Thursday, 30 June 2016

Check out our new issue plus win an ebook bundle!

Check out our new issue plus win an ebook bundle!

Issue 167 of Linux User & Developer is on sale today. Learn how to lock down your system and test its security with the ultimate guide to keeping your PC, network and passwords safe. The free DVD is packed with tools to help you, including two live-booting distros and the best FOSS. Plus, learn how to use your Pi as a pen-testing tool to assess your security, take control of Bash scripts, learn how to compile new software on an old distro, build your own NAS and much more. Pick up your copy from all good newsagents and supermarkets today. Not in your local store yet? You can pick up a print edition from the Imagine Shop, or grab a digital copy from GreatDigitalMags, where you’ll also find all of our back issues.

But that’s not all! We’ve teamed up with Packt Publishing to give you the chance to win this must-have security bundle of ebooks:

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Practical Linux Security Cookbook
Learning Python Penetration Testing
Kali Linux Wireless Penetration Testing Beginner’s Guide
Learning Linux Shell Scripting
Learning Python for Forensics

Want a taster? Get a free chapter of the Linux Security Cookbook here.

To be in with a chance of winning, just drop us an email to linuxuser@imagine-publishing.co.uk with the subject line “Secure my system” and tell us your name and email address. The closing date for entry is 28th July 2016. Plus, don’t forget to take Packt Publishing’s survey and help to reveal the best-paid skills in the tech business so you know what you need to do to take your career to the next level!

Terms and Conditions
Imagine Publishing has the right to substitute the prize for a similar item of equal or higher value. Employees of Imagine Publishing (including freelancers), Packt Publishing, their relatives or any agents are not eligible to enter. The editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash. Full terms and conditions are available on request.
From time to time, Imagine Publishing or its agents may send you related material or special offers. If you do not wish to receive this, please state clearly on your entry.


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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Free security download, plus win an ebook bundle!

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In this era where almost everything is online, online security is a major concern. These days, a lot of web servers, web-connected devices, and services use Linux as their platform. Most versions of Linux use the Unix bash shell, so the Shellshock vulnerability can affect a huge number of websites and web servers.

Shellshock was discovered on September 12, 2014, and it affects all the distributions of Linux using a Bash shell. The Shellshock vulnerability makes it possible to execute commands remotely using environment variables.

In this free downloadable chapter from Packt Publishing’s Linux Security Cookbook, discover more about the Shellshock vulnerability and how to patch and deal with Bash vulnerabilities for better Linux security.

Plus we’ve teamed up with Packt Publishing to give you the chance to win this must-have security bundle of ebooks:

Practical Linux Security Cookbook
Learning Python Penetration Testing
Kali Linux Wireless Penetration Testing Beginner’s Guide
Learning Linux Shell Scripting
Learning Python for Forensics

To be in with a chance of winning, just drop us an email to linuxuser@imagine-publishing.co.uk with the subject line “Secure my system” and tell us your name and email address. The closing date for entry is 28th July 2016.

Imagine Publishing has the right to substitute the prize for a similar item of equal or higher value. Employees of Imagine Publishing (including freelancers), Packt Publishing, their relatives or any agents are not eligible to enter. The editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash. Full terms and conditions are available on request.
From time to time, Imagine Publishing or its agents may send you related material or special offers. If you do not wish to receive this, please state clearly on your entry.



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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Raspberry Pi Gets Turned On

The Raspberry Pi and other similar Linux-based single board computers simplify many projects. However, one issue with Linux is that it doesn’t like being turned off abruptly. Things have gotten better, and you can certainly configure things to minimize the risk, but–in general–shutting a Linux system down while it is running will eventually lead to file system corruption.

If your project has an interface, you can always provide a shutdown option, but that doesn’t help if your application is headless. You can provide a shutdown button, but that leaves the problem of turning the device back on.

[Ivan] solved this problem with–what else–an Arduino (see the video below). Simplistically, the Arduino reads a button and uses a FET to turn off the power to the Pi. The reason for the Arduino, is that the tiny processor (which draws less than a Pi and doesn’t mind being shut down abruptly) can log into the Pi and properly shut it down. The real advantage, though, is that you could use other Arduino inputs to determine when to turn the Pi on and off.

