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Open Hardware/3-D Printing

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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.

Devices: Debugging Tools, TP-Link, Raspberry Pi and Android

Filed under
Android
Linux
Hardware
  • Debugging Tools

    That’s three strands (red, white, black) from a USB-to-serial converter, soldered on to a 3-pole screw-tightened connector. Clamped into that are the serial lines (red, green and blue) which were originally crimped straight to the lines. After a few months of use, the crimping failed and the red cable (RX) broke off.

    So I had to fix it, and in the process decided to make it more sturdy, more ugly, but also easier to use.

  • TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug with Energy Monitoring Review

    Opening up the box reveals both plugs sitting in a plastic tray. A quick start guide, tech support contact information, and a copy of the GNU General Public License were found on top of the plugs. Following the quick start guide proved to be very straightforward.

  • Reading Buttons from a Raspberry Pi

    When you attach hardware buttons to a Raspberry Pi's GPIO pin, reading the button's value at any given instant is easy with GPIO.input(). But what if you want to watch for button changes? And how do you do that from a GUI program where the main loop is buried in some library?

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  • Rooting Android Just Isn’t Worth It Anymore

    Since Android is based on Linux and uses a Linux kernel, “rooting” effectively means allowing access to root permissions in Linux. It’s really that simple—these permissions aren’t granted to normal users and apps, so you have to do some special work to gain them.

  • What’s the Difference Between Android One and Android Go?

    In 2014, Google announced a lineup of low-cost, low-spec phones called Android One. In 2017, they announced Android Go, specifically designed for low-cost, low-spec phones. So…what’s the difference?

PC desktop build, Intel, spectre issues etc.

Filed under
Hardware
Security

Apart from the initial system bought, most of my systems when being changed were in the INR 20-25k/- budget including all and any accessories I bought later.

The only real expensive parts I purchased have been external hdd ( 1 TB WD passport) and then a Viewsonic 17″ LCD which together sent me back by around INR 10k/- but both seem to give me adequate performance (both have outlived the warranty years) with the monitor being used almost 24×7 over 6 years or so, of course over GNU/Linux specifically Debian. Both have been extremely well value for the money.

As I had been exposed to both the motherboards I had been following those and other motherboards as well. What was and has been interesting to observe what Asus did later was to focus more on the high-end gaming market while Gigabyte continued to dilute it energy both in the mid and high-end motherboards.

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Raspberry Pi HAT connects up to three Pmod modules at once

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Digilent and RS Components have launched a $15, Python supported “Pmod HAT Adapter” for the Raspberry Pi that can connect up to three Digilent Pmod peripheral modules at a time while also extending the 40-pin adapter.

Digilent has joined with distributor RS Components to co-launch a $15 DesignSpark Raspberry Pi Pmod HAT Adapter board that brings Digilent’s Pmod peripheral boards to the Raspberry Pi. The 65 x 56.5mm HAT compliant board offers three 2×6-pin Pmod ports with support for I2C, SPI, UART and GPIO interfaces. The Raspberry Pi’s 40-pin adapter is extended to make full use of the SBC’s interfaces.

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First Impressions: Asus Tinkerboard and Docker

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

The board's standard OS is TinkerOS - a Linux variant of Debian 9. I've also read that Android is available but that doesn't interest us here. While Android may use forms of containerisation under the hood it doesn't mix with Docker containers.

Rather than trying TinkerOS I flashed Armbian's release of Ubuntu 16.04.03. The stable build on the download page contains a full desktop, but if you want to run the board headless (like I do) then you can find a smaller image on the "other downloads" link.

I initially used the stable image but had to swap to the nightly build due to a missing kernel module for Kubernetes networking. Having looked this up on Google I found the nightly build contained the fix to turn on the missing module.

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RF-enabled Raspberry Pi add-on brings Google Assistant to gizmos, speakers, and robots

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

JOY-iT and Elector have launched a $42 “Talking Pi” RPi add-on that enables Google Home/AIY compatible voice activation of home automation devices linked to the Pi’s GPIO, and includes a mic board, PWM servo controls, and support for a 433MHz SRD radio.

Elektor has begun selling a $42, open source voice control add-on board that is programmable via the Google Assistant SDK. Built by Germany based JOY-iT, and marketed by Conrad Business Supplies, the RF-enabled Talking Pi enables voice control of home automation equipment such as smart lights, power sockets, and other gizmos via addressable extensions to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO.

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Librem 5 Phone Progress Report

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Hardware
  • Librem 5 Phone Progress Report – The First of Many More to Come!

    First, let me apologize for the silence. It was not because we went into hibernation for the winter, but because we were so busy in the initial preparation and planning of a totally new product while orienting an entirely new development team. Since we are more settled into place now, we want to change this pattern of silence and provide regular updates. Purism will be giving weekly news update posts every Tuesday, rotating between progress on phone development from a technology viewpoint (the hardware, kernel, OS, etc.) and an art of design viewpoint (UI/UX from GNOME/GTK to KDE/Plasma). To kickoff this new update process, this post will discus the technological progress of the Librem 5 since November of 2017.

  • Purism Eyeing The i.MX8M For The Librem 5 Smartphone, Issues First Status Update

    If you have been curious about the state of Purism's Librem 5 smartphone project since its successful crowdfunding last year and expedited plans to begin shipping this Linux smartphone in early 2019, the company has issued their first status update.

