contacts, and that only one Email address is ever synchronised between the two. If there is no Work Email field in Google Contacts, then all E-Mail fields in PalmOS Contacts are deleted. Additional Email fields in Google Contacts are not replicated in PalmOS Contacts. If an additional E-Mail field is added to PalmOS Contacts, then synchronisation exits with an error on the first attempt (“Can have at most one primary email address, found 2″), and prevents other fields being synchronisedbut then succeeds on the second attempt.  As long as a Work Email field is synching properly, other non-synching Email fields on both sides are retained (but not synched, even though other non-Email fields are synched).

Rod Whitby: Five new NSLU2 firmware releases in five days

Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02

In the last five days, we have made five new NSLU2 firmware releases:

2007-12-31 – Unslung 6.10-beta Release
2007-12-30 – SlugOS 4.8-beta Release
2007-12-29 – OpenWrt/NSLU2 Kamikaze 7.09 Release
2007-12-28 – Angstrom/NSLU2 2007.12 Release
2007-12-27 – Debian/NSLU2 Stable 4.0r2 Release

All of these new releases are available at

See for
an explanation of the pros and cons of each different firmware
distribution, and the installable packages available for each.

Thanks to everyone in the NSLU2-Linux, OpenWrt, Angstrom, OpenEmbedded
and Debian projects who contributed to these releases.

Remember, if you find any of the firmware or packages that the
NLSU2-Linux project provides useful, feel free to make a donation to
the project at

We are currently in need of about $500 to buy a RAID controller card
and some disks for our autobuild machine to support all this new
firmware with up-to-date package feeds …

Rod Whitby: The Definitive Analysis of Palm Pre App Install Limits and the Palm App Catalog Hanging

Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02

After the Preware 0.9.4 release, which included Applications, Themes, and Patches, and offers over 670 homebrew packages for installation, we (  started getting reports of the Palm App Catalog “hanging” the user interface for 30 seconds or more when the installation of a new application is initiated, but only when the Package Manager Service (the service which does all the Linux-level work for the Preware front-end) was installed.

After some analysis, I found that disabling all the feeds in Preware reduced the “hang” from more than 30 seconds to less than a second.

Looking through the output of ‘dbus-util –capture’ showed that the “hang” was during the call to the queryInstallCapacity method of the com.palm.appinstaller service, the routine that the Palm App Catalog application uses to determine whether there is enough space to install a new application from the Palm App Catalog.  Yes, this is the method which is at the heart of the dreaded “Too many applications” errors that people are seeing when they have a number of homebrew applications installed and try to install a new application from the Palm App Catalog.

Watching the output of ‘ps -ef’ during calls to this method (you can call it manually using luna-send) showed that palm was calling “ipkg -o /var list”.  Curious.  Why would you want to know the *complete* list of all *available* applications when determining whether there is room to install one known new application.  I suspect that Palm should be calling “ipkg -o /var list_installed” instead (which just lists the installed applications).  Note that Palm doesn’t use feeds the way that Preware does, so for Palm’s official use of ipkg, list and list_installed would return the same thing in their testing, but list_installed is definitely what they should be using to determine the size of installed applications.

The plot thickens when you use strace (which Palm conveniently includes in the official firmware image) on the running LunaSysMgr process.

It seems that LunaSysMgr calls “ipkg -o /var list” to get a list of installed packages (the probably intend to just get the list of installed packages, but when you have Preware installed and have feed configuration files in /var/etc/ipkg/*.conf, it actually returns a list of all *available packages).

LunaSysMgr then does an execve of “/usr/bin/du -s /var/usr/palm/applications/package” for each package in that list.  (BTW Palm, you seem to have a bug in the logic of that code, cause it’s running du on random garbage strings after the end of the real package list)

Yes, that’s right.  A call to queryInstallCapacity spawns a new program (“du”) once for each package returned by “ipkg -o /var list”.  No wonder the UI hangs for 30 seconds or more!

A single “du -s /var/usr/palm/applications/*” would be a far more efficient way to get exactly the same information, but again, Palm would not see this difference in testing because they do not support the third-party Preware application usage of ipkg feeds.

You can imagine that this behaviour is probably related to the app install limit that many people are experiencing too.  Unfortunately, I’ll have to reduce my /var partition size down from it’s current 2GB size (courtesy of the WebOS Internals Meta-Doctor) to be able to investigate this one.