For example, it is easy to imagine a Pi in an automotive application where the Arduino would sense the ignition was off for a certain period of time and then go ahead and shut off the Pi. Or maybe the Pi needs to be turned on when a motion sensor fires and then turned off again once there is no motion for a particular time period. Any of these strategies would be simple to build with the Arduino.

We’ve seen a similar project that used an IR remote as the trigger instead of a physical button. If you are afraid the Pi will just lose power unexpectedly, you might consider a battery backup. If powering a Pi with regular electricity is too tame for you, try steam.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, Raspberry Pi

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Friday, 24 June 2016

Hackaday Prize Entry: A Raspberry Pi Project

There’s no piece of technology that has been more useful, more influential on the next generation of sysadmins and engineers, and more polarizing than the Raspberry Pi. For $35 (or just $5), you get a complete single board computer, capable of running Linux, and powerful enough to do useful work. For the 2016 Hackaday Prize, [Arsenijs] has created the perfect Raspberry Pi project. It’s everything you expect a Pi-powered project to be, and more.

While the Raspberry Pi, and the community surrounding the Raspberry Pi, get a lot of flak for the relatively simple approach to most projects which are effectively just casemods, critics of these projects forget the historical context of tiny personal computers. Back in the early ‘aughts, when Mini ITX motherboards were just being released, websites popped up that would feature Mini ITX casemods and nothing else. While computers stuffed into an NES, an old radio, or the AMD logo are rather banal projects today, I assure you they were just as pedestrian 15 years ago as well. Still, the creators of these Mini ITX case mods became the hardware hackers of today. It all started with simple builds, a Dremel, and some Bondo.

[Arsenijs] takes his Raspberry Pi project a bit further than a simple casemod, drawing influence from a Raspberry Pi smartphone, a Raspberry Pi security system, a Portable Raspberry Pi, and a Raspberry Pi wrist computer. These are all excellent projects in their own right, but [Arsenijs] is putting his own special twist on the project: he’s using a Raspberry Pi, and a few Raspberry Pi accessories.

While this project is first and foremost a Raspberry Pi project, [Arsenijs] isn’t limiting himself to the platform with the Broadcom chip. The team behind this Raspberry Pi project was busy porting the project to Odroid when the Banana Pi came out. This changed everything, a refactor was required, and then the Orange Pi was announced. Keeping up with technology is hard, and is a big factor in why this Raspberry Pi project hasn’t delivered yet. You can say a lot of things about the Raspberry Pi foundation, but at least their boards make a good attempt at forward compatibility.

Already [Arsenijs]’ Raspberry Pi project is one of the more popular projects on Hackaday.io, and is in the running for being one of the most popular projects in this year’s Hackaday Prize. Whether that popularity will translate into a minor win for this year’s Hackaday Prize remains to be seen, but it seems for [Arsenijs] that doesn’t matter; he’s already on the bleeding edge of Raspberry Pi projects.

The HackadayPrize2016 is Sponsored by:

Filed under: Raspberry Pi, The Hackaday Prize

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Hackaday Links: June 19, 2016

Wait a minute. We’re almost through June and we haven’t seen anyone’s ‘DIY air conditioning’ setup. Oh the shame! How could we ever argue about thermodynamics otherwise? Here’s some copper tubing wrapped around a fan. Does it make sense? Assuming you’re making the ice (or cold whatever) in a room separated from the crappy air con, and you don’t have to pay for electricity (or ice), and you don’t mind hauling buckets of ice every few hours, yes. It’ll work. Now we can argue if you should put salt in the ice water…

I know I mentioned this in last week’s links post, but [Arsenijs]’s Raspberry Pi project is growing by leaps and bounds. He already has more than 33 followers to this project (awesome!) and 3.3k views on his project page. Not only is it climbing in popularity, but this is also a great use for the Raspberry Pi. You don’t see projects like this come around very often.

The Goliath is a quadcopter powered by a lawnmower engine. It was an entry in the first Hackaday Prize, but the project literally never got off the ground. There’s now a Mk. II version in the works. Goliath is getting a new frame made out of aluminum tube and rivets. There’s going to be ducts on the props, and this version might actually fly.

You did know Hackaday has it’s own Hackaspace, right? Technically it’s the Supplyframe Design Lab, but there are still a few skull ‘n wrenches hidden in the rafters. The Design Lab is hosting an open house this week on June 23rd, and the design lab residencies will begin July 1st. If you have an idea for something you’d like to build, here’s the residency application.

