Electrical Schematics and Donations progress, winter Activities

In this article we will report electrical schematics and donations progress and our current activities. Those of you who are following our twitter account and facebook page have already received updates about our work.We are mainly, but not only, focused on software development. In a nutshell, our developers are testing current Linux distributions, setting up the best emulation environment for a Qoriq T2080 machine using Qemu and even experimenting with Yocto Project in order to evaluate a custom made distribution.

 

Working on PowerPC GNU/Linux distro’s

Let’s start with the distributions first. As you may know, we stated from the beginning that our intention was to help to maintain Debian for 64bit PowerPC (ppc64) and include it as the default Linux OS for our notebook. This idea is still our goal but we have found more good options such as Lubuntu, openSuse and even Gentoo. In relation to this, our testers are creating a list of actively supported Linux distributions working on PowerPC and are evaluating the installation procedure, their performance and keeping trace of the issues found.

debian buster/sid ppc64

debian buster/sid ppc64 multiarch ppc32

debian buster/sid ppc64 multiarch ppc32

debian buster/sid ppc64

In addition to that, we found an interesting resource at http://bgafc.t-hosting.hu/oses4ppc.php where you can find a list of available Operating Systems for PowerPC.

Kernel 4.14 and Video Cards on PowerMac G5

Another good finding was done by one of our members when compiling a custom and experimental kernel using 4.14 sources and GCC 7.3 on Gentoo in a PowerMac G5. As he reported,  “gcc 7.3.0 is definitely an improvement! Both 2D and 3D acceleration do no longer freeze the card (AGP Radeon 9650 + 9800) on a G5. Also Firefox runs pretty stable now and less sluggish too (could be ’cause it’s running on accelerated Xorg now)”. In addition to this, we are testing newer PCIe video cards on a PowerMac G5 , using the Open Firmware command “boot-device hd0:,\\”, so without using yaboot and without tbxi.

Testing an emulated e6500 core in Qemu

Another effort is being done to setup a virtual environment to emulate our future notebook using Qemu. This is important as it will enable the development of software and to test, for instance, the u-boot boot process. Most importantly, it will allow any interested person to play around with our target platform and configuration, even if owners of x86 hardware only. Sadly there isn’t a ready-made QEMU machine configuration that fits perfectly our specifications, but that’s the reason we are working on this task in the first place. So far, it seems feasible to fire up a machine based on a e6500 CPU using QEMU version 2.11 using the built-in u-boot, but we still have issues making it boot a linux partition. It seems that lately the QEMU development mailing list (https://lists.nongnu.org/archive/html/qemu-devel/) is putting a great effort in putting the PowerPC emulation in a much better shape, making us confident that the upcoming 2.12 will be a life changer for reaching our goal (https://wiki.qemu.org/Planning/2.12). Stay tuned.

Yocto Project for PowerPC Linux Image

Recently, we are experimenting with Yocto Project creating a Linux image. We are evaluating this possibility as it could be an additional option for setting up a fine-tuned OS when the hardware arrives. Currently it runs an LXQT Desktop Environment and includes applications such as Otter browser, The Gimp, kvirc, qBittorrent, Audacious, Mpv, Qps and Speedcrunch. Now we are focusing on having working kernels for a Mac Mini G4 and PowerMac G5.

Custom PPC Yocto PowerPC

Custom PPC Yocto PowerPC

 

Video Card works on NXP T4240QDS devkit

The Borea team  tried to setup a desktop based on the NXP T4240QDS development system. After not too much of a struggle he managed to get Gentoo Linux up and running with LXDE, and using an ordinary off-the-shelf ATI Radeon PCIe card and the T4240’s native networking using DPAA, so with no PCIe ethernet adapter. The Borea team used a vanilla Linux 4.14 kernel, a standard PowerPC Gentoo distribution and additionally, Cairo Dock to test the nice GPU effects to check if 2D acceleration was working. The result performed surprisingly well, and without any instability issues! For example, VLC was able to play FullHD Xvid content using 2 cores out of 24 available running at 1,6 GHz with Altivec enabled. LibreOffice 5.4.5.1 works nicely too. Unfortunately getting any web browser running seems to be a bit of a challenge. Firefox 54.x compiles, but gives a segmentation fault at startup, Firefox 58 does not even compile at all, but the team had just a quick try on that. Some packages runs into illegal instructions,  most probably due to incompatibilities with the Power8/9 ISA, or probably not all apps correctly support Altivec ABI. Some work has to be done on these issues, but the overall impression using a T4240 in a desktop environment felt quite fast indeed.

