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FOSDEM 2015 Schedule – January 31 – February 1 2015

January 29th, 2015 7 comments

FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting) takes place every year during the first week-end of February. This year the developer-oriented event expects to bring over 5000 geeks to share ideas and collaborate on open source projects. Contrary to most other events, it’s free to attend, and you don’t even need to register, just show up. FOSDEM 2015 will take place on January 31- February 1 in Brussels.

Fosdem_2015There will be 551 sessions divided into 5 keynotes, 40 lightning talks, 6 certification exams, and with the bulk being developer rooms and main tracks,  divided into 7 main tracks this year: Languages, Performance, Time, Typesetting, Hardware, Security and Miscellaneous.

I’m not going to attend, but it’s still interested to see what will be talked about, and I’ve concocted my own little virtual program out of the main tracks and developers’ rooms. There’s a few minutes overlap between some talks on Sunday.. Oh well.

If you won’t be able to attend, you should be able to watch the video and access the slides in a few weeks, as most sessions will be recorded.

What is the current status of Allwinner support in upstream u-boot and the kernel, which SoCs are supported, and which features (sound, video, etc.) are supported ?

The linux-sunxi community has been slowly but steadily working on getting Allwinner SoCs like the A10 supported in upstream u-boot and the kernel.

This talk will present the current status of Allwinner support upstream. Which SoCs are supported and which ones are not (yet) supported ? Which blocks if the supported SoCs are supported, and which are not ? Why are some SoCs / blocks not supported, and what are the plans to get them supported ? This are some of the questions this talk tries to answer.

Not all free operating systems are feature-full POSIX systems. FreeRTOS is a minimal operating system which is designed to run on micro-controllers, and provide real-time scheduling. It is used in industrial automation and automotive.

A brief introduction to FreeRTOS, depending on audience preference, will be followed by either a hands-on workshop using PCs, or a demonstration on a board. The workshop includes how to get started, what can be done with it, and what type of features and pitfalls to expect from FreeRTOS.

As ADAS and infotainment require more electronics, using an hypervisor is a solution to gather multiple boards into one. Xvisor is an open source lightweight hypervisor for embedded systems that perfectly fits the needs of the automative industry. It is a complete monolithic type-1 hypervisor with full virtualization and paravirtualisation support, showing better performances than KVM. We, OpenWide and the Institute for Technological Research SystemX, are working on its port on i.MX6 boards.

F*watch is an infinitely hackable GPS watch with many sensors based on a 100% Free design. Everything is Free, from the PCB and watch housing design to the software stack. Moreover, only Free software tools have been used during the development.

F*watch. Why should your watch be different?

The talk describes the development process and shows a first prototype, along with performance measurements and future plans.

The lowRISC project was established in the summer of 2014 with the aim of producing a complete open-source System-on-Chip in volume, with low-cost development boards. Alex Bradbury, one of the co-founders of the project will discuss the progress to date and the path to the first test chip. lowRISC implements the open RISC-V instruction set architecture and is exploring ideas on improving security via tagged memory and increasing flexibility through the addition of RISC-V ‘Minion’ cores to implement soft peripherals. This talk will discuss the potential benefits of a fully open-source hardware ecosystem, the challenges of getting to first silicon, and how the open source community at large can help.

Digital cameras provide almost every feature you could want. But if they don’t, you are forced to upgrade or go without. CHDK is a project which allows you to program new functionality to the majority of Canon cameras, in either C, Lua, or Basic. The talk features background on the project, code, tools, and the methods of compiling and introducing a new firmware into the camera.

Over the course of 1 hour, Steven Goodwin will guide the audience through the entire process of taking a normal (proprietary) camera and converting it into an open source version by installing custom firmware on it. He will then cover some of the features available (such as the on-device scripting language) and continue by explaining how to build and debug your own functionality. Starting with simple grids, continuing with games, and time-lapse code. And ending with a fully recompiled firmware running on the device.

The video4linux kernel subsystem reports which colorspace the captured video uses. But what does that really mean, and what do you have to do to correctly reproduce those colors? This talk will dive into the crazy world of colorspaces and give you a practical guide to colorspace handling. I will also demonstrate colorspace handling, both right and wrong.

Kernel profiling tools status on ARM and ARM64: – perf status, – ARM and ARM64 support, – callchain unwinding mechanisms and support, – patches status: merged, pending, in development, – links to discussions (LKML) and patches.

The profiling tools in the kernel are changing at a fast pace. This talk is about the support for ARM and ARM64 architecture and the development of features for these architectures, namely the callchain unwinding. The presentation goes over: – the detailed description of the feature, – the methods used to do the callchain unwinding (fp, exidx, dwarf etc.), – the status of the on-going patches, – the remaining work to be done, – the links to patches, discussions on the mailing lists, – -if needed and if time allows- a demo of the feature.

Building a medical device requires to follow certain rules specially when health care depend on it. The presentation will explain how Yocto help us in Kaptalia to solve this issue. In particular we will focus on fast boot, update with unskilled user base, Bluetooth Low Energy, security and data privacy.

During this event we will show how our team succeeded to build our first OS, start from a company with medical expert only and no prior expertise on embedded systems. At the end, a live demonstration for using the the monitor and sensor will be held.

LAVA is a python service created by Linaro for testing software on hardware which accepts test jobs to perform on selected hardware to provide a black box to continuous integration tests. Bisecting is a technique for finding commit in version control system that broke the software. Git provides the powerful “git bisect” subcommand for this purposes. In this talk we give and introduction to LAVA and explain howto combine LAVA and git bisect to automatically find offending commits in the Linux kernel.