The LimeSDR is a powerful next generation software defined radio that’s currently on CrowdSupply The crowdfunding campaign ends in just a few days. It’s a very impressive tool, able to send and receive anything from 100 kHz to 3.8 GHz.

Last week one of our writers posted a review on the Monoprice MP Select Mini 3D printer. This printer is becoming stupidly popular, and Monoprice has depleted their inventory twice since then. I’ve been watching the product page for this printer for a while now, and here’s what happens: 1) Printer is out of stock, with an ETA of about a month in the future. 2) Printer is still out of stock, ETA is a few days away. 3) Monoprice has this printer in stock. This cycle seems to repeat every week or so.

Arduino Raycasting. When you think of raycasting, you probably think about Wolfenstein 3D, or other barely 3D games. You don’t need a powerful CPU like a 386 for raycasting – you can do it on an Arduino. The display is a 32×16 matrix of LEDs, control is through a Wii Nunchuck, and yes, head-bobbing is implemented. Here’s a video.


Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Hackaday links

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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Premier Farnell Sold to Swiss Firm

According to this article in the Guardian, Premier Farnell, the electronics parts distributor who is also a UK manufacturer of the Raspberry Pi, is going to be sold to D├Ątwyler. Their share price immediately rose 50%, closing at just under the Swiss firm’s offer price.

Farnell itself had been on a binge, according to Wikipedia anyway, buying up electronics distributorships in Poland, India, and the US. In 2009, they bought Cadsoft, the makers of Eagle CAD software. Now they’re being sold to another distributor.

Bloomberg writes this up as being just more consolidation in an already consolidating market. What any of this will mean for the hacker on the street is anyone’s guess, but we’re putting our money on it amounting to nearly nothing. But still, now’s the time to stock up on your genuine UK-owned, made-in-UK Pis before they become Swiss-owned and made who knows where.


Filed under: news

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Hackaday Prize Entry: Micro Robots For Education

[Joshua Elsdon] and [Thomas Branch] needed a educational hardware platform that would fit into the constrained spaces and budgets of college classes. Because nothing out there that was cheap, simple and capable enough to fit their program, the two teachers for robotics at the Imperial College Robotics Society set out to build their own – and entered the Hackaday Prize with a legion of open source Micro Robots.

These small robots have a base area of 2 cmand a price tag of about £10 (about $14) each, once they are produced in quantities. They feature two onboard stepper motors, an RGB-LED, battery, a line-following sensor, collision-sensors and a bidirectional infrared transmitter for communicating with a master system, the ‘god bot’. The master system is based on a Raspberry Pi with little additional hardware. It multiplexes the IR-communication with all the little robots and simultaneously tracks their position and orientation through a camera, identifying them via their colored onboard LED. The master system also provides a programming interface for the robots, so that no firmware flashing procedure is required for students to get their code running. This is a well-designed, low-cost multi-robot system, and with onboard sensors, stepper motor odometry, and absolute positioning feedback, these little robots can be taught quite a few tricks.

micro_robots_reworking micro_robots_assembled micro_robots_wheels_tests micro_robots_batch

Building tiny robots comes with a lot of regular-sized challenges, and we’re delighted to follow [Joshua Elsdon] and [Thomas Branch] on their journey from assembling the tiny PCBs over experimenting with 3D printing and casting techniques to produce the tiny wheels to the ROS programming. The diligent duo is present in the Hackaday prize twice: With their own Micro Robots project and with their contribution to the previously covered ODrive – an open source BLDC servo controller. We are already curious about their next feat! The below video shows a successful test of the camera feedback integration into the ROS.

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Filed under: robots hacks, The Hackaday Prize

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Monday, 13 June 2016

There’s a Pi In Mike’s Fridge

How often have you stood in the supermarket wondering about the inventory level in the fridge at home? [Mike] asked himself this question one time too often and so he decided to install a webcam in his fridge along with a Raspberry Pi and a light sensor to take a picture every time the fridge is opened — uploading it to a webserver for easy remote access.

inourfridgeIf building IoT products is your daily bread, you will probably be able to replicate [Mike’s] build in a matter of hours, but [Mike] is kind of new to programming, electronics and especially the Raspberry Pi. Being an unstoppable tinkerer, and with a bit of help from the open source community, he made it all the way through the project to enjoy great success. He even installed a little buck converter that regulates the 13.5 V provided by the fridge’s power supply down to 5 V for the Pi and its peripherals.

