Disappointed with SW quality for RPi


15 posts
by rpifreeze » Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:56 pm
Hello all,

I've been recently struggling with setting RPi as an Access Point.
I use Squeeze with recompiled kernel to fit my needs. (i think wheezy is too risky with its "testing" packages)
I've tried many usb wlan sticks, however none of them works properly.
The ones, that support AP mode do not work properly (like Asus usb-n53).
I compiled module by myself with newest sources and it only works as a client for another AP, but doesn't work as an AP itself - no nl80211 module for AP mode or something. No solution found on the internet.
Tried to compile newer wpa_supplicant - throws strange errors even google doesn known the answer to (and other user). hostapd - same issues (local and cross compilation).
When using latest stable versions of those packages it....
...sometimes drops connection (as a client) and no logs available on RPi. I was left with...working hardware itself, that doesn't work with other hardware. Very sad.
Ok, triying different hubs (2.0 and 3.0, self powered) nothing helps.
Played with kernel arguments, downclocked RPi (heat) or disabled many features in kernel - same.
I tried different wifi sticks based on Atheros, Ralink and Realtek chipsets. The same !
I even installed Raspbian - even worse, since we have many Debian packages in "testing" state and throws random exceptions when wifi is working as a client for another AP. It sometimes ends with kernel panic too.
Different USB sticks, with different settings, modules (compiled myself and from kernel if available).
Each day, same errors, AP not working and client - if working, then not during 24h (without any heavier traffic !!!) as it finally goes (offline?), hibernates, disconnects (for what reason?), LEDs go off, dmesg empty, logs empty, lsusb shows devices, bo no logs, even after enabling verbose module logging or via rsyslog.
Windows or x86 Linux ? They work perfectly ! No any issue, so this is not a damaged stick (or?) driver issue, but something deeper.
In the end, I stopped using RPi since it cannot hold stable network connection at all !
Previously, I had a problem with smsc95xx = lan network - RPi simply crashed (kernel panic) by downloading/uploading a 200 MB file even when throttling to 100 kB/s. With recent kernel and patches it works, but sometimes freezes and no information avilable in logs at all. I connect through usb2serial but hell ! Does RPi supports networking at all ?
What am I supposed to do now since everything fails. Saying everything I mean network layer.
Why did we get a malfunctioning tool from foundation ? Yes malfunctioning, because it supports network layer, but software support is sooooo poor that it keeps crashing all the time.
I'm sure this has something to do with USB stack since wlan sticks and LAN connection - all goes via usb stack, but is anyone interested in supporting software for RPi ? Looking at github and kernel and soooo seldom updates to source code, I think nobody is interested.
The funniest thing is that farnell and RS try to tell us "buy more....no limit from now on....." but SW support is not in their hands.
I've read thousands of comments, questions on the internet regarding RPi. Some are noob questions, but even power users cannot help, so the problem must be somewhere deep inside kernel or hardware itself.
After spending 1 month with RPi, I'm totally tired of it. I bought external AP and will buy some x86 netbook or mini PC (fit2pc) that at least have a solid support from all over the world and major players and contributrors like RedHat. This is x86 platform in fact.
Right now, we see that such projects like RPi and doomed for a failure.
I know what intention of RPi is (low cost and power, poor side of the world), but without GOOD support from developers (and in fact from foundation, this hardware is not wort a cent).
I wanted to buy 10 pcs for my test projects (different ones, automation, monitoring, watchdog, timers, lighting), but what can I do if RPi crashes, freezes, looses connection...? What about setting it up in a 10 km distance when it looses network connectivity (even with 3g usb modem).
For me, it makes no sense at all, and looking at amount of work hours spent at RPi, it's far more expensive than buying x86 hardware (low power AMD?) than spending valuable hours at RPi and receiving nothing in advance.
Does anyone have similar feelings ?
If you think this is developers fault (also chipset producers that don't offer support for ARM, then WHY foundation released such malfunctioning thing ? Does it do something to make SW better ?
I know, you'll say to wait some time, because RPi is a new thing.
Damn, I'm too young to wait and "windering where it will blow up tomorrow" and probably the biggest mistake was to release HW without proper software support.

If don't want to comment above, please give advise some working wifi chipsets in AP mode ? Even at constant 50 kB/s but 24h a day, without freezes, kernel panics and so on.

Btw,
I didn't even start with the rest of software (daemons), because the most important thing for me is stable network connection.
usb and broadcom issues will never be solved...Too much time passed, too much to be done...
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by W. H. Heydt » Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:26 am
The software ports to the Pi are being done by people on a *voluntary* basis, without pay. As a result, you are not PAYING to get the software.

