Galaxy tab 10.1 – User review

Hello,
Once again I’m writing about stuff I recently bought. This time it’s about my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (LTE, 16GB storage).
I’ve bought it 2 months ago (more or less) and it’s been my companion since, it’s my favorite gadget and the one i use more when I’m not working. So… why do i like it this much, what is it’s strengths and weakness?

Strong points:

  • Size and looks
  • Processing power and available ram
  • Applications available
  • Net
  • Display quality and resolution
  • Sound quality including microphone
  • Flash availability
  • Cameras quality despite low resolution
  • Battery endurance
  • Easy root access

Weak points

  • Samsung software including slow update release cycle and specially touchwiz
  • Android honeycomb (I’ll explain this afterwards)
  • Connectors place (some on the top, some at the bottom)
  • 16GB storage (I never found the 32 GB available on stores (LTE version)
  • No sdcard slot (although there’s an external adapter)
  • No USB mass storage availability (that’s really annoying)

Apps that I really enjoy:

  • Angry birds
  • Astro
  • Better Terminal
  • Bloomberg
  • Dolphin Browser
  • Evernote
  • ezPDF reader
  • Facebook
  • Firefox
  • HP Home & Biz (for printing support)
  • LogMeIn
  • Network Info II
  • Network Mapper
  • OpenVPN
  • PressReader (a must)
  • RomManager (a must)
  • ScreamingNetTools (a must)
  • Skype (a must have)
  • SuperUser
  • Thumbs keyboard
  • Titanium Backup
  • Torque (if you like to control your car with your mobile/tab)
  • WifiAnalyser
  • X Construct
  • and many others 🙂

Conclusions
The galaxy tab is great and I love it. it has a large display that allows you to see perfect high def. movies during a flight, the battery run for 12+ hours (in flight mode), I’ve also about 50 apps that complement my tab usage so I find the apps availability very good. I also enjoy the freedom that LTE (4G,3G) gives me while on the road.
I also enjoy the ability to use it for remote access to servers (MS and Linux), it’s my first gadget where i can really do some work for a while without getting too tired (if you use ssh on your mobile phone you know what I mean).
Another good thing about the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is that I almost don’t use my laptop at home, it’s perfect for browsing the web and replying email, but better that it all it’s the newspaper and magazine applications that allow me to read all the things I want without carrying too much stuff with me.

But, and there’s always a but, Samsung and Google fail on this device and it’s software. Samsung uses touchwiz on top of honeycomb, and thats a pain, then the kies software for the desktop is only available on windows, and to finish it Google didn’t release the source code for honeycomb.
Most of the bad things on this device don’t affect the regular, non informed user but they limit the hardware usage where you don’t have the freedom to choose the type of installation you like, you’ll have a hard time to compile your own kernel modules and to tune your hardware as you like it. All this is more of Google fault than Samsung but there’s hope with ice cream sandwich (android v4).
on Samsung I complain on the slow release cycle and on their Touchwiz software that is a piece of crap, also the desktop software is also buggy and slow (I just used it twice though).
Whenever I need to transfer a file to the Galaxy Tab I use an ssh server on the Tab and send the file through wireless connection with scp or rsync.

To finish I recommend this to everyone, it made my life easier both on the professional side as well at home, it’s a great product, well build with quality components and very easy to use.
Now I only hope Samsung do a better work on the software side, the device is sure worth it.
Cheers,
Pedro Oliveira

OpenSuSE Linux on Sony Vaio VPCSB – User Review

Hi today I was using my new laptop (well it has about 1 month now) and I thought in sharing my usage experience with it. My Vaio is a VPCSB and I run it with OpenSuSE 11.4 X86_64.
I have a thing for Sony Vaios, this one is my 4th. I like Vaios for their build quality, looks, performance and size as I also travel quite a bit.
I’m not a gamer at all so what I value for my computer usage is:

1 – Size (13 inches or smaller)
2 – Weight (2Kg or lower)
3 – Looks
4 – Display quality
5 – Battery endurance
6 – Performance (CPU, Memory, IO)
7 – Number of IO ports (USB, VGA, DVI, Network cards, DVD or Blue-ray in this case, GSM card)
8 – Extras (Illuminated keyboard, hybrid video systems, etc)
9 – And the most important item… Linux compatibility as it will be my choice OS

So after breaking my old Vaio display, I researched a lot (and not only Vaios), I bought this VPCSB, my expectations were very high as my last laptop, a Vaio SZXN was (and still is because it was fixed) an excellent laptop. It worked flawlessly for 4 years with about 12 hours run everyday, lots of traveling, lots of airplane usage and with minor upgrades on memory (2GB ram to 4GB) and a major upgrade this year on the hard drive where I bought a Samsung high performance SSD.
Well, back to the new computer let’s start on the hardware listing (including lscpi and lsusb output):

