Linux och open source inom inbyggda system
med Daniel Stenberg
med Björn Stenberg
Utveckling och trender av multicorekretsar inom halvledarindustrin
med Jonas Svennebring
Reverse engineering – egen kod på andras hårdvara
med Linus Nielsen Feltzing
During our embedded Linux hacking event in Stockholm on October 20th I ran a little contest for the ones who wanted to participate. I created it entirely by myself to allow as many people as possibly to participate with them knowing me or me knowing them etc limiting the fun.
For your amusement I include the full contest here. If you want to try it out, then make sure you don’t attempt to google for any answers or otherwise use a machine/computer as a help.
Here I just want to mention that, as is shown in the above example question, ‘ace‘ is the correct character sequence and the letters should then be kept in that order in the final question. Also note that a character sequence can legally contain a dash as well. You will get 16 similar sequences of 1 to 3 letters, and those 16 sequences should be moved around to form the 17th question.
… at this point I fired off all the questions one by one at about 15-20 seconds per question. In this blog post I’ll take a shortcut and instead show you the final page I made that showed all questions at once, which I then left displayed for the remainder of the competition time. Click the image to get a full resolution version that is perfectly readable:
My take away from this contest is that it was harder than I anticipated and took a longer time to crack than I thought. I gave away a few additional clues and hints as the time went by, but in the end I believe there were several persons who were very close to breaking it at almost the same time. In the end, Klas and Jonas presented the correct answer first and won the bottle of Champagne. I’m sure you appreciate their efforts after having tried this yourself!
The answers? Are you really sure? The correct answers and the final question with its answer is available…
I had a great time creating the competition and I believe the competitors appreciated it.
Additional trivia: I created the letter sequences for the other alternatives by writing other English phrases and chopped them up, so that they were from actual English and hence possibly more believable.
On September 10th, I sent out the invite to the foss-sthlm community for an embedded hacking event just before lunch. In just four hours, the 40 available tickets had been claimed and the waiting list started to get filled up as well… I later increased the amount to 46, we had some cancellations and I handed out more tickets and we had 46 people signed up at the day of the event (I believe 3 of these didn’t show up). At the day the event started, we still had another 20 people in the waiting list with hopes of getting a spot!
(All photos in this post are scaled down versions, click the picture to see a slightly higher resolution version!)
In Enea we had found an excellent sponsor for this event. They provided the place, the food, the raspberry pis, the coffe, the tshirts, the infrastructure and everything else that had to be there to make it an awesome day.
We started off the event at 10:00 on October 20 in the Enea offices in Kista, Stockholm Sweden. People dropped in one by one and were handed their welcome present containing a raspberry pi board, a 2GB SD card and a USB-to-serial cable to interface/power the board with. People then found their seats in the room.
There were fruit, candy, water and coffee to start off and keep the mood high. We experienced some initial wifi and internet access problems but luckily we had no less than two dedicated Enea IT support people present and they could swiftly fix the little hiccups that occurred.
Once everyone seemed to have landed, I welcomed everyone and just gave a short overview of what to expect from the day, where the toilets are and so on.
In order to try to please everyone who couldn’t be with us at this event, due to plans or due to simply not having got one of the attractive 40 “tickets”, Enea helped us arrange a video camera which we used during the entire day to film all talks and the contest. I can’t promise any delivery time for them but I’ll work on getting them made public as soon as possible. I’ll make a separate blog post when there’s something to see. (All talks were in Swedish!)
At 11:30 I started off the day for real by holding the first presentation. We used one of the conference rooms for this, just next to the big room where everyone say hacking. This day we had removed all tables and only had chairs in the room movie theater style and it turned out we could fit just about all attendees in the room this way. I think that was good as I think almost everyone sat down to hear and see me:
Open Source in Embedded Systems
I did a rather non-technical talk about a couple of trends in the embedded operating systems market and how I see the upcoming future and then some additional numbers etc. The full presentation (with most of the text in Swedish) can be found on slideshare.
I got good questions and I think it turned out an interesting discussion on how things run and work these days.
After my talk (which I of course did longer than planned) we served lunch. Three different sallads, bread and stuff were brought out. Several people approached me to say how they appreciated the food so I must say that Enea managed really well on that account too!
