Few software did not works without applying patches to make them work properly under PPC64 (see Midori, Firefox, Iceweasel, VLC, mplayer), so we setup our own repository https://repo.powerprogress.org/
This the output of the Hardinfo 0.6 alpha benchmarks, compared to a PowerMac G5 (IBM 970) and a three years old intel laptop (i7-4600U).
T2080rdb, cpu T2080 e6500 1.8Ghz, 4 cores, 8 threads, altivec RadeonHD 5450 1GB DD3, on the oboard PCIe 4x using a 4x to 16x adaptor Debian Sid PPC64
CPU Blowfish 5.38
CPU CryptoHash 338.35
CPU Fibonacci 2.96
CPU N-Queens 3.63
CPU Zlib 0.41
FPU FFT 8.46
FPU Raytracing 2.85
GPU Drawing 1219.24
PowerMac G5, cpu PowerPC 970 1.8Ghz, 2 cores, 2 threads, altivec ATI Radeon 9600 PRO 128MB AGP Debian Sid PPC64
CPU Blowfish 32.81
CPU CryptoHash 78.82
CPU Fibonacci 3.11
CPU N-Queens 26.01
CPU Zlib 0.15
FPU FFT 10.29
FPU Raytracing 12.94
GPU Drawing 699.74
HP EliteBook 840 G1, cpu i7-4600U 2.10GHz, 2 cores, 4 threads Intel HD Graphics 4400 Ubuntu 18.04
CPU Blowfish 3.89
CPU CryptoHash 341.53
CPU Fibonacci 0.59
CPU N-Queens 5.67
CPU Zlib 0.52
FPU FFT 1.95
FPU Raytracing 2.06
GPU Drawing 7973.70
Now some remarks
1) The Debian Sid was set up on the PowerMac G5 then, the 2.5’HD was attached to the T2080rdb onboard SATA. We used a vanilla 4.17.6 kernel image customized for this board (no patch applied) and a modified Device tree blob stored on the onboard SD card. You may find the U-Boot kernel image (uImage) and the Device tree (uImage.dtb) in our GitLab account https://gitlab.com/oshw-powerpc-notebook/T2080customizations/
2) Not figured out (yet) how to go online using the T2080rdb onboard ethernet ports.
3) Games such as Chromium BSU or NeverBall simply works. Games such as SuperTuxKart does not start, Torcs is slow and the audio is completely corrupt
4) The T2080rdb works well with the RadeonHD 5450, but many errors floods the serial console whenever trying to plug in other RadeonHD cards (e.g. 4550, R7 250E which is a rebranded HD7750).
This is the error that floods the serial console: pcieport 0001:00:00.0: AER: Corrected error received: id=0000 pcieport 0001:00:00.0: PCIe Bus Error: severity=Corrected, type=Physical Layer, id=0000(Receiver ID) pcieport 0001:00:00.0: device [1957:0830] error status/mask=00000001/00006000 pcieport 0001:00:00.0: [ 0] Receiver Error (First)
Collaborate with us
If you like to help on fix debian packages for powerpc (ppc64 be expecially) or help on improve kernel configuration , u-boot(menu,etc) or others configurations to run more video cards, etc… contact us.
You can even select which type of collaboration you like to make, in case please fill our collaboration survey.
It’s with joy that the Power Progress Community proudly announce the complete funding of the Hardware Research and Design phase for the Electrical Schematics. This phase has achieved the identification and design of all aspects of the motherboard reducing uncertainties related to the hardware specifications and, consequently, the production costs.
After reaching the amount of 12600€, the electrical schematics will be delivered to us in a month by ACube Systems. The final design resulting from this phase will be made public as soon as possible.
We are now dealing with the Open Source Hardware Association, asking them if we can certify as “Open Source Hardware” the documentation produced in this phase or, instead, we should wait until the board design will be entirely finalized. What is more important, we now have to choose which Open Source Hardware license to adopt for distributing our Electrical Schematic. If you are an expert on this field, please join us!
We are so very grateful with all the 128 donors that trusted us and actively contributed in achieving this first goal! We also thank all the people that supported us in spreading our project letting us able reaching a much larger audience.
We remind you that this is a first step of a much larger funding campaign planned more than a year ago. We still need new donations, and to do so, we need reaching even more people, so please, do not hesitate spreading the word. We are fully aware on the importance in publishing soon the Electrical Schematics that came out of the first campaign, as we want to show that we are able to respect the promise of delivering a fully open hardware output, hoping that more people will feel confident in further supporting the project.
The list below contains the planned campaigns and their corresponding funding goals:
[Achieved!] Hardware components research, analysis of the architecture, and design of the electrical schematics [12.600 euro]
[Upcoming campaign] Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Gerber format delivery of the electrical schematics [11.950 euro]
Production and delivery of five working prototypes [8.800 euro]
Hardware testing using software provided by the producer (ACube) [14.400 euro]
Pre-certification CE certification [12.500 euro].
Please, do not stop donating, even if the next campaign is not officially launched yet. Any new donations will automatically be transferred to the phase 2 donation campaign called “Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Gerber”.
We will soon circulate the next issue of our newsletter among subscribers that will contain a very short questionnaire asking whether people are willing to donate to the PCB design donation campaign and their advice on how to carry out a better campaign. This will be necessary to evaluate how much we should “invest” on further publicizing our project for enlarging the involved community and will help us focusing on what we should change in order to reach the goal in a shorter period of time.
