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Elite Dangerous on Linux

Headless servers? I’m a Debian, or more recently an Ubuntu, person. But way back when my old operating system of choice became untenable, I had to make a decision; use the Windows desktop I supported at work, or find another option. The Linux desktop back in 2003 wasn’t somewhere I wanted to be and I found myself wishing there was some other operating system with UNIX underpinnings, maybe a nice Bash shell, but with a really polished user interface…

I’ve been a Mac user since then and have watched as desktop Linux has slowly closed the gap between its commercial rivals. Though Windows 10 is one of the more polished releases in years, it’s not without its problems and there are so many great distributions of desktop Linux these days it’s hard to ignore the pull of open source life.

I’m a goal-oriented sort of person, so I looked at why I found myself booting my Mac into Windows more often these days. One reason is driver support for some capture hardware I use. The other is Elite Dangerous. I’d wanted to investigate the Wine compatibility layer to get this working, but my first solo attempt ended badly. There are some great instructions out there, but after making my own way through them I like to slim things back as far as possible, so this is what I came up with.

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OpenPeak Firmware v30301

Latest Release: 21st August 2018

Download: Version 30301 – (136MB) MD5

This software is not supported or endorsed by OpenPeak or O2. Use at your own risk.

Towards the end of April 2012, something rather unprecedented happened over on the Joggler Forums. It appeared that we were being linked to by O2 themselves as the point of contact after they discontinued their support for the device. After some negotiation, the forum was provided with a ‘sunset’ build of the OpenPeak OS for the OpenFrame 1, on which the Joggler is based.

It’s rare that a company bows out from a device so graciously, effectively opening up the platform to enthusiasts to continue developing and supporting. They could have locked the device down, but they chose not to, and they deserve recognition for that.

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SqueezePlay OS for OpenFrame

Latest Release: 15th January 2015 – CHANGELOG

Download SqueezePlay OS v3.03 for External Storage – (220MB) MD5

Download SqueezePlay OS v3.03 for OpenFrame 1 Internal Memory – (219MB) MD5

Download SqueezePlay OS v3.03 for OpenFrame 2 Internal Memory – (220MB) MD5

  • Which version should I download?
  • - If you want to run this from a USB storage device, download the External Storage image.
  • - If you want to run this from internal memory and have an O2 Joggler (or similar) download OpenFrame 1 Internal Memory
  • - If you want to run this from internal memory and have an OpenFrame 2 (front facing speakers) download OpenFrame 2 Internal Memory
  • For either internal storage version, you will need the Reflash System to install it.

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Reflash System for OpenFrame

Latest Release: 19th September 2014

Download System v1.11 – (160MB) MD5

Originally written for the O2 Joggler, the latest version of the Reflash System can be used on both types of the commonly available OpenFrame units. These are great devices; useful, hackable, affordable and fun. However, if you find yourself with one that’s less than happy, with any luck this system should bring it back to life.

This is designed to be a reliable method of reflashing any OpenFrame device, even in the event that the internal flash memory has had it’s partitions destroyed. These units are robust and will continue to boot from external USB devices even when the internal memory has given up, so unless you have a hardware failure or EFI problem this should get things working again.

In addition, this system can also be used to write a completely different OS to the internal memory, such as SqueezePlay OS. Instructions are provided below, but the alternative OS should have been designed to run from the internal memory. You could potentially flash anything, but not everything will work.

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This one has been annoying me for a while and nobody has explicitly waved a simple solution around for it; so now that I’ve found it, I’m going to do the waving. In building Ubuntu Precise 12.04 for the Joggler, this error was popping up on boot:

ata_id[1605]: HDIO_GET_IDENTITY failed for '/dev/sda': Invalid argument

It occurs because ata_id is being called upon by udev to provide some information about the ATA device. However, on the Joggler these devices are almost always connected via USB and in almost every case ata_id will fail to return anything useful. Tada – we have an error. It’s harmless, but annoying.

