How to find the current ChromeOS Flex image

August 3rd, 2022

Edit: The quick answer to the question by a reader of my blog, Julien:

The info to download Chrome OS Flex from Linux is a bit hidden, but official info and link is available here: https://support.google.com/chromeosflex/answer/11543105?hl=en#zippy=%2Chow-do-i-create-a-chromeos-flex-usb-installer-on-linux

My dad has an Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431, codenamed Edgar. Google just stopped supporting it with ChromeOS, but it’s still working well. Luckily, Google also just released the first stable version of ChromeOS Flex.

I decided to install the full UEFI image to the Chromebook from https://mrchromebox.tech/ so that starting Flex would be as easy as possible. That went well after finding and removing the write protect screw.

But it wasn’t too easy to find the URL to download the current ChromeOS Flex installation image. Google’s Chromebook recovery extension for Chrome does not work on Linux. By reading through some reddit threads, I found out that you can get the download URLs from this json file: https://dl.google.com/dl/edgedl/chromeos/recovery/cloudready_recovery2.json So as of this writing, the current image is https://dl.google.com/dl/edgedl/chromeos/recovery/chromeos_14816.99.0_reven_recovery_stable-channel_mp-v2.bin.zip

Use dd to write the image straight to a USB stick (not to a partition) and you should be good to go. Flex installs pretty much like a regular Linux distribution and seems to work well.

SAS2008 LBA, Seagate Ironwolfs and scary log messages

July 3rd, 2022

I built a home NAS two years ago, that was the first COVID summer and I finally had the time. It’s running Proxmox, which is running TrueNAS (then Core, now Scale) as a VM. An HBA card is passed directly to the TrueNAS VM. The HBA card is a Dell PERC H310, but I’ve crossflashed it so that now it shows up as an LSI SAS2008 PCI-Express Fusion-MPT SAS-2. The system originally had five ST4000VN008 disks (4 TB) in a RAIDZ2.

Pretty much from the beginning I noticed the system was spewing out storage related error messages when booting up. ZFS also noticed, but after the TrueNAS VM was completely up, there were no more errors and I quite rarely rebooted or shut down the system, so I wasn’t too worried. The few read errors I got each boot I cleared with zpool clear, which probably was not the best idea.

Last summer we had very cheap electricity here in Finland, something like 1-3 c/kWh plus transfer and taxes. Well, this summer it can be even 60 c/kWh during the worst times. I started shutting down my NAS when I knew we would not need it for a while. This made the disk issues worse.

I know the high electricity prices are partly due to Russia’s attack in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia. I completely support Ukraine, they are fighting for the freedom of all of the Eastern EU border states. Please donate to support Ukraine.

TrueNAS keeps only one day of systemd journal data (why?) so I’ve already lost the actual error messages. By going through my Google search history I was able to find some of the errors I got. They were like this:

Unaligned partial completion ...
tag#0 FAILED Result: hostbyte=DID_OK driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE ...
print_req_error: critical medium error ... 

Because there’s quite a lot of discussion on the web about Ironwolf firmware issues, issues with NCQ etc. I hoped this was something that could be fixed with software. I tried passing many kernel options found by googling to the TrueNAS Scale kernel. I came up with libata.force=noncq mpt3sas.msix_disable=1 mpt3sas.max_queue_depth=10000. For more discussion on these issues, see here, here, here, here. Seagate has actually released a firmware update from SC60 to SC61 for the larger Ironwolfs, but I have the 4 TB ones without an update available.

None of these options helped. Eventually the whole disk just disappeared. At this point it was clear to me that the issue was not a kernel bug, a disk firmware bug, an HBA firmware bug or anything like that. The disk had been faulty already on arrival.

I noticed Seagate has come up with new versions of the Ironwolfs. The 4 TB version is now ST4000VN006 with 256 MB of cache instead of 64 MB. The new version is also physically thinner and might run cooler. I ordered one of those. Unfortunately the firmware version is still SC60.

I replaced the faulty disk with the new one, ZFS resilvered the pool in about 8 hours and all is good again. I guess the moral of the story is that it seems like a disk could be defective, it probably is and you should start by replacing it.

How I made Firefox much faster with an Estonian ID card

October 28th, 2021

I haven’t blogged in almost ten years, wow. This time I discovered something that I think deserves a blog post.
I have an Estonian e-Residency because I speak Estonian and visit quite often (at least when there’s not a pandemic going on). My default Firefox profile is easily more than 10 years old. With the Estonian ID card inserted into a card reader, Firefox has always been very slow with that profile, pretty much unusable.

With a fresh Firefox profile everything has worked very well, there’s a bit of slowness that I can see when browsing with the ID card inserted compared to when the card is not in the reader, but it’s not significant. Today I wanted to register as a reader at the Tallinn Central Library, because they offer Estonian e-books that I would like to read. Having to open a fresh Firefox profile to browse a library web site irritated me enough that I started looking for a solution. I found the solution by reading the CAC page of the Arch wiki.