Yocto-on-i.MX6UL gateway serves up I2C and SPI on a DB9 port

Filed under
Linux
Hardware

Axiomtek’s compact “IFB125” DIN-rail IoT gateway runs Yocto Linux on an i.MX6 UL SoC with dual LANs, mini-PCIe expansion, extended temperature and vibration resistance, COM and USB ports, and a DB9 port that supports both SPI and I2C.

Axiomtek has released a minor variation on its IFB122 IoT gateway. Like the IDB122, the new IFB125 runs Yocto Project code with Linux 3.14.52 on NXP’s 528MHz Cortex-A7 based i.MX6 UltraLight (UL) SoC. The headless gateway is designed for remote control and remote monitoring management applications such as unmanned control room, industrial automation, automatic parking lot, and traffic cabinets.

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Also: Display-oriented eNUC SBC runs on Apollo Lake

Toughened up SODIMM-style COM taps i.MX8M

Filed under
Android
Linux
Hardware

CompuLab’s rugged, 68 x 42mm “CL-SOM-iMX8” computer-on-module runs Yocto or Android on NXP’s dual- or quad-core Cortex-A53 i.MX8M, with up to 4GB LPDDR4, up to 64GB eMMC, onboard wireless, and PCIe and HDMI 2.0 support.

CompuLab’s CL-SOM-iMX8 COM, which ships with an optional SBC-iMX8 Evaluation Kit, shares many features with Variscite’s recently announced DART-MX8M module, which similarly features NXP’s new i.MX8M SoC. The CL-SOM-iMX8 is slightly larger, at 68 x 42mm, and adds shock (50G/20ms) and vibration (20G/0-600Hz) resistance.

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Also: 5.25-inch SBCs offer Kaby Lake or Skylake in S- and H-series options

New Raspberry Pi: Zero

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
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today's howtos

Graphics: VC4 and AMDVLK Driver

  • VC4 display, VC5 kernel submitted
    For VC5, I renamed the kernel driver to “v3d” and submitted it to the kernel. Daniel Vetter came back right away with a bunch of useful feedback, and next week I’m resolving that feedback and continuing to work on the GMP support. On the vc4 front, I did the investigation of the HDL to determine that the OLED matrix applies before the gamma tables, so we can expose it in the DRM for Android’s color correction. Stefan was also interested in reworking his fencing patches to use syncobjs, so hopefully we can merge those and get DRM HWC support in mainline soon. I also pushed Gustavo’s patch for using the new core DRM infrastructure for async cursor updates. This doesn’t simplify our code much yet, but Boris has a series he’s working on that gets rid of a lot of custom vc4 display code by switching more code over to the new async support.
  • V3D DRM Driver Revised As It Works To Get Into The Mainline Kernel
    Eric Anholt of Broadcom has sent out his revised patches for the "V3D" DRM driver, which up until last week was known as the VC5 DRM driver. As explained last week, the VC5 driver components are being renamed to V3D since it ends up supporting more than just VC5 with Broadcom VC6 hardware already being supported too. Eric is making preparations to get this VideoCore driver into the mainline Linux kernel and he will then also rename the VC5 Gallium3D driver to V3D Gallium3D.
  • AMDVLK Driver Gets Fixed For Rise of the Tomb Raider Using Application Profiles
    With last week's release of Rise of the Tomb Raider on Linux ported by Feral Interactive, when it came to Radeon GPU support for this Vulkan-only Linux game port the Mesa RADV driver was supported while the official AMDVLK driver would lead to GPU hangs. That's now been fixed. With the latest AMDVLK/XGL source code as of today, the GPU hang issue for Rise of the Tomb Raider should now be resolved.

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Linux Performance Boosted By Updated BIOS/AGESA

With last week's initial launch-day Linux benchmarks of the Ryzen 5 2600X / Ryzen 7 2700X some found the Linux performance to be lower than Windows. While the root cause is undetermined, a BIOS/AGESA update does appear to help the Linux performance significantly at least with the motherboard where I've been doing most of my tests with the Ryzen 7 2700X. Here are the latest benchmark numbers. Read more

GNU: The GNU C Library 2.28 and Guix on Android

  • Glibc 2.28 Upstream Will Build/Run Cleanly On GNU Hurd
    While Linux distributions are still migrating to Glibc 2.27, in the two months since the release changes have continued building up for what will eventually become the GNU C Library 2.28. The Glibc 2.28 work queued thus far isn't nearly as exciting as all the performance optimizations and more introduced with Glibc 2.27, but it's a start. Most notable at this point for Glibc 2.28 is that it will now build and run cleanly on GNU/Hurd without requiring any out-of-tree patches. There has been a ton of Hurd-related commits to Glibc over the past month.
  • Guix on Android!
    Last year I thought to myself: since my phone is just a computer running an operating system called Android (or Replicant!), and that Android is based on a Linux kernel, it's just another foreign distribution I could install GNU Guix on, right? It turned out it was absolutely the case. Today I was reminded on IRC of my attempt last year at installing GNU Guix on my phone. Hence this blog post. I'll try to give you all the knowledge and commands required to install it on your own Android device.
  • GNU Guix Wrangled To Run On Android
    The GNU Guix transactional package manager can be made to run on Android smartphones/tablets, but not without lots of hoops to jump through first.