Tag Archive for: linaro

New Feature for Linaro Image Tools: Android Hwpack

29 Jan
2013/01/29

Finally, after some delays, Linaro Image Tools now has support for Android hardware pack (or Android hwpack).

What is an Android hwpack

Let’s start with with clearing out the confusion the term “hwpack” has in this context.

Generally speaking, for Linaro Image Tools an hwpack is a tar-ball that contains Debian packages, some configuration and metadata files, and some directory structures, needed to create and install bootable operating system images.

Linaro Image Tools has had support for this kind hwpack since the beginning of time, but they are not necessary to create Android bootable images. The process to create an Android image is slightly different.

This new hwpack, the Android hwpack, is just a configuration file, based on the same syntax of previous Linaro Image Tools hwpack, that stores information necessary to correctly create Android images. An Android hwpack does not contain any Debian packages nor binary blob or anything else, it is just a text file (a YAML file for instance).

It’s probably better to call is “Android configuration file“.

Why an Android hwpack

The necessity for this came out during last Linaro Connect Europe, from the Android team. The needs were an easy way to add support for new boards (without having to hack into Linaro Image Tools code), the possibility to change board parameters (almost) “on-the-fly” for testing (without having to touch code), and the possibility to maintain backward compatibility by providing some kind of “versioned” hwpack, guaranteed to work for specific Linaro releases.

How to use it

In order to use it, you need to have at least Linaro Image Tools version 2013.01. At the time of this writing, Android hwpack support is also being built into the Android boot tarball, so it should be totally transparent for the user: no need to add command line arguments and to pass file paths.

Still, it is possible to pass an Android hwpack to Linaro Android Media Create, the command line tools that creates Android bootable images. The command line argument is the same as Linaro Media Create one: –hwpack

So, if you want to use the new feature, arm yourself with an Android hwpack file (examples can be found on GitHub), and run:

linaro-android-media-create --mmc /dev/sdc --dev panda --boot boot.tar.bz2 --system system.tar.bz2 --userdata userdata.tar.bz2 --hwpack panda-hwpack

Backward compatibility has been maintained: the old hard-coded values have been kept, so it is still possible to use everything in the old way.

If you find bugs, of other possible improvements, feel free to leave them in the comments below, or better on Launchpad.

Working from Home, Six Months Later

12 Jan
2013/01/12

Almost six months ago I started working for Linaro, from home. It was the first time for me with a home-based job, and I’m enjoying every minutes of it.

Before joining Linaro I did my fairly amount of researches on the Internet about how to organize your workday and also your life: try to do as if you had to get ready for office, eat & drink, do not always stand sit…

I didn’t change much of my usual habits, and I’m trying to keep home and work activities as much as possible separate from each other. Sometimes they will interfere, but I guess it is normal, as long as you remember to stick to your plan of separating them.

So, this is something I would call my usual day…

Getting Out of Bed

I’m an “early bird” as to speak.

I like getting up early in the morning. Luckily from where we live, opening the window we can see the sea and the sun rising. Getting out of bed is not that bad after all.

During the warmer months I also enjoy going out jogging for 40 minutes, during the colder months I usually start my days with a 30-40 minutes training. Nothing much heart-pumping, and everything weight-free, just free body weight: abs, squat, push-ups, and lots of stretching (sometimes even yoga, but my yoga-skills are really rudimentary). On the Internet you can find plenty of videos and web-sites on how to train in the correct way and for how much, so you still get to vary your training (I still haven’t found a really good Android app for something I would call zen-training: a mix of body and mind exercises, that doesn’t get much into the way, and that suggests you exercises).

Shower, that helps me like a caffeine shot (I do not drink coffee, even if I drink tea), and a big breakfast. Breakfast that for me is the most important meal of the day.

No computer or any electronic gadgets activities until after breakfast.

The Work Day

I sit in front of the PC around 8-8.30, checking emails, reading newspapers and the usual social websites. At 9, my (virtual) pomodoro clock usually starts ticking. I try to organize my working days in that way, sticking to the pomodoro technique as much as possible, and having pomodoro times also for checking IRC and other work related activities I have to do online.

Code, Eat & Drink

I always have something to drink next to my keyboard. Sometimes it even gets on my keyboard, but that’s another story…

Tea in the morning, that usually propels me almost close to lunch time, then water. I do not eat anything else in the morning, and in the afternoon sometimes I have a little break and usually I eat a fruit. At lunch time, I cook: I enjoy cooking, and it is one activity that me and my girlfriend enjoy doing in the evening together. It is a good moment for talking, and for preparing food.