Gentoo ppc64 on NXP T4240QDS

Gentoo ppc64 on NXP T4240QDS devikit

We will be attending “Les journées du Logiciel Libre” on March 24th

Finally, we will attend the meeting “Les journées du Logiciel Libre” (“Days of Open Software”) the 24th and 25th of March 2018 in Lyon (http://www.jdll.org/). We will make our presentation named “Portable Open Hardware” on the 24th of March 2018 at 12h30 at the”Maison Pour Tous”, Salle des Rancy 249 rue Vendôme 69003, Lyon. See the map at https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/49680968

 

Les journées du Logiciel Libre

Les journées du Logiciel Libre

BSD Mag

Don’t miss the latest issue of BSD Mag including an article by Saulo Paiva explaining our Open Source Power Notebook project and an interview with Roberto Innocenti.

Our PowerPC Notebook project on BSD magazine

Our PowerPC Notebook project on BSD magazine

FunkyPrize participation

On the 29th December 2017 we submitted our project “Open Hardware GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook” to the Italian “FunkyPrize”. Funkyprize is an award established in 2014 in memory of Marco Zamperini, an Italian professor that knew how to push the younger generations to an informed and cutting edge use of new technologies. The FunkyPrize aims to help filling the gap created by its premature disappearance, encouraging those who intend to pursue its mission, for a more mature, aware and widespread use of the Internet in Italy, and for developing the potential of the Internet as a tool for improving the quality of life and creating new forms of participation in the social and economic life of the country.

Sadly, we have not been selected as a finalist for the prize 🙁

Here you can find more info about our participation in FunkyPrize.

Funky Prize

Funky Prize

Electrical Schematics Ready! waiting for the last 25% of donations

We just want to remember that our campaign is not targeted to make a product. We aim to create a freely available, well-documented and production-ready electrical schematics, allowing anyone to produce and, why not, customize a PowerPC based hardware.

At the time of writing this,we have reached the 75% of the required amount of money and with your (little) help we can make it happen.

When achieved the goal of this phase ( currently we are at 75%) we will balance the designer and he will transfer us the Eletrical Schematics,as we are agreed. After the needed reviews we will release this work to the Community.

If you are thinking on helping us, instead of one-time donation, you may want to consider a recursive, monthly donation. This could have a smaller impact to your account. Moreover, monthly donations allow us to better plan our activity, and most importantly, they let the engineer know the remaining period for reaching the final goal.

Please, spread our project and help us to make possible this amazing Linux PowerPC Notebook.

Electrical Schematics as a present for the New Year’s Eve?

The 2018 is approaching and we are reaching our first campaign goal. We are now at the 64% of the requested amount thanks to more than 100 donors. If you would like to receive the Electrical Schematics as a present for the New Year’s Eve, please help us adding the remaining 4600 euros. Meanwhile we continue doing our best in all areas to push the project forward, so please, have a look at the following activities demonstrating how seriously we pursue our goals.

Electrical Schematics as a present for the New Year’s Eve

Electrical Schematics as a present for the New Year’s Eve

Open Source Summit, France

We participated at the Open Source Summit in France where Fadi Osman was attending the event. The Alionet (OpenSUSE) group kindly hosted us, we were able to distribute many flyers, as well as give out a printed version of our presentation, and we answered many questions at their booth.  People were curious on why we were with the OpenSUSE group, and Fadi explained the scope of our association, the notebook project and the need for a Linux distribution.

OpenSUSE booth with Power Progress Community at Open Source Summit Paris December 2017

OpenSUSE booth with Power Progress Community at Open Source Summit Paris December 2017

A funny thing occurred during the event: a laptop was just next to our printed presentation, and people mistakenly thought it was our PowerPC notebook and started going crazy questioning us!

Fadi also had a fruitful discussion with a guy who knew and used PowerPC. He started questioning why we stick to PowerPC, as ARM 64 was more interesting, more easily available, cheaper, and equipped with enough power. Fadi explained to him that Power Progress Community is open to other hardware, but firmly stated that PowerPC still is an interesting platform in terms of computing power, energy consumption, reliability and costs. It just totally lacks any visibility, as big firms are not using it in their famously branded products, and the mainstream public is not aware of its existence. Just count the number of companies, association and groups dealing with the mainstream ARM platform: there is way too much competition in this field, and surely there is no need for new supporters.

