TuxCon 2016 highlights – two days fun with open source hardware and software


tuxcon

TuxCon free and open source software and hardware conference was last weekend in Plovdiv.

This is local, small conference which once per year gather enthusiasts and people who love open technologies at one place.

The event started on July 9th at 11 o’clock with Trayan who spoke about Java Robotics or how do you program Lego Mindstorm in Java:

trayan

then Yassen spoke about the future of Jitsi Meet

jitsi

Damyan followed with serious topic explaining how different Linux distributions deal with security updates in a quite a funny way involving such a famous Bulgarian folk singer like Mr. Milko Kalaydjiev in Linux Matter (the video will worth watching).

milko2

Roland who come from Cambridge, UK specially for TuxCon presented us his ideas about the future of the education:

roland

Then we had lunch break with sandwitches and the famous TuxCon cookies:

cookies

After the lunch was one of the most anticipated talk this year: about the Retro Computer Puldin.

Puldin is local Plovdiv pride, the only computer designed from scratch in Bulgaria both hardware and software. On TuxCon 2015 we invited people who designed the hardware to talk, this year we invited the software developer teams. Mr. Nedialko Todorov who was director for this project talk about how the idea to make Puldin come and how it was realized.

puldin1

Puldin design started in 1988 at that time already IBM-PC was on the market with 8088 processor from Intel working at the lighting speed 4.77Mhz. The developers decided to make the new computer software compatible with IBM-PC, so files from IBM-PC disk can be read/written and cross-compiled. At that time all electronic developments should have used Bulgarian electronic components so they choose CM601 which was copy of Motorola 6800 – 8-bit processor.

They made their own BIOS, DOS, Pascal compiler, BASIC, text editor same as famous PE2 (all this written in assembler!).

orlin

Orlin Shopov who leaded the software development team at that time shared that they had to fit everything in 16KB of ROM memory and at the end they had no single byte free!

The result was that the BASIC code on Puldin (with 6800 @1Mhz) was running faster than same code written on IBM-PC (8088 @4.77Mhz).

The BASIC interpreter of Puldin was written by Todor Todorov more famous with the Eddie viruses he wrote later (a.k.a. Dark Avenger).

For this talk four members of the team come together:

puldin

From Left to Right: Dimitar Georgiev, Ivo Nenov, Nedialko Todorov, Orlin Shopov

Puldin computers were at TuxCon also:

comp

people could see what is inside:

inside1

or take autograph from the developers on the old user manuals🙂

user

The next talk was no less interesting. Edmund come from Vienna to talk about FOSS tools used in FPGAs:

edmund

He explained why we also need open source IPs. The FPGA vendors offer IP blobs which are “free” to use, but they are huge and you actually pay them in the price of the bigger FPGAs you buy to use them. Good example was for HDMI IP which FPGA vendor give away for free but use many different modes and resolutions which you may not need but have to use. Open Source HDMI design tailored to your needs may fit in 10 times less resources.

In next lecture Lubomir talked how he is attempting to create 3D model based on 2D pictures taken with his phone, quite interesting topic and interesting results:

lubo

Then Dimitar show us how to build custom Android images:

mitko

Delian has announced to talk for OpenSCAD but instead of this he talked about his dream to move the manufacturing from China back to Bulgaria🙂 and to do manufacture on demand with new technologies like 3D printers, DIY assembly machines.

delian

In the next talk George was talking for creating web sites with open source technology, he dedicated his talk to Ian Murdock

george

Stoyan shared in the next talk his experience with setting up corporate servers. He wanted to bet that in 90% of the public administration running Microsoft server solutions are set to default configuration with no cache enabled etc etc which effectively kills more than half of the performance potential hardware has. Anyone want to contest his statement?

stoyan

The first day closed with Lighting talks and interesting Quiz.

light

Day 2 continued in Olimex training building. We have just 50 seats there but around 70 people come🙂

d2

Fortunately Dimitar Gamishev has bring 10 meter radio antenna with some Radio sniffer, so some people were there and enjoying listen to space stations communication and local police which obviously do not care to encrypt their channels🙂

radio

 

ant

meantime Trayan made practical workshop how Lego robot is programming

day2

Peter present our attempt to make Robotic arm programmable with JavaScript

robko

Then we learn how to program FPGAs with our new ICE40 boards:

fpga

and we finished with the status of our DIY laptop:

lap

laptop

Special thanks to TuxCon organizers, sponsors and all people who come and were part of this wonderful event!

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. SK
    Jul 14, 2016 @ 12:04:20

    Nice post and event, it’s sad I wasn’t able to come.
    “Olimex train building” – so you are in the business with trains now😀 БДЖ must be in fear, haha.

    P.s. You should think of an option for making longer articles expandable on the main page, for easier scrolling and navigation.

    Reply

  2. Morgaine
    Jul 14, 2016 @ 13:05:41

    ‘Sounds like it was a very nice conference, thank you for the writeup.

    I especially liked the idea of lightweight HDL cores, which would be well suited to the small FPGAs that can be developed today with the FOSS Icestorm toolchain. OpenCores isn’t particularly useful in that respect, tending to focus on large FPGAs and proprietary tools, and their site isn’t showing many signs of life anymore anyway. Its best days are probably behind it.

    If Edmund provided any materials or links relevant to small HDL repos in his talk, please let us know.

    Reply

  3. SK
    Jul 14, 2016 @ 13:38:58

    Oh, and for those that weren’t there – what’s the status of the DIY laptop?😀

    Reply

  4. eduardo
    Jul 14, 2016 @ 22:57:10

    Great summary, great event, nice people, good food, fabulous weather, sweet fruits. It was a great stay. Thank you Tsvetan for having me there.

    Reply

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