I was reading about JWZ’s awesome portrait serial terminal and wondering what would a serial terminal look like today if we could implement it using modern technology.

You could get a flat screen display and mount it in portrait mode. Most have VESA attachments, so it’s a matter of finding a nice portrait VESA stand.

To implement the terminal you could fix a Raspberry Pi or similar to the back of the screen. Could it be powered by the same PSU as the screen? Perhaps if the screen had a USB port.

For the keyboard you’d use a nice USB keyboard.

Of course there’s no reason these days to use an actual serial line, nor to limit ourselves to just a text display. Use wifi to link to the host computer. Use software to emulate an old orange DEC terminal, and X11 to display remote graphics.

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ORCONF 2016 talks on RISC-V

Some of the talks from ORCONF 2016 which I’ve enjoyed recently.

BOOM core:

RISC-V update:

lowRISC project update:

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Fedora/RISC-V is finished!

Ha ha only joking. However when we started out on building Fedora on the free RISC-V architecture, the goal we decided on was to get every package in the Fedora @Core group built.

I’m happy to announce that we have done that. Almost.

There are two mandatory packages that we’re not building, dracut and plymouth. Luckily neither are relevant to RISC-V at the moment since we’re not using an initramfs and there is no graphical boot device.

Another milestone is we have built more than 5,000 Fedora packages. Fedora has about 18,400 packages in total, so that’s a respectable chunk.

Here is what Fedora/RISC-V looks like when it is booting in QEMU:


Props to Stefan O’Rear, David Abdurachmanov for doing most of the real work.


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RISC-V bootstrapping: over 1,100 packages

$ ls -l SRPMS | wc -l

The autobuilder is really getting though the package list, having attempted to rebuild nearly 4,000 so far.

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A new Amazon seller scam

Amazon, so convenient, yet so annoying when things go wrong. This useless seller looks like a new type of scam to me. It seems to go like this:

  1. New seller appears, offering just about everything in Amazon’s catalog.
  2. You don’t notice this when buying, but the shipping window is open-ended (from a few days up to months). However you are optimistic, after all most Amazon orders arrive pretty quickly.
  3. Seller very quickly notifies you that the item has shipped. Great!
  4. Nothing arrives after a few weeks.
  5. You check the feedback, and now it looks terrible.
  6. You notice that the “tracking number” is completely bogus. Just a made up number and random shipping company (the seller is apparently based in Shenzen, but somehow the bogus tracking number comes from Singapore post?)
  7. You try to cancel the order. However Amazon won’t let you do that, because the item has been dispatched and it’s still in the shipping window (which, remember, doesn’t end for another couple of months).
  8. You contact the seller. Amazon forces sellers to respond within 3 days. This seller does respond! … to every message with the same nonsense autoresponse.
  9. As a result you can’t cancel the order either.
  10. There is no other way to escalate the problem or cancel the order (even though this clearly violates UK law).
  11. Seller now has your money, you have no product, and no way to cancel for another few months.
  12. Profit!


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Fedora / RISC-V stage4 autobuilder is up and running

Bootstrapping Fedora on the new RISC-V architecture continues apace.

I have now written a small autobuilder which picks up new builds from the Fedora Koji build system and attempts to build them in the clean “stage4” environment.

Getting latest packages from Koji ...
Running: 0 (max: 16) Waiting to start: 7
uboot-tools-2016.09.01-1.fc25.src.rpm                       |  11 MB  00:10     
uboot-tools-2016.09.01-1.fc25 build starting
tuned-2.7.1-2.fc25.src.rpm                                  | 136 kB  00:00     
tuned-2.7.1-2.fc25 build starting
rubygem-jgrep-1.4.1-1.fc25.src.rpm                          |  24 kB  00:00     
rubygem-jgrep-1.4.1-1.fc25 build starting
qpid-dispatch-0.6.1-3.fc25.src.rpm                          | 1.3 MB  00:01     
qpid-dispatch-0.6.1-3.fc25 build starting
python-qpid-1.35.0-1.fc25.src.rpm                           | 235 kB  00:01     
python-qpid-1.35.0-1.fc25 build starting
java-1.8.0-openjdk-aarch32-  |  53 MB  00:54     
java-1.8.0-openjdk-aarch32- build starting
NetworkManager-strongswan-1.4.0-1.fc25.src.rpm              | 290 kB  00:00     
NetworkManager-strongswan-1.4.0-1.fc25 build starting
MISSING DEPS: NetworkManager-strongswan-1.4.0-1.fc25 (see
   ... etc ...

Given that we don’t have GCC in the stage4 environment yet, almost all of them currently fail due to missing dependencies, but we’re hoping to correct that soon. In the mean time a few packages that have no C dependencies can actually compile. This way we’ll gradually build up the number of packages for Fedora/RISC-V, and that process will accelerate rapidly once we’ve got GCC.

You can browse the built packages and build logs here: https://fedorapeople.org/groups/risc-v/

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Updated stage4 RISC-V image with RPM (and some broken bits)

For context, see the previous post

I’ve uploaded our latest stage4 to http://oirase.annexia.org/riscv/.

util-linux is still missing, so there’s no mount command and the filesystem comes up read-only.

RPM has been added, but there’s some sort of bug or configuration problem in libdb which means that RPM cannot read its own database (although the RPM database that has been written seems fine and can be read quite happily from an x86_64 machine). Still under investigation …

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