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sarathmenon
The GPS god is powerful, don't you dare mess with him 
25th-Dec-2008 11:39 am

Its fairly public that the N810's GPS is a joke. GPS fixes are a rare thing to come by, and the device can't hold on to one for long. While playing with the device, I managed to get a fix the very first time in less than a minute, at the office. Well and good, that was fast! The sad part is that I've never managed to get a fix ever after that. I've sat on the terrace talking on my phone and given the N810 close to 15 minutes to go its part. Its always been scanning, scanning and more scanning. I've seen satellites come and go, but never the fix.

After reading up on internettablettalk, there has been a lot of posts on this topic, and one of them suggested that the problem could be with the state file being that the driver creates got corrupted. Hmm, that's interesting. I fire up ssh, and poke under /var/lib. I saw the files there:

Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib/gps# ls -ltrh -rw-rw-r-- 1 user users 9 Dec 20 19:31 gps_serial_ports srw-rw-r-- 1 user users 0 Dec 23 09:52 gps_driver_ctrl -rw-rr 1 user users 23.3k Dec 23 22:02 nvd_data -rw-rr 1 root root 0 Dec 23 22:07 gps_last_saved_report



gps_last_saved_report was my last state, and the coordinated faithfully pointed to the office balcony where the experiment was done. I promptly nuked the file, and fired up maemo-mapper again. There were no improvements, except for the fact that now the app can't see where I was last at. Being the expert I am at rm jobs, I continued on with nvd_data. Still, no dice. maemo-mapper doesn't like to play.

This is the part where heroics kick in. Tired of the gps goo that I've been going through, I am prompt with a rm -rf /var/lib/gps/*. What's the worst that can happen - the driver sees no files and recreates everything? Very sadly, no. maemo-mapper moved on to interesting territory. Can't communicate with the Serial port. Ugh, I HUPed gpsd wishing to move on with life. Same error, heck even reboot did not fix it. In a final exasperation, I did a move job.

Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib# /etc/init.d/gpsdriver stop Stoping gpsdriver Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib# ps -ef | grep gps 1936 root 1784 RW grep gps Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib# mv gps/ gps.old Nokia-N810-WiMAX-36-5:/var/lib# /etc/init.d/gpsdriver start Starting gpsdrive


There was this thought train in my mind that like any sane software, it'll try to create the file, and crap out when it doesn't see anything. Truth be told it did crap out, but in a far worse way. I saw the screen blink, and whoa, I am rebooting. We get past the hand logo, and onto the desktop. Phew, this is the point where I start xterm, and undo the move. Before I could click on the Applications menu, the N810 went on to reboot. And I kept on watching it went on to do that again. And again. while ( 1 ) { again; }. Okay, now I got screwed. Back to ITT, I see that people have reached this state doing more mundane things like OS upgrade, opening the camera, opening contacts to make an xmpp call. At-least my infinite reboot is a bit more gratifying. I did something to screw things up.

My options at this point was to flash the OS with the default software, and pray that the OS backups work. Settings are more or less guaranteed to get messed up/remain incomplete. Nokia does not have FIASCO images for the WiMAX tablet, so all I am left with is the default updater for Windows. I got that downloaded and installed, and the good part about it is that it takes less than 5 minutes to completely reimage the OS. Still, its a frikking missing directory, there's no way that the OS will be so FUBARed that it can't load. I can't believe that Nokia gets the OS part this bad. Most of you reading this far will scream PEBKAC, but hey this is a goddamn directory. GPS isn't the soul and life of this device. It's in all likely-hood the init.d script returning a non-zero status (and sweet lord I can't believe that I forgot to check it before starting up maemo-mapper for the last time). Why Nokia, why can't you make the OS more resilient? Shame on you!

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