[Howto] Samsung YP-T9JQB and Linux aka mtp the fourth

Tux
Recently I had to deal with a new mtp driven MP3 player. Fortunately, a firmware update solved the problem, but the issue itself left several open questions.

The beginning

I had bad experiences with MTP players. Therefore, when a friend (usually using Windows XP) asked me which kind of player she should buy, I explained the differences of MTP and UMS. Of course she decided to search for UMS players afterwards because it has major advantages compared to MTP devices: the ability to simply plug in the device without the need to open any additional application. This includes also to use the device on most enterprise Windows setups like at work or at university where you still have Win2k or WinXP but without the newest Media Player. Not to mention alternative operating systems like Linux, BSDs, Mac OS, etc.

She finally decided to buy the quite new YP-T9JQB. And the trouble started.

Samsung

From the beginning, the main problem was Samsung itself: everywhere I checked they describe the player YP-T9JQB as UMS – which is exactly what everyone wants.
However, despite what Samsung says the player is not an UMS device but a MTP device. While in these days MTP devices are not an unsolvable problem with newer Linux distributions (libmtp comes to the rescue here), the device did not even work properly (=showing up on the desktop) on a fully updated (!) Windows XP computer.
I guess this was because you have to agree to the Windows Media Player update at some place, it doesn’t come automatically…

Anyway, as you can imagine the result wasn’t so funny because it made the device pretty useless: the user of the device had to use corporate computers pretty often – all not able to talk to the MTP device in a sufficient way.

I decided to call Samsung why they say it is an UMS device but sell MTP devices. Samsung told me that this was due to the firmware version: the player had 1.26 but Samsung said it would usually be 1.16 which would be UMS. They told me my reseller might have changed that, but that they could not give me the old firmware version, I would have to speak to my reseller.
I believed it – but later on found out that all German and US/UK Samsung homepages had no UMS firmware at all. Nowhere! Only MTP firmwares in different versions.
So I think the Samsung people tricked me and simply didn’t want to admit that they screwed it up. Pretty poor for such a big company…

Singapore

I was now short before giving the player back and taking the money to buy some other UMS device out there (like the U3 from iAudio maybe which can switch between both modes). But then I found a page saying that someone had found a UMS firmware somewhere. Curious of that I searched as well – and found it in Singapore!
There the download section provided even the newest firmware version (1.68) with UMS support. One reason to hesitate though was that the player was described as YP-T9BQB – mark the J replaced by a B. I don’t know what that change is for, but since the “YP-T9” was still the same I tried the firmware update anyway. And it worked perfectly. The firmware even features a German interface and since I doubt that there is such a need for German interfaces in Singapore I guess this is just the usual Firmware but with a switch set to UMS instead of MTP.

I copied the firmware files with libmtp (taken form here with the help of a T9 fan page):

$ mtp-sendfile SYSDATA.bin /
$ mtp-sendfile MUON.ROM /

After disconnecting the device from the PC I simply had to start it, and the firmware was updated without any problems. And it works without any problems. The only strange thing is that the device has two partitions in UMS mode, but who cares anyway.

Questions left

But since everything worked so easily this leaves a couple of questions:

  • Why did they lie to me?
  • Why didn’t Samsung at least tell me about this Firmware which could be used easily?
  • Why doesn’t support Samsung this Firmware when they have it anyway?
  • Since it is a software only thing, why don’t they add UMS as an option as it is reported for other players?
  • Why do they use MTP as the main choice when so many computers (like Win2k) out there can’t handle it?

I think I will call the Samsung support again and complain about first how they treated me as a customer, how they provided me false information and second that they do not add UMS support as an option. That will cost me some cents, but that’s worth it.
Otherwise, it will be iAudio again next time.

The usual last words

Everything you do with firmwares is *always* on your own risks. These are not official Samsung information!

The OIN about patents

Tux
Recently Microsoft’s patent claims were renewed, now stating an exact number of violated patents. The answers showed however that no one has to fear anything.

Among all the answers to the claims one struck me as very important: the answer of the Open Invention Network (OIN):

  • There never has been a patent lawsuit against Linux. Never.
  • Linux has excellent intellectual property vetting.
  • Linux has thousands of high-quality, dedicated programmers.
  • Linux creates a robust, secure computer operating environment.

Especially the first part is very promising: with companies like Red Hat, Novell and IBM you certainly have all kinds of companies you could aim at to sue: if you want the big money go after IBM, if you want smaller but still enough money, go after Red Hat.
Still, no one tried to get money out of it – and there are patent processes all the time. Microsoft has to fight many of them, and already lost the one or the other!

But even if Microsoft would try to get after Linux, the OIN would come to rescue – and it is pretty clear that they have the power:

In less than a year, OIN has accumulated more than 100 strategic, worldwide patents and patent applications that span Web / Internet, e-commerce, mobile and communications technologies.

Afaik these patents are quite heavy, and not just “some” patents: the e-commerce patents donated by Novell are highly valuable and make it very difficult for anyone to attack something covered by the OIN without committing suicide at the same time.

