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Hardware: Morse, HP Chromebook and More

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  • Key That Morse With Little More Than Your Laptop

    The software for GNU/Linux distributions is a surprisingly accessible set of shell scripts that attach themselves to ACPI events surrounding the lid switch. In use it seems a little cumbersome, but we suspect its real value is not in repeatedly slammin the lid to produce Morse text input. Instead with many lid switches being magnetic reed switches an operator could simply wear a ring with a magnet and tap out their text every bit as quickly as they could using a traditional key.

    We like the idea, and could see it being popular among radio amateurs. It’s a theme we’ve visited before with a more traditional key, and if you’d love to try but don’t know any Morse then perhaps this may help you learn.

  • HP Chromebook x360 12b review: It's affordable and good

    The HP Chromebook x360 12b is an affordable Chromebook made for grown-ups. It takes you a cut above the rock-bottom basic Chromebooks that hover around $250 (and continue to sell well). Get one of those for your kids—who cares if they destroy it? But you, the adult in the room, deserve the Chromebook x360 12b, with its surprisingly good design and great battery life.

  • [Old] Install Full Native Standalone Linux on an Intel / x86 Based Chromebook (ElementaryOS)

    For users who want more than Chrome OS, there is the option to install Linux natively. This allows for a more complete OS that gets rid of most of the limitations of Chrome OS. This method removes Chrome OS from your Chromebook and turns it solely into a Linux machine.

Software and Games on Open Hardware Arduino and Raspberry Pi

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  • FontEdit Font Editor Targets Embedded Systems with LED, LCD or e-Paper Displays

    Once you’re done, you can export the font to an array compatible with C/C++, Arduino (using PROGMEM), or MicroPython/Python (list or bytes objects). Options for the export function include MSB and LSB mode, invert all the bits, tab size, and the font array name.

  • Raspberry Pi: Bring Google Stadia to the popular single-board computer

    There are multiple ways to game on the Raspberry Pi, although most involve retro games. However, Linux Format has now detailed how to run Google Stadia on the humble single-board computer. The cloud gaming service includes fewer than 100 games at the time of writing, but it does contain some triple-A titles like Borderlands 3, Destiny 2, Doom Eternal and Red Dead Redemption 2. The frequently-delayed Cyberpunk 2077, Destroy All Humans!, FIFA 21 and F1 2020 will be launching on Stadia later this year too.

    Stadia is too resource-heavy for all but the latest generation of Raspberry Pi. Tom's Hardware recommends using the 4 GB version of the Pi Model 4B+, but there would be no harm in using the new 8 GB model instead. We would recommend using an active cooler to prevent the Raspberry Pi from overheating and throttling. You will also need a solid internet connection, preferably Ethernet if possible, and a wired game controller. You do not need a Stadia controller, just one that can integrate with Stadia through Chromium.

  • RPI 4 & Ubuntu MATE - Full HD monitor shows as 1824x984 px

    This sounds like a rather arcane issue, but luckily, the solution is simple. We now have the right screen resolution, and we can enjoy our system to the fullest. More importantly, you got exposed to the usercfg.txt file and what it (can) contain, which means, we can now unleash the full plethora of tweaks onto the Pi 4.

    In the coming series of tutorials, as I promised in the original article, I will address and resolve a number of different usability issues, including video and audio playback, MATE desktop environment ergonomics, and we will also spend time tweaking the two operating systems, both Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu MATE. The end goal is to have a proper-looking desktop, no matter what form factor it runs on. One down, many more to go.

Embedded and Devices: RasPi, Arduino and More

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Devices: Little Backup Box, ODROID-H2+, Raspberry Pi

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  • Little Backup Box Spring/Summer 2020 update

    First of all, I hope you are all doing well. It would be an understatement to say that the last couple of months have been pretty tough.

    My way of dealing with the current situation is to stay busy. So I've been baking (simple flatbread and Laugengebäck), improving my poor German, doing a lot of reading, and tinkering with my projects – including Little Backup Box. The first most visible change is the move to the lit.css CSS framework. I use this tiny framework for my other projects, so I wanted to keep the appearance consistent across all of them.

    The installer script now installs and configures the vsftpd FTP server. This means that if your camera supports FTP transfers, you can upload RAW and JPEG files from the camera to Little Backup Box. If you own a recent Sony Alpha camera, the Using FTP feature in Sony α7 Mark III article penned by yours truly explains how you can upload RAW and JPEG files from the camera to an FTP server.

  • ODROID-H2+ An x86 Board to Challenge Raspberry Pi?

