This blog is very silent in last few months. There are two main reasons: I publish mostly on gopher and at work I am too busy.

I do lot of boring office work but sometimes I am able to do something more interesting: some computing, modelling and so. In these cases my desktop looks like on the picture.

Some boring work...

I needed to co some computing with use of my FEA package. Of course, I have found several bugs. I also found that some features are already implemented… (I forgot that they exists – fortunately they were describen in the manual). That was funny.

There are some issues: the GUI of software is written in Gtk+ 2.x (and there are fallbacks to Gtk+ 1.2.x and to the basic CLI + GLUT interface). And it’s old and very slow. I wrote most of the GUI before 2006 and I mostly didn’t touched it after that. So portability to Windows or Mac is limited and it is not posssible to run it natively on Ubuntu Touch (nor run it under the Android at all). I though about making of Motif GUI but I never started to code it. And now it probably makes no sense as Motif is even les portable than the Gtk+.

Freshly compiled uFEM on Ubuntu Touch

Honestly, the GUI is fully functional in the Ubuntu Touch but only inside the Libertine container (via the XMir) so it looks ugly and it requires external hardware keyboard to be usable. But that’s a small problem. The bigger one is that the only Ubuntu Touch device which I can use for such task is the Aquaris M10 tablet. And it is surprisingly slow when doing this type of computing (but speed in GUI is OK). I’m thinking about Qt5 port but it looks like a long-term problem now.


Bluetooth Keyboard for Aquaris E4.5

As I wrote on Gopher, I have got a wireless keyboard (Bluetooth-compatible) – the Stowaway ThinkOutside Sierra. It’s externally almost identical to these ThingOutside keyboards which were designed to use with old good Palm handhelds (I personally have Palm III-compatible one but I’m not sure if there was version compatible with older Palm machines).

So it’s rather small and compact. The main difference is that there is no Palm-style connector. Instead there is a space for AAA battery and for Bluetooth electronics. The stand for the device is located at the bottom of the keyboard and it is used detached.

Stowaway ThinkOutside Sierra + bq Aquaris E4.5

As I have the keyboard for just a few days but it seems that it have eaten my alkaline battery in two weeks (I have no idea if the battery was OK initially so I will have to investigate this issue a bit more).

The biggest issue of the keyboard probably is its glossy metal enclosure (every tap of finger is visible here). It’s not a problem during use as these parts are on the bottom (they are visible only when the keyboard is folded).

The size was ideal when if was new: it is just about size of a Zaurus PDA and just lightly bigger than a Palm III. However, my current device (bq Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition) is much more slim and it is not so wide.

The typing on the keyboard is OK. It is foldable and it has 3 hinges and these hinges havesome influence on keyboard stiffness (my Palm-compatible one is stiffer and it less deformed in the center – I assume that is is related to what this particular piece of keyboard was shored and handled in the past).
The keys have normal size and distances. They have a short travel when pressed but it is comparable with normal notebook keyboard (yes, old ThinkPad keyboard is better but not much). There is even a numeric row. So typing (even in an arcane language like Czech) is easy and comfortable. The only important missing key is Esc (Fn+Tab here) and the right Shift and Enter are alightly smaller than

Of course, the non-standard Esc is a problem for us, active vi/vim users…

I typed this text on that keyboard which was connected to by E4.5 phone without issues (no missing/doubled letters and so). The only problem is too agressive energy-saving policy (the interval to disconnect the keyboard is too short) but
it should be an issue of the phone OS (the OTA-13 Ubuntu update didn’t changed this behaviour, by the way).

Bluetooth Keyboard for Aquaris E4.5

SGI Indigo

As you might already noticed on my gopher, I have got the SGI IRIS Indigo workstation. Actually. a Simenens Nixdorf RW 320 which is an Indigo with grey plastics and S-N logo.

My machine is an first-generation one, which has 32-bit MIPS processor R3000 on 33 MHz (there is a second generation of the machine which sports a much more advanced R4000 at 100 MHz – that’s the 64-bit processor, one of the first that were used in desktop computers). The Indigo was introduced in 1991. My one is from 1992 or so.