Now the developers need to develop a new method of installing homebrew applications so that this bug in Palm’s appInstaller service is not triggered.

In the meantime, the work-around is to go into the Preware Preferences screen, hit the “Feeds” button in the top-right corner, and disable all the feeds while you use the Palm App Catalog application in another card.  No need to exit the Feeds screen, just toggle all the button to “Off”, and then toggle them back to “On” when you’re finished with the App Catalog.

For the solution to this problem, see Update #2, below.

I’ve created a thread on PreCentral where this issue can be discussed.  As I uncover more information, I’ll publish my finding here.

Update #1: I’ve now webOS Doctored my Pre in the name of science, and have tested the limits of installing applications.

If you run “du -s /var/usr/palm/applications/*”, and add up all the numbers in the first column, then as soon as you hit the 62367 1K blocks limit of the addition of the sizes reported by that “du” command and the size of the app you with to install, you will get the dreaded “Sorry, Not Enough Memory” error from the Palm App Catalog application (and any other installer, like fileCoaster or PreLoad, which uses the palm appInstaller API).  It doesn’t matter whether you have 192MB free in your /var partition, it will max out at just under 64MB of application usage.

Update #2: I have now created a Linux Application called “Fair Dinkum App Limit” (org.webosinternals.fairdinkum), which removes both the “hang” and the arbitrary application limit.  You can find it in Preware.  Just install it (no need to even run anything – if it is installed, it’s working), and you’re ready to install more applications than you can poke a stick at …

Fair Dinkum App Limit works by simply putting a couple of wrapper scripts in /usr/local/bin, which returns a size of zero when du is called, and returns the output of “ipkg -o /var list_installed” when “ipkg -o /var list” is called.  In the future, the wrappers will be made much more sophisticated than they are right now to prevent operation outside of the specific cases where they need to fool LunaSysMgr, and to also include a safety buffer so that users do not fill the /var partition.  This is a tactical response to a problem that people using homebrew applications are experiencing.  Hopefully, Palm will provide the long term solution for limits on application installation in a release in the near future.

Notes for Palm, if you happen to read this:

1) We fully appreciate that the usage of the ipkg database in /var for homebrew applications is a choice that the homebrew community has made, and is not supported by Palm.

2) We fully agree that the use of “ipkg -o /var list” instead of “ipkg -o /var list_installed” would work perfectly fine for the way that Palm is officially using the ipkg database in /var/usr/lib/ipkg, but we contend that the “list” and “list_installed” commands have clear intended usage, and the one to find the list of installed applications for checking available disk space should be “list_installed”.

3) We fully realise that the initial version of the FairDinkum scripts are unsafe.  Returning a zero value for du is a temporary solution while we work out how to achieve the same result safely.  The intention is to only return false values when du is being called from LunaSysMgr, and to make sure that a safety buffer is kept so that users do not fill the /var partition.

4) I would be very happy to discuss these issues with anyone at Palm (Chuq and Google both have my email address), and would hope that we can together architect a solution for supporting homebrew application installation which does not require these work-arounds.

5) We have designed these work-arounds in a way which does not collide with Palm OTA Updates, and in a way that we can update them automatically using the Preware installer application, and in a way that we can cause them to self-remove when Palm releases a long term solution.

Update #3:

It seems that there is yet another limit on application installation imposed by LunaSysMgr.  Once the used space on /var crosses around 60%, LunaSysMgr will once again refuse to install applications.

I’m going to need to webOS Doctor my Pre yet again (to reallocate 2GB to /var) to determine whether this limit is a fixed percentage, or a fixed number of blocks.

Update #4:

The limit is 102400 free blocks.  Mystery solved.  That also means the Fair Dinkum App Limit cannot cause your /var to be filled.

Update #5:

Thanks to Carl Thompson, an improved version of Fair Dinkum App Limit which does not alter the operation of ‘du’ has been released.

Rod Whitby: Replacing dropbear with openssh

Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02

I prefer to use OpenSSH rather than Dropbear on my devices.  The main reason is to get sftp support (which is required by sshfs).  Another reason is to get better support for agent forwarding (which is essential for bouncing from one machine to another without leaving your private keys all over the internet).