Of course, other answers are also quite valid: Linus Torvalds mentioned that all really operating system relevant patents were filled in the early days, long before Microsoft was even founded. And many of the patents belong to large companies like IBM, NEC, Philips and Sony – companies which also take part in the OIN. Oracle sees the importance of the OIN, btw.
I don’t think that a company starting the patent war would have too many friends – and patent wise Microsoft may be a big player, but there are many more much bigger players.

Speaking about Microsoft, I would like to add another quote. The claims about Linux patent violations are not new: in 2004 Microsoft already stated the Linux violates 283 patents. Microsoft based these claims on a study – and the author of that study, Dan Ravicher, quickly responded that Microsoft should be very careful speaking about patent violations:

There is no reason to believe that GNU/Linux has any greater risk of infringing patents than Windows, Unix-based or any other functionally similar operating system. Why? Because patents are infringed by specific structures that accomplish specific functionality

Apache at 56% – what is wrong?

Tux
The newest Netcraft Web server survey shows again a shrinking of Apaches market share. It is now at 56%, followed by Microsoft with more then 30%.

The current survey explains pretty clear that Apache’s loss of 2.86% is mostly due to a new rating system of the surveys: beginning with this May all pages hosted by Google are not longer rated as Apache solutions, but as GFE (Google Front End). These have a market share of 2.3%, leveling the real loss of Apache to “only” 0.56%.

Still, it is quite a lot – keep in mind that Apache had a market share of over 70% only two years ago. No one would have estimated that Apache would lose 15% in only two years. And even worse, the direction is also clear: Apache is only losing market share – nothing else! Why is that so? Has Apache lost its value?
Or is the community facing something similar to Firefox – but the other way around? No one would have guessed that Firefox would spread so unbelievable fast.

Of course, the possible reasons for this are manifold:
Is Microsoft doing a better marketing? Or has the code quality of Apache dropped somehow? Are there problems in the Apache management/core developers group? Is there a new trend Apache has missed? Or is it just the typical spread of the monopoly, making Apache slightly more unattractive on Windows servers than IIS (keep in mind that there are more Windows servers out there than Linux servers!)?
I have no idea if it is such a reason, or maybe something totally different. But I would like to know. And I would like to know why there is no reaction to this.

The EU-Parliament and Software Patents

I posted this already in german but I have to train my english, and maybe there are really some people outside who are interested in this information – and it is easy to post it in different languages, because the information itself exists in several languages (if you see mistakes, feel free to contact me, I can only learn 😉 ).

What I am writing about: the EU Parliament has relaunched its site with a new, fresh design. That’s not so important, but if you have a more detailed look at the bottom of the front page you will see a link called “End of the battle for software patents”. This article is a very clarifying and informative and shows the development, the backgrounds and the possible future of the whole process around software patents in Europe. And it does not forget to show why the process has been stopped and where the problems are without beeing boring or dry.

While reading this article I recognized again that the main problem is the EU Council – it has to much power, and the Parliament ahs to less. The Parliament is the institution directly elected by the people – they should have the possibility to make laws! But they do not have at the moment, only the Council can start a law making process. I dare to say that the whole problem about software patents would not exist if the Parliament would be able to make laws.

I think one of the reasons why the people didn’t like the EU constitution is that they do not feel properly representated – and as long as the Council has more power as the Parliament this would not change. So: power to the people 🙂

Think about if you are living in the EU and vote for your government next time 😉

Das EU-Parlament und die Softwarepatente

Heise hat mich gerade darauf aufmerksam gemacht, dass das EU-Parlament die eigene Homepage neu gestaltet hat.

Das ist zwar an sich noch nichts besonderes, wird aber dann interessant, wenn man sich die Seite genauer anschaut. Neben der offensichtlich deutlich benutzerfreundlicheren Navigation fällt ein Link am Ende der Seite auf, der auf die “Schlacht um die Softwarepatente” hinweist.

Der darauf folgende Artikel stellt in einer recht guten und aufklärenden, aber nicht zu trockenen Weise die Entwicklung, Hintergründe und auch die mögliche Zukunft dar, und vergisst dabei aber nicht, auch klar zu stellen, warum es woran gescheitert ist, und wo die Probleme liegen.

Was mir dabei wieder aufgefallen ist, ist die Tatsache, dass der Rat zu viele und das Parlament zu wenige Rechte hat! Denn immerhin ist das Parlament die direkte Volksvertretung, und nicht der Rat. Nur das Parlament hat eine direkte demokratische Legitimation, hat aber zur Zeit nicht die Möglichkeit, eigene Gesetze zu beschließen. Das darf nur der Rat, und das ist das Problem.

Hätte das Parlament das Recht, eigene Gesetze zu beschließen, wie es sonst in Demokratien üblich ist, dann wäre die gesamte Diskussion um Softwarepatente recht schnell und problemlos verlaufen – und ich wage zu behaupten, dass wir dann auch in der EU schon große und wichtige Schritte vorwärts gekommen wären. So lange aber der Rat die eigentliche Macht innehat, wundert es mich auch nicht, dass die Menschen, wenn auch meist ohne konkretes Wissen, die Verfassung der EU ablehnen.

Also, wenn ihr bald wählt, weist eure gewählten Menschen darauf hin, dass ihr mehr Macht für das EU-Parlament wollt, denn nur das ist in der EU die direkte Bürgervertretung. 🙂