As you probably know, we were attending the JDLL meeting (Journées du Logiciel Libre, The days of the open software, https://www.jdll.org/) and we promised to give an update about our participation. This time, our attendees were Phillipe Ferrucci and Fadi Osman. They gave a speech introducing our project and explained all the details. Using Fadi’s own words:
“It was a pleasure meeting Philippe! We also saw the OpenSUSE guys and other people one of which is the inventor of the magnetic stripe. Very impressive!
The Haiku people were very nice and helped us!”
During the speech about twenty to thirty people were attending. We were asked the usual questions: Why have you chosen PowerPC? Is PowerPC really open source? …
As usual, we very much insisted on the importance of diversity, and brough the well-known Intel cpu bug, most notably Meltdown and Spectre on the table, and the existence of back doors as a real life example of the issues deriving from the present technological monopoly. We also stated the importance of keeping PowerPC Linux distros alive, especially in their PPC64 variant.
Regarding the second question “is PowerPC open source?”, we explained the work behind the OpenPower foundation. Moreover, one of the reasons we chose PowerPC is also the background of people involved in the project, in a way or another: most of us are owners of classic or new generation Amigas and PowerPC macs.
Journées du Logiciel Libre
During the interesting discussion, there was people trying to help overcoming the described problems encountered in carrying out our activities, and made suggestions based on their very valuable experience and knowledge.
Someone suggested to simplify the design by removing the SATA controller and connect the SSD directly using the I/O interface.
Another person talked about all the issues that were encountered by the people developing the Pandora console, such as designing its chassis.
We got a very interesting and useful information from people who can help us with industrialization issues.
Others suggested that more people could be more attracted by an open source PPC raspberry pi format board, instead of a PPC laptop.
We also had a conversation with the CEO of Why! which is already one of our main donors and is interested in further collaborating and selling the notebook.
Encourage the continued support of PPC64
Now we want to mention the new proposal from Aaron Smith (another of our main donors in the crowdfunding campaign, as well as the Amiga on the Lake’s CEO). He is asking PPC64 Linux users to help encourage the continued support of PPC64
The Amiga On The Lake company is working to provide a fully featured Linux “version” expressly developed for the AmigaOne X5000 computer. To achieve this goal, Aaron is offering a discount to “any serious developer that wants an AmigaOne X5000 motherboard to develop on”. In addition to that, he is asking all Power Mac G5 owners to actively support the Debian PPC64 development.
We are still developing a research Linux image based on Yocto Project. We are not sure yet if we will produce a custom distribution using Yocto or, if it will be too much of an effort for us. In any case, the work we are doing is being useful for the entire PPC community. As an example, we found a bug that caused an error building a 4.14 kernel for ppc64. We reported it to the Yocto Project bug tracker and we proposed a patch that was accepted, committed and will be available in the upcoming 2.5 version.
PowerPC yocto project
In case you want to collaborate in that tasks you can contact us
Adelie / Alpine PowerPC distro
The maintainer of Adelie is a highly skilled programmer who loves ppc64, a tier 1 architecture for PowerPC.
Adélie and Alpine: PowerPC distros for each endianness
Alpine Linux is a widely-known distribution focused on security and small footprint, built on the musl libc. IBM has helped port Alpine to the ppc64el architecture (little-endian), and as of Alpine 3.7 it is officially supported. However, Alpine Linux does not support ppc64 big endian, so it is not suitable for computers such as the Apple PowerMac G5.
Adélie Linux is focused on making an easy-to-use desktop environment that runs on any speed or age of hardware, based on Alpine tools and musl libc. It officially supports the ppc64 architecture (big-endian) and was the first distribution to fully support ppc64 on musl, and to ship the LXQt environment on ppc64/musl.
Adelie PowerPC Linux distro
“We feel the future of libre computing lies in PowerPC, and we are excited to see where the PowerPC platform goes,” said A. Wilcox, lead of Adélie. “Projects like GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook and Raptor’s Talos show a bright future of truly libre and owner-controlled hardware.”
Compiling PowerPC64 Debian packages on IBM Power8 instance at the Oregon University
Thanks to the OSU Open Source Lab of Oregon University and OpenPower Foundation we obtained the access to the OpenStack running on Power8 server so we have started an Power8 instance with 4 vcpu , 8GB of RAM and we have started to compile PowerPC packages, in particular big endian (BE) packages for Debian powerpc that we publish in our public repo. These compiled packages run on ppc64 G5 machine, and might turn out to be useful for our future Open Hardware Laptop.
We have prepared a Debian 8.10 PowerPC BE instance based on a Power8 based on OpenStack to compile Debian PowerPC BE packages for the “sid” release (unstable).
Our software working group have patched some Debian sid (unstable) packages, enabling specific optimizations for the ppc64 platform and enabling the Altivec support, if available. The work is also focused on fixing bugs and porting to ppc64 as many packages as possible. You may find our repository and the instructions on how to try it out at http://repo.powerprogress.org
In case you want to collaborate with us you can contact us
Firefox Compiled installable from our repo.powerprogress.org
repo powerprogress packages list
Presentation of our project at the Monza Linux User Group, Italy
We thanks our friends at Brigx for the warm hospitality at their place in Bernareggio, Monza Brianza, Italy, where we presented our project. The people attending seems very interested on the current activities, and we take the opportunity to thank for their valuable donations.
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.
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
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 18.104.22.168 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 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
Don’t miss the latest issue of BSD Mag including an article by Saulo Paiva explaining our Open SourcePower Notebook project and an interview with Roberto Innocenti.
Our PowerPC Notebook project on BSD magazine
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 🙁
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.
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.
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