13 May 2019

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Ubuntu on the Lenovo D330

The Lenovo D330 2-in-1 convertible (or netbook as we used to say) is a quite interesting device. It is based on Intels current low-power core platform, Gemini Lake (GLK), and thus offers great battery-life and a fan-less design.

This similar to what you would from an ARM based tablet. However being x86 based and Windows focused we can expect to get Ubuntu Linux running - without requiring any out-of-tree drivers or custom kernels that never get updated as we are used-to from the ARM world.
This post will be about my experiences on doing so.

For this I will use the most recent Ubuntu 19.04 release as it contains fractional scaling support, which is essential for a 10″ 1920x1200px device. Also the orientation sensor (mostly) works out of the box, when compared to the 18.04 LTS release.

Getting to the desktop

After booting the live USB, you will notice that the screen stays black. This is caused by the i915 driver not correctly setting up the internal (DSI) screen (see FDO#109267).

A quick workaround for this is to rotate the device, causes the i915 driver to re-initialise the screen, which will work at this point. Alternatively you can also suspend/ resume the device.

Wrong screen orientation

Once on the desktop, you will notice that it is rotated by 90° which is caused by a missing mount matrix entry in udev shipped with 19.04.

First we manually rotate the screen to landscape mode by opening a terminal via Ctrl+Alt+T and typing

xrandr -o right

Now we can continue to add the missing accelerometer mount matrix. Create the file /etc/udev/hwdb.d/61-sensor-local.hwdb with the following content:

# IdeaPad D330
sensor:modalias:acpi:BOSC0200*:dmi:*:svnLENOVO:pn81H3:*
    ACCEL_MOUNT_MATRIX=0, 1, 0; -1, 0, 0; 0, 0, 1

To immediately apply the changes do

sudo systemd-hwdb update
sudo udevadm trigger -v -p DEVNAME=/dev/iio:device0
sudo service iio-sensor-proxy restart

Touch input rotation

Now you can rotate the device and the screen content will be correctly oriented. However, if you try to use the touchscreen, you will notice that it only behaves correctly in portrait mode.

This is caused by a bug in GNOME/ mutter introduced in the 3.32 release. It will be fixed in the 3.32.2 point-release. In the meantime you can use the updated mutter packages, where I have backported the fix.

Enabling fractional scaling

Finally we need to magnify the UI by 50% in order not to damage our eyes. Unfortunately the fractional scaling in Ubuntu 19.04 is hidden by default. To enable it enter the following in a console

gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features "['scale-monitor-framebuffer', 'x11-randr-fractional-scaling']"

This will enable fractional scaling for both Wayland and Xorg sessions. Here, you will get a noticeable performance hit when using Xorg. However you should choose it regardless due to the following on Wayland

This probably also helps understanding why Xorg is still default on the majority of Linux distributions.

What does not work

Surprisingly little, actually. The only remaining issue is that you will lose sound after a suspend/ resume cycle due to some bug in snd-hda-intel-realtek.

What does work

State of touch UI on Linux

However there is more than getting the hardware to start when using the device on a daily basis - you will also have to fight the linux apps. Currently only GTK3 apps have some understanding of touch events - most other toolkits need updating. To estimate the time until this will happen keep in mind that touch on Linux is a niche inside a niche.

Firefox for instance does not understand touch events and you will have to manually enable them as described here.

But even then you will be able to drag the window around - thanks to client side decoration (CSD) window placement is handled by Firefox itself, but it does not react to touch events #1530070 (same applies to Chrome btw).

Next all apps continue to launch in windowed mode. On device with limited screen space, you will soon notice why everything is full-screen on Android (and Windows Tablet Mode).

Finally the GNOME on-screen keyboard feels quite sluggish and lacks visual feedback. Therefore you will often end up with missing letters.

So in summary it is not a very pleasant experience right now.

Fortunately GNOME/ Ubuntu are supposedly on it for the next release.