Finally, Fadi had the chance to contact a student in industrial engineering and this is quite interesting if you continue reading the next point.

 

Unveiling our new project

A new project just kick off in the Power Progress Community: an open source laptop chassis design. The objective is to create a 3D printable notebook chassis that, of course, will fit our PowerPC Notebook motherboard and any other similar motherboard projects. Take a look at the website (still in an early status), and contact us if you want to collaborate. We would like to invite any 3D enthusiast, such as designers, industrial engineers, students, or simply anyone capable of 3D modelling to be part of this new adventure.

Obviously at the moment this is not the only chassis option for our future PowerPC notebook motherboard but it is better to have this option 😀

Final words

As you can see, we are moving towards our objectives and involving more and more people in our activities. The engineer is getting close to a finalized schematic design. We do really need the help of everyone, do invite your friends and other people who might be interested in donating, and spread the idea to attract new contributors.

If you have not done it yet, it is a perfect time to make a donation and actively contribute to achieve the €12,600 final goal by the end of 2017, and finally make the schematics design a reality!

We really want to make it happen: a PowerPC notebook released as Open Source!

OSHW PowerPC Notebook project presentations around Europe

During the last week of October we were presenting our Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook project in the Linux Day Italy and Amiga32 in Germany. After that, we also introduced our Open Hardware project in Alchimie12 in France.

Since 2001, Linux Day is a distributed initiative to learn and promote Linux and free software.

This year the main topic of the Linux Day was “privacy and individual confidentiality”.

The event consists of numerous local events, organized independently by groups of fans in their respective cities, all on the same day. In this context, you can find talks, workshops, technical assistance, gadgets, forums and practical demonstrations.

Linux Day 2017 Milano PowerPC Notebook

Linux Day 2017 Milano PowerPC Notebook Labs presentation

Our project was shown in Milano by Roberto I. and in Bolzano by Diego M. (see picture below)

Above you can see Roberto explaining the work carried out by some of our members in what we call “Labs”.

Continue reading

PowerPC Notebook Block Diagram done!

Three months have passed since the kick-off of our campaign, and it is now time to share a status update.

We reached the amount of €7100 thanks to more than one hundred donors that contributed, in some cases with more than one donation. We are thinking about how to boost the donations to achieve the €12600 final goal. We have seen that a good number of donors are new followers of the project, so it seems that our communication activities successfully attracted new people. We now want to go even further, so we kindly ask everyone to share more and more our project, for example supporting its advertisement in online tech magazines and forums, websites and other media. To promote these activities, the project was presented last week end at two Linux Day events in Italy, one in Milan by Roberto I. and one in Bolzano/Bozen by Diego M. The very same week-end ACube advertised the project at the very successful Amiga32 event in Neuss (Germany) and many people have shown their interest. On November 11th, Philippe F. will give a presentation at the Alchimie 12 event in Tain l’Hermitage (France).

Do you want the electrical schematics to be ready by Christmas? The solution is only one: prepare yourself for an active contribution, either by donating, and by involving more people!

PowerPC Notebook block diagram

PowerPC Notebook block diagram

Regarding the work in progress, ACube is working on the electrical schematics design and sent an early block diagram that was extensively discussed with our hardware core team of volunteers. After this discussion, in particular regarding an NDA component, we have arrived to a final version agreed by both sides: almost all components are identified. We are including PowerPC Notebook block diagram a block diagram of our PowerPC Notebook motherboard (without integrated circuit names). We will disclose all integrated circuit names when we will reach the required amount of donations to complete the electrical schematic, as agreed with ACube. Then, we will publish design files when a design phase is completely finished and tending to be error-free and fault-free. Before that, anyone wanting to actively collaborate in the design review can join and participate in our project and association.

In a nutshell, we are working hard to promote the campaign, and ACube is on track to accomplish phase one of the project. We see the light at the end of the tunnel! Keep it up!

Lastly we want to remember the importance of small recurrent donations. The possibility of having many people helping with a small amount of money monthly is very interesting for us as this will guarantee the constant work of the hardware designer.

Electrical Schematic engineering task started! thanks to ACube Systems

Thanks to the already received donations ACube has received a payment to start the study of the components list. In relation with this, Power Progress Community has provided a possible component list based on non NDA chips to manage usb3, sata3, audio and others. Electrical Schematic engineering task started! Starting on Monday 7th August, ACube is analyzing that information and will produce feedback and suggestions.

