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Open Hardware, Raspberry Pi and More

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Hardware
  • When Will Open Source Hardware Become a Thing?

    my honest opinion, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is probably the best of all innovation to come out of the tech industry in the past four or five decades. As far as I can tell, the Open Source Initiative is predated by Richard Stallman’s famous Free Software Foundation (FSF) (1985), which itself is predated by his own GNU project (1983) which seems as if it pretty much kick-started what we would call Free and Open Source today. Whilst it is true that software programs were often shared amongst academics before GNU, the software industry was a fraction of what it is today and so I believe that it was indeed GNU that kicked it all off.

    [...]

    Open Source firmware and drivers have been harder to come by in general than software. However, there have been major efforts made by Open Source and Free Software community members to create projects such as Libreboot which aims to replace proprietary boot firmware. Firmware is often a more contentious issue than software since most hardware we buy comes with firmware baked in. Reverse engineering a device’s firmware is not necessarily a particularly easy task, at least not when compared to just rebuilding an existing software project (eg. LibreOffice and Microsoft Office). To make matters worse, It can be much easier for companies to embed potentially malicious code since it is harder to analyse.

    I think that Open Source firmware will slowly become a bigger thing. However, its growth will probably be driven by the rise of Open Source hardware.

    [...]

    We’ve also seen the introduction of devices for the everyday user (not just hobbyists and tinkerers) including mobile phones and laptops. The company Purism has recently released both Laptops and a model of mobile phone which seem promising. Unfortunately, their laptops do rely on Intel CPUs, even if they claim to have disabled the management engine. It does seem like it will certainly take a while for these devices to meet mainstream though. Still, promising…

  • SAMD21 Lite is a Stamp-sized, MikroBus Compatible Cortex-M0+ MCU Board

    If you’re a fan of tiny microcontroller boards, you’ll be pleased with BOKRA SAMD21 Lite board powered by Microchip SAMD21 Arm Cortex-M0+ MCU, exposing I/Os in a way compatible with MikroBus socket, and adding a Grove connector for good measure.

  • TLS gets a boost from Arduino for IoT devices

    Arduino devices are a favorite among do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts to create, among other things, Internet of Things (IoT) devices. We have previously covered the Espressif ESP8266 family of devices that can be programmed using the Arduino SDK, but the Arduino project itself also provides WiFi-enabled devices such as the Arduino MKR WiFi 1010 board. Recently, the Arduino Security Team raised the problem of security shortcomings of IoT devices in a post, and how the Arduino project is working to make improvements. We will take the opportunity to share some interesting things from that, and also look at the overall state of TLS support in the Arduino and Espressif SDK projects.

    When it comes to making a secure IoT device, an important consideration is the TLS implementation. At minimum, TLS can prevent eavesdropping on the communications, but, properly implemented, can also address a number of other security concerns as well (such as man-in-the-middle attacks). Moreover, certificate-based authentication for IoT endpoints is a considerably better approach than usernames and passwords. In certificate-based authentication, a client presents a certificate that can be cryptographically verified as to the client's identity, rather than relying on a username and password to do the same. These certificates are issued by trusted and cryptographically verifiable authorities so they are considerably more difficult to compromise than a simple username and password. Still, according to the team: "As of today, a lot of embedded devices still do not properly implement the full TLS stack". As an example, it pointed out that "a lot of off-brand boards use code that does not actually validate the server's certificate, making them an easy target for server impersonation and man-in-the-middle attacks."

    The reason for this is often simply a lack of resources available on the device — some devices only offer 32KB of RAM and many TLS implementations require more memory to function. Moreover, validating server certificates requires storing a potentially large number of trusted root certificates. Storing all of the data for Mozilla-trusted certificate authorities on a device takes up over 170KB in a system that potentially only has 1MB of available total flash memory. A general lack of education regarding the importance of security in this space unfortunately also plays a role. After all, TLS isn't the most straightforward subject to begin with, and having to implement it on a resource-limited platform does not make implementing it correctly any easier of a problem to solve.

