OpenPCD press release, online shop

Ok, after a painful day full of shippin rates, insurance, taxation issues, etc. Milosch finally worked out how to ship our product to about any country of the wokld. This means that the OpenPCD shop is now online, and we're accepting orders from those people who don't want to fabricate the four-layer PCB themselves ;)

We also sent out the Press Release, in the hope that some press actually might be interested in free hardware project.

On OpenPCD.org we now also published the first binary firmware images (source code has always been in svn), including full USB DFU (device firmware upgrade) support.

If I manage to resolve some of the problems I still have with the SAM7 SSC controller, then the PICC simulator should also get working some time soon.

gpl-violations.org prevails in court case against D-Link on the GPL

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in this blog that there was legal victory in a ground-breaking court case on the validity and enforcibility of the GPL.

Today, I have released this press release stating some more details on the case, including the name of the defendant: D-Link.

I'm quite happy to see that our arguments have convinced the court outright, and that we didn't have to go through a lengthy procedure of calling several prominent kernel developers as witnesses, and getting statements from technical experts or the like.

If you're interested in the (German) judgement of 16 pages, you can find it at my lawyers' website. An English translation is in the works, but will take another week or so.

We've already received some press coverage, mainly in Germany so far. Interestingly, in a statement of D-Link quoted by heise.de, D-Link seems determined to not take this to a higher court... which means that this judgement will soon be considered legally binding, and be one more tiny step in the clarification of legal questions on the GPL.

I'd like to thank my fellow developers Werner Almesberger and David Woodhouse, as well as my lawyer Dr. Till Jaeger and his colleagues for all their support and work. A lot of time and effort was spent in preparation of this case, and as it turned out, exactly that preparation brought the case to a quick ending.

Panasonic R5 battey life

On the trip back to Berlin (from netconf in Tokyo) I had the first real-world test case for my new Panasonic R5 laptop. This really is the best laptop I ever had, I'm very happy with it. The advertisements of 10..11h battery life time don't seem to be an overstatement. I'm not flying for more than 10 hours, but given the power readings that ACPI gives me, 11 hours should be very much possible, given the total power consumption of 4.3W while doing text file editing, such as writing program code or this blog entry.

Doing a kernel compile brings the total power consumption up to something like 8.9W, still pretty impressive (and should give about 6.5hours given the battery capacity of 57Wh).

On the driver/hardware support side: I got display backlight control to work with the out-of-tree pcc_acpi module, and ipw3945 also worked straight ahead. Now I basically only need to find some useful thing to do with the TPM that I unvoluntarily got with this device. Has anyone figured out a way to use it for dm_crypt key storage or something like it? That would be neat. And yes, I know, if the device breaks, my data is gone. But that's what backups, version management, IMAP servers and the like are for.

My latest toy: Panasonic R5

I was already assuming that I'd be spending some money in Akihabara (Tokyo, Japan) before I actually went there or knew for what it was going to be spent.

Browsing through the hundreds (literally!) of local electronics stores, I once again realized how nice and small laptops (sub-notebooks ?) are available in Japan. One really wonders why those devices never make it to the European market.

Anyway, I bought myself a Panasonic R5, which is a 512MB RAM, 60GB 1.8" hard disk, Intel U1300 CPU, 10.4" 1024x768 device that weighs 999grams and is actually really cute ;) Wi-Fi is provided by an Intel 3915 a/b/g chip, and graphics is an Intel 945 PCIe - so no problem with free software drivers at all (remind me to re-implement that binary-only daemon for the new Intel chipset if nobody else does it until the end of the year).

Debian unstable installed fine (from a USB stick, before Windows booted the first time, so it's still a virgin), Xorg is running, everything seems fine. One thing that I didn't realize until after the purchase, though, is that Intel's mobile CPU's apparently don't have the x86_64 extensions (or EM64T how they call their AMD copy), which is sad. This is actually the first 32bit system I'm using for a quite long time :(

Jamal also got one at netconf, and seems equally excited about his new toy...

netconf'06 over

Three days in fast-fowrard, this is how you could probably best describe how netconf was. In-depth technical talks, just like it is supposed to be. And I have to admit that even though I've basically paused my kernel network development in early 2006 (will be back next year!), I could still follow everything, so the risk of loosing track quickly is apparently not that high.

There are many exciting areas of work (and even more with interesting design ideas/discussions), so it's just too sad that I'll have to stick with other work for the rest of this year... embedded Linux, RFID and GPL enforcement :(

As usual at the end of the event, we had to think of where and when to hold the next one. After northern America (twice) and Asia/Pacific (once), it's definitely time for Europe next year. We haven't yet decided on whether to go to Sweden, Germany or Switzerland. I'll try to locate some scenic venue and sponsoring, maybe we can hold it in Germany after all.

