Flock Rochester

I’m not going to do a day by day outline of what I did at flock, if I did it would basically be “blah blah blah I talked a lot to a lot of people about a lot of tech topics” and anyone that’s ever met me would have guessed that! It was, as in the past, a great conference. A big shout out to the organisers for an excellent event with two excellent evening events! So I’m going to give a brief summary to my talks and link to slides and video recordings.

My first talk was an overview of the state of aarch64 and POWER as secondary architectures. The slides aren’t particularly interesting as they’re just words for discussion points. The video has all the interesting bits. A related talk was Dennis’s Standardising ARMv7 booting with a memorial quote by Jon Masters 😉

My second talk was about using Fedora as a base for IoT. Slides are here but the talk was quite a bit different to the slides and is more interesting so I suggest watching the video.

I also actively participated in Dennis’s Fedora Release Engineering going forward because well obviously I’m part of it 😉 and it was interesting for where we’re going, and even where we’ve come from in the last year or so 🙂

Finally I loved the Keynote Be an inspiration, not an impostor by Major Hayden. He’s published a follow up blog post with a FAQ too.

The least memorable bit was the terrible Amtrak ride back to New York City. On the plus side it makes the worst of the British National Rail service seem amazingly on time! NEVER AGAIN!

Fedora 23 on the Thinkpad X1 Carbon gen 3

So my corporate laptop for the last three years has been a Thinkpad x220, it’s getting a bit long in the teeth, when I got it the x230 was already out but the corporate standard hadn’t rebased. This time I happened to get a new device just after the new corporate refresh so I have the shiny X1 Carbon gen 3 with real track pad buttons.

Of course I grabbed the latest rawhide nightly boot.iso to install the latest shiny! How did I get on? Initially it was disaster, the kernel crashed before I even got to anaconda (will spend some time to recreate and log that soon). Oops! So I grabbed a couple of the earlier installers and with a bit of trial and error before long I was at the initial anaconda screen. From there the process was relatively boring! Up and running with Fedora Workstation installed, disk encrypted I started to play with it to see which bits were good, bad or ugly.

So first up with the good. Over all the vast majority of the hardware just worked out of the box. The GPU, USB3, wired ethernet, wireless ethernet (iwl 7265 AC), trackpad/thumb pointer, bluetooth mouse, camera, onboard speakers all work just fine, I even managed to enrol my finger in the finger print reader without issue. I must say I’m loving the 1920*1080 screen over the old 1366*768 of the x220 and I’m getting use to the chiclet keyboard layout. Overall F-23/rawhide is solid right out of the gate with pretty much everything working as you’d expect on a stable release. 🙂

It’s not all rosy though and some of the bad is that I’ve not managed to get the firmware upgraded to support 4K displays @ 60hz, thanks to Major and Sandro for the heads up on this, but it never seems to find the usb stick as a bootable image. Not a major issue in the short term as the OneLink Pro Dock I ordered is AWOL but I’ll want it soon as I’ve got a standing desk with a Dell 24 inch 4K monitor. The x220 and 4K monitor had never really worked overly well, the big issue was it only ran at 30hz refresh but I knew that when I got the monitor because I knew I was due for a refresh soon, it also had random glitches. I also need to workout how to adjust the acceleration of the thumb pointer thingy with libinput. Adjusting either the trackpad or mouse options in control panel doesn’t seem to have any effect, I never really used the trackpad on the x220 but I admit I’m getting use to the two finger scrolling for reading long pages. This should all be relatively easy to solve with a bit of poking!

The ugly seems to be the stability of the iwl 7265 wireless driver/firmware. It generally works but regularly shits itself. Some times minor by dropping SSH connections, sometimes majorly resulting in a need to unload/reload the modules or even to reboot! URGH! I’ve heard people complain about recent Intel Wireless stability but the “Advanced-N 6205 [Taylor Peak] (rev 34)” that was in the x220 was always solid. The solid lockups seems to be when pushing a reasonable amount of data via rsync/ssh. I do have a WRT1900AC router and I’ve connected to the 5 ghz 11ac so I’m wondering whether this combo is part of the issues. There is a newer firmware that hasn’t made it upstream yet. I need to do some more playing here testing the 11n 2.4ghz network as well as testing the newer firmware and possibly some patches that are on the wireless mailing list which I’m hoping will actually just land in 4.2 before long 🙂

There’s a few other things I need to play with some more. I’ve not tried external HDMI video/audio, the external display port, the DP to VGA converter (nice one was included in the box though) or the headphone/mic socket. None of the functionality of the dock has been tested yet simply because it’s yet to show up! It reports around 7.5 hours of battery life but I want to look at what the state of power consumption on these devices after mjg59’s post about it to see if I can’t get that well into the double digit hours.

Overall I’m pretty impressed with out of box experience of F-23/rawhide on the Thinkpad X1 Carbon gen 3 🙂

aarch64 (arm64) on Fedora 21 update

I realise that there’s not been an update as to the state of ARM aarch64 on Fedora for sometime. We should really shout out our achievements a lot more as over the last few months or so there’s been fairly extreme progress made but we all just tend to apply the nose to the grindstone and get one with it!

So where are we? Well we’ve got the vast majoriity of Fedora built. As we’re only building for rawhide/F-21 there’s a number of missing F-21 builds but with the mass rebuild well and truly underway on mainline we’re all hyped up and building on aarch64 too (appart from a power outage in the Huntsville facility that hosts some of the builders!) and we’re hot on the tail of mainline builds.

So we have HW virtualisation support and a bunch of virt bits on top of that, the vast majority of other services and low level support like storage platforms, all the various desktops and most of the various development stacks (even Ada!). It’s actually looking pretty good. In recent time we’ve added R, ghc and a raft of different language support. The java team have done a really good job getting java-1.8.0-openjdk up to spec too!

So appart for the mainline builds that haven’t yet been built for F-21 what are we missing? Well not much really now. Go and nodejs, the later due to missing v8 js engine support (it’s upstream in a newer v8 release but Fedora is stil trailing), and the things that depend on them are the main ones now missing so no Docker as yet either. There’s no mono, and while the core erlang is built I need to work out the correct order to finishing the bootstrap.

The rest of the job now becomes somewhat boring in that once the mass rebuild is complete we just need to go through packages and fix individual packages that are FTBFS and I strongly suspect most of those will have issues on mainline too.

On the hardware and virtualisation front the current rawhide kernel should boot just fine on the ARM foundation model emulator and the next release of qemu will have full system emulation of aarch64 to enable the running of aarch64 on x86_64 similar to what we can do with ARMv7 now. The 3.16 kernel should allow us to run on the currently and soon to be available HW without too many problems either as the last core bits of support should land upstream in the current merge window.

In short aarch64 on Fedora is looking awesome! By the time Fedora 21 Alpha lands in two months time we’ll basically be feature complete, and even now it’s extremely usable for those lucky enough to have hardware or patient enough to use software emulators.