I went to Edit -> Settings -> Privacy & Security -> Security Devices. I saw that my old profile had both “OpenSC PKCS” and “OpenSC PKCS#11 Module” in there. The fresh profiles did not have the “OpenSC PKSC” entry. So I removed that one and now the browser works faster.

I typically use Finnish on the desktop, just because I believe everyone should be able to use free and open source software in their native language. I’ll attach a screenshot, which is in Finnish. The entry marked with a square is the one I had to remove. I’m using Firefox 93 on Fedora 35.

Screenshot of the security devices screen in Firefox.

SSD TRIM/discard on Fedora 17 with encypted partitions

July 4th, 2012

I have not blogged for a while, now that I am on summer holiday and got a new laptop I finally have something to blog about. I got a Thinkpad T430 and installed a Samsung SSD 830 myself. The 830 is not actually the best choice for a Linux user because you can only download firmware updates with a Windows tool. The tool does let you make a bootable FreeDOS USB disk with which you can apply the update, so you can use a Windows system to download the update and apply it just fine on a Linux system. The reason I got this SSD is that it is 7 mm in height and fits into the T430 without removing any spacers.

I installed Fedora 17 on the laptop and selected drive encryption in the Anaconda installer. I used ext4 and did not use LVM, I do not think it would be of much use on a laptop. After the installation I discovered that Fedora 17 does not enable SSD TRIM/discard automatically. That is probably a good default, apparently all SSDs do not support it. When you have ext4 partitions encrypted with LUKS as Anaconda does it, you need to change two files and regenerate your initramfs to enable TRIM.

First, edit your /etc/fstab and add discard to each ext4 mount. Here is an example of my root mount:
/dev/mapper/luks-secret-id-here / ext4 defaults,discard 1 1

Second, edit your /etc/crypttab and add allow-discards to each line to allow the dmcrypt layer to pass TRIM requests to the disk. Here is an example:
luks-secret-id-here UUID=uuid-here none allow-discards

You need at least dracut-018-78.git20120622.fc17 for this to work, which you should already have on an up-to-date Fedora 17.

Third, regenerate your initramfs by doing dracut -f. You may want to take a backup of the old initramfs file in /boot but then again, real hackers do not make backups 😉 .

Fourth, reboot and check with cryptsetup status luks-secret-id-here and mount that your file systems actually use discard now.

Please note that apparently enabling TRIM on encrypted file systems may reveal unencrypted data.

Getting Hauppauge WinTV-Nova-TD-500 working with VDR 1.6.0 and Fedora 16

October 29th, 2011

The Hauppauge WinTV-Nova-TD-500 is a nice dual tuner DVB-T PCI card (well, actually it’s a PCI-USB thing and the system sees it as a USB device). It works out-of-the-box with the upcoming Fedora 16. It needs a firmware, but that’s available by default in the linux-firmware package.

However, when using the Nova-TD-500 with VDR a couple of settings need to be tweaked or the signal will eventually disappear for some reason. The logs (typically /var/log/messages in Fedora) will have something like this in them:
vdr: [pidnumber] PES packet shortened to n bytes (expected: m bytes)
Maybe the drivers or the firmware have a bug which is only triggered by VDR. This problem can be fixed by tweaking VDR’s EPG scanning settings. I’ll post the settings here in case someone is experiencing the same problems. These go into /etc/vdr/setup.conf in Fedora:


EPGBugfixLevel = 0
EPGLinger = 0
EPGScanTimeout = 0

It is my understanding that these settings will disable all EPG scanning which is done in the background and VDR will only scan the EPGs of the channels on the transmitters it is currently tuned to. In Finland, most of the interesting free-to-air channels are on two transmitters and the Nova-TD-500 has two tuners, so in practice this should not cause much problems with outdated EPG data.

The Linux/FLOSS Booth at Assembly Summer 2011

August 6th, 2011

The Assembly Summer 2011 demo party / computer festival is happening this weekend in Helsinki, Finland. The Linux/FLOSS booth here is organized together by Finnish Linux User Group, Ubuntu Finland, MeeGo Network Finland and, of course, Fedora. I’m here representing Fedora as a Fedora Ambassador and handing out Fedora DVDs. Here are a couple of pictures of the booth.

The booth is mostly Ubuntu-coloured because most of the people here are members of Ubuntu Finland and Ubuntu in general has a large community in Finland. In addition to live CDs/DVDs, the MeeGo people also brought two tablets running MeeGo (I think they are both ExoPCs) and a few Nokia N950s. They are also handing out MeeGo t-shirts.

People seem to like the new multi-desktop, multi-architecture live DVDs that the European Ambassadors have produced. I think they are a great idea and worth the extra cost compared to the traditional live CDs.