At the dinner today both JamesM and myself did our best to promote FOSS.in 2006 among the networking crowd. It seems like Rusty, Jamal and Yoshifuji got hooked ;)

In other news, I couldn't resist but to buy one of those ultra-small notebooks that are only available in Japan but nowhere else. Specifically, it is a Panasonic R5, featuring 24.2 x 18cm size, exactly one kilogram of weight, 60GB hard disk, 10.4" screen, 512MB RAM (needs to be upgraded) and a ultra-low-power U1300 Intel CPU.

I've managed to install Debian unstable during the last sessions of netconf, up till now basically everything is running and I'm happily typing this blog into my usual vim-in-uxterm-in-ion3 setup. Let's hope this new notebook will end the suffering of my legs due to the exctremely hot (and power-consuming) Turion64 based MSI laptop.

A1200 LSM / SELinux update

James Morris got quite interested when I told him that the A1200 uses SELinux to lock out the users (owners!) from their own phone ;) So we both did some further analysis, and it turned out that Motorola had actually released the source code to their own policy engine (MotoAC) with the A1200 kernel sources on opensource.motorola.com, whcih is good.

Still we didn't understand why you would use an unmaintained, at least three years old version of SELinux to base a forked policy engine on it - but obviously this is the world of Free Software and everybody is allowed to make his own decisions.

I've also catched up with the A1200 in general and found out that people have already managed to flash their own kernel into it, whcih is great. I wish I had more time to put into OpenEZX at this point, turning it into something that is actually useful. HINT: Skilled volunteers needed.

Pavel Machek apparently got one and is annoyed by the restrictive SELinux policies. By now I'm quite sure that it's not all too difficult to get rid of them ;)

First time in Japan, visiting netconf 2006

I've just arrived in Japan for netconf 2006. It's quite a pity that I'll only stay one week, but my current business-related schedule doesn't allow for anything more (actually, it wouldn't even allow for netconf, but some events are just too important...).

So here's my report on the first couple of impressions:

  • Everywhere (airport, train stations, inside trains, ...) it is extremely quiet. Almost nobody talks - and if, then very silently. This is extremely convenient, and I would love to see this to a similar degree in other places...
  • At the airport, there was somebody "defragmenting" the luggage on the conveyor belt, i.e. assuring that the maximum number of suitcases fit onto it, rather than causing a queue of incoming luggage because of an apparent "full" belt.
  • At the immigration, an extremely long queue formed. At some point a baby started crying. Immediately one of the immigration officers left his booth, made his way through the queue to escort father + baby (mom was not in the queue) directly to his booth, giving them preference. I'm impressed.
  • At the airport train station, a ticket vending machine ate my 1000 Yen bill and responded with some buzzing and the very descriptive "Not Ready" error message. While I was still undecided whether that is a malfunction, or the machine is just checking that bill very thoroughly, some JR staff member was running towards me, apologised, and disappeared in some small service room. Two minutes later, he opened a small window next to the ticket vending machine, where he handed me back the bill. I'm even more impressed!
  • Japan seems to be the only place (at least as far as I can tell) where "The Coca-Cola Company" has managed to produce soft-drinks that do not contain ridiculous amounts of sugar or artificial sweetener. (and I don't even know how it's called because there is only a Japanese name on it)
  • At the airport I used WiFi. This is the first time that I used a public hotspot that did actually use stateless IPv6 auto-configuration to give you a valid IPv6 address. I praise those responsible for that... stunning!
  • The only negative aspect so far is the lack of a GSM network here. Too sad...

OpenPCD - A 100% Free 13.56MHz RFID reader design

Finally, after a lot of delays, I am happy to announce - not yet the public release of the schematics, PCB layouts, and firmware source code - but at least a homeapge and photograph of OpenPCD, the completely free 13.56MHz RFID reader design. You can use it to talk to ISO 14443 A+B, ISO 15693 and related 13.56MHz transponders. We're still busy cleaning up the code and fixing the bugs in the schematics, but expect them to be released within this week.

This reader design is particularly interesting in everyone interested in RFID protocols and security, because of its many interfaces. You can modulate arbitrary waveforms onto the 13.56MHz carrier by bypassing the RC632 modulator/encoder and using the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) or SSC (Synchronous Serial Controller) of the AT91SAM7 micro-controller. On the RX side, you can also bypass the RC632 decoder and use the SSC to sample arbitrary data, provided it is on a ISO-ocnformant sub-carrier frequency.

