Friday, January 27, 2012

Flashing the N900.

I have been using the N900 for almost 2 years. I've upgraded from PR1.1 to PR1.2 and PR1.3 and more recently CSSU. I have installed countless things from extras-testing and extras-devel and have never had any serious problems.

Until one fateful day 2 weeks ago when I started to realise the battery life was getting worse by the day. The battery was draining at about 2-3% an hour on standby. A few days before, I had installed speedpatch and batterypatch. I thought that was the cause, so I promptly removed them. But the issue remained. (I suspect that speedpatch permanently broke the kernel setup somehow, from reading the forums I found others who concur.)

I tried running top and powertop and found the CPU was running at C0 constantly, with 12-20% constant CPU load%. I tried everything I could to find the source of the issue. I un-installed things for testing until I practically un-installed everything I used and it was still the same.

So I was left with no choice but to re-flash the firmware. I had never done it before. I read through the wiki. It was quite confusing at first. I didn't have an Ubuntu box around so I had to use my Windows 7 laptop at work. Unfortunately I had the 64bit version and had to jump through additional hoops to make the flasher recognise the N900. I decided to start from scratch. Backed up all my files and save games and flashed both eMMC and FIASCO images.

Afterwards I restored my contact data from backup but not my settings or anything else. I was advised against it, to ensure the problem does not return from a restored backup. I started to put back all my data & re-install everything I needed. Since I use the N900 as my everyday phone, I decided to install Stable CSSU this time instead of testing.

The fresh image really made the phone much faster and much more responsive than ever before. I've now quite glad I did it and I'm enjoying the phone like it was new. The battery now lasts even longer than the first day I got it. It goes down only 2% in 5 hours on standby.

Increasingly more people are finding they have issues after installing speedpatch and batterypatch. I'd advise against installing these patches.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's a Crap - Developing in Qt

For a while now I've been tinkering with the Nokia Qt SDK. As a way of learning about Qt, I decided to write my own little soundboard app for my N900.

As an avid listener of Linux Outlaws, I called my app CrapAlert. It started out as just a big red button that played the crap alert when you pressed it. Later I added a selection list & included a bunch of my favorite meme sound clips as well. A month later, I then changed the design from hard coding everything to reading lists from files & that allowed me to add sound clips easily without rebuilding.

Here's a few screenshots of the app:

I tried to upload the app into the Maemo Extras, but the build process kept failing & I got fed-up after 20 tries. So I'm just gonna post the deb and tarball here for anyone who cares.
Deb package for N900: crapalert_0_1_4_armel.deb
Source tarball: crapalert_0.1.4.tar.gz

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Mandriva / Mageia Dilemma

As with alot of Mandriva users, I have a dilemma. Of course I'm talking about the question of whether to continue with Mandriva or move over to Mageia. I've tried them both out on a spare machine & I have problems with both of them. Lets see if I can list them out here.

My problems with Mandriva 2011:
- I really cannot get myself to like the Rosa launcher and taskbar.
- KnetworkManager intermittently fails to connect to my hidden WPA2 Wifi.
- Abandoning of the tools I've come to love & rely on. (draknetcenter, RPMDrake, etc.)
- I have no confidence in Mandriva (the company). I no longer trust them.

My problems with Mageia 1:
- Is exactly Mandriva 2010.2. (feels very dated)
- Very ugly icons and fonts. (why is the graphics and sound & video icons exactly the same?) UI styling, color scheme is so dated.
- Slow bootup. Still no systemd.

I really don't want to stay with Mandriva anymore & be at the mercy of that company but Mageia at the moment just looks so crap that I'm serious considering going with Mandriva 2011. I managed to stop myself & at least for now I'm keeping Mandriva 2010.2 on my main machine. Until they end security update support for it.

I know most of my complaints of Mageia are superficial and can be improved with some amount of tweaking, I did try doing that on my spare machine but one thing still makes me unhappy, that is getting a consistent look for both Qt and GTK+ applications. Whenever I get a look I like on Qt, it will screw up on the GTK+ side. So right now, I'm stuck on using the oxygen theme & color scheme, it seems to be the only one that looks good. (only due to oxygen-gtk)

I'm still gonna hold out upgrading. I'm hoping that Mageia 2 will bring them up to date and be pretty and innovative again. I can only hope.

