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Report missing firmware at first bootup

November 25, 2020 — BarryK

This is such a common problem, someone boots EasyOS and then finds that wifi, bluetooth, ethernet, or something else, doesn't work. So they post a question of the forum, or send me an email.

My first advise is to find out if the Linux kernel tried and failed to load firmware, by running this in a terminal:

# dmesg | grep -i firmware

Today I made a first attempt to automatically parse the output of 'dmesg', and popup a window informing if firmware is missing. I wrote a little script, /usr/sbin/report-missing-fw, which is called from /usr/sbin/delayedrun at first bootup.

Parsing of 'dmesg' output in a script is not really recommended, and it is tricky. For example, a kernel driver may try to load firmware, it fails, then the driver may try a fallback firmware file, and if that fails, it may have yet another fallback -- the script will need to recognise the eventual success and reject the failures.

Parsing is difficult as there is no real standard syntax, well, only a very loose standard, for the strings that drivers will output to the syslog. I have had a go anyway, and when you test the next release, if it reports a missing firmware, if would be good to check in a terminal as shown above, to confirm that my script got it right.

The script will only run at first bootup, not a version update, but can be run in a terminal:

# /usr/sbin/report-missing-fw  

Tags: easy

Extra manual instructions for frugal install of EasyOS

November 24, 2020 — BarryK

Clemens sent me an email with instructions for manual installation of EasyOS when running some other Linux distro, and with GRUB2 boot manager. I have uploaded it as text file, linked from this page (scroll down to the bottom of page): 

Tags: easy

Microphone works on Lenovo Ideacentre 510S-07ICB

November 23, 2020 — BarryK

I bought my Lenovo desktop PC in March this year:

Some of the guys testing the latest EasyOS, version 2.5, have reported the microphone not working, so I thought had better check it out. I don't have a microphone, so went shopping...

Officeworks here in WA have a headset for only AU$5.00, on the purchase-list for school kids. It comes in two versions, with two 3.5mm plugs, and with a single 3.5mm combo-plug. Modern laptops, and also my Lenovo, have this combo-plug -- nicely located on the front panel.


The headphone worked immediately, however, running "Record" in 'mhWaveEdit', no audio.

So, started 'AlsaMixer' and bumped up everything labelled "Mic", still no joy. So then ran the default audio mixer, 'aumix', and found that bringing "IGain" above zero, then recording worked.

mhWaveEdit has real nice level gauges for left and right channel, so I was able to set "IGain" to suit my speech. Got to show a snapshot, really nice to have those gauges, can speak and adjust the gain until get a good level, but not clipping:


This is good, but has got me thinking. 'aumix' is an OSS mixer. It relies upon OSS kernel drivers, that are loaded by /etc/init.d/10alsa, whereas AlsaMixer is a pure ALSA mixer.

When I was experimenting with PulseAudio, there was some documentation that do not load those OSS drivers, as they will grab the audio and PulseAudio won't work.

Hmmm, why is there an "IGain" in 'aumix', but I cannot see anything equivalent in 'AlsaMixer'?

Maybe I should experiment with retiring OSS support entirely, not load the OSS drivers, and use 'Retrovol' ALSA mixer instead of 'aumix'. Years ago, I had a problem with Retrovol crashing on ARM boards, which was why I went over to 'aumix'. But, I think 01micko is using 'Retrovol' with his RPi Puppy distro. Will give this some consideration... 

Tags: easy

EasyPup 2.5 released

November 22, 2020 — BarryK

French, German and English builds here:

Unless you have a particular reason for wanting EasyPup, I recommend that you choose EasyOS:

Today I was thinking what features are there in EasyPup that would persuade me to keep supporting it. Well, I don't give it much support anyway, but what reasons would I have for releasing new versions? I posted about one reason, "multi-session DVD" support: 

Tags: easy

Multi-session DVD still highly relevant

November 22, 2020 — BarryK

This goes back a very long time, to the early days of Puppy Linux. I developed a technique of saving back to the CD or DVD, each session being saved as an extra track.

The technique has mostly been forgotten, but it is still supported in EasyPup and Puppy Linux. Though, support did lapse with some versions of Puppy, I think. One of the woof-CE developers removed it from Puppy, I think, but strong protests caused it to be reinstated -- that protest was on the Murga Forum, or maybe in the woof-CE issus on github, but I don't know the URL. Did a quick search, couldn't find it.

I am just about to upload EasyPup 2.5, and was thinking whether or not I will be releasing any more versions of EasyPup. I give it minimal attention, as most development is happening with EasyOS. It is the "old timers", those with years of Puppy usage and familiarity with optical media and ISO files, that have requested continuation of EasyPup, so I have obliged, so far.

But does EasyPup do anything better than EasyOS, or different, that would justify it's continued existence?

No... except for one thing, the multi-session CD/DVD support. A CD is really not big enough, so a 4G DVD should be used, so from now on, I will just refer to "multi-session DVD"...

It really is a brilliant system, and there are still people using it. if you don't know anything about, it is worthwhile checking out. I explained all about it in March 2008:

Think about it, you optionally save a session, and it is written as a new track on the DVD. You keep doing this, until the DVD is full, then you go onto a new DVD. You write the start and end dates on the previous DVD, and collect them -- a complete audit trail of everything that you have ever done -- and, most incredible, each DVD is individually bootable.

Also, any one of those earlier DVDs can be inserted and its contents read -- each track appears as a folder.

I can understand why there are fans of multi-session DVD. It is very good with a DVD-R or DVD+R, due to the write-once media, so the history is secure. Unlike a flash drive, which has random-access and anything can be modified.

I am toying with the idea of adding multi-session DVD support to EasyOS. There were earlier versions of EasyOS as ISO files, but I discontinued and only offered an image file (.img.gz), usually for writing to a Flash-stick.

The Puppy Wiki also has a page on it:

...they are recommending DVD+R, whereas back in 2008 I recommended DVD-R. I have no idea which is best. I do remember one thing back around 2008 -- multi-session did not work on my laptop optical drive. I vaguely recall other people reporting the same thing, so I don't know if the slim drives used in laptops, and in many desktop PC these days, will support writing multiple tracks.
Well, I can find out, my newish Lenovo desktop PC has one of those slim laptop-style optical drives -- will report back on that!

Hmmm, multi-session DVD with EasyOS, definitely will give that some further thought also... 

Tags: easy

woofQ build system for EasyOS 2.5

November 22, 2020 — BarryK

woofQ is the build system for EasyOS and EasyPup. It is available as a tarball only, here:

The tarball with date "20201121" is the one used to build EasyOS 2.5. 

Tags: easy

New introduction to BluePup

November 21, 2020 — BarryK

I have written an introduction/tutorial for BluePup: 

Tags: easy