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Archive for May, 2010

Oracle releases VirtualBox 3.2

May 20th, 2010 1 comment

With the Sun now set, Oracle has released VirtualBox 3.2 finally 🙂 In particular some lovely optimisations for the newer Intel Core i5/i7 processors, Large  Page support (which helps significantly on Windows x64 and Linux) as well as a very welcome optimisation on the networking in VirtualBox as well as multi-monitor support for Windows Guests. Whats more RDP sessions are now accelerated (VRDP).

Amongst the changes from the changelog:

This version is a major update. The following major new features were added:

  • Following the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle Corporation, the product is now called Oracle VM VirtualBox and all references were changed without impacting compatibility
  • Experimental support for Mac OS X guests (see the manual for more information)
  • Memory ballooning to dynamically in- or decrease the amount of RAM used by a VM (64-bit hosts only) (see the manual for more information)
  • Page Fusion automatically de-duplicates RAM when running similar VMs thereby increasing capacity. Currently supported for Windows guests on 64-bit hosts (see the manual for more information)
  • CPU hot-plugging for Linux (hot-add and hot-remove) and certain Windows guests (hot-add only) (see the manual for more information)
  • New Hypervisor features: with both VT-x/AMD-V on 64-bit hosts, using large pages can improve performance (see the manual for more information); also, on VT-x, unrestricted guest execution is now supported (if nested paging is enabled with VT-x, real mode and protected mode without paging code runs faster, which mainly speeds up guest OS booting)
  • Support for deleting snapshots while the VM is running
  • Support for multi-monitor guest setups in the GUI for Windows guests (see the manual for more information)
  • USB tablet/keyboard emulation for improved user experience if no Guest Additions are available (see the manual for more information).
  • LsiLogic SAS controller emulation (see the manual for more information)
  • RDP video acceleration (see the manual for more information)
  • NAT engine configuration via API and VBoxManage
  • Use of host I/O cache is now configurable (see the manual for more information)
  • Guest Additions: added support for executing guest applications from the host system (replaces the automatic system presimparation feature; see the manual for more information)

Download from VirtualBox or get the Windows build. I’m really hoping the good Oracle keeps VirtualBox open, this is one kickass bit of kit.

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Google opens up VP8 with WebM Project

May 20th, 2010 2 comments

You kind of knew it was going to happen but the mighty Google has open-sourced On2’s VP8 codec and set it free (in the form of a BSD-style license). Don’t forget to read an intro to the WebM VP8 SDK and get the code (the files). Some of the companies backing it and the ideas behind WebM are posted on the first blog entry.

So what is WebM?

WebM includes:

  • VP8, a high-quality video codec we are releasing today under a BSD-style, royalty-free license
  • Vorbis, an already open source and broadly implemented audio codec
  • a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container

Wonder what MSFT and Apple are going to do? In either case, interesting times ahead for video.

Oh hai, I almost forgot, from their FAQ, some interesting points – besides the Licensing bits.

If I have a video card that accelerates video playback, will it accelerate VP8?

The performance of VP8 is very good in software, and we’re working closely with many video card and silicon vendors to add VP8 hardware acceleration to their chips.

Will WebM files play on my TV, set-top box, PVR, etc.?

Stay tuned! The WebM community is working with hardware manufacturers to bring WebM support to a wide range of devices.

When will other Google products support WebM and VP8?

WebM support in Android is expected in the Gingerbread release (currently planned for Q4, 2010). We expect many other Google products to adopt WebM and VP8 as they prioritize it with their other product requirements. Keep an eye on the WebM blog for announcements.

Man, Google rocks!

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OpenSolaris FIX: Server refused to allocate pty (SSH)

May 11th, 2010 5 comments

Just upgraded a friends OpenSolaris boxen to SNV_134 (latest available from the OpenSolaris dev repository) and after rebooting we realised we couldn’t SSH into it.

Server refused to allocate pty

DOH! This is caused by a known bug that has been around for a few builds now.

You’ll need to modify /etc/minor_perm and add the following to the bottom of the file.

clone:ptmx 0666 root sys

And what happens if your terminals don’t accept keyboard input? You could drop back into the shell *or* be lazy like me, find gText editor in your Accessories, add it to the panel and change the properties to run it as a privileged user:

pfexec gedit %U

Then run the file, open the /etc/minor_perm file, save and reboot. Make sure you change back the shortcut path 🙂

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The Gospel according to Jobs: Thoughts on Flash

May 3rd, 2010 2 comments

Got to give it up for Steve Jobs, he responds to his followers when things are a muck in his church. But putting aside my dislike for Apple antics, I do agree with most of his comments.