Prospero Technologies has made a Linux based Digital Video Recorder which constantly records all UK broadcast TV so that the consumer no longer needs to schedule recordings. This will be a talk on the technologies used to achieve this, the open source software on the consumer device and how you can build your own 30 channel DVR.

The final version of the DVR uses a Freescale i.MX6 CPU with a video processing unit running a Linux built with Yocto. The talk will cover how well this is supported by gstreamer and how we built a QT application to display our HTML5 interface.

More and more embedded projects require support for advance connectivity. With it, comes the requirement to enforce a better security as well as private data protection. Using the layer model of Yocto, we show how we can extract from a complex project such as Tizen, advance connectivity and security and apply it to any embedded project.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing fast and opens large opportunities to embedded Linux. Unfortunately traditional embedded Linux has been weak when it comes to security and complex connectivity enabling. Tizen which has been developed as a Linux base OS for connected object (phone, TV, car) is on the other side very well equipped in that area. We will start by explaining what is Tizen architecture and how it provides Security and Connectivity facilities on top of a base Linux. We will then show how Yocto and Tizen-meta can be used to create embedded devices which benefit from several years of work done by the Tizen community. In particular we will review : – the mandatory access control enabling in an embedded device – the enforcement of good behavior by applications – resource access control – connectivity layers – HTML5 App enabling. – multi user mode enabling.

The ARM LLVM backend has been around for many years and generates high quality code, yet there are still standard benchmarks where GCC is generating more efficient code than LLVM. The goal of this talk is to get a better understanding of why the GCC-generated code for those benchmarks is executing more efficiently and also about finding out what we need to do on the LLVM side to address those code generation deficiencies. This talk presents current performance numbers for the SPEC CPU benchmark suites on ARM, comparing the performance of LLVM and GCC, with the main focus on the SPEC CPU integer benchmarks. To dive a little bit deeper, we will also have a closer look at the generated assembly code of selected benchmarks where LLVM is performing worse than GCC and use the results of this performance analysis to point out potential code generation opportunities for LLVM.

Connectivity is crucial for Internet of Things concept. For moving devices like position data loggers is typical solution GSM network. I will show you how you can use different types of GSM network for your IoT projects.

GSM network is easy way how to connect almost any device to internet. There are lot of GSM modules on market from different vendors but all devices has one thing in common – AT commands. There is standardized AT commands set for GSM networks. Using AT command you can send text messages, read phone number from list on SIM card, connect to internet and much more. I will show you basic command set for HTTP communication using basic GSM module SIM900 and Arduino.

This talk will give an overview over the Linux backports project and how to use it. The Linux backports project makes it possible to use a driver from a recent Linux mainline kernel with an older kernel version.

When you have a vendor board support package which does not use a bleeding edge mainline kernel, like it is the case most times, but you want to use some driver from a bleeding edge Linux kernel you can use backports. Backports “automatically” generates a tar with many drivers from a specific Linux mainline kernel which can be used with older kernel versions.

In this talk I will describe how the backports project, with its compatibility layer, the spatches and the normal patches. For practical usage I will show how to use backports with your own kernel in addition I will give a brief overview on how to add a new driver to backports.

Patchwork is a toolkit for connecting various devices into a network of things or, in a more broad case – Internet of Things (IoT). The main goal of creating this toolkit is to have a lightweight set of components that can help to quickly integrate different devices (i.e. Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Plugwise, etc) into a smart environment and expose specific devices’ capabilities as RESTful/SOAP/CoAP/MQTT/etc services and data streams.

The key features of patchwork include:

  • Lightweight (no RAM-consuming sliced pie of Java and OSGi, only bare necessities)
  • Cross-platform (can be deployed on OSX/Linux/Windows, tested on Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black boards)
  • Language-agnostic (device agents can be written in any programming language, APIs can be consumed by app written in any programming language)
  • Easily deployable (no JARs, no Eggs or Wheels for the core components, just a single native binary with statically linked dependencies)
  • Easily extendable (integrate new devices without modification of the core components, drop in solution)
  • Interchangeable (not happy with current existing Device Gateway or Catalog? replace it with another implementation without breaking the infrastructure)
  • Not re-inventing the wheel (we re-use as many existing technologies and components as possible)

libcurl is the world’s most used and most popular Internet transfer library, already used in every imaginable sort of embedded device out there. How did this happen and how do you use libcurl to transfer data to or from your device?

Embedded devices are very often network connected these days. Network connected embedded devices often need to transfer data to and from them as clients, using one or more of the popular internet protocols.

Daniel once founded the project and is still lead developer and maintainer of the curl project, making curl and libcurl. He is also active within IETF and maintain several other open source projects. Daniel is employed by Mozilla.

This presentation will reveal the process of porting Tizen:Common to open source hardware developer boards with SoC manufactured by Allwinner, Rockchip or Intel such as OLinuXino, Radxa Rock, Minnowboard. The following topics will be covered:

  • Building Tizen ARMv7 and x86 images from scratch
  • Adapting the Linux kernel, bootloader and Tizen:Common to popular single board computers
  • Do it yourself (DIY) open-source hardware Tizen tablet or laptop
  • Sharing knowledge and experience of the community.
The presentation will also provide information about U-Boot, Yocto project, the Linux-Sunxi and Linux-Rockchip, Minnowboard communities.

