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Skype SFS uploaded

June 21, 2020 — BarryK

The SFS repository for EasyOS and EasyPup had Skype, however, someone reported that the microphone did not work.

Maybe it was just their particular hardware, however, I decided to make another, older, SFS available, This is version, the same one used in FossiePup.

The repo is here:

But if you are running EasyOS, all that you have to do is click on the "sfsget" icon at top of the screen.

Whether this will improve the microphone situation, I don't know. Testers welcome!

Note, install it on the main desktop, not in a container, just in case the container is the cause of the microphone problem -- that is another thing that testers can determine.   

Tags: easy

Change ext4 journal commit interval from 5 to 30

June 21, 2020 — BarryK

I have been examining why EasyOS has almost continuous writes to the hard drive, even when "doing nothing" on the desktop, and eliminated writes by pmcputemp:

The ext4 journal remains as the single biggest contributor. We could go back to not using a journal, but instead will try some other solutions to reduce writes. One possibility is to change the commit interval from the default 5 seconds.

I have modified the 'init' script in the initrd to change it to 30 seconds:

 if [ "${WKG_FS}" == "ext4" ];then #200621 change journal commit interval from 5 to 30...
#rw,relatime,data=ordered are the defaults anyway...
mount -t ${WKG_FS} -o commit=30,rw,relatime,data=ordered /dev/$WKG_DEV /mnt/$WKG_DEV
mount -t ${WKG_FS} /dev/${WKG_DEV} /mnt/${WKG_DEV}

That will also result in faster operation, though if there is a crash then you lose the last 30 seconds of your work. Hmmm, maybe we could even make that a longer time? Trying this for the next release of EasyOS, see how it goes. 

Tags: easy

Full hdparm utility in initrd

June 21, 2020 — BarryK

Earlier this year, I posted about implementing running of 'fstrim' at every 20th bootup, for SSDs that support TRIM:

However, only had the busybox 'hdparm' applet, that does not work with USB drives.

I have now compiled the full 'hdparm' utility, version 9.58, statically with musl, for x86_64, i686, and aarch64, and put the utilities into WoofQ.

Only the more advanced USB-sticks support TRIM, such as the SanDisk Extreme. Interesting, not all SSDs do either, and apparently, some that report they do, don't really -- which could be a problem if run 'fstrim' on those.

I have a couple of SSDs in USB caddies, which is a very cost-effective alternative to USB-sticks, in terms of size and long-term reliability. Installing EasyOS to one of those is a fast and portable choice, rather then bothering to install to the internal drive. So, I want EasyOS to detect if the external SSD supports TRIM. 

Tags: easy

Pmcputemp modified to remove drive writes

June 20, 2020 — BarryK

Pmcputemp is a CPU temperature tray applet, very nice, and used in EasyOS and EasyPup. In the previous post, I explored why there are frequent periodic writes to the hard drive:

I discovered that pmcputemp is the main culprit. Yes, the ext4 journal driver is a contributor, but not the main one.

I obtained the latest source from here:

Then modified the source and compiled it, these are my notes:

BK: v1.1
change, interval range 1 - 100, default 20 seconds.
icon "temp.png" causing many drive writes, move into /tmp
aarch64 fix, ref:

# cd pmcputemp-1.1
# ./configure --prefix=/usr --libdir=/usr/lib --mandir=/usr/share/man --with-help
# make
# new2dir make install

The modified source is now version 1.1, here:

And the PET is here:

The problem was, every time CPU temperature changed, read at intervals of 10 seconds (I bumped in latest PET, now 20), there would be a write to /root/.config/pmcputemp/temp.png.

It would probably be possible not to write "temp.png" to file at all, but anyway, I changed it to /tmp/pmcputemp/temp.png. Reason, is that in EasyOS, /tmp is a tmpfs (temporary filesystem, that is only in RAM).

Hey, what a change, my Lenovo PC is now mostly quiet, no little "brrps"! Ditto, there will be much less LED flashes on USB-sticks. 