To do this on OpenMoko (or any other OpenEmbedded-based distribution for that matter, for instance SlugOS or Angstrom):

  1. Edit /etc/init.d/dropbear by replacing “DROPBEAR_PORT=22” with “DROPBEAR_PORT=2222” (or any other unused port).
  2. Run “ipkg install -force-depends openssh” to install openssh.
  3. Make sure you have set a root password before rebooting (use “passwd” to set it).
  4. Reboot (dropbear will restart on the new port, and openssh will start on the normal ssh port).
  5. Check that openssh is now serving on port 22 by logging into the device over ssh.
  6. Run “ipkg remove -force-depends dropbear” to remove dropbear.
  7. Then run “ipkg install openssh-sftp” to install support for the sftp protocol which sshfs uses.

Rod Whitby: Palm Pre GPS doesn’t like my hemisphere

Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02

It seems the Palm Pre GPS was never tested in the southern hemisphere – my new Pre’s GPS reports Lat: 394.6, Long: 138.6

24926.609       PUB     call    460             :1.26   com.palm.location       //getCurrentPosition  «string=“{}”, string=“com.sfmpllc.sendmylocation 1058”» 24926.641       PRV     call    238             :1.68  /com/palm/phone/tel_getradiotype      «» 24926.661       PRV     return  238     0.020   :1.26   :1.68           «string=“success”, string=“CDMA”» 24926.751       PRV     call    239             :1.68  /com/palm/phone/tel_getbsinfo «» 24926.786       PUB     call    461             com.palm.luna   org.freedesktop.DBus    /org/freedesktop/DBus/AddMatch        «string=“interface=org.freedesktop.DBus,member=NameOwnerChanged,arg0=com.palm.location”» 24926.920       PUB     return  460             com.palm.location       com.palm.luna        «string=“{“errorCode”:0,”timestamp”:1.254820510841E12,”latitude”:394.593215,”longitude”:138.681593,”horizAccuracy”:150,”heading”:0,”velocity”:0,”altitude”:0,”vertAccuracy”:0}”»

24926.609       PUB     call    460             :1.26   com.palm.location       //getCurrentPosition  «string=“{}”, string=“com.sfmpllc.sendmylocation 1058”»

24926.920       PUB     return  460             com.palm.location       com.palm.luna        «string=“{“errorCode”:0,”timestamp”:1.254820510841E12,”latitude”:394.xxxxxx,”longitude”:138.xxxxxx,”horizAccuracy”:150,”heading”:0,”velocity”:0,”altitude”:0,”vertAccuracy”:0}”»

The latitude value should be 34.6 degrees South (or -34.6 degrees).

That would explain why Google Maps isn’t working.

Now I need to work out how to replace the Coordinates java class in /usr/lib/luna/java/location.jar, so that the getLatitude method returns a number between -90 and +90 …

I wonder how many WebOS applications will then barf on a negative latitude value …

The PreCentral thread has more information on other GPS tweaks.

Rod Whitby: Connecting a Treo650 to a Freecom DataTank 2

Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02
  1. Install bluez2-utils from Optware
  2. Install the following kernel modules: bluetooth, hci_usb, l2cap, bnep, rfcomm, hidp
  3. Create /dev/rfcomm0 as follows:
    mknod /dev/rfcomm0 c 216 0
  4. Enable routing from ppp0 to eth1 (don’t do this if you use ppp for your internet connection):
    /etc/init.d # diff -u routing.orig routing --- routing.orig Sat Mar 22 18:57:23 2008 +++ routing Sat Mar 22 15:14:29 2008 @@ -37,6 +37,7 @@ # lo & eth0 always accepted (also if WAN port IP not set) /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -i $INIF -j ACCEPT + /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -i ppp0 -j ACCEPT /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT # get IP address from WAN port @@ -150,6 +151,7 @@ /sbin/iptables -A FORWARD -j TCPMSS -o $EXIF --clamp-mss-to-pmtu -p tcp --tcp-flags SYN,RST SYN fi /sbin/iptables -A FORWARD -i $EXIF -o $INIF -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT + /sbin/iptables -A FORWARD -i $EXIF -o ppp0 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT grep -q ^proxy_server=checked /etc/master.conf @@ -163,6 +165,7 @@ fi else /sbin/iptables -A FORWARD -s $SUBNET -i $INIF -j ACCEPT + /sbin/iptables -A FORWARD -s $SUBNET -i ppp0 -j ACCEPT fi # port forwarding

  5. Edit /etc/ppp/options as follows:

    ms-dns 192.168.1.ZZ

    (edit the last two lines to suit your network topology, the first IP address
    is your gateway device, the second IP address will be assigned to the client,
    and the third IP address is your DNS server)
  6. Add the following line to /etc/dnsmasq.conf:

Rod Whitby: The WebOS Internals Meta-Doctor

Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02

Palm supplies Palm Pre owners with this wonderful recovery tool called the webOS Doctor.  Part of the charter of the WebOS Internals project is to ensure that anything we (or anyone following instructions we publish or installing packages we develop) do can always be reverted using the webOS Doctor.