Although Tegra K1 uses the same Kepler architecture as NVIDIA desktop cards that Nouveau already supports, there are other challenges that need to be addressed before Nouveau can drive K1’s graphic acceleration: the fact that the GPU does not reside on the PCI bus requires architectural changes in the Nouveau core. The absence of dedicated GPU memory directly interferes with the way Nouveau is used to do memory management and leads to potentially sub-optimal behavior. Also, in a system where all devices share the same system memory, PRIME support is mandatory to perform any useful work and the relevance of a driver-agnostic memory allocator becomes perceptible.

This talk will discuss these challenges, and in particular the consequences of using a unified memory architecture, in the hope of triggering discussions that will help improving the general support of GPU architectures for new mobile platforms.

A brief look at the past, present, and future of the KiCad project. The discussion will be primarily on what near and long term future development is planned for the project as well as discussing the potential for collaboration with other EDA projects.

Yocto has an alleged steep learning curve. It can be a challenge for modules and evaluation board manufacturers to add support for their devices in Yocto as they don’t necessarily have a software background. This talk will highlight the steps required, techniques and good practices to create a well integrated machine configuration allowing to build images using the Yocto Linux build system. The Crystalfontz support from meta-fsl-arm-extra will be used to illustrate the talk.

The bitbox console is a small open hardware & open source game console. I will present the rationale behind it and the current status of the project, detail the hardware conception and particularly video signal generation from a cortex-m4 chip with no video subsystem. I will then proceed to show the different elements of the software stack : kernel, video engines, the boot loader and, finally, current programs and games, including a Gameboy emulator and a full motion video player.

If you want to build your own schedule before going, you can check the full list of events by subjects, but an easier way to organize your day is to check the sessions in chronological order, by checking out Saturday and Sunday schedules.

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GrovePi+ Starter Kit Adds Multiple Sensors, Relays, an LCD, a Buzzer… to the Raspberry Pi Boards

January 12th, 2015 No comments

Seeed Studio and Dexter Industries has introduced the GrovePi+ Starter Kit for the Raspberry Pi (All models) that includes the GrovePi+ board, and various Grove modules adding sensors, buttons, a buzzer, LEDs and more.

Grove_PI_plus_Starter_kit

GrovePi+ board connects to the GPIO header of the Raspberry Pi, and features several Grove connectors to interface with Groves modules part of the starter kit

  • Grove Light Sensor Module
  • Grove Sound Sensor Module
  • Grove Temperature and Humidity Sensor Module (not the ‘PRO’ version)
  • Grove Button Module
  • Grove Rotary Angle Sensor Module
  • Grove Buzzer Module
  • Grove Relay Module
  • 3x Grove LED Modules (One Red, Green, and Blue LEDS, all replaceable with user LED)
  • Grove Ultrasonic Sensor Module
  • Grove LCD RGB Backlight Module

Grove cables, and a GrovePi+ guidebook are also included.

Raspberry_Pi_GrovePi+_LCD_Screen_LEDThe GrovePi+ board is an Arduino compatible board featuring ATMEGA328 microcontroller, and can be programmed with C/C++, Python, and experimental Go and node.js coding is also available. GrovePi+ wiki includes details about the board, and links to individual tutorial for individual grove module listed above. Source code and hardware files can be found on github, and support on the forums. The hardware files are still for the older GrovePi board, which does not support R-Pi model A+ and B+, but hopefully these will be updated once the product ships.

The kit is up for pre-order on Seeed Studio for $59.95, and shipping is scheduled for January 15, 2015.

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Crowdfunding Report for 2014 on CNX Software Blog

January 5th, 2015 4 comments

Following up on my 2013 Crowdfunding Report, I’ve gone through all 55 Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdunding projects featured on CNX Software between December 2013 and November 2014 (inclusive) to see how well they fared.

Indiegogo_KickStarter

The table below sort projects chronologically as they were published on this very blog.

