Our next meeting will be one of our slideshow evenings giving everyone a chance to show off some photos and videos taken over the year or more since we last held such an evening.
In the past we have featured holidays, bus and car shows, walks in the local countryside and more so I am sure we will once again have some interesting slideshows to watch.
At our last meeting Gareth provided an insight into the current state of Linux for ARM processors albeit with an emphasis on Ubuntu as this seems to be gaining most media attention currently.
Gareth had hoped to bring along 2 ARM devices capable of running Linux on the evening, one small Netbook sized device and a system board similar to a BeagleBoard capable of making a desktop system. Sadly the board he was hoping to borrow didn't arrive in time, but stay tuned as it may be making an appearance at the AGM!!
The device demonstrated on the evening was a Toshiba AC100 Netbook "PC". This device is very small and light and is of course ARM powered with a dual core ARM processor and Nvidia graphics combined together on a single System on Chip called a Tegra 2. It has 512MB RAM, and 8GB of flash memory. These systems were launched by Toshiba ~18 months to 2 years ago running the Android operating system, found in phones and tablets, but this was not a success when installed on a device with a keyboard and trackpad rather than a touchscreen.
Gareth has installed the latest stable release of Ubuntu 11.10 compiled for ARM onto a SD memory card like those found in digital camera. Ubuntu can be installed to the internal flash memory, which is faster, but while experimenting with the system it is safer to use the external memory card. It is quite easy to install by placing some files on a USB stick containing an installer program.
Ubuntu boots quite quickly to the standard desktop and most of the usual applications such as Firefox for web browsing, Thunderbird for email and LibreOffice for office applications are present. Ubuntu Software Centre has many thousands more applications available just like the PC version although some apps requiring high-powered CPUs have not been ported across, typically video processing and other processor intensive tools.
While a lot of tools for managing audio are installed the one part of Linux that does not work yet on the AC100 is sound, although work on a driver is in progress. Accelerated graphics drivers are available and WiFi etc. all work correctly as does the integrated 3G data modem if you install a SIM card.
Trying to run too many tasks at once does cause the system to slow down quite significantly and this is due to the relatively small amount of RAM compared to modern PCs combined with all the "bells and whistles" of the full Ubuntu desktop. To combat this Gareth had also installed a lightweight desktop manager called LXDE, which can be found in the Lubuntu variant of the system. This uses much less RAM just to provide a desktop and allows more browser windows and other apps to be open without affecting system performance, in fact it becomes quite snappy. At this stage we were able to see Firefox, LibreOffice and image editing tools such as the GIMP in operation, and applied a number of filters to an image with perfectly acceptable performance.
Ubuntu currently uses a variant of the Linux architecture called "armel" which is compatible with ARM processors that do not support hardware floating point. This allows them to be used with a suitable floating-point emulator and in this way is very similar to RISCOS and FPEmulator. In fact earlier versions of Linux used the RISCOS FPE under licence until an open source version became available. "armel" supports this emulation, which can be very slow, and also supports use of hardware floating point on the processor if available but with some additional overheads of catching the instructions and deciding whether to emulate or send to hardware. This again is similar behaviour to RISCOS when run on an older Acorn system with an FPA11 floating point co-processor.
With Ubuntu 12.04 being release in April Ubuntu will switch to the newer "armhf" variant of Linux or ARM Hard Float. This will only run on modern ARM processors with full hardware floating point, but can realise up to 40% speed improvement over armel on the same device for floating point intensive tasks. The AC100, BeagleBoard, PandaBoard and most systems in the last 2 to 3 years will support armhf.
Here is a screen shot:-
Since the meeting Gareth has installed the latest beta release of Ubuntu 12.04 and can report a significant increase in responsiveness and usability. He has also used this with the built in 3G on a long train journey quite successfully.
We held our Special Committee meeting before the meeting on 15th February to sort out bank signatories and decide who would become our Treasurer. I am very pleased to report that Andy Keeble has agreed to take on the role of Treasurer. We are in the process now of dealing with the bank and most points should be finalised at our meeting on Wednesday 21st March when we shall complete the mandate. Samantha Piner at Nat West is quite happy with our paper work so far thanks to Michael's visit to the Lexden branch last week and once she has the signed mandate she has assured me that we should only have a short time to wait for everything to be in place.
|21 March||Slide show evening||All|
|18 April||AGM + extras||All|
Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.
Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website. http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com
The first visit is free and subsequent visits for non - members is £2·50. The membership fee is £20 due from the AGM date in April, but may be reduced for those joining late in the year.
Continuing our publicity for EAUG events, there is now a full list of meetings up to the end of the year on their website.
Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month
opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.
For directions see below (note the new web addresses)
Tea/coffee/biscuits usually available.
Visitors pay 2.00 GBP for the evening, which is deductible from the normal joining subscription if you decide to join at a later date.
See the Membership page of the website for more information:
They have now moved to the St. Andrew's Computer Club at Britannia Road, Ipswich.
They have a full programme on the parish website (http://www.ourstandrews.co.uk), We may be able to make new contact with them to arrange something in common.
"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."
However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)
If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.
I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.
Our website URL is
http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com as a virtual domain,
it can also be reached using http://www.btinternet.com/~icenicomputerclub
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org