Development and trends in multicore CPUs
Jonas Svennebring from Freescale was up next and talked about current multicore CPU development trends and what the challenges are for the manufacturers are today. It was a very good and very technical talk and he topped it off by showing off his board with T4240 running, Freecale’s latest flagship chip that is just now about to become available for companies outside of Freescale.
T4240 is claimed to have a new world record in coremark performance, features 12 hyper-threaded ppc cores in up to 1.8GHz.
There were some good questions to Jonas and he delivered good and well thought out answers. Then people walked out in the big room again to continue getting some actual hacking done.
We then took the opportunity to hand out the very nice-looking tshirts to all attendees, again kindly done so by Enea.
The next interruption was the contest. Designed entirely by me to allow everyone to participate, even my friends and Enea employees etc. On the photo on the right you can see I now wear the tshirt of the day.
The contest was hard. I knew it was hard as I wanted it really make it a race that was only for the ones who really get embedded linux and have their brain laid out properly!
I posted the entire contest in separate blog post, but the gist of it was that I presented 16 questions with 3 answer alternatives. Each alternative had a sequence of letters. So after 16 questions you had 16 letter sequences you had to put in the right order to get a 17th question. The first one to give a correct answer to that 17th question would win.
A whole bunch of people gave up immediately but there was a core group who really fought hard, long and bravely and in the end we got a winner. The winner had paired up so the bottle of champagne went jointly to Klas and Jonas. It was a very close call as others were within seconds of figuring it out too.
I think the competition was harder than I thought. Possibly a little too hard…
Your own code on others’ hardware
Linus from Haxx (who shouldn’t be much of a stranger to readers of this blog) then gave some insights on how he reversed engineered mp3 players for the Rockbox project. Reverse engineering is a subject that attracts many people and I believe it has some sort of magic aura around it. Again many good questions and interested people in the room.
We did not keep the time schedule so we had to get the coffee break in after Linus, and there were buns and so on.
I think perhaps people started to get a little soft in their brain as we had now blasted through all but one of the talks, and as a speaker finale we had Henrik…
u-boot on Allwinner A10
Henrik Nordström did a walk-through explaining some u-boot basics and then explained what he had done for the Allwinner targets and related info.
I believe the talks were kind of the glue that made people stick around. Once Henrik was done and there was no more talks planned for the day, it was obvious that it was sort of the signal for people to start calling it a day even though there was still over one hour left until the official end time (20:00).
I got a lot of very positive comments from people when they left the facilities with big smiles on their faces, asking for more of these sorts of events in the future.
The crowd size felt really perfect for these facilities and 40 something also still keeps the spirit of familiarity and it doesn’t feel like a “big” event or so.
Will I work on making another event similar to this again? Sure. It might not happen immediately, but I don’t see why it can’t be made again under similar circumstances.
Thanks to Jonas, Björn, Linus and Henrik for awesome talks.
Thanks to Enea for sponsoring this event, and Mia then in particular for being a good organizer.
Claes at foss-magasin.se asked a bunch of questions about me, my commitments within the FOSS community and related matters recently over email. This Swedish interview just now went public: Daniel Stenberg – cURL, Rockbox och FOSS-Sthlm.
For my international friends who don’t understand the Swedish: I am quite happy with the questions and being allowed to answer them at this lengths etc, so I am considering doing a full translation of it and posting it at a later date.
Where there’s no real content on the site yet, Claes has set out a mission for himself and future contributors to create a site with technical content in Swedish that we geeks miss. This would be within areas such as FOSS, *nix, networking and more.
Tired of the poor state of technical and IT related media in Sweden that always seem to try to capture the really large audience and therefore always dumb down everything to a silly level, this is meant to be directed on more competent and interested readers.
The site is free and Claes is looking around for contributors to help hem get content to publish. I can only urge my Swedish friends to join up and help it get going, as I think it would be nice to get a proper Swedish tech site. For me, it will be especially interesting for things that actually happen in or otherwise is related to Sweden, as for all the rest I personally have no problems accessing English sites to get the info.