Flash was great in the early days, we had the birth of the XaoXao videos and interactivity on the web, but in the past 5-6 years, the hip cool designers of the world have transformed the browsing experience to be  fully Flash driven – which drives me nuts. Do they not realise that content would not be indexable by search engines nor useful for anyone who doesn’t have Flash? Whats more, I’m not after their fancy dancy effects, I’m after content – the exception of Flash being used for animation in addition to content (like slideshows, video presentations or marketing bits) or navigation around a site.

One recent (2006) example is the Eclipse home page, back when I got the AVN6000 installed, I wrote a little blurb on the (then) DeveloperFusion blogs and sure enough took the bulk of the traffic for the keyword AVN6000. The entire site was flash driven up until 2008 and no-one had indexed the content of the site.  As the unit was installed a week after release, it got quite a bit of traffic – nice for me.

I have FlashBlock installed to avoid uninvited flash content (especially annoying opening up a bunch of news articles and one of them is playing a video!) and have no _real_ need for Flash on my mobile devices – youtube works. Android 2.2 (Froyo) will ship with some flash support but it doesn’t excite me as much as the JIT functionality. Gotta JIT that, Gotta JIT that

There are a few points you can criticise Jobs on (HTML5, CSS+JS is no where near the functionality of Flex nor Silverlight – gasp! but it has time and momentum to grow) and everything about Apple is proprietary (sure they have a few good open-source projects – DTrace & WebKit) but their business nature to lock you into fruity loops. I still haven’t got a decent way of avoiding installing iTunes if I want to use an iPod which is the only device my (ironically) AVN6000 supports. As for the latter, overall a job well done I say and well justified move for not having Flash on their devices.

Just like to point out one thing having come from working with the On2 VP6/VP7 bits whilst at Vividas.

Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software.

What he’s talking about here is that Adobe utilises the On2 VP6 for their video rendering in Flash (as of Flash Player 8) and as such there’s no standard accelerator for the On2 codec (yet!) – its all CPU bound (and prior to 2008 quite intensive to decode!). The VP6 and VP7 codecs (though quite differently utilised) powered (or still powers) the Vividas format (could be different now, I left in 2008). Compared to Flash Player 7, the enhancements that On2 VP6 brought to Flash Player 8 effectively meant that a lot of media was encoded optimised for VP6. Newer versions of Flash Player 9 Update 3+ support h264 however.

Don’t forget that JavaFX also utilises VP6. While you’re there, checkout Gosling rant on Android and his thoughts on the Apple OS X Secret API hooks for the JVM.

With Google having purchased On2 Technologies earlier this year, there’s a bit of excitement and worry about the future of VP8 and whether it will become open-source and what will happen to h264 or Theora (a derivative of On2 VP3 which On2 open-sourced).

Having said all that, I can’t leave you without leaving something to ponder about when it comes to Apple and its many evangelists enthusiasts – maybe you’re one of them?

It’s funny because its true (!™), don’t Think Different™. Be different 🙂

I guess its time for Adobe to chime in and see their take on things, it better be something flashy!

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VirtualBox 3.2.0 Beta 1 Released!

May 3rd, 2010 No comments

Finally downloaded the latest 3.2.0 release of VirtualBox today and gave it ago!

From the forum post for this pre-release.

VirtualBox Version 3.2.0 is a major update. The following major new features were added:

  • Following the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle Corporation, the product is now called Oracle VM VirtualBox and all references were changed without impacting compatibility.
  • Experimental support for Mac OS X guests
  • Memory ballooning to dynamically in- or decrease the amount of RAM used by a VM (64-bit hosts only) (see the manual for more information)
  • CPU hot-plugging for Linux (hot-add and hot-remove) and certain Windows guests (hot-add only) (see the manual for more information)
  • New Hypervisor features: with both VT-x/AMD-V on 64-bit hosts, using large pages can improve performance (see the manual for more information); also, on VT-x, unrestricted guest execution is now supported (if nested paging is enabled with VT-x, real mode and protected mode without paging code runs faster, which mainly speeds up guest OS booting)
  • Support for deleting snapshots while the VM is running
  • Support for multi-monitor guest setups in the GUI (see the manual for more information)
  • USB tablet/keyboard emulation for improved user experience if no Guest Additions are available
  • LsiLogic SAS controller emulation
  • RDP video acceleration
  • NAT engine configuration via API and VBoxManage
  • Guest Additions: added support for executing guest applications from the host system
  • OVF: enhanced OVF support with custom namespace to preserve settings that are not part of the base OVF standard

