Prototypes available in October 2021

15.07.2021 An evening on the theme of POWER & PowerPC

In less than 3 days, Roberto Innocenti, president of the PowerProgressCommunity, will speak at the Open Source Specialist Group’s July Virtual Event on the POWER ISA and PowerPC based hardware, discussing details of our project. The talk will be co-hosted by Ganesan Narayanasamy, one of the leading figures in OpenPOWER and IBM researcher, and by Arjun Nag, who will comment on the concept of Silicon Tape out using OpenPOWER cores.

The event is scheduled to take place between 6:30pm and 9:00pm, CEDT, on the 15th of July. No registration is required. You can join the event using this link.

For more information, please consult the event web page.

It’s time to vote on the name of our motherboard!

We’ve reached 259 and more votes ( 12-07-2021) out of our target of 1000. Your contribution to the future of open computing is very important! Let your friends know and join our warm and welcoming community. Everyone can contribute to our multidisciplinary teams.

Vote the best names for our PowerPC Notebook motherboard
878 votes · 1019 answers

For more information on the origin of the current candidates, go to our previous post.

Prototypes available in October 2021

Thanks to 72 donors we just reached 64% of the current donation campaign for the prototypes that corresponds to about 8000 euros, and we still have to collect 4500 euros to reach the final goal of 12500 euros.

ACube Systems have selected the assembly line for the production of the prototypes.

We have more than 2000 electronic components in our motherboard, and due to the current global shortages of electronic components it was quite a difficult task to order all of them so that they could be delivered in time for production of the prototypes that is fixed for October 2021. After  tireless work of the guys at ACube the 98% of the components is now secured and will be delivered on time. The hunting is still ongoing for the remaining forty components left, and finding them is crucial not to miss the October deadline.

Design new Heatsink pipes

We have started to address the design and production of the new modified heatsink pipes which are different from the original pipes provided with the Slimbook Eclipse. A proper passive heat exchanger is vital as our PowerPC Motherboard is mounting an MXM video card that is quite different in shape from the original x86 motherboard that had the video chips mounted directly on the board.

Three AMD MXM-A video card needed for prototypes

We are still investigating how we could collect the additional funding required to pay for three MXM-A 3.0 type A (82 mm x 70 mm) that have a maximum power consumption of 55W. These video cards are fundamentals and we must get them by October as we must carry out the mechanical tests to check to find out that they properly fit inside the prototypes.

FabMaster PCB export for Kicad

As suggested by the guys at KiCad, we requested the PCB Designer to export the PCB design from the native Mentor Expedition format to the FabMaster format, as such a format should be supported natively by KiCad.

This is an alternative approach with respect to the previous process we followed to generate the KiCad files that we published in our repository, a process that consisted in a double passage conversion, first loading and exporting the files in Altium, and then loading and exporting them using Kicad. 

In fact, KiCad has an importer module dedicated to FabMaster meant for the board only, and the result of this module is quite important as it should be useful to analyze and check the level of the import accuracy and reliability of the Altium importer module. We are being told by the KiCad developers that the result produced by the Altium import module should generate better results with respect to the FabMaster importer as it is a more recently developed component.

The PCB Designer is currently carefully checking the FabMaster export generated by Mentor Expedition and as soon as he provides us this format, we will publish it and then proceed to import it in Kicad and publish the final result in our repository.

PCB Dummy board for exposition

We produced three dummy versions of the PCB motherboard in order to perform an extensive check of the PCB design. These boards were fundamental as they allowed us to identify a few minor issues that are now solved and were related to the positions of the holes in the PCB used for the screws for attaching the board on the chassis. Now that all mechanical aspects are solved, we asked to get one of these PCB dummy boards so that we can show it on various occasions, hopefully during a physical event, if the pandemic gives us a break.

Are you willing to help?

Being part of a challenging project like this one for building an open hardware motherboard for a laptop is an amazing experience, you understand the underlying complexity of every step, you will meet new people, volunteers from other projects, and discover how much passion people working in companies devoted to open source ar putting in the effort, and everyone involved is willing to help to progress the work. You may consider joining too and contribute your actual skills and may focus on those activities that interest you the most.

The Best PowerPC distros in 2021

Diego Asturias, from pcwdld.com, posted an article on the best Linux distros for the PowerPC, covering everything from old Debian releases to MintPPC and Fienix, and bits and pieces of history. The list is very extensive and will surely help you keep your old (and new, for the lucky ones) PowerPC workstations and laptops productive and useful until our laptop is out.