Running Linux on a Lenovo Ideapad S12, part 2

January 3rd, 2011

Here’s the first post of what seems to be a series of posts now.

acer-wmi

I wrote about acer-wmi being loaded on this netbook to the kernel’s platform-driver-x86 mailing list. That resulted in Chun-Yi Lee writing a patch which adds the S12 to the acer-wmi blacklist. Here’s the bug report.

ideapad-laptop

I did a bit of googling on the ideapad-laptop module and noticed that Ike Panhc had written a series of patches which enable a few more of the Fn keys on the S12. The git repository for those patches is here. Those patches are also in linux-next already.

So, I cloned Linus’ master git tree, applied the acer-wmi patch and then git pulled Ike’s repo. Then I followed these instructions, expect that now Fedora’s sources are in git, so you need to do something like fedpkg co kernel;cd kernel;fedpkg prep and then find the suitable config file for you. Now I have a kernel which works pretty well on this system, except for the scheduling/sleep issue mentioned in the previous post.

Running Linux (Fedora) on a Lenovo Ideapad S12

December 27th, 2010

I got a Lenovo Ideapad S12 netbook (the version which has Intel’s CPU and GPU) a few months ago. It requires a couple of quirks to work with Linux, I’ll write about them here, in case they’ll be useful to someone else as well.

Wireless

The netbook has a “Broadcom Corporation BCM4312 802.11b/g LP-PHY (rev 01)” wifi chip. It works with the “b43” open source driver, which is in the kernel. However, I think that it may not actually reach the speeds it should. You could also use the proprietary “wl” kernel module, available in RPM Fusion as “kmod-wl”, but I don’t like to use closed source drivers myself.

The b43 driver needs the proprietary firmware from Broadcom to work with the 4312 chip. Following these instructions should get you the firmware.

Kernel

The kernel needs the “nolapic_timer” parameter to work well with the netbook. If that parameter is not used, it seems like the netbook will easily sleep a bit too deep. Initially people thought that the problem was in the “intel_idle” driver, the whole thing is discussed in this bug report. However, according to my testing, the problem with intel_idle was fixed, but the netbook still has problems, they are just a bit more subtle. The netbook boots fine, but when playing music, the system will easily start playing the same sample over and over again, if the keyboard or the mouse are not being used for a while. Apparently the system enters some sort of sleeping state. I built a vanilla kernel without intel_idle and I’m seeing this problem with it as well.

Then there’s “acer-wmi”. The module gets loaded by the kernel and in older versions it was probably somewhat necessary, because it handled the wifi/bluetooth hardware killswitch. It causes problems with NetworkManager, though. It disables the wifi chip on boot and you have to enable wifi from the NetworkManager applet by hand. Here’s my bug report, which hasn’t gotten any attention, but then again, I may have filed it under the wrong component. Anyway, in the 2.6.37 series of kernels there is the “ideapad_laptop” module, which apparently handles the hardware killswitch, so acer-wmi shouldn’t be needed any more and can be blacklisted.

The Linux booth at Assembly 2010

August 6th, 2010

I’m spending the weekend at Assembly 2010, which is a demo party organized in Helsinki. The Finnish Linux User Group has organized a booth for the different Linux distributions. This year Ubuntu and Fedora are represented and I’m here as a Fedora Ambassador, of course.

We’ve had quite a lot of people visiting the booth during these first two days and have handed out lots of Fedora and Ubuntu CDs. People haven’t really come to the booth complaining about problems with Linux, which I think means desktop Linux is simple enough to use for those kind of people, who attend events like these. The first time I was at the booth on 2008 we had more people coming to us for help with driver issues and things like that.

While talking with people who came by to take Fedora CDs from the booth, I noticed a couple of issues with the current CD covers.

  • ‘Desktop Live Media’ versus ‘KDE Desktop Live Media’ is confusing and I think the ‘Desktop’ disk should say ‘GNOME’ somewhere on the cover.
  • Some people seem to think ‘Live Media’ as something that’s not installable. I noticed the Ubuntu disks say nothing about being ‘Live Media’, just that they’re ‘Desktop Editions’.

I sent an email about these thing to the Ambassadors list.

On a positive note, people also seem to think that the Fedora disk covers look nicer than the Ubuntu ones 🙂

I’ll attach some pictures of the booth as well:

The booth

The booth, notice our free software banner with Tux on it 🙂

The computers

The computer on the left is running Unigine Heaven (yes, with the closed source nVidia driver...) on Fedora and the computer on the right is showing Big Bug Bunny on Ubuntu.

People at the booth

People at the booth

The disks with a couple of Tuxes

The disks with a couple of Tuxes

Edit: One final thing: Thanks to Assembly Organizing for providing us with the booth space!

Headed for Akademy

July 3rd, 2010

I’ll be taking the 07:30 AM train from Helsinki to Tampere today. The train should arrive at Tampere at around nine, which leaves me about thirty minutes to get from the train station to the university. I think microblogging is perfectly suited for writing short updates from a conference, so here’s a shameless plug: my identi.ca profile is at http://identi.ca/vpv. I’ll try to dent every now and then, depending of course a bit on how the network at the venue and at the hotel works.