CPU:  Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2410M CPU @ 2.30GHz
RAM: 6GB
HD:SAMSUNG MMDOE56G5MXP-0VB

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family DRAM Controller (rev 09)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family PCI Express Root Port (rev 09)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 09)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #2 (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 1 (rev b4)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 2 (rev b4)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 3 (rev b4)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 4 (rev b4)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation HM65 Express Chipset Family LPC Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family 6 port SATA AHCI Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller (rev 04)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc NI Seymour [AMD Radeon HD 6470M] (rev ff)
02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Centrino Wireless-N 1000
03:00.0 Unassigned class [ff00]: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device 5209 (rev 01)
04:00.0 USB Controller: NEC Corporation uPD720200 USB 3.0 Hayt Controller (rev 04)
05:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 06)

Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 08ff:168f AuthenTec, Inc.
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0c45:64b5 Microdia
Bus 001 Device 007: ID 05c6:9225 Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 0489:e00f Foxconn / Hon Hai Foxconn T77H114 BCM2070 [Single-Chip Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Adapter]
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub

So running with Linux (OpenSuSE) what works and what doesn’t work?
Easy there are only 2 things that aren’t running on Linux:
1 – Finger print reader (Bus 001 Device 003: ID 08ff:168f AuthenTec, Inc. )
2 – Touch-pad with multi-touch although it works fine with single-touch
Maybe the multi-touch function can be activated but to be sincere I didn’t pay much attention to it.
The fingerprint is not working due to Sony (they are failing on us here), the multi touch has a signed firmware that doesn’t allow any application to use it, so it needs a Sony interface application to communicate with the system.

What runs and should have trouble running?
The webcams are known to be prone to have trouble and this one works like a charm.
The internal GSM card also works perfectly in Linux (ID 05c6:9225 Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem), just a note, I disabled the PIN request on the ISP chip, I did this because from time to time I lost communication with the GSM device after suspending to ram or disk.
The Ati Radeon card works really well with the fglrx driver (even the hybrid features).

What didn’t I tested / used till now:
I never tried to use the blue-ray functions, I’ve recorded and CDs and DVDs but never used blue-ray disks (I just have some Playstation 3 games on blue-ray)

User experience and usability:
Let me say it this way… I LOVE MY NEW VAIO!
It’s small yet powerful, it has a nice amount of ram, fast SSD, good battery life. The display is great, altought the view angles aren’t that good.
In what concerns to mobility I can’t find anything better, I really like the Intel wireless device (supporting 801.11B,G,N), the GSM card it a major feature and it’s a really nice feature to have if you move a lot, and the usual ethernet port also deliveries good performance.
What I don’t like at all are the mouse buttons, they are hard to press and noisy. The same happens to the fan if you’re running at full speed (like compiling a kernel), it will get noisy, but you’re just working on Libreoffice, using FireFox it will be just fine.
On the other hand the lightened keyboard is great for working late at home or in the plane, you’ll not be searching for keys anymore.

Conclusion
Do I tell you to buy this one?
YES, it’s small, fast, pretty and it will deliver, you’ll be able to work full days on this one without miss your desk computer 🙂

PS – What do I like more than my new Vaio?
My new tablet, I’ve also bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 but I’ll write about it sometime.
Cheers,
Pedro Oliveira

 

Unix timestamp to human readble date

Hi, this is more a mental note for myself but it can be useful to someone.
Here’s how to transform a Unix timestamp to human readable date using bash

date -d @1000000042
Sun Sep 9 02:47:22 WEST 2001

Cheers,
Pedro Oliveira

Oracle VS IBM – “Independent” Study

Today Oracle launched a paper that focus the gains of Oracle solutions over Solaris VS IBM solutions over AIX.

You can find the paper here.

After reading the entire paper I find it quite tendentious.

I’m not a Oracle/SPARC fan nor a IBM/Aix fan, although I’ve worked with both for years, my favorite OS is Linux, and well i also Solaris a bit.
So why do I find it tendentious:

1 – The way it’s written, for every user comment they say a slightly positive thing about IBM, but the really good thing is Oracle/Solaris.

2 – I don’t doubt that the interviews were conducted I’m almost sure the people were selected. As I told before I like Linux, if i want i can manage to get 20 sys admins that will focus that Linux is better than Solaris, I just have to select the right ones. Although I know it’s not the case in many issues, it is others.
Everyone likes to defend it’s favorite technology.

