Category Archives: Life

Irrational behaviour

So, I want a new phone. I really don’t need one, but I want it anyway.

This is my current phone:

And it fits my needs perfectly: water/dust/sand(!)-proof — Leonie and Guido are 3 and 1 year old now, so this is not a useless feature at all ;-) Moreover, it lasts two weeks without recharging and I only use it to make phone calls, so I don’t need anything with more features.

Still, I want this phone:

Basically, I’ve fallen for the pretty pcitures and UI demos, but I tell myself it is because it runs “real” linux.

What’s wrong with me? ;-)

Meego installation on a USB stick

This post wouldn't be if the hard-drive from my Acer Aspire One didn't die. I have a fresh backup of the disk (a full 'dd' plus a separate one for just the home partition) so if I need something back, and I know I don't I care but backups are important, I can always mount it in a loopback and copy files.

The hard-drive is actually, what I want to call it, a cheap and fake SSD. It's a PATA SSD that I'm sure I will never find a replacement for. Look:


Now the dilemma was easy, or I threw the netbook to trash, or I found something to boot on. I started to look for a solution and Meego just got released, this is crazy timing. I downloaded the boot image and tried it out, and guess what, it is getting better and better. It's definitely more beautiful, it is getting faster, it has better dialogs for customization, well just try it out if you didn't yet, you wont be disappointed but surprised.

So in the end, installing a system on a USB stick is the only solution I can come up with. I ordered an extra USB stick, but mini please, a Kingston DTmini10! Now when I tell people this is my actual hard-drive, they are like “say-whaaat.”

The installation of Meego didn't went that fluently. I have two USB sticks, one with the boot image, another serving as target device for installation. The installation worked fine without any modification, it boots but ends on a black screen with the CAPS del blinking. Boo, kernel panic, or something else ungroovy. I also tried an installation with the file-system ext3, the default is btrfs, but then the grub installer fails and the Meego installer is knocked out in a waiting sequence. So I did a default installation again, sigh. After a search I tried out some parameters for the kernel command line and adding “rootdelay=8” did the trick. In fact, the USB stick boots without problem, but past that there is some delay for the kernel to discover the USB device, you can then see the following message:

   sd 11:0:0:0: [sdx] Assuming drive cache: write through

If there is no rootdelay parameter there is no root device found, and booting just ain't gonna work out. End of story. There are some tiny tweaks to be done afterwards. The kernel command line must point to the right root device, just like for the fstab file. The kernel command line can be edited in the file /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf. Everything else works out just fine. Booting time, except the rootdelay, is acceptable, but shutting down seems to be endless, and precisely when I want the netbook to turn off I want it to be really fast. I'm going to send it to sleep more often than usual, by closing and opening the lid, which is the fastest “boot” sequence one can get ;-)


Update: I've been wrong stating the shutdown process is taking ages, I just did a shutdown and this time it went quick, so something must have been be unlucky and the disk synced something around and around.

It’s a boy!

Last wednesday I became father for the second time. It’s a boy and his name is Guido. Me, his mom and his big sister Leonie are the happiest people in the world right now.

Here’s a screenshot, err, a picture of him just having found his own thumb:

Don’t expect anything Xfce-related from me any time soon…

Beta release and personal news

For those of you who are eager to test the first Xfce 4.6 beta: We’re running a bit late again. At least the delay won’t be that big this time. Most packages are prepared already and the release will be rolled out tomorrow or the day after that I suppose. To be able to do this we had to add several feature freeze exceptions. If you keep in mind however that we stil have the option to sacrifice the second release candidate to keep up with the schedule, the final release date is not in danger yet.

There are also some news related to my person. Last week I received the official sponsorship invitation to the Ubuntu Developers Summit for Jaunty. So if things go well, I’ll be able to be in Mountain View in December to represent Xfce when the Xubuntu team prepares their next release after Intrepid! This is very exciting and quite a big thing for me. So far I never made it across the pond and I’m not really happy about having to fly 11 hours or more to get there. But then again you just have to take the chances you get otherwise you’ll not receive them anymore at some point. I’ve already turned down the attempts of Google to get me into their internship program last year which was quite frankly stupid. Anyway, I decided to forget about my fear of flying for once and take this great opportunity I’m offered by Canonical. I still need to sort out a few things, get a new passport and prepare for the event itself but I’m quite happy I made this decision.

The story of how you guys rock!

This is my first post ever on the Xfce weblog. I’ve never been so much into blogging. I tried for a while but stopped at some point. However, this is not about me and my blogging habits: this is about how the Xfce community — yes, you! — rocks!

About a month ago, my laptop suddenly stopped working. We were working hard on the alpha (little did we know how long it would take to finally release it … I suppose Stephan is preparing release notes at this very moment) and this was just bad timing. I reported it on the mailinglist to let the other developers know about my situation. I had no idea of what would happen next.

And then I received the first mail offering a donation. And then another one. And another. One day later my PayPal account had grown up to third of the price of the laptop which I finally bought two weeks later. This came completely unexpected and just blew me away!

So on my short England vacation (I was visiting and old friend of mine in Portsmouth) I made plans on what to buy. I read a lot of reviews and at the end I came back to the same brand I had used before: I bought a Thinkpad. My old one was a R51 bought in 2004. It served me well all the years at home, at the university and at work. It even survived a shelf crash (I only had to replace the keyboard). When I arrived at Lübeck at 11pm on August 26th, I ordered a Thinkpad T61 in the same night. I still had to wait about a week waiting for it to arrive which I literally spent it on the couch doing nothing else than to wait for the postman. This has to be one of the worst weeks of my life ;)

Just like the whole week, the arrival was kind of chaotic. I had received a tracking URL the day before and so I followed the delivery process online. At noon on the day of the arrival it said “the package has been delivered”. And I was like … what?! Then I called their service number and a computer voice told me it had been delivered and some guy had signed it. Unfortunately I couldn’t find his name on any of the mailboxes downstairs. There was just one last opportunity: the sex shop in the basement. DHL had never dropped a package for me there before. I went into the shop and asked the guy if he was Mr. X (the one who signed the package). He said: No, I am not. I asked: Does a Mr. X work here then? He said: Yeah. I said: Well, did DHL leave any packages for me today? And he said: Yes. And there it was, my new laptop:

Broken R51, Brand new T61 and me

What can I say? It’s a great laptop! I managed to get all the features working within a few days, like special keys, suspend to ram, hibernate and it’s fast as hell! I might write a more detailled report about how to set up Linux on it for ThinkWiki later. The first thing to do obviously was to remove Windows and install Lunar Linux (the distribution I help working on) on it. And since then I’ve spent a lot of nights hacking on Xfce already. But that’s another story …

So today I want to thank those of you who stepped up and helped me out. I thought some time about whether to tell their names or not. I am really grateful for what they did so I think they deserve to be listed. So I’d like to thank the following people a lot for their help. In alphabetical order:

  • Benedikt Meurer
  • Bernhard Fröhlich
  • Christine Pohlmann
  • Cody A.W. Somerville
  • Colin Leroy
  • Jelle de Jong
  • Stavros Giannouris

This has once again proven that you — the Xfce community as a whole — rock!

Seems like Stephan hasn’t finished the release notes yet, so I’ll spend the rest of the evening bugging him about it. I hope you’ll enjoy the alpha and Xfce 4.6 in general. Everyone is welcome to join our mailinglists and IRC channels to discuss ideas, bugs or possible contributions – if you think Xfce is worth it, let us know and maybe you can help making it even better than it is today.

Edit: Not only the community rocks, our developers do so as well! Thanks Benny!