    HARDKERNEL, makers of the Raspberry Pi alternative ODROID boards have announced an upgrade to the ODROID-H2, an Intel Celeron based single board computer.

    The ODROID-H2+ has a surprising amount of power in a board measuring only 110x110x43mm.


    From the starting price of $119 we need to add the cost of RAM and storage, which can easily add another $100 so when thinking about purchasing the ODROID-H2+ it would be wise to factor in these costs versus other single board computers. If you need a little more power than what the Raspberry Pi can offer, then the ODROID-H2+ should be on your list.

  • ODROID-H2+ SBC Gets Celeron J4115 Processor, Offers 2.5GbE Networking

    Harkernel ODROID-H2 is an Intel Celeron J4105 Gemini Lake powered SBC that offers great value and performs reasonably well as we’ve seen in our ODROID-H2 Ubuntu review.

    But there’s an upgraded model coming soon with ODROID-H2+ getting a slightly faster Intel Celeron J4115 processor, 2.5 GbE networking, a couple of extra I/O on the header for USB 2.0 and HDMI CEC, and a change to the 12V SATA power circuit to improve the suspend-resume power control sequence of 3.5″ HDDs.

  • Tim Peake is among our fabulous Coolest Projects judges
  • The rise of heterogeneous devices and the people problem

    Embedded Linux is a different world and there are plenty of books dedicated to it. For each topic these books cover, another book somewhere delves into its detail. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t already do everything you want from a command line, it’s not for you. Very little is instantly available and everything has to be built from the ground up. Great strides have been made to automate the building of custom embedded Linux distributions with the likes of the Yocto Project. This, in true Linux style, gets to build itself and the tools required before building for the target you want. Silicon vendors normally can give you a step-up in trying to build Linux for their device, and maybe offer a pre-built image to boot from. Since they can’t offer everything in one go, you will almost certainly need to modify the build for your own needs. It’s amazing how many command-line tools you take for granted don’t show up by default. Don’t be fooled into thinking a move from a Raspberry Pi to another platform will be straightforward.

Best linux laptops for 2020

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Although you might be more familiar with the likes of macOS, Android or Windows to get everything you need from your PC, another popular option is Linux. It's been around since the early 90's and well worth thinking about if you're looking for an alternative operating system.

It gets a little confusing when you get into the technicalities, Linux is essentially the soul of the operating system, it's open-source, completely free and there's several types of software (Linux Distros) to choose from to optimise user experience.

Some laptops (although very few) offer Linux as a baseline, pre-installed programme, you can however install it yourself onto most laptops. It's always best to check which models are compatible with the Linux functions you'll need.

Read more

Also: Best Chromebooks for work in 2020: Which high-end laptop is right for your business?

Devices: AirTab, ASUS PN50 and Raspberry Pi

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Devices: Linux Plumbers Conference, RISC-V and Advantech

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  • Linux Plumbers Conference: Linux Plumbers Conference Registration Opening Postponed

    The committee is relentlessly working on recreating online the Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC) experience that we have all come to appreciate, and take for granted, over the past few years.

    We had initially planned to open registration on June 15th. While travel planning is not one, there are still very many aspects of the conference being worked on. We are now aiming to open registration for Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC) on June 23rd.

    Right now we have shortlisted BigBlueButton as our online conferencing solution. One of our objectives is to run LPC 2020 online on a full open software stack.

  • Real-time Microconference Accepted into 2020 Linux Plumbers Conference

    We are pleased to announce that the Real-time Microconference has been accepted into the 2020 Linux Plumbers Conference!

    After another successful Real-time microconference at LPC last year, there’s still more to work to be done. The PREEMPT_RT patch set (aka “The Real-Time Patch”) was created in 2004 in the effort to make Linux into a hard real-time designed operating system. Over the years much of the RT patch has made it into mainline Linux, which includes: mutexes, lockdep, high resolution timers, Ftrace, RCU_PREEMPT, priority inheritance, threaded interrupts and much more. There’s just a little left to get RT fully into mainline, and the light at the end of the tunnel is finally in view. It is expected that the RT patch will be in mainline within a year (and possibly before Plumbers begins!), which changes the topics of discussion. Once it is in Linus’s tree, a whole new set of issues must be handled.

