Archive Page 2


Switching to git

I’ve finally created git repositories for vesafb-tng and fbsplash (I was using BitKeeper before it became non-free). So far everything seems to be working smoothly. I’m quite happy that once again I’ll be able to do a simple cg-update instead of manually unpacking, patching and diffing two kernel trees. Git appears to be a little slower than BK, but it should still be a huge time-saver for me.

Moving the repos to git also means that theoretically they could now be made publicly accessible, should anyone need access to the latest code. Unfortunately, due to some rather annoying limits my ISP is imposing on my net connection, this will most likely remain a purely theoretical possibility.

During the preparations for the migration I was searching for some documents describing the new git SCM. I read a few HOW-TOs on the lkml, but it turns out that the best doc is the Cogito README. If you want to start your own repo, you might just as well skip the HOW-TOs and go straight to the README.


Back from London

I’ve been back home for the last few days, but I also have been too busy/lazy to blog about the trip. But finally, here it is.

My visit to this strange place called London (where people drive on the left side of the road and you need “look right/left” marks on the pedestrian crossings, and where you get to see and meet people of tens of different nationalities, speaking dozens of languages) despite being quite short, has been very enjoyable and fruitful.

Participating in a Gentoo dev/user meeting and meeting in real life some of the people I had so far only known from the IRC was a lot of fun, as was my visit to the Science Museum and particularly to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy exhibition (it’s always fun to see something related to h2g2 :)).

My trip to London wasn’t a purely touristic one, so in addition to the usual sightseeing and meeting different people I also got to do some real coding and debugging. The results are not bad — more than ten patches for various fb-related applications and libraries, including fixes for vesafb-tng, fbsplash and splashutils. I also got a chance to test vesafb-tng on a dual processor SMP-enabled machine. To my own surprise, it worked. And it worked perfectly. Despite my best attempts I was unable to crash the machine and reproduce any of the bugs that were reported by some people in the past. Well, I guess that for now vesafb-tng will be left ‘half-working’ on SMP.


Physics and Astronomy workshops

I’m about to head off to Warsaw to take part in Physics and Astronomy workshops at the Warsaw University. I’ll be away from home (and thus from my dev box) for the next two weeks, so expect a halt in splashutils/vesafb-tng development and a longer than usual delay in my e-mail replies. I’ve just finished going through the big pile of unanswered mails in my inbox and replied to every single one of them that was still relevant. If you mailed me about something and you haven’t received a reply now, your message probably got lost/filtered by spamassasin/etc. If whatever you wanted isn’t outdated yet and won’t be after two weeks, feel free to resend your messages :)

During the workshop on physics I’ll be working on my General Relativity simulation program that was started back in March. I realize I promised I would release the code ‘as soon as the clean-ups are complete’, but unfortunately the development took a little different path than I anticipated and I wasn’t able to hold up my promise. Still, I certainly hope that after a full week devoted to the program’s development, it will be ready for getting it out to the public and I’ll keep my word after all (with a little 3-month delay added to it ;)).


Switching to UTF-8

Since I finished school a few weeks ago and I’m now on a long, 5-month vacation before uni starts, I decided to shorten my TODO list a little by finally doing some of the things listed in it. First item that got my attention was ‘switch the system to UTF-8’. Thanks to our excellent
the process was quite painless and smooth, with the exception of maybe the revdep-rebuild stuff, but that was caused solely by the fact that I had a lot of junk in my local overlays.

To my surprise, almost everything seems to be working quite well after the switch. The console, X, vim, even mc. Things that don’t work? Fluxbox, net-im/{ekg,egk2}. As far as fluxbox is concerned, the ‘disablexmb’ USE flag is supposed to fix problems with long startup times. And it does that quite nicely. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a no-go for me, since with fluxbox compiled with that flag enabled, various apps started taking incredibly long to start (wine being one of them). I had to use the workaround
, which so far seems to be working nicely.

With net-im/ekg the situation is a little more difficult. The app was written with iso-8859-2 in mind. With UTF-8 locales I get to see some funny chars instead of the Polish diacritic characters. Apparently, support for UTF-8 is one of the ‘oh, this is a really important feature that we definitely need to have’ kind of things that everyone knows are necessary, but no one wants to implement. Well, I guess I’ll have to wait, or write it myself one day (when I get really tired of the lack of the diacritic chars).