Check also the linked interview with Casey Cullen, the developer of Fienix and a very active supporter of our community.

Troubleshooting QEMU on Book3e e6500

Nowadays virtualization is key in multiple activities both in a development and a production working and hobbyist environment. QEMU is one of the most widely adopted tools when it comes to emulating a completely different architecture, and moreover, it does support the PowerPC architecture.

We wanted to test QEMU in order to recreate a system having precisely the same CPU as the one selected for our PowerPC notebook, the NXP T2080.

Before diving on the issues we encountered with QEMU, we should first explain that the PowerPC architecture is subdivided in two families: Book3s, where the “s” stands for “server”, and Book3e, where the “e” stands for “embedded”. IBM and Freescale (now NXP) made their own lines of Book3s and Book3e chips, but each company introduced some peculiar characteristics, so our CPU falls in the Freescale branch of the Book3e implementation.

To make things even more complicated, each company built multiple generations of these chips, and introduced new features in each new generation. As a reference, Apple used in all of their PowerPC line of computers Book3s CPUs only, whereas Book3e were mostly used by embedded manufacturers, as these CPUS were especially good for networking and avionics appliances. Despite Book3e being meant for the embedded market, some personal computers ended up on the market based on these CPUs and some of the computers are still made today and you can actually buy these systems now. There are two companies making these computers, A-Eon that sells the AmigaOne X5000 which is based on the Cyrus+ motherboard mounting the NXP P5020, and the other company is ACube Systems that sells the AmigaOne 500, a system based on the Sam460ex motherboard mounting the AMCC 460ex.

The NXP T2080 contains the last and most advanced Book3e core ever designed by Freescale, a 64bit CPU based on the Power ISA v.2.07 specifications. The core was named “e6500” by Freescale and with respect to the previous generation named “e5500”, it introduced the multithread, so that each physical core corresponds to two logical cores, and re-introduced Altivec, a single-precision floating point and integer SIMD instruction, that was lacking in their previous generations.

A clear overview of all PowerPC families and their corresponding cores variants is available at https://www.kernel.org/doc/html/latest/powerpc/cpu_families.html

The latest available QEMU version is 6.0 and it does support the emulation of the Book3e CPU family, named “ppce500 platform” in the documentation, and it does support e6500 cores as well.

To test QEMU we compiled a recent Linux kernel (5.12.10) that works just fine on a real computer based on the NXP T2080RDB that we use for testing this platform (https://www.powerprogress.org/en/diy/t2080rdb-desktop-user-guide/). The kernel is available here (https://repo.powerprogress.org/t2080rdb/hdd_debian_sid_ppc64_basic_kernels.zip).

As the T2080 has 4 of these e6500 multithreaded cores, there is a total number of 8 logical cores, so to create a similar configuration using QEMU with 1GB of RAM, no graphical output and the provided already compiled kernel we launched QEMU with the following command

qemu-system-ppc64 -M ppce500 -cpu e6500 -smp cores=4,threads=8,sockets=1 -m 1G -nographic -kernel book3e_e6500_kernel_5.12.10

Up to this point the emulation seems OK and it works as expected.

Unfortunately it all ends here, because once you enable a graphical output and try to mount a real linux partition, QEMU suddenly crashes.

In the example below we use the 64bit ISO provided by Debian found at https://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/ports/10.0/ppc64/iso-cd/

qemu-system-ppc64 -M ppce500 -cpu e6500 -smp cores=4,threads=8,sockets=1 -m 1G -device VGA -serial stdio -kernel book3e_e6500_kernel_5.12.10 -append "root=/dev/vda1" -drive file=debian-10.0-ppc64-NETINST-1.iso,media=cdrom,if=virtio

For those of you that want to try launching an hdd image with Debian already installed, first download the qcow2 hdd image file (1.2GB) from https://repo.powerprogress.org/t2080rdb/hdd_debian_sid_ppc64_basic.qcow2 and then the kernel from https://repo.powerprogress.org/t2080rdb/hdd_debian_sid_ppc64_basic_kernels.zip then launch QEMU with

qemu-system-ppc64 -M ppce500 -cpu e6500 -smp cores=4,threads=8,sockets=1 -m 1G -device VGA -serial stdio -kernel book3e_e6500_kernel_5.12.10 -append "root=/dev/vda1" -drive file=hdd_debian_sid_ppc64_basic.qcow2,media=disk,if=virtio

QEMU doesn’t go very far, and is unable to end up with a usable system.

