Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pinebook (or any arm64) - Linux Mega.nz Howto

As I wrote before, Pinebook is a very interesting machine, both for its hardware and in consequece for its software.

The not very developed arm64 architecture brings a lot of challenges to everyone working on it when it comes to have software for it.

I wanted to exchange some files as easy as I do in all my machines, phones, tablets, etc. However there was nothing available in arm architecture, such as Dropbox, Ubuntu One as far as I see is no longer available, so I had to be creative, and I managed to find that mega had a binary for Raspbian, so from here it was a learning process...

This can also be used to run all the binaries that are made for armhf (raspberry pi an so on) on arm64 machines.

Lets go for the real HOW TO...

1st - it is necessary to download the software from the MEGA website. There is only one option when it comes to arm, so you need to go to https://mega.nz/cmd and download Raspbian 8.0 (Jessie) in 64 bits. The file name should be megacmd-Raspbian_8.0_armhf.deb

2nd - this binary comes for architecture armhf, so we need to activate multi-architecture in Pinebook Ubuntu Xenial so that we have access to all the requested libraries necessary to run. For that you should run:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture armhf
sudo apt update

3rd - we are not there yet, as Mega uses some fancy cryptografic libraries, we need to add a source to the resources list. just run

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

and add this line

deb http://ports.ubuntu.com/ trusty main universe

after press control+x and say yes.

now run

sudo apt update

4th - now we have all resources to make the installation, run the instalation in the same folder were the megacmd is located

sudo gdebi megacmd-Raspbian_8.0_armhf.deb

just follow the instructions and reply yes, it might be the case that it ends in error, just ignore.

5th - now you are ready to run mega-cmd from the terminal. you will be asked your username and login, and after login it is similar to a linux terminal. You can also open another terminal and use the scripts mega-ls, mega-cd, etc, etc... just read tru the help... 

Very important is that you can also sync folders which can be very useful, just read the help on mega-sync command, nothing special to do.

BUGS - so far only bug found, and already reported to Mega.nz is that the get function (to download to your computer) does not work with filenames containing spaces. However using the folder syncing it works without any issues using the same files.

Anything that is not working properly, or you would like some explanation just drop a message or contact me in the Pine 64 irc channel.

Linux is Easy....

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Pinebook - 2nd review - Android and mini Howto

The Pinebook ships with BSP Linux, that I wrote some lines about, but another official distribution (Operating System) available is Android 6.0.

This Android can easialy be installed using the Pine 64 installer tool. Everything you need is a micro SD card and and adapter or a card reader that supports micro sd in the computer you are doing this.

This tool is available for download for MacOs, Windows and Linux. You simply select what is the computer/board you want to install to, and the operating system selected. after that you select the card, you wait a bit, and voila. 

 When the creation of the image is complete, you just have to grab the micro SD and drop it in the Pinebook. Be aware that all you have in the Pinebook will be erased. The name of the image is very clear ..sd2emmc....

Push the on Button, you will see a black screen and green progress bar, and when in the top left corner you see CARD OK, it means the process is over, remove the card and reboot.

The Android presented is fairly ok, and everything works out of the box, no major issues, with the exception of the mouse pad, that is harder to work with, maybe related to some software configurations from Android.

I am writing this post in it, without any issues, running Spotify with headphones at same time.

The rest all you can expect from Android is working properly, just throw apps at it from the market.

As a final performance test, I installed Antutu Benchmark tool to see what was happening in this system. 

Final result 22668.
3D: 676
UX: 10705
CPU: 9346
RAM: 1941

The Pinebook community is already working on the newer versions of Android 7.1, and it is also expectable, in similarity to Pine64 board that more operating systems will be officially released and available through the installer tool, such as Remix OS, Debian, Armbian, etc...

Friday, April 28, 2017

Pinebook - 1st review

So I got the Pinebook 11 inch with arm 64 bits.....

And what can I say, I am amazed with the quality of the construction. 

Very good plastics, better than some chromebooks and cheap windows netbooks.

The mousepad is outstanding and work really nice.