Many of the internal signals can be routed to U.FL connectors on the PCB, e.g. if you want to look at certain intermediate signals on an oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer or even sample it with some high-speed ADC like the USRP SDR.

So far we have only produced some five readers of this latest design. But for those of you not interested in re-building it from scratch, we will obviously be offering the ready-built reader in a web store soon.

Meanwhile, the openpcd.org team is constantly working on producing the counterpart, a 100% Free and Open RFID transponder simulator for 13.56MHz. Progress is steady [but slow]. Expect some more exciting news soon ;)

Victory!

Today I have receive news that we've won the first regular civil court case on the GPL in Germany. This is really good news, since so far we've only had a hand full of preliminary injunctions been granted (and an appeal case against an injunction), but not a regular civil trial.

The judge has ruled, but the details of the court order have not been publicised yet. I'll publicised the full details as soon as thus details are available in the next couple of weeks.

[p.s.: If you're from the press: Don't bother asking me about further details on who the defendant was, or whatever else. Patience. All shall be revealed soon]

Wanted: Author and/or sources for EZX "qonsole" application

The original author of the KDE "Konsole" program, Lars Doelle, is actively looking for the Author and/or the source code of the "qonsole" program, a terminal program for the Motorola EZX platform that is apparently derived from GPL licensed Konsole.

Since the legal status of qonsole never was clear, I always refused to host it on any of the OpenEZX project resources. I didn't really know of any GPL violation going on, but had a somewhat strange feeling.

If any of you has information on where the qonsole program originates, please make sure to inform either Lars or me about it. We know by now that it appears to originate from some chinese or singapore mobile phone forums.

It's good to see more software authors of GPL licensed programs actually caring about enforcement of their license :) I sincerely hope this can be resolved and qonsole either distributed in gpl-compliant way, or a re-implementation be found/made.

GPLv3 conference in bangalore

It's already four days ago, but I just couldn't find some time to write about it in this blog. The 4th international conference on GPLv3, held in Bangalore/India.

I've been to three of those four confrences now, and I guess that makes me the only one apart from the FSF to judge how it actually went, compared to other events.

And I'm sorry that I have to say that it was by far the worst of these events :(

  • They closed down registration at some fixed limit (270?) because the auditorium couldn't hold more people. However, since the registration was free, only 50% fo the people who registered were actually present. And this at the expense of people apparently have been turned away after the quota was filled. Now we had a half-empty auditorium, and people who wanted to come but were rejected.
  • The programme. Basically RMS and Eben did not only give there usual (every time updated) great presentations on the spirit and the wording of the current license draft. But then they were kept alone on the stage to reply to questions for about the same time. Nobody else but them was giving any presentations on something that is really GPLv3 related.
  • The panels. What is the point of a "business panel" if all(most) you have represented there is some small three-men-in-a-garage companies that are run by free software enthusiasts? Where have beeen the Infosys, Wipro, ... companies? Don't they have something to say about the GPLv3?
  • The audience. How can you come to a conference on the GPLv3 and then ask questions that
    • everybody knows will upset rms because they use Linxu with no GNU/ in front
    • are totally unrelated (how can I make Autocad work on Linux
    • reveal that you haven't even bothered reading the GPLv3 draft
    Where were the GPL-savyy lawyers, free software developers and industry representatives that had made their way to the Barcelona and Porto Alegre event?
  • The [non-existing] moderation. Why was there nobody stopping all that off-topic crap like endless discussions on why gnucash isn't conforming the Indian accounting standards. I'm sure those are important problems to be adressed (and somebody should just hack that code into gnucash if he has a need for it). But who the hell cares about this on a conference specialized to license questions?

Getting a Simputer

Today I've been paying a short visit to Geodesic Information System Ltd. Bangalore Group (formerly PicoPeta Software), one of the two companies behind the Indian Simputer project.

Now most of the readers of this blog will probably think "oh, that computer for poor Indians", which is just not true, but the result of both media (and some government officials) misrepresenting the idea of this project.

Anyway, they'll give me one of their high-end Amida models to hack a bit on them. I guess one of the first thing I'll want to do is to create an OpenEmbedded machine description and kernel package for it, in order to be able to use all the available OE packages on it.

This is _not at all_ to say that I dislike the software that is pre-installed in the device (which provides a top-of-world-class and extremely unique user interface). But it's extremely useful to be able to choose between the pre-installed software and existing software packaged in OpenEmbedded. Maybe some of the existing GPL (or otherwise free licensed) Simputer software can be packaged as OE ipk packages and then be seamlessly integrated.