Date Project Crowdfunding Site Funded?
Pledged amount / Goal
Expected Delivery Actual Delivery Comments
2. Dec. 2013 Micro Python Kickstarter Yes
97,803 GBP / 15,000 GBP
03/2014 04/2014 Available @ https://micropython.org/store/#/store
5. Dec. 2013 Plugaway Kickstarter Yes
$162,835 AUD / $50,000 AUD
04/2014 - People upset because of lack of updates. Project might be dead, and backers lost their money
6. Dec. 2013 AIRTAME Indiegogo Yes
$1,268,332 / $160,000
05/2014 12/2014 People have started received the beta versions, after a massive 8-month delay
7. Dec. 2013 Crystal Board Kickstarter No
$14,574 / $200,000
04/2014 - The project appears to be dead
10. Dec. 2013 Smart Power Strip Kickstarter Yes
$109,012 / $100,00
04/2014 - People are really upset, because of delays, and especially lack of updates, or incorrect update (e.g. “shipping soon”. Now shipping is schedule now until April 2015
11. Dec. 2013 Iteaduino Lite Indiegogo Yes
$14,778 / $2,000
01/2014 01/2014 Being an Arduino clone, it just works as expected, based on user’s feedback
11. Dec. 2013 Pivotheat SMART Indiegogo Yes
$159,613 / $100,000
06/2014 - Shipping is now expected by January. People are disappointed by delays and lack of updates
13. Dec. 2013 LOGi Board Kickstarter Yes
$114,126 / $6,900
04/2014 05/2014 You can get the board @ http://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-69129
21. Dec. 2013 NavSpark Indiegogo Yes
$63,735 / $27,000
03/2014 05/2014 Updates still done after shipping. No specific complains from users. NavSpark community setup @ http://www.navspark.com.tw/
17. Jan. 2014 Yacy Kickstarter Yes
$17,451 / $10,000
04/2014 06/2014
19. Jan. 2014 ICE xPC Indiegogo No
$10,734 / $300,000
07/2014 - Flexible campaign, but people have been refunded
11. Feb. 2014 Keepod Unite Indiegogo Yes
$40,801 / $38,000
04/2014 05/2014 You can now give and/or get Keepod on http://keepod.org/collections/all-keepod-products
13. Feb. 2014 Webee Boss Indiegogo Yes
$73,373 / $50,000
04/2014 12/2014 8 months delay
14. Feb. 2014 Fin Ring Indiegogo Yes
$202,547 / $100,000
09/2014 - Fin is now scheduled for May 2015, or 8 months delay!
19. Mar. 2014 MicroView Kickstarter Yes
$573,760 / $25,000
09/2014 08/2014 One month early? Too bad the first shipping lacked the bootloader…, and the returns are still being handled
21. Mar. 2014 USB2Go Kickstarter No
$13,963 / $50,000
10/2014 - Website sill up: http://www.usb2go.org, not clear if the project is still alive
25. Mar. 2014 Rufus Cuff Indiegogo Yes
$359,463 / $200,000
04/2015 - WIP, and updates are frequent
15. Apr. 2014 Digispark Pro Kickstarter Yes
$103,569 / $10,000
07/2014 09/2014 Shipping has taken place over 4 months (September to December). The board is now available @ http://digistump.com/getpro
22. Apr. 2014 ButtonDuino Indiegogo No
$1,226 / $4,500
08/2014 - It can be pre-ordered @ http://buttonduino.site44.com/ with shipping Late January 2015.
23. Apr. 2014 MotherBone PiOne Kickstarter No
$4,270 / $60,000
08/2014 - It might be available @ http://aplusmobile.com/MotherBone.html
30. Apr. 2014 Arduissimo Indiegogo No
5,031 Euros / 29,600 Euros
11/2014 - Another indiegogo campaign is in progress: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/arduissimo-reloaded-multicore-cortex-m3-arduino
30. Apr. 2014 Dimple NFC Sticker Indiegogo Yes
$87,098 / $43,000
08/2014 - People are losing patience, especially as update are not forthcoming
9. May. 2014 ANTVR Kickstarter Yes
$260,834 / $200,000
09/2014 12/2014 Three months delay
22. May. 2014 VoCore Indiegogo Yes
$116,194 / $6,000
09/2014 11/2014 The module can now be purchased on Vocore website: http://vocore.io/store
30. May. 2014 WifiDuino Indiegogo No
$12,710 / $23,000
10/2014 - The project has been cancelled
30. May. 2014 AsiaRF AWM002 Indiegogo Yes
$7,386 / $6,000
07/2014 08/2014 Many people complain about the lack of documentation. I also got one module, and It was not clear I needed to provide power with 3 different voltages when I backed the project.
2. Jun. 2014 miniSpartan6+ Kickstarter Yes
$80,897 / $7,500
08/2014 12/2014 Four months delay
5. Jun. 2014 EzeeCube Indiegogo Yes
$146,666 / $75,000
12/2014 - Shipping is now expected by February
12. Jun. 2014 Soap Router Indiegogo Yes
$261,318 / $42,500
02/2015 - Shipping expected for January 2015 in the latest update.
However, they changed the product specs, and some people are upset
13. Jun. 2014 Console OS Kickstarter Yes
$79,497 / $50,000
12/2014 12/2014 Beta version release
14. Jun. 2014 Papilio DUO Kickstarter Yes
$62,707 / $30,000
12/2014 - Delivery scheduled for January
28. Jun. 2014 Amptek Icon Kickstarter No
$3,626 CAD / $55,000 CAD
10/2014 - Icon board can be purchased @ http://www.semiconductorstore.com/Amptek/
17. Jul. 2014 MicroNFCBoard Kickstarter Yes
20,885 GBP / 20,000 GBP
10/2014 01/2015 Shipping scheduled for 8 Jan 2015
24. Jul. 2014 Immedia Blink Kickstarter Yes
$1,069,386 / $200,000
05/2015 -
29. Jul. 2014 TouchPico Indiegogo Yes
$869,827 / $55,000
10/2014 - Doing FCC/CE certification now
2. Aug. 2014 VolksPC Indiegogo No
$1,519 / $80,000
10/2014 - It’s unclear whether the project will go forward independently
11. Aug. 2014 Atomwear Kickstarter Yes
$13,740 CAD / $12,000 CAD
11/2014 12/2014
13. Aug. 2014 Squink Kickstarter Yes
$100,380 / $100,00
04/2015 -
20. Aug. 2014 Raspberry Pi Slice Kickstarter Yes
227,480 GBP / 90,000 GBP
11/2014 01/2015
20. Aug. 2014 STACK Box Kickstarter Yes
$87,500 / $65,000
12/2014 12/2014
25. Aug. 2014 RPISoC Kickstarter No
$14,323 / $20,000
01/2015 - The project is still going on outside Kickstarter → http://www.embeditelectronics.com/blog/uncategorized/going-forward-with-the-rpisoc/
1. Sep. 2014 xWiFi Wi-Fi Module Indiegogo Yes
$12,649 / $4,500
11/2014 12/2014 Some people complain it did not work out of the box
15. Sep. 2014 Com1 Android Wear Watch Indiegogo No
$?? / $ ??
01/2015 - Project taken down following Google request
16. Sep. 2014 WeIO IoT Board Indiegogo Yes
$37,437 / $10,000
11/2014 01/2015 Should ship this month
Can be pre-ordered @ http://shop.8devices.com/weio with shipping scheduled for February 2015
19. Sep. 2014 MOD DUO Kickstarter Yes
$82,781 / $65,000
06/2015 -
30. Sep. 2014 MicroDuino JoyPad Kickstarter Yes
$27,007 / $20,000
11/2014 11/2014 On time, but some people are still waiting for their package.
1. Oct. 2014 MatchStick Kickstarter Yes
$470,310 / $100,000
02/2015 - Developers unit have shipped to backers in November 2014. I expect them to keep their schedule promise
7. Oct. 2014 TinyScreen Kickstarter Yes
$128,813 / $15,000
01/2015 - Shipping still scheduled for January, or February
9. Oct. 2014 The Egg Kickstarter No
$18,489 / $500,000
12/2014 - A new Kickstarter campaign is planned in January 2015
29. Oct. 2014 Zero+ IoT Wi-Fi Board Indiegogo No
$624 / $25,000
02/2015 -
6. Nov. 2014 Maker Club 3D Printed Robots Indiegogo Yes
12,018 GBP / 10,000 GBP
07/2015 -
14. Nov. 2014 Xped DeB Kickstarter Yes
$29,288 AUD / $18,5474 AUD
04/2015 -
19. Nov. 2014 DWA8 Wi-Fi Module Indiegogo No
$465 / $5,000
N/A - Available on Taobao
20. Nov. 2014 Jolla Tablet Indiegogo Yes
$1,824,055 / $380,000
05/2015 -
25. Nov. 2014 Imp Computer Indiegogo No
$12,092 / $100,000
03/2015 -