In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:

  • VMM: fixed crash with the OpenSUSE 11.3 milestone kernel during early boot (software virtualization only)
  • VMM: fixed OS/2 guest crash with nested paging enabled
  • VMM: fixed Windows 2000 guest crash when configured with a large amount of RAM (bug 5800)
  • VMM: fixed massive display performance loss (AMD-V with nested paging only)
  • Linux/Solaris guests: PAM module for automatic logons added
  • GUI: guess the OS type from the OS name when creating a new VM
  • GUI: added VM setting for passing the time in UTC instead of passing the local host time to the guest (bug 1310)
  • GUI: fixed seamless mode on secondary monitors (bugs 1322 and 1669)
  • GUI: added –seamless and –fullscreen command line switches (bug 4220)
  • Settings: be more robust when saving the XML settings files
  • Mac OS X: rewrite of the CoreAudio driver and added support for audio input (bug 5869)
  • Mac OS X: external VRDP authentication module support (bug 3106)
  • Mac OS X: Moved the realtime dock preview settings to the VM settings (no global option anymore). Use the dock menu to configure it.
  • Mac OS X: added the VM menu to the dock menu
  • 3D support: fixed corrupted surface rendering (bug 5695)
  • 3D support: fixed VM crashes when using ARB_IMAGING (bug 6014)
  • 3D support: fixed assertion when guest applications uses several windows with single OpenGL context (bug 4598)
  • 3D support: added GL_ARB_pixel_buffer_object support
  • 3D support: added OpenGL 2.1 support
  • 3D support: fixed Final frame of Compiz animation not updated to the screen (Mac OS X only) (bug 4653)
  • Added support for virtual high precision event timer (HPET)
  • LsiLogic: Fixed detection of hard disks attached to port 0 when using the drivers from LSI
  • NAT: fixed ICMP latency (non-Windows hosts only; bug 6427)
  • Keyboard/Mouse emulation: fixed handling of simultaneous mouse/keyboard events under certain circumstances (bug 5375)
  • Shared folders: fixed issue with copying read-only files (Linux guests only; bug 4890)
  • OVF: fixed mapping between two IDE channels in OVF and the one IDE controller in VirtualBox

Bootilicious! Download links are on the site (updated for BETA2).

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Multi-tasking in style on the Android Platform

May 2nd, 2010 No comments

An interesting article posted on the Android Developer Blog from Dianne Hackborn (born to hack!) who discusses the way multi-tasking works on Android. Recommended reading as it goes beyond how it works (and why!) and offers some suggestions on how to make the most of it!

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Ubuntu 10.04 and getting Sun JRE instead of OpenJDK

May 2nd, 2010 1 comment

If you’ve downloaded the latest Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx you’d realise that they ship with the OpenJDK instead of the Sun (Oracle) JRE. The Ubuntu team has decided to move the Sun Java bits to the partner repository which means we need to do a couple of things prior to getting it through apt-get.
First add the repository to your /etc/apt/sources.list via the add-apt-repository command, then do a full update.

$ add-apt-repository "deb http://archive.canonical.com/ lucid partner"
$ apt-get update

Then lets install the Sun JRE & JDK as required.

$ apt-get install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-fonts
$ apt-get install sun-java6-jdk

Once installed you can verify the correct JRE is installed with:

$ java -version

I have to say, this release of Ubuntu is incredibly refreshing 🙂 Its matured so well in a short period of time, its definitely got the Lynx Effect(NSFW).

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Mechwarrior 4, free download!

May 2nd, 2010 No comments

Quick note after seeing this on Kotaku, Mektek has released MechWarrior 4 for download for free (as in totally). Bring back those memories! The site’s been MC hammered right now but grab the 1.7Gb and lock & load 🙂

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