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Hardware

Single-board computer guide updated: Free software is winning on ARM!

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware

In many geeky circles, single-board computers are popular machines. SBCs come in small form factors and generally run GNU/Linux, but unfortunately, many boards like the popular Raspberry Pi are dependent on proprietary software to use. The Free Software Foundation maintains a list of system-on-chip families, sorted by their freedom status.

Unfortunately, this list had not been updated in several years. While it was accurate when it was published, free software is constantly improving. Today, more and more boards are usable with free software. On the graphical side, the Etnaviv project has reached maturity, and the Panfrost project, with which I have been personally involved, has sprung up. The video processing unit on Allwinner chips has been reverse-engineered and liberated by the linux-sunxi community in tandem with Bootlin. Rockchip boards have become viable competitors to their better known counterparts. Even the Raspberry Pi has had a proof-of-concept free firmware replacement developed. Free software is winning on ARM.

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Raspbian Linux distribution updated, but with one unexpected omission

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GNU
Linux
Hardware

Those last two are the ones that really produced some excitement in the Raspberry Pi community. Just look at that next to last one... so innocent looking... but then go and look at the discussion in the Pi Forums about it.

For those who might not be familiar with it, Mathematica (and the Wolfram language) is a technical computing system that is very widely used in both education and industry. It has been included on the Raspberry Pi since the beginning, and when you consider that a normal "desktop" license costs €160 for a "student", or €345 for "home and hobby", it's an exceptionally good deal to get it for free with a $35 Raspberry Pi. That makes it a bit easier to understand why some users would be upset about it being removed.

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Open-source hardware could defend against the next generation of hacking

Filed under
Hardware
OSS
Security

Imagine you had a secret document you had to store away from prying eyes. And you have a choice: You could buy a safe made by a company that kept the workings of its locks secret. Or you could buy a safe whose manufacturer openly published the designs, letting everyone – including thieves – see how they’re made. Which would you choose?

It might seem unexpected, but as an engineering professor, I’d pick the second option. The first one might be safe – but I simply don’t know. I’d have to take the company’s word for it. Maybe it’s a reputable company with a longstanding pedigree of quality, but I’d be betting my information’s security on the company upholding its traditions. By contrast, I can judge the security of the second safe for myself – or ask an expert to evaluate it. I’ll be better informed about how secure my safe is, and therefore more confident that my document is safe inside it. That’s the value of open-source technology.

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Linux Devices: ARM and La Frite

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
  • Arm brings Intel, Arduino, myDevices into the Pelion IoT platform ecosystem

    Arm on Monday is announcing a series of new partnerships that will enhance Pelion, its Internet of Things platform, making it easier for customers to deploy and manage a wider range of IoT devices on the platform.

    First, the Peltion Platform can now be used to manage Intel Architecture (x86) platforms, in addition to Arm-based IoT devices and gateways. Next, Arm is partnering with myDevices to make it easier to quickly onboard a wider array of devices. Additionally, Arduino is partnering with Pelion Connectivity Management to enable developers to quickly create and scale cellular IoT designs.

  • ARM expands Pelion IoT platform to Intel, Linux ecosystems

    In addition, the company announced Mbed Linux OS, which builds on its Mbed OS for IoT devices based on Cortex-A. Mbed Linux OS is integrated with the Pelion IoT Platform and is designed to open up new classes of IoT devices with complex applications, such as those processing video or edge gateways. Developers can sign-up now for early access to the new software.

  • Raspberry Pi A+-sized $10 La Frite Linux board has better specs at half the price

    The La Frite board is a follow up to Libre Computing's $25 Le Potato board and is "loosely based" on the design of the Raspberry Pi A+ -- a smaller and cheaper Pi than the $35 Raspberry Pi B+ -- due to the 40-pin GPIO header setup.

    It's currently available to backers on the device's Kickstarter page and will be generally available in November.

Linux in La Frite and Airtame

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
  • La Frite mini PC by Libre Computer Project from $10

    La Frite is a new open source development board created by the Libre Computer Project which has this week launched via Kickstarter and offers a miniaturised version of the popular Le Potato SBC supported by mainline Linux and Android 8 operating system.

    La Frite is a modern low power mini PC with four 64-bit cores, and can be equipped with up to a gigabyte of DDR4 RAM, supported by ARM Mali GPU powering high definition HDMI. It is loosely based on the Raspberry Pi Model A+ and maintains similar GPIO header arrangement. Connections on the mini PC include 2 x USB ports and Ethernet.

  • Libre Computer’s La Frite is a $20 single board computer ($5 and up during crowdfunding)

    Libre Computer’s latest Linux-friendly single-board computer features a 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core processor, ARM Mali-450 graphics, and a target price of $20 when the Le Frite goes on sale at Amazon later this year.

    But folks who pre-order one through the company’s Kickstarter campaign might be able to score one for as little as $5.

  • Libre sets La Frite mini computer board free

    China's Libre Computer has hit Kickstarter for an alternative to the Raspberry Pi Zero called La Frite. Essentially a smaller version of the company's Le Potato computer board, which also launched on Kickstarter last year, the 2.5 x 2.2 inch (6.4 x 5.5 cm) development board is aimed squarely at makers on a tight budget.

  • A $10 Raspberry Pi alternative? La Frite packs Pi-like specs into low-cost Linux board

    The $10 La Frite comes close to matching some key specs of the $35 Pi 3 B+, using the same underlying Arm-based CPU and even offering faster DDR4 memory.

    On paper, the La Frite also promises comparable video playback performance to the Pi 3 B+, can output to 1080p displays via HDMI 1.4, and offers two USB 2.0 ports.

