Parallax shows love for open source: GCC + Propeller

Parallax has done something that is unthinkable for most microcontroller manufacturing companies. They’ve decided to throw their support behind an open source toolchain based on GCC. That’s right, instead of fighting to get your code compiling on a platform whose example code uses crippleware, you can actually download, compile, and start using this toolchain without code size restrictions or other unfavorable limitations.

Why does this matter? One example that comes to mind is ChibiOS and the STM32F0-Discovery board. We’ve been playing around with that board recently and found out that the Atollic 8k code-size limitation prevents you from debugging ChibiOS. So you either pony up the registration fee, or go though at least a little pain (a lot depending on your skill level) to move to an open source solution. Here that’s not going to happen because you start with a GCC option from the word ‘Go’.

So join us in a round of applause for good decisions. Bravo Parallax! This Beta test targets the P8X32A Propeller chip but we hope it’s so popular that the rest of the line gets its own support.

[Thanks Devlin via Adafruit]

Freedom Toaster dispenses FOSS… for free

The Seneca College Linux Club figured out a fantastic way to help promote Linux to a wider audience. They took some surplus hardware and made an Open Source software vending machine. That is and isn’t a play on words. The project itself is an open source project, and the goal is to dispense other open source software in the form of CDs and DVDs.

Their build page shares all of the details. They acquired an older server cabinet which was on the way out from the IT department. It’s more than large enough to fit a person inside, which is overkill but it makes it much less likely that someone will try to walk off with the thing. Inside you’ll find a computer, two monitors (one is a touch screen for consumer use, the other is just an extra hidden inside for maintenance.

You must bring your own blank CD-R or DVD-R (but the burning is free). You can see the DVD shelf at waist-level on the fully painted kiosk above. The only thing we think is missing here is a USB port for brewing up a bootable USB stick.

[Thanks MS3FGX]

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

ubuntu-karmic-koala-splash

Today is the official release of the latest version of Ubuntu, the most popular Linux-based operating system. Someone mentioned that there had been a new release of the Windows OS recently and if you’re thinking of going with that one, we feel you should a least give Ubuntu a try. Now in its 11th official release and codenamed Karmic Koala, this version of Ubuntu continues the traditional six month development cycle by succeeding Jaunty Jackalope which was released in April of this year.

We’ve been running the beta release of Ubuntu Netbook Remix for several weeks now. It cut boot time down to between 5-10 seconds and WiFi is already connected by the time the Desktop loads. Speed isn’t the only new feature, graphics have been redesigned, there is a new app store that serves as a front end for the extensive free software repositories, and the newest kernel and software versions are included.

We’ve been using this open source operating system since its third release, Breezy Badger. We love it for the quality, convenience, and the fact that we can get our fingers into the code and hack around a bit.