CSSU, Nitdroid and Preenv-hd

I've been running CSSU for a few months & it's been exceptionally stable. There are crashes here there, especially with some application that didn't like to be started in portrait mode. Battery life seems to suffer a bit with all the auto-rotation going on. But overall, the experience has been positive.

I also installed Nitdroid 2 weeks ago. Mainly just to fool around & play some games I'm missing out on. I install the N12 UMay release of Gingerbread onto an Apacer 8GB Class 10 MicroSDHC card. It takes about 3 minutes to boot, in operations it's a little laggy, but bearable. I only play some games, so it's all I need. It's definitely NOT recommended to run the Nitdroid as the main OS, alot of things still don't work. For one, you can't make phone calls, can't take pictures & also the phone doesn't manage power well, it runs really hot when playing games & sucks through the battery in only an hour or 2. The battery meter is screwed too, so you won't know you're dry till it switches off.

Anyway, I got tired of Android & I'm back to running Maemo again. I was searching for games when I stumbled onto preenv-hd. Someone made a patch over Preenv 0.1.7 that allowed HP Touchpad games to be playable through Preenv. This is great since there a few more games for WebOS that are for the Touchpad only. I found a few I really liked:
- DoodlePoolHD
- Slice It! HD
- Quell HD
Not the mention the more updated versions of Angry Birds Rio and Seasons.
So preenv-hd is keeping my inner gamer happy for now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Maemo 5 Community SSU

I finally took the plunge & went ahead to install the CSSU. It's currently at v15.

The install process was painfully slow. I'm not sure why, but downloading supposedly 28MB worth of files took well over 6 hours. I had leave it overnight. Fortunately, when it was done in the morning the upgrade went without a hitch.

The resulting desktop was by all accounts completely identical to the one before. I had to do some digging to make sure everything was working as it should. Only a few things were visible:
- an Orientation Lock button appeared in the status menu.
- the application menu rotates to portrait.
- the status menu rotates to portrait.

I immediately installed the CSSU Feature Configuration Editor & switched on the new 2 column task manager.

Have not run into any issues yet, but it's too early to tell, a couple more days & we'll see. So far, so good.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

After Nokia Elopcalypse

Since Nokia became Microsoft's bitch & has screwed their few remaining supporters, there is no more hope for maemo/meego as a mobile platform. Despite the release of the N9 and N950, the platform looks dead from a 3rd party developer's point of view. There will still be some hardcore Nokia/Meego/Qt supporters that will develop for the N9, but ultimately it will just be another nitch. Much as I dislike Android, it seems there is no other good choice available for a Linux geek. I still love my N900 and I will stick with it till it dies. After that I guess Android is the only boat I can jump onto. As with the betamax, the better technology does not always win..

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Fall of Nokia. The Magic of Preenv.

With the whole Microkia debacle I'm feeling at best very disappointed with Nokia. They had something special in Maemo, but instead of driving it forward, they drove themselves into the ground by doing stupid shit. Meego was unnecessary if they had just focused on Maemo. Symbian was a dead-end they kept wasting money on.

So I feel they really deserve to die. Or get swallowed by Microsoft (according to some conspiracy theorists) So I'm left with the N900 in-hand, a great device with great potential, but largely unrealized due to Nokia's incompetence.

Since my N900 is still under a year old. I will be keeping it for a while. I love the platform & hope to stay with it for as long as I can.
Luckily for me, there is Preenv. This magical little program lets me enjoy many Palm Pre games on my N900. Especially Angry Birds (Who can live without Angry Birds?) Rovio stopped supporting the N900 a while back & we did not get Ham'em High Levels or the Seasons. But thanks to the work done by the Preenv guys I am happily playing all the current games released for the Palm Pre.

Also, recently the community got together & started to develop the Maemo 5 Community SSU. Which aims to develop Maemo 5 further after Nokia dropped the ball. So there is hope in the platform, at least I can put off going to Android. (A platform I never liked, cuz it's just so NOT Linux)