  • Open-source CNCing

    Last year Sienci Labs finished its Kickstarter campaign for the open-source LongMill Benchtop CNC Router — its second successful open-source CNC machine Kickstarter campaign. CNC routers allow users to mill things (like parts) from raw materials (like a block of aluminum) based on a 3D-model. The LongMill is a significant improvement over the original sold-out Mill One and makes professional-quality machining based entirely on open-source technology a reality. As an owner of a LongMill, I will walk through the various open-source technologies that make this tool a cornerstone of my home workshop.

    Hardware

    The Sienci Labs LongMill is an impressive feat of engineering, using a combination of off-the-shelf hardware components alongside a plethora of 3D-printed parts. The machine, once assembled, is designed to be mounted to a board. This board, called a spoilboard, is a board the machine can "accidentally" cut into or otherwise suffer damage — designed to be occasionally replaced. In most circumstances, the spoilboard is the top of a table for the machine, and Sienci provides documentation on several different table builds done by the community. For builders short on space, the machine can be mounted on a wall.

    The complete 3D plans for the machine are available for download, including a full bill of materials of all of the parts needed. The project also provides instructions to assemble the machine and how best to 3D print relevant components. The machine is controlled by the LongBoard CNC Controller, and Sienci Labs provides full schematics [23MB ZIP] of that as well. All mentioned materials are licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license.

    In addition to the open-source design of the machine itself, an open-source-minded community has formed around the project. The company's Facebook user group has 1,600 members, and an active community forum is hosted by the company, which discusses everything from tips to machine support. Community members contribute, among other things, various modifications to improve the original design or to add new features such as a laser engraver.

  • iWave Telematics Control Unit Supports GPS, 4G LTE, WiFi, and Bluetooth

    We’ve often written about iWave Systems’ single board computers, development kits, and systems-on-module, but the company has also been offering automotive products such as a Linux based OBD-II Dongle.

  • First Tiger Lake SBCs emerge

    Aaeon and Kontron are prepping 3.5-inch SBCs — and Advantech will offer a 2.5-incher — that debut Intel’s 11th Gen, 10nm Tiger Lake CPUs. The 15-28W TDP Tiger Lake offers better graphics than Ice Lake, including support for up to 4x 4K displays.

    Intel’s recent announcement of an additional six months delay in delivering 7nm CPUs, pushing back its original roadmap by a year to late 2022 or 2023 has led to further questions about the company’s future dominance. The 7nm defects are severe enough that Intel says it will expand its outsourcing of manufacturing to TSMC. Yet, Intel’s strong quarterly earnings and news that 10nm fabricated, 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors will meet their revised Q4 2020 deadline are helping to salve the wound.

  • RAK2287 Mini PCIe LoRaWAN Concentrator Module Supports up to 500 Nodes per km2

    The company provides a Raspbian based Raspberry Pi 3/4 firmware in the Wiki, but it’s obviously possible to use the card with other Linux hardware, and instructions to build an x86 Linux gateway are also provided. That’s for RAK2247, but it will work for RAK2287 as well.

  • How A Raspberry Pi 4 Performs Against Intel's Latest Celeron, Pentium CPUs

    Following the recent Intel Comet Lake Celeron and Pentium CPU benchmarking against other x86_64 Intel/AMD CPUs, here was a bit of fun... Seeing how these budget Intel CPUs compare to a Raspberry Pi 4 in various processor benchmarks, all tested on Debian Linux.

    The Celeron part tested was the G5900 as a $42 processor as a dual-core 3.4GHz processor with 2MB cache and UHD Graphics 610.

  • MEGA-RTD Raspberry Pi HAT Offers up to 64 Resistance Temperature Detectors (Crowdfunding)

    Sequent Microsystems like to make stackable Raspberry Pi HATs. After their stackable 4-relay board allowing for up to 32 relays controlled by a Raspberry Pi board, the company has now launched MEGA-RTD 8-channel RTD Raspberry Pi HAT enabling up to 64 resistance temperature detectors via 8x MEGA RTD board stacked on top of a Raspberry Pi board.