All the cables and electronics were eventually hidden away behind the white plastic cover, where the build now provides everyday usefulness. The fridge also has its own website –  inourfridge.com – where it feeds the public interest for [Mike] and [Lauren’s] fridge content.

Behind [Mike’s] build stands the realization that fridges are more than just white boxes to slow down the deterioration of food. They are social, collaborative food-sharing and consuming platforms, jointly used by family members, friends, co-workers, and nightly thieves. Of course, they need to be hooked up to the web. Enjoy the video of [Mike’s] build below!


Filed under: home hacks, how-to

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Hackaday Links: June 12, 2016

The Navy is doing some crazy stuff out in China Lake. They were planning to test something out that could potentially make GPS unusable from San Diego to Las Vegas to San Francisco. Those plans were cancelled for ‘internal’ reasons. They will be testing something in Indiana shortly, though. What are they doing? Who knows. That’s what idle speculation in the comments section is for.

3D Hubs, the distributed ‘3D printing service’ thing, now has 30,000 machines distributed around the globe. They also put together the definitive guide to 3D printing recently. For just about everyone reading this, a ‘introduction to 3D printing’ is old news, but this is a very good guide for telling your weird aunt what you’re building in the basement. Forward this one to your family on Facebook.

This one is amazing. Over on Hackaday.io, [Arsenijs] is working on a Raspberry Pi project. It uses a Raspberry Pi, and several accessories and components to make this Raspberry Pi project work. This Raspberry Pi project is already getting far more than the usual number of likes and follows, making this one of the most interesting Raspberry Pi projects in recent memory.

Moog is re-releasing the Minimoog, the original Moog synth from 1970. That’s cool, but what about a DIY Minimoog? That’s what [Scott Rider] is doing with the Crowminius Analog Music Synthesizer on Kickstarter. It’s an analog synth that’s more or less a Minimoog with MIDI, and one of the Kickstarter rewards is a bare PCB.

The future is dancing robots, so here’s a servo-driven Stewart platform that is sure to bring on the robot apocalypse.

What do you do when you need to get your Hackaday fix, but all you have is a laptop from 1995 and a dial-up modem? The Hackaday Retro Edition, of course. That’s a bunch of retro Hackaday posts, posted five at a time, with all the CSS and JavaScript cruft stripped. We’re always interested to see the old machines that are pulling the retro edition down, and [djnikochan] has the latest entry. He found a Thinkpad 380ED from 1997 at the Goodwill store for $15. The RAM was upgraded with a 64MB SIMM, giving this machine a total of 80MB. The Hackaday Retro Edition is viewable with IE 5.5 over a trusty PCMICA WiFi card. Awesome job, and we love to see old iron rendering the retro edition. Send some pics in if you get your old battlestation to load it.


Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Hackaday links

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Sunday, 12 June 2016

540 LEDs On A Geodesic Sphere

[burgerga] loves attending Music Festivals. He’s also a MechE who loves his LED’s. He figured he needed to put it all together and do something insane, so he build a huge, 15″ geodesic sphere containing 540 WS2812B addressable LED’s. He calls it the SOL CRUSHER. It sips 150W when all LED’s are at full intensity, making it very, very, bright.

As with most WS2812B based projects, this one too is fairly straightforward, electrically. It’s controlled by four Teensy 3.2 boards mounted on Octo WS2811 adapter boards. Four 10,000 mAh 22.2V LiPo batteries provide power, which is routed through a 5V, 30Amp heatsinked DC-DC converter. To protect his LiPo batteries from over discharge, he built four voltage monitoring modules. Each had a TC54 voltage detector and an N-channel MOSFET which switches off the LiPo before its voltage dips below 3V. He bundled in a fuse and an indicator, and put each one in a neat 3D printed enclosure.

The mechanical design is pretty polished. Each of the 180 basic modules is a triangular PCB with three WS2812B’s, filter capacitors, and heavy copper pours for power connections. The PCB’s are assembled in panels of six and five units each, which are then put together in two hemispheres to form the whole sphere. His first round of six prototypes set him back as he made a mistake in the LED footprint. But it still let him check out the assembly and power connections. For mechanical support, he designed an internal skeleton that could be 3D printed. There’s a mounting frame for each of the PCB panels and a two piece central sphere. Fibreglass rods connect the central sphere to each of the PCB panels. This lets the whole assembly be split in to two halves easily.