In order to investigate if the situation could be solved we submitted the problem to the QEMU-PowerPC development mailing list, and thanks to the kind support of Zoltan BALATON (https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/qemu-ppc/2021-06/msg00222.html) we did had an answer explaining the problems that must be solved and that someone has to implement in QEMU.

Thanks to other contributors to that mailing list the issues were later on more investigated. Sadly there is no company left actively (financially) supporting programmers developing and fixing software for these PowerPC CPUs, so we are in the hands of volunteers that kindly spend their spare time to support the platform, very much like what we actually do with the hardware parts.

In addition, we explored the possibility to enable KVM emulation on a real e6500 CPU using our NXP T2080RDB, as this could lead to a nearly native emulation speed. Sadly, once QEMU is launched in KVM mode, it ends up hanging and eating up all CPU in an endless loop of kernel exceptions, making the entire system unresponsive, and forcing the user to physically reset the system. After contacting the QEMU PowerC mailing list again, we were told that such a behaviour comes as no surprise, as KVM on Book3e is poorly and only partially implemented (source Zoltan BALATON). Luckily enough, after posting this other issue on the QEMU PowerPC development mailing list (https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/qemu-ppc/2021-07/msg00012.html) Fabiano Rosas answered trying to explain what could be wrong in QEMU, and offered to post on the KVM PowerPC development list (https://www.spinics.net/lists/kvm-ppc/) the issue.

We really hope that a viable solution enabling both full emulation (slow) and KVM emulation (much faster) could be found soon, so please, if you are able to provide some help on the matter do not hesitate contributing to the above mentioned mailing list.

Wait green lights for PCB Assembly line

Thanks to the generous support of our community, we’ve passed the 50% threshold required to start the required actions to produce our 3 prototype PCBs. 

During this phase, most of the costs are related to purchasing electronic components, printing the PCBs and starting up the machinery for the assembly line.

ACube is currently selecting the right assembly line for the production of the prototypes, currently quite a difficult task due to the current global shortages of electronic components that makes it difficult to find the right time to order all components. Once all components will be collected, we will be able to work on a tentative timeline for the production of the prototypes. We plan to publish the estimated times as soon as we can. We are very grateful to all our donors, particularly Jeff Moe, who donated 2048 EUR for the prototypes.

PCB Dummy Board

Thanks to the already produced Dummy Board, the hardware designer has fixed a few mechanical aspects of the PCB design to better accommodate the motherboard. The updated design sources of the PCB will be published soon in our repository.

Public Vote for the Motherboard name

In October 2020, we started asking the community to suggest a name for the notebook motherboard. People could suggest names via the powerprogress forum and from Twitter. We collected all names and we had an internal round of vote among the core group in order to identify the best possible candidates for launching a public vote. So now you can vote on your favourite name!

Vote the best names for our PowerPC Notebook motherboard
878 votes · 1019 answers
TychePresiding tutelary deity governing the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyche
Sam2080Suggested from ACube
BellatrixIt’s the third brightest star of the constellation Orion (x86, ARM… Power is _the_ third architecture, isn’t it?). The name also means “female warrior”, because you have to have some Am*ga references… :P
OliphantThe antique signaling horn, used by heroes like Roland and Charlemagne, thus conceiving the concept of exotic which gives a strong signal
Debbie“Introduced on July 23, 1985, during a star-studded gala featuring Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry held at the Vivian Beaumont Theater[10] at Lincoln Center in New York City Debian
FarStarA space ship imagined by Asimov in its book “Foundation’s Edge”, a “gravitic” ship with a sophisticated computer interface for controlling its movements through space that responds to the driver’s thoughts
Hénonhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%A9non_map
DurandalThe mythical sword of Roland/Orlando, conveices the expession of myth and power, but also the difficulty of our project with PPC. Furthermore the name assonates with several wors. “Dur”, “Durare” (=to last in Italian), “Duro” =(hard, hard to beat, resilient)
Lillymy catty dog, do you remember Jay Miner dog on Amiga1000?  Also it’s a girl name as the Amiga custom chips.
VelouriaA song from The Pixies. Amiga boards have B52’s song titles as names. Also it’s a girl name as the Amiga custom chips. Song meaning: https://songmeanings.com/songs/view/43064/?&specific_com=73015985030#comments
OvertureIt’s commonly a term used in symphonies, so it really gives a feel of power and elegance, which are potential benefits of this project. It even gives you a whole registry of follow-up terms centered around music, if subsequent models are produced

Our desire is to collect around 1000 votes before decide the final name on the PCB.

