Thursday, April 24, 2008

Some Cool Freewares

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

VirtualBox 1.5.6 with Linux Kernel 2.6.25

While compiling VirtualBox was successful, the loading failed with kernel message (seen using dmesg | tail -f):

release/bin/src ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/sbin/modprobe vboxdrv
Apr 23 22:20:16 linux-hp kernel: vboxdrv: Unknown symbol change_page_attr

With the introduction of the new API, no driver nor non-archcore code needs to use change_page_attr anymore. What I did was to grep for "change_page_attr" in VirtualBox source directory:

grep -R --include=*.? "change_page_attr"

And comment out all calls to this procedure. Loading the module then succeeded:

release/bin/src ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/sbin/modprobe vboxdrv
Apr 23 22:27:53 linux-hp kernel: vboxdrv: Trying to deactivate the NMI watchdog permanently...
Apr 23 22:27:53 linux-hp kernel: vboxdrv: Successfully done.
Apr 23 22:27:53 linux-hp kernel: vboxdrv: TSC mode is 'synchronous', kernel timer mode is 'normal'.
Apr 23 22:27:53 linux-hp kernel: vboxdrv: Successfully loaded version 1.5.6_OSE (interface 0x00050002).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Canon 4200F is still unsupported on Linux

lsusb -d 04a9:221b -vvv

lsusb -d 04a9:221b -vvv

Bus 007 Device 002: ID 04a9:221b Canon, Inc.
Device Descriptor:
bLength 18
bDescriptorType 1
bcdUSB 2.00
bDeviceClass 255 Vendor Specific Class
bDeviceSubClass 255 Vendor Specific Subclass
bDeviceProtocol 255 Vendor Specific Protocol
bMaxPacketSize0 64
idVendor 0x04a9 Canon, Inc.
idProduct 0x221b
bcdDevice 2.00
iManufacturer 3 Canon
iProduct 4 CanoScan
iSerial 0
bNumConfigurations 1
Configuration Descriptor:
bLength 9
bDescriptorType 2
wTotalLength 39
bNumInterfaces 1
bConfigurationValue 1
iConfiguration 0
bmAttributes 0xc0
Self Powered
MaxPower 10mA
Interface Descriptor:
bLength 9
bDescriptorType 4
bInterfaceNumber 0
bAlternateSetting 0
bNumEndpoints 3
bInterfaceClass 255 Vendor Specific Class
bInterfaceSubClass 255 Vendor Specific Subclass
bInterfaceProtocol 255 Vendor Specific Protocol
iInterface 0
Endpoint Descriptor:
bLength 7
bDescriptorType 5
bEndpointAddress 0x81 EP 1 IN
bmAttributes 2
Transfer Type Bulk
Synch Type None
Usage Type Data
wMaxPacketSize 0x0200 1x 512 bytes
bInterval 0
Endpoint Descriptor:
bLength 7
bDescriptorType 5
bEndpointAddress 0x02 EP 2 OUT
bmAttributes 2
Transfer Type Bulk
Synch Type None
Usage Type Data
wMaxPacketSize 0x0200 1x 512 bytes
bInterval 0
Endpoint Descriptor:
bLength 7
bDescriptorType 5
bEndpointAddress 0x83 EP 3 IN
bmAttributes 3
Transfer Type Interrupt
Synch Type None
Usage Type Data
wMaxPacketSize 0x0001 1x 1 bytes
bInterval 8
Device Qualifier (for other device speed):
bLength 10
bDescriptorType 6
bcdUSB 2.00
bDeviceClass 255 Vendor Specific Class
bDeviceSubClass 255 Vendor Specific Subclass
bDeviceProtocol 255 Vendor Specific Protocol
bMaxPacketSize0 64
bNumConfigurations 1
Device Status: 0x0001
Self Powered

Creative XFi driver on Linux 2.6.25

There is still a problem with beta2 version of Creative Sound Blaster XFi driver on Linux kernel 2.6.25. If we do what is said by the driver installation instruction, it ends up with some errors. Here's a trick how to manually compile and install it:

  1. Download the driver from or directly from shell: wget
    The latest is version 1.18

  2. Extract the tar.gz file from your build folder:

    tar zxvf XFiDrv_Linux_US-1.18.tar.gz

    This will extract all files to XFiDrv_Linux_US-1.18
  3. cd to the XFiDrv_Linux_US-1.18/drivers
  4. Try to do make (gotta be a root). It will cause some errors (the errors don't appear on the screen. They are logged in /var/log/creative-installer.log and need root access to see it). We can open another window/shell and just type: sudo tail -f /var/log/creative-installer.log to see what's going on.
  5. OK, now we're about to fix these problems. First, just typ: ./configure
  6. Don't do make yet. We need to modify some files.
  7. edit file LinuxSys.c: vi src/ossrv/LinuxSys.c
  8. Goto line 648 and replace SA_SHIRQ with IRQF_SHARED (Kernel 2.6.22 has told us that it was going to deprecate it although still defines it, but in kernel 2.6.25 this SA_SHIRQ is now gone!)
  9. Add the following line after line 33:

  10. #include <linux/fs.h> // for definitions of filp_*
  11. Add the following lines after line 37:

    #include <asm-generic/fcntl.h> // otherwise, some MACROS are undefined

  12. Compile with the following command: sudo make KBUILD_NOPEDANTIC=1 or modify (temporarily!) file /usr/src/linux/scripts/ and comment out statements around line 46 as below:

  13.  #ifeq ($(KBUILD_NOPEDANTIC),)
    #ifneq ("$(save-cflags)","$(CFLAGS)")
    #$(error CFLAGS was changed in "$(kbuild-file)". Fix it to use EXTRA_CFLAGS)

  14. Edit file in drivers/ctsound and change the order to:

    drivers="ctossrv emupia ctsfman haxfi ctalsa ct20xut ctexfifx cthwiut"

  15. Install it: sudo make install

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Distributed Compile and Caching

This trick has boosted my compilation several times faster now. Here is the steps:

  1. First, you need to install both ccache and icecream (search on the Internet!). The default place for icecream files are under /opt/icecream.
  2. Create a folder /opt/ccache and /opt/ccache/bin
  3. Create file named "gcc" and type:
  4. #! /bin/sh
    export CCACHE_PATH=/opt/icecream/bin
    export PATH=/opt/icecream/bin:/usr/bin:$PATH
    ccache gcc "$@"
  5. Repeat step 3 and 4, but change line "ccache gcc" to "ccache c++" and name the file c++.
  6. Do the same thing (step 5) for cc abd g++
  7. Modify path (I put this in my ~/.profile): export PATH=/opt/ccache/bin:$PATH

To start icecream, as root do this: /etc/init.d/icecream restart
This will start the icecc daemon (iceccd). Here is my processes:

> ps -ef | grep ice
icecream 3944 1 0 19:33 ? 00:00:03 /usr/sbin/scheduler -d -l /var/log/icecc_scheduler -n icecream -vv
root 3957 1 0 19:33 ? 00:00:06 /usr/sbin/iceccd -d -l /var/log/iceccd --nice 5 -s linux-hp -n icecream -u icecream -b /var/cache/icecream -vv

(Modify file /etc/sysconfig/icecream as you needed (especially the scheduler and netname). I still not able to make my other computer to participate in the parallel compile (it is separated by a wireless router but in the same IP subnet). I don't know the root cause yet (the log said it was not able to find the scheduler, although I explicitly specify it [not thru broadcast]).

NVIDIA driver on Linux Kernel 2.6.25

The current Nvidia driver ( is somehow broken with Linux kernel 2.6.25. I googled and found discussion about this. Some people suggested to replace EXPORT_UNUSED_SYMBOL(init_mm) to EXPORT_SYMBOL(init_mm) in
/usr/src/linux/arch/x86/kernel/init_task.c. It didn't work (at least on my machine).

I look at the error log in /var/log/nvidia-installer.log. The last few lines in the file told me the global_flush_tlb() was implicitly declared (meaning, it was no longer exported by the Linux kernel. People in the discussion forum mentioned since 2.6.24 or something) while trying to compile nv-vm.c. This look weird, so I extracted the Nvidia driver with the following command:

sh download/nvidia/ -a -q -n -x

This command extracted both binary files and its source codes onto NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-169.12-pkg2/
I then cd to NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-169.12-pkg2/usr/src/nv and commented out calling to that procedure. Here's my modified procedure of that file:

static void nv_flush_caches(void)
#if defined(KERNEL_2_4)
// for 2.4 kernels, just automatically flush the caches and invalidate tlbs
nv_execute_on_all_cpus(cache_flush, NULL);
// for 2.6 (and later) kernels, rely on global_flush_tlb
nv_execute_on_all_cpus(cache_flush, NULL);
#if defined (NVCPU_X86) || defined (NVCPU_X86_64)
nv_ext_flush_caches(); // handle other platform flushes if present

I then manually compile the code usual way (make module) from that folder and did "make install" (executed as root). For the binary files, I just manually copied them to their proper places.

Nervously, I typed "startx" and Xwindows started successfuly! So far, I haven't noticed any anomalies nor problems (this blog is actually done from my machine running the new driver). Apparently, the latest kernel doesn't require flushing cache anymore (it must be done automatically elsewhere).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Virtualization Era!