Hall of Shame

Last year, it was clear FocusWill Coolship project was a disaster, and the project owner clearly did not deliver the goods and kept silent. This year, I could not find project that I’m 100% sure failed with money being lost, but at least Plugaway Wi-Fi smart sockets could be a project where backers lost their money. The sockets were supposed to be delivered in March 2014, but nothing so far, and the last update in November is only about the API, nothing about delivery despite backers complains.

AFAICS, nobody lost money with Com1 Android Wear smartwatch, but they should have known better, as Google asked Indiegogo to take the project down, because only Google partners can develop and manufacture Android Wear devices.

Stats and Projects Delays

Out of the 55 campaigns, 15 project failed to reached their funding targets. Most projects without a successful crowdfunding still carried out, with 4 to 6 projects completely dead. That means 72% of projects got funded via crowdfunding, 90% of projects get manufactured (assuming the ones still under development will succeed). AIRTAME got the most funding with over $1,200,000 raised, but has not been so successful in terms of product delivery with 8 months delay.

Many projects are delayed, but Smart Socket Strip may take the delay crown, with a massive 1-year delay for the project, and backers upset of the constant postponing (or lies) about delivery dates. Fin Ring is also pretty bad, as the September 2014 promised delivery is now expected to occur on May 2015.

Hall of Fame

This year several project managed to deliver working products on time, although sometimes shipping was have taken place over a few months.

  • IteaDuino Lite Arduino clone was delivered right on schedule just a year ago.
  • MicroDuino JoyPads were delivered on November 2014 as promised
  • The first version of Console OS Android operating system for PC was released on December 2014.
  • STACK Box Home Automation / IoT Gateway were sent in December 2014. There aren’t many feedback for now, as most people are still waiting for delivery, or have just received their device.

Many other projects shipped with just one month delay, and still got good user feedback, and an active community around them, such as Micro Python, LOGi boar, VoCore Wi-Fi module, NavSpark. MicroView was also on schedule, and even slightly ahead of schedule, but unfortunately, Sparkfun shipped several boards without bootloaders, and they are still handling the returns.

That’s all for today. If you’ve had good or bad crowd-funding experiences, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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Top 10 Posts of 2014 and Stats on CNX Software

December 31st, 2014 15 comments

Wow! After a slow start of the year, 2014 has been a busy year as new devices based on newer processor from Amlogic started to flood the market in Q2, soon followed by even more Rockchip RK3288 based media players, and then some more Amlogic S805 and Allwinner A80 boards and devices. It’s now the last day of the year, so just like in 2013, it’s time to look back on the main trends of the year, and based on the list of the top 10 most visited posts below, the new generation of ARM Android media players were the most important story of the year on CNX Software, but we also saw more IoT devices and board like Vidonn X5 or LinkIT One, lots of new Wi-Fi modules, and by the end of the year ESP8266 seemed to have won that fight, but being found in $3 Wi-Fi modules. Low cost Intel based mini PCs generated a lot of buzz in the last quarter, although they’ve just started shipping in the last few days.

I’ve compiled the list using data from Google Analytics, filtered posts from 2014, and sorted them by decreasing number of page views. Here are the top 10 posts of 2014:

    1. Review of M8 Android Kitkat TV Box Powered by Amlogic S802 SoC (April 2014) – Shenzhen Tomato M8 was one of the first new generation Android TV boxes available on the market, featuring the new Amlogic S802 quad core Cortex A9 processor with a Mali-450MP6 GPU. Despite stability issues, and poor Wi-Fi performance at with earlier firmware, the device became popular, and is by far the most popular post of 2014, getting three times more pageviews than the post in second position.
    2. Rockchip RK3288 vs RK3188 Performance Comparison (January 2014) – Rockchip RK3188 was the king of 2013 in TV boxes and HDMI TV sticks, so it was natural people were eager to find out more about the performance of its more powerful successor, Rockchip RK3288.
    3. Review of Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite Amlogic S802 TV Box (April 2014) – Tronsmart Vega S89 was another Amlogic S802 Android media player released in April, and my very first review for an Amlogic S802 device, so people certainly wanted to find out more about the performance and video capabilities of the latest Amlogic processor.
    4. How to Upgrade Firmware in Amlogic S802 Devices (April 2014) – With all these Amlogic S802 mini PCs in the market requiring firmware updates, and user friendly working OTA firmware updates a rarity rather than the norm, people had to find out how they could upgrade their device with the latest firmware.
    5. MEEGO-T01 HDMI TV Stick Supports Android, Windows 8.1, and Ubuntu/Linux (October 2014) – By Q4 2014, several low cost Intel Atom Z3735 mini PC started to be announced, and Meego-T01, now better known as MeegoPad T01, got popular as a Windows 8.1 / Android HDMI TV Stick.
    6. ARM Cortex A15/A17 SoCs Comparison – Nvidia Tegra K1 vs Samsung Exynos 5422 vs Rockchip RK3288 vs AllWinner A80 (May 2014) – Several Cortex A15 and A17 based processors have hit the market this year, so I’ve drawn a comparison table with features, interfaces, and interfaces of the most popular ones by Nvidia, Samsung, Rockchip, and Allwinner.
    7. List of Rockchip RK3288 Android TV Boxes So Far (May 2014) – Chinese manufacturers were announcing Rockchip RK3288 devices at a tremendous pace, and many months before Rockchip RK3288 became available, at times announcing their products by showing early PCBA while the enclosure was not finalized. This was all confusing, so I started to make a non-exhaustive list to try to navigate the flood of devices.
    8. M8 Android TV Box Powered by AMLogic S802 (Unboxing) (April 2014) – As people checkout M8 review, the top post of 2014, they also clicked on the unboxing post to checkout pictures and specs of the device.
    9. Raspberry Pi Model A+ Board Features a 40-pin GPIO Connector, a micro SD slot, and Improved Power Management (November 2014) – What happens when you are the first to post a leak of a widely anticipated product? It goes viral. It’s what happens with Raspberry Pi Model A+, as I found a page on Element14 a couple of days before the official release. Posted on November 8, this is the most recent post of this list.
    10. SolidRun HummingBoard is a Raspberry Pi Compatible Board Powered by Freescale i.MX6 (April 2014) – You often read people asking for a more powerful Raspberry Pi, but although the Foundation only released variations of their Broadcom BCM2835 based boards this year with A+ and B+, some R-Pi inspired dual and quad board got released this year with Banana Pi, Orange Pi, and SolidRun HummingBoard.

Several posts from 2013, and even 2012 would have made it to the top 10 list, including my now-somewhat-outdated comparison table of GPU in ARM SoCs, a simplified method to install Rockchip drivers in Windows, a rooting method for WM8800 tablets, or the 84 MB minimal image for the Raspberry Pi.

Let’s now check out some traffic stats for CNX Software blog in 2014.

CNX_Software_Pageviews_2014The year started just like the end of 2013 with traffic around 350,000 pageviews per month, with a slow growth for the first 9 months, but then around mid-October, Google pushed a new search algorithm update, and traffic nearly doubled to 600,000 pageviews in November and December. Google Analytics reports a total of 2,999,462 sessions, 1,757,172 users, and 4,834,676 pageviews for the year, or about a 35% increase in traffic mostly thanks to the last three months.

Nearly 70% of traffic comes from search engines, mainly Google, with the remaining coming from nearly 5,000 other websites. The top 10 search terms clicked (excluding “cnxsoft”, “cnx software” and similar keywords) for the last 3 months listed in Google Webmasters, and referrals for the full year listed in Google Analytics (GA) are shown in the table below. Keywords for the year are listed in GA too, but for the vast majority of request the keywords are “not provided”, which is why I use Google Webmasters data instead.

Top 10 Keywords Top 10 Referrals
m8 android tv box plus.url.google.com
esp8266 scoop.it
meegopad t01 freaktab.com
xtreamer wonder facebook.com
tronsmart draco aw80 reddit.com
rk3288 t.co
meego-t01 raspbian.org
amlogic s812 forum.xbmc.org
amlogic s805 liliputing.com
odroid-c1 4pda.ru

Google Plus, that some “pundits” refers as the “ghost town”, went to the top of referral traffic for the year, barely overtaking scoop.it website curating service. Freaktab and Reddit are new entrants to the referral list. Most keywords are related to Android mini PC articles found the top 10 post, but ESP8266, the ultra low cost Wi-Fi SoC, and ODROID-C1 development board are also part of the list.

Let’s find a bit more about you, my readers / visitors.

CNX_Software_Traffic_2014_Country_CityThe top four countries are still the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France, with the USA and the UK totalling about 22%, just like last year. London still has the top city, with Seoul moving to second position, and moving Moscow down to third.

CNX_Software_Traffic_2014_OS_BrowserWindows is still the most widely use operating systems of CNX visitors, but its market share has gone down from 61.9% to 57.39%. Linux is still in second position, but has gone down from 17.30% to 15.30%, and the rising OS are the mobile OS such as Android and iOS, so we should expect Android to overtake Linux distributions next year, unless something drastic happens. If we add up all Linux based OS (Linux + Android + Chrome OS), Linux market share goes up to 28.55% vs 25.5% last year. Chrome Browser has extended its lead from 43.94% to 48.05%, while Firefox went down to 27.20% from 30.61%, and the others did not change that much. That means despite the rise of Android OS, people are not using the Android Browser that much and prefer to use alternative browsers such as Chromium, Opera, or Firefox.

