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Retina work

These past months I have done a NetBeans patch for the Apple Retina Display and also made a small Wiki-like site to help me and anyone else interested with finding matching font icons for the NetBeans icons: https://nextbeans.com/retina

The nextbeans.com stack is Angular, Prime NG, nginx, Jetty, Servlets, Spring Framework JDBC, HSQLDB. SSL via Let's Encrypt.  Hosted at Scaleway.

It's a fun project since I got to learn Angular, find a bug and submit a patch for Prime NG, see how Let's Encrypt does free SSL certificates, learn about the EU cookie warning and all the many tiny things that are needed for a site.

Angular in particular and the whole webdev ecosystem was a lot of new information for me. I was changing project configuration as Angular progressed along! Which reminds me: @angular/cli reached 1.0 and I should probably see if I need to tweak something.

Read on JAXenter a longer article about my work.
Recent posts

Machine learning everywhere!

Samsung announced a while back that they used a "Neural Net based predictor" for their CPU branch prediction.

Shortly after that an Intel person claimed it's no big deal because they have also been using a perceptron for some time.

But to me this seemed a rather big discovery! Previously I would have assumed that branch prediction is a super complex algorithm.

Learning that branch prediction is a basic perceptron reduces Intel's perceived strength.

So companies are openly and covertly using machine learning everywhere.

Machine learning is also a perfect fit for companies because there is no moral filter on a neural network and no chance of whistle blowing.

Volkswagen truly missed a golden opportunity here with their diesel scandal.

They should have just trained a neural network on passing the diesel criteria and then have perfect plausible deniability: "the neural network disabled the pollution filters all by itself!"

Migrating the extra large NetBeans Mercurial repository to Git

Note: This article is a living document and will be updated as I learn new useful information (last update 31st December 2016). I will move the helper scripts to a dedicated repository and copy part of this article into the Apache NetBeans wiki.

Introduction

The NetBeans source code has been stored in a Mercurial repository for almost a decade now.

But starting October 2016 NetBeans is preparing to become an Apache project.

And all incubating projects must store their source code on Apache Software Foundation infrastructure which only provides Subversion or Git hosting.

So, NetBeans must migrate its Mercurial repository to Git.

Size concerns

The NetBeans Mercurial repository covers 17 years of history and has grown to over 3GB.

Apache projects are mirrored on GitHub and they have a limit of 2GB or so. As such, any talk of migration started with ways of reducing the size by potentially splitting up the repository or removing some of the history.

Luckily, it turns out the NetBeans Mercuri…

Minimal NetBSD for Raspberry Pi 2

For no reason other than fiddling with the NetBSD codebase and build system plus the desire to reduce the world bandwidth waste, I've published a minimal NetBSD image for the Raspberry Pi 2 containing only the base set.

You only have to download this 76MB compressed image which becomes under 500MB uncompressed so it fits any recent microSD card you have in your drawer.

I have successfully used such a NetBSD system as a customer proxy of sorts this whole year.

Because lots of times you just need a machine with SSH and a shell.

Of course, my patches are minor, it's not like I managed to fit NetBSD onto a floppy disk but I liked doing it none the less!

NBnotify - Native NetBeans Notifications

NBnotify is back with a vengeance: Windows, macOS and Linux notifications from NetBeans plus the very useful build notifications!
NBnotify started 6 years ago as a way to integrate NetBeans with OSX and to provide me with build notifications.

I have almost always used a MacBook Pro as a work laptop for my customers so it was important that NetBeans is hooked up into the Mac ecosystem.

Back then Growl was the rage, providing customizable notifications for a myriad of Mac applications.

NBnotify entered into a short limbo while I was busy doing NetBeans customizations, Javascript type inference, JDBC drivers, ANTLR parsers and all in all Java code for paying customers...

But as soon as I had some free time this winter I had to bring it up to date!

And not only that -- but I've added first Linux and then Windows support too!

Actually, since NBnotify natively binds to libnotify it should work on BSD systems too.

So, if you are using NetBeans, you have to use NBnotify!

NBnotify is close…

NetBSD cross compilation is a marvel

While trying to get a patched variant of NetBSD 7.0.2 to run on my Raspberry Pi 3 I had to build NetBSD many times.

And it was pretty amazing how this all worked.

You have a single entry point: ./build.sh And it does everything! It builds the kernel, the userland apps up to the install image you write on the microSD card.

Of course, having a top-level script that does everything is nothing new, it's basically the second question in the Joel Test.

What is amazing is the cross-compilation.

You have an x64 machine and build.sh will happily create the install image for any supported platform.

The Raspberry Pi image is just:

./build.sh -m evbarm -a earmv7hf -u -U release

then you look into the release dir, find arm7.img.gz and you are ready to go.

I ran the builds on a NetBSD virtual machine, but apparently build.sh will happily run with some small preparation even on Linux or macOS.

NetBSD on Raspberry Pi 3

I have used quite successfully a Raspberry Pi 2 running NetBSD 7 as a customer proxy and I assumed 7.0.2 would run on a Raspberry Pi 3.

As it turns out, the Raspberry Pi 3 ARM Cortex-A53 processor is different enough from the previous Cortex A7 processor we have on the Pi 2 that it needs some kernel changes.

And while the bleeding edge NetBSD current- does work on the Raspberry Pi 3, the stable NetBSD 7.0.2 does not.

I even tried to compile my own NetBSD 7.0.2 and backport the patch that added Pi 3 support, plus up-to-date firmware, but it seems it's not sufficient. There are probably more related commits that need backporting.

So, if you have a Raspberry Pi 3 you can only use current- builds. Go on the nightly build server, grab an .img.gz and test it out!

But if you want a stable NetBSD release, you'll have to wait some more or get a Raspberry Pi 2 instead.

Getting the Raspberry Pi 2 is not such a bad thing because the Raspberry Pi 3 wireless will probably not work for a wh…