Our PowerPC Notebook in Amigawave

At the end of February 2021, Guillermo, one of our founding members, was interviewed by Amigawave. For our Spanish speaking readers, you might be interested in listening to a brief overview of the entire history of the Power Progress Community association and its open hardware projects, the interview is available in this recorded live stream on YouTube. In addition to the entire history of our project,  you will be able to understand the underlying complexity of a project aiming at building a feature-rich laptop from scratch considering heat dissipation and other design principles.

Amigawave is a YouTube channel very well known by the Spanish retrocomputing lovers. The channel is mainly focused on all flavours of Amiga, but also covers many other retrocomputing platforms. We are fond of that period in computing history. Our followers surely know that, during the 80s and 90s, there was a vibrant diversity of computers and architectures and diversity is one of our objectives.

July 15 – Our upcoming presentation at the British Computing Society

On July 15, 2021 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm (BST) The British Computing Society organize an evening on the theme of POWER & PowerPC, July’s event will be on the theme of IBM’s POWER ISA and PowerPC based hardware. Featuring talks from PowerPC Notebook project and IBM on OpenPOWER.

The title of our upcoming presentation is “Prepare yourself for the Open Hardware GNU/Linux PowerPC Laptop”, the abstract: We expect before the end of 2021 to see the life of the first  three prototypes of Open Hardware GNU/Linux PowerPC Laptop. The project started in late 2014, after a brief summary of the previous episodes, we try to describe the scenarios of the immediate future of the project and how each person animated by a certain passion for both progress for all and the sharing of knowledge can be a protagonist in this project.

Expanding gaming library, Fosdem 21 and more

Progress on the software front

It is a well-known fact that a strong software library is a key factor to the viability of any platform – as could attest any unwilling user of a specific operating system 😉.

Our team is aware of that. Our contributors are strongly focused on compiling and optimizing a broad array of games and productivity applications to the PPC64 Big Endian platform, and you will find all of it in our repo.

Super Mario 64

The timeless sm64 is making its way to our portfolio, delivering countless hours of challenging courses and brilliant colors in a package loved by children and adults alike. Jump around, fly, dive, explore dungeons, lakes, mountains and collect coins and stars to make it to the top.

Super Tux Kart

Super Tux Kart is inspired by the most popular arcade racer in the world. It will keep you busy while you master every turn and try to overtake your opponents. As the developers of the Mascot Kingdom say: “In Story mode, you must face the evil Nolok, and defeat him in order to make the Mascot Kingdom safe once again! You can race by yourself against the computer, compete in several Grand Prix cups, or try to beat your fastest time in Time Trial mode. You can also race or battle with up to eight friends on a single computer, play on a local network or play online with other players all over the world.”

H-Craft Championship

H-Craft Championship is a sci-fi racer with more than 28 tracks and unique driving physics. Get the Championship trophy or push your limits with two time attack modes. You will also enjoy a good time with your family and friends with 4 players sharing the same PC.

Unfortunately, we’ve had to halt work on porting the Unreal Engine. It is a huge task and we’ve faced roadblocks. We are planning to resume the task once we’ve completed the MRs of our port to the mainline of Freedesktop-SDK, required to compile flatpak packages on PPC64 Big Endian.

FreeCAD

When it’s business time, beyond the usual Linux productivity suites, we are also offering a PPC64 Big Endian optimised version of FreeCAD, so you can make come true your next breakthrough using the best laptop in the world. FreeCAD is a modeller for CAD, MCAD, CAx, CAE and PLM fitting a broad range of uses in engineering and architecture, and runs the same way in all major platforms, ensuring the full portability of your work.

If you don’t believe source code, I am sure you will believe your own eyes. Visit our YouTube channel and enjoy a bit of PowerPC glory! We are online at (link to youtube)

Exciting, right?

If you have the chance and skills to help, our warm and friendly community invites you to leave your mark on the future of open computing with your contribution and, as a bonus, you will become a better and more versatile developer. Why?