    As you'd expect for the price there are various cutbacks. The board is missing the Pi 3 B+'s Wi-Fi support, and offers a slightly slower wired Ethernet connection than the Pi 3 B+. While the underlying CPU is the same, a quad-core Arm Cortex A53-based processor, the La Frite's CPU runs slightly slower than the Pi's, 1.2GHz compared to 1.4GHz.

  • Airtame raises $1.26 million in crowdfunding for its wireless HDMI dongle. What is it, and what’s next?

    Danish startup Airtame couldn’t have had a better beginning of the year.

    A relatively obscure company that was started in Copenhagen a mere seven months ago, Airtame kicked off a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo at the end of last year to raise a modest $160,000 to help turn its wireless HDMI dongle into a real product.

    What they got is a lot of attention from media and potential customers, the coveted ‘Best Startup of CES 2014’ award from Engadget, and a lot more capital to work with than they had initially anticipated.

New Wine With Graphics Work/Latest Changes, NVIDIA's GPU Work, and Intel's Work on Mesa

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks
Hardware
  • Wine Announcement
  • Wine 3.18 Brings FreeType Subpixel Font Rendering, Wine Console DPI Scaling

    A new bi-weekly Wine development release is out for those wanting to try the latest Windows gaming on Linux experience (outside of Steam Play / Proton) or running other Windows applications on Linux and other operating systems.

    The key features of Wine 3.18 include sub-pixel font rendering in conjunction with FreeType 2.8.1+, support for the OAEP algorithm within the RSA encryption code, array marshalling fixes in DCOM, improved DPI scaling for the Wine console, and various bug fixes.

  • NVIDIA Accelerates Server Workloads with RAPIDS GPU Software

    GPUs, or Graphics Process Units, are somewhat of a misnomer in the modern age for many of the applications where there are deployed. While GPUs are an important component for graphics, high-end gaming and design, they are also being widely used to accelerate High Performance Computing (HPC) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) workloads.

    This week, NVIDIA announced its RAPIDS open source software for GPUs, alongside multiple partners, including Oracle, HPE and IBM.

  • Intel Whiskey Lake Support Formally Added To Mesa 18.3

    The recently posted patch for Intel Whiskey Lake support in Mesa has now been merged for Mesa 18.3.

    Intel announced Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake in late August. While Intel is usually many months or even years ahead of schedule with their open-source driver enablement for new graphics generations, Whiskey Lake basically comes down to re-branded Coffeelake UHD Graphics... Some of the PCI IDs in fact have already been present in the Intel Linux driver as reserved Coffeelake PCI IDs.

Community backed Kaby Lake SBC ships with downloadable Ubuntu image

Filed under
Hardware
Ubuntu

DFRobot has fulfilled KS orders for its Kaby Lake based LattePanda Alpha SBC, and is shipping a model with 8GB RAM and 64GB eMMC without OS that supports Windows 10 or Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

DFRobot’s LattePanda project has fulfilled its Kickstarter orders for its community-backed, Intel 7th Gen Core based LattePanda Alpha after several months of delays, and public sales have switched from pre-order to in-stock fulfillment for at least one model. Like the earlier, Intel Cherry Trail based LattePanda, the LattePanda Alpha is notable for being a community backed (but not fully open source) hacker board loaded with Windows 10. Yet with the LattePanda Alpha, you can also choose a more affordable barebones version without a Windows 10 key that supports an optimized, downloadable Ubuntu 16.04 LTS image.

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La Frite: A Libre ARM SBC For $5, 10x Faster Than The Raspberry Pi Zero

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

The folks at the Libre Computer Project who have successfully released the Tritium, Le Potato, and other ARM SBCs while being as open-source friendly as possible have now announced La Frite.

La Frite is a low-end offering with their 512MB model shipping for just $5 USD or the 1GB version for $10... In other words, aimed squarely at the Raspberry Pi Zero and intended for IoT use-cases and other purposes.

The $5 ARM SBC is said to be 10x faster than the Raspberry Pi Zero plus having real HDMI, Ethernet, and USB ports.

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GPUs and Graphics: Nvidia, X.Org Developers' Conference, vRt and ROCm

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks
Hardware

Network appliance and ATX board debut AMD’s Epyc Embedded 3000

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Ibase has launched the first network appliance based on AMD’s Epyc Embedded 3000 SoC. The 1U rackmount “FWA8800” appliance features 16 or 32 GbE ports and is built on a new “MBN806” ATX board.

We don’t regularly cover high-end, rackmount network appliances, but we thought this one might be of interest: As promised in February when AMD announced the Xeon-like Epyc Embedded 3000 SoC along with its Ryzen Embedded V1000, Ibase has released the first network appliance based on the Epyc chip. The 1U rackmount FWA8800 network appliance features 2x or 4x NIC slots for up to 16x or 32 GbE ports.

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Schedule a visit with the Emacs psychiatrist

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Download User Guide Books of All Ubuntu Flavors

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Games: Desert Child, KKnD, Twice Circled

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Debian Installer Buster Alpha 4 release

The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the fourth alpha release of the installer for Debian 10 "Buster". Foreword ======== I'd like to start by thanking Christian Perrier, who spent many years working on Debian Installer, especially on internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n) topics. One might remember graphs and blog posts on Planet Debian with statistics; keeping track of those numbers could look like a pure mathematical topic, but having uptodate translations is a key part of having a Debian Installer that is accessible for most users. Thank you so much, Christian! Read more Also: Debian Installer Buster Alpha 4 Released