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1  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Install of Debian Squeeze to SDHC on Sheevaplug hangs at 33% formatting ext3 on: September 20, 2011, 06:47:54 AM
Today I tested a reinstall on the 32GB SDHC card I was mentioning, on the same sheevaplug.
I upgraded u-boot to version 2011.03, and used latest version of debian squeeze installer (dated 2011-06-22).

I had the exact same behavior : the standard install fails. I need to use a patched kernel from sheeva.with-linux.com (I used version 3.0.4) AND a manual partitioning for the install to succeed.
The patched kernel prevents I/O errors during install, and the manual partitioning prevents the formatting process to stop at 33% on the ext2 partition.
More precisely :
- 2.6.32 kernel (debian squeeze default) + automatic partitionning => fail
- 2.6.32 kernel (debian squeeze default) + manual partitionning => fail
- 3.0.4 kernel (from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/) + automatic partitionning => fail
- 3.0.4 kernel (from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/) + manual partitionning => success

Then I tried to install wheezy, to see if it's better, using uImage and uInitrd from http://ftp://ftp.debian.org/debian/dists/wheezy/main/installer-armel/current/images/kirkwood/netboot/marvell/sheevaplug/
I had the exact same behavior on these 4 tests. But I suspect the wheezy installer for sheevaplug to be out of date for now (the uImage and uInitrd are dated 2011-01-17...)

On manual partitioning, I used the same partition sizes as above (except that I did not create the swap partition, and let the ext3 partition go to the end)

To conclude, I think that my SDHC card is to blame.
Before making this reinstallation, I sometimes noticed I/O errors on the SD card. So I recompiled my kernel with highspeed disabled and the sheevaplug was stable.
I'll see if I still need to disable this highspeed feature with 3.0.4 kernel.
In any case, I'll try to keep this SD card as long as I have a workaround...

Hope this might help other unlucky SD card owners...
2  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Install of Debian Squeeze to SDHC on Sheevaplug hangs at 33% formatting ext3 on: April 26, 2011, 02:05:45 PM
No, I did not reinstall this 32GB SDHC so far.
I installed another 8GB SHDC card successfully, with debian squeeze final. The process did not stop at 33%, even with automatic partitionning.
3  General Category / Success stories / Numeric TV recorder/broadcaster (DVB-T) with HTS Tvheadend on: March 11, 2011, 06:06:54 AM
I now have a private TV recorder on my sheevaplug, that also can broadcast the live TV through the network.

On the hardware side, I plugged a USB DVB-T adapter (I used an AVerTV Volar Black HD : http://www.avermedia.com/avertv/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?Id=460). I use a SDHC card (32GB) for the OS and the storage.
On the software side, I installed hts tvheadend (http://www.lonelycoder.com/hts/tvheadend_overview.html). It has a great web interface where you can configure your channels, watch them, and schedule recordings based on a program guide. All this can be used with my XBMC media-center frontend (on another computer) : it supports the htsp protocol for the live broadcasts of tvheadend, and the recordings can be accessed throught FTP (or any protocol you like : SMB etc)

For those who would be interested to setup something similar, here are the main steps I had to follow :
- I installed debian Squeeze as the operating system, but I suppose other versions/distributions should also work
- For the USB adapter to be recognized, I had to compile and install v4l-dvb, then modprobe dvb-usb-af9015 (this should be a different module if you have a different adapter). The firmware has to be copied manually in /lib/firmware (I took it from http://linuxtv.org/wiki/index.php/DVB-T_USB_Devices). In my case, I also added an option "options dvb-usb-af9015 remote=-1" for modprobe, but I'm not sure it is necessary
- HTS tvheadend has debian repositories, but only for x86 and amd64 architectures. So I had to compile it myself. Just download the source code (I used version 2.12), configure with "./configure --cpu=armv4t --release --disable-avahi" and make. After that, you can launch tvheadend from the command-line, and start playing with it
- tvheadend can grab the electronic program guides from the Internet, through xmltv. You have to install the package xmltv, then to configure it with tv_grab_xx --configure (replace the xx with your country code)
- To install tvheadend as a service, I copied the /etc/init.d/tvheadend file from the x86 .deb package, created a symlink of the executable to /usr/bin, installed the service (update-rc.d tvheadend defaults >/dev/null), created a /home/hts directory, created a hts user (adduser --system --group --shell /bin/bash --home /home/hts hts), and copied the .hts and .xmltv directories in /home/hts. Maybe there is a simpler way to do it...