To fix it, you need to dive into /lib/udev/rules.d/ and edit 60-persistent-storage.rules. You will see the following from line 37:

# Run ata_id on non-removable USB Mass Storage (SATA/PATA disks in enclosures)
KERNEL=="sd*[!0-9]|sr*", ENV{ID_SERIAL}!="?*", ATTR{removable}=="0", SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", IMPORT{program}="ata_id --export $tempnode"
# Otherwise fall back to using usb_id for USB devices
KERNEL=="sd*[!0-9]|sr*", ENV{ID_SERIAL}!="?*", SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", IMPORT{builtin}="usb_id"

Ah-ha! There it is! It runs ata_id, which errors out, and then picks up the slack using usb_id. Stick a lovely great # on that ata_id line.

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Raspberry Pi Status Board

Status board on a portrait-orientated display, at the bottom of some stairs.

It was only a matter of time. I’ve had two Pi boards sat around for a while now; so long, in fact, that they’re both the 256MB Model B types and weren’t made in Wales. This summer, as part of the annual revamp in our studios, the much-neglected information screen finally bobbed high enough up on the to-do list to be in danger of actually getting done. Combine that with a collection of retired portrait-capable plasma screens in the basement and we’ve got ourselves a project!

What started this all off was the buzz there had been around Panic’s latest offering: Status Board. What I found a little uncomfortable was the fact that you needed to dedicate an iPad to the job, which just seemed downright weird. I’m up to my ears in old Macs, but iPads are rather more difficult to find without being attached to a protective owner. Nevertheless, there was an option for having one that shouldn’t have needed to be unplugged and used elsewhere too often, so I hurried off and bought Status Board.

Weighing The Options

I quickly realised that while Status Board may be a great app in the right environment, to do the kind of thing I had in mind would mean writing most of the code myself anyway. There is, of course, no magic button that creates displays for monitoring studios. When you add to that the extra fee for HDMI output (which is galling enough without having to be reminded about it every time you use AirPlay for the output), plus the cost of an iPad HDMI converter and the fact that the display was standard-def and only had VGA and composite inputs; it was a non-starter.

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Dead Simple Dynamic DNS Updater

I’d been messing with ddclient, trying to get things to play nicely with DNS-O-Matic, Tunnelbroker and Hurricane Electric’s own dynamic DNS system. Problem was, although everything was configured correctly it still wouldn’t update my DNS! It worked when I told it to, but when the IP genuinely changed, it all went wrong.

It turns out that when my IP changed, ddclient was indeed trying to update things. However, it was trying to do it over the IPv6 tunnel which, due to the altered IP address, was now broken. And I could find no way in the config to specify that the tunnel should be updated first, over IPv4. Hmm.

So, I sacked off ddclient and went for the world’s simplest dynamic DNS client. A bash script and curl.

Easy Peasy

Most of the dynamic DNS services have a simple HTTP method for updating. Some have HTTPS, so you’re not waving your password around in clear text. Switching to an IPv4-only updating mechanism is as simple as this:

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SqueezePlay for Joggler

Latest Release: 7th November 2014

Version 1.59 (7.7.2-9710) – CHANGELOG
Download USB Installer – (12MB)
The USB Installer is for use with the O2 Native OS only.

SqueezePlay is an open source music player written by Logitech for their line of wireless audio devices. Ordinarily, SqueezePlay is used on desktop systems, but because the interface was designed with touchscreens in mind, it’s particularly well suited to the Joggler’s display.

This version has had the standard skin adapted for 800×480 resolution, is compatible with Jogglers running both the native operating system and ones based on Ubuntu, and is compiled from some of the latest source code. It also features a simple install method, which should load it onto your Joggler without too much fuss.

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SSH/SCP Enabler for Joggler

Updated: 5th November 2012

Download SSH/SCP Enabler v1.03 – (704KB)

Way back in the first days of Joggler hacking, the most important goal was telnet access into the native operating system. Telnet is a simple (and, by default, insecure) method of accessing a UNIX shell. Almost immediately after telnet access was achieved, the next goal was enabling Secure Shell access, or SSH.

This was achieved quite some time ago, and tools like this one have been in use for a while. However, other than getting SSH running, they did little else (and could even cause problems if run more than once). That’s why I put together this little enabler.

