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Hardware

Open Hardware/Modding: RISC-V, PIXO Pixel, Arduino

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
  • RISC-V gains momentum as it moves from MCUs to Linux-friendly SoCs

    The open source RISC-V ISA has evolved quickly into silicon, thanks to help from companies like SiFive and Microsemi. SiFive’s HiFive Unleashed board should arrive less than two years after SiFive announced its first Linux-driven Freedom SoCs.

    It’s been two years since the open source RISC-V architecture emerged from computer labs at UC Berkeley and elsewhere and began appearing in soft-core implementations designed for FPGAs, and over a year since the first commercial silicon arrived. So far, the focus has primarily been on MCU-like processors, but last October, SiFive announced the first Linux-driven RISC-V SoC with its quad-core, 64-bit bit Freedom U540 (AKA U54-MC Coreplex). A few days ago at FOSDEM, SiFive opened pre-sales for an open source HiFive Unleashed SBC that showcases the U540.

  • SiFive releases Linux SoC processor and board

    SiFive Inc. (San Mateo, Calif.), a startup that is offering processor cores that comply with the RISC-V open source architecture, has launched a Linux-capable RISC-V based processor chip, the Freedom U540 SoC.

  • Chip Embarks As First Linux-Capable RISC-V Based SoC

    SiFive launches what it calls the industry's first Linux-capable RISC-V based processor SoC. The company recently demonstrated the first real-world use of the HiFive Unleashed board featuring the Freedom U540 SoC, based on its U54-MC Core IP. During the demo, SiFive provided updates on the RISC-V Linux effort, surprising attendees with an announcement that the presentation had been run on the HiFive Unleashed development board. With the availability of the HiFive Unleashed board and Freedom U540 SoC, SiFive has brought to market the first multicore RISC-V chip designed for commercialization, and now offers the industry's widest array of RISC-V based Core IP.

  • PIXO Pixel - Open Source LED Display for Makers

    Sean Hodgins is an inventor and maker interested in purposing current technologies in new and different ways. He’s currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for the PIXO Pixel, an open source RGB display that controls 256 LEDs.

  • AFRL, NextFlex leverage open-source community to create flexible circuit system

    Lightweight, low-cost and flexible electronic systems are the key to next-generation smart technologies for military as well as consumer and commercial applications.

    An Air Force Research Laboratory-led project in conjunction with NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute, has resulted in the first ever, functional samples of flexible Arduino circuit board systems made by using a flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process, setting the stage for smart technologies for the internet of things and sensor applications like wearable devices.

RISC-V Coverage (Libre Hardware)

Filed under
Hardware
  • Hi-Five Unleashed: The first Linux-capable RISC-V single board computer is here

    For roughly a decade, x86-64 has held hegemony over the desktop and server market. In the mobile space, ARM is the popular platform—for which a glut of cheap ARM processors have led to the rise of mass-produced single-board computers (SBCs) like the Raspberry Pi and competitors. However, proprietary "binary blob" drivers make using these devices somewhat more cumbersome, particularly for developers attempting to learn how devices work or ensuring complete device control.

  • The State of RISC-V Hardware & Software In Early 2018

    Palmer Dabbelt who maintains the RISC-V ports of GCC, Binutils, Linux, and glibc while working at RISC-V company SiFive spoke at FOSDEM 2018 this weekend about the software/hardware state of this royalty-free open-source CPU ISA.

    Palmer's presentation covers the RISC-V instruction set, the origins of it, a brief comparison to other CPU architectures, and the Linux state.

Latest on Meltdown/Spectre in Linux

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
Security

Open Hardware: Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and RISC-V

Filed under
Hardware
OSS
  • Raspberry-Pi DVB transmitter: The benefits of open-source hardware

    I was first alerted to the benefits of open-source some years ago while talking to a couple of very experienced engineers. These guys, who worked for a multi-billion-dollar company with a global footprint, had been asked by their manager to complete a project in a ridiculously short time frame.