The whole thing consumes 4.7W when idle, and less than 1% of CPU. Of course, you can install other services on the same machine.
While recording, it consumes 4.9W, and less than 10% of CPU. It dumps the audio/video stream as it is : no realtime transcoding. Some post-processing can be launched by tvheadend but I did not try it (I suppose we should not expect miracles because of the computing power of the sheevaplug)

One last remark : the xmltv grab duration might depend on the country/implementation. In my country, it is veeeery slow : around 8 hours to complete it. It is partly due to delays in the implementation itself (it tries not to overload the web site that is crawled), and partly due to the CPU power it needs (it takes between 30 and 80% of the CPU during these 8 hours). For that reason, I only grab every 4 days (96 hours)

On the whole, I'm very happy with this setup : it's stable, I can schedule the recordings through the Internet, I can watch TV or recordings with XBMC, it consumes less than 5W etc.
I also like the "geeky" parts, like being able to automatically schedule recordings based on regular expressions.
There are a few minor problems, but I did not investigate much on them :
- The program guides that come with the stream itself have problem with accents (I suppose there's an encoding issue somewhere : either in the firmware, v4l-dvb or tvheadend)
- The recordings can not always be downloaded through the web interface (only the small ones). Anyway, I prefer accessing them through FTP
- Some channels use EAC3 audio codec in my country, which is not very common : many OS/media players do not support it. Anyway, XBMC does :-)
- Timeshifting does not work well : that's normal (see tvheadend documentation)
- You can not record a channel and watch another one (except if you have a double tuner adapter)
4  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Install of Debian Squeeze to SDHC on Sheevaplug hangs at 33% formatting ext3 on: February 13, 2011, 03:01:54 PM
Well, I think I have waited several hours before giving up.
That might have been an explanation, but I don't understand why it would take several hours with the automatic partitioning, and only several minutes with a manual partitioning.

I'll try again next time I reinstall the plug. Debian squeeze is now final so maybe it will be better...
5  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Install of Debian Squeeze to SDHC on Sheevaplug hangs at 33% formatting ext3 on: December 20, 2010, 10:20:00 AM
I ran the same performance test as in http://www.computingplugs.com/index.php/SheevaPlug_Performance on this installation (the underlying filesystem is ext3) :
Write speed : 4.6 MB/s
Read speed : 16.7 MB/s

That's really disappointing for a class 10 card : in the above link, they achieve 6.5 MB/s on write & 19.0 MB/s on read, on a class 6 card.
So I tried to plug the same SD card on my PC, and ran the same tests :
Write speed : 6.0 MB/s
Read speed :  19.1 MB/s

Conclusions :
- my class 10 SDHC card is not faster than a class 6
- it is slower on the sheevaplug than on the PC (13% on read, 23% on write)
6  General Category / General Discussion / Install of Debian Squeeze to SDHC on Sheevaplug hangs at 33% formatting ext3 on: December 20, 2010, 08:14:14 AM
Hi all,

I had difficulties installing Debian Squeeze on my Sheevaplug, on a 32GB SDHC card, following http://www.cyrius.com/debian/kirkwood/sheevaplug/install.html .
I found a workaround that I'd like to share. On the other hand, I did not find all the explanations yet.

I'm trying to install Debian Squeeze on a 32GB SDHC card (Kingston SDHC 32GB Class10).
As suggested in the Howto, I upgraded my U-Boot to 3.4.27+pingtoo.
I put the uImage and uInitrd on a USB stick (the versions from ftp.debian.org suggested in the Howto, as of december 2010).

The installation proccess ran normally : I chose the guided partitioning, using the entire disk with no separate partition for /home. But it stopped at 33% of formatting the the second partition : "Creating ext3 file system for / in partition #2 of MMC/SD card #1 (mmcblk0)...". I had no error message, and gave up waiting after a few hours.

I first thought it was the same issue as I had with my first sheevaplug/SDHC (see http://plugcomputer.org/plugforum/index.php?topic=352.0 ), so I recompiled the 2.6.32.25 kernel of sheeva.with-linux.com with highspeed disabled : not better
I finally was successful with a manual partitioning of the SD card (within the debian installer) instead of the automatic one.
Then I tried with the latest kernel (2.6.36.2, from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/), and without highspeed disabled : it also works with manual partitioning (not automatic).