Milano, 10th August 2017, Power Progress Community association is announcing the official collaboration of Acube Systems SRL through a contract signature to create the electrical schematics of the GNU Linux PowerPC Notebook. The project involving both organizations will create a PowerPC laptop featuring an MXM video card whereas the current phase is expected to produce the complete electrical  schematics for this computer.

Electrical Schematic engineering task started

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sumofmarc/7841135420

Power Progress Community wants to thank again for the big and passionate collaboration of all the volunteers and donors that made this happen. “As the expected period to complete the electrical schematics is 10 weeks, now it’s in our hands that means also in donors’ and collaborators’  hands to reach the 12600€ goal in less or equal time.” stated Roberto Innocenti, president of Power Progress Community association.

ACube Systems was already collaborating in the preliminary tasks and supporting the association. Enrico Vidale, CEO at ACube Systems said “Since a long time we wanted to build a PowerPC laptop. Thanks to the Power Progress Community, the dream will become true. We are excited about the future!

Power Progress Community is a non-profit association composed by people contributing on a voluntary basis, and inspired by the Open Source Hardware and Software movement. The mission is not focused on selling products, and the contribution to the “PowerPC Notebook” is an example. The Power Progress Community is working to establish and consolidate a potential purchasing group big enough to motivate a manufacturer to start the building process. In addition, the Power Progress Community association is supporting a crowdfunding campaign for designing and prototyping the laptop, as well as encouraging the open source developers in supporting the PowerPC platform.

ACube Systems S.r.l., a world-renowned company, was established in January 2007. The main goal of ACube Systems is to create and promote innovative hardware and software products thanks to an in-house research and development team supported by collaborations with some well-known Italian and international teams.

The Power of making Progress is in the hand of our Community.

  1. Design PowerPC notebook Motherboard

    Donation Campaign for the Electrical Schematics of a PowerPC Notebook motherboard

    We really want to make it happen: a PowerPC notebook released as Open Source. This first phase will achieve the identification and design of all aspects of the motherboard thanks to a contracted professional electronic engineer.
    €11,534.00 donated of €12,600.00 goal

    Read More

First engineering task to be started soon

First engineering task to be started soon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/takkaria/

After reaching the 4000€ milestone we are ready to sign our first contract with ACube Systems. This will allow to start the engineering work and we want to thank all the donors for making this possible! All supporters are contributing to keep us moving enthusiastically forward. Of course, we still need to achieve the 12600€ goal to end up the analysis phase and to produce the complete electrical schematics and deliver an extensive documentation, but we feel confident in our long term success.

In the meantime we are making progress on our T2080  CPU based development boards. We are working on  booting them  with a Radeon graphic card, so please, if some  uboot expert  like to contribute, please contact us .

Regarding the Radeon card, a few days ago ACube confirmed the inclusion of an MXM connector in the notebook. This is a very good point, as it gives us the possibility to deliver the basis for an upgradeable laptop.

Finally, we would like to end this article reminding that any  help is more than welcome. New members joined us to collaborate with the hardware team (i.e. the above mentioned boot process) and many people are contributing in spreading our campaign in the  social networks. We need to reach more donors as they will help us reaching our goal and to release a truly Open Source PowerPC Notebook. So please, tell everybody about this project on forums, social networks, and why not, have a chat about it with your friends during these summer evenings.

News to share from our “social” pages:
http://twitter.com/powerpcnotebook
http://www.facebook.com/powerpcnotebook/
https://plus.google.com/communities/103352717884355831498
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7300932

If you like to collaborate with us or give us some suggestions you can fill our survey.

In any case if you subscribe the newsletter you will receive updates from us.

 

  1. Design PowerPC notebook Motherboard

    Donation Campaign for the Electrical Schematics of a PowerPC Notebook motherboard

    We really want to make it happen: a PowerPC notebook released as Open Source. This first phase will achieve the identification and design of all aspects of the motherboard thanks to a contracted professional electronic engineer.
    €11,534.00 donated of €12,600.00 goal

    Read More

donation campaign for the Electrical Schematics of a PowerPC Notebook motherboard

  1. Design PowerPC notebook Motherboard

    Donation Campaign for the Electrical Schematics of a PowerPC Notebook motherboard

    We really want to make it happen: a PowerPC notebook released as Open Source. This first phase will achieve the identification and design of all aspects of the motherboard thanks to a contracted professional electronic engineer.
    €11,534.00 donated of €12,600.00 goal

About the Linux PowerPC notebook project

We really want to make it happen: a PowerPC notebook released as Open Source.