    They concluded that their only hope was to use open-source, which was an unusual decision for a company of that size and a bit of a culture shock. Open-source software has a long pedigree, of course, but most companies do not open up their hardware designs.

  • AFRL, NextFlex leverage open-source community to create flexible circuit system

    An Air Force Research Laboratory-led project in conjunction with NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute, has resulted in the first ever, functional samples of flexible Arduino circuit board systems made by using a flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process, setting the stage for smart technologies for the internet of things (IoT) and sensor applications like wearable devices.

  • Pics from the FOSDEM SiFive talk
  • SiFive unleashed board
  • SiFive Introduces RISC-V Linux-Capable Multicore Processor

    Slowly but surely, RISC-V, the Open Source architecture for everything from microcontrollers to server CPUs is making inroads in the community. Now SiFive, the major company behind putting RISC-V chips into actual silicon, is releasing a chip that’s even more powerful. At FOSDEM this weekend, SiFive announced the release of a Linux-capable Single Board Computer built around the RISC-V ISA. It’s called the HiFive Unleashed, and it’s the first piece of silicon capable or running Linux on a RISC-V core.

Custom Embedded Linux Distributions

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware

In the past, many embedded projects used off-the-shelf distributions and stripped them down to bare essentials for a number of reasons. First, removing unused packages reduced storage requirements. Embedded systems are typically shy of large amounts of storage at boot time, and the storage available, in non-volatile memory, can require copying large amounts of the OS to memory to run. Second, removing unused packages reduced possible attack vectors. There is no sense hanging on to potentially vulnerable packages if you don't need them. Finally, removing unused packages reduced distribution management overhead. Having dependencies between packages means keeping them in sync if any one package requires an update from the upstream distribution. That can be a validation nightmare.

Yet, starting with an existing distribution and removing packages isn't as easy as it sounds. Removing one package might break dependencies held by a variety of other packages, and dependencies can change in the upstream distribution management. Additionally, some packages simply cannot be removed without great pain due to their integrated nature within the boot or runtime process. All of this takes control of the platform outside the project and can lead to unexpected delays in development.

A popular alternative is to build a custom distribution using build tools available from an upstream distribution provider. Both Gentoo and Debian provide options for this type of bottom-up build. The most popular of these is probably the Debian debootstrap utility. It retrieves prebuilt core components and allows users to cherry-pick the packages of interest in building their platforms. But, debootstrap originally was only for x86 platforms. Although there are ARM (and possibly other) options now, debootstrap and Gentoo's catalyst still take dependency management away from the local project.

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Also: Open-Source Adreno A6xx GPU Support Posted

No new batches of ColorHug2

11 Myths About the RISC-V ISA

Filed under
Hardware
OSS

Despite its rich ecosystem and growing number of real-world implementations, misconceptions about RISC-V are keeping companies around the world from fully realizing its benefits.

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First Rockchip based Orange Pi SBC taps RK3399

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Shenzhen Xunlong has launched a $109, open source “Orange Pi RK3399” SBC that runs Android 6.0 or Debian 9 on Rockchip’s hexa-core RK3399 SoC, and offers HDMI 2.0 in and out ports, DP 1.2, eDP, MIPI DSI and CSI, SPDIF, GbE, mSATA, mini-PCIe, a 40-pin header, and more.

One by one, ARM hacker board vendors and commercial x86-centric board vendors are following Firefly’s lead in experimenting with Rockchip’s ARM-based SoCs, which offer x86-type features like HDMI 2.0, mSATA, and mini-PCIe along with powerful, and relatively power-efficient ARM cores. We just saw Aaeon make the plunge with its OEM-oriented RICO-3399 PICO-ITX SBC, and now Shenzhen Xunlong has launched its first Rockchip based Orange Pi single-board computer with the $109 Orange Pi RK3399. Meanwhile, according to a Pine64.org forum post, the quad Cortex-A17 Rockchip RK3328-based Rock64 SBC will soon be joined by an RK3399-based RockPro64, due in March.