The keyboard, only has one problem!! The right shift. Probably I will remap the shift to the "/" position. I use and abuse right shift (i rarely use the left one), so this is very important to me.

The screen is bright and sharp, the OS is Ubuntu Mate, nothing new...

The support is outstanding as usual in the Linux community.

There is a win/mac/linux tool to load images to sdcard and flash the computer, it works properly. 

So where does it fails.... Please remember that this computer is for early adopters and developers, so a lot of things don't work...

- in the 11" inch version there are some flickering - This is related to driver issues, it is being worked out. The Android image as per today does not have this issue. 

- Also in linux distro due to DRM support issues, videos like youtube and other are not working properly as they are being software rendered.

- the firefox shipped with is buggy - Alternative I found was to install Chromium. Best option so far. Check the Pinebook forum for this.

- sound was not working and there is a fix, it is related to driver issue

- Android image, looks like a good option if you want things done, however in my opinion is a waste a space in the screen, and it is not very optimized for laptop. I suggest to wait for a Remix OS release. The Remix OS exists in Pine64+, so sure it will be soon in the Pinebook.

- Brightness level inverted - just a minor bug, not major issue

- still wondering how to invert the mousepad scroolling, dconf-editor not working, synaptics driver not found in kernel, strange, will have to dig deeper.

Most of this bugs are solved almost daily and for sure more will come along, however the good communication with users<->developers results in a very good community work.

I will keep using this very nice computer, and with the help of all, I am sure that all the software problems will be solved. 

The basis (hardware) is strong and good, it is just the software that needs to be tweaked.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I am Back.... with a Pinebook...

Hello all Linuxers...

It is hard to resist the Linux community, so...

After a few years away, I am back, I am just waiting a ARM 11" Pinebook ->  https://www.pine64.org/?page_id=3707

I still have my Macbook Pro for serious business :), and waiting the delivery for this very portable, and funny computer to play with..

I will as before actively participate in community work and help everyone who needs it.

As soon as it arrives I promise a fair review.

Some tech Specs (from Pine64 website) on the Machine arriving soon:

Hardware
CPU :
RAM :
Flash:
Wireless :
USB 2.0 Port :
MicroSD Card Slot :
Mini HDMI :
Headphone Jack :
Microphone :
Keyboard :
Touch-pad :
Power :
Battery :
Display :
Front Camera :
Dimension :

Weight :

Warranty :
1.2GHz 64-Bit Quad-Core ARM Cortex A53
2 GB LPDDR3 RAM Memory 
16 GB eMMC 5.0 (upgradable up to 64GB) 
WiFi 802.11bgn + Bluetooth 4.0
2
1
1
1
Built-in
Full Size Keyboard
Large Multi-Touch Touchpad
Input: 100~240V, Output: 5V3A
Lithium Polymer Battery (10000mAH) 
11.6" or 14" TN LCD (1366 x 768)
0.3 Megapixels
11.6" : 299mm x 200mm x 12mm (WxDxH)
14" : 329mm x 220mm x 12mm (WxDxH)
11.6" : 1.04 kg (2.30 lbs)
14" : 1.26 kg (2.78 lbs)
30 days
Software
OS :
Ubuntu 16.04 Mate Desktop base on BSP Kernel 3.10(Default) or Android

Just leave your comment and ideas... 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

See you Soon!!

Hi all,

I know I haven't been writing a lot here, and the reason is that I moved to my main computer to OS X. However this does not mean that I moved to the dark side :)....

Even though now, I have most of my stuff in Apple (iphone, ipad, OS X), I still work with Linux, but since it is not on my main computer the updates on this blog will be much less.

This change was more than a year ago, and the reason was that I got a little bit tired of fighting device drivers, the need to have a piece of software and not being able to run it. 

The tipping point was after a kernel update not being able to have my wifi running (again), and the device driver was not compiling at all, it was not the first time it happened, but I was not in the mood anymore to go over and over again.

In that day I just wanted to open the laptop and get things done.

Going to MS Windows was never an option since long time ago, so the only viable option was Apple.

