Sunday, March 20, 2011

Opie stuff

So Opie 1.2.5 was released in mid-December, which included the newly rewritten Datebook, working SQLite PIM backends, enhanced syncing protocol and scores of other minor feature additions and bugfixes. Check out the changelog for full details. You can build images including 1.2.5 in OpenEmbedded, and Ångström should have packages soon if it doesn't already.

Late last year, due to the apparent demise of the Opie website had to be moved. (One hopes that might return soon along with some of its content that I and others spent so much time working on; we'll see.) I looked around and SourceForge still appears to be the best choice if you want something actively maintained for free. Being hosted in the U.S. though I did have to jump through a few hoops with export controls - apparently even something that merely launches ssh or has the most basic of password encryption is considered to include potentially sensitive technology and requires that you register it with the U.S. Government; thankfully that process wasn't as onerous as it first appeared and nobody over there objected to Opie being re-exported from the US; amusing considering it was developed almost exclusively outside that country... anyway, I digress.

The new site at is functional although a few pieces are missing and I'm considering switching away from MoinMoin as a wiki platform (which I suspect has been the reason Google has always ignored the Opie website.) It has been time-consuming getting all the links from other websites updated - if I've missed any then please let me know.

People are always surprised/amused that I'm still keen to continue working on Opie given its age, but I still see it being useful on older PDAs and possibly phones that are far too underpowered to run a modern environment such as MeeGo or Android, and it's become a labour of love for me. Often it also serves well as a place to learn new technologies - earlier it was the transition to git that allowed me to become more familiar with that version control system (to the point where I now can't do without a distributed VCS); in recent releases it was updating Opie to make use of newer kernel interfaces e.g. SysFS; in future updates I will be improving Opie's Bluetooth support by connecting it to BlueZ over DBus. If I get time I may even look at integrating ConnMan for better networking setup (something Opie has always struggled with.)

If you're interested in a lightweight, well-integrated platform for older devices then Opie is your platform. At least I'm still taking feature requests and bug reports ;)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New job

As some of you might already be aware, in November I joined Intel's Open Source Technology Centre (OTC) to work on the Yocto Project, a Linux Foundation project that aims to bring together embedded Linux developers from across the industry. More specifically I am working on Poky, Yocto's build system, which was originally based on OpenEmbedded and has always maintained a high level of compatibility. I've worked with OE for a number of years and working on Poky is really not much different, although I've had the opportunity to dig a little deeper into BitBake and Poky/OE's internals, gaining a greater understanding of how the system works (and of course being able to contribute a number of fixes.) Lately I have also had a chance to test out Poky-built systems on some real hardware, including an eMenlow box and a RouterStation Pro board (usually my runtime testing and debugging is done within QEMU.)

The recent agreement on collaboration between the Yocto Project and OE has been a great thing to witness. At the moment Yocto is closing in on its 1.0 release which is shaping up to be a good one; meanwhile over the last month work has begun in earnest on openembedded-core, the common base for both projects going forward. I've submitted a few patches to oe-core already and when 1.0 is out the door I am keen to get stuck in on further improvements there.

I must say, it's exciting to not only be working with open source / free software technologies on a daily basis, but as a former proprietary software developer for many years, it is also a great privilege to be working on open source projects full time, and to be working alongside some very smart people both within Intel and in the wider community.

Of course, all this open source stuff at work is not going to prevent me from hacking on other things at home; in fact it has given me renewed energy to work on my existing projects and even a new thing or two. More on that later.