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Hardware

Latest on Meltdown/Spectre in Linux

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Linux
Hardware
Security

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Linux
Hardware

Linux Devices: LimeSDR Mini, ML350 Fanless Computer, Librem 5

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
  • LimeSDR Mini gains Raspberry Pi ready Grove Starter Kit

    Lime Microsystems has launched a Raspberry Pi compatible “Grove Starter Kit” option for its LimeSDR Mini radio hacker board with a GrovePi+ board, 15 Grove sensor and actuator modules, dual antennas for 433/868/915MHz bands, a base plate, and cables.

    Lime Microsystems has added to its successful LimeSDR Mini crowdfunding campaign on Crowd Supply with a $249 Grove Starter Kit designed to work with a Raspberry Pi. The news came shortly after Lime unveiled a DVB transmitter prototype project that combines the open source LimeSDR Mini Software Defined Radio (SDR) board with a Raspberry Pi Zero.

  • Ubuntu-ready embedded PC has optional CEC, 4G, and dual mSATA

    Logic Supply’s fanless, Apollo Lake based “ML350G-10” embedded PC offers 7x USB ports, up to 2x GbE, up to 2TB mSATA via 2x slots, optional WiFi/BT or LTE, and 2x DisplayPorts with optional CEC.

    Most of Logic Supply’s embedded PCs have run on Intel Core chips, but the Vermont-based company has produced a few Linux-ready, Intel Atom-based models including the Bay Trail Celeron based ML100G-10 and quad- or octa-core Avoton Atom C2xxx driven ML600G-10. Now, the company has launched an “ML350 Fanless Computer” series starting with the Apollo Lake-based ML350G-10.

  • Purism Plans to Bring Convergence to Its PureOS Linux Phone and Laptops

    Purism, the computer technology company that sells Linux-powered laptops, is currently working hard on their first Linux phone, Librem 5, for which the company ran a successful crowdfunding campaign last year.

    Last week, Purism published their first report on the upcoming privacy-focused Linux smartphone since the crowdfunding campaign ended, saying they plan to use the i.MX8 ARM processor for the device and the next-generation Wayland display server for the UI (User Interface), which is still in the design phase as they spent last two months establishing a design team.

    Now that their design team is in place and ready to work on the most powerful Linux phone ever, Purism shared their plans on attempting to bring convergence across all devices running the PureOS Linux operating system, including the upcoming Librem 5 smartphone and any of Purism's Librem Linux laptops.

Open Hardware/3-D Printing

Filed under
Hardware
OSS
  • Meltdown And Spectre Processor Vulnerabilities: Is It Time To Revive Open Source Alternative?

    The beginning of the year 2018 brought new challenges in the form of Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in most of the processor architectures.  In layman terms, both of these vulnerabilities allow hackers to steal sensitive data like passwords.  This vulnerability is applicable to Intel, AMD, and ARM. This means the problem is universal as it affects almost all devices ranging from embedded devices, smartphones, desktops, and servers to supercomputers.

  • When the canary breaks the coal mine

    Nobody likes it when kernels don't work and even less so when they are broken on a Friday afternoon. Yet that's what happened last Friday. This was particularly unsettling because at -rc8, the kernel is expected to be rock solid. An early reboot is particularly unsettling. Fortunately, the issue was at least bisected to a commit in the x86 tree. The bad commit changed code for an AMD specific feature but oddly the reboot was seen on non-AMD processors too.

    It's easy to take debug logs for granted when you can get them. The kernel nominally has the ability for an 'early' printk but that still requires setup. If your kernel crashes before that, you need to start looking at other debug options (and your life choices). This was unfortunately one of those crashes. Standard x86 laptops don't have a nice JTAG interface for hardware assisted debugging. Debugging this particular crash was not particularly feasible beyond changing code and seeing if it booted.

  • DIY Open-Source PantoProbe Precision Probe

    Electronics enthusiasts, hobbyists and makers looking for a handy tool to help you troubleshoot their latest project, may be interested in an open source PantoProb created by Kurt Schaefer. As you can see from the image above the open source probe requires a few 3D printed parts as well as some off-the-shelf hardware which is easily sourced. Kurt has also provided full instructions and a Github repo with all the necessary files to make your very own 3D printed testing probe. Check out the video below to learn more.

  • What the Apple 3D Printing Patents Mean for Our Industry

    Recently Apple has been granted a patent for a color 3D printing idea whereby the printed object is first made and then colored in afterwards. This idea is a straightforward one; using it one could print an object using FDM for example and then later color it with an inkjet print head. This method would play to both technologies’ strengths with FDM making for strong objects that are very dimensionally accurate but often suffer from poor surface quality. By having a separate print head then color in and, more importantly perhaps, strengthen and smooth over the object as well as add things such as conductivity, the resulting object would look nice as well. This could be a potential breakthrough in expanding 3D printing.

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SUSE: openSUSE Tumbleweed and SUSE in HPC

  • Krita, Linux Kernel, KDEConnect Get Updated in Tumbleweed
    There have been a few openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots released in the past two weeks that brought some new features and fixes to users. This blog will go over the past two snapshots. The last snapshot, 20180416, had several packages updated. The adobe-sourceserifpro-fonts package updated to version 2.000; with the change, the fonts were refined to make the Semibold and Bold heavier. Both dbus-1 and dbus-1-x11 were updated to 1.12.6, which fixed some regreations introduced in version 1.10.18 and 1.11.0. The gtk-vnc 0.7.2 package deprecated the manual python2 binding, which will be deleted in the next release, in favor of GObject introspection. Notifications that caused a crash were fixed in kdeconnect-kde 1.3.0. The 4.16.2 Linux Kernel made ip_tunnel, ipv6, ip6_gre, ip6_tunnel and vti6 better to validate user provided tunnel names. Due to a build system failure, not all 4.16.2 binaries were built correctly; this will be resolved in the 20180417 snapshot, which will be released shortly. Krita 4.0.1 had multiple fixes from its major version upgrade. The visual diff and merge tool meld 3.19.0 added new features like a new per-pane status bar with selectors for syntax highlighting and text encoding. Python Imaging Library python-Pillow 5.1.0 removed the freetype-2.9.patch and YaST had several packages with a version bump.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise High Performance Computing in the SLE 15 Beta Program!
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    The upcoming release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 is offering an HPC (High Performance Computing) module for development, control, and compute nodes. Today that SLE15-HPC module is now available in beta.

OPNsense 18.1.6

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Turris MOX is a Modular & Open Source Router

A company from the Czech Republic is trying to raise money to bring a modular and open source router to the public. It has a number of features that can’t be found in the current line up of routers available for purchase. Read more