It took him over six months and lots of cash to complete the project. But the assembly is all done now and electrically tested. Next up, he’s working on software to add animations. He’s received suggestions to add sensors such as microphones and accelerometers via comments on Reddit. If you’d like to help him by contributing animation suggestions, he’s setup a Readme document on Dropbox, and a Submission form. Checkout the SolCrusher website for more information.

Thanks [Vinny Cordeiro], for letting us know about this build.


Filed under: led hacks

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Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Raspberry Pi Infinity+ Is A Fully Functional Huge Raspberry Pi

It wasn’t an easy weekend for the rest of the world’s hackers and makers, that of the Bay Area Maker Faire. Open your social media accounts, and most of your acquaintances seemed to be there and having a great time, while the rest were doing the same at the Dayton Hamvention. Dreary televised sports just didn’t make up for it.

MCM Electronics had the Maker Faire booth next to that of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and since they needed both a project to show off and a statement item to draw in the crowds, they came up with the idea of a 10x scale reproduction of a Raspberry Pi above the booth. And since it was Maker Faire this was no mere model; instead it was a fully functional Raspberry Pi with working LEDs and GPIO pins.

The project started with a nearly faithful (We see no Wi-Fi antenna!) reproduction of a Raspberry Pi 3 in Adobe Illustrator. The circuit board was a piece of MDF with a layer of foam board on top of it with paths milled out for wiring and the real Pi which would power the model, hidden under the fake processor. The LEDs were wired into place, then the Illustrator graphics were printed into vinyl which was wrapped onto the board, leaving a very two-dimensional Pi.

The integrated circuits and connectors except for the GPIO pins were made using clever joinery with more foam board, then wrapped in more printed vinyl and attached to the PCB. A Pi camera was concealed above the Broadcom logo on the processor model, to take timelapse pictures of the event. This left one more component to complete, the GPIO pins which had to be functional and connected to the pins on the real Pi concealed in the model. These were made from aluminium rods, which were connected to a bundle of wires with some soldering trickery, before being wired to the Pi via the screw terminals on a Pi EZ-Connect HAT from Alchemy Power.

Is the challenge now on for a range of compatible super-HATs to mate with this new GPIO connector standard?

We previously covered the 2012 Maker Faire exhibit that inspired this huge Pi. The Arduino Grande was as you might well guess, a huge (6x scale) fully functional Arduino. In fact, the world seems rather short of working huge-scale models of single board computers, though we have featured one or two working small-scale computer models.

Thanks [Michael K Castor] for sharing his post with us.


Filed under: computer hacks

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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Hackaday Prize Entry: The Green Machine

For Hackers, rapid prototyping is made easier using basic building blocks such as the Raspberry Pi, Arduino and the huge variety of add on shields for home brew projects. But we don’t see too many real world Industrial applications or machines built using these off-the-shelf electronics. [SlyScience] built The Green Machine – an industrial grade, automated spray painting device to help coat polycarbonate tubes consistently.

The Green Machine is essentially a linear drive that can move a spray gun across a spinning clear tube and coat it evenly with the desired color. These tubes are used as color filters – they slide over standard T5, T8 or T12 fluorescent lamps – and are used in advertising, special effects, films and similar applications. For almost 10 years prior to this machine, the task was done manually. The HPLV (high pressure, low volume) spray gun used for this process needed skilled hands to get consistent results. It was easy to ruin a tube and cleaning them was not possible. [SlyScience] figured things out on the go – teaching himself and figuring out all of the software and hardware pieces of the puzzle. The welded steel frame is about the only “custom” part in this build. Everything else is COTS. Check out the video of The Green Machine in action below, and if you have any tips to help improve the build, chime in with your comments.

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Filed under: The Hackaday Prize

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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

FPGA-and-Pi Colossus Smashes Your Codes!

If it were sixty years ago, and you were trying to keep a secret, you’d be justifiably glad that [Ben North] hadn’t traveled back in time with his Raspberry-Pi-and-FPGA code-breaking machine.

