Archive for the ‘linux’ Category

VDR updated to 2.0.x

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

I finally got around to update VDR to version 2.0.x
I’m using this version since some time and it is working fine for me. However, I’m quite sure that there are some kinks to be ironed out.
I’m not sure if updating from an old openSUSE VDR installation is a good idea or if it would be better to start from scratch. Personally, I’d do the latter and only keep my channels.conf.

The recommended way for starting VDR from systemd is now the runvdr-extreme-systemd package, the old runvdr init script is still available from the vdr-runvdr package, but is completely untested.

Configuration now happens in /etc/runvdr.conf, the old /etc/sysconfig/vdr is no longer read at all.

Normally, only the used plugins need to be added to runvdr.conf like

AddPlugin streamdev-server
AddPlugin epgsearch --logfile=/var/log/epgsearch/log --verbose=3
AddPlugin xineliboutput --local=none --remote=37890

This should be the equivalent of old sysconfig values

VDR_PLUGINS="streamdev-server epgsearch xineliboutput"
VDR_PLUGIN_ARGS_epgsearch="--logfile=/var/log/epgsearch/log --verbose=3"
VDR_PLUGIN_ARGS_xineliboutput="--local=none --remote=37890"

The settings in runvdr.conf are commented, so the config file should be easy to understand.

If you are using vdradmin-am and are importing the old vdradmin.conf (I’d actually advise to start from scratch there, too) then you need to change the SVDR port setting to the new default of 6419 (or change the SVDRPORT variable for VDR to the old value).

The “supported” plugins are maintained in the “vdr” repository of the openSUSE Buildservice. I’m collection “unsupported” additional plugins in “vdr:plugins”. The definition of “supported” right now is “the stuff that I use”, simply because I cannot really test stuff that I don’t use on a daily basis. Of course if someone wants to help maintain these things, I’m more than willing to move things into the main “vdr” repository.
Stuff that is in the supported repository will most likely end up in Factory and thus in openSUSE 13.2.

Bugreports via bugzilla or the opensuse-factory mailinlist, please ;-)

Nice kdump hack: get dmesg only

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Last week during a kernel debugging trainig, I was asked by a participant if it would be possible to get only the dmesg of the crashed kernel, without capturing the whole crash dump.
The possibility is clear, since both current RHEL/CentOS versions as well as SLES11SP3 already put a “dmesg.txt” next to the vmcore in the crash dump directory.
But how would you achieve to get only the dmesg?
And why would one want that?
Well, the second question is easily answered: in order to deploy crash dump capturing in a large hardware pool, quite some preparation needs to be done. In my daily work, servers most of the time have more RAM than they have local disk storage, so you need to store the dumps on the network. Then you need to make sure that a large amount of crashing servers (a famous example was the leap second bug) does not fill up the storage and leads to further problems like machines not coming up again due to full storage etc. All solvable, but to be considered before deployment. If you just capture the dmesg, you can almost certainly store that locally without creating problems. Another reason would be to get the servers up again as soon as possible, while still capturing some useful information (dumping a few hundreds of gigabytes of RAM can take quite some time).

So how to do it?
SUSE’s kdump infrastructure (tested on SLES11SP3) has a configuration option KDUMP_PRESCRIPT which allows to give a custom script which will be run before the crash dump is captured. This script now needs to call vmcore-dmesg and save the output somewhere for later inspection, then unmount the rootfs and issue reboot -f. Since this script never returns, the regular core-collector will not run. Problem solved.

