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lkcl (517947) writes "Straight from the crowd-funding page comes news of Hack-E-Bot, described as a "low price and open source robot that hopes to encourage children to learn about engineering, electronics, and programming". Part of the reason for achieving such a low price appears to be down to the use of a tiny $7 off-the-shelf Arduino-compatible board called Trinket from Adafruit. The Trinket (ATTiny328 PIC) press-fits neatly into a supplied breadboard: all connections and any educational experiments can be done entirely without soldering. It's cute, it's under $50, you can pay extra for one to be given free to a child if you want, and there's a lower-cost kit version available if you prefer to use your own embedded board and are prepared to write your own software. I absolutely love the whole idea, and they've already reached the incredibly low $7,000 funding target, so it's going ahead." top
lkcl (517947) writes "In an open letter to the core developers behind OpenLDAP (Howard Chu) and Python-LMDB (David Wilson) is a story of a successful creation of a high-performance task scheduling engine written (perplexingly) in python. With only partial optimisation allowing tasks to be executed in parallel at a phenomenal rate of 240,000 per second, the choice to use Python-LMDB for the per-task database store based on its benchmarks as well as its well-researched design criteria turned out to be the right decision. Part of the success was also due to earlier architectural advice gratefully received here on slashdot. What is puzzling though is that LMDB on wikipedia is being constantly deleted, despite its "notability" by way of being used in a seriously-long list of prominent software libre projects, which has been, in part, motivated by the Oracle-driven BerkeleyDB license change. It would appear that the original complaint about notability came from an Oracle employee as well..." top
Power-loss-protected SSDs tested: only Intel S3500 passes
lkcl (517947) writes "After the reports on SSD reliability and after experiencing a costly 50% failure rate on over 200 remote-deployed OCZ Vertex SSDs, a degree of paranoia set in where I work. I was asked to carry out SSD analysis with some very specific criteria: budget below £100, size greater than 16Gbytes and Power-loss protection mandatory. This was almost an impossible task: after months of searching the shortlist was very short indeed. There was only one drive that survived the torturing: the Intel S3500. After more than 6,500 power-cycles over several days of heavy sustained random writes, not a single byte of data was lost. Crucial M4: fail. Toshiba THNSNH060GCS: fail. Innodisk 3MP SATA Slim: fail. OCZ: epic fail. Only the end-of-lifed Intel 320 and its newer replacement the S3500 survived unscathed. The conclusion: if you care about data even when power could be unreliable, only buy Intel SSDs." Link to Original Source top
lkcl (517947) writes "With much appreciated community assistance, the first EOMA-68 CPU Card in the series, based on an Allwinner A10 processor, is now running Debian 7 (armhf variant). Two demo videos have been made. Included in the two demos: fvwm2, midori web browser, a patched version of VLC running full-screen 1080p, HDMI output, powering and booting from Micro-HDMI, and connecting to a 4-port USB Hub. Also shown is the 1st revision PCB for the upcoming KDE Flying Squirrel 7in tablet.
The next phase is to get the next iteration of test / engineering samples out to interested free software developers, as well as large clients, which puts the goal of having Free Software Engineers involved with the development of mass-volume products within reach." Link to Original Source top
Rhombus Tech 2nd revision A10 EOMA68 Card working samples
lkcl (517947) writes "Rhombus Tech and QiMod have working samples of the first EOMA-68 CPU Card, featuring 1GByte of RAM, an A10 processor and stand-alone (USB-OTG-powered with HDMI output) operation. Upgrades will include the new Dual-Core ARM Cortex A7, the pin-compatible A20. This is the first CPU Card in the EOMA-68 range: there are others in the pipeline (A31, iMX6, jz4760 and a recent discovery of the Realtek RTD1186 is also being investigated).
The first product in the EOMA-68 family, also nearing a critical phase in its development, will be the KDE Flying Squirrel, a 7in user-upgradeable tablet featuring the KDE Plasma Active Operating System. Laptops, Desktops, Games Consoles, user-upgradeable LCD Monitors and other products are to follow.