3 – Who ordered the study? The study costs money and with so many interviews who payed for it?

4 – It’s not possible that an independent study interview dozens of people and they all point in the same direction, even on the price issue that flavors IBM it’s not good because there are hidden costs. I know the costs are there, but for experts they aren’t that hidden.

5 – Why does it says it’s confidential on the front page and it’s published on Facebook.com? If it was a true confidential report it wouldn’t be widely spread by Oracle.

I don’t want to look picky but as a piece of marketing this is a no go, at least in my opinion.
I like Oracle products like Unbreakable Linux, Solaris, MySQL, Oracle DB, OpenOffice and so on, I just don’t like companies that try to make you a fool with propaganda.

Cheers,
Pedro Oliveira

Testing BTRFS – Performance comparison on a high performance SSD (BTRfs vs Ext4)

Hi,
Today I was reading about btrfs and as never used it before I thought in giving it a try.
On my laptop I have a ssd with 256GB, there I created 2 LVM2 volumes to use and test btrfs.
It’s not the ideal solution because there’s a LVM layer but I’m not in the mood for backup,erasing,installing,erasing and installing. So the tests I’m going to do are just on the FS itself, not on all the layers that btrfs supports. A good thing in using a ssd card is that the access time is equal for all the block device and the data position on the block device is not accountable, so this is a very good opportunity to have measurements both on ext4 and btrfs.
Here’s the benchmark architecture, tools and setup:

Kernel:

Linux MartiniMan-LAP 2.6.38-31-desktop #1 SMP PREEMPT 2011-04-06 09:01:38 +0200 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

LVM lv creation command:

lvcreate -L 20G -n TestingBTRfs /dev/mapper/system
lvcreate -L 20G -n TestingExt4fs /dev/mapper/system

LVM lvdisplay output:

--- Logical volume ---
LV Name /dev/system/TestingBTRfs
VG Name system
LV UUID zBYf0d-metk-VC9U-YkjE-z1Ts-NMLb-HzYmrJ
LV Write Access read/write
LV Status available
LV Size 20.00 GiB
Current LE 5120
Segments 1
Allocation inherit
Read ahead sectors auto
- currently set to 256
Block device 253:3

--- Logical volume ---
LV Name /dev/system/TestingExt4fs
VG Name system
LV UUID FJEfiv-Hs9W-zGuV-sJIo-3INN-gh52-YgmsVl
LV Write Access read/write
LV Status available
LV Size 20.00 GiB
Current LE 5120
Segments 1
Allocation inherit
Read ahead sectors auto
- currently set to 256
Block device 253:4

FS creation command:

mkfs.ext4 /dev/system/TestingExt4fs
mkfs.btrfs /dev/system/TestingBTRfs

Processor:

model name : Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU T7200 @ 2.00GHz

HardDrive:

Device Model: SAMSUNG MMDOE56G5MXP-0VB

Mount command (as you can see I didn’t do any optimizations, noatime, etc):

/dev/mapper/system-TestingBTRfs on /mnt/btrf type btrfs (rw)
/dev/mapper/system-TestingExt4fs on /mnt/ext4 type ext4 (rw)

Test software:

'Iozone' Filesystem Benchmark Program

Version $Revision: 3.373 $
Compiled for 64 bit mode.

Command line for the tests:
Command line used:

 ./iozone -Ra -r4k -r8k -r16k -r32k -r64k -r128 -r1024 -r4096k -r16384k -s1g

This command was used in the btrfs and the ext4 volumes.
The options mean:
-R excel/

office compatible format.
-a auto test
-r the record size (you can see I used several (4k,8k…))
-s size of test file (I used 1GB)

Here’s the test results:

And the charts (The scale is logarithmic):

(you may download the data here: [download id=”1″])

Conclusions

As you can see on the charts for sequential reading/writing there’s a performance gain  in BTRfs with the smaller record sizes but the inverse is also true, EXT4 has more performance on larger record sizes.

If you look to the random data access while reading or writing you’ll see that EXT4 is far faster that BTRfs, and this is according to my daily usage pattern would be 70% of the access to my hard drive. To be sincere I’m a bit surprised on such a difference. I know I didn’t tune any of the file systems and the purpose of this benchmark is not having to, just playing with the defaults as most of the installations out there.

Another conclusion that is really simple to understand is that bigger record sizes mean best performance.

For now I think I’ll stick to EXT4 and LVM, who knows if I’ll sometime soon I’ll change to BTRFS, I’ll let it grow and advise you to do the same.

Cheers,

Pedro Oliveira