Fri, 26 Nov 2004

Finally, no cables all over the floor

After quite a few unsuccessful attempts to find a PCI wireless card working only with free drivers (binary firmware admitted), I finally got lucky today, and I've been running a wireless link for the last 10 minutes.

When I posted my previous wireless blog entry, joeyh suggested me to just look for pcmcia cards, which are generally better supported, and use a PCI->pcmcia adapter. Given that I plan to buy a laptop RSN, this made sense, because the Airport Xtreme in Powerbooks isn't supported, so I'd need a pcmcia card anyway.

So yesterday I did my hopefully last visit to MediaMarkt and got a SMC2835W, as Sergio suggested. The store had the same card in two different packagings. Following sto's advice, I of course got the box that seemed oldest, to minimize chances of getting stupid new chipset revisions.

Today, my boss Pablo lend me his unused PCI->pcmcia adapter, a TI PCI1410, so all the pieces were in place. As soon as I plugged the card in my box and booted, Linux would instantly freeze as soon as it loaded yenta_socket.ko. Nooo, not again!

A few hours later, and after a few missleading Google searches, manty and dilinger suggested upgrading to 2.6.9, which carried quite some fixes that might be involved. Voilà! No more kernel lockups, and after some minutes of fighting pcmcia-cs, the card was recognised and running.

Finally, it's time to ifdown eth0. My flatmates will be glad to find no more network cable all over the living room when they come back on Sunday... "Thank manty, dilinger and joeyh", I will say. :)

Tue, 23 Nov 2004

An unexpected turnout

Last week, all the team met with the trainer to talk about some of the season's goals, as always at the start of the season. The most charismatic members of the team expressed their discontent about how the team was being managed, and how our budget spent throughout the season.

The core of the problem is that for years, the University has had an agreement with the Valencian Triathlon Federation to provide a trainer an a project for every season. Roughly half of our ~15.000€ budget went to pay for this, although our trainer (currently one of our own team mates) didn't earn anything near 7000€. Somewhere, for some reason, much of our money was getting "lost" at the federation with no apparent gain for us. We presented an alternative management plan, with total transparency for the budget, everything done by ourselves, etc. which of course implied breaking this tie with the federation, and we called for a new meeting, yesterday, so people to vote to leave things as they were or to go for the new setup. We had started a revolution!

It's obvious the guys at the federation don't want to lose this cool income, so the first thing they did when they knew about our revolution was to phone one of us and warn them that if we went ahead, they would have to take action. What that means, I have no idea, but yesterday it became obvious they didn't just wait for the vote to happen...

So yesterday, at 9PM, we all walked into the meeting room, and let the trainer speak first. Maybe it was a huge coincidence, but he told us that at 6PM, the bosses at the Sports Service had called him and told him that due to a general budget cut from the local government, they had been forced to cut the money for the different sections of the club. This naturally had a big impact on us, as we are one of the most expensive teams in the uni: they have decided to discontinue the triathlon team, and will only support the triathlon activity, which means we can go to train to the University's sport fields and to the swimmingpool, but they won't pay for competitions or anything else, except for the few people that are eligible to attend to the Spanish Universitary Championship (which is a very small percentage, and mostly new people).

The summary is that we've been kicked out, not only the revolution group but also a lot of the new people. Realising we had nothing to do in the new situation, we of course didn't even try to discuss or vote the new plan, and just started discussing what our options are: creating a new club, trying to find some club that might want us in, etc. All of these are going to be a lot more expensive, of course, but oh well... someday this had to finish. If we create a new club, the name will probably be "Komando", which was the codename of the conspiracy group that prepared the revolution. Long live the Komando! :)

And while all of this happened, I've been basically idling, triathlon-wise. All of these conflicts inside the team haven't helped my lack of motivation, so I find myself entering December and not having gone to the swimming pool a single day and just one short cycling training session. The only thing I'm doing is go running with the new people twice a week, because it's fun to know them a bit more. Hopefully if the new team starts I can get started again...

Thu, 18 Nov 2004

Updates on the GNOME 2.8 transition

We've spent the last two days carefully selecting what packages we should build and upload in an order that makes life easier for autobuilders.

Yesterday, the first few libraries were uploaded, as well as the user-guide. Some people had problems because a few packages didn't make it into incoming on time so some bits were uninstallable due to gnome-keyring depending on new atk.