We live in an increasingly little endian world. With the near-monopoly of x86/amd64 in the desktop/laptop/server computing world, the culture of writing portable and performant multi-platform software has declined. We favour a multicultural world. An environment where multiple platforms have an opportunity to thrive gives us new perspectives to solve computing problems, instead of relying only on the old and tried, leading to a world of opener, safer and better software overall.

When developer to our platform, you must keep in mind that you are targeting a Big Endian platform. Manual endianness swapping must be avoided. If you are careful enough, you may be able to extract a bit of performance here and there, but you always must maintain specific use cases and ensure proper architecture detection throughout your code, otherwise the code won’t be architecture-independent.

With automatic swapping, the code is easier to maintain and port. POSIX offers tools for automatic endianness conversion. For more details, please check our guidelines.

Our talk at the FOSDEM 21

FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate. In 2021, the gathering will be online. Be part of the best FOSS conference in Europe – it is for free and registration is required.

We will, of course, mark our presence, with our own Roberto Innocenti hosting a talk and showcasing that now it is the time to switch to Open Hardware and raise again the profile of the Power Architecture.

Roberto’s presentation will happen on Saturday, 6th of February, 2021, starting at 12:15 CET and ending at 13:00. We will be seeing you there!

Our Speech at Open Source Summit. 15 days to donate 2600 euro left.

Our PPC64 Motherboard Board Design

The tentative deadline for Phase1B is 18th November so there are two weeks left to donate the remaining 2600 euros. If we will reach the goal, the PCB with SI bus simulation should be ready by the middle of December.

In this case in before the end of 2020 we start working on production of the Prototypes together with the Prototypes Donation Campaign.

We have to give a name to the motherboard, suggestions still remain open few days more on our forum.

Our Open Hardware license and endianness suggestions at OSS 2020

We have talked about Cern Open Hardware License and Endianness at Open Source Summit + Embedded Linux Conference on Europe 27 Oct 2020

Cern Open Hardware License

Why not a software license such as GPL?
Hardware licenses are specific for hardware so they are written using the appropriate words: manufacturer, devices, CAD tool…

Why we choose the CERN Open Hardware Licence v1.2?
We think it offers a better protection for the licensor compared to other hw licenses such as TAPR Open Hardware License

So, who are the licensor and the licensee?
– In our project we (Power Progress Community) are the licensor and the licensee is the hardware producer.
The Licensee may manufacture or distribute Products
– Licensee could modify our work but the modification must be available under the same or equivalent license.
Licensor is protected
– Quality and responsabilities of the hardware belong to the licensee.

Other important notes
– Firmware, drivers and any other software would require their own license.
– Intellectual property belongs to the licensor.
– Documentation must be provided in the right format to be modified (using a CAD tool).

Continue reading

Orcad source of Electrical Schematic v0.6 published and other news

Finally we have published on our gitlab repository the Orcad source file with the latest version (v0.6) of the Electrical Schematics.

This file is at base of the PCB Design which is currently being worked on using Mentor Xpedition. The previous version of the schematics required some updates in order to accommodate minor changes to match the Slimbook chassis internal spaces. In addition, the schematics are now compatible with the I/O expansion board and the position of the external ports found on the “Elipse” chassis model, that was kindly provided by Slimbook.

After achieving the goal of Phase 1A (thank you all!!), we have just started Phase 1B of the donation campaign targeting the “Fast SI bus simulations”, in other words, an in-depth analysis of the integrity of signals of the PCB that came out from the previous campaign.

After discussing with the engineers currently working on the PCB, we were told that publishing an incomplete and potentially buggy PCB does not have much sense, as there might be major problems that will be solved after carrying out the SI bus simulations. At the end of these long discussions, we agreed on publishing the PCB only after reaching the end of Phase 1B, when all checks will be done.

At this point we cannot fix a deadline for publishing the PCB, as the end of the work on the PCB largely depends on when we will reach the goal of Phase 1B donation campaign and when the SI simulation will help solve all electrical problems that may come up.

The tentative deadline for Phase1B is 16th October so there are two weeks left to donate the remaining 4000 euros (around 4700 USD). If we will reach the goal, the PCB with SI bus simulation should be ready by the end of November .

Open Source Summit + Embedded Linux Conference Europe 27 Oct 2020

Continue reading

15 days more to donate 2000 euro left for the PCB

Thanks to the donations already received, the work on the  PCB design can move forward and we estimate it could be completed by the End of September 2020. The date of publication of the PCB design will heavily depend on the results of the internal review process once we receive the first draft, hopefully it will not take long. The design of the PCB is meant to fit inside the Slimbook Eclipse body.