And every CPU that goes into the products will be pre-vetted for full GPL compliance, with software releases even before the product goes out the door. That's what we've promised to do: to provide Free Software Developers with the opportunity to be involved with mass-volume product development every step of the way. We're also on the look-out for an FSF-Endorseable processor which also meets mass-volume criteria which is proving... challenging." Link to Original Source top
lkcl writes "The Rhombus Tech Project is pleased to announce the beginning of a Texas Instruments AM389x/DM816x EOMA-68 CPU Card: thanks to earlier work on the A10 CPU Card and thanks to Spectrum Digital, work on the schematics is progressing rapidly. With access to more powerful SoCs such as the OMAP5 and Exynos5 being definitely desirable but challenging at this early phase of the Rhombus Tech initiative, the AM3892 is powerful enough (SATA-II, up to 1600mhz DDR3 RAM, Gigabit Ethernet) to still take seriously even though it is a 1.2ghz ARM Cortex A8. With no AM3892 beagleboard clone available for sale, input is welcomed as to features people would like on the card. The key advantage of an AM3892 EOMA-68 CPU Card though: it's FSF Hardware-endorseable, opening up the possibility — at last — for the FSF to have an ARM-based tablet or smartbook to recommend. Preorders for the AM3892 CPU Card are open." Link to Original Source top
Rhombus Tech A10 EOMA-68 CPU Card schematics completed
lkcl writes "Rhombus Tech's first CPU Card is nearing completion and availability: the schematics have been completed by Wits-Tech. Although it appears strange to be using a 1ghz Cortex A8 for the first CPU Card, not only is the mass-volume price of the A10 lower than other offerings; not only does the A10 classify as "goodenough" (in combination with 1gb of RAM); but Allwinner Tech is one of the very rare China-based SoC companies willing to collaborate with Software (Libre) developers without an enforced (GPL-violating) NDA in place. Overall, it's the very first step in the right direction for collaboration between Software (Libre) developers and mass-volume PRC Factories. There will be more (faster, better) EOMA-68 CPU Cards: this one is just the first." Link to Original Source top
lkcl writes "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nymwars outlines the problem with Google+ as an "identity" service, but nowhere does this page discuss any compelling down-sides for Google themselves. One is the risk of lawsuits where people *relied * on Google+, were lulled into a false sense of security by Google+, failed to follow standard well-established online internet identity precautions, and were defrauded as a *direct* result of Google's claims of "safety". Another is the legal cost of involvement in, and the burden of proof that would fall onto Google in identity-fraud-related cases of online stalking, internet date rape and murder. Can anyone think of some other serious disadvantages that would compel google to rethink its google+ identity policy? I would really like to use Google Hangouts, but I'll be damned if i'll use it under anything other than under my 25-year-established pseudonym, "lkcl". What's been your experience with applying for an "unreal" identity?" Link to Original Source top
lkcl writes "The domain name for the pyjamas project, pyjs.org, was hijacked today by some of its users. The reasons: objections over the project leader's long-term goal to have pyjamas development be self-hosting (git browsing, wiki, bugtracker etc. all as Free Software Licensed pyjamas applications). Normally if there is disagreement, a Free Software Project is forked: a new name is chosen and the parting-of-the-ways is done if not amicably but at least publicly. Pyjamas however now appears to have made Free Software history by being the first project to have its domain actually hijacked. rather embarrassingly, in the middle of a publicly-announced release cycle. Has anything like this ever happened before?" Link to Original Source top
lkcl writes "Boot to Gecko is a full and complete stand-alone Operating System that is to use Gecko as both its Window Manager and Applications UI. Primarily targetted at smartphones, security and the distribution of applications are both facing interesting challenges: scaling to mass-volume proportions (100 million+ units). The resources behind Google's app store (effectively unlimited cloud computing) are not necessarily guaranteed to be available to Telcos that wish to set up a B2G store.