Usually, a Palm Pre is required to be activated on the Sprint network before it can be used.  This is not possible for a Palm Pre in Australia.

So we need to allow the Pre to be used without activation, and there are a number of information sources showing how this can be done.  There are also some dubious sites that redistribute modified versions of the webOS Doctor (which is a clear violation of copyright law, since it contains proprietary Palm software).  Note that WebOS Internals is always careful to comply with all copyright laws (copyright law is the foundation upon which open source licenses are based).

So we need a way for a Pre owner (who has the right to use the webOS Doctor on their own Pre) to modify the webOS Doctor that is specific to their particular version of the Palm Pre before using it to flash that modified firmware onto their Pre.

That’s where the WebOS Internals “Meta-Doctor” comes into play.

I have created a tool which will download, unpack, patch, and repack a webOS Doctor image, applying a number of transformations along the way to:

  1. Bypass the need for activation
  2. Enable Palm Profile access
  3. Set developer mode on by default
  4. Increase the size of the /var partition to 2GB

You can find this tool in the WebOS Internals source code repository at

Do not redistribute modified versions of the webOS Doctor created using this tool – it is for end-user use only.

I’ve created a forum thread on PreCentral for discussion about this tool.

Rod Whitby: Setting the OpenMoko timezone

Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02

If you want to set the timezone on your phone correctly, do the following:

  1. ipkg install tzdata
  2. ipkg install your desired tzdata-* packages.  For instance, I use “tzdata-australia“.
  3. Enable your desired timezone by symlinking it to “/etc/localtime“.  Adjust the following example command line for your locality.
    • ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Australia/Adelaide /etc/localtime
  4. The “date” command should now show the correct time for your timezone.  If it is not correct, then install the “ntpclient” package, and use it to set your clock.

Note that this technique should work on any OpenEmbedded-based Linux distribution.

    Rod Whitby: The Palm Pre lands in Australia

    Tue, 2016-09-06 14:02

    Thanks to the generosity of the PreCentral and WebOS Internals communities, I am now the proud owner of a Palm Pre.

    There is just one catch  – since I live in Australia (which uses a proper cellular communications standard), the CDMA Palm Pre that I was able to import from the USA will never work as a phone here (yes, I knew this before I purchased it).  I plan to also purchase an unlocked GSM/UMTS Pre when one becomes available (maybe I’ll buy a German one and then swap the two keyboards).

    After founding the WebOS Internals project, and using the Pre Emulator in the development of Preware, it is great to have a real device to get the full Pre experience.

    If you want to keep up to date with the activities of the WebOS Internals group, just follow @webosinternals on Twitter.  You can also find a list of articles about WebOS Internals in our Press_Room.  We hang out in the #webos-internals IRC channel on Freenode, and have a webos-internals-announce Google group.

    I still use my trusty old Treo 650 as my daily phone, which allows me to not have to worry about reflashing the Pre to try out things, as I don’t keep any real personal data on it.

    I guess this also closes the OpenMoko chapter of my open source development activities.  I was involved with OpenMoko from the very start, but always said that an OpenMoko device with a hardware keyboard was my preferred form factor, and the Pre seems to satisfy that personal hardware form factor preference whilst still being open enough on the software side to attract my interest.  I wish those who are continuing the OpenMoko path the best of success.

    I’ll document my experiences with the Pre in subsequent posts …

    Binh Nguyen: Diplomacy, Russia Vs USA, and More

    Mon, 2016-09-05 03:20
    Over and over again, the US and Russia (and other countries) seem to get in each others way. The irony is that while there are many out there who believe that they can come to an 'agreement' of sorts the more I look the more difficult I find this proposition to occur. - first, let's introduce ourselves to modern diplomacy though some videos Diplomacy