If you are unsatisfied with how a piece of software works, then get out there and fix it yourself instead of wingeing that someone else isn't fixing it.
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by SirLagz » Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:51 am
Paragraphs PLEASE !

Also, use Raspbian and try again.
A WiFi NIC that is working for me in AP mode is a Ralink RT5370.
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by jamesh » Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:08 am
Sorry you are encountering problems. Couple of recomendations..

As above - use Raspbian - although its newer, its a much better distribution and more reliable. Also there are some fixes for the USB coming which may help your problem.

Search the forum for specific wifi sticks that have been proven to work, and what pople did to get them to work reliably.

Have you tried a wired connection - is that more reliable?
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by rpifreeze » Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:24 am
W. H. Heydt wrote: As a result, you are not PAYING to get the software.

Don't you think this is unfair ? I've been allowed to buy something without any support ? Then why something like this showed up on the market and cheat people how magnificent tool it is.
If it has usb stack or ethernet connections, AND, Debian is one of few prefered distributions for RPi, but doesn't work as expected, then something is veeery wrong here.
I will try Raspbian, however I started first with this release (Wheezy) and I also wasn't satisfied with its stability, so that's why I returned to stable release.
I will switch back to Raspbian and surely let you know of my results.
I haven't checked how it looks like in other Arm based distributions and hardware (Arduino and similar) since I don't own it, but there arent at lest such problems like here - too few power, specific hub, ethernet not working, wifi freezes.
Ok ok....calm down....
Give me a day or two for tests.
usb and broadcom issues will never be solved...Too much time passed, too much to be done...
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by SirLagz » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:02 pm
Seriously.
Paragraphs.

You paid for a piece of developer hardware. It is not a finished product, and is undergoing continued improvement.

It was released to the public so that these issues could be found by the developer community. If you were expecting a finished, polished product, you are looking in the wrong place.

The amount of effort that has been poured into Raspbian has been tremendous just to get it to the point it is now. If you would like to see it get better, you could always contribute by filing bug reports. Otherwise there's not much else we can do but wait patiently for the geniuses behind the Raspberry Pi to work their magic.
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by Max » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:10 pm
W. H. Heydt wrote:The software ports to the Pi are being done by people on a *voluntary* basis, without pay. As a result, you are not PAYING to get the software.
If you are unsatisfied with how a piece of software works, then get out there and fix it yourself instead of wingeing that someone else isn't fixing it.


I think the issues he is seeing have more to do with the hardware side, then the actual Debian port.
And how does one fix kernel modules that talk to hardware for which the specifications have not been made public?
Would argue that it's the job of the foundation to make sure all issues related to USB, SD, network and video (acceleration) are fixed.

Even when it concerns hardware components from 3rd parties, they are in a lot better position then the general public to put pressure on the supplier so that either they fix the issue themselves, make specifications public, or provide the specifications to a developer contracted by the foundation under some form of NDA.
by asb » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:11 pm
rpifreeze wrote: Looking at github and kernel and soooo seldom updates to source code, I think nobody is interested.


This is just flat out wrong.

It sounds like your problems primarily stem from USB issues, which I'll accept is causing problems for some people. See the other threads on the topic - the USB driver is being actively worked on. I strongly recommend you give Raspbian another try and report any software issues you have. Most people seem to have great success with the thousands of packages in the Debian/Raspbian repository.
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by jamesh » Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:19 pm
Max wrote:Would argue that it's the job of the foundation to make sure all issues related to USB, SD, network and video (acceleration) are fixed.


Indeed, and work is actively being done on the USB driver. Once that is sorted, that should fix most network issues. I believe most SD card issues are already sorted out in the latest release. As to video acceleration - what is the issue here? The only thing I can think of is X acceleration, which is not something the Foundation will be doing. Note, that is a nice to have, not an essential bug fix/feature.
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by feverish » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:04 pm
jamesh wrote: . . . . Also there are some fixes for the USB coming which may help your problem.

That could be wonderful news. Could you (or anyone else) expand a bit on the 'who's; 'when's; and 'what's specifics, if you know any, please?
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by jamesh » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:11 pm
Please the USB threads for more information - basically, we have someone working on the driver, and making some progress, but as with all software issues, and especially with something this complicated, it's difficult to put a date on any fixes.
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by alexham » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:30 pm
W. H. Heydt wrote:The software ports to the Pi are being done by people on a *voluntary* basis, without pay. As a result, you are not PAYING to get the software.