Joel Åsblom works as a “technical writer” at the Swedish “IT magazine” consortium IDG. He got assigned the job of interviewing Richard M Stallman when he was still in Stockholm after his talk at the foss-sthlm event. I had been mailing with another IDG guy (Sverker Brundin) on and off for weeks before this day to try to coordinate a time and place for this interview.
During this time, I forwarded the “usual” requests from RMS himself about how the writer should read up on the facts, the background and history behind Free Software, the GNU project and more. The recommended reading includes a lot of good info. My contact assured me that they knew this stuff and that they had interviewed mr Stallman before.
This November day after the talk done in Stockholm, Roger Sinel had volunteered to drive Richard around with his car to show him around the city and therefore he was also present in the IDG offices when Joel interviewed RMS. Roger recorded the entire interview on his phone. I’ve listened to the complete interview. You can do it as well: Part one as mp3 and ogg, and part 2 as mp3 and ogg. Roughly an hour playback time all together.
The day after the interview, Joel posted a blog entry on the computersweden.se blog (in Swedish) which not only showed disrespect towards his interviewee, but also proved that Joel has not understood very many words of Stallman’s view or perhaps he misread them on purpose. Joel’s blog post translated to English:
Yesterday I got an exclusive interview with legend Richard Stallman, who in the mid 80’s, published his GNU Manifesto on thoughts of a free operating system that would be compatible with Unix. Since then he has traveled the world with his insistent message that it is a crime against humanity to charge for the program.
As the choleric personality he is, I got the interview once I’ve made a sacred promise to never (at least in this interview) write only Linux but also add Gnu before each reference to this operating system. He thinks that his beloved GNU (a recursive acronym for GNU is Not Unix) is the basis of Linux in 1991 and thus should be mentioned in the same breath.
Another strange thing is that this man who KTH and a whole lot of other colleges have appointed an honorary doctorate has such a difficulty to understand the realities of the labor market. During the interview, I take notes on a computer running Windows, which makes him get really upset. He would certainly never condescend to work in an office where he could not run a computer that contains nothing but free software. I try to explain to him that the vast majority of office slaves depend on quite a few programs that are linked to mission-critical systems that are only available for Windows. No, Stallman insists that we must dare to stand up for our rights and not let ourselves be guided by others.
Again and again he returns to the subject that software licensing is a crime against humanity and completely ignores the argument that someone who has done a great job on designing programs also should be able to live from this.
The question then is whether the man is drugged. Yes, I actually asked if he (as suggested in some places) uses marijuana. This is because he has propagated for the drug to be allowed to get used in war veteran wellness programs. The answer is that he certainly think that cannabis should be legalized, but that he has stopped using the drug.
He confuses freedom with price – RMS never refuses anyone the right to charge for programs. Joel belittles the importance of GNU in a modern Linux system. He calls him “choleric”. He claims you cannot earn money on Free Software (maybe he needs to talk to some of the Linux kernel hackers) and he seems to think that Windows is crucial to office workers. Software licenses a crime against humanity? From the person who has authored several very widely used software licenses?
The final part about the drugs are just plain rude.
During the interview, Joel mentions several times that he is using Ubuntu at home (and Stallman explains that it is one of the non-free GNU/Linux systems). It is an excellent proof that just because someone is using a Linux-based OS, they don’t have to know one iota or care the slightest about some of the values and ethics that lie behind its creation.
In the end it leaves you wondering of Joel wrote this crap deliberately or just out of ignorance. It is hard to see that you actually can miss the point to this extent. It is just another proof what kind of business IDG is.
Ok, so I felt betrayed and badly treated by IDG as I had helped them get this interview. I emailed Sverker and Joel with my complaints and I pointed out the range of errors and faults in this “blogpost”. I know others did too, and RMS himself of course wasn’t too thrilled with seeing yet another article with someone completely missing the point and putting words into his mouth that he never said and that he doesn’t stand for.
During the weekend I discussed this at FSCONS with friends and there were a lot of head-shakes, sighs and rolling eyes.
The two writers both responded to my harsh criticisms and brushed it off, claiming you can have different views on free vs gratis and so on, and both said something in the style “but wait for the real article”. Ok, so I held off this blog post until the “real article”.
