At Bootlin, we owe a lot to the Free Software community, and we’re doing our best to give back as much as we can.
One way of doing that is welcoming community contributors in our public training sessions organized in France. We’ve done that multiple times several years back, and this allowed us to meet very interesting people (who even had very valuable experience and points of view to share with the other course participants), while of course giving them extra knowledge that they can use for further contributions.
Here are the next sessions in which we can offer a free seat:
We’ve started to use Mastodon (in addition to Twitter and LinkedIn) to share quick news with you: new blog posts, contributions to Free Software projects, photos at events, etc.
Did you know Mastodon? I’ll like Twitter, but better, decentralized and really free (as in Free Software). I discovered it by attending one of the conferences we sponsor (Capitole du Libre in Toulouse, France) and by following the efforts of Framasoft to provide decentralized Internet services.
Being Free Software and not biased by the need to maximize revenue for its investors
It’s decentralized and therefore controlled by its users. You are free to join an instance that matches your interests and sensibility, but of course you can follow anyone on any other instance. It’s also easy to move to another instance or even host your own one
There are no Retweets but Boosts. Retweets allow to share a post with your own comments to all your followers. This creates flame wars in the best interest of Twitter. Twitter needs its users to spend as much time as possible viewing the content they host (and therefore their promoted content at the same time). Instead, Mastodon only allows to “boost” the visibility of someone else’s post, without allow you to add your own comments. Mastodon has no interest in making you stay as long as possible by creating flame wars. It just lets you focus on the content your are interested in.
In a nutshell, using Mastodon contributes to a better world in which users are in control of their data, interests and time.
Here are details about booting the Beagle Bone Black Wireless board through NFS. I’m writing this here because it doesn’t seem to be documented anywhere else (except in our Linux kernel and driver development course, for which I had to support this feature).
Booting a board on a root filesystem that is a directory on your workstation (development PC) or on a server, shared through the network, is very convenient for development purposes.
For example, you can update kernel modules or programs by recompiling them on your PC, and the target board will immediately “see” the updates. There’s no need to transfer them in some way.
Doing this is quite straightforward on boards that have an Ethernet port, and well documented throughout the Internet (see our instructions). However, things get more complicated with boards that have no such port, such as the Beagle Bone Black Wireless or the Pocket Beagle.
The Beagle Bone Black Wireless board has WiFi support, but booting on NFS directly from the kernel (instead of using an initramfs) is another kind of challenge.
Something easier to use is networking over USB device (also called USB gadget as our operating system is running on the USB device side), which is supported by both Linux and U-Boot.
Note that the below instructions also work on the original Beagle Bone Black, bringing the convenience of not having to use an RJ45 cable. All you need is the USB device cable that you’re using for power supply too.
These instructions should also support the Pocket Beagle board, which is similar, though much simpler.
This part may just work out of the box if the U-Boot version on your board is recent and was built using the default configuration for your board.
If that’s not the case, you can reflash U-Boot on your board using our instructions.
These instructions have been tested on Ubuntu 18.04, but they should be easy to adapt on other GNU/Linux distributions.
To configure your network interface on the workstation side, we need to know the name of the network interface connected to your board.
However, you won’t be able to see the network interface corresponding to the Ethernet over USB device connection yet, because it’s only active when the board turns it on, from U-Boot or from Linux. When this happens, the network interface name will be enx. Given the value we gave to usbnet_hostaddr, it will therefore be enxf8dc7a000001.
Then, instead of configuring the host IP address from NetWork Manager’s graphical interface, let’s do it through its command line interface, which is so much easier to use:
nmcli con add type ethernet ifname enxf8dc7a000001 ip4 192.168.0.1/24
To download the kernel and device tree blob which are also on your PC, let’s install a TFTP server on it:
sudo apt install tftpd-hpa
You can then test the TFTP connection, which is also a way to test that USB networking works. First, put a small text file in /var/lib/tftpboot.
Then, from U-Boot, do:
tftp 0x81000000 textfile.txt
The tftp command should have downloaded the textfile.txt file from your development workstation into the board’s RAM at location 0x81000000. You can verify that the download was successful by dumping the contents of memory:
We are now ready to load and boot a Linux kernel!
These instructions were tested with Linux 4.19
Configuring and cross-compiling the Linux kernel for the board is outside the scope of this article, but again, such information is easy to find (such as in our training slides).