Today, we've continued with important libs like libgnome/libgnomeui, libbonobo, eel and gnome-vfs. We've also uploaded a few apps now: bug-buddy and nautilus have hit sid and incoming respectively. As nautilus didn't make it to unstable by a few minutes, you should be careful about doing dist-upgrades today. apt will probably want to remove nautilus entirely, so I suggest you don't do it. :) That, or you pick libeel, libnautilus and nautilus from incoming, which will also work.

Sadly, in the process of building some of these packages, pbuilder left an active bind-mount of my local Debian mirror and I, trying to get rid of the bogus unclean build dir, recursively deleted the mirror entirely. Of course, this has slowed me down a lot, to the point that I had to ask Sjoerd to sponsor libgnomecanvas for me while I pick up the bits.

Maybe I'm a bit too optimistic, but I hope that maybe tomorrow we'll be able to finish all the builds, and we'll just have to wait for the autobuilders to do their work. At first everything went smooth, but they are already stuck in dep-wait failures due to libgnome, nautilus and others not having all the build-deps in place. Hopefully all the buildd's will retry soon...

A final note, remember not to happily dist-upgrade your unstable box today. Before that, check that nautilus isn't in your "to be removed list...

3 out, 1 to go

Ouch, this time it wasn't so easy. I went to the dentist again to continue with the wisdom teeth extractions.

First news was that he now wanted to extract the two in the right side, while I thought he'd go one by one. One would probably be quite straight forward, like the other day. The other one would probably need surgery.

As soon as the anesthesia was applied, the doctor extracted the upper tooth very easily, in a matter of seconds. Cool, it was a lot less aggressive than the other day.

The one in the bottom would be more difficult though, as it wasn't completely out. Instead of cutting through the flesh, he tried to cut half of the tooth so he'd be able to manually extract the rest. Urgh. He started applying evil tools on top of the poor thing, which made quite terrible noises, and worse, a smell of something burning that impressed me quite a bit. I guess I was way too nervous because they had to repeatedly ask me to calm down. As soon as I relaxed a bit, some weird noise or a bit of pain would put my body on defense mode again... and this went on for more than 30 minutes I think. In the end it was out "cleanly", and I didn't need any sewing, which is good.

When it was over, I noticed I was still trembling a bit and my legs were humid with sweat (and believe me, it's quite strange to have me sweating). After so much anesthesia, I could barely speak, because I couldn't articulate any sound which involves using your tongue...

Eating is a nice exercise now. I can't open my mouth much, and I must avoid using the right side of my jaw entirely. During the dinner, some bits of food would get "lost" inside my mouth, due to my total insensibility, and I had to look for them a few times using my finger. It was a great spectacle. As I write this, the anesthesia is completely over and I'm starting to feel deep pain in the two craters. The one in the bottom part is quite huge and still bleeds. The taste of blood gets a bit boring after so many hours...

One more time, and all this shit will be over.

Wed, 17 Nov 2004

GNOME fun in incoming

Those not following Debian development closely might have missed the Debian release team opening the doors for a GNOME 2.8 upload to unstable. Today, the first libraries have started hitting incoming and are building in the buildd network. The end goal is, of course, to ship sarge with GNOME 2.8.

We hope to have the whole thing uploaded by chunks in the next few days. While seb128 is confident about everything going well, I can't help being quite nervous about it, given how some past experiences went. We're doing uploads with extreme care, though. Everything should be alright.

Due to some concerns expressed by Kamion and vorlon, we'll have to leave out a few new GNOME 2.8 modules from the default install. Most noticeably, evolution won't be installed by default when someone does a desktop install. Also, gnome-volume-manager won't replace magicdev as the default automounting device for now, as sarge's official kernel is 2.4, and gnome-volume-manager depends on Linux 2.6 features. All of this is because the space in the first Sarge CD is a bit too tight for us to add all the new GNOME modules. It'll be easy to install the missing bits though.

We'll post more stuff as it happens. :)

Tue, 16 Nov 2004

Stolen bike

My 16 year old bike was stolen around 3 hours ago, and I'm really going to miss it... It's not the first time this happens, as 3 years ago my new bike was stolen just 6 months after buying it, but this one was special. It had been my bike for 16 years, and I've been using it as my main urban vehicle for nearly 9 years.

Today we had a triathlon club meeting, and I had to go back to fetch the bike to my mother's street, where I had tied it to a sign post. When I got there, the bicycle was there. I went up to leave my bag and a chair I was carrying, and 3 minutes later when I came down it was gone. A man in the street said someone had cut the thick lock and run away with it just one minute before, but he didn't manage to see his face.

Probably it was one of the many drug-addicts that live around the area near the neighbourhood, and will try to sell it in the Sunday market. I'll be there. Fucking assholes.

