Radeon problems

There is some problems brewing with Radeon card owners when using radeon open source drivers on the latest Fatdog beta (620beta2). The problem is: it simply doesn't work - there will be image corruption and Xorg server crash, sometimes to the point of locking up the computer requiring hard power-cycle. Not good.

Upon further investigation, it seems that the problem is caused by GPU lockup when using that driver.

As far as I'm aware, this happens only on UEFI machines and only on relatively new machines. My test machine can boot either in UEFI or BIOS mode (CSM = Compatibility Support Module), the problem only happens when I boot using UEFI - same machine, same version of Fatdog64, but different outcome.

Some possible workarounds (from forum member JustGreg - thank you!):
- Boot using BIOS mode
- Use the "coldplug" boot parameter
- Use "loadmodules=radeon" boot parameter
- Use Catalyst proprietary driver.

The 2nd and 3rd workaround forces radeon module to be loaded earlier than other modules. For some unknown reasons, this would prevent the problem from happening .

Anyway, kirk has just compiled a newer kernel - 3.8.3 and in our (limited) experiment it seems that the problem is now gone (although 3.8.3 brings a problem of its own ). So there is hope that the workarounds are no longer necessary for the next release of Fatdog.

Posted on 19 Mar 2013, 20:26 - Categories: Fatdog64
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Two new apps for Fatdog

Along with bluetooth support, I created two new applications for Fatdog (briefly mentioned in the bluetooth thread).

First is a new Fatdog Default Soundcard wizard. This wizard replaces kirk's venerable Multiple-Sound-Card-Wizard (MSCW). The new wizard extends support for bluetooth audio streaming; as well as ALSA plugin controls (currently "plug" plugin, "dmix" plugin and "equaliser" plugin are supported).

Second is the new Fatdog Dialer, replacing venerable PupDial (Puppy Dialer). Fatdog Dialer provides (hopefully) better user interface, supports unlimited number of profiles (vs two in pupdial) as well as some options to support GPRS/3G dial-up more transparently, including automatic module loading etc (mainly targeted towards blackberry-modem users).

Posted on 8 Mar 2013, 18:27 - Categories: Fatdog64
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Bluetooth support merged to Fatdog64

I merged bluetooth support to Fatdog64 today. The bluetooth support consist of cut-down versions of bluez and gnome-bluetooth, as well as a few support scripts not in those package.

Fatdog64's bluetooth support consists of the following:

a) supports bluetooth HID devices (mouse tested, keyboard may work too). You only need to pair them and they should work immediately.

b) supports audio-streaming (bluetooth speakers). After you pair them you need to enable them using Fatdog Default Soundcard settings available in Sound section of Fatdog Control Panel. Note that I have not tried two-way audio using a bluetooth headset.

c) supports dial-up 3G/GPRS bluetooth modems. To get this to work, first you need to pair them; then you need to detect the modem using Setup Bluetooth Modem in Network section of Fatdog Control Panel. After your modem has been set-up, you can use the Fatdog Dialer to make your call.

This is just a subset of the bluetooth stuff I figured out in here:

a) I decided to take out obexd (for sending and retrieving files from bluetooth devices), because currently it is only half-working (only sending works, while the more useful feature - receiving (e.g. pictures etc) - currently doesn't work).

b) I have also decided not to incorporate bluetooth PAN functionality as I don't have devices that supports doing that automatically (My trusted Nokia N900 can do that, but it needs manual configuration). Anyway, what is required for PAN to work as a client is just "pand --connect bluetooth-address" followed by "dhcpcd bnep0" - if the other end supports it. Setting up the other end to be the PAN master (PAN AP or PAN GN) is more complicated.

Posted on 8 Mar 2013, 18:18 - Categories: Fatdog64
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Another release of Slackbone64

Slackbone64 is a "barebone" version of Fatdog, based on Slackware binaries. "Barebone" as in it contains only a "minimal" set of packages. It is intended for distro builders, or those who wants to custom-build an OS for specific purpose, or tinkerers.

Slackbone64 is released as "Slackbones64" with the hope that it will have many descendants.

Slackbone64 is co-maintained by myself and Q5sys - I maintain the base ISO and devx, Q5sys maintains the repositories (a much harder job than doing the base ISO!), the release, and the public-facing website. Being a derivative of Fatdog, Slackbone64 also gets substantial contribution from kirk - for example, in the latest release, it uses the same kernel as Fatdog 620beta1 kernel (Linux 3.7.7) - which is compiled by kirk; and that is only one example among many others.

