April 2008


A couple of X300 tidbits...

Posted on Sunday, 20 April 2008

... neither of them good.

First off, in a stunning piece of fail, Lenovo have used a drive from one of the few manufacturers that enforces region coding on DVDs in hardware - Matshita, aka Matsushita, aka Panasonic. This is very frustrating and made worse by the drive shipping in a state with no region code set, so no DVDs at all will play. I now either have the choice of changing it no more than 5 times, or risking the drive with some custom firmware which claims to remove the region code.
Secondly, and more worryingly, there is a new BIOS release for the X300, but one report from a Linux user thus far suggests that the machine has started hard locking. I can't confirm because this machine is far too important to me (ie I use it for work), so I am holding back on the update until I know what's going on.

Update It occurred to me that it might be useful to document how I changed the region code - install regionset and run it. It will show you your current region code (0xFF for me, ie region 0) and how many changes you have left, then ask if you want to change it.

Second update Lenovo actually withdrew the BIOS update, so clearly something was wrong with it. This page lists the models for which they have pushed out a fixed version. The X300 is currently still listed as "Coming Soon" :(


Terminator progress

Posted on Friday, 18 April 2008

Just a quick update on how things are going.
I've been pretty slow lately because of trying to get as many bugs fixed in Hardy as possible.
However, we've still been working away a bit and the team has continued to grow.

Reliance on gnome is being reduced, and portability is being increased - you can now run Terminator on FreeBSD without a full GNOME install.
Configuration has been entirely replaced - we now offer a stack of config options. If you have gconf available we will look there for gnome terminal settings. If that doesn't work out we'll look for a config file in your home directory and if that fails we have comprehensive default settings.
I'm hoping to push out a release soon because we've also accumulated a few small bugfixes.
The plan from here is to have a major release to land the tabs feature, and then go all out for a massive 1.0 when we can save/restore meta-profiles.


getting information out of a badly broken debian installer

Posted on Tuesday, 8 April 2008

You have new hardware (most likely server).
You pop in a debian/ubuntu installer CD, tell it what kind of keyboard you have and expect it to scan the CDROM for packages, but....uh-oh, it can't find the CD!
What do you do?! Well, realistically there's not a lot you can do to make it work, but you can do a lot to help get it fixed.

You need to pull off /var/log/syslog, the output of lspci, lspci -v and lspci -vvnn.

You may very well find yourself having a problem with that though, because you're still pretty early in a typical linux boot process, so you probably don't have any disks mounted and you may find yourself missing any modules to make that happen.
You should have usb-storage.ko though. That and isofs.ko.

Can you see where this is going? :)

find the .udeb's on your install CD with a working computer, ar -x the core fs modules one and pull out ext3 (and jbd and mbcache), or vfat and its dependencies. put them in a directory, then do mkisofs -o /dev/usbstick1 /path/to/modules.

You now have a partition on your USB stick that is an ISO9660 filesystem (ie a CD). Obviously make sure you don't do this on a USB stick you care about the contents of.

Chuck the USB stick into the broken server, modprobe usb-storage, mount the newly appeared partition and copy the modules over to the right place in /lib/modules/. Unmount the USB stick, modprobe the drivers and now you can put in an ext3/vfat formatted USB stick and you have somewhere to write the debugging information to!

Easy! :) Now file a bug with the debugging information you collected.