Here, we’re just sharing the Linux kernel configuration settings that are needed for networking over USB device. Since they are not supported by the default configuration file for the omap2plus CPU family (for several reasons that were discussed on the Linux kernel mainling list), it took a bit of time to figure out which ones were needed. Here they are:
Add the below options to support networking over USB device:
CONFIG_USB_MUSB_HDRC=y: Driver for the USB OTG controller
CONFIG_USB_MUSB_GADGET=y: Use the USB OTG controller in device (gadget) mode
Check the dependencies of CONFIG_AM335X_PHY_USB. You need to set CONFIG_NOP_USB_XCEIV=y to be able to set CONFIG_AM335X_PHY_USB=y
Find the ”USB Gadget precomposed configurations” menu and set it to static instead of module so that CONFIG_USB_ETH=y
How did I found out which settings were needed? I had to check the device tree to find the USB device controller. Then, using git grep, I found the driver that was supporting the corresponding compatible string. Then, looking at the Makefile in the driver directory, I found which kernel configuration settings were needed.
When compiling is over, copy the zImage and am335x-boneblack-wireless.dtb files to the TFTP server home directory (/var/lib/tftpboot).
You also need an NFS server on your workstation:
sudo apt install nfs-kernel-server
Then edit the /etc/exports file as root to add the following line, assuming that the IP address of your board will be 192.168.0.100:
Now check the kernel log and make sure an IP address is correctly assigned to your board by Linux. If NFS booting doesn’t work yet, that could be because of NFS server or client issues. If that’s the case, you should find details in the NFS server logs in /var/log/syslog on your PC.
Profile: for this new position, meant to strengthen our small team in Lyon (currently two people), we are looking for someone with already valuable experience and autonomy in embedded Linux and kernel development. The positions that will follow should be open to junior engineers.
Lyon is a beautiful and vibrant city, the second largest urban area in France, which two rivers instead of one! Our office is within 5 minutes of a subway station, and is also easy to access from more residential areas in the south of Lyon.
If you are interested, please send a resume to firstname.lastname@example.org, letting us know about your interests and ideas for the job.
Free Electrons is changing to a new name, in the context of a trademark dispute.
Reasons for changing
On July 25, 2017, the company FREE SAS, a French telecom operator, known as the owner of the free.fr website, filed a complaint before the District Court of Paris against Free Electrons and its founder Michael Opdenacker for infringing upon 3 trademarks which include the word “free” and on FREE SAS’s rights on its domain name and its company name.
In this complaint, FREE SAS asked, among others, the French judges to order Free Electrons and its founder Michael Opdenacker to pay the total sum of 107,000 euros on various grounds, to order Free Electrons to change name, to delete the domain name “free-electrons.com” within 15 days and to cease all use of the sign “FREE ELECTRONS” but also of the term “free” alone or with any other terms in any field in which FREE SAS is active or for any goods and services covered by its prior trademarks.
Michael Opdenacker and Free Electrons’ management consider that these claims are unfounded as both companies were coexisting peacefully since 2005.
The services we offer are different, we target a different audience (professionals instead of individuals), and most of our communication efforts are in English, to reach an international audience. Therefore Michael Opdenacker and Free Electrons’ management believe that there is no risk of confusion between Free Electrons and FREE SAS.
However, FREE SAS has filed in excess of 100 oppositions and District Court actions against trademarks or names containing “free”. In view of the resources needed to fight this case, Free Electrons has decided to change name without waiting for the decision of the District Court.
This will allow us to stay focused on our projects rather than exhausting ourselves fighting a long legal battle.
The new name
Amongst all the new names we considered, “Bootlin” came out as our favorite option. It can’t express all our values but it corresponds to what we’ve been working on since the beginning and hope to continue to do for many years: booting Linux on new hardware.
Of course, “booting” here shouldn’t be limited to getting a first shell prompt on new hardware. It means doing whatever is needed to run Linux by taking the best advantage of software and hardware capabilities.
Same team, same passion
Nothing else changes in the company. We are the same engineers, the same Linux kernel contributors and maintainers (now 6 of us have their names in the Linux MAINTAINERS file), with the same technical skills and appetite for new technical challenges.
More than ever, we remain united by the passion we all share in the company since the beginning: working with hardware and low-level software, working together with the free software community, and sharing the experience with others so that they can at least get the best of what the community offers and hopefully one day become active contributors too. “Get the best of the community” is effectively one of our slogans.