The real article
Stallman – geni och kolerisk agitator, which then is supposedly the real article, was posted on November 15th. It basically changed nothing at all. The same flaws are there – none of the complaint mails and friendly efforts to help them straighten out the facts had any effect. I would say the most fundamental flaws ones are:
With opinions that it is a crime against humanity to charge for software Richard Stallman has made many enemies at home. In South America, he has more friends, some of which are presidents whom he persuaded to join the road to free source code.
Joel claims RMS says you can’t charge for software. The truth is that he repeatedly and with emphasis says that free software means free as in freedom, it does not necessarily means gratis. Listen to the interview, he said this clearly this time as well. And he says so every time he does a public talk.
Richard Stallman is also the founder of the Free Software Foundation, and his big show-piece is the fight against everything regarding software licenses.
Joel claims he has a “fight against everything regarding software licenses”. That’s so stupid I don’t know where to begin. The article itself even has a little box next to it describing how RMS wrote the GPL license etc. RMS is behind some of the most used software licenses in the world.
The fact that Joel tries to infer that Free Software is mostly a deal in South America is just a proof that this magazine (and writer) has no idea about for example the impact of Linux and GNU/Linux in just about all software areas except desktops.
All this serves just as a proof and a warning: please friends, approach this behemoth known as IDG with utmost care and be sure that they will not understand what you’re talking about if you’re not into their mainstream territory. They deliberately will write crap about you, even after having been told about errors and mistakes. Out of spite or just plain stupidity, I’m not sure.
[I deliberately chose not to include the full article translated to English here since it is mostly repetition.]
Claes and I started the foss-sthlm initiative a while ago, back in 2009. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before. We’ve since then done a series of events where we’ve gathered foss hackers from the Stockholm region to speak about Free Software and Open Source for people interested in these issues. We’ve had 100+ persons attend to every event and I’ve considered them successful beyond our wildest expectations. Me and Claes originally expected to gather around 30 persons or so…
So out of the blue I got a question from Giuseppe (who were talking to RMS at the time) if foss-sthlm/me would be interested in organizing an event in Stockholm with mr Stallman. It turned out mr Stallman was already considering coming to FSCONS in Gothenburg and when doing so he was looking around to see if he could do some more talks while in Sweden. Given this chance, I simply couldn’t turn it down!
We coordinated with our pals behind FSCONS (the lovely crew at FFKP) so that we would jointly fund the event. We would split the bill for getting mr Stallman here and onward again to his subsequent gig, and the cost for his travel between Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Ironically, we already before had talked about not getting one of these super celebs to foss-sthlm events simply because of their immense popularity and the problem to get facilities to host events with them. How many would come to an RMS talk? I guessed at least 300 since among our previous events the most popular one got around 150 visitors.
Commercial rooms for at least 300 people are expensive and luckily we quite soon got in touch with friends at KTH in Sweden – The Royal Institute of Technology, and they graciously offered to sponsor a room for 500. Awesome, we were on our way!
South Pole didn’t hesitate when I asked them (you rock, Jakob!), but immediately said they’d help us to sponsor the event. With them on board, we had all the financial stuff we needed covered and we could say “full steam ahead!” to everyone involved .
Fiddle like crazy
FSCONS had a fixed date for their conference already, but when would RMS come to Stockholm? After FSCONS or before? When would we be able to reserve the room and how would it all fit into RMS’s schedule of other things. Several times we thought we had nailed it when something changed and we had to redo it all again. It took a good amount of emails back and forth until we finally scheduled and decided that he’d be in Stockholm first and then go FSCONS.
Open for registrations!
We went public about RMS coming to Sweden coordinated with FSCONS so that none of us would take advantage of this on the others’ expense. On September 27th 13:22 we told everyone about it, and within less than eleven (11) hours all 500 seats in the room had been reserved!
Oops, full already
Wow. That was a bit overwhelming and not quite what I had expected. A bit tough, but well our room only fits 500 so…
Find a new place
Friendly people on the foss-sthlm list very soon mentioned a new, much larger, facility that perhaps could be possible to host Stallman’s talk. The huge Aula Magna room. I was a bit pessimistic about it, as I was just so happy already with having gotten a fine sponsorship for that first room.