I hope I can still find time to keep contributing something to the very best community that is the Linux one!

I'm also starting a new blog that you can check if interested osxmadeasy.blogspot.com!!

See you soon.

RP

Friday, March 29, 2013

Remote Control your DSLR with Linux and Android

Beside being a linux fan, I'm also a long time amateur photographer, since the time of film and fully manual SLR, yes, I'm used to camera controls and manual focus....

Today, as I was quietly at home, and wife and kid were already in bed, I decided to take some macro shots. But before, I wondered if there was any free or open-source software so I could connect the camera to the computer and shot it from there.

I already knew Nikon's Camera Control Pro 2 (which costs something like 180$), and its only available for MAC and WIN (as usual), I even started downloading the free trial to test on virtualbox, but never got there....

For Canon lovers, there is also some proprietary software...

So I start investigating (as usual), and I found gphoto2, which is a command line utility that uses libgphoto and can control your camera using PTP (picture transfer protocol) which I found out its an International standard.

As I wanted to see the photos as soon as they were shot on computer, and I wasn't in the mood for a Script session, I investigated and found out this GUI that work with gphoto:

- gtkam - old user interface, lack of function (for me) - not very good
- digikam - for KDE, I'm a Gnome and Unity user...  - not for me
- and DARKTABLE, which is the software I use for RAW processing....

all software its on repositories...

In Darktable I just need to presss Remote Control, and all configs from camera are there. Aperture, shooting mode, speed, EV control, timers, Bracketing (for HDR), etc, etc. 

My camera is a Nikon D3000 that does not have live view on camera, and it doesn't work neither on Darktable, but I believe others will do, but after each shoot the photo appears on computer screen which is very handy and much better then camera screen.

I know, that you will say that this is not very useful, as you wont carry your laptop around while taking photos.... But you can take your phone, or you tablet.....

So the best and cheapest and free and open-source alike software for Android was DSLRDashboard, its on Google Play, however as my tablet was not compatible (dont know why), I went to https://code.google.com/p/dslrdashboard/ and made the download and installation.

For Android beside the USB cable that comes with your camera, you will also need a OTG cable.

As you can see, Linux is easy, and Android too....

And yes, I took the Macro Shoot with the PC and Ubuntu...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/57895878@N04/8599564200/in/photostream/lightbox/

PS: The Nikon software said that it don't have support for my camera...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Help on Insys WV2251ELQL - Ubuntu Drivers

As I wrote on my previous post I have a new latptop with Ubuntu (from retailer), but I had a few problems..... But they are now solved, and I hope that this could help other that could run into similar problems.

After updating the kernel on my new laptop Ubuntu 12.04.2, I realized that I lost the drivers (not in kernel) for:

- Wireless
- Card Reader

After some investigation:

- lsusb returned me the wireless hardware 0bda:8723 Realtek Semiconductor Corp., and I figured out the this new card don't have drivers on realtek site yet, but I found this page around...

http://askubuntu.com/questions/139632/wireless-card-realtek-rtl8723ae-bt-is-not-recognized

Just follow the How-to on how to download and compile the driver and instalation, it will work fine... 

If you want to upgrade your computer maybe you should download this stuff first, or you will end up just like me with a cable close to the router....

- lspci returned me the card reader hardware Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device 5289 (rev 01).
As before this drivers are not on kernel, however, this is an Ubuntu reported bug which as a solution.
Just surf to :
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/udisks/+bug/971876, and follow this instructions to execute in command line.

wget http://planet76.com/drivers/realtek/rts-bpp-dkms_1.1_all.deb
sudo apt-get install dkms
sudo dpkg -i rts-bpp-
dkms_1.1_all.deb
echo 'DRIVERS=
="rts_bpp", ENV{ID_DRIVE_FLASH_SD}="1"' | sudo tee -a /lib/udev/rules.d/81-udisks-realtek.rules

After that you need to reboot and the card reader will work fine....

Linux is not hard, and I try to make it easier for everyone...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My new Ubuntu Laptop Windows Free

Today I bought my 2nd Laptop windows free. The first one was a few years ago, the Asus eee 701.

