Monthly Archive for March, 2009

The long ARM of Debian

I bought a D-Link DNS-323 NAS box a while ago with the mind to put Debian on it (it already ships with Linux, but I wanted more control). Previously I installed Debian under a chroot environment which activated itself on boot, but it wasn’t really clean or nice.

I came across a blog post by Martin Michlmayr where he talks about getting Debian working on a CH3SNAS, and mentions he might write an installation guide. I emailed him encouraging him to do so, and that I’d be happy to test it for him and provide feedback. He replied with his information once it had started to take shape. Today I finally had a chance to test it out.

I followed the installation instructions on his website and it worked perfectly! I now have Debian running natively on my little ARM box and it’s very, very awesome.

Although the box has a gigabit network card, it never transferred anything fast enough to prove it. Copying a 4GB ISO file took 31minutes, averaging around 2.2MB/sec rate which is not even 100Mbit speed. So don’t expect to be serving up high definition movies to your network from this box.

Anyway, if you have one of these boxes, then I highly recommend that you give this a shot. Debian on a tiny little appliance.. it doesn’t get much better than that!


Update: There are some things which don’t work, most of which I didn’t care about, except one. Fan control. I figured this meant the fan couldn’t speed up and slow down based on internal temperatures, but it actually means “fan doesn’t work at all”. The result is that drives can run hot, damn hot in that little box without any air flow. Something to think about if you’re going to install native Debian.

Update #2: The fan issue is now solved.

More VoIPing around

I have NodePhone and it kicks butt. Quality has been absolutely brilliant, well once I set packet priority and the default codec to be PCMA G.711 A-Law that is.

Anyway, I have now started to think about dial plans and other VoIP providers. It was kicked off because my Dad is looking to change ISP and go VoIP. I came across TPG which looked promising and so compared their VoIP rates with NodePhone. Turns out TPG is cheaper (which I expected) on a few things like international calls to Hong Kong ($0.0277 per minute with $0.10 flag fall compared to $0.15 flag fall and $0.05 per minute with NodePhone). This gave me the idea that I could use a second provider for some outgoing calls, while still having my VoIP incoming number (and Naked on top of that, though I can’t get it myself). I thought I’d test it out.

I signed up with TPG’s softphone account (which you just top up with credit) and from the F.A.Q found the SIP server settings. Once I had this, I logged into my Billion 7404VGP-M router to configure the account. Here’s what I did:

Configuration - VoIP - Wizard
VoIP User-defined Profiles
Registrar Address =
Authentication Username = 0[account number]
Authentication Password = ******

Back at ‘VoIP Wizard’, choose TPG server from the SIP Service Provider drop down.
Phone Number = 0[account number]
Authentication Password = ******

Configuration -> VoIP -> General Settings
Next to "Setting for Phone Port" hit Sync Now.

Configuration -> VoIP -> Phone Port
It should show it registered.

The main thing was the zero in front of the username/phone number, which fooled me for a while (I’m not one to read manuals first).

Once it was registered, I plugged in my telephone to the second port and made a phone call to my sister’s mobile. It all worked well, voice clarity was fine and the 5min 35sec call cost $1.56. I’ll do some more tests, but if the quality is there then the cost of long calls to HK could be cut in half 🙂

Now I really feel like a cheapskate!



From time to time I need to compile a 32bit kernel on a 64bit system and the kernel’s make scripts appear to detect my hardware and override my settings. I always forget what option to pass (even though it’s really, really easy), so I’m just blogging it here for my own future reference 🙂

make menuconfig ARCH=i386
make -j2 ARCH=i386
make modules -j2 ARCH=i386
make modules_install ARCH=i386
make install ARCH=i386

Phew.. glad I have that written down somewhere!

Sourceforging ahead

At work we develop two open source Java applications, Xena and DPR, both of which we host on Sourceforge under CVS. I’ve been pushing to move away from CVS for quite some time now, but it hasn’t gained much traction. This has been mostly due to the lack of a decent Eclipse plugin and partly because of developer apathy. The other day I noticed that Sourceforge enabled support for Git, my favourite SCM system. Today I came across an article saying that they will now provide support for Bazaar and Mercurial also. Sweet.


Truly happy Linux people couldn’t care less about Microsoft whatsoever. Instead, they just get down to business and make things work. Whether it’s for desktop, laptop, media center use or what-have-you, instead of bickering about Microsoft they’re getting things done, which of course is what matters the most…You can find happy Linux users that say nothing of Microsoft because it simply doesn’t matter.

I agree.

I think some of us are too busy trying to convert the world and unless we scream and shout about how bad Microsoft is, we feel we can’t change anything. But we can, just by doing what we do. You can still talk to people about Free Software, still compare it to Microsoft, but it’s the childish antics that no-one appreciates.

It’s time to beat the tom-toms

If you’ve been following the news of late, you’ll be aware that Microsoft is suing Tom Tom (maker of GPS devices which ship with Linux) over claimed patent infringements, which include the FAT filesystem.

You really should read this article on ZDNet which discusses Microsoft’s reasons behind doing so, thanks to a comment made by Samba guru Jeremy Allison. Essentially, Microsoft has been getting companies to sign NDA agreements over patent deals with FAT. This is forbidden under Section 7 of the GPLv2 which means those companies are then not allowed to distribute Linux.

Jeremy Allison says,

Tom Tom are the first company to publicly refuse to engage in this ugly little protection racket, and so they got sued. Had Tom Tom silently agreed to violate the GPL, as so many others have, then we’d only hear about a vague “patent cross licensing deal” just like the ones Microsoft announces with other companies.

Make no mistake, this is intended to force Tom Tom to violate the GPL, or change to Microsoft embedded software.

Let’s hope the Free Software World can rally behind Tom Tom and help win the case. It would be a shame to see Microsoft continue to get away with this sort of behaviour. Did we not see this coming?


Latest Linux Format for free, next 24 hours

The Linux Format sponsored guys over at Tux Radar have made PDF versions of the current Linux Format UK magazine available for free download via bittorrent until 23:59:59 GMT March 4th.

So, if you’re a fan of the magazine and want to save yourself like a hundred bucks thanks to the current exchange rate, then go grab it!