The script is actually pretty trivial, so that it can be pasted here:

# small script which can be used as KDUMP_PRESCRIPT in SLES
# it *only* saves the dmesg of the crashed kernel and then
# reboots immediately, *no* crash dump is saved.
# benefits:
# * get the machine up ASAP, while still collecting
#   some useful information.
# * can be always enabled without worrying about storage etc
# License: WTFPL v2
NOW=`date +%Y-%m-%d-%H%M`
# in SUSE kdump initrd, real rootfs is mounted to /root
PRG=/root/usr/sbin/vmcore-dmesg                 # SLES12
test -x $PRG || PRG=/root/sbin/vmcore-dmesg     # SLES11SP3
$PRG /proc/vmcore > $OUT
umount /root
reboot -f       # do not continue the kdump initrd

It is slightly more complicated than absolutely necessary, but it should work in newer releases which now put the tools in /usr/sbin, too.
In my case, I saved it to /usr/local/sbin/ and then changed the following in /etc/sysconfig/kdump:


After restarting kdump, the next crash gave me a nice:

sles11sp3:~ # ls -l /var/crash/
total 36
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 33383 Mar 18 09:33 vmcore-dmesg-2014-03-18-0911.txt

and no crash dump, mission accomplished.

systemd makes boot slower

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Why am I not surprised? Boot time going up from 1 minute to 4 minutes due to journald. Maybe journald is a secret plot by the SSD vendors to sell more units? :-P

Fix coolstream neo tuner voltage problem

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

After trying to use the EN50494 feature of neutrino-mp, I found that as soon as I attached the coolstream neo to my coax-”bus”, all other receivers on the same bus could no longer tune any frequency. After quite some investigation, I found out, that the tuner does not lower the voltage to 13V if there is less than about 10mA of current load on the “LNB in” coax output.
I tried to work around the problem in software. However, that did not work too well, because if the neo was the only active receiver on the bus, then the SCR matrix would shut down if there was no voltage applied. So I checked if there is a way to simply fix the broken hardware.
There is. Next to the tuner “tin box” there is a transistor that has the 14/19V at one of its terminals. Just adding a 1.1kOhm resistor from there to ground made the voltage switch correctly even without any coax cable attached.

1.1kOhm resistor fixes tuner voltage problem

1.1kOhm resistor fixes tuner voltage problem

The picture is not very good but it shows where the LNB power can be tapped.
Note: use this at your own risk, soldering the resistor to the wrong terminal or shortening the wrong solder points might very well kill your box. You have been warned.
It is also very well possible that better soldering points exist, however this solution can be implemented without disassembling the box completely by just soldering on the top side of the PCB.

It would be interesting if this modification also solves the huge amount of DiSEqC switching problems that were reported last spring after some software update, it surely solved my EN50494 (aka unicable) bus blocking problem. After all the vendor has issued no statement until today, even though this clearly looks like broken (by design) hardware…

“rdmsr” implemented in perl

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Today I needed the “rdmsr” tool to determine if machines are configured correctly for Hypervisor usage (VT-X enabled). Just after learning how to detect this (by looking at the cpu-checker ubuntu package), I found out that msr-tools is not available on SLES11. Instead of building the package, I just implemented a minimal version in perl (it will be integrated into a perl tool checking other aspects of the system anyway):

# License: WTFPLv2
# minimal "rdmsr" implementation
$msr = shift
        or die "need msr as parameter";
$msr = hex($msr) if ($msr =~ m/^0x/i);
open(FD, "/dev/cpu/0/msr")
        or die "open /dev/cpu/0/msr: $!";
sysseek(FD, $msr, SEEK_SET)
        or die "sysseek: $!";
sysread(FD, $reg, 8 ) == 8
        or die "sysread: $!";
$reg = reverse($reg);
$hex = unpack('H*', $reg);
$hex =~s/^0*//;
print "$hex\n";

Yes, i know, my perl is horrible :-) but maybe this is useful for someone else anyway.

Raspberry Pi: Another platform for Neutrino-MP

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Last night I got video decoding via libilcore working on Raspberry Pi, so now the port of Neutrino-MP is starting to look like it will get usable some time in the future.

Most stuff is encapsulated inside libstb-hal, which means that only a small change in Neutrino-MP (just adding the proper LDFLAGS) was necessary. Later, with proper implementation / packaging of libstb-hal, this might also be unnecessary.