This one is a Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, and it is made in Portugal, at Inforlândia (Insys).
Its a 15.6" low end desktop, With Intel B830 at 1,8Ghz a 320Gb SATA HD, wireless, a chiclet keyboard, and a integrated graphic.

Its nice for the price and it comes well configured, just updating, and copying my home folder from my old main laptop.

This machine was bought in a retail shop, and beside this one the other laptop with ubuntu was just an Asus netbook. Coincidence, there was a couple looking at it, and the first question to the seller was "how do I connect this to internet". Off course they could not answer.

My conclusion is that people want to try new stuff, but the brands must give at least some little formation to the sellers, so they could sell a new product that they don't know. 

This netbook that couple was looking at had a price better then windows had, and they just wanted to use some web apps. I was tempted to interfere and give some advice, but meanwhile the box with my laptop arrived and I was really in a hurry, maybe next time I visit the shop...

In a world of MAC's and Windows, there is place for Ubuntu (for the non-technical) that is sure.....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Linux on the Desktop Dead? More Alive then Never - 750 Desktops at Portugal

Portuguese Insurance company Tranquilidade made the transition to Linux of 750 Computers.

The success made a study case and granted them an award of ESOP (Portuguese Association of Opensource Software Companies).

This award was given at Evento Linux 2012 - X Encontro Nacional sobre Tecnologia Aberta (Linux 2012 Event - 10th National Encounter of Open Technology).

According to source, it allowed Tranquilidade savings around 80% on software costs.

The solution is Ubuntu Linux based with Gnome 2, before 12.04LTS, they dont specify. They have intention of upgrading to 12.04 and use MATE desktop.

On the the desktop they use Firefox+Nautilus+Libreoffice, for email they use webmail previously used before.

They run 450 VDI computers (terminals) and 300 Laptops.

The transition was not done in one time, as they started using Libreoffice/Openoffice and webmail in 2009, making the users transition much softer, as this usually is the main problem for common users.


Sources: 
http://www.esop.pt/a-esop-%E2%80%93-associacao-de-empresas-de-software-open-source-portuguesas-esteve-presente-no-evento-linux-2012-x-encontro-nacional-sobre-tecnologia-aberta-que-decorreu-no-polo-tecnologico-de-li/
http://www.esop.pt/uploads/2012/09/TranquilidadeDesktopLinux.pdf

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Printing to a Windows Printer from Gnu/Linux without Linux drivers

As usual I post very few, because the time is very short, but has today I made an achievement I was looking to a long time, it deserves a HOW-TO...

Here it goes....

The Problem:

Our office only has one central printer!! (well it has other, but our boss don't wanna buy tonners, I warned him on the buy, that the 2000€ was better buy, but 600€ looked better in that moment.... no comments). This printer we use is a Windows Printer, which means the developer only has drivers for windows. So no Postscript drivers available, what means a great PITA for our PC's with Linux. So since our 600€ printer went out of service me and 3 other colleagues had to bother one of the other windows users every time we needed to print something.
As this don't look a problem, imagine the hours that are lost.... And we are all engineers.... There are better ways to spend the money with our time.... So I decided to do it.... I had tried before with REDMON (http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/redmon/index.htm), but with no success, but this time I made a decision to loose a few hours and make it...

The Solution:

So what I had in mind, was a simple solution.... To have a service running in our Windows SBS2003 that would monitor some folder change, where we would put PDF files and then print them.
Linux handles PDF nice, and the users would print to PDF and then place the files on that folder.
It looked really nice and as I thought a lot of free software was available, but......

Tryouts:

To begin I needed a command, from command line that would execute the print command, and after trying it with Acrobat Reader, I realized that it will always leave one window open with the program, and I didn't wanted that. So I had to find another solution.....

Then I needed the software to watch the folder changes.... From a dozen windows software the best one, that was able to execute anything on changes was Watch 4 Folder 2.3 (http://leelusoft.blogspot.pt/), but it didn't worked as expected, and I realized that it would only work on file changes from MS computers. After a few emails with the developer, and as I suspected, it uses the Microsoft Windows Shell API Notifications, and it is not relieable on network shares! Thank you for the support Mr. Zvika Israeli!!!!
So I had to find another solution....