Although B2G began from Android, Mozilla's primary expertise in the development of Gecko and in the use of SSL is second to none. There is howevera risk that the B2G Team will rely solely on userspace security enforcement (in a single executable) and to try inappropriate use of CSP, Certificate pinning and other SSL techniques for app distribution, resulting in some quite harmful consequences that will impact B2G's viability.
The question is, therefore: what security infrastructure surrounding the stores themselves as well as in the full B2G OS itself would actually be truly effective in the large-scale distribution of B2G applications, whilst also retaining flexibility and ease of development that would attract and retain app writers?" Link to Original Source top
EOMA-PCMCIA modular computer aiming for $15 and Fr
lkcl writes "An initiative by a CIC company Rhombus Tech aims to provide Software (Libre) Developers with a PCMCIA-sized modular computer that could end up in mass-volume products. The Reference Design mass-volume pricing guide from the SoC manufacturer, for a device with similar capability to the raspberrypi, is around $15: 40% less than the $25 rbpi but for a device with an ARM Cortex A8 CPU 3x times faster than the 700mhz ARM11 used in the rbpi. GPL Kernel source code is available. A page for community ideas for motherboard designs has also been created. The overall goal is to bring more mass-volume products to market which Software (Libre) Developers have actually been involved in, reversing the trend of endemic GPL violations surrounding ARM-based mass-produced hardware. The Preorder pledge registration is now open (account creation required)." Link to Original Source top
Where are the Ultra-efficient production Hybrid EV
lkcl writes "Has anyone else wondered why ultra-efficient hybrid vehicles have to look like this, why the Twizy doesn't have doors as standard and has leased batteries, or why the Volkswagen XL1 does 313mpg but only seats 2 people and isn't yet in production? Why were both Toyota's RAV4-EV as well as GM's EV1 not just discontinued but destroyed? Against this background, what makes this 3-seat Hybrid EV design different, and what could make it successful? Although this article on hybridcar.com outlines the problem, the solution isn't clear-cut, so how can ultra-efficient affordable hybrids actually end up on the road?" Link to Original Source top
lkcl writes "Predictions have been made for quite some time that ARM or MIPS notebooks and servers will be here. Failed prototypes date back over two years, with the Pegatron Netbook never finding a home; the $175 Next Surfer Pro being frantically withdrawn last week, the Lenovo Skylight being pulled weeks before it was to launch, and a rash of devices successfully making it to market with long-term unusable 1024x600 LCD panels and a maximum of 512mb RAM being the only real rare (and often expensive) option. The Toshiba AC100 and the HP/Compaq Airlife 100 are classic examples.
So the key question is: what, exactly is holding things back? With the MIPS 1074k architecture, a Quad-Core 1.5ghz CPU at 40nm would only consume 1.3 watts, and 28nm could easily exceed 2.0ghz and use 30% less power. The MIPS GS464V, designed by China's ICT, has such high SIMD Vector performance that it will be capable of 100fps 1080p at 1ghz on a single core, and has hardware assisted accelerated emulation of over 200 x86 instructions. A Dual-Core Cortex A9 consumes 0.5 watts at 800mhz and 1.9 watts at 2ghz: 28nm would mean a whopping 3ghz could potentially be achieved. And Gaisler have a SPARC-compatible core, the LEON4, which can be configured in anything up to 8 cores, and run at up to 1.5ghz in 30nm, giving an impressive 1.7DMIPS/Mhz performance per core that matches that of both the MIPS 1074k and the ARM Cortex A9 designs.
Due to the incredibly small size, significantly-mass-volume SoC processors based around these cores could conceivably be around an estimated $12 for Quad-Core 28nm MIPS1074k and $15 for Dual-Core 28nm Cortex A9s, bringing the price of an impressive desktop system easily down to $80 retail and a decent laptop to $150.
