Minor Ubuntu News

Just a few words today:

  • There has been an update to the Ubuntu 14.04 on the Intel Compute Stick. For me the main change is that Bluetooth now works properly: it was always on apter power-off. Now it is kept in the previous state (off in my case – I use a wired ethernet and both USB keyboard and mouse). No other issues so far.
  • The Ubuntu Touch was updated. The update is still not available fom my phone. But after reading the bugs that can be solved in the next update (some of them are introduced now), I’m not sure if I want to install the current one. It seems that there is still lot of work to finish or enhance the basic functions of the phone and new features are added much slower than they were announced.
  • Finally there are some more informations and pictures related to the announced LibreOffice viewer app for the Ubuntu Touch. This is the most important thing that I miss on my phone (I really don’t want to use any “office” on the phone but many people still tend to send even simple things encapsulated in a “word” or an “excel” files…). But an application to communicate with the Pebble watches is on my wishlist, too…
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Minor Ubuntu News

Owner’s Workshop Manual…

Just got this:

New reading//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Why? Because it’s interesting. I would prefer a little less history and more technical informations but it’s just my opinion.

If we stay just on topics related to computing, there are some interesting facts.
One needs a pretty lightly-specced computer to fly a space ship:

RAM: 2 kB 
Disk/ROM: 16 kB
I/O rate: 80 000 Kbps
Speed: 200-22 operations per second

That’s are main data of the 16-bit Argon-16 computer which was used in the Soyuz spaceships from 1974 to 2010. It weights about 70 kg and needs 280 W of power. It has up to about 60 data inputs and everything (CPU/RAM/ROM) is tripled in order to reach maximum reliability. It is said that the computer itself has no single recorded failure in the space.

This thing was produced from 1974 to (at least) 2010. And it was programmed in the C language, by the way.

There is more info about the family of Argon computers.

Of course, the book includes a lot of info about the Soyuz spaceships themselves. I can definitely recommend it.

Owner’s Workshop Manual…

Intel Compute Stick with Ubuntu

I finally have got also the Linux version of the Intel Compute Stick. It’s cheaper than the main version but its specs are degraded: it has just 1 GB (instead of 2 GB) of RAM and the eMMC is only 8 GB (instead of 32 GB). It means that free disk space on a new stick is about 1.7 GB. It also uses 1 GB of the eMMC as a swap space.

Default system on Intel Compute Stick

There are several things that I cannot understand:

  • It has 1 GB of RAM which means that system continuously swaps to the disk.
  • The pre-installed Ubuntu is a 64bit version. Why? The Windows version of the Stick (which has 2 GB of RAM) has a 32bit system.
  • There is even no support for 32bit stuff installed. So Geekbench 2 fails to start. Thus I will provide no benchmark numbers, sorry.
  • Although Firefox web browser is not known for a low memory usage, the Chromium – which is even more memory-hungry – is the default web browser (the Firefox is not installed at all).

There are also some good things: the default installation includes a complete LibreOffice package. So you have a quite good office package from the start.

Speed: I first connected the Stick to my 1920×1200 screen and it was slow. On my main screen (1280×1024) it feels as fast as the Windows version of the stick is.

The main limitation of the Stick is the memory size: I can imagine that it can be a near ideal device for an internet access, maybe for use of some Chrombook-like online applications. But the memory can make problems when it will be necessary to simultaneously open several modern large web pages at one time…

To be honest, it looks like the stick can fit most of my needs: I need a modern, and fairly secure, machine for on-line stuff (and for few other things) while continuing to use my SGI O2 for all other tasks.

Intel Compute Stick with Ubuntu

Off-line at vacation (well, almost)

I spent last two weeks in Low Tatras (Slovakia). They are a very nice mountains (the highest point is slightly over 2000 meters) and I like them. It wasn’t my first visit here. This time we were in the Liptovsky Jan village.

Chopok from Poludnica

The main advantage of that place is a low availability of an Internet connection. There was a low-speed WiFi signal in our hotel (it even wasn’t advertised). So no work e-mails and mostly no other internet access. I only accessed a geocaching.com site to download few caches and several times searched for weather forecast and for some local info.

I must say that it was great. No disturbing emails, no phone calls (I turned my phone into airplane mode).

Thus I we used just a few devices: my phone (bq Aquaris with Ubuntu), a camera (HP PhotoSmart 730), a nVidia Shield Tablet (as a backup device for photos taken by the digital camera) and the Garmin eTrex 30 GPS device (for navigation and geocaching tasks, of course.

The most used device was the Ubuntu phone: it was used for internet access (mentioned above), for notetaking (touch-based device is terrible for longer texts, but it’s OK for short notes), as a camera (when the HP was unavailable) and for storing and reading of some off-line maps and guides. I even find one geocache with it. But I prefer to use a more durable device for the geocaching (the eTrex is almost ideal for me).

Perl interpreter on Phone

I have to say that the bq Aquaris with Ubuntu is quite nice for most of tasks and it worked very well. Of course, it lacks a hardware keyboard and it has well-known problems with night photos (the flash makes them overlighted). If there will be a USB-host feature, then I will be able to leave the Android tablet at home (and thus I will able to take something more usefull with me).

Off-line at vacation (well, almost)

Octave 4.0 and Win 8.1

When using my Intel Stick I have experienced several problems. One of them is a semi-working graphics in the GNU Octave. The installer warned me that it is not fully forking. And it was right, unfortunately. The plot command freezes the program.

The solution is quite straightforward: replace the default graphics backend (Qt) by something different (the FLTK backend works).

Just find the file octave-home/share/octave/site/m/startup/octaverc. The octave-home is probably something are C:\Octave in the common operating system (which name starts with W).

A single line should be added to that file:

graphics_toolkit("fltk");

Thats all. Now your graphical outputs should work as expected. But I will still prefer to use Octave 2.0 on the IRIX…

Octave 4.0 and Win 8.1