Welcome to the personal blog of matpower

  • matpower

    I'm a sad scientist

    How did this even start out?
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  • matpower

    Quick thoughts on the RetroGame RS-97

    Another technology related piece, but this time, it is gaming related!
    Recently, I bought a RetroGame RS-97 for 50 bucks, usually those Chinese handhelds are pure trash *cough* BittBoy *cough*, but this one got a small community going and improving it, and it was really cheap! I couldn't refuse a niche deal like this, I am a sucker for obscure hardware and I really wanted a dedicated, cheap emulation machine I could take everywhere without worrying about breaking or getting it stolen.
    (No, it is not a K101, I swear!)
    The specs aren't anything special for today's standards, which why it is so cheap:
    Shell: Revo K101, including an useless GBA slot (which acts as a microSD reader) and an useless EXT port (which you can mod for Serial). It also has a TV out port (but it looked horrible on LCD I tried).
    Screen: 3 inches, 320x480 (it has a weird ass resolution, more into it below).
    CPU: Ingenic JZ4760 circa 2010 (Remember the Dingoo? It used a similar one).
    RAM: 128M DDR2.
    Storage: Internal 4GB (It is a microSD slotted on the board, you can replace it) and an external microSD on the "GBA slot".
    Battery: BL-5B 890mAh (Standard Nokia phone battery), lasting about 3 and something hours.

    Build quality is surprisingly good for a cheap handheld, likely due to the use of K101 shells. Buttons are a bit mushy compared to Nintendo's semi-clickly ones, but you get used to them quickly.
    As for the built-in software, it comes with emulators, image viewer, video player, music player, ebook reader and a file browser. I will focus on the emulators here:
    • CPS
    • NEOGEO
    • GBA
    • SFC
    • MD
    • FC
    • GBC
    • SMS
    • GG
    • GB
    And it works, that's it. It is a mixed bag of lackluster and alright. Mine came with some ROMs and homebrews and I used them for testing the stock firmware. Arcade ones (CPS and NeoGeo) run really well, 8-bits ones (Famicom, GB, GBC, Game Gear and Master System) also run alright, with some stretched graphics, Mega Drive (Genesis) has crappy sound emulation and lags a bit randomly, SNES is hit-or-miss, depending on how complex the game is, GBA runs surprisingly well.
    Is it enough for a casual user? Probably, but I am not a casual user, and the reason I bought this was the custom OpenDingux firmware. Nowadays it is quite easy to install it anyway, a few weeks ago you had to open the handheld up and replace the SD with a flashed OpenDingux image on a bigger SD, now you can just run a installer on the stock firmware that allows dual boot from the external SD slot.

    Installing Dingux gives you more, better emulators, and source ports (and a better menu IMO, GMenu is way better than whatever comes with the stock one), fixing pretty much every major issue pointed above, no weird screen resolution, perfect sound on Mega Drive. So far I have used PicoDrive (Sega CD works, but 32X is a no go), ReGBA (even beat Battle Network 1 using it), PocketSNES, Temper (PC-Engine), FBA GCW0 (Arcade), Oswan (WonderSwan) and RaceOD (Neo Geo Pocket), SNES is still iffy but an improvement over the stock one and WonderSwan is laggy (47/60fps). I heard PS1 is playable if you stick with 2D games and deal with some frameskipping. Some people have been trying to mess with the kernel to see if they can improve performance, but that's a WIP.

    So, is it worth it? If you want an inexpensive handheld for tinkering with, retrogaming on a budget, or as a gift to someone, it is really good and seems to keep improving. If you want something more powerful, the GPD XD or the GPD Win are better options.
  • matpower

    Final thoughts on Fedora 27

    Yay for writing some more to avoid thinking about IRL stuff!

    So after using it for three months now (leading to almost half a year with Fedora), I am still quite pleased, I managed to fix the previous mentioned issue with xfce4-power-manager after googling like crazy after my bug report went nowhere. Basically, it is an upstream issue with xfce4-power-manager and its interaction with logind and you can easily fix it with "
    xfconf-query -c xfce4-power-manager -p /xfce4-power-manager/logind-handle-lid-switch -n -t bool -s false" or just by toggling the lid control on the Settings Editor. I didn't mess with hibernation because I don't use it that often, suspend works good enough and I am too lazy to edit grub settings, but again, easily fixable.

    I am also enjoying using flatpak to get stuff from outside the repos and use upgraded packages, although Fedora's policy is really good with packages (neofetch was added after Fedora 27 was released) and updates (youtube-dl is kept up-to-date), I get a flatpak every now and then. Right now I got RetroArch, MonoDevelop and OpenMW (RPMFusion one is two versions out of date) and the concept seems nice.