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Open Hardware: Open Source Medical Devices, Threat of Patents, and Magnetic Encoder Disks

Filed under
Hardware
OSS
  • Making the Case for Open Source Medical Devices

    ngineering for medical, automotive, and aerospace is highly regulated. It’s not difficult to see why: lives are often at stake when devices in these fields fail. The cost of certifying and working within established regulations is not insignificant and this is likely the main reason we don’t see a lot of work on Open Hardware in these areas.

    Ashwin K. Whitchurch wants to change this and see the introduction of simple but important Open Source medical devices for those who will benefit the most from them. His talk at the Hackaday Superconference explores the possible benefits of Open Medical devices and the challenges that need to be solved for success.

  • Patenting and the New FDA Guidance on 3-D Printing of Medical Devices [Ed: patents ruined/killed/halted 3D printing for decades. Lawyers want to do this again.]

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently finalized its publication on additive manufacturing (commonly referred to as 3-D printing) for medical devices. According to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the guidance is meant to "help manufacturers bring their innovations to market more efficiently by providing a transparent process for future submissions and making sure our regulatory approach is properly tailored to the unique opportunities and challenges posed by this promising new technology." He further points out that this is only intended to provide the FDA's initial thoughts on the subject of 3-D printing. For our purposes, this guidance also extends the discussion regarding innovation and patenting in the field of 3-D printing and its intersection with regulatory issues.

  • Roll Your Own Magnetic Encoder Disks

    Erich] is the middle of building a new competition sumo bot for 2018. He’s trying to make this one as open and low-cost as humanly possible. So far it’s going pretty well, and the quest to make DIY parts has presented fodder for how-to posts along the way.

Raspberry Pi's latest competitor RockPro64 brings more power plus AI processor

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Pine64 has released a budget-friendly single-board computer with the high-powered Rockchip RK3399 system on chip (SoC).

Available from around $60, the RockPro64 board comes in two flavors, either with the hexa-core RK3399 SoC or the RK3399Pro, Rockchip's first "artificial-intelligence processor". Unveiled at CES 2018, it combines a CPU, GPU, and neural-network processing unit (NPU).

As noted by CNX-Software, a number of RK3999-based boards have been released in the past week but, priced at around $200 each, they've been aimed at business customers rather than home developers.

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Devices: Mycroft Mark 2, Android at HMD

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
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More in Tux Machines

Software and Games Leftovers

  • LXD Weekly Status #35
    This past week we’ve been focusing on a number of open pull requests, getting closer to merging improvements to our storage volume handling, unix char/block devices handling and the massive clustering branch that’s been cooking for a while. We’re hoping to see most of those land at some point this coming week. On the LXC side of things, the focus was on bugfixes and cleanups as well as preparing for the removal of the python3 and lua bindings from the main repository. We’re also making good progress on distrobuilder and hope to start moving some of our images to using it as the build tool very soon.
  • Performance Co-Pilot 4.0.0 released
    It gives me great pleasure to announce the first major-numbered PCP release in nine and a half years - PCP v4 - is here!
  • Performance Co-Pilot Sees First Major Version Bump In Nearly A Decade
    The Performance Co-Pilot open-source cross-platform monitoring/visualizing stack has reached version 4.0 as its first major version hike in almost ten years.
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  • Sci-fi mystery 'The Station' has released, it’s a short but memorable experience
    What would happen if we discovered the existence of alien life? A question I've often asked and a question many games, films and books have covered in great detail. The Station [Steam] is a sci-fi mystery that sees you investigate The Espial, a space station sent to research a sentient alien civilization.
  • Halcyon 6: The Precursor Legacy DLC released, some good content for a small price
    Halcyon 6: The Precursor Legacy DLC [GOG, Steam] was released earlier this month, adding some really nice content at a small price to an already great game.
  • Parry and dodge your way to victory in 'Way of the Passive Fist', launching March 6th
    Way of the Passive Fist [Steam, Official Site] is a rather unique and very colourful arcade brawler and it's releasing with Linux support on March 6th.