  • WCH CH32V103 General-Purpose RISC-V MCU Offers an Alternative to GD32V RISC-V Microcontroller

    Last year, WCH introduced their first RISC-V MCU with CH572 Bluetooth LE microcontroller which came with 10KB SRAM and a not so convenient 96KB OTP flash. But I’ve just been informed the company has introduced their first general-purpose RISC-V MCU family with several CH32V103 microcontrollers featuring up to 64KB Flash and 20KB SRAM, and all sort of peripherals you’d expect from a general-purpose MCU.

  • Linux-ready, 3.5-inch Coffee Lake SBC has four USB 3.1 Gen2 ports

    Advantech’s 3.5-inch “MIO-5393” SBC ships with Ubuntu 18.04 and Win 10 images and an 8th/9th Gen Coffee Lake-H CPU and offers triple display support, 2x GbE, 4x USB 3.1 Gen2, and 2x M.2 slots.

    Advantech has launched a semi-rugged 3.5-inch SBC that supports Intel’s 9th and 8th Gen Coffee Lake/Refresh processors. The Linux-ready MIO-5393 shares some features with the company’s less feature-rich, 3.5-inch MIO-5373, which runs on 8th Gen Whiskey Lake CPUs. Applications include military defense micro-servers, AOI machines, passenger information systems, outdoor kiosks, railways, and factory environments.

GNU/Linux on Raspberry Pi and Jetson Xavier NX

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Hardware News and Open Hardware: Qualcomm, Intel, AMD, ARM, and Raspberry Pi

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  • Qualcomm IPQ8074 Embedded Board Offers 802.11ax WiFI 6 12×12 MIMO DBDC Connectivity

    Qualcomm IPQ8074 802.11ax WiFi 6 SoC was first unveiled in 2017 and designed for high-end routers, gateways, and access points supporting up 12×12 MIMO configuration (8×8 5GHz + 4×4 2.4 GHz) using Dual-Band Dual Concurrency (DBDC).

    I was just informed about a Qualcomm IPQ8074 embedded board going under the names DR8074A or HK01 depending on the company promoting it, respectively Wallys Communication and Compex.

  • Intel Announces Jim Keller's Departure, Other Leadership Changes

    Legendary processor engineer Jim Keller has resigned from Intel just over two years since he joined the company to much fanfare.

    Intel confirmed today that Jim Keller has resigned effective today due to "personal reasons" while he will continue serving as a consultant for Intel over the next six months.

  • Chip designer Jim Keller has resigned from Intel

    Jim Keller, something of a legend when it comes to chip design has formally resigned from Intel over 'personal reasons'.

    If you don't follow AMD / Intel too closely to know any of the specifics, Keller was the lead architect of the AMD K8 and also the original AMD Zen. Keller also worked with Apple, Tesla and most recently joining Intel in 2018 which turned a few heads because they're obviously quite the name.

    Yesterday, Intel put out a press statement simply mentioning that Keller had resigned 'effective June 11, 2020, due to personal reasons'. However, Keller will be sticking around as a consultant for six months to assist with any transitions.

  • ARM Faces a Boardroom Revolt as It Seeks to Remove the CEO of Its Chinese Joint Venture

    ARM, the British silicon ship designer backed by SoftBank (TYO:9984), is currently embroiled in a nail-biting boardroom conflict, equipped with an equally appropriate dramatic flareup.

    To wit, ARM issued a statement on Wednesday, disclosing that the board of its Chinese joint venture – ARM China – has approved the removal of the incumbent chairman and CEO, Allen Wu. Bear in mind that the British chip designer was purchased by the Japanese behemoth, SoftBank, in 2016 for £24.3 billion. ARM currently holds a 49 percent stake in its Chinese JV, with a consortium of investors led by the Chinese equity fund, Hopu Investment, retaining the residual 51 percent stake.

  • Key Mime Pi: Turn Your Raspberry Pi into a Remote Keyboard

    Recent versions of the Raspberry Pi support USB on-the-go (USB OTG), which allows them to impersonate USB devices such as keyboards, thumb drives, and microphones. To take advantage of this, I made an open-source web app that turns my Pi into a fake keyboard. I call it Key Mime Pi.

    This post demonstrates how Key Mime Pi works and how you can build one for yourself.

  • I replaced my MacBook Pro with a Raspberry Pi 4 8GB for a Day

    So, in summary, would I recommend the Pi 4 as a worthy general computer for anyone? Definitely no. Would I recommend it as a worthy general computer for a certain subset of computer users. Definitely yes!

    If your use of the computer is more oriented towards the browser, a code editor, and the command line (e.g. backend web development, infrastructure development, writing/blogging, and the like), the Pi is perfectly adequate, and with 8GB of RAM, Chromium runs just fine, even if you have a bunch of tabs open. With a Flirc case, it's also silent.

