hardware

Lib-Ray Video Standard: Moving to SDHC Flash Media

In Spring 2011, I started a project to attempt to create a free-culture compatible / non-DRM alternative to Blu-Ray for high-definition video releases on fixed-media, and after about a year hiatus, I'm getting back to it with some new ideas. The first is that I've concluded that optical discs are a bust for this kind of application, and that the time has come to move on to Flash media, specifically SDHC/SDXC as the hardware medium. This is a more expensive choice of medium, and still not perfect, but it has enough advantages to make it a clear choice now.

Allwinner A10: A GPL-compliant computer for $15

This is getting seriously ridiculous. Relative to the power and feature sets computers are getting cheaper and cheaper. But they don't come much cheaper than the Raspberry Pi, a $25 computer designed specifically to encourage children to program. My colleague, Ryan Cartwright wrote about it right here on FSM.

Creating 3D Printed Models with Blender and the Shapeways Printing Service

One of the most exciting technological trends in recent years has been the rise of "3D printing" technologies for rapid prototyping of arbitrary shapes. I've written about this before for Free Software Magazine, but this month I finally got to try the technology out for myself -- in order to create "study models" (a fancy name for "toys") for my video project, Lunatics. In this column, I'm going to walk through the complete process, from creating 3D models to receiving the final product in the mail.

Will the lack of commodity mobile hardware kill free software?

This magazine has voiced several concerns over the almost de-facto state of vendor lock-in in the mobile market and with good reason. What is the point of free software if the hardware locks your access to it? This premise was one of the driving forces behind v3 of the GPL and as far as I can tell the OpenPC project and other open hardware projects. But most of these hardware projects relate to the desktop PC model. Where is the equivalent commodity hardware for the mobile market, the tablet "market" or even the laptop one?

The OpenPC project: Ready-made GNU/Linux Machines

The Open Desktop communities Open-PC project is now offering three different models of open computers with turn-key GNU/Linux and KDE installations based on OpenSUSE (or Ubuntu). These systems could provide real competition with pre-installed Windows or Mac computers, overcoming some of the most frequently-cited problems with GNU/Linux on the desktop. The systems are now available from vendors in Europe and the USA.

Choosing and Using Free Licenses for Software, Hardware, and Aesthetic works

What is this "Free Culture" thing? What is "Free Software"? And how do I get my work out there? If you're looking to participate in the "Commons", you'll need to get comfortable with the idea of free, public licenses and how to use them for your works. This won't be hard at all, especially with this short guide, but there are different traditions that have sprung up around different kinds of works.

Flip: A Simple Camera Done Right

Sometime back I gave a pretty strong pan review of a couple of "toys" that were not compatible with GNU/Linux -- with open standards really, since the community ensures that free software is compliant -- and were therefore nothing more than a disappointment to my kids. Recently, I fully expected to repeat this depressing experience when my brother-in-law gave my son a "Flip" digital video camera, but I was pleasantly surprised: it works exactly as it should. That seemed worth a column in itself.

Why can't free software lead to hardware innovation?

In the past few years we've seen a lot of hardware-based innovation (or at the very least expansion). New products and markets have arisen built around hardware and its use. Smartphones, tablets, netbooks and gaming systems are all examples of markets that have expanded and some if not most of the products make use of free software. This is great but why does it seem to be that the free-software products are second-generation, playing catch up. Where is the device innovation driven by free software?

An Easy and Inexpensive Quad-Core System for Debian or Ubuntu GNU/Linux

My son's hand-me-down motherboard recently gave up the ghost, and I decided that was a good excuse for an upgrade. Shopping around, I found that multi-core CPUs were finally in my price range, so I decided to build him a quad-core system. This build worked out extremely well, with almost no configuration problems, not even for accelerated 3D graphics or ALSA sound -- all using the latest Debian GNU/Linux (which means it'll also work with Ubuntu or other derivatives). This one has that "classic" feel -- everything just clicked into place. So I wanted to document it here. This also serves as a technology update to my earlier article on selecting hardware for a free-software-friendly system.

Purchasing free-software-friendly hardware

Many people have complained about the lack of pre-integrated computers running GNU/Linux or the lack of fully free software drivers for important hardware. Ultimately though, it's up to you, the consumer, both to satisfy your own requirements and to send a message to vendors that supporting free software pays. You can do this fairly easily by integrating your own computer from its major components, and selecting only components that have free software drivers. It's certainly possible, and even if you've never built a computer before, it's not all that hard!

The Asus Eee PC: An Ultra-portable laptop PC with GNU/Linux pre-installed

I don't know when I was last so excited about a Christmas present, but when this little laptop arrived on my doorstep on Christmas Eve I was drooling with anticipation--even if I had bought it myself.

Four days of intense Googling to locate a UK website with one in stock nearly melted down the Google server farms but in the end I managed to locate (a white) one on a Friday and by Monday morning I was tearing at the wrapping with the intensity of an excited five year old and, as I hope you will agree, with good reason.

A revolutionary idea for tomorrow’s PCs

PCs are complex due to underlying hardware organisation. Consequences of this include difficulty in modifying or upgrading a PC, bloated operating systems and software stability issues. Is there an alternative that wouldn’t involve scrapping everything and starting over? I will describe one possible solution with both its benefits and drawbacks.

What (most) users want

Sun Ultra 20 M2 review

When you are looking for a workstation or new desktop there are a seemingly infinite number of potential solutions available. So where do you start? Well if you are after a powerful AMD based computer then you might want to take a look at the Sun Ultra 20 M2, a workstation based around AMD Opteron 1200 dual-core CPU, and available at a surprisingly reasonable price.

Workstation or desktop?

Editorial

The desktop computer is not dead, but it’s doomed. Laptops are not dead, but they are doomed. And our mobile phones are going to kill them... sounds unlikely? Well, please read on—and let me know what you think. People have predicted the death of the desktop computer and the death of the laptop many times. These death sentences have often sounded like those religions which predicted the world would end by the year 2000—then the year 2000 came, and the end of the world was then rescheduled for 2004—then 2004 happily came and went—and so on.

Save time – Buy a hard drive pre-loaded with porn!

A new hard drive manufacturer, Sextor, is entering the market (pardon the pun!) by pre-loading all of it’s 120+ gig drives with porn and music MP3s to save users the time and effort in downloading them.

The announcement, made earlier today, says that Sextor will be providing pre-loaded drives as from October 9th 2007 in three different flavours, general porn, MP3s, and TV shows. A spokesman commented on the decision.

The content tail wags the IT dog

The content industries have conspicuously failed to create a business model based on paid content over public IP networks, but still cling to the idea that those networks were created for just that use. Any software or system which might interfere with this theoretical paid content business is considered not just heretical, but probably criminal. The music and movie consortia have turned the transition to network distribution into a “with us or against us” battleground, with most of their customers fighting for the wrong side.

RIAA, copyright and file sharing

The content tail wags the IT dog

The content industries have conspicuously failed to create a business model based on paid content over public IP networks, but still cling to the idea that those networks were created for just that use. Any software or system which might interfere with this theoretical paid content business is considered not just heretical, but probably criminal. The music and movie consortia have turned the transition to network distribution into a “with us or against us” battleground, with most of their customers fighting for the wrong side.

RIAA, copyright and file sharing

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