  • The State of Robotics – July 2020

    Looking for an easy way to get familiar with ROS 2? We recently published a few helpers on how to simulate robots with turtlesim to help our readers get a rolling start on ROS2.

    [...]

    CIS has a long and successful history of creating community-consensus best practice recommendations for security. The first CIS benchmark for ROS is currently under consideration and covers Melodic running on Ubuntu Server 18.04.

More in Tux Machines

Audiocasts/Shows: POSIX, TWIL and Going Linux

  • POSIX Compliance Explained: Does It Even Matter In 2020

    Like with the Unix Philosphy, POSIX compliance tends to get simplified far more than it really needs to which sort of makes it seem less important than it really is, so today I thought it would be a good idea to take the time to explain what it is and where it came from and why it was important in the early days of Unix and even now in the days of Linux and various BSD variants.

  • This Week in Linux 118: Lenovo’s New Ubuntu Laptops, GNOME 40, Puppy Linux 9.5, Firefox 81, UBports

    On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ve got a great show for you even though I’m sick. As they say in show business, the show must go on or something like that. Lenovo Adds Ubuntu Laptops & PCs to their lineup. UBports released their latest update with 16.04 OTA-13. Puppy Linux has a brand new version out with Puppy Linux 9.5. Microsoft announce that after a long wait everyone can rejoice that they are finally bringing Microsoft Edge to Linux! Mozilla also announced a new version of Firefox with Firefox 81. EndeavourOS has a new release of this Arch Linux based distro with version 2020.09.20 and they also announced a new ARM Edition of the distro. GNOME has decided to change the version numbering for the project. We’ll talk about this and why it matters or why it doesn’t. There’s a new update to the very powerful ebook reader Calibre, with Calibre 5.0. We’ll check out the Screenshot Utility, Flameshot and their latest release of 0.8. Then we’ll round out the show with some potentially great news for the Lightworks Video Editor. All that and much more on Your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

  • Going Linux #397 · Listener Feedback

    We answer questions about problems receiving the podcast, SSH, printers, browsers and more. We also discuss photography and the new major computer brands selling computers pre-installed with Linux.

dupeGuru – find duplicate files

Even though the cost of storage per GB continues to fall, it’s common for users to need to find and remove duplicates files. The process of finding and removing duplicates is time-consuming. Fortunately, there are a number of tools that are designed to remove the laborious nature of finding duplicates. dupeGuru is a cross-platform GUI tool to find duplicate files in a system. It has three modes, Standard, Music and Picture, with each mode having its own scan types and unique features. dupeGuru is written in Python. Read more

First Look at Manjaro Deepin Edition: Deepin Beauty Powered by Arch Linux

New editions of Manjaro Linux are in the works, Manjaro Deepin Edition with the Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE) and Manjaro UKUI Edition with Ubuntu Kylin’s UKUI desktop environment, and today I want to give you a first look at Manjaro Deepin Edition. If you ever wanted to use Manjaro Linux with the beautiful and futuristic Deepin Desktop Environment, the Manjaro Deepin Edition will let you do just that without the hustle of installing the Deepin Desktop from the repositories on top of a barebone Manjaro Linux installation. Developed as part of the recently released Manjaro 20.1 “Mikah” series, the Deepin Edition promises an out-of-the-box Deepin Desktop experience powered by all the goodies that the Arch Linux and Manjaro Linux distributions have to offer. [...] Until the Manjaro team decides which apps will land in the final release, I invite you to download the Deepin Edition of Manjaro Linux below and take it for a spin yourself on your personal computer. Do let me know what you think about it in the comments below, but keep in mind that this is a pre-release version so don’t install it on a production machine. Read more

Drawing is an Open Source MS-Paint Type of App for Linux Desktop

For people introduced to computers with Windows XP (or earlier version), MS Paint was an amusing application from sketching random stuff. In a world dominated with Photoshop and GIMP, the paint applications still hold some relevance. There are several painting applications available for Linux, and I am going to add one more to this list. The app is unsurprisingly called Drawing and you can use it on both Linux desktop and Linux smartphones. Read more