Tags: easy

Tracing continuous drive activity

June 20, 2020 — BarryK

Right now, EasyOS is running, installed on the 8TB hard drive in my Lenovo PC, and there is a quiet sound of periodic drive activity. This hardly ever stops, even if the desktop is running but no applications, there is the "brrp brrp" of the hard drive.

This happens also when running EasyOS off a USB Flash stick, quietly, with the LED flashing on the drive.

I thought that the 'iotop' utility would be most useful to trace what processes are accessing the drive. Reads I don't mind, but writes are a problem with Flash storage. However, iotop requires the kernel to be compiled with I/O Accounting enabled, so I compiled the 5.4.47 kernel, with these enabled:

General setup
CPU/task time and stats accounting
[*] Export task/process statistics through netlink CONFIG_TASKSTATS
[*] Enable per-task delay accounting CONFIG_TASK_DELAY_ACCT
[*] Enable extended accounting over taskstats CONFIG_TASK_XACCT
[*] Enable per-task storage I/O accounting CONFIG_TASK_IO_ACCOUNTING

First time that I ran "iotop -o -a", there were two processes writing to the hard drive, "pmcputemp" and "jbd2/sda4-8".

pmcputemp is the tray applet monitoring CPU temperature. Why is it frequently writing to the drive? I killed it, and ran Screeny to take a snapshot of iotop output:


That "jbd2/sda4-8" looks like the culprit. It is the "Journal Block Device", that is, writing to the ext4 journal.

It used to be, that I ran the working partition without journal, when running off a Flash drive, but early this year enabled the journal, as it ensured a "clean" shutdown of the ext4 filesystem -- there is a blog post about that.

All right, writing to the journal is the culprit, but is that a bad thing? On a Flash drive, will that be hammering the same memory locations?

I don't know anything about this "jbd2/sda4-8" process yet. Why the "4-8", as the drive has partitions 1-9? sda4 is the working partition. sda1 and sda4 are mounted, the others aren't.

Very interesting, the drive is now quiet. No, one little "brrp", due to "jbd2/sda4-8". Quiet again. So, the writes do slow down, eventually -- still getting them, just less frequent. 

EDIT 2020-06-21:
Well, either "pmcputemp" or "jbd2/sda4-8" can be causing more writes. If do nothing, just stare at the desktop, it is the former, if do some desktop activity, it is the latter. Anyway, here is the next post, where I have solved the problem of pmcputemp writing to the drive:  

Tags: easy

Youtube-dl-GUI Update button fixed

June 16, 2020 — BarryK

Youtube-dl downloads YouTube videos. It is found in the "Internet" menu category. Alfons reported that the "Update" button does not work.

Yes, the URL to download the latest youtube-dl Python script has changed. Fixed, the PET is now

Tags: easy

PGPRS setup improved

June 13, 2020 — BarryK

EasyOS uses NetworkManager, however, the older network setup methods are still there, such as PupDial, SNS, and PGPRS. Richard (rerwin in the forum) is maintaining PGPRS:

He has kindly examined the PGPRS in EasyOS, and created an update tarball:

I have applied the updates to WoofQ, and also bumped the 'defaults-chooser' PET to 0.9.2: 

Tags: easy

puppyPDF removed

June 11, 2020 — BarryK

puppyPDF is an ancient little GUI app that converts text files to PDF. It was written by 'thoughtjourney' in 2005. Forum member 'vovchik' created a similar app named 'ppdf'. Both of these required abiword, running in CLI mode.

Feodor reported that it does not work, as abiword is missing.

Easy does not have abiword anymore, but libreoffice could be used, in "headless" CLI mode. It would have the advantage of converting many more filetypes, and more accurately than abiword.

Anyway, as most apps, such as libreoffice, have "save as..." to file, which is PDF, a specialised app like puppyPDF is probably redundant.

I am not motivated enough to convert puppyPDF to use libreoffice, so have removed it from Easy. 

Tags: easy