Installing RemixOS to an internal drive

Your old pal syslinux is there to greet you
Your old pal syslinux is there to greet you

After initially running RemixOS, the new Android build for PCs, I decided that I would rather play with booting it natively from my SSD instead of from a USB device. Performance should be better, it would free my USB thumb drive up for other duties, and it would make booting more convenient.

This turned out to be a relatively simple operation. What follows is my methodology for doing that. Please note that these instructions assume you are running Linux.

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Trying out RemixOS

The RemixOS boot logo
The RemixOS boot logo

I’ve always been one for trying out new operating systems, so when I heard news about the latest desktop-conversion effort from Jide I wanted to give it a try.

RemixOS is a proprietary offering based on the work of android-x86, which aims to bring the stock Android experience to commodity PCs. RemixOS adds on interface and convenience changes to make the operating system more usable on PC hardware. This includes UI changes such as multi-windows and a classic ‘desktop’.

The Alpha for PC was released this morning, and can be downloaded here. There was also a leaked version that landed a couple days earlier. If you’ve seen reviews online, most of them came from this. What follows are my impressions of the experience. Continue reading “Trying out RemixOS”

Size of mozilla-central compared

As part of my ongoing work I’ve been measuring the size and depth of mozilla-central to extrapolate future repository size for scaling purposes. Part of this was figuring out some details such as average file size, distribution of types of files, and on-disk working copy size versus repository size.

When I posted a graph comparing the size of the mozilla-central repository by Firefox version my colleague gszorc was quick to point out that the 4k blocksize of the filesystem meant that the on-disk size of a working copy might not accurately reflect the true size of the repository. I considered this and compared the working copy size (with blocksize =1) to the typical 4k blocksize. This is the result.

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Trends in Mozilla’s central codebase

UPDATE: By popular demand I’ve added numbers for beta, aurora, and m-c tip

As part of my recent duties I’ve been looking at trends in Mozilla’s monolithic source code repository mozilla-central. As we’re investigating growth patterns and scalability I thought it would be useful to get metrics about the size of the repositories over time, and in what ways it changes.

It should be noted that the sizes are for all of mozilla-central, which is Firefox and several other Mozilla products. I chose Firefox versions as they are useful historical points. As of this posting (2015-02-06) version 36 is Beta, 37 is Aurora, and 38 is tip of mozilla-central.

Source lines of code and repo size

UPDATE: This newly generated graph shows that there was a sharp increase in the amount of code around v15 without a similarly sharp rise of working copy size. As this size was calculated with ‘du’, it will not count hardlinked files twice. Perhaps the size of the source code files is insignificant compared to other binaries in the repository. The recent (v34 to v35) increase in working copy size could be due to added assets for the developer edition (thanks hwine!)

My teammate Gregory Szorc has reminded me that since this size is based off a working copy, it is not necessarily accurate as stored in Mercurial. Since most of our files are under 4k bytes they will use up more space (4k) when in a working copy.

From this we can see a few things. The line count scales linearly with the size of a working copy. Except at the beginning, where it was about half the ratio until about Firefox version 18. I haven’t investigated why this is, although my initial suspicion is that it might be caused by there being more image glyphs or other binary data compared to the amount of source code.

Also interesting is that Firefox 5 is about 3.4 million lines of code while Firefox 35 is almost exactly 6.6 million lines. That’s almost a doubling in the amount of source code comprising mozilla-central. For reference, Firefox 5 was released around 2011/06/21 and Firefox 35 was released on 1/13/2015. That’s about two and a half years of development to double the codebase.

If I had graphed back to Firefox 1.5 I am confident that we would see an increasing rate at which code is being committed. You can almost begin to see it by comparing the difference between v5 and v15 to v20 and v30.

I’d like to continue my research into how the code is evolving, where exactly the large size growth came from between v34 and v35, and some other interesting statistics about how individual files evolve in terms of size, additions/removals per version, and which areas show the greatest change between versions.

If you’re interested in the raw data collected to make this graph, feel free to take a look at this spreadsheet.

The source lines of code count was generated using David A. Wheeler’s SLOCCount.

My Gear Post


Whenever I encounter people as I travel, they are often curious about my luggage. It seems to be invisible. They’ll often ask where my bag is, assuming that it must have gotten lost in transit. Their eyes go wide and confusion sets in when I tell them that the bag on my back is the only one.

It is my estimation that at least some people would be curious about what gear I travel with. They ask how I’m able to pack all the necessities into such a small space. There is no great secret to traveling light. All it takes is a little research and compromise in creature comforts. If you have browsed the postings of other nomadic hackers, there might be little to be gleaned from this post. Here’s a basic rundown, with almost each article deserving its own article.

It should go without saying that nobody paid for me to write this post, and likewise nobody as sent me any products to test.

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Working around flaky internet connections

In many parts of the world a reliable internet connection is hard to come by. Ethernet is essentially non-existent and WiFi is king. As any digital nomad can testify, this is ‘good enough’ for doing productive work.

Unfortunately not all WiFi connections work perfectly all the time. They’re fraught with unexpected problems including dropping out entirely, abruptly killing connections, and running into connection limits.

Thankfully with a little knowledge it is possible to regain productivity that would otherwise be lost to a flaky internet connection. These techniques are applicable to coffee shops, hotels, and other places with semi-public WiFi.

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Attempts source large E-Ink screens for a laptop-like device

One idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for the last few years has been a laptop with an E-Ink display. I would have thought this would be a niche that had been carved out already, but it doesn’t seem that any companies are interested in exploring it.

I use my laptop in some non-traditional environments, such as outdoors in direct sunlight. Almost all laptops are abysmal in a scenario like this. E-Ink screens are a natural response to this requirement. Unlike traditional TFT-LCD screens, E-Ink panels are meant to be viewed with an abundance of natural light. As a human, I too enjoy natural light.

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The cost of ‘free’ relocation cars in New Zealand

Raspberries on the lawn of the Christchurch Riccarton Bush farmers market
Raspberries on the lawn of the Christchurch Riccarton Bush farmers market

As many of my friends know, I’ve been spending the last few weeks in New Zealand. Primarily it’s been for a small holiday, but also in preparation inimitable 2015 conference. Leading up to that, one of the goals of my visit was to experience the variety of places across both islands.

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Finding the perfect ancillary travel device

Hackerbeach attendees at the upper dining table
Hackerbeach attendees at the upper dining table

As would be familiar to anybody who knows me, I’m always interested in new tech, especially when it’s running free software and portable enough to be in my every-day carry arsenal.

For the past month or so I’ve been looking at a few devices as a secondary to my laptop to carry with me. In a few weeks I’ll be joining those already there at third installment of Hackerbeach, on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

I wanted an embedded Linux system that could do everything. The scope of this device just kept getting bigger the more I thought about it.

It should: Continue reading “Finding the perfect ancillary travel device”