The Deeper Research:


I had bumped into this website HOWTO - Print to a windows printer from linux WITHOUT needing any linux printer drivers/PPDs  (http://justin.yackoski.name/winp/ ) but the python looked a more complicated solution and I had gone to the software in Tryouts chapter :). This webpage has a python script that does what I wanted, but one link in this site was more what I wanted, http://tgolden.sc.sabren.com/python/win32_how_do_i/watch_directory_for_changes.html.

So I grabbed all this info, a lot, and i mean, a lot of python reading..... Especially on string and list manipulation, and came with this solution....

The Solution: (for those in a hurry, please start reading here!!!)


What you need:
1 - A computer running windows
2 - The printer you want to print to must be the preferred printer


Software you need to install on windows machine:
1 - Python - http://www.python.org/ftp/python/2.7.3/python-2.7.3.msi
2 - Pywin32 - http://sourceforge.net/projects/pywin32/files/pywin32/Build%20217/pywin32-217.win32-py2.7.exe/download - This is needed for handling command line file execution, there are other ways to do it, and they make it a lot faster, but as I'm a beginner in Python, it worked this ways, so let it be, maybe in the future I could make my script better
3 - Pdf X-Change Viewer - http://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer - It is freeware even for commercial use (we use it around the office) and it closes after printing from command line

Changes you need to make to the windows machine:
1 - Add c:\Python27 (or the folder you installed Python) and C:\Python27\lib\site-packages\win32 to the system path - How to it http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/configuration/how-can-i-add-a-new-folder-to-my-system-path-

2 - Create the print batch file - Open a notepad and call it print.bat and save it on c:\, fill it with the following code:


"C:\Programas\Tracker Software\PDF Viewer\PDFXCview.exe" /print %1
exit


Note: The path to the executable depends on your system, this is the path to a Portuguese Windows SBS2003!!!!!!!!!

3 - Create the python script file - Open a notepad and call it dirwatch.py (or other name you want) and save it on c:\ and fill it with the following code:


import os, time
import win32api


path_to_watch = "z:\\zz_Scanner\\Imprimir" ##This is the folder where you want to put the files for printing double slash are needed because the slash is a special caracter in python!!!!
before = dict ((f, None) for f in os.listdir (path_to_watch))
while 1:
  time.sleep (1)
  after = dict ((f, None) for f in os.listdir (path_to_watch))
  added = [f for f in after if not f in before]
  removed = [f for f in before if not f in after]
  if added:
      cmd = str("print.bat "+ "\"" + path_to_watch + "\\" + " ".join (added)+"\"")
      print cmd
      win32api.WinExec(str(cmd))  
  before = after


4 - Now run the dirwatch.py and one command line will open without any info. If you place a PDF in the path_to_watch dir, you will see the script finding the file, executing the command and exiting the batch file, and waiting for another file.
The script uses about 5Mb of Ram, and if you want to get less cpu usage you can replace time.sleep(1) for a higher value. The value is seconds so now you choose how much time you want to wait for the printing and balance it with your server load.

5 - I wanted this script to run as a service (seamless) so I place a link to it on startup.
If you don't want to have a command line floating around your server, rename the dirwatch.py to dirwatch.pyw
If you get more then one print, just close python instances on Task Manager.

Future Improvements:

1 - Get rid of win32api to run commands, I'malmost sure that this could be done with os, help please!!! It would execute faster with less Ram usage. And without the need to have pywin32 installed.
2 - Compare also with existing filenames, because a user could replace a file with the same name and the script only recognize files added!!!
3 - Delete the file after printing (if I do this I don't need the point above)
4 - Configure cups-pdf on Linux computer to place files directly on desired directory - I have to deal with file permissions on both linux machines and our NAS server where the folder is.....


So this is it, it worked for me, and a lot can be done so this work better, but the solution is simple and easy, and it will help us to gain time more then important on other tasks....



 
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