    I also did some tweaks to the main install that I forgot to tell previously:
    • Replaced xscreensaver with light-locker (just run: $ xfconf-query -c xfce4-session -p /general/LockCommand -s "light-locker-command -l" --create -t string; to integrate with xflock)
    • Uninstalled a bunch of out-of-the-box stuff I didn't use like virtual keyboard, abiword, etc.
    • Enabled notification logging to counter people deleting messages lol
    • Changed GTK theme from Adapta to Arc since I ended up getting bored of Adapta

    Also non-related to Fedora:
    I did fix the RetroArch flatpak issue with keyboard, it was my own fault lol, I had to turn on "Unified control menus", which was added as an ugly workaround for RetroArch and its internal keyboard thingy.
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  • matpower

    Thoughts about Fedora 27

    Hello everyone! This is Mat here, writing another technology related blog as a way to vent out and complain a bit. As Fedora 25 is reaching EoL, I thought it would be nice to write about Fedora 27.

    I've been running Fedora 27 since its official release date (two weeks tomorrow), the upgrade process from F26 was pretty much flawless besides some small quirks with xfce4-terminal losing its font and dnfdragora crashing due to some icon issue, the former was easily fixed while I didn't care enough about the latter, so I just disabled it from startup (I would rather run dnf for upgrades myself). If it wasn't for those small quirks, I would say that the upgrade path for it is as good as Debian's.

    So what did this upgrade bring new to the table? For a desktop user, not much, just updated packages, PipeWire (apparently GNOME only? Didn't notice a thing) and a new version of GNOME (which doesn't affect me, as I am running my handy Xfce setup), there was some interesting development in the server area as they keep pushing their modularization concept ahead, I find it pretty cool but I kinda worry how it is going to affect their desktop down the road. A cool thing about this release was the fact that it was the first Linux distro to ship Firefox 57, which I highly recommend checking out even if you are a hardcore Chrome user.

    Sadly, this upgrade didn't solve two major issues I had with Fedora 26, which hurts my workflow in a petty, but annoying way. The first issue is power management, for some reason, my laptop always suspend when I close the lid, ignoring completely what settings I set up in Xfce's power manager. I need my laptop to lock the screen if closed while charging, as I use it as a "low power" download box while I'm sleeping, or just to avoid dirt on it while I am away for some time. The second issue is hibernation, if I try to hibernate it, it will boot up and load a blank desktop like a normal shutdown, apparently this is caused due to the lack of a "resume" flag in GRUB pointing to the swap partition from what I have seen in Bugzilla. I plan on fixing that down the road later, as I don't use hibernation often, but for a stable and mature distro, it is ridiculous to have that kind of issue in 2017.


    So that is it for Fedora! It is arguably the only distro that fits my needs atm (stable but cutting edge && not Arch), unless I go back to Debian and use its Testing branch, but I want something a bit more stable. If at least I could fix the issue with power management, it would be perfect for my use case. Solus piqued my interest but without Xfce, I am not sure if I would use it, unless MATE is as flexible and reliable as Xfce.

    As something not related directly to Fedora, the RetroArch flatpak is still broken for keyboard users reeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
  • matpower

    The dangers of "fastboot erase all" - AKA How to lose your IMEI

    I want to write this little piece since this was the dumbest thing that could have happened to my phone.

    Yesterday, during the afternoon, my phone got caught in a bootloop. Apparently the data partition corrupted itself and I couldn't wipe it through TWRP. I thought "Okay, that's fine, but maybe eMMC is about to die", I later found out it was fine during troubleshooting, but that is kinda useless now.

    I made a backup of my internal storage and decided to troubleshoot the issue, I tried to clean the slate through fastboot, but since I didn't remember the exact partitions, I did a "fastboot erase all" and didn't even pay attention to the console text, for me, it was all dandy and it wiped what I expected (Too used to this stuff, you know). Sadly, that didn't solve my issue with the /data partition, Lineage still was caught in a bootloop and I still couldn't wipe /data through TWRP. I then remembered that the stock rom comes with a gpt.bin file that contains the partition table and expected partitions! "That ought to do the trick!", I thought.

    Fast-forwarding to today's morning, I flashed stock and it worked fine! Phone booted and all! Although I was late to college, I quickly reflashed LineageOS with GApps and decided to download some small apps with LTE, as my house doesn't have phone reception most of the time (fucking Claro reeee), I didn't realize the issue, but as I was reaching the bus terminal, I should already have it working, that wasn't the case though. One college <-> Home trip later without anything to do, I went and flashed stock again, wondering if it was a bug on LineageOS, I then went to an area with reception and it still was stuck at "emergency calls only". I decided to google the issue and that led me to check my IMEI, in that instant I realized I fucked up, "IMEI = 0".

    I already tried to follow some tutorials to recover my IMEI using Qualcomm tools, but it was a no go, and I'm going to give Xposed + IMEI Changer a try, if it works, I'm stuck at Marshmallow with a hacky workaround, otherwise this phone is basically as good as a media consumption device with a cracked screen, which is a crappy thing anyway.

    TL;DR: Don't use "fastboot erase all" on Motorola phones, they keep the partition with the IMEI data exposed and unless you have backups, you are screwed.

    As a sidenote, this whole ordeal also killed my SD card with backups, that's how lucky I am.

    And in something completely unrelated, Fate/GO seems to work in a GApps-less phone, that is actually a pretty cool thing if I ever follow my "Avoid Google" plan.

    EDIT: Xposed + IMEI changers were a no go, mostly likely because it doesn't account for dual SIM phones I guess?