Just for completeness

[ Completely irrelevant story below, unless you were around that night ]

The other day I wrote about my stay at Madrid for the Jornadas GNOME Hispano, and said we were going to Madrid to have dinner and then go out.

My fears weren't unfounded. I was forced (ok, maybe not forced, say... induced) by hordes of evil Madrileños to drink, as they probably know I succumb quite easily to that drug. First, Grex prepared a dinner in a tapas bar near the Plaza de España.

This dinner basically consisted in eating little and drinking quite a bit. After I (voluntarily) had my first beer, my glass of wine would never be empty, as there was someone around who would quickly refill it as soon as I finished it. Anyway, after a while we went to a pub, where among other things, acs challenged me to a press-ups contest. I managed to win (you suck, acs!) even if I didn't feel my arms. At one point we were out on the street again, and I was missing my wallet. 5 minutes later, it was found in acs' pocket, who was probably more drunk than me (and that has its merit).

Garnacho was kind enough to take me to the hostal, which I would have never found alone, and offered to translate my attempts to communicate with the hostal guy to get my room opened. Nothing to exciting until here, besides I really don't like being drunk. What an image must I have given around Madrid...

Ok, so my train back home was at 9:00AM. At 8:27 or so, Carlos managed to wake me up. "Dude, it's 8:30". I think I managed to be ready in about two minutes, rushed down and hoped that I didn't have to change trains in the tube to get to Atocha. The hangover was quite bad, or probably I was still drunk... at the station, I waited a few minutes for the next train, and kept looking at my mobile phone. "11 minutes, 3 stops. I can make it still".

There were two men with suitcases and luggage in the same wagon, and when we arrived to the Atocha tube station, they stepped out of the train. My spinning head managed to connect two events: "men with luggage stepping out" = "I'm at the Puerta de Atocha RENFE station". I followed them, and after a few seconds. I realised there was no indication of how to get to the railroad station. I ask the men... "Oh, that the next tube station", and at that exact moment the doors in the train close. FUCK!

Next train went by 5 minutes later. 4 minutes to go. I rush out of the tube, carrying heavy bags with me, rush to the railroad station and when I get there, I am told the train has left one minute ago. The rest of the morning involved waiting 2.5h for the next train, suffering a horrible hangover alone, in a stupid station, not being able to read my book or study any Valencian and getting a smoking ticket for the next train. D'oh! At least I saw a nice demonstration of a support group for the Saharaui people, which was nice.

In the train, I managed to find a seat in the non-smoking wagon after an hour. An American couple sitting right next to me demonstrated how sucky you Americans are at spelling. "How do you spell 'recommend'?". The guy thinks for a few seconds... "Two c's, 'reccomend'". Ugh!

I arrived at Valencia at 3PM, and at home at 4, way too late for lunch. After the horrible train trip, I needed a 3 hour long nap.

Fri, 12 Nov 2004

Jornadas GNOME Hispano at Madrid

Yesterday I came to Madrid to attend to the GNOME Hispano meeting. After a few hours of train, I arrived here, and have been attending to the different talks and workshops scheduled.

The first surprise came when during the lunch someone said I should talk about "something" in the unallocated space available due to a talk that had been cancelled. As Carlos could use a bit more time to prepare his Ubuntu talk, I accepted to babble about how the Debian GNOME team was formed and how we coordinate to package the GNOME Desktop releases and other related packages. Despite barely no preparation (half an hour before the talk, people could see me asking "so, what should I talk about" in #gnome-debian), people say it went ok and I managed to fill 45 minutes without talking about totally uninteresting stuff.

When we left Uni, we pretended to have dinner at Fresc Co, but we spent around one hour to get the car parked in Madrid, so we couldn't make it. Instead, we decided to have a tiny Kebab near the hostal and after that we quickly went to bed.

Today I had to get up way too early, but the day has been quite productive. I, as a LliureX team member, have made interesting contacts with the folks from Guadalinex and Linex, and probably we'll be able to come to some agreement to fund a few Free Software projects that really interest us, libburn probably being one of them, along with it's GNOME frontend, and maybe Mergeant, for database manipulation. We're also in touch now to do a11y work and other stuff that we all badly need.

I also had the inevitable debate about the goodness of Componentised Linux with Ismael, which ended up with me not being too convinced about its advantages... we'll have to keep an eye on it though, as it seems our brother projects from Andalucía and Extremadura are moving towards it.