The full specification of the machine are (according to the output ot the hinv command):

1 33 MHZ IP12 Processor
FPU: MIPS R2010A/R3010 VLSI Floating Point Chip Revision: 4.0
CPU: MIPS R2000A/R3000 Processor Chip Revision: 3.0
On-board serial ports: 2
On-board bi-directional parallel port
Data cache size: 32 Kbytes
Instruction cache size: 32 Kbytes
Main memory size: 48 Mbytes
Integral Ethernet: ec0, version 0
Integral SCSI controller 0: Version WD33C93B, revision C
Tape drive: unit 3 on SCSI controller 0: DAT
Disk drive: unit 2 on SCSI controller 0
Disk drive: unit 1 on SCSI controller 0
Iris Audio Processor: revision 10
Graphics board: GR2-XS24

The GR2-XS24 graphics board is quite advanced for its time. It supports 24-bit colors, some 2D and 3D acceleration and make machine to feel to be fast. It’s only drawback is absence of a Z-buffer hardware (it makes some 3D thing slower and, surprisingly, even erratic: for example graphics in the Battalion is a bit incorrect). By the way, the graphics supports 1280×1024 resolution at max.

SGI Indigo R3000

My machine came with IRIX 5.3 preinstalled and it can run it very well. The GUI is snappy and responsible and it’s low CPU speed and small memory is only noticeable when something large has to be computed.

Of course, I didn’t tried to run softare like the Mozilla/Firefox or the OpenOffice (it simply does not run here) and even not the Netscape. But Adobe Acrobat Reader (3.0.x line) runs well. Also GNU Octave (2.0.5) works quite nicely and there is also things like Gnuplot. I also compiled my own software and it runs flawlesly and on a decent speed (for small data, of course). But I only tried a GLUT-based version as I am lazy to install Gtk+ (and I don’t believe that anything based on the Gtk+ can be fast os any SGI).

There are also some 3D packages that can run here – of course old versions have to be used (a Blender 1.x, and old AC3D to mention these less or more freely available).

For Internet tasks I have installed the Lynx (yes, there were times when computers were shipped without Internet browsers pre-installed.. you may remember…). It’s enough for the machine as it can access gopher:// and http:// (and for such machine, the Gopher is more useful today, in my opinion).

A quite bad news are that there is a lack of modern text editors. The Vim can be fond precompiled only in the version 3.0 which is quite limited (no syntax highlighting and so). Fortunately, at the (in the folder of the user foetz) is a NEdit in quite modern version (5.6). It needs a long time to start (about twenty seconds) but then it is fast and it supports lot of things (including syntax highlighting).

The computer itself is relatively quiet (and extremely quiet for being a SGI workstation). I found that it can be used for a lot of things: writing of texts, small programming (C/Fortran/…), typeseting of documents (in TeX, for example) , for some computing (there is an Octave for that) and for many other tasks (there are some pre-installed applications for sound editing and 3D graphics so some people can use also these applications).

If you will get the Indigo then it is recommended to visit Megarat’s Indigo site not only for tips and tricks but also for a software archive.

SGI Indigo

What to do with all these reminders?

As you may know, I like to use the Remind program as my calendar. Is pretty nice, it works nearly everywhere but it is not well supported in the GUI of modern smartphones. This is obvious: the command-line program it does not fit well the typical UI of a smartphone. And it is really not comfortable to use a command-line application on a touchscreen-only device. So I have to use the build-in calendar on my Ubuntu phone. It is not bat but it stores data on the Google calendar (no other backend is supported at the moment).

OK, there is nothing really secret in my calendar so I probably can have it at Google. But what to get and use these data on real operating systems?

It’s quite easy – even the Big Evil provides a private link for every calendar so one can download it with whget or curl. It is in the ics format so you can use the ical2rem tool co convert it to a proper form. And that’s all!

P.S. You might want to send your calendar to a Palm device. There is no tool for that but it should be easy to make something. At the moment I have a simple tool to send remind stuff to my Palm as a (sort of) untimed events. So precise times are ignored at the moment. I have this very simple AWK script:

#! /usr/bin/awk -f
{ a = $1 ; $1=$2=$3=$4=$5="" ; b = $0 ;
print a," 8:00:00 GMT+0 \t", a, "16:00:00 GMT+0 \t \t" b}
END { }

The use of the script is:

remind -p .reminders |grep -v "\#" | ./rem2palm |iconv -f latin2 -t cp1250 |tee my-events ; install-datebook /dev/ttyf2 my-events ; rm -f my-events

It’s not nice but it can be used as a temporary solution.

