Saturday Jan 31, 2009

Suspend and resume really does just work

The whole rebooting thing last night and the surprise that my laptop had been "up"for 18 days left me wondering how many times I had suspended the system. I turns out this is easy to check in /var/adm/messages, which thanks to the laptop being hibernated most of the night fails to get cleaned out by cron, using a short script:

cjg@brompton:~$ nawk '/SunOS/ { if (count > max) { max=count} ; count=0 } /resume/ { count++ } END { print "current",count; print "max",max }' /var/adm/messages 
current 3
max 109

109 sucessful suspend and resume cycles is not bad. I can't find a kernel statistic that counts them directly which I think is a pity. Also I need to keep an eye on the messages files however with ZFS root and snapshots going on the whole log file rotation and clean up could do with rethinking even in the non laptop case.

Sunday Dec 07, 2008

Goodbye portable computer. Hello Laptop

It has taken me a while to realise that my old Toshiba Tecra M2 was not a laptop but was instead a portable computer. The realisation started to happen when I first closed the lid on my new Toshiba Tecra M9 and it hybernated and each time I opened it and all was still well the change began to dawn on me.

I'd been happy enough using OpenSolaris on the M2 (and Solaris before that) having tuned it to boot as fast as it could and in most scenarios it was fine. I contented myself that the bugs I filed improved the product and I got used to the portable computer. Great in a hotel room, ok for a presentation, less useful in an airport or on a train.

The M9 on the other hand, with OpenSolaris 2008.11 is a real laptop and it is suspend and resume that makes it so.

Also the list of things that don't work is much smaller than the list of things that do. Now some of them (like the SD slot) may well now work on the M2 as well I've not tried recently since it never used to so I just used the USB card reader out of habit. So far the list of things I would like to work but don't are:

  1. The volume control knob. I actually liked the M2's use of a real volume control knob so when I turned it down it was really down.

  2. Plugging a headphones into the socket does not disconnect the speakers. This makes using VOIP hard to use which is a shame as the VOIP client seems to work quite well.

  3. I would also like better video support, mpeg4 & DVD but mostly that is not for work but entertainment.

Thats it. Well that is it for now.

Monday Nov 03, 2008

Upgrade to OpenSolaris "build 100"

Upgrading my, well Sun's, ageing Toshiba Tecra M2 that is running OpenSolaris to that latest bits based on nevada 100 was harder than I would have liked.

  1. The new nvidia driver does not support the chipset on the M2. You have to un-install the nvidia drivers and install the beta “legacy” drivers ( Without this the configuration I ended up with was truly horrible.

  2. The system would panic when I booted the old build 99 boot environment. This is mentioned in the comments on Stephen Hahn's blog entry. Needless to say I only found the workaround later.

  3. The auto-snapshot & timeslider packages were not installed by default. Easy to fix

pkg install pkg:/SUNWgnome-time-slider@0.5.11-0.100
pkg install pkg:/SUNWzfs-auto-snapshot@0.5.11-0.100

    Even after installing the packages they had to be manually enabled in smf. I don't understand why they did not get updated and am left wondering what other new features have not been installed.

I have also reinstalled the frkit in a vain attempt to get some battery life out of the system. Judging by my attempt to use the laptop on battery power in the airport this has not had a dramatic impact on the battery. However the system no longer feels hot to the touch. Top tip with frkit is to use beadm to create a snapshot of the current BE before running the script. That way if it does not work you can boot a boot environment that still works.


This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to


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