More precisely :
- 2.6.32 kernel (debian default) + automatic partitionning => fail
- 2.6.32 kernel (debian default) + manual partitionning => fail
- 2.6.32.25 kernel (from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/) + highspeed disabled + automatic partitionning => fail
- 2.6.32.25 kernel (from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/) + highspeed disabled + manual partitionning => success
- 2.6.32.25 kernel (from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/) + automatic partitionning => fail
- 2.6.32.25 kernel (from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/) + manual partitionning => success
- 2.6.36.2 kernel (from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/) + automatic partitionning => fail
- 2.6.36.2 kernel (from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/) + manual partitionning => success

So I think I had two different problems :
- The standard 2.6.32 debian squeeze kernel does not work with my SDHC card : the patches from sheeva.with-linux.com are definitely needed
Even after a successful install, if I boot the standard 2.6.32 kernel, I have I/O errors on the SD card.
If I put the sheeva.with-linux.com 2.6.32.25 kernel instead, it's stable.
I suppose it comes from the mvsdio patches.

- The automatic partitionning of Debian Installer fails on my configuration
The automatic partitionning gives the following :
  │        MMC/SD card #1 (mmcblk0) - 32.3 GB SD SD32G             ▒        │
  │        >     #1  primary  254.8 MB  B  F  ext2     /boot       ▒        │
  │        >     #2  primary   30.6 GB     f  ext3     /           ▒        │
  │        >     #5  logical    1.4 GB     F  swap     swap        ▒        │
... and it fails

If I delete all the partitions (in the debian installer), and try to create the same manual partitionning, it gives me :
  │        MMC/SD card #1 (mmcblk0) - 32.3 GB SD SD32G             ▒        │
  │        >     #1  primary  253.8 MB  B  f  ext2     /boot       ▒        │
  │        >     #2  primary   30.6 GB     f  ext3     /           ▒        │
  │        >     #5  logical    1.4 GB     f  swap     swap        ▒        │
... and it works
Note the size of the first partition : I wrote 254.8 MB  in the installer, and it gave me 253.8 MB (but that should not be important?)
I did not change any manual options other than the filesystem type, the mount point, the size, and the bootable flag

Could it be a bug in the Debian Installer?
Is there a way to have more details on the reason why the automatic partitionning fails? I tried to set the priority=low parameter (see http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/arm/ch05s03.html.fr) : the startup was more verbose, but it did not give me the reason of the partitionning failure.

To sum up, here is the workaround that works on my config :
- follow the instructions of http://www.cyrius.com/debian/kirkwood/sheevaplug/install.html , with a few exceptions :
    - don't use the uImage from debian.org : download one from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/ (I tried 2.6.32.25 and 2.6.36.2)
    - there will be warnings during the install about some modules that can not be found : simply ignore them (but note that you won't be able to set up LVM or RAID)
    - don't use the automatic partitionning. Instead, through the Debian Installer, delete all the existing partitions, and create them from scratch (see above)
- when the installation is finished, don't boot directly on the SD card : you will need to replace the kernel on the SD card :
    - remove the SD card from the sheevaplug and mount it on another computer
    - in the first partition (containing a uImage file), replace this uImage file by the one you used for the installation
    - put the SD card in the sheevaplug back, and boot on it
    - there will be some warnings about some modules that can not be found : ignore them for now
    - install properly a kernel from http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/ . For example, for 2.6.36.2 :
        - wget http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/README-2.6.36.2
        - sh ./README-2.6.36.2

If you have any suggestion on how to further investigate the automatic partitionning problem...

Hope this helps
7  Hardware and U-Boot firmware / Hardware / Re: ARMADA-100 Plugcomputer on: July 02, 2010, 03:13:04 AM
The fact that the CPU "only" supports armv5 will unfortunately prevent us from using Ubuntu as the operating system (more precisely, it will only work until version 9.04, which will shortly be unsupported, juste like for the sheevaplug). Debian will surely work, and is perfect for a headless server, but Ubuntu is (in my opinion) more suited if the plug becomes a standard desktop computer (web browsing, videos, music etc)
I saw that the Armada 500 supports armv7 (which is supported by the current Ubuntu 10.04 LTS), and 1080p decoding : http://www.marvell.com/products/processors/applications/armada_500/
Will it be included in a plug sooner or later?
Maybe I should wait for such a version to build my Media Center?
8  Hardware and U-Boot firmware / Hardware / Re: ARMADA-100 Plugcomputer on: July 01, 2010, 09:00:44 AM
Wow : this looks very promising !

I've been very enthusiast with the sheevaplug devkit. I use it every day as a headless personal server and it's really a great tool : very low power consumption and so many possibilities.