What to do with all these reminders?

Summer stuff

I haven’t do too much computer related things during the summer. I have a new Aquaris M10 tabled for playing (there was an OTA-12 system update which improved many thinks), and a Pocket C.H.I.P. computer (which is not much used, yet). But most time I have used my SGI O2 desktop (even for a most of WWW browsing) and my Intel Compute Stick (just for modern WWW browsing and for connectin of my GPS and cameras because the O2 has no USB ports).


I still use the SGI O2 as a primary desktop. It’s nice for my programming (C, Tcl/Tk), for writting and typesetting (Vim/LaTeX) and so. I also often use it to get stuff from WWW to my Palm III for off-line reading (via the Plucker). I don’t work with graphics too much, most of my images is made by the XFig and the Gnuplot. Recently I have started to use weather forecast from the There is a nice finger interface to the as you may know. I use a finger command for this.

A bit more modern computing

I finaly have managed to use the FVWM window manager on my modern desktop. This modern desktop is an Intel Compute Stick with a pre-installed Ubuntu. It has a quite small storage space (8 GB) and only 1 GB of RAM. So using something ligther than the Unity desktop can be usefull. Actually the difference is not very noticeable as the stock Unity is surprisingly snappy. But the FVWM has much better customisation possibilities and I use in on the O2 for ages so now I have a consistent user interface on both of my desktops. I didn’t use the FVWM on modern Linuxes because there is no dock for notification icons. I have found one but then I realised that I don’ need it. So there were just two problems to solve:

  • Czech keyboard and keyboard switching (/etc/config/keyboard was to be edited),
  • Czech fonts support in the FVWM (well, it was easier to rewrite menus to English).

Work (sort of)

To use external disks I just run nautilus --no-desktop when I need it. And that’s all.

Cutting-edge computing

My most modern and up-to-date computer is the Aquaris M10 tablet with the Ubuntu Touch. It feels a bit experimental as it was initially availably with half-baken operating system and some things are still being finalised (or developed). At the moment the most of important things work: one can use LibreOffice (with a hardware or an on-screen keyboard), install other X11 aplications and use them quite easily (without on-screen keyboard for these apps – one must connect a hardware one to be able to enter text). The integrated WWW browser has the most of needed features (and it even goes fullscreen with the F11 key… and it works with the Technomorous site) and the Evernote client (the Notes) finally supports clipboard. The hardware keyboard layouts can be easily configured (one just has to select them in Preferences) and can be switched by pressing of Win+Space. That’s excellent – I never realised how to do something like this on an Android or Maemo handheld (I’ m not sure how these things work on the Apple stuff). The only missing thing is a keyboard status indicator (it is prepared by developers for the next update). I also installed the TeXlive and the gcc with many libraries and compiled some of my pieces of software (uFEM and MicroDef). Both ot htem works as expected (the uFEM shows some bugs on all modern ARM computers and I still have to fix them). After some testing I can conclude that the M10 is waaaaay slooower than the Comtute stick (which is has also a quad-core processor but an Intel Atom one). It’s much faster than my 16-year old SGI O2, though.😉

bq Aquaris M10 + keyboard

This text was written on the Sharp Zaurus (SL-C760), of course.

Summer stuff

Ubuntu Touch OTA-12 Update

I installed the new update of the Ubuntu Touch today. Only on my tablet at the moment. There are some impressions:

  • External keyboard support is improved: easy switching by Win+Space, AltGr support, works well in X11/Xorg applications, too. No external keyboard layout indication is available, though.
  • Xorg support improved. I am now able to compile and run my own X11 programs. The whole thing seems to be more stable, too. There still is no working clipboard support between X11 and native applications.

The TeX works (the TeXlive can be installed), the gcc works and the GNU Octave works.. Well, the ParaView is even not available for install.

Freshly compiled uFEM on Ubuntu Touch

There are still many rough edges (for example the way how multiple windows in Xorg emulaton works – you have to switch them by clicking o a small symbol in an ugly titlebar) but at the moment I am able to use it as a notebook replacement (the only really missign thing is a support of external VGA screens: the 1920×1020 or so is not an option for the most of dataprojectors around).

Of course, lot of things is impractical and not very configurable due to the limitations of the mobile operating system.

Ubuntu Touch OTA-12 Update