In the evening, we had cool talks about a variety of topics like, Linex, GNOME System Tools and a general What would you change in GNOME? BOF that ended up being very interesting, all directed by Garnacho, Fer and Carlos García Campos. It's been a pleasure to be around here and meet them all.

The meeting is about to end at this point (as soon as the ongoing GNOME backup talk finishes), and we'll go to Madrid to have dinner, and after that, who knows. I need to be in Atocha at 9:00 to fetch my train so I hope the night doesn't get too complicated...

Thu, 04 Nov 2004

Finding my way through the Wireless maze

We've got a cool new Linksys wireless router at the flat, so I started looking for a PCI wireless adapter. This kind of hardware is that kind of stuff you've really want to be sure about before buying, because Linux support for the different chipsets varies a lot depending on minor details. Unfortunately, the boxes of the products in the stores never give specific details and you never know what you've got until you get home and stick it into your computer.

Nearly three weeks ago, after having waited for over two weeks to get a Conceptronics card in my usual computer store, I went to a big electronics shop and got a D-Link card. Of course, there was no indication of what kind of chip this would be, and I didn't carry a printed list of supported stuff with me, so I decided to buy it and try my luck. When I got home, I discovered in horror it was a Broadcom, and quickly went back and got another one, as these cards only work with evil binary-only drivers.

The second try revealed an Atheros chip inside. Even if this was looking better, the available Linux driver doesn't seem to be included in the stock Debian kernel image. Probably because there's some non-free/binary part to it.

At this point, the local show finally got stock of the Conceptronic cards, which besides being very cheap, were reportedly working for most people. The one I got, a new revision, had a RaLink chip, which at first sight appeared to be supported for Linux by upstream directly. Too bad: the current 2.6 kernel froze my box everytime I started pumping some traffic through the card. Argh!

Two days ago I went to the big store again to return the second card, and saw they had new stuff, including SMC2802W. After assuring this couldn't fail (Prism logo in the box and high success rate from other users), I decided to have another go. GAH! Sure, the card is a Prism, but it's not the same SMC2802W everyone's using. Those are V1, while mine is V2:

0000:00:09.0 Network controller: Intersil Corporation Intersil ISL3890 [Prism GT/Prism Duette] (rev 01)
0000:00:09.0 0280: 1260:3890 (rev 01)
        Subsystem: 1113:ee03

The driver loads, but when you configure the interface, the kernel starts spitting stuff and you get no link at all:

eth1: mgmt tx queue is still full

Oh well. At this point, I'm considering conceeding a little bit to ugly solutions like using ndiswrapper for a while, as people report that more or less work, while the prism54 driver is fixed or enhanced to support this new hardware. I'm open to suggestions and advice too, as I'm a bit fed up of all of this story. Does anyone know if it's a safe bet to wait for a better driver? Should I expect for this to take a long time? If I need to return the card to the store, I should do it at the end of next week, so I have a bit of time to decide still. TIA!

Wed, 03 Nov 2004

No, not again!

Last night I stayed up until 4AM listening to the SER radio station and looking at websites with live coverage of the US elections. Despite the predictions, at 3:45 or so, the radio started saying things were looking bad, and being completely exhausted, I decided to went to bed and learn the (suspectingly terrible) outcome in the morning.

This morning my mother came in to wake me up and the first thing I said was "It's Bush, right?". Nearly two hour laters I still can make up my mind to accept this reality. It's just not right: how can someone that has fucked up so many things be elected (let's not talk of re-election because that's just not true) again?

Some people warn me that this is perfectly possible because the news stories your average american watches on TV has nothing to do with what the rest of the world sees. I guess it's an edulcorated vision of war, total ignoring of famine in large areas of the world, propaganda about how good capitalism is for everyone, no information about global warming and what is causing it, no images, figures or statistics of how many people, both Iraqi and American are dying in the war, and so on, all mixed with the traditional patriotic stuff.

We appear to be in the same black hole we were thrown into by the US Supreme Court now. I guess we'll have to accept this and start hoping that maybe George W. Bush starts using his handful of neurons and stops being Cheney's puppet. From what I read, it'd be cool if Laura Bush started talking a bit about politics at home, maybe that helped a bit too.

Those who have closely followed the elections, is there any kind of promise from the Bush team to regulate/promote environmental policies like vehicles that consume less gas, protection of what's left of the American forests, etc.? Is Alaska safe still?

I really hope things change in the following four years, even if it's just a tiny little bit. If not, can you imagine what will be left of the middle east by 2008? Iran, Syria, Lybia, North Korea: are you prepared?

Sorry for the rant, I'm feeling somewhat better now. :/

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