For those who dare to try it, I’d suggest to start with current raspbian, then use the Makefile for native building (after tweaking it to your needs) to build it directly on the Raspi — this is how I did it :-) ). The stuff is not yet ready for cross compilation (too many hard-coded /opt/vc/lib etc).
You’ll first need to build libdvbsi++ — there’s a target in the Makefile for that — and install all missing devel packages — hopefully, configure will compain. Otherwise the missing includes will be obvious, I guess.

The next step will be implementation of the audio decoder, which should be not too hard, then the thing will be truly useful :-) .

openSUSE Kernel debuginfo weirdness

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Just because I fell into the same trap twice, once when trying kdump a year ago, now when working on systemtap, a short reminder for everyone:

If you want to do something that needs kernel-default-debuginfo installed (like, say, “kdump”/”crash” or “systemtap”), then make sure that you also have kernel-default-devel-debuginfo on your system.

The reason for this is, that the kernel-default-debuginfo package has only the debuginfo for the kernel modules, but it misses the debuginfo for /boot/vmlinux. This debuginfo is in kernel-default-devel-debuginfo package.

This is at least strange, since the vmlinux binary is not in the devel package but in the main kernel package.
But in practice it does not matter if this is a bug or not: you need both debuginfo packages installed to make kdump analysis with “crash” or systemtap work.

ExpressCard hotplug with kernel 3.11

Friday, August 16th, 2013

(Executive summary: boot with acpiphp.disable=1)

Kernel 3.11rc has fixed the mei driver suspend problem for me. It brought another quirk, however. ExpressCard hotplug does not work anymore with my trusty old Thinkpad X200s. I need this to use my USB3 card. With 3.11 it only works if it is already plugged in during boot.
To be honest, this has never been 100% automatic before: I always needed to manually load the “pciehp” module to get the slot to work. The other possible driver, “acpiphp” refused to load.
With 3.11, both the acpiphp and the pciehp drivers can no longer be built as modules but are both built in statically.
In addition, now the acpiphp driver claims to support my slot, which it in fact does not, but it still claims the slot and prevents the pciehp driver (which is initialized later) from working. The kernel hackers are working to fix up this mess, but it is probably not going to “just” work in 3.11, so for now the way to get the ExpressCard slot working on a Thinkpad X200s is to pass the boot option


to the kernel.

“mei” driver suspend regression in linux-3.10

Monday, July 1st, 2013

For all those running kernels from Kernel:HEAD, where 3.10-final has arrived today, be warned that a suspend / resume regression crept in (I spotted and reported that after -rc4 or such, but it has not been fixed).
This regression makes my Thinkpad X200s not resume from suspend to RAM (I have not tried suspend to disk, but it might be affected, too), the machine just freezes hard on resume.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to work around.
The affected driver is the “mei_me” driver for Intel’s Management Engine, which AFAICT allows you to use management functions of the chipset like serial-over lan and similar. I don’t need this, but I need a suspend to RAM that works :-)

The work around is to simply unbind the driver after boot, then the machine will suspend and resume fine (blacklisting the module does not work since the driver is built in in the openSUSE kernel).

Find out, which device is bound to the driver:

# find /sys/bus/pci/drivers/mei_me/ -type l|sed 's#^.*/##'

Now unbind (as root):

# echo 0000:00:03.0 > /sys/bus/pci/drivers/mei_me/unbind

…and your next resume will work better.

The systemd journal is a broken piece of crap.

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Why, you ask? Well, it is a write-only database, which means there is no tool to actually read or fix a journal files, should they become corrupt. Or even notice the corruption. And they become corrupt all the time.

So I don’t care for the theoretical benefit of binary blob logs, as long as they don’t work at all. It’s as easy as that.

See for all the gory details.

To add insult to the injury, they are also written in a way that tends to fragment the logfiles very badly and thus the performance reading them (for the unlikely case that they are readable) is abysmal. Maybe it is usable with the latest and greatest SSD but with plain old rotating rust harddrives, it’s a PITA.