Picture by skeeze from Pixabay

As we were unable to reach the goal by August, we are forced to postpone the deadline of the current Donation Campaign (Phase 1A) to the 15th of September 2020

We kindly ask all followers, friends, and donors to concentrate their donations before the 15th September 2020, to ensure the end of Phase 1A to avoid an additional delay.

The plan is to deliver the PCB design with the end of Phase 1A, and right after that start Phase 1B “Fast SI bus simulations” on the 16th of September with a goal of € 5000 (around $ 5600). As a consequence, there will be no interruption in the donation campaign, it will transparently fade from Phase 1A to Phase 1B seamlessly.

August full activity in PCB Design

Picture of Albrecht Fietz da Pixabay

The PCB design is in progress even if August is a holiday season in Italy. ACube Systems was able to engage an engineering firm available to work in August to develop the PCB based on the electrical schematics, a pretty difficult task because everyone is on holiday at this time in Italy. 

In addition, Slimbook has provided us additional parts of the schematics useful for reviewing the connection of our motherboard design to the native Eclipse Expansion I/O Board. Resulting from these efforts, we can confirm our envisioned tentative schedule that set the delivery of the PCB design by the end of September 2020.

Interview with Riccardo Mottola, the main contributor to the ArcticFox web browser

In our PowerProgressCommunity association website we just published an interview with Riccardo Mottola, the most active developer contributing to the most advanced browser available for the PowerPC big endian platform

We have just published in our repo arcticfox 27.10.2(beta) compiled for PPC64

arcticfox 27.10.2(beta) PPC64 running on Debian PPC64 on G5

Freedesktop for Big Endian ported 350 package out of 470 to PPC64 big endian

Another step ahead on freedesktop-sdk on ppc64 big endian: libvpx and nss are gone. From 470 packages almost 350 are passed. Now the big challenge starts with ffmpeg, some sdl2 related component and mesa extension.

Suggest a Name for our PowerPC Notebook motherboard

Its time to give a name to our motherboard, we already have in our PPC forum few suggestions, please add yours.

Extended time for Donations

Thanks to the donations already received, the work on the  PCB design can move forward and we estimate it could be completed by the End of September 2020. The timing is somehow unfortunate, as August in Italy is time of vacation, nevertheless, we will do our best to avoid interruptions. The date of publication of the PCB design will heavily depend on the results of the internal review process once we receive the first draft, hopefully it will not take long. The design of the PCB is meant to fit inside the Slimbook Eclipse body.

Slimbook Eclipse Notebook
Slimbook Eclipse Notebook

As we were unable to reach the goal by July, we are forced to postpone the deadline of the current Donation Campaign (Phase 1A) to the 30th of August 2020

The plan is to deliver the PCB design with the end of Phase 1A, and right after that start Phase 1B “Fast SI bus simulations” on the 1st of September with a goal of € 5000 (around $ 5600). As a consequence, there will be no interruption in the donation campaign, it will transparently fade from Phase 1A to Phase 1B seamlessly.

We kindly ask all followers, friends, and donors to concentrate their donations before the 30th August 2020, to ensure the end of Phase 1A to avoid an additional delay.

Our PPC64 Big Endian Patches

Flatpak binary is running on Debian 10 PPC64 Big Endian but need the Freedesktop layer to prepare the flatpak packages strating from hundreds of manifests.

Freedesktop stripper now it’s patched for cross-endian check (ppc64 branch) . We thanks Flatpak team for the gentle collaboration and helpful guidelines.

After importing bootstrap on a native ppc64be, the build process stops on package https://github.com/google/boringssl.git it doesn’t have ppc64 support, “magic” debian repo solve a lot of problems related to dep…back on track on porting!

sudo apt-get install python3-grpcio libgirepository1.0-dev python3-cairo-dev libcairo2-dev gir1.2-ostree-1.0 python3-gi gyp node-gyp lzip locales-all

pip install BuildStream
pip install git+https://gitlab.com/buildstream/bst-external
pip install cython
pip install ostree
pip install PyGObject
pip install vext.gi

Once copied the bootstrap to target, rename bootstrap/powerpc64 to bootstrap/current
Execute these commands to compile:

export XDG_CACHE_HOME=<path/to/build/dir>
make IMPORT_BOOTSTRAP=true

MintPPC running on the T2080RDB Devkit

We are in close contact with Jeroen, the creator of the Debian based MintPPC distro (see a post about the new 2020 version of MintPPC here). We have successfully tested it on our T2080RDB Devkit that has the same NXP T2080 cpu of our laptop project (64bit, 4 cores, 8 logical core, up to 1.8Ghz).

