Old dog, new tricks

My latest bit of tinkering involved re-purposing an old 1G Atom based Compaq laptop that came with and continued to run XP. It had a good innings but I didn’t want to connect an XP machine to my network for the kids to use so I backed it up and burnt a 32 bit Ubuntu 14.04 DVD (I would have preferred Centos 7 but I don’t think the 32 bit it available yet). It all worked very smoothly and it even gave me the option of keeping XP, turning the venerable laptop into a multi-boot machine. Son now uses it for homework (and I’m getting more and more impressed with Libre Office). Everything works well but it is a bit slow. Useable but slow, but we are talking an Atom with 1G here.

Next job is to buy a PSU for another bit of scrap and see if it will run Windows 10…

Ubuntu 12.04 – thumbs down

After getting back from a business trip, I decided on a whim to upgrade my main Ubuntu machine. Big mistake. I was running Lucid Lynx and I decided to try Precise Pangolin. Yes, I know the risks, don’t fix what isn’t broken etc. but even allowing for that, it’s still not good. I did the upgrade from within 10.04, and yes, it did work and boot afterwords but that’s where any success ended.

First of all, I lost the ability to log in as my original user, or as root from the new greeter screen. The workaround seems to be to add a manual login option to the lightdm config file. After that, vmware workstation no longer worked (not supported on 12.04) but I managed to fix that by upgrading the kernel to 3.4 and applying a patch.

I had the computer set up while I was away so that when my children turned it on, it would automatically log in as root, run vmware workstation and start a VM that they could use. This no longer appears possible, even after solving the vmware workstation problem.

The lightdm config seems to be subservient to the accountsservice package, so changing it’s options has no effect. The accountsservice cannot be removed, it appears core to Ubuntu.

The final straw is that I couldn’t find any documentation on the accountsservice on the Ubuntu website. Other problems I can forgive, but not that.

Overall, I think Ubuntu has evolved to a level where it is just trying to be too “smart”. I can understand making decisions on behalf of users to cater for a wider audience but it has forgotten it’s roots and blocked off customisation options. From this initial (and brief!) experience it no longer seems to meet my needs so it is time to look for a new default distro.


Where was I?

Had another job to do but I’m back again. I’m in the process of trying to compile xen-4.0.0 on my fresh install of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. Downloaded and extracted the source code and started on the README file, as you do. This time I have taken much more care to ensure I have the pre-requisites listed. Mind you, this is a bit of an art in itself…asking for a development install of x11 translates into which packages exactly?

I’ve been using the Synaptic Package Manager on Ubuntu and it’s built-in search function to make educated guesses about what was required. I have saved the log file of what I chose, to be thorough.

So continuing with a “make world” trundles along for a while before failing because of /bin/sh: git: not found. This is an easy fix by installing git-core package. Guess the README missed that one.

After it’s done all it’s git stuff it stops again, this time with the prompt

Enable support for Xen PCI passthrough devices (XEN_PCI_PASSTHROUGH) [N/y/?] (NEW).

Lets give that a whirl, and the next one

Paravirtualization layer for spinlocks (PARAVIRT_SPINLOCKS) [N/y/?] (NEW)

followed by

Xen PCI Frontend (XEN_PCIDEV_FRONTEND) [N/m/y/?] (NEW)

I’m typing these in as they crop up. How many more I wonder? Makefile must be slightly out of date.

SCSI tape drive support for Smart Array 5xxx (CISS_SCSI_TAPE) [N/y/?] (NEW)
Fusion MPT ScsiHost drivers for FC (FUSION_FC) [N/m/y/?] (NEW)
Maximum number of scatter gather entries (16-128) (FUSION_MAX_SGE) [128] (NEW)
Fusion MPT misc device (ioctl) driver (FUSION_CTL) [N/m/y/?] (NEW)
Fusion MPT logging facility (FUSION_LOGGING) [N/y/?] (NEW)
Net channel 2 support (XEN_NETCHANNEL2) [N/m/y/?] (NEW)

OK, this is getting tedious, skip the rest except to say I chose Virtual PCI for the backend.

The next error is

*** check_uuid_devel FAILED: missing uuid headers (package uuid-dev)

which doesn’t stop it in it’s tracks swiftly followed by

*** check_xgettext FAILED: can't find xgettext

shortly after which it stops.

Both the above easy to rectify by installed uuid-dev package and gettext package. More minus points for the README file.

I’ve re-typed make at this point (not make world because I don’t want to answer all those questions again). Soon falls over again though in the firmware section with

Require dev86 rpm or bin86 & bcc debs version >= 0.16.14 to build firmware!

That can be fixed by installing the bcc package and it’s dependency.

Next stop, need to Download and install Intel ACPI CA

Which is fixed by installing the iasl package.

This next one looks a bit more tricky. All kinds of confusion following from xen/lowlevel/xc/xc.c:7:20:error: Python.h: No such file or directory

Running a find for Python.h reveals one in /usr/include/python3.1/Python.h. There is a /usr/include/python2.6 directory but there was no Python.h in there. Thanks to Google that is quickly solved by installing the python2.6-dev package.

Next it complains that makeinfo is missing, fixed by installing the texinfo package.

And there at last we seem to have it! Although LateX is required for the documentation, it says.

I started this session at 20:46 and it is now 23:31 so that’s how long it took me to build Xen. Haven’t tested it yet though 🙂

Wot no Ubuntu

So, with my shiny new hardware I had decided to put Ubuntu 10.04 64bit server edition as a start. I thought this would be easy as I had no problem with the notebook edition. I didn’t order a CD/DVD drive with the hardware as I believe you should be able to do it all with usb keys nowadays (he said).

Well, sorry, Ubuntu’s off. Followed all the instructions for downloading and installing onto a bootable USB drive which does boot and start the installation but doesn’t get very far before it complains it can’t load installer components from CD. Looks like this is a common problem but 30mins of searching has not turned up a solution. Maybe I’ll try fixing it or maybe I’ll just try another distro.