Allnet Allsound / U-Media AudioMate

I couldn't resist any longer to buy a Allnet Allsound aka U-Media AudioMate, basically a small 802.11 WLAN capable Internet streaming radio stand alone receiver. Something that you can just put into your kitchen / bedroom. It hooks up to your WLAN and plays MP3 radio streams stand alone. No running computer / hard disk / server / ... required. IT also seems to support UPnP A/V, but I yet have to look into some Free server software for this.

Oh and yes, you can actually use it as alarm clock, waking you with tunes of your favorite Internet streaming radio. How cool is that?

Bollywood / Hindi-pop Web-radio: Radio Teentaal

I've recently discovered Radio Teentaal, a web-radio dedicated to "100% Indian music" - being streamed live from Paris.

It's certainly no surprise to see the radio being shoutcasted from some western country, since [that kind of] bandwidth is still not really affordable in India. But it's surprising to me that it's not from UK, US, Canada or another English-speaking country with large NRI community.

Anyway, they seem to play the latest popular Bollywood beats, no commercials, no interruptions, not even one the otherwise omnipresent self-advertisement jingles. Just pure music, at 128kBps stereo mp3.

more u-boot S3C2410 work

I've spent some more time on u-boot S3C2410 support. We now have working NAND flash and MMC+SD support. I'll publish patches soon, probably next week.

Apart from that, I'm extremely busy.. mostly doing real work, but also with boring gpl-violations.org stuff. Too little time to keep this blog up to date as much as before, my apologies.

OpenPCD - A free 13.56MHz RFID reader design

Over the last weeks I've been working together with Milosch and Brita from bitmanufaktur.de on OpenPCD, a Free Software and Free Hardware design of an RFID reader for popular 13.56MHz based protocols such as ISO 14443 and ISO 15693.

The hardware design will be released under a CC attribution share-alike license, the reader firmware and drivers (librfid glue code, plus some extras) will be released under GNU GPL.

We now have our first fully functional prototype, happily reading ePassport samples and the like.

In addition to being free (and being able to controlling the bare hardware because of the firmware source code) this reader gives an unique opportunity to study RFID signalling, since various analogue and digital test signals are available on headers or (currently BNC, later U.FL) receptacles.

Also, this device can be used to generate arbitrary modulation patterns, with full user control on frequency, modulation width, depth, etc.

We're currently too busy to release the code and docs in an appropriate way, but my hope is that you'll be able to check out a first release within the next two weeks.

The next goal is a similarly 100% free RFID PICC (transponder side) simulator. We're already working on this for some time, but I don't want to blow too much of the good news weeks before you will be able to actually check out the code and hw design. Stay tuned..

Oh, and not to cause misunderstandings: Some time ago I was mentioning that I'd be working on an incredibly cool Linux project in China. This RFID stuff is _not_ what I was talking about, even though I still think it is extremely cool ;)

CCC Berlin now proud owner of USRP

Finally the Berlin Section of the CCC has managed to obtain some donations (courtesy of ) for the purchase of a USRP with all major front-ends (BasicRX, BasicTX, RFX2400, RFX1800, RFX900, DBSRX, ..).

I sincerely hope that this device will be able to fuel even more interest in RF communications and research of security aspects of popular RF systems such as DECT. At least a bunch of interested hackers now have all the tools they need :)

Travelling to a gpl-violations.org related court hearing tomorrow

Tomorrow morning I'll have the pleasure of travelling to Frankfurt, where the first court hearing in a particular gpl-violations.org case will happen.

Those of you who follow my actions closely (closer than the practically non-existing PR work of gpl-violations.org allows) will notice that this is actually the first 'regular court case'. So far we settled everything either out-of-court, or sooner or later after a preliminary injunction, or an appeals case thereof.

In this particular case the defendant claims that the GPL is not applicable to them for a number of reasons, but at the same time argues that he still has the right to use the software, despite not having obtained any kind of license.

I don't yet wan to disclose the identity of the defendant yet, but I'll certainly post some more information on this pretty soon. You will all know the company, though. A very popular vendor of embedded networking gear.

Getting hooked once again by Techno

Just last weekend we've had (once again after two years break) the Love Parade, basically a huge open-air rave. Now fully commercialized (but that's a totally different story). I didn't attend it, but somehow the publicity surrounding that event prompted me to look into my 15GB archive (and corresponding CD collection) of early nineties Techno music.

Little of my blog readers will know me for that long time. Most of you will think, yeah it's that Goth guy, he listens to strange dark wave, industrial, ebm, music. Some of you also know that I enjoy a fair share of popular Hindi music.