To achieve this goal a series of tasks must be performed, such as designing a custom motherboard that would fit into an existing mainstream notebook chassis.

Since October 2014, when the project was launched, the number of people showing interest had been steadily increasing, and we are now quite a few experience volunteers, some of whom are able to contribute in reviewing and checking aspects of the required electronic design. Unfortunately, after all this years we are stuck, because of the lack of either spare time, or engineer capabilities and professional skills.

In order to solve the situation, in 2016 we approached the Italian firm ACube Systems a company that have some experience in designing PowerPC motherboards. We were lucky, as we found a group of passionate people that shared the long-term advantages of the Open Hardware philosophy, and their prior experience in designing a variety of PowerPC motherboards makes them an ideal choice as a partner. Together with ACube we will be able to get the electronic design done, but a professional electronic designer has to be paid.

At this point the group involved in the project decided to get serious and launched a fundraising campaign to pay for the required job.

Continue reading

The fundraising of the PowerPC Notebook reaches a 20% of its goal in six days

The fundraising of the PowerPc Notebook has reached a 20% of its goal in six days. This is a good starting point but we need you to spread our project to achieve our target.

Remember this campaign is trying to lead to a fully open source hardware. Releasing a complete laptop product as Open Source is an important step that people will forward across the globe. So this project is important to spread the open source philosophy. Do not miss this opportunity. Donate now!.

In another vein, we are tracking the campaign and following what people says in social networks. Some of you have expressed some concerns because there is no refund if the campaign fails. As we have explained in the FAQ of the campaign page, if we cannot reach the sum of 12600€ we will use the money to fund a similar project in the scope of the association (Power Progress Community) mission. As is stated in the statutes (ART 3):

“The Association promotes and disseminates software (especially open source software), and open hardware (with focus on, but not limited to, PowerPC and OpenPower architectures) with the aim of sharing knowledge and expertise.”

There are also discussions about the final specs of the machine. We cannot give all the details because is the objective of this stage to determine what components to include. So what we can do right now is to clarify that we want to have an MXM connector for the graphic card but we cannot guarantee that it will be finally included.

We are in the good way! Just remember that everything will start after we reach the 12600€ goal and we are very close to that. Do not hesitate to contact us to ask or comment whatever.

The PowerPC Notebook campaign has just started

We are very happy to announce that our funding campaign has just started. Starting today, we will accept donations through our campaign page with the objective of collecting funds to establish a contract with Acube Systems to design the PowerPC Notebook motherboard.

It has been a long way and we feel we are only starting. We wanted to reach this point many months ago but we found some difficulties and we tried to find solutions for all of them. In this time we have created our non profit association (Power Progress Community), we started a preliminary task for selecting hardware components, we have identified people to maintain a Linux distribution, we contacted companies and organizations and of course, we received you support in our website, in our facebook page, in the forum and other social networks.

The PowerPC Notebook campaign has just started

The PowerPC Notebook campaign has just started

After all this work and solving all these issues we are ready to collect the money required to start the engineering process. In the end, it is not the intention of this blog entry to explain all the details here so, we invite you to find all the information in the  campaign page: https://fundraising.powerpc-notebook.org/

Thank you very much for your support and enthusiasm.

Update regarding the crowdfunding

Dear readers, members of the community

As you know, we last stated that it was our goal to begin the crowdfunding campaign in May. We have settled on the way in which we want to conduct our crowdfunding, which is a combination of recurring and non-recurring crowdfunding over time to fund the development of the laptop. We’re not aiming a campaign constricted in a short time as we felt that would not go well with self-hosting our crowdfunding. This manner of crowdfunding is comparable with Patreon donations or the manner in which organizations like Haiku Inc. are funded.

For us it is important to take a while to coordinate this with our manufacturer, to finalize an exhaustive text and to produce a video to explain the fundraising. Due to this we are delaying the start as we’re sorting this out at the moment. We need some more days to complete these tasks and to set up the online donation campaign.

 

A small delay is no delay

Our aim is launching the campaign sometime in June, but we will keep you updated as we make progress.

Our apologies for the delay, we thank you for your patience and stay tuned! 😀