KDE and GNOME Leftovers

  • Kdenlive Café tonight and beta AppImage
    The last months for Kdenlive have been very quiet from the outside – we were not very active on the bugtracker, did not make a lot of announcements, and the 17.12.x release cycle only contained very few minor bugfixes. The main reason for this was the huge work that went behind the scenes for a major code refactoring that was required to allow further developments. So after more than a year working on it, we hope to get ready for the 18.04 release!
  • [Krita] Interview with Christine Garner
    I did Archaeology in University and I love history, mythology, folklore and nature. I’ve always been drawing from an early age. I graduated in 2003 with an archaeology degree. I taught myself digital art and web coding skills for fun and practical reasons. I used to do self-employed web design and admin type jobs, but in 2013 I became disillusioned with my life and had depression. I took a Foundation art course in 2013 deciding to pursue my artistic passions instead.
  • Qt 5.11 Brings New Accessibility Backend on Windows
    Accessibility technology encompasses assistive tools such as screen readers, magnifiers and braille displays, as well as APIs and frameworks that allow applications to expose elements of their UI to such tools.
  • CSS Grid
    This would totally have been a tweet or a facebook post, but I’ve decided to invest a little more energy and post these on my blog, accessible to everybody. Getting old, I guess. We’re all mortal and the web isn’t open by its own. In the past few days I’ve been learning about CSS grid while redesigning Flatpak and Flathub sites (still coming). And with the knowledge of really grokking only a fraction of it, I’m in love.