MintPPC running on the T2080 Devkit, which is based on the NXP T2080 CPU.
MintPPC running on G5

LibreSOC updates

We very much like the work that our friends at Libre-SOC are currently doing. Our approach have multiple similarities as we both aim at supporting a similar effort in pushing Open Hardware further.
Below some update from their team.

Libre-SOC ran its first “hello world” little-endian binary a few weeks ago.  This shows us that Load, Store, Branch (and return) and many other POWER9 instructions are operational. With help from Florent of Enjoy-Digital.fr the next main task is to add Litex integration which will provide access to peripherals, both on FPGAs and in simulation.  At the same time, Jean-Paul from Sorbonne University has been helping with the layout of the 180nm test ASIC

If anyone would like to assist we have funding thanks to NLNet under their Privacy and Enhanced Trust Programme http://nlnet.nl/PET

Electrical Schematic v0.5 published

In the last PCB update post we mentioned that a new version V. 0.5 ( June 2020) of the electrical schematics is in the works. After a few rounds of internal reviews, that new version is now finally ready to be publicly shared.

We have published in our repository this new version of the schematics.

Our gitlab repository

Thanks to the project’s supporters  (here a list of donors) we reached 76% of the goal of the current step.

The NEW 2020 MintPPC version

Roberto asked me to write a little bit about myself and my project. First I want to thank Roberto for the opportunity to speak about what I like doing, which is creating Linux distributions.

I started with Linux around 1999 with an iMac DV and Linux PPC2000 I think it was called. I moved from Yellow Dog Linux to Mandrake / Mandriva and ended up with Ubuntu and Debian. I have been using Debian ever since. Around 2008 I found out that LXDE as desktop is very suitable for old hardware. It even ran fine on my beloved Pismo. At that time I got an idea of porting the beautiful graphical layer that Linux Mint LXDE had to Debian powerpc. The idea at that time was to create a good looking, fast and stable Linux distribution wherein powerpc hardware (like airport cards) works out of the box. I think I succeeded with that then. MintPPC 8, 9 and 11 were released. At that time my first son was born and I had other things on my mind. I had no idea that it was such a success.

MintPPC screenshot

In 2019, as I was sick lying in bed, I found an old PowerBook. I thought, let’s try Debian on this thing, I have nothing better to do. While lying in bed I started reading and found out that people really liked MintPPC! I had no idea! So, then the idea was born to do the same trick again. During my illness I ported Linux Mint Tricia code with old Linux Mint LXDE to PPC. It is now again possible to install MintPPC in 2020. MintPPC comes in a 32-bits and a 64-bits version. Both versions are looking exactly the same. They are now based on Debian sid and code from the latest linux Mint version with an LXDE desktop. It runs pretty snappy on Apple machines, especially at the high end. My project has a website and installation instructions can be found there. It is all pretty straightforward, just like the “old MintPPC”.

Mint PPC – June 2020

Since a couple of months I began to develop interest in the powerpc-notebook project. I was very pleased to see that people are trying to get a new PowerPC powered laptop on the market. I was even more pleased to read that the project will be open source and that Linux will run on these machines. Then I read on and found out that Debian is one of the candidates. Wow, that is cool I thought! Well, then I immediately developed my idea to port Linux Mint Debian Edition 4 (LMDE4) to ppc64. LMDE4 is a very nice looking distribution, with cinnamon as desktop manager. Running this on G3,G4 would be almost impossible and maybe it would work on G5 I thought. But with an e6500 core this would make sense absolutely. In a nutshell, that is my idea. I started with Debian sid ppc64 and ported some of the Mint code. We will have to see how well this will perform on the new platform. I am in the early stages so anything is possible.

I think it will be good if there is more choice in distributions for the powerpc-laptop project. Not everyone likes the same stuff. I hope that this laptop project will be successful and that some nice distribution will be placed upon it in the future.

Best regards,

Jeroen Diederen

http://mintppc.nl