Saturday, December 2, 2017

Debian 8 "Jessie" on Apple iBook G4

Someone kindly gave me an iBook G4, the latest model before Apple switched over to Intel processors and started to make MacBooks. (See here for information and specifications.)

This iBook (14-inch "Snow," released July 2006, featuring a Radeon graphics chip) is model A1134 (order number M9848LL/A).

Its motherboard includes the PowerPC processor (an initialism for Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC – Performance Computing). So the selection of suitable current operating systems is limited.

Already, the iBook was running Debian 7 ("Wheezy"). However, that release reached end of life April 26, 2016. Also, I wanted to update Wheezy's version of Firefox. So, I thought I would try to upgrade it to Debian 8 ("Jessie").

The upgrade to Jessie went fairly smoothly, except for one problem. (Presumably, you'll also experience the same problem, if you do a fresh install on an iBook.)

By default, Jessie's Xorg detects the iBook's Radeon graphics chip, and thus selects the Xorg Radeon X-Windows driver. However, it assumes—without verifying this—that the chip will handle 3D graphics (OpenGL/DRI2). Something about this hangs the iBook.

I found two ways of handling this problem.
  1. Tell Xorg not to use hardware acceleration with the Radeon driver; or
  2. Tell Xorg to select the "modesetting" driver instead.
Now, generally speaking, you can access the iBook's virtual terminals by pressing (simultaneously) fn-ctrl-alt-F1 (or F2, F3, F4, F5, or F6). (This requirement to press 'fn' wasn't obvious to me—at first.)

Also, if necessary, you can access the iBook's command line by:
  1. The second time the Yaboot loader pauses, type 'Linux init=/bin/bash';
  2. Type 'mount -no remount,rw /';
  3. (Here's where you type whatever you want); and
  4. Type 'exit'.
You can determine the graphics chip you have by typing 'sudo lspci -v'.

Then, per Debian's Xorg wiki page, do the following steps:
  1. Stop your display manager (e.g., gdm3) by typing 'sudo /etc/init.d/gdm3 stop';
  2. Type 'sudo Xorg -configure';
  3. Type 'sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf'.
Under the "Device" Section, either:
  1. Uncomment Option Accel, and change its value to "False" (including the quotes); or
  2. Change Driver to "modesetting" (including the quotes).
BTW, I successfully used display manager lightdm and desktop environment lxde.

Copyright (c) 2017 Mark D. Blackwell.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Cygwin on Windows XP, howto

If you've damaged your Cygwin installation on Windows XP recently by doing a normal Cygwin update (as I did), here's how to recover.

Normally, Cygwin's program, setup(-x86).exe installs the latest version of their Cygwin DLL.

However, the last release of the Cygwin DLL which still works on Windows XP was version 2.5.2-1 (released June 23, 2016). The next release was 2.6.0-1 (on August 31, 2016), and it doesn't work on Windows XP.

First, back up (perhaps using 7-Zip) your Cygwin etc/ and home/ directories to a safe location (outside your Cygwin installation).

Then rename your Cygwin directory, to get it out of the way.

Download the latest setup(-x86).exe as usual from the Cygwin web site.

Add the option flag --no-verify to the shortcut you use for it, and run it. On its "Choose a Download Site" screen, enter (as a User URL):

ftp://www.fruitbat.org/pub/cygwin/circa/2016/08/30/104223

Click the "Add" button and "Next". It will say:
  1. "The current ini file is from a newer version of setup-x86.exe" and
  2. "This setup is version 2.873, but setup.ini claims version 2.874 is available."
Ignore those warnings.

After you're satisfied it's working for you, you can delete your old, renamed Cygwin directory.

For more information, see this page by Peter Castro, the creator of the Cygwin Time Machine.

Copyright (c) 2016 Mark D. Blackwell.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mega.co.nz, web-based file streaming & Copy.com users

The following is an open letter to Mega.co.nz about implementing web-based audio file streaming (and attracting Copy.com users):

March 31, 2016
To the management (and developers) of Mega.co.nz:

In two months, on May 1, 2016 (as you may know), Barracuda Networks will close its (reportedly) "highly rated" Copy.com service.

They are directing "millions of users" to convert to Microsoft's similar service.

Instead, to attract some of those users, it might be in Mega.co.nz's best interest to implement certain Copy.com features. I'm thinking of one in particular:

Copy.com's web-based file manager directly automatically streams audio files (particularly Ogg-Vorbis files: those with extension OGG; and MP3 files).

Thus, whenever users shared (with other people) a web link to a directory tree on Copy.com, then the recipients, simply by navigating there, could stream that audio immediately and directly.

In other words, the recipients of the link could find and stream (in a web browser) any audio file: this without any additional (bothersome or worrisome) steps required; i.e., to:
  1. Download the audio file;
  2. Choose an audio player program; or even
  3. Install a special audio player for Ogg-Vorbis files.
In many cases—for many recipients—these additional steps can be show-stoppers.

This is particularly true in the case of public links.

Many Copy.com users would find this direct-streaming feature highly useful, IMO.

Mega.co.nz could attract more Copy.com users to their service by duplicating this feature.

Does Mega.co.nz plan to add this functionality—of direct-streaming Ogg-Vorbis (extension .ogg) or MP3 files—to their web-based file manager? Would Mega.co.nz's management consider it?

Already, Mega.co.nz's phone apps stream audio. In the web-based file manager, a need for this exists also, for the easiest possible access when sharing web links.

With warm regards,

Copyright (c) 2016 Mark D. Blackwell.