Everyone seems to be posting their Nerd Scores, so here’s mine:
I am nerdier than 96% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!
Scary, isn’t it?

BTW, that lady with pointy ears in the picture in one of the questions is NOT a Vulcan. And it’s not because she’s smiling.


splashutils- and beyond

With splashutils- out in the wild, and with >1.0 mask removed from package.mask, I thought it’s a good time to write a few words about what has been going on in the project for the last few weeks, and what is likely to follow.

As you can see in the changelog, there have been quite a few changes, fixes and updates in and Among the most important of these are: the new splash_manager script, merged MNG code and the new packaging

Starting with, splashutils will be released in two versions — ‘full’ and ‘lite’. The ‘full’ version is just a continuation of what I’ve been doing for the last months — ie. a tarball which includes the core splashutils code and the bundled libraries which are built and linked against klibc. The ‘lite’ tarball contains only the core splashutils code, and thus is much smaller. media-gfx/splashutils will be using the lite tarball from now on, to save users’ bandwidth.

The MNG code is just a stub for now. A lot of important functions are already implemented, but it’s not usable from an user’s standpoint. This will change in or Due to problems with threads with klibc and large initramfs images, animations will only be supported in the splash daemon, and not in the kernel helper (which means that you won’t be able to see any animations at the stage at which ‘Initializing the kernel’ is displayed on the screen).

The splash_manager is a handy utility which can be used for all kind of theme-related tasks, such as theme setting, switching, testing and listing. It should make life easier for all those people who don’t have the time or will to read the documentation to learn how the whole thing works or how exactly should it be configured (make no mistake, it’s not an invitation to completely ignore the docs!). I’ve done some testing, but I’m sure there are still bugs. If you happen to find any of them, please report it on our Bugzilla. The script is undocumented, but it has a long help message, which I hope will prove to be helpful.


Lan Party

Having finally finished my high school final exams, I decided to take a break from the more serious stuff. A group of my friends also wanted to do something for fun, and so we organized a LAN Party. It lasted 2 full days and I really enjoyed it, even though I suck at almost any kind of computer game (at least the ones we played), with the exception of maybe sdlroids ;) (too bad there’s no multiplayer mode).

With 10 participants, we not only played games but also exchanged a lot of data. It was nice to see stuff flowing at 10 MB/s — a speed I virtually never see in the LAN owned by my ISP that I’m connected to at home.

We had both Linux and Windows machines in the network and everything worked without any significant problems. Gaming on Linux wasn’t troublesome or difficult. In fact, some Windows systems turned out to be harder to configure to make everything work.

The LAN Party began with two Gentoo machines, and ended with three, which I think is a good statistic :) A dual-boot system joined the Linux team after I helped a friend solve a little problem with his network card, which effectively finished his installation of a basic Gentoo system.

It was the first LAN party organized among my classmates, and I certainly hope that it won’t be the last one :)


splashutils- released

More than 24h ago I released splashutils- The new version includes many bugfixes and some minor speed enhancements. Have a look at the ChangeLog for a full list of changes. was delayed by almost a week, all because of a speed-up idea I had. Instead of preparing things for a release, I was modifying the code and testing the performance of the splash daemon. The result? A 10% speed-up and the code turned into a mess. Since 10% doesn’t justify making splashutils even more difficult to maintain and potentially introducing new bugs, I decided to drop the idea for now. Fortunately, I’ve already come up with a solution that should allow me to make the code faster without making a mess of it. If all goes well, splashutils- will be 10% faster (not that anyone would actually notice that — it will translate into a 0.2s faster boot-up in common configurations..).

And speaking of, I thought I should elaborate on what’s in the development roadmap for the next few versions. will be a bugfix-only release. I hope to get it out in a few days, provided that I’m able to fix all the important bugs in time. Whether will be bugfix-only or not depends on how many unresolved bugs are left after :) After that, I plan to get MNG support merged into the main source tree. This will make it possible to have animated themes, which sure will look nice if used properly. What will happen next is unknown — I’ll probably have a look at my old gensplash to-do lists and try to find things that haven’t already been implemented in splashutils-1.1.9.x.

June 2018
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