New place, new sponsor
What are friends for? I can hardly describe it, but we have good friends in good places and wow, not many days passed until I got the excellent news that the Stockholm University’s department for Computer and System’s Sciences would help us get the room and pay the bill for it. This massive room fits 1194 sitting visitors. (Thanks Beatrice, you’re awesome!)
Amazingly enough, it was just a matter of time until we ran out of tickets again. Sure, this time there were tickets available for a longer time but well over a week before the RMS talk there were again no tickets available. The demand was still clearly very high. When the event was just a few days away, we sent out reminder emails and we got lots of ticket cancellations, perhaps 60-70 of them, and the tickets that were returned were immediately made available again on the ticket site and were soon signed up for again by other lucky souls.
When we closed the registration, there were just a few tickets still available. 1180 or so had been registered to listen to Richard M Stallman talk in Stockholm, a dull and grey November day 2011.
Richard is a charismatic person. He can speak to a huge audience for almost two hours, with no slides and no images and no script and still keep us all alert and interested. He mixes in dry humor and reflects back and recites episodes from previous speeches from time to time.
The topic was of course Free Software. About doing the right thing. About freedom and how you need to be prepared to sacrifice some things in order to gain and fight for freedom. For mr Stallman things are often black/white. It is either free and therefore right and fine, or it isn’t free and therefore morally wrong and a bad idea. He also spent quite a lot of time explaining why calling it GNU/Linux is the right thing and how mr Torvalds doesn’t care about the ethics and about doing the right thing for humanity.
I’ve been involved in Free Software (and in Open Source too, a term that RMS despises and encourages us all not to use) for many years but this was actually the first time I heard RMS talk live.
This would not have been such a smooth ride with the efforts of Giuseppe, Claes and the eager help and assistance from all friends in #foss-sthlm. Thank you!
(The pictures in this blog entry are all CC-BY-SA licensed and are taken by Kjell Ericson)
On November 8th 2011, foss-sthlm has the honors of welcoming Richard M Stallman to Stockholm and we invite you all to come and listen to what he has to say. RMS, as he is commonly known, is of course the founding father of both GNU and FSF and he has served his role of non-compromising believer in and the torch-bearer of the Free Software movement ever since he started it.
Date: November 8 Time: 18:00 Where: Aula Magna at Stockholm University
To get to enjoy this talk, and to be able to perhaps ask a question of your own, you must register and book your seat. You do this by going to the foss-sthlm nov2011 web page and reading the instructions.
We have this required booking concept for this only to make sure that we don’t overbook the room. Please make sure that you “return” tickets that you won’t use. Please help us pull this event through in an excellent manner.
This event is made possible thanks to our sponsors South Pole AB and DSV. We arrange this in cooperation with the great FSCONS team.
Update: we switched to a much bigger place!
Last year I posted my report of what I and my fellows did at Haxx after the first year of true and real independence. As I probably mentioned before, we registered our company 1997 but it was just a side project for over a decade.
Now, when we’re slowly approaching two years it is time to look back and what we’ve done during the past twelve months and what we’re doing right now.
We have firmly established ourselves even more as expert developers within embedded systems. We’re over and over again being hired by the teams that themselves are hired by companies to provide services or products. During the last twelve months, we’ve written software and software designs for a huge medical equipment company, a small video equipment manufacturer, a major international telecom, a market-leading embedded systems provider and a global chip manufacturer. We’ve debugged simulation software, designed video streaming servers, done video subtitling magic, poked on Linux kernel code and we’ve done old-school 8051 and 16bit x86 assembly. I’ve also managed to do a Embedded Linux development (in user-space) training course – twice. All this, in just the past year!
Oh, and we’ve revamped our logo and graphical design.
We continuously work with partners in the area to reach out to new and existing customers. As we’re very small and rather spend our time on working in our actual assignments we appreciate the help with sales and marketing. If you’re in the Stockholm area and ever end up needing devoted and skilled embedded software hackers, call us!
I’m gonna do my very best to make sure we get another great year! I’ll report back and tell you how it went.