I’ll conclude this post and 2014 by joining some of this year’s media player, boards, and tools (pictured below) to wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year 2015, which should see the rise of 64-bit ARM platform, an interesting ARM vs Intel mini PCs war, more products finally getting out with alternative OS such as Tizen, Firefos OS, and Ubuntu, as well as low cost IoT products and wearables featuring ESP8266 or Mediatek Aster SoCs.

Happy_New_Year_2015_CNX

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OpenELEC 5.0 Linux Distribution Released with Kodi 14

December 31st, 2014 6 comments

OpenELEC (Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) is a lightweight Linux distribution aiming at turning your computer or device into a Kodi media center. So instead of installing Kodi as a program or app on a desktop OS or Android, you could have a dedicated machine, which boots faster, has lower requirements (90-125 MB required for a full installation), and supported external tuners to watch live TV, as well as PVR & timeshifting functions out of the box. The developers have now announced OpenELEC 5.0 release, the successor of OpenELEC 4.2.
OpenELEC_5.0

Key changes for OpenELEC 5.0 include:

  • Update from XBMC 13 (Gotham) to Kodi 14 (Helix)
  • Update from Linux 3.16 to Linux 3.17
  • Switch from OpenSSL to LibreSSL
  • Freescale i.IMX6 support for SolidRun CuBox-i, CuboxTV, and Hummingboard
  • AppleTV support has been discontinued

Beside build for the CuBox devices, OpenELEC 5.0 can be downloaded for x86 (32- and 64-bit builds), and the Raspberry Pi boards. You may also have seen OpenELEC images for Amlogic devices, but these are not officially supported by OpenELEC “mainline”.

Due to the naming change from XBMC to KODI with this release, the developers recommend you back your XBMC data, and perform a manual update to upgrade to OpenELEC 5.0 in order to avoid a potential loss of data.

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Kodi 14.0 Helix Release

December 24th, 2014 2 comments

XBMC (name) is definitely dead, as developers of the popular open source “entertainment center” project have announced the first stable Kodi release – the new name of XBMC – with XBMC 14.0 Helix.

Kodi_14Key changes and new features include:

  • Update to FFmpeg 2.4.4 – Adds H.265 / HEVC and VP9 video codecs support. Software decode only.
  • Library Improvements – Scanning speed greatly improved, better UPnP support including with PlanOn and MediaBrowser servers.
  • New Configuration features – Add-on update controls, choice of virtual keyboard layouts for tablets and remote control users in order to support multiple languages.
  • Android, iOS and Embedded – 4K support for Amlogic S802, more ARM SoCs are now supported in Android, fast forward/rewind improvements. Airplay support fixed, except for Android. Freescale i.MX6 support for Kodi Linux.
  • Windows, OSX, and Linux – Audio playback improvements. DXVA video playback has been improved for Windows too. A critical Kodi Linux bug has been fixed by Intel, and hardware de-interlacing is now supported thanks to VAAPI video post processing implementation for Intel graphics.
  • PVR – PVR windows in Kodi have been rebuilt, and ATSC sub-channels are supported in Kodi 14. I understand PVR is currently not supported in Android.

Kodi 14.0 is available for download for Windows, Linux, Mac OSX, Android (ARM and x86),  Raspberry Pi, iOS, ATV2, and there’s also KodiBuntu, a Linux distribution pre-installed with Kodi. There’s still no announcement of a release of Kodi on Google Play Store, but you should be able to install SMPC 14 from the Play Store, a fork of Kodi with some patchsets for H.265 hardware decoding, and more.

Important! If you update from XBMC 13.2 to Kodi 14.0 make sure you back your setup first, for example with XBMC Backup add-on, because there’s no easy way to revert from Kodi 14.0 to XBMC 13.2 in case you change your mind. There may also be issues with skins resulting in a blank software keyboard, in that case try a new skin.

There will soon be minor releases Kodi 14.1, 14.2, etc.. for bug fixes, and Kodi 15 will be the next major release, whose name has apparently been chosen from that long list of suggestions, but not announced yet.

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Orange Pi Development Boards Are Raspberry Pi “Clones” based on Allwinner A20 and A31s

December 22nd, 2014 30 comments

After Raspberry Pi, Waxberry Pi, and Banana Pi boards, here come another fruit-named board with Orange Pi. There are actually three models, with Orange Pi and Orange Pi mini based on Allwinner A20, and Orange Pi Plus powered by a quad core Allwinner A31s processor.

Orange_Pi_Board

Orange Pi Board Description

I’ve drawn a comparison table with the specifications for the three models. Please note that Orange Pi Plus full specifications have not been released yet, so I don’t have all details.