We’ve seen a lot of Enigma builds here at Hackaday — the World War II era encryption machine captured our readers’ imaginations. But perhaps the more important machines to come out of cryptanalysis during that era were Turing’s electromechanical Bombe, because it cracked Enigma, and the vacuum-tube-based Colossus, because it is one of the first programmable electronic digital computers.

[Ben]’s build combines his explorations into old-school cryptanalysis with a practical learning project for FPGAs. If you’re interested in either of the above, give it a look. You can start out with his Python implementations of Colossus to get your foot in the door, and then move on to his GitHub repository for the FPGA nitty-gritty.

It’s also a cool example of a use for the XuLA2 FPGA board and its companion StickIt board that plug straight into a Raspberry Pi for programming and support. We haven’t seen many projects using these since we first heard about them in 2012. This VirtualBoy hack jumped out at us, however. It looks like a nice platform. Anyone else out there using one?


Filed under: classic hacks, FPGA

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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Genuino 101 review

Genuino 101 review

Intel has been trying to break into the maker market for a few years now, having seen the success of the Arduino project and the Raspberry Pi. The Intel Galileo (reviewed in LU&D Issue 138, 4/5) proved unpopular thanks to poor IO performance from the Quark processor. Its successor, the Edison (reviewed in LU&D Issue 151, 4/5), added an Atom processor to address performance issues but its odd form factor and high-density connectors were off-putting.

The Genuino 101 is Intel’s third crack of the whip. Abandoning its previous approach of producing an Arduino-compatible microcontroller, the company has partnered with the Arduino project to create a fully official Arduino board – known as the Arduino 101 in the US and Genuino 101 elsewhere thanks to ongoing trademark issues. The result is a device which, at a casual glance, looks just like the classic microcontroller-based Arduino Uno. Yet, while it shares the Uno’s layout, the Genuino 101 is a different beast.

At its heart is the Curie module, an ultra-compact, low-power system-on-chip (SoC) designed primarily for wearable projects. Inside this chip is a pair of processors: a 32MHz Quark core acts as the central processor, while a 32MHz Argonaut RISC Core (ARC) is present as a co-processor – a tacit admission from Intel that the Quark’s ability to directly drive IO pins isn’t quite where it should be.

The presence of two processors splits the Curie module in an interesting manner. The Quark, which is a fully compatible x86 architecture processor based on the company’s old Pentium microarchitecture, runs a real-time operating system (RTOS); the ARC is used to execute whatever Arduino program you care to upload, and in a manner which is theoretically indistinguishable from any other Arduino.

In theory, this split architecture offers the best of both worlds: the flexibility and power of a microcomputer with the real-time operation and low power of a microcontroller. Sadly, at present, the RTOS is locked-down and closed-source. Intel has pledged to open-source the RTOS in March 2016, at which point the true potential of the Genuino 101 should become apparent – such as the ability to offload your own tasks to the Quark, or even to install and run a cut-down Linux directly on the device.

Want to find out more about what we thought of the Genuino 101? Check out the full review in issue 163 of LU&D!



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Friday, 3 June 2016

Hexapod Tank from Ghost in the Shell Brought to Life

Every now and then someone gets seriously inspired, and that urge just doesn’t go away until something gets created. For [Paulius Liekis], it led to creating a roughly 1:20 scale version of the T08A2 Hexapod “Spider” Tank from the movie Ghost in the Shell. As the he puts it, “[T]his was something that I wanted to build for a long time and I just had to get it out of my system.” It uses two Raspberry Pi computers, 28 servo motors, and required over 250 hours of 3D printing for all the meticulously modeled pieces – and even more than that for polishing, filing, painting, and other finishing work on the pieces after they were printed. The paint job is spectacular, with great-looking wear and tear. It’s even better seeing it in motion — see the video embedded below.

 

GITS-Electronics3The tank uses custom software to handle gait control, and there is also a Unity 3D pipeline for modeling and playing back sequences of poses (animations) derived from a 3D model. The tank can be controlled via PS3 joystick, but it also has some degree of autonomy in that it can detect and track faces.

The information on the site doesn’t go too deeply into the nitty-gritty technical details, but there are plenty of excellent photos of the construction process.

This isn’t the first time someone has been inspired by Ghost in the Shell; we’ve also seen a working Tachikoma made with LEGO that drives and walks just like in the show.


