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Time-out to explore ideas

May 20, 2022 — BarryK

EasyOS is an experimental distribution, subject to change as I explore new ideas.

I want to go into an exploratory binge now, toying with some fundamental structural changes, so might be a bit unresponsive to any questions posted on the forum.   

Tags: easy

Easy Bookworm version 0.3 released

May 20, 2022 — BarryK

Continuing to knock this guy into shape:

These are pre-alpha releases so far. When all the obvious bugs are found and it seems functionally equivalent to Easy Dunfell, then I will probably bump the version to match, say 3.5.

It is possible to update from 0.1, but two things need fixing. First, the rsync utility has a missing library:

Second, /usr/local/easy_version/easy-update script is broken. Script attached to blog post:

I tested the update, it worked, except the desktop icons still have the old names for the icons. 0.3 has adapted new names, as suggested by rufwoof.

So if you just want a clean new version, probably better to do a new install. At least while we are still in this pre-alpha stage.  

Tags: easy

Simpler labels for desktop icons

May 19, 2022 — BarryK

Forum member rufwoof suggested this:

Yes, I like it, have made the changes.  

Tags: easy

Using EasyOS with Ventoy

May 19, 2022 — BarryK

Ventoy is a multi-boot system, you can place lots of Linux distributions on a USB-stick, and there will be a menu to choose which to boot:

I suppose it is off interest to disro-hoppers!

If you want to put EasyOS into Ventoy, it used to work -- only just -- now doesn't.

The Ventoy website has a tick alongside EasyOS, meaning it works. However, there is this problem...

When Easy is on its own on a USB-stick, at first bootup, the ext4 working-partition is expanded to fill the drive, then it is populated. That population includes 'vmlinuz', 'initrd' and 'easy.sfs' copied from the boot-partition to the working-partition.

In Ventoy, Easy is unable to increase the size of the working-partition -- that is the crux of the problem.

Fine, except in Easy 3.4.7 the working-partition is only 640MiB, and files to be copied are too big. In much earlier versions of Easy, 'easy.sfs' was smaller and did just fit. No longer.

It gets worse. In Easy Bookworm, the working-partition is only 4MiB.

There is a fix: you have to do some surgery on the 'easy*.img' file, and increase the ext4 working-partition to a reasonable size. Forum member measter has asked about this, and I have posted how to do it:

Increasing the .img file to 2GiB is still rather small, but it will work. Given that Easy has to share the USB-stick with other distributions, there is a size constraint.

We could upload these bigger .img files somewhere, if there is interest.   

Tags: easy

iotop partly broken in Easy Dunfell and Bookworm

May 19, 2022 — BarryK

Running iotop (from "System" menu), there is a message:

CONFIG_TASK_DELAY_ACCT not enabled in kernel, cannot determine SWAPIN and IO

This problem arrived with the 5.15 kernel. It is configured with CONFIG_TASK_DELAY_ACCT, but is not activated. It has to be activated with a kernel commandline parameter. Apparently, this change was made because this feature imposes a very slight performance overhead on I/O.

There are actually two variants of iotop. The original is written in python:

There is another, written in C:

OE Dunfell and Debian Bookworm both have the python version, and both have the bug.

I checked OE master-next, they have changed to the C version. Unfortunately, I do not like the C version. The UI seems inferior, and the "-a" commandline option doesn't work properly.

So, in my OE fork (Quirky), I have bumped the python iotop to the latest version, which has a workaround for the bug -- fixes the display, but still requires the kernel commandline option to enable the feature. I have named the package 'iotop-py' to distinguish from the C version.

I Easy Bookworm cannot use the OE package, as it is compiled for python 3.8. Have to wait on the Debian iotop package maintainer to update it. Well, the OE package has a path /usr/lib/python3.8, could probably modify that and it would work in Bookworm.

I have created a iotop python-version PET for Easy Bookworm.

Tags: easy

Zram with lz4 compression in kernel

May 17, 2022 — BarryK

Oh man, I recompiled the kernel yet again!

Having very recently become enamoured of lz4, I saw that zram only has lzo and lzo-rle compression enabled. So, have also enabled lz4.

This is kernel 5.15.40, running Easy Bookworm. Will probably do same for Easy Dunfell tonight.   

Tags: easy

IO schedulers fix for Linux kernel

May 16, 2022 — BarryK

Running Easy Bookworm today, I did this:

# cat /sys/block/sdb/queue/scheduler 

...huh, where are "deadline", "cfq", etc. I/O schedulers?

I have fallen behind here. Unknown to me, those schedulers have been deprecated for the last couple of years, and now completely gone from the kernel.

What kernel version did this happen? How long have I been running Easy with "none" I/O scheduling? Haven't noticed any performance degradation.

Actually, "none" still does have very basic I/O scheduling.

The kernel config shows this:

# IO Schedulers
# end of IO Schedulers

These are the new ones. I have compiled the kernel 5.15.40 with these enabled, now get:

# cat /sys/block/sdb/queue/scheduler 
[mq-deadline] kyber bfq none

Kernel compiled for Easy Bookworm, will do same for Dunfell soon.

EDIT 2022-05-17:
I compiled 5.15.40 kernel for Easy Dunfell also.

The kernel defaults to "mq-deadline" I/O scheduler, so I have created /etc/udev/rules.d/60-io-scheduler.rules:

ACTION=="add|change", KERNEL=="sd[a-z]", ATTR{queue/rotational}=="1", ATTR{queue/scheduler}="bfq"

...because it looks like "bfq" is good choice for HDDs.

Um, not sure about using a udev rule, could do it in rc.sysinit. 

Tags: easy

Redshift fixed in Easy Bookworm

May 16, 2022 — BarryK

An old problem has come back to haunt us. Debian Bookworm has redshift package version 1.12, which is broken. Or rather, the CLI utility is broken. Version 1.11 works.

The systray has a screen brightness and colour tinting applet, that is a GUI for the redshift CLI utility. This was fixed in Easy Dunfell, but the bug has come back with Easy Bookworm, see forum post, the problem reported by Philh:

I have changed the package-list for Easy Bookworm to used the redshift 1.11 PET.

Changing the subject, you might be interested to know that the packages compiled in OpenEmbedded for Easy Dunfell, are also used in Easy Bookworm. 115 of them, in fact.

There are so many special packages not available in the Debian repository, or not suitable (or, as in the case or redshift, broken). ROX-Filer, Gwhere... well, the list goes on.   

Tags: easy