Until then I would recommend sticking with Windows 10; fractional scaling just works there and you will really value its on-screen keyboard and tablet mode when having the physical keyboard detached.

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13 May 2019 5:03pm GMT

24 Apr 2019

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A critical view on the blockchain

At the beginning of this month I participated to the foss-north conference, in Gothenburg, and took the stage to give a short presentation of the blockchain technology. Given that my talk was somehow critical of the blockchain (or rather, of the projects using it without due reason) I was prepared to receive a wave of negative remarks, assuming that all the hype surrounding this technology would have infected a good part of my audience as well. I was therefore positively surprised when several people came to me afterwords to express their appreciation for my speech, appreciation that now makes me confident enough to share the video of the presentation here too:

I want to publicly thank Johan Thelin and all the other foss-north staff and volunteers who organized such a successful conference. They also managed to get the video recordings out in a surprisingly short time. Indeed, the above video is taken from the foss-north YouTube channel, which I recommend you to visit as there were a lot of good talks at the conference; the topics were so varied, that I'm sure you'll find at least a couple of talks of your interest.

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24 Apr 2019 7:59pm GMT

13 Mar 2019

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Ubports at the LinuxPiter conference

Last November I was invited to talk at the LinuxPiter conference. I held a presentation of the Ubports project, to which I still contribute in my little spare time.

The video recording from the conference has finally been published:

(there's also a version in Russian)

There was not a big audience, to be honest, but those that were there expressed a lot of interest in the project.

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13 Mar 2019 4:07pm GMT

12 Nov 2011

feedPlanet Linux-to-go

Paul 'pfalcon' Sokolovsky: Shopping for 3D TV...

Shopping for 3D TV (again), few findings:

12 Nov 2011 6:55pm GMT

Paul 'pfalcon' Sokolovsky: Hacking Luxeon SP-1

I finally going to get Arduino, and while I'm choosing flavor and waiting for it, I can't help but disassembling all devices I have at home, each time speaking: "This must have Arduino inside!" (meaning of course that I expect it to be based on general-purpose MCU). Gosh, I usually get "blob chip" (uncased chip with blob of epoxy on top).

Well, I finally had my expectations fulfilled - Luxeon SP-1 voltage stabilizer/cutter features ATMEGA48V-10PU (Flash: 4k, EEPROM: 256, RAM:512). Not only that, it is installed in DIP socket! Buy from Luxeon, they're hacker-friendly ;-).

I bought the device actually for a wattmeter it features (which fact is hard to figure out from common specs found in the shops, I accidentally read somebody mentioning it on a forum). The wattmeter is of course not bright - for a lamp rated 100W it shows 88W, and for more powerful equipment (like perforator) understates wattage even more (maybe it's difference between real and apparent power factor).

Still, for $17 you get Arudino-alike with voltage/current sensor and hacking possibility. Woot!

BOM:
High-power board:

MCU board:


12 Nov 2011 5:58pm GMT

10 Nov 2011

feedPlanet Linux-to-go

Paul 'pfalcon' Sokolovsky: Links for November 2011

Kindle:


Linux kernel module tricks:

10 Nov 2011 3:21pm GMT

19 Oct 2011

feedPlanet OpenEZX

Antonio Ospite: Gnome 3: go to Shell? Not just yet, thanks.

In Debian Unstable the transition to Gnome 3 is taking place; when Gnome 3.0 firstly came out some unnamed geeky users complained loudly about the design decisions of the development team to push strongly towards gnome-shell as a new default UI; gnome-shell was designed focusing on usability (usability is a metric relative to a certain target audience BTW) and simplicity, hiding a lot of details from the users. Obviously you can never make everyone happy so some of us simply happened to be "out of target": you know us computer people (*cough cough*), we like to be in charge and control The Machine... I must admit I still don't have a definitive opinion about the gnome-shell concept, for now I just know that it does not suit me; I am going to try it eventually, maybe I'll get used to it, but in the mean time I need my desktop back just like I shaped it through the years; can this be done without loosing all the good Gnome technologies (Empathy over all of them)?

