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
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.