OSS: Project Names, Events, NSF and Mozilla, ArangoDB, Oracle, Bitcoin and More

  • Choosing project names: 4 key considerations
    Working on a new open source project, you're focused on the code—getting that great new idea released so you can share it with the world. And you'll want to attract new contributors, so you need a terrific name for your project. We've all read guides for creating names, but how do you go about choosing the right one? Keeping that cool science fiction reference you're using internally might feel fun, but it won't mean much to new users you're trying to attract. A better approach is to choose a name that's memorable to new users and developers searching for your project. Names set expectations. Your project's name should showcase its functionality in the ecosystem and explain to users what your story is. In the crowded open source software world, it's important not to get entangled with other projects out there. Taking a little extra time now, before sending out that big announcement, will pay off later.
  • FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom Recap: Simon Phipps & Rich Sands
    It’s been a few weeks now since FOSDEM and if you didn’t have a chance to attend or watch the  livestream of the FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom, Leslie my co-chair, and I are doing a round up summary on posts on each of the talks to bring you the video and the highlights of each presentation. You can read the preview post of Rich Sands and Simon Phipps pre FOSDEM blog post here.
  • Scheduling Voxxed Days Zurich 2018 with OptaPlanner
    My name is Mario Fusco and I’m honored to be the Program Committee Lead of Voxxed Days Zurich for the third year in a row. Reading, evaluating, discussing, and selecting from the 200+ proposals that arrive every year is a long and challenging process. I must admit, I largely underestimated the task the first year I started doing it. It’s necessary to evaluate not only the quality of every submission, but also how they fit together. In the end, the worst part is having to reject so many incredible proposals because there are a limited number of slots. However, once all the talks have been selected and all the approval and rejection emails have been sent, the process is still not complete. Now it is time to take all the accepted talks and schedule the actual program. Even for a moderate sized event like Voxxed Days Zurich (the conference lasts only one day and we have four parallel tracks), this is not a trivial task. There are many constraints and nice-to-haves that you may need to consider. For example, some speakers will arrive late in the morning or will have to leave early in the afternoon.  Some talks require different room capacities.  Two talks belonging to the same track must not be scheduled at the same time. There are many more variables to this process.
  • 20 Big Ideas to Connect the Unconnected
    Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mozilla announced the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) challenges: $2 million in prizes for big ideas to connect the unconnected across the U.S. Today, we’re announcing our first set of winners: 20 bright ideas from Detroit, Cleveland, Albuquerque, New York City, and beyond. The winners are building mesh networks, solar-powered Wi-Fi, and network infrastructure that fits inside a single backpack. Winning projects were developed by veteran researchers, enterprising college students, and everyone in-between. What do all these projects have in common? They’re affordable, scalable, open-source, and secure.
  • ArangoDB publishes industry-wide open source NoSQL performance benchmark
    ArangoDB, a provider of native multi-model NoSQL database solutions, announced the latest findings of its open source NoSQL performance benchmark series. To enable vendors to respond to the results and contribute improvements, ArangoDB has published the necessary scripts required to repeat the benchmark.
  • Can one 'multi-model' database rule them all?
    ArangoDB open source NoSQL performance benchmark series is one such open study.
  • Oracle-Supported Port of DTrace?, Linux Foundation Announces Akraino, New Feral Interactive Game and Qt 5.11 Alpha
    For those of us who have been holding out to see an Oracle-supported port of DTrace on Linux, that time is nearly here. Oracle just re-licensed the system instrumentation tool from the original CDDL to GPLv2.
  • Kernel patch releases, WineHQ, OpenIndiana project, FreeBSD Unix distribution, Xubuntu community contest
    The OpenIndiana project is still alive and well with a recent announcement of migrating the project to GCC 6.4. Unfortunately, this version does not cover the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities, although the next version planned is 7.3 which will cover these hot issues.
  • Satoshi’s Vision? Bitcoin Cash Gets It Wrong, Says Max Keiser
    The movement was formally founded in 1983 by Richard Stallman with the launch of the GNU Project, which was founded on the idea that proprietary software harms users to the benefit of large corporations.
  • Bitcoin's Developers Are Debating A Change To Its Open License
    Ever since its launch last August, bitcoin has had an antagonistic relationship with its offshoot, bitcoin cash. But their battle may have provided a trigger to seek ways to protect bitcoin’s core code from indiscriminate use.
  • A new Maryland bill would allow students to buy textbooks tax-free twice a year [Ed: This is a reaction to open-source (Open Access) books and maybe an attempt to extinguish such state-level initiatives]
    University of Maryland student Kayla Little has wanted to be a doctor since she was 11 years old — but a nationwide rise in textbook prices has proved to be an obstacle to her success. "I've wanted to go into medicine for the longest [time], and I really don't want to give that up for books," said Little, who hopes to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon for a professional sports team.
  • How the Grateful Dead were a precursor to Creative Commons licensing
    From its founding in 1965, the Grateful Dead was always an unusual band. Rising amidst the counterculture movement in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Grateful Dead’s music had roots in multiple styles and genres but did not lend itself to easy categorization. Was it psychedelic? Folk? Blues? Country? Yes, it was all of these and more. The band frequently performed well-known public domain songs, but they made the songs their own. Members of the band could effortlessly play across traditional and diverse styles. At concerts, they often performed songs that sounded familiar at first but grew and evolved across styles and genres. Songs often turned into lengthy jam sessions in which musicians played off one another, discovering new musical motifs and expanding them together.

Rust things I miss in C and learning to program is getting harder

  • Rust things I miss in C
    Librsvg feels like it is reaching a tipping point, where suddenly it seems like it would be easier to just port some major parts from C to Rust than to just add accessors for them. Also, more and more of the meat of the library is in Rust now. I'm switching back and forth a lot between C and Rust these days, and C feels very, very primitive these days.
  • Learning to program is getting harder

    I have written several books that use Python to explain topics like Bayesian Statistics and Digital Signal Processing. Along with the books, I provide code that readers can download from GitHub. In order to work with this code, readers have to know some Python, but that's not enough. They also need a computer with Python and its supporting libraries, they have to know how to download code from GitHub, and then they have to know how to run the code they downloaded.

    And that's where a lot of readers get into trouble.