To be completely fair I have to say that there is little to complain about with Gnome developers, we can still get our good old GNOME desktop fully back by using the fall-back mode based on gnome-panel and live happily ever after, let's take a look at how this can be accomplished.

NOTE: GNOME people state that the fall-back mode is meant for systems with older graphic cards which cannot run gnome-shell, however it can very well be seen as a good opportunity for those who do not want to run gnome-shell just yet.

Getting back to the topic: some minor touches are needed to make the panel look more like what we are used to, maybe some of these settings could even become default for fall-back mode, we'll see.

First, enable fall-back mode (on Debian there is a dedicated session you can choose from the Log-in Manager for that) and change some desktop settings, in a terminal type:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.session session-name 'gnome-fallback'
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface 'menus-have-icons' true
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface 'buttons-have-icons' true
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background 'show-desktop-icons' true

gnome-tweak-tool can be used for some of these settings like shown in the attached images.

Then rearrange the applets on the panel as you please (use Alt-RightClick to access the panel properties), and fix the theming using this patch to have a light panel again (against gnome-themes-standard=3.0.2-1):

$ mkdir $HOME/.themes
$ cd $HOME/.themes
$ cp -r /usr/share/themes/Adwaita Adwaita-fallback
$ cd Adwaita-fallback
$ patch -p1 < $HOME/adwaita-fallback-panel-theme.patch
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface 'gtk-theme' 'Adwaita-fallback'

Some final touches for the Metacity window manager and to the clock applet, and we are all set:

$ gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/metacity/general/focus_mode mouse
$ gconftool-2 --type boolean --set /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager true
$ gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/panel3-applets/clock/custom_format '<span color="#333">%a %d %b</span> <b>%H:%M</b>'
$ gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/panel3-applets/clock/format custom

Ah, in the new gnome-panel based on Gtk3 there are still some details to take care of, I hope issues like that will be addressed and that the panel will be supported for quite some time.

Attached images:
Gnome Shell default look on Debian
gnome-tweak-tool show desktop icons
Gnome 3 fall-back mode default look on Debian
Gnome 3 fall-back mode applets rearranged
Gnome 3 fall-back mode rethemed to have a light panel
Attached files:
text/x-diff iconAdwaita theme patch for fall-back mode

19 Oct 2011 9:37pm GMT

09 Jun 2011

feedPlanet OpenEZX

Michael Lauer: The Eagle Has Landed!

After letting us wait for a bit longer than scheduled (13 days), the hospital initiated the contractions. For the first couple of hours, everything went just perfect, but then the little one got stuck on the way and we had to resort to a cesarean section. Lara Marie Lauer was born 8th of June at 04:41 (AM) with 3460 gramms and 49 cm.

Mummy was still on intensive care and so they gave her to me. I can't express the feelings I had in this very moment. I'm still kind of overwhelmed every time I see her. Thanks for all of you who waited anxiously with me and those who prayed for us. The most important tasks for the near future is getting Mummy to recover and Lara Marie to become accustomed to us and the rest of the outside world.

Please bear with me if in the next time I'm not as responsive as usually :)

Lara Marie Lauer

09 Jun 2011 4:06pm GMT

30 May 2011

feedPlanet OpenEZX

Michael Lauer: German Post on time!

And now for something completely different… while we are all waiting for my baby to arrive (who was scheduled for 25th of May), she just received her first greeting card - together with a personalized bib and a towel (with integrated hood - pretty fancy!) from my good friends at #openmoko-cdevel.

Guys, seeing this card was very heartwarming - it means a lot to me that you share my anticipation, thanks a lot! And I'm 100% sure she will appreciate her gifts… now let's cross fingers it won't take much longer… waiting is the hardest part of it :)

Yours,

Mickey.

30 May 2011 8:54am GMT