But actually when I first started to actively listen to music, maybe at the age of 12 and up, I was a _huge_ fan of the then-popular electronic music in Germany: Techno. In a very short time this genre made it mainstream, creating a new youth culture in mainly Europe, but particularly Germany.

It was an euphoric time. German had just reunited. People were enthusiastically looking forward at the supposedly-bright future, now that the cold war was over. Everything was looking bright. People still mostly had job security, unemployment was low (compared to now), the negative effects of the neoliberal globalization did not yet affect the public at large.

At the same time, technology was en vogue. Home computers had started to become public in the second half of the eighties, the BBS scene existed, a small minority of people had access to Usenet, later the Internet. Music that used (mainly) synthesizers, samplers, sequencers and the like was very modern/futuristic.

So this was the kind of setting in which I spend my teens. Obviously I was too young (and shy) to attend any of the big raves at that time, but I was listening to music from Westbam, Marusha, DJ Dick, Hardfloor, PCP, Sven Vaeth, Sunbeam, RMB, Star Wash, Underworld, Cosmic Baby, Members of Mayday etc. I spent literally hundreds of Sunday nights recording the (in)famous "Techno Club" at the local radio station N1. God, how often did I watch the recordings / live shows of the cult "Mayday" raves.

So this was about 1991 to 1996. After that time, this kind of electronic music became less and less mainstream. I listened to Dutch "Rotterdam" hardcore for some time, but gave up on that very soon, too. Disappointed by the perceived in-availability of any good electronic music as I knew it, I resorted to classical music for a couple of years, until I got more and more into the "all etc. kinds of dark music" in which I still feel at home today. Music that is much more depressive/negative/destructive than the "happy partying" kind of Techno music. This sort-of resembles my change of mind-set during the same period of time. Reading up on world poverty, globalization issues, north/south conflict, environmental issues, the neoliberal model, increasing unemployment, increasing divide between rich and poor, the constant destruction of civil liberties, etc.

Anyway, so given that recent love parade revival, and me listening to "L.A. Style - James Brown is Dead" at some Industrial/Gabber/Minimal Electronics party last month, I decided to tune into that collection of old music once again.

I'm almost overwhelmed by the amount of feelings and memories this has triggered inside me. Basically it teleported me right back into how I felt 10-15 years ago. A life still in school, not knowing the [evil] world as I know it now, a life full of dreams, hope, happiness and the corresponding music.

This "trip back in history" is now basically going on for the better part of one week. It's going to end soon, and it will leave me longing for the corresponding sorrowlessness. Depressive reality will reclaim its terrain...

Retrospective on Shah Rukh Khan

The much-to-be-thanked Rapid Eye Movies cinema movie distributor for Asian cinema brings a retrospective on SRK into German cinemas. It includes the movies Baazigar, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dil Se, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Swades and Pardes.

They start with showing those movies from July 20 (today!) to August 8th in the Babylon Theatre Berlin.

I've seen most of those movies before, but on DVD. And I'm definitely going to watch many of them in the cinema, since Bollywood movies are just too colorful and rich in detail to watch them on something as "low-res" and compression artefact encumbered as DVD...

So I'd expect some drop in productivity over the next two weeks, but I can't help myself...

Avision AV-220 sheetfed scanner and Linux

Especially for gpl-violations.org, I've been dealing with more and more paperwork in my office. Such paperwork for example includes scanning signed contracts consisting of many pages, before being able to fax/email/.. them in advance of the original document.

So far I've been using a good old Canon flatbed scanner for this job, but with 20-page documents this gets increasingly annoying (and time-consuming) over time.

So I've been pondering to buy one of these HP Paper-to-PDF devices (forgot their name), where you can just put in a bunch of paper and it would email you the result as PDF. Unfortunately they're quite expensive, and even used ones (with probably half-way damaged mechanics) are very rarely found on eBay.

Now I discovered (and bought) an Avision AV-220, which is a sheetfed scanner that can scan up to 50 sheets (at 25sheets/minute). To my biggest surprise, that device actually contains two image sensors, so it can scan duplex in one go (unlike a laser printer where for duplex you have mechanics that rotate a page and process it a second time for the backside).

Thanks to the Avision SANE back-end (by Exactcode), there is excellent Free Software support for the device, too.

And what made the biggest impression on me: They actually ship the scanner with a small rubber/plastic spare part. "Please replace this after 15,000 pages". Isn't that great? I've never bought a laser printer or similar mechanical device that included a replacement of any wearing part.