Archiv für Dezember 2008

PRS-505: Got my new toy!

Yay, I finally got my PRS-505 e-Book reader! I fed it with a couple of e-books from the Gutenberg project and its German affiliate, and I’m very pleased with the display and reading quality. Now I can finally take something to read with me again on conference travels and other occasions when I don’t want to have lots of luggage.

Now that I can actually try it, I found that my initial packaging of calibre was pretty incomplete, it didn’t detect the reader at all. Now I added the missing bits and updated it to the latest upstream version (see my PPA). It’s working out of the box now for the PRS-505.


Intrepid vs. XP — 2:0

Oh the joys of Christmas presents… I gave a shiny new 24″ widescreen TFT to my wife, to replace that shabby and flickering 15″ CRT that drove me mad after working on it for ten minutes. That entailed some other hardware upgrades: a new graphics card (the old GeForce FX 5200 did not even do 1600×1200, let alone the 1920×1200 that the monitor supports), and thus while I was at it, I plugged that into my AMD64 box and put that under her desk instead of the Celeron 1.3 which has come of some age.

I had to change the harddisk layout for that, in the old box the main disk was secondary slave, and now primary master. But “hey”, I thought, “we live in the 21st century!”. As expected, Ubuntu just booted as if nothing had happened, thanks to UUIDs, etc. After some wrestling with “makeactive”, I at least saw the WinXP text boot menu as well, but then it just broke with a blue screen saying “STOP code 0×74 blabla … revert all changes to disk controllers and new hard disks”. Huh? Clear 1:0 for the penguin here.

Googling didn’t help, so I remembered the old recipe of reinstalling. In theory (and screenshots and recipes out there), the Windows XP installer CD has a “reinstall” mode which wouldn’t overwrite already installed programs and data. If only it would actually offer this to me… *sigh*

Following some advice of a friend of mine, who is more XP literate than me (that doesn’t say much, though, I don’t know anything about this beast), I moved the hard disk into the old computer again to try it there. Just to learn that it now didn’t detect any hard disk at all. However, this time it was only a mediate Windows fault, I simply managed to kill the hard disk after all the replumbing of masters, slaves, IDE buses, and moving around to the other computer. Bummer. Murphy’s Law for the win! (And my fresh backup for the win, too!)

At least that now obsoleted the question of how to reinstall Windows without data loss. So I just went ahead and reinstalled both. Actual Windows installation is easy, but then I just got an utterly slow 1600×1200 vesa mode. But HARHAR, I’ve got a driver CD to that graphics card! And three reboots and 200 MB of software installation later (yes, it includes/needs .NET 2.0) later I got an amazing .. erm, 640×480 with 16(!) colors…

It took me 4 hours, various driver downloads, and lots of googling until I found a “hotfix” for the driver they shipped with the graphics card (!!!).

After that I installed Ubuntu. The live CD just worked, and the ati driver flawlessly ran with 1920×1200. Installation and restoring the /home backup was a matter of 30 minutes. A clear 2:0 for the Tux side.

Gosh, that was horrible, and wasted my entire day. Commentary of a friend of mine: “Now you’ll be much more convincing when explaining why Ubuntu is better!”

Packaged e-book software "calibre"

I could not resist and ordered myself a Christmas present, a Sony PRS-505 e-Book reader (it’s all Martin Pool’s fault! :-P )

To use that with your own content, you need a software to convert existing e-book, HTML, PDF, and other formats to the formats that the PRS505 can understand. So I stumbled over calibre, which seems to be an awesome and complete solution for managing e-books. Of course I immediately went to package it.

The final package and Jaunty upload will still take a while, since the upstream source bundles a lot of libraries; I wrote the author about how he would prefer source changes to use the system packaged Python libraries instead, I hope I’ll get his agreement soon.

However, for those of you who already got one, or will during Christmas, here’s my own little present for you: My PPA contains preliminary, but working packages for Intrepid.

If you want to hack on the packages, I branched off the upstream trunk, loomified it to add some fixes and the packaging, and put it to Launchpad again as ubuntu branch (MOTU-owned).

Merry $END_OF_YEAR_HOLIDAYS everyone!