Orange Pi Mini Orange Pi Orange Pi Plus
SoC Allwinner A20 dual core Cortex A7 processor up to 1GHz with Mali-400 MP2 GPU Allwinner A31s quad core Cortex A7 processor with PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
System Memory 1 GB DDR3
Storage 2x micro SD slot + SATA NAND Flash + micro SD slot + SATA TBD
Video Output HDMI, AV, and DSI I/F HDMI, AV, VGA, and DSI I/F HDMI, AV, and DSI I/F
Audio I/O HDMI, AV, and MIC HDMI, AV, and MIC HDMI and AV
Connectivity Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8211E/D) + Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n + optional Bluetooth Ethernet + 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
Camera Parallel 8-bit I/F CSI connector CSI connector
USB 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG 4x USB 2.0 ports, 1x micro USB OTG
Expansion 40-pin header 26-pin “R-Pi” header
18-pin extended interface
Misc Rest, power, and u-boot buttons
Power, Ethernet, and user LEDS
IR receiver
Rest, power, and u-boot buttons
Power, Ethernet, and user LEDS
IR receiver, RTC battery interface
Rest, power, and u-boot buttons
Power, Ethernet, and user LEDS
IR receiver
Power * 5V/2A via DC jack* 5V via micro USB OTG port * 5V/2A via DC jack
* 5V via micro USB OTG port
* Li-Po Battery
* 5V/2A via DC jack
* 5V via micro USB OTG port
Dimensions 94 x 86 mm 112 x 60 mm N/A
Weight 45 grams 60 grams N/A
Price + Shipping $42.11 $51.31 $76.37
Orange Pi Plus Board

Orange Pi Plus Board

Orange Pi boards appear to be software compatible with Banana Pi, and Banana Pi M2 boards, with support for Android 4.4, Debian, Ubuntu, Raspbian, and Scratch, and Orange Pi website is a close copy of lemaker.org, one of the companies promoting the Banana brand. They even have the same “Apply for Orange Pi“, where you can apply for a free board if you have a project, or want to help with Orange Pi “community”.

Orange Pi boards can be purchased for $42 to $76 including shipping on Shenzhen Xunlong Software Aliexpress store, which also includes cheap accessories such as a $5.90 camera.

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Hardkernel ODROID-C1 is a $35 Development Board Powered by Amlogic S805 Quad Core Processor

December 10th, 2014 69 comments

Amlogic S805 is a quad core Cortex A5 processor which has found it way into low cost devices such as MK808B Plus TV Stick which can be purchased for as low as $30, or full-sized TV box such as MXQ S85 or MINIX NEO X6. All this low cost devices are nice, but the full source code is not available in your want to adapt them to your need. Luckily, Amlogic releases both an Android SDK, and a buildroot for Linux with GPU and Video Processing Unit (VPU) support, so Hardkernel decided to go ahead, designed a board, and has just launched ODROID-C1 quad core development board for just $35, or the exact price of a Raspberry Pi Model B+, but with much greater specs.

ODROID-C1 Board Description (Click to Enlarge)

ODROID-C1 Board Description (Click to Enlarge)

ODROID-C1 specifications:

  • SoC- Amlogic S805 quad core Cortex-A5 processor with a Mali-450MP2 GPU (2x fragment cores + 2x vertex shader cores)
  • System Memory – 1GBe DDR3 (2x Samsung K4B4G1646D)
  • Storage – eMMC module socket for  8GB/64GB Toshiba eMMC, or 16GB/32GB Sandisk iNAND Extreme, and micro SD slot (UHS-1 SD models supported)
  • Video & Audio Output – micro HDMI port
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8211F)
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports (via GENESYS LOGIC GL852G), 1x micro USB OTG port (Cannot be used for power input)
  • Expansion Headers – 40-pin Raspberry Pi (mostly) compatible header with GPIO, I2C, SPI, UART, and ADC.
  • Debugging – Serial console header (3.3V)
  • Misc – 4x Status / Power LEDS, IR receiver, RTC + RTC battery header, solder pads for power switch, boot media selector
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A DC input (2.5/0.8mm barrel). Typical power consumption:  0.5A @ 5V, up to 2A @ 5V with several USB peripherals.
  • Dimensions – 85 x 56mm (Same dimensions as Raspberry Pi Model B+)
  • Weight – 40 gram

It’s the first S805 device I see that actually uses a Gigabit Ethernet port, so that’s good news. You can boot the system from eMMC or micro SD card, using the boot media selector (Open: eMMC, Closed: SD card).

ODROID-C_Board_Bottom

The company will provide images for Ubuntu 14.04 or Android 4.4 KitKat with Linux 3.10. The source code for U-Boot/Linux will be released on December 15, but the Android source code will take a little longer due to license issues, and is expected for February. WiringPi v2 library used to control I/O in the Raspberry Pi with Python or C/C++, has been ported to ODROID-C1. Further information such an expansion header pinout, and instructions to build u-boot can be found on ODROID-C1 Wiki, which is still under construction. The schematics (PDF) and mechanical drawings have also been released.

What makes this platform existing, beside its attractive pricing and source code availability, is Ubuntu support with proper OpenGL ES and video hardware decoding support, which is showcased in the video below in Kodi 14 Helix running in Ubuntu 14.04.

ODROID-C1 is available for pre-order for $35 on Hardkernel website with shipping scheduled for December 16, but if you are based in North America or Europe, you should be better off purchasing from respectively Ameridroid or Pollin Electonic. I also wish they find a distributor for the rest of the world, as shipping is probably $25 (I can’t access the site from Thailand without proxy), which makes the board $60 [Update: Based on comments shipping is only $9 for some, for $25 for most]. You’ll also need to purchase storage for booting either from Hardkernel or its distributors which sells 8, 16, 32 and 64GB eMMC modules, or 8 to 16GB UHS-1 micro SD cards preloaded with Android 4.4 or Ubuntu 14.04, or buy it one locally, just make sure you don’t buy the cheapest micro SD card, get at least a Class 10 or UHS-1 micro SD, or your ODROID-C1 will feel as slow, or even slower, than a Raspberry Pi. Further details can also be found in ODROID magazine December 2014 (PDF) including a performance and specs comparison between ODROID-C1 and Raspberry Pi Model B+.

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