David Findlay

a man, a plan, a cake: nirvana

Come in Chumby

So, my copy of Linux Journal arrived in the post the other day. I happened to show the front cover to my wife, and happened to point at the Chumby that was featured there. She saw what it could do and asked for one for her birthday, which happens to be just around the corner. So now I'mshe's getting a Chumby! I know I'llshe'll like it a lot.

I've been looking at the Chumby for quite a while, but the flash-only GUI put me off. However, the LJ article points out that you can save OpenOffice presenations to flash, and of course Keynote can do that as well. In the article, the author used that to create recipe cards that you could view on the Chumby, which I thought was a great idea. The Chumby folks are keeping the device as open as they can, so there should be opportunity to do some good ol' hackery on it too.

For example, if you
turn on a slightly hidden setting, you can enable SSH, and you get this neat welcome message when you sign in:

Chumby SSH Welcome Screen

It runs the Freescale iMX21 processor, which is a little old in the tooth - stuck on a 2.4 kernel for example - but still, it should be fun. By comparison, the Bug runs an iMX31 on a 2.6 kernel, but then it goes for $549 and the Chumby is only $179. My only real concern with the Chumby is the feeds concept, where it seems possible that they might push stuff to your Chumby that you didn't necessarily ask for, like adverts for example. But even then, since it's open you could just stop pointing it at their site and do your own thing.

I'll post back once I've had a chance to play with itset it up.

Parallels and Linux: 512MB is your lot

Parallels 3.0 Beta 2 (Build 5120) came out the other day. I updated my copy and checked to see if they had fixed the problem I've been seeing with Linux VMs assigned more than 512MB. Unfortunately, they haven't.

I'm running Slackware 12.0 in a Parallels VM with a vanilla kernel. If I assigned that VM 512MB of RAM it runs just fine. If I give it 768MB or 1024MB, modprobe crashes on startup. Set it back to 512MB and it's happy again. I've seen other people have similar issues trying to get Parallels to run the server version of Ubuntu.

Parallels doesn't have this restriction with a Windows XP VM, so it has to be something they aren't emulating correctly for Linux. It makes me wonder if I ought to have waited for VMWare Fusion, as I use VMWare Workstation at the office a lot, but the beta wasn't even out when I bought Parallels. Ah well, 640KB512MB should be enough for anyone, eh?

Slackware 12 in Parallels

Linux MCE: wow

I just watched the demonstration video for Linux MCE 0704, and it's pretty darn impressive. It is well produced and the set of features are very impressive. The low-resolution video is on Google Video:

There are higher resolution versions in WMV and OGM formats available via torrents from the Wiki downloads page. I downloaded the DVD ISO to play with it on my P4 linux box, but after the 2 and a half day download it failed the MD5 check. I burned it to a DVD+RW anyway, trying to be optimistic, but it failed a CRC check while untarring something. Oh well; I'll keep an eye on it and try downloading it again some other time. It's based on Kubuntu and integrated MythTV for PVR functionality. I've run a Myth box before but had some stability issues with it, so I'll be curious to see if things have gotten any better.

The new Fiire Chief gyroscopic remote control from Fiire that's featured in the video looks like a winner, but at $149 it's a bit out of my mad-money range for right now.

Fiire Chief picture