You can get a taste of slackbone from http://slackbones.org/.

Posted on 4 Mar 2013, 14:35 - Categories: Fatdog64
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Fatdog64 620beta2 is released

Fatdog64 620beta2 was released a couple of days ago. Many thanks who helped to test beta1 and reported issues.

Aside from the package-manager update, kirk did most of the work as I was busy with personal matters.

Highlight of this release would be Linux 3.7.10 kernel - which is supposed to fix the problem with bricking of samsung laptops; fixes with autochown on non Linux filesystems; and inclusion of the fix-usb.sh script I mentioned earlier here.

Posted on 8 Mar 2013, 18:03 - Categories: Fatdog64
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Re-claim USB flash drive space

Fatdog64 ISO image is an isohybrid. It can be burned into a CD or DVD, but it can also be "imaged" or "flashed" (or just dd-ed) to a USB flash drive like this:

dd if=fatdog.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M

Replace /dev/sdb above with your actual USB flash drive device name, and make sure it is pointing to your USB flash drive and NOT YOUR HARDDISK (otherwise irrecoverable data lost will happen). If you're not sure, don't do this - and you can ignore the rest of this post.

The problem is, due to the UEFI isohybrid structure, after you do this, the rest of the USB flash drive becomes unusable, because there is not partition table entry that provides access to this space. Easy, just create one, right? Yes, but the most common tool to do so, gparted, won't work (it won't recognise the hybrid MBR/GPT partition tables in the flash drive). fdisk will work, but it is too scary for most people.

I have created a simple script that will automate this process - behind the scene it will use sfdisk to create the partition (=partition 3). After using the script, you still need to make a filesystem on it, but after that you're good to go.

The script does some checking to ensure that you only target a USB flash drive (=making sure it is not removable, making sure it is connected through USB port, making sure that partition 3 on the target device isn't already exist.

Future version of Fatdog64 will have this script included in the ISO image (so you can run it from the USB flash drive you have just dd-ed), but for now, it is available here: fix-usb.sh

Posted on 20 Feb 2013, 22:33 - Categories: Fatdog64
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Bluetooth support

I have recently been experimenting with bluetooth support in Fatdog. Bluetooth is a complex interface with a lot of profiles (ie services) requiring many daemons to run.

This is what I have managed so far:
1. Device pairing via gnome-bluetooth
2. BT mouse works immediately
3. Audio streaming to BT speakers
4. BT send files via OBEX (no receive yet)
5. BT modem access via BT DUN profile
6. BT network sharing via BT PAN profile

Modem access requires manual configuration such as editing /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf, starting bluetooth PAN daemon (pand) etc.

I'm running out of time, I will provide more details when I am free. For those who wants to experiment, I have uploaded the pets (bluez, obexd and gnome-bluetooth) to the usual Fatdog64 package repository.

Posted on 19 Feb 2013, 13:48 - Categories: Fatdog64
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Fatdog64 620beta1

Finally, Fatdog64 620 beta1 is released, after about two months of internal testing. Other than the usual package updates and numerous bug fixes, a few notable things that I'm especially proud of in this release is:

1. Fatdog64 now supports savefile located on LVM and mdadm software RAID partitions.
2. Fatdog64 can store its persistence in a directory rather than on a loopback savefile.
3. The obvious one: Fatdog64 now supports UEFI and Secure Boot systems!

For more details, please head off to http://distro.ibiblio.org/fatdog/web/latest.html

Posted on 15 Feb 2013, 14:14 - Categories: Fatdog64
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Fatdog64 updates

We have an exciting activities in the last few days. After a long wait, we have finally moved our source repository to ibiblio.org, fully under our control, so we can quickly fix problems when it happens.

We are gearing for 620 beta release. Fatdog64 620 will come with lots of bug fixes and improvements over 611; most notably is its UEFI and Secure Boot support based on shim (from Matthew Garret, rEFInd (from Rod Smith) and GRUB2 (including much needed Fedora patches).

To that end, Kirk has just compiled linux kernel 3.7.7 today, and I'm running it now! I've prepared Catalyst and Nvidia drivers and are uploading it to Fatdog64 pet repo in ibiblio.

Exciting things afoot ...

Posted on 12 Feb 2013, 23:32 - Categories: Fatdog64
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