So why, if this is what's possible, providing such fantastic performance at incredible prices, are we still seeing "demo" products like the OMAP4 TI Smartphone, are still waiting for the Samsung Enyxos 4210, and for Nusmart's 2ghz 2816? Why are we not seeing any products with decent screens and memory from mainstream companies like Dell, IBM and HP, but are instead seeing a rash of low-performance low-quality GPL-violating Chinese-made Android-based knock-offs, touted as "web-ready", with webcams and microphones that don't even work?
What's it going to take for these alternative processors to hit mainstream? Do we really have to wait for 24nm or less, where it would be possible to run these RISC cores at ungodly 4ghz speeds or above, when 20,000 tiny RISC cores could fit on a single wafer resulting in prices of $4 to $5 per CPU? Or, with the rise of Android and GNU/Linux Operating Systems, would a lowly 28nm multi-core RISC-based System-on-a-Chip be enough for most peoples' needs?" Link to Original Source top
ARM or MIPS Notebooks: does 28nm make a difference
lkcl writes "Predictions have been made for quite some time that ARM or MIPS notebooks and servers will be here. Failed prototypes date back over two years, with the Pegatron Netbook never finding a home; the $175 Next Surfer Pro being frantically withdrawn last week, the Lenovo Skylight being pulled weeks before it was to launch, and a rash of devices successfully making it to market with long-term unusable 1024x600 LCD panels and a maximum of 512mb RAM being the only real rare (and often expensive) option.
So the key question is: what, exactly is holding things back? With the MIPS 1074k architecture, a Quad-Core 1.5ghz CPU at 40nm would only consume 1.3 watts, and 28nm could easily exceed 2.0ghz and use 30% less power. A Dual-Core Cortex A9 consumes 0.5 watts at 800mhz and 1.9 watts at 2ghz: 28nm would mean a whopping 3ghz could potentially be achieved. Due to the incredibly small size, significantly-mass-volume SoC processors based around these cores could conceivably be around $12 for Quad-Core 28nm MIPS1074k and $15 for Dual-Core 28nm Cortex A9s.
lkcl writes "The FreedomBox Foundation hit its minimum target of $60,000 in just 5 days, thanks to KickStarter Pledges, and seeks further contributions to ensure that the Project is long-term viable. Curiously but crucially, the FreedomBox fund is for Software only, yet neither suitable low-cost $30 ARM or MIPS "plug computers", envisaged by Eben Moglen as the ideal target platform, nor mid-to-high-end ARM or MIPS low-cost developer-suitable laptops actually exist. What do slashdot readers envisage to be the way forward, here, given that the goals of the FreedomBox are so at odds with mass-market Corporate-driven hardware design decisions?" Link to Original Source top
Toshiba AC100 Linux 2.6.29 Kernel Source available
lkcl (517947) writes "Toshiba Digital Media Group, Japan, kindly responded to a request for all GPL source code and supplied it on CD. The kernel source has been uploaded to the arm-netbook alioth git repository (branch ac100/2.6.29/lkcl). The AC100 has already been hacked, rooted and sadly ubuntu'd as noted on debian-arm. Availability of the "official" kernel source should make getting WIFI etc. somewhat easier. Two key questions remain, though: why does such a fantastic machine with a top-end dual core ARM Cortex A9 CPU only come with 512mb of RAM, and why supply only the truly dreadful and unusable 1024x600 resolution LCD when it is known to be the cause of so many negative reviews?" Link to Original Source top
lkcl (517947) writes "A new Open University course, Linux T155 aims to teach the benefits of Linux and Free Software, including the philosophy and history as well as the practical benefits of being virus-free and being able to prolong the working life of hardware. Unfortunately, in a delicious piece of irony, potential Tutors who stand by Free Software principles and thus are best suited to apply for a teaching post must violate the very principles they are expected to instil, by filling in a Microsoft Word formatted application form. An article on the Advogato Free Software Advocacy site describes the ways in which changing the "accidental" policy of using Proprietary File formats has succeeded and where it has failed." Link to Original Source top