Rebooting a machine to switch to another OS on multi-operating-system machine sounds out dated now. With recent VT-enabled technology from both Intel and AMD on certain x86 CPUs, virtualization goes smoother and better.

I just tested Microsoft Virtual PC which enable me to install multiple windows or even Linux under my Windows XP host OS. There are other Virtualization software available, either freeware or not. Here I am trying to list some of them:

Non-free ones:
Microsoft Virtual PC:
Novel SUSE Linux Exterprise VM Driverpack:

Freeware versions:
VirtualBox: (this software has dual licenses: free and proprietary)

While, to just run windows application on Linux, we can use wine or its sibling, the commercialized one: CrossOver for Linux:

To learn more about virtualization and/or virtual machine (don't get confused with Java VM as it's not a system VM):

The more complete list of VM packages:

I will report further once I try some of them. In most cases, the host OS will be OpenSUSE 64-bit ver 10.3 with guest OSs will be: Vista Home Premium SP1, Vista Ultimate 64-bit, Mac OSX 10.4 Tiger and some variants of Linux [Redhat, UBuntu, Debian]. The host system will be my desktop CPU: Intel Quad-core 2.4 GHz, 4 GB RAM, with almost 768 GB total space.

x86 Technical Info

Some very interesting technical information related to x86 (besides, of course, Intel/AMD official sites and Micro$oft):

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

HP 1020 on Linux is now working!

Finally, I am able to print to HP LaserJet 1020 from my Linux machine. Thanks to the guys at

Just follow the instructions in the INSTALL file, you should be able to successfuly print. One thing I was unaware was to control CUPS via web (in my case, browse to http://localhost:631). From there, I could then test.  Although I've tested remote printing, it shouldn't be a problem because CUPS will handle all!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Alternatives to Window$

I've found some alternatives to Windows, which some of them are quite attractive:

OS/2 clones:

Vista Is a Pain in the Butt!

The more I use Vista, the more frustation I get. My Vista has been updated with SP1 (as it always be, because it's been running Update scheduler since day one). Recently, my PC locks up more frequently than before. What I mean "lock up" is really a locked-up condition (freeze) to user. The mouse pointer freezes, there is no way to shutdown/reboot and doesn't get any response for any inputs either from keyboard nor mouse. I notice there is some activity on the hard disk, though.

With this issue, my list of dissapointment with Vista has even longer. Here's some of them:

  1. No support for 4 GB RAM (only 64-bit does support it). What the heck? Mac OS-X and Linux much better (Mac OS-X 10.4 or later is actually a 64-bit OS so no issue, while on Linux 64-bit, support for 32-bit apps are excellent). Why doesn't Micro$oft just sell one version of the OS?
  2. GUI freezes frequently (Yeah, no BSOD, but what's the difference? both render my PC as dead anyway!)
  3. To-much minimum hardware requirements
  4. Many compatibility issues with older applications
  5. Costly (As comparation: Mac OS-X Leopard cost only $100'ish [there is only single version! no home, ultima bla...bla...edition]. Linux is even totally free!). Vista Ultimate? $300'ish!!!
  6. Still immature driver support.
  7. Super-fetch which is not super (it keeps my hard-disk busy for most of the time, although my PC has 4 GB of RAM and it's a Quad-core Intel 2.4 GHz!). Instead of a boost, it slows down the PC.
  8. Slower than XP !! (and takes more space than XP too).
  9. Lack of bundled development environment (Mac OS has XCode comes in its OS installation CD as an optional application. Linux has GCC and many others). Microsoft sells the development packages separately as MSVC, .NET bla..bla and cost hundreds of dollars each.

I now boot to Linux partition more than its Vista. openSUSE ver 10.3 now supports writing to NTFS partition, so there is no issue with mixed partitions. There are some limitations too on openSUSE, but at least I am in control if an application is going south (I can switch to text console, I can force-kill an application, I can even modify the operating system as I want!)

Windows versions

Windows, internally, have been versioned with numbers instead of codename like "Longhorn", "Vienna" etc. For example, Windows XP is internally versioned with "5.x", while Vista is basically Windows version 6. The next windows version (Windows 7) is trully windows version 7.
All are rooted since Windows 3.x Users mostly see product name (e.g, XP or Vista), but developers usually can see the versions (WinAPI doc from MSDN).  The numbers correspond to their major version and revision.  So expect a another big revision from Vista to Windows 7 (although users may not see or feel it, because the changes may be only internal to the system).

Here I try to list the versions:

Windows 3.0 -> winver 3
Windows 3.1 -> winver 3
Windows 95 -> winver 4
Windows NT -> winver 4
Windows 98 -> winver 4
Windows 2000 -> winver 5
Windows XP -> winver 5
Windows Vista -> winver 6
Windows 7 -> winver 7