Filed under: robots hacks

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QuiteRSS 0.18.3 review

QuiteRSS 0.18.3 review

The little symbol indicating a feed of headlines from a site is perhaps not so ubiquitous as it was a few years ago, but for most important news sites there is a feed – even if it’s easier to find it through Google. Google’s own Reader service closed three years ago – a small boost to desktop feed readers – but many just jumped ship to other services like Feedly.

If you’d like to bring feed reading back to your desktop, to avoid relying on some web-based service that could disappear as easily as Google Reader, QuiteRSS is a neat little reader to try. Packages are available for Arch, Fedora, FreeBSD, Gentoo, Mandriva and OpenSUSE, as well as OS X and Windows – with the pre-Qt5 version from last year also available ported to IBM’s OS/2, for the seriously retro amongst you.

We did have a few issues with stability on OpenJDK 7 on Ubuntu Trusty, but we cannot blame QuiteRSS here, as this combination has given us trouble elsewhere. In daily use it was responsive enough, but most noteworthy for a simple and pleasant interface, which gave us the news we wanted, from RSS and Atom feeds, viewable in an embedded WebKit browser – with ad blocking.



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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Issue 166 of LU&D is out now!

Issue 166 of LU&D is out now!

The latest issue of Linux User & Developer is out now. If you’re among the lucky 1 million in the UK that got their hands on a free micro:bit (or you know someone who is) then this issue is a must-have! It includes everything you need to know, including a complete anatomy of the micro:bit, a guide to how it shapes up against the latest models of the Raspberry Pi, and five maker projects to get you started.

Also in this issue you’ll find the ultimate FOSS toolkit, packed with creative software to help you edit video, audio and graphics like a pro. Pick up the print edition and you get a free DVD with two live-booting distros packed with the FOSS from our feature. If you read the magazine digitally, don’t worry – our secure repo FileSilo.co.uk contains all the downloads you need.

Plus there’s a great range of tutorials in this issue to help you master filesystems, networks, passwords and much more. Issue 166 of Linux User & Developer is in all good newsagents now – if it hasn’t reached your part of the world yet, you can order a print copy or read it digitally right now!



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Pi project: Underwater drone

Pi project: Underwater drone

“When I was a kid I frequently built RC models; sailing boats and speedboats,” explains Niels Affourtit. “While I owned a fantastic RC glider and dreamed of having my own RC submarine someday, my neighbour at the time had an RC submarine and discouraged me from building one by saying this thing always had trouble with its electronics and leakage. Besides, almost all waters are murky in our area!

“Around the end of 2014, I saw a National Geographic episode about the salvage of the Costa Concordia and was very impressed with how they used a VideoRay to monitor the work done by their divers, and it helped revive my dream of having my own model submarine. That’s when I stumbled across the people who have built their own ROV.

“The ROV is controlled with a joystick connected to a laptop. The laptop runs Python scripts, and with PyGame I can read the signals from the joystick. The signals are then translated into servo commands and sent to the Raspberry Pi via a simple socket connection. The Raspberry Pi is the brain of the ROV; it communicates with the surface laptop via Ethernet. Thanks to the OpenROV project, I learnt to implement a Tenda home plug, which reduces the communication lines from four to two wires, increases the reach from about 50 metres with a submerged CAT5 to 300 metres, and makes the signal much less susceptible to noise.”

Want to find out more about Niels Affourtit’s amazing sub? Check out the full interview in issue 164 of LU&D!



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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Korora review

Korora review

Since its inception back in 2005, Korora has undergone numerous updates, been abandoned, rescued from obscurity and has recently been revamped into something completely new. To say it has gone on a journey would be an understatement, but the finished product proves to be one of the better entry-level distros out there.

While it’s essentially a remix of Fedora, Korora fills in some of the gaps that Fedora often seems to miss. It ships with a number of both open-source and proprietary applications, so that the end-user doesn’t need to tweak the system or set up a third-party repository. The idea of an out-of-the-box distro has never been more apparent with the ease of use that Korora both promises and delivers.

What’s even better about Korora is that it offers great customisation options to its users by supporting a number of desktop environments. Users can effortlessly switch between MATE, Cinnamon, KDE, XFCE and Gnome environments, and then perform heavy, detailed customisations, depending on their tastes and expertise.

We should also point out the existence of the helpful Pharlap tool, used for installing third-party drivers – such as graphics cards – without the complicated process than many other distros have you follow. Korora is all about simplicity, and end users are the ones who will benefit from it.



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