The basic difference is that this tool will enable SSH for secure shell and SCP for secure file copying. It can be safely run as many times as you like, and will reset the password of a Joggler should you forget it. It also includes a small script that makes changing the password very easy.

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GRUB2 for Joggler

Released: 31st January 2012

Download GRUB2 v1.98 – (2.5MB)

I have a few Joggler plans afoot at the moment and one thing that has been bugging me a little is GRUB2. Almost two years ago the grub-gop-video-v1.patch was written, which enabled proper video output by GRUB2 on the Joggler at startup. This is brilliant. Now we can have splash screens and, more importantly, we’re able to see what’s going on at boot time. That’s pretty fundamental. However, it doesn’t look terribly pretty.

So, I set about recompiling GRUB2 v1.98 into two versions; one with the patch applied and one without. This way it is easy to switch to a quiet output, where the EFI boot logo remains on screen all the way through boot until the graphics driver is initialised. In case of problems, the USB device can be plugged into another machine and a quick change to boot.nsh will choose GRUB2 with graphics enabled.

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Recovering a TeraStation

One happy TeraStation back in working order.

Recently, I had one of these land in my lap. Not literally, thankfully, as they weigh a ton and have pointy edges; regardless, I have one in my possession.

This particular box is an ARM-powered TeraStation Pro v2, and, as is the way with these things, it was broken. Retired from it’s backup duties, it had sat underneath a desk for some time with what I assumed would be a straightforward problem to fix. On applying some power it became obvious from the incessant beeping that drive 3 was kaput. So I had a little fight with it, swapping drives and breaking the cheap and superfluous little plastic clips on the carriers.

Eventually, I managed to make it appear happy by removing both drives 3 and 4 – then it got stuck booting and I pulled the plug. Powering back up I was treated to this happy little message on the screen:

TFTP MODE E06: Lost boot image

Well, at least that’s different problem to not knowing the admin password, I suppose.

Recovery with TFTP

When you see the E06 error, the TeraStation will sit with the IP address and repeatedly try to fetch files from a TFTP server at Thankfully, the way in which it does this is pretty sensible; so long as you have a TFTP server running on that IP address, and it’s hosting the files from a firmware update, it should fetch those files and spring back to life almost immediately. I used TFTP Server for Mac OS X, but there are numerous ones available for other platforms. The free TFTP from SolarWinds works well on Windows.

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Ubuntu Server for Joggler

As one of my early Joggler releases, this has now been superseded. If you’re looking for a lightweight Ubuntu system for the Joggler, I’d recommend downloading SqueezePlay OS and deleting SqueezePlay from /opt/.

In developing the Joggler reflash tool it was obvious I’d need a relatively lightweight Linux which would actually run the script. There are distributions that are a lot more lightweight than Ubuntu Server, but because I’m used to using it and there was no startup cruft to clear out, it’s the one I went for.

This has the happy side effect that those people interested in running a Joggler as some type of server-only device can grab a copy of this and get started quickly.

The Details

I’ve set this version of Ubuntu Server up with Jools Wills’ kernel, which was the latest version at the time of writing. The filesystem consists of a 128MB FAT16 boot partition with the remainder formatted as ext2, so there’s no journal to worry about on flash devices. The fstab mounts the FAT16 partition to /boot on startup, just like Jools’ GUI releases. There is no swap on this system, so if you plan to use it long-term, that’s something you should probably add.

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Hello, Joggler

An O2 Joggler displaying the native operating system.

My word. After a chat with a friend in a pub, I found out that I had missed the opportunity to buy a hackable 7” touchscreen computer with an Intel Atom chip for £50. I’d been looking for something cheap and touch-screeny for the kitchen, so it was time for a trip to eBay.

I managed to pick up a mint condition O2 Joggler for about £70 in the end, and it’s superb. There’s no branding on the front at all, so it looks rather swish and inconspicuous. It’s rather like an electronic picture frame, but the spec is much more impressive. Made by OpenPeak, there’s an Intel Atom Z520 running at 1.3GHz, 512MB RAM, 1GB internal flash, wifi and wired ethernet, audio out, lovely display… and a USB socket on the side. That becomes important in a minute.

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