In my dreams, this "gplugD" might become my new media center :
- watch videos (including HD : 720p is enough for me), play music, display photos etc. There is a great software frontend for that kind of needs, called XBMC http://xbmc.org/. It supports hardware acceleration of some display chips, so maybe it could support this one too. It also supports many different ways to control it, including remote controls, wiimote, keyboard, mouse etc
- record the TV through an USB TNT adapter. A standard sheevaplug should manage to do that bot I did not have the time to make the kernel recognize my USB stick. A software like HTS TvHeadend http://www.lonelycoder.com/hts/tvheadend_overview.html should work for that
- use it ponctually as a standard computer, particularly to browse the internet. In this case I would need to connect a wireless keyboard/mouse (probably through an USB bluetooth adapter)

Am I dreaming too much?

Of course, there's probably a lot of work on the software side. But that was also the case with the sheevaplug. It took me several months before having something stable. But, thanks to all the community who worked on that, it's now very easy to install a distro and any application. Hopefully things would go the same with the gplugD.

My main concern is about its capability to decode videos. 1.2 GHz is not enough to decode HD videos, so we will have to rely on hardware acceleration. It's a pitty it can not decode 1080i videos, but it's not crucial to me.
But will it be able to decode any other "standard" videos? (I know it's very vague, but at least any XVID + MP3, H.264, MKV etc)
For example, in the PDF is mentionned an "On2" video codec : does that mean that it will support the new VP8 codec?
I did not find the Vorbis audio codec in this list : does that mean that it would not support the WebM format recently promoted by Google (VP8 + Vorbis)?

Another question : any clue on how much this devkit will cost? When will we be able to order it (looks like it will be in august)? When will it be shipped?

Thanks a lot
9  Hardware and U-Boot firmware / Hardware / GuruPlug Display and WebM / VP8 on: May 21, 2010, 08:16:23 AM
As the VP8 codec has been released open-source, it looks like a promising alternative to proprietary codecs.
Broadcom has announced that some of its existing chips will support this codec through a simple upgrade.

Does anybody know if there is a chance that the GuruPlug Display will support this codec (through hardware decoding, I mean) ?
10  Linux Stuff / General Linux questions / Re: Jabber Server on: May 02, 2010, 06:45:32 AM
I installed an ejabberd on my sheevaplug and it works fine.
I got it from a standard apt-get install (using ubuntu 9.04)
11  Linux Stuff / General Linux questions / Re: Stale NFS file handle on: September 11, 2009, 01:02:11 AM
Thanks a lot JiriH !

It's probably the reason of this error message.

Now, I'm still worried that the filesystem can get corrupted after a simple power-cut.
Last time I tried, U-boot did not let me boot on a ext3 filesystem (Bad magic number), although it works great on a ext2 filesystem.
12  Linux Stuff / General Linux questions / Re: Stale NFS file handle on: September 10, 2009, 01:51:34 PM
I don't use NFS at all on the sheevaplug.
I did not install NFS on it (but maybe it is installed : any way to check that? In /etc/init.d I have a mountnfs.sh and mountnfs-clean.sh, but no nfs-*.sh)

I see the error messages on the plug itself (connected via ssh).
I don't use tftp. I sometimes use sftp to access files from my main computer (but it was not even powered on).
I also use rsync to backup the plug on my computer.

I think it must be related to the corruption of my filesystem. Because the e2fsck repair made the error message disappear

13  Linux Stuff / General Linux questions / Stale NFS file handle on: September 10, 2009, 01:15:56 PM
It's the second time I have this problem.

The error message "Stale NFS file handle" appeared on various commands, after a power-cut.
My root filesystem is on a ext2-formatted SDHC card.

I took the card and did a e2fsck on it on my computer : it had several broken files in /etc and /var/log/messages
After a repair, the filesystem seems ok, and everything seems fine.

Anyway, I wonder why a simple power-cut can damage the filesystem of my sd card. The power-cut was not due to overvoltage or storm : it was an intentional cut, to be able to work on the power wires of my apartment.

Maybe if the card was formatted with ext3, it would be safer? But I did not manage to make it work with ext3 (see http://plugcomputer.org/plugforum/index.php?topic=183.msg3467#msg3467)

Did you have the same problems? Any idea of how to avoid that?
14  Linux Stuff / Kernel / Re: Reliable SD support by disabling highspeed operations on: August 29, 2009, 12:43:11 AM
Well, you're right in general.
But in this particular case, if I remember well, the patch affects the uImage binary (i.e. the kernel itself), not the modules.
I'm not 100% sure anyway...
15  Linux Stuff / Kernel / Re: Reliable SD support by disabling highspeed operations on: August 28, 2009, 10:46:14 AM
The patch must be applied on the source code, not on the binary. You have the recompile the kernel.
Anyway, cross-compiling the kernel is not very difficult. See http://www.computingplugs.com/index.php/Building_a_custom_kernel
I used the mainline source code, the config and patches of http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/, added this patch, and cross-compiled.
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