If you are unsatisfied with how a piece of software works, then get out there and fix it yourself instead of wingeing that someone else isn't fixing it.

I have met volunteers who "cannot be criticized" and to them I say: "Go and volunteer somewhere else!"
I am prepared to take full responsibility for everything I do and expect no less. Money does not come into it.

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by Max » Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:27 pm
jamesh wrote:I believe most SD card issues are already sorted out in the latest release.


Compatibility with SD cards has indeed improved.

But when throwing above average IO at the SD card I can still get it to a state where it gets stuck with 98% IO wait, never to recover.
Problem is that it is hard to come up with a testcase that is always reproducable, and therefore fill a proper bug report, but it still doesn't look quite right to me.

E.g. when creating a new file system with "mkfs.ext4 /dev/mmcblk0p2" from an initramfs/busybox environement it usually completes within a minute, but occasionally it does not, and still is at 98% IO after 30 minutes:

Image

"dmesg" does show a couple "mmc0: missed completion of cmd17" earlier on boot, but no warnings during this.
"sync" returns instantly so it is not waiting on a write to complete.
"killall -9 mkfs.ext4" does not rectify it, requires a reboot.
Happens with different brands of SD cards, but just once in a while, and is not always reproducable which is the problem.


As to video acceleration - what is the issue here? The only thing I can think of is X acceleration, which is not something the Foundation will be doing. Note, that is a nice to have, not an essential bug fix/feature.


Even without full blown X acceleration there might be some basic things that standard framebuffer modules usually have to speed things up a bit.
E.g. the fb_pan_display function does not seem to be implemented, which some applications and games use for page flipping.
Could cause them to fall back to do their own double buffering, and then copying it to the framebuffer memory region later, which is likely less efficient.
And could be more things like that.
by mrreload » Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:56 pm
The main thing most posters are missing is that he isn't just setting up wireless but an AP (Access Point).

From experience, this is a tricky proposition in linux and probably not worth the trouble even on standard x86 hardware. This was part of my Job at a previous employer and even once you get is working, the AP drops connections, refuses connections, etc. You are not just dependant on the USB stack on Pi but also the wireless driver, the AP software and the linux kernel itself. ALL of which written by volunteers, usually.

If it's not working for you how about helping to get it working by contributing and benefitting all? File bug reports, logs.

I think that's what this project is about right now. Co-operative effort of the community.
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by Lob0426 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:01 pm
@rpifreeze: There has been a tremendous improvement over the short time that RasPii have actually been in the hands of developers. SD card performance is drastically improved over the two months I have had my first RasPi. New /boot files are available just about daily. And the USB files are being worked on.\

Hardware:
I hate to say it, but it will do exactly what the foudation designed it to do, Right Now. With the current Software available. But do not tell the community or the foundation that, as I like to see newer software always coming in. The number of people succesfully using the RasPi far exceeds those that are having trouble. There are always hundreds of unregistered users just looking in. The people that are having trouble usually register and ask a question if they do not find the question already addressed. And they are answered daily by somebody. I know @dom is very active in the troubleshooting thread.

Go to Raspbian:
It is the fastest. It has the newest fixes in it. Make sure you are using rpi-update to have the latest fixes. If you are not using rpi-update then you are way behind the curve.

Support:
If you really want to see a lack of support, look for a comparable forum for a Panda Board ES. It is a developer board, just like Raspberry Pi is. There is no comparison at all.

WiFi:
Easiest way to get it working is by using network-manager-gnome, at least for me it was. If you follow the instructions it works. It works both in the CLI and in the GUI. I assume you need the wired as well as the Wireless network. Some hubs and the LAN9512 do not play well together. Search the forums for a script "disable-ethernet" try that and see if your wireless works. If it does then your hub is fighting with the RasPi.

You, as most us, are using the RasPi to do more than its basic design parameters call for. It was designed to be a programming tool for education. Except we are trying to Control Robots, Run it from Solar power, Use it as a Video player, Remote home Management, Control Greenhouses, Media Servers, Send it into the Upper Atmosphere, Autonomous Atlantic Crossing, Cheap Laptop and Use It As An Access point. So if you want to use it as an Access Point, you are going to have to do some research and some searching of the forums and you WILL find the answers you need.

You do not need to go on a Rant about the Raspberry Pi and what it will not do. Make it do it. I and many others have. I have a Lapdock that only runs wireless and it has no problems at all doing it. I found the answers in the same forum you are complaining about. Every Answer! If you do not find the answer then either create an answer, I and others have done that too, and share, or ask a question! That is what makes this a community.
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