User:Ollieparanoid/Dogfooding:N900

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Playing music with MPD

N900 as music player

I was looking for an use case, which allows me to test postmarketOS more often on a real device. Telephony is not really there yet, so let's start with something simple. I'm listening to music while working every weekday, and I like listening to podcasts after work. Two good cases to test postmarketOS! I've chosen the Nokia N900 as device, because it has working audio and because of the keyboard, I can use ncmpcpp and mpd with it.

What's working

  • Playing music with MPD over the speakers
  • nmtui, the Network Manager TUI program is working out of the box (that was really surprising)! There is that bug, that once I am connected to a wireless network, it does not list other networks until I disconnect and let it show the network list again. But I have seen this bug many times on Linux laptops as well, and it's only a minor inconvenience so it's not really important to me.
  • Using i3wm with the keyboard on that little device works great, and once it's booted and if you are only using terminal programs, it's performing really well.
  • Turning off the screen with the slider on the side

Resulting ideas / TODOs / bugs found

  • USB networking is broken. I need to check if it works when the USB cable is not plugged in at boot, as described in pmaports#99, see also: pmaports#64.
  • Get audio with the headphone jack working, should be possible with these configs. There are so many alsa controls, I couldn't get it working by manually changing them. pmaports#132
    • Provide a good way to switch between headphone jack and speakers pmaports#133
  • Provide a nice way of setting up MPD. Right now you need to manually install it, edit the config and run sudo rc-update add mpd to start it automatically. I would like to be able to set it up with a few touch presses after a fresh installation.
  • Make the volume buttons change the volume
  • Make the power button display a menu, from which you can shutdown and reboot by pressing buttons? (right now you do that with sudo reboot etc) pmaports#134
  • Improve boot time: booting an encrypted installation with typing in the password takes about 3 minutes. I think some daemons are running into timeouts or something. We could investigate that with bootchartd, Alpine's initramfs script has support for it and we could add it to our initramfs as well.
  • osk-sdl:
    • improve performance: right now you need to type in each password letter slowly after another, it will skip the ones you have typed in too fast
    • the password field is too short for a reasonable password length (at least for my taste). Make the font smaller.
  • Look into podcast players (not that important to me though, the music use case is pretty nice for testing already). But from a quick research I've seen that there are tons of podcast players. Just check which ones are packaged in Alpine if any, and how well they work on the N900. Something with keyboard controls would be nice, unless there's one with really good touch controls that performs on the N900.
  • Add a default ncurses theme. It's possible to change the default colors, so nmtui doesn't look like the Windows 95 installer. We could throw some postmarketOS green in there instead of the blue.
  • It would be nice if we could install postmarketOS without booting maemo first. Right now, the workflow is installing u-boot from within maemo. (maemo-leste#211)
  • Maybe recommend default UI(s) in the deviceinfo file?

Improvements made

  • 2018-11-20, pmaports!72:
    • change terminal from xfce4-terminal to st
    • set the grass wallpaper
    • add conky with a default config to display the kernel version or the playing track if mpd is running
    • hide the mouse cursor
    • add mpd keybindings to the default i3 config for the N900
    • display "PROTIP: ^i (ctrl+i) does autocompletion" when opening a terminal