Getting Into Bed Again

After dinner, we spend time on the couch watching movies, or doing our open-source-communities related activities. I also enjoy doing a 10-15 minutes streching/yoga session before getting into bed again. And before falling asleep, I always read a good book.

As in all rules that you set for yourself, form time to time I do not follow them, without feeling guilty. I need the liberty of doing what I like to do, with the confidence of getting back to my habits.

Convert a bazaar repository into a git one

08 Jan
2013/01/08

Yesterday, for a work task, I needed to convert a bazaar repository into a git one, to store code for other teams (that mostly use git) to work on. The bazaar repo was very simple actually, small history and it didn’t contain any merges.

Read The Docs™

Or almost… The first thing I did was heading other bazaar extensive documentation, in particular to its wiki sections on plugins. And there you have it, just an install-command away, ready to work: bzr-fastimport. Yeah, it says import, but it works also on the export part.

The steps I took:

bzr branch repo git-repo
cd git-repo && git init
bzr fast-export `pwd` | git fast-import
rm -rf .bzr

It should work also for fairly complex projects, though I didn’t try it on one.

Multiple Boards and Bootloaders on a Single Hardware Pack

27 Jul
2012/07/27

Multiple Boards and Bootloaders

Finally, Linaro Image Tools has support for multiple boards and multiple bootloaders on single configuration file and hardware pack.

Linaro Image Tools

Linaro Image Tools is a set of command line utilities that help in the creation and installation of Linaro built operating system images so they can be run on ARM based computers.

With Linaro Image Tools you can take a generic ARM Ubuntu or Android operating system image and customise it with the hardware specific packages needed to make it run on a specific board. These hardware specific packages are found in a hardware pack, which itself is generated using a tool, linaro-hwpack-create and a configuration file.

The old days

Old days computer

The Old Days of Computer

In the “old days”, this configuration file (an INI-style configuration file) and hardware pack held information for just one ARM board: it was not possible to define a single configuration file for multiple boards that shared most, if not all, of the same configuration and as a consequence, the resulting hardware pack could only be used with a single device too.

Starting with the new 2012.07 Linaro Image Tools release, it is now possible to support multiple boards/devices and multiple bootloaders with a single hardware pack. This should speed up development because one hardware pack can be used for several boards running similar hardware, reducing the number of hardware packs that need to be created to test new code on multiple devices.

A new configuration file format has been created: now based on YAML, it enables engineers to express more complex scenarios, and Linaro Image Tools has been expanded to support this new format.

Backward compatibility is maintained: the old version 2 format is still supported, but it will be deprecated in the Linaro Image Tools 2012.08 release, when the new version 3 format will have had enough use to have any bugs found and fixed.

The very old version 1 format is now completely unsupported and the ability to read these files will be dropped from Linaro Image Tools with the 2012.08 release.

With these changes, a new command line tool has been written to help engineers convert an old version 2 configuration file format into a version 3 one: running linaro-hwpack-convert <config-file> will create a version 3 configuration file called <config-file>.yaml (after that you can remove the suffix, it is not necessary, but we keep the old file for you). This file is then used by linaro-hwpack-create to create a new style hardware pack. The procedure for creating a hardware pack has not changed and Linaro Image Tools will automatically detect and use the new format.

The only thing that changes when you use linaro-media-create is you can now specify a bootloader for a hardware pack that can provide more than one. Predictably, this option is –bootloader <bootloader name> and if you want to know what your options are, you can query a hardware pack by using the –read-hwpack option:

linaro-media-create --hwpack hwpack_linaro-lt-panda_1_armhf_v3.tar.gz --read-hwpack
+--------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
Supported boards                       | Supported bootloaders
+--------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+
linaro-lt-panda                        | uefi,u_boot
+--------------------------------------+--------------------------------------+

linaro-media-create –hwpack hwpack_linaro-lt-panda_1_armhf_v3.tar.gz –bootloader u_boot …

Unfortunately, not all of the features described here are already available in the 2012.07 release of Linaro Image Tools. What is available at the moment is:

  • Converter from old configuration file to new one.
  • Support for the new YAML syntax.

The code with all the features was merged after the release, but is already in for the 2012.08 one. And if you feel adventurous, you can get the development version and test it out.

If you find any bugs, or want to suggest improvements, please do so in the Linaro Image Tools Launchpad page.

This post was written by James Tunnicliffe and me