    All-in cost would be close to $250 for a decent keyboard, mouse, monitor, external SSD and the $75 Pi, which is competitive with low-end Chromebooks and older used laptops.

Librem 5 Dogwood and Open Hardware Updates

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  • Librem 5 Dogwood Update 2

    “Almost all” turned out to be a key phrase. Since that post, we discovered a new antenna issue outside of the GNSS one we reported before, along with a microphone regression (in both cases something we weren’t expecting, but that were related to the new PCB design). This set us back a couple of weeks as we dove into troubleshooting these unexpected issues. Now though, we have firm ship dates. We will manufacture all Dogwood phones this week and next, begin individual order packaging and fulfillment immediately with first shipments going out the first week of July.


    As far as Evergreen and Librem 5 USA shipping dates go, while there are parts of that process that are running in parallel to Dogwood, there are other parts (such as moulds and FCC/CE testing on the final mass-produced PCB) which must wait until after the final Dogwood phones have arrived and have been thoroughly evaluated. Before we commit to a revised shipping date for Evergreen and Librem 5 USA, we’d like a few more weeks to complete the evaluation of the final Dogwood phones.

  • LiteDIP: Creating Open-Source IP Blocks For Generic Linux Drivers On FPGAs

    Martin Peres who is known for his decade plus in the X.Org community for his longstanding work on the open-source Nouveau driver and in recent years working on Intel's open-source graphics driver team has been brewing a new hobby project around generic open-source Linux drivers for FPGAs.

    Peres this week wrote a blog post regarding his personal opinions on why there are so few open-source drivers for FPGAs / open hardware especially when it comes to upstream support.

  • Orange Pi 4 SBC Gets a $16 4G LTE mini PCIe Card based on Rockchip RM310

    Orange Pi 4 SBC is one of the most cost-effective Rockchip RK3399 SBC’s, as it sells for as low as $50 with 4GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, and Bluetooth, HDMI 2.0 output, etc..

    The board also comes with a 24-pin PCIe connector that’s not of much use on its own, so the company introduced a $4 PCIe adapter board providing access to a standard mPCIe socket and a SIM card slot so you could install your own. 4G mini PCIe cards can easily cost around $50 or more, but Shenzhen Xunlong Software has now launched its own 4G LTE mini PCIe card based on Rockchip RM310 module and sold for $16 on Aliexpress, excluding shipping.

  • TTGO T-Internet-POE Board Provides Ethernet, PoE, WiFi, Bluetooth for $16

    There’s no much in terms of software apart from an Arduino Sketch initializing Ethernet and connecting to Baidu.

    I’m not sure why the 6-pin programming interface is needed, but a separate CH340C based “Downloader” board with Micro USB and USB-C ports is sold as an option with the board. ESP32 should be programmable via the USB-C port unless the specs are wrong, and there isn’t any on-board CP2104 chip… The board photos are not clear enough to confirm…

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Recovering audio from a lost format with open source

Back in the early 2000s, we made a family decision to upgrade the living room stereo. The equipment in place at the time was based on a collection of gear that I had purchased some 20 years earlier when I first had a steady post-university income. That early collection could best be described as "industrial chic," most notably the Hafler amplifiers I had built from kits and the Polk speakers made from some kind of composite wood product and finished with an ugly faux-rosewood vinyl wrap. They produced decent sound, but the dorm-room-style decor just wasn't working out in the living room. Those of you who remember the early 2000s will recall that most of the world was still consuming music on CD. Our family was no exception, and we ended up with a fine CD player that had an interesting feature—it was able to decode regular CDs as well as high-definition-compatible digital (HDCD) discs. According to Wikipedia, HDCD is a proprietary audio encode-decode process that claims to provide increased dynamic range over that of standard Red Book audio CDs, while retaining backward compatibility with existing compact disc players. Read more

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Linus Torvalds: "I Hope AVX512 Dies A Painful Death"

Linux creator Linus Torvalds had some choice words today on Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX-512) found on select Intel processors. In a mailing list discussion stemming from the Phoronix article this week on the compiler instructions Intel is enabling for Alder Lake (and Sapphire Rapids), Linus Torvalds chimed in. The Alder Lake instructions being flipped on in GCC right now make no mention of AVX-512 but only AVX2 and others, likely due to Intel pursuing the subset supported by both the small and large cores in this new hybrid design being pursued. Read more Also: The Linux Team Approves New Neutral Terminology background on AVX-512