The only thing we’re changing is the name (“Bootlin” instead of “Free Electrons”), the domain name (bootlin.com instead of free-electrons.com) and the logo. The two penguins, our mascots which have been the key identification of Free Electrons for many years will stay the same. Except for the domain name change, all URLs should stay the same, and all e-mail addresses too.
For the moment, we’ve just migrated the mail and main web servers. The other services will be updated progressively.
For practical reasons, the name of the company running Bootlin will remain “Free Electrons” for a few more months. Until then, there won’t be any impact on the way we interact with our customers. We will let our ongoing customers know when the legal name changes.
What about links to free-electrons.com resources, made by community websites but also in mailing lists archives and in public forums? Of course, we redirected the old URLs to the new ones, and will continue to do so as long as we can. However, depending on the outcome of the legal procedure, we may not be able to keep the free-electrons.com domain forever. Therefore, we would be grateful if you could update all your links to our site whenever feasible, to avoid the risk of broken links in the future.
The FOSDEM conference will take place next week-end in Brussels, Belgium. As the biggest open-source conference event in Europe, featuring a number of talks related to embedded systems and generally low-level development, Bootlin never misses this event!
Finally, Bootlin is also sponsoring the participation of Thomas Petazzoni to the Buildroot Developers Meeting, which is a 2-day event dedicated to the development of the Buildroot embedded Linux build system. With 14 attendees, this event will have the largest number of participants it ever had. We take this opportunity to thank Google and Mind, who are sponsoring the event by providing the meeting room, lunch and social event for the attendees.
We very regularly organize public training sessions about embedded Linux and kernel and drivers training sessions in Avignon in France. Of course, we can also organize such sessions anywhere in the world.
These tips only reflect our own interests and tastes. There are certainly others other worthy things to do and see in the area. We would recommend to buy a tourist guide book about Provence, which will have a much more exhaustive and objective coverage. See also the Avignon tourism website for updates and information about local events.
Sightseeing in Avignon
The historic city centre of Avignon, the Popes’ Palace, all the episcopal buildings and the Saint Benezet Bridge are listed as world heritage sites by UNESCO. The Avignon city walls constitute the 2nd longest continuous wall in the world, after the Great Wall of China. The annual Festival d’Avignon (around July) is one of the biggest art festivals in the world.
The Popes Palace one of the 10 most visited monuments in France. It is the biggest Gothic edifice in all of Europe and awe-inspiring monument to the importance of Avignon in the Christian world of the Middle Ages. Starting in mid-August and continuing until early October, the Popes’ Palace is the venue for the Luminescences, a monumental video show and sensory experience.
You can go up to Rocher des Doms, the cradle of the city, for a refreshing break among the peacocks and swans by the pond. From this spot, you have panoramic views over the entire city, its tiled roofs and bell towers and over to Villeneuve-les-Avignon and all the surrounding areas (stairs behind the main building of the palace).
The Saint Bénézet Bridge was built around 1180 – miraculously, according to legend, by a simple shepherd – to link the city to Villeneuve-les-Avignon. Over the years, wars and successive flooding by the Rhone partially destroyed the bridge. Today, the 12th century Saint Nicholas Chapel remains, as well as four arches of which the span constitutes, according to a prestigious civil engineer, an amazing feat for the period.
The Petit Palais Museum: exceptional collection of paintings from Italy and Provence (end 13th – beg. 14th century) and collection of Romanesque and Gothic sculptures from Avignon.
The Calvet Museum: in a splendid 18th century town house. Fine arts, painting and sculpture collection (15th – 20th century).
The Angladon Museum: ancient town house in the center of Avignon’s old town: masterpieces of the 19th and 20th century and 18th century living rooms, signed furniture, works of art, paintings and drawings.
At the bottom of the Place de l’Horloge, the main avenue, Rue de la Republique, divides the city into two. On one side, the Rue Saint Agricol leads to the chic and bourgeois neighborhood with the Rue Joseph Vernet, the 5th Avenue of Avignon where designer clothing and luxury goods shops abound, and the Place Crillon, with the prestigious Hotel d’Europe in a former private town mansion built in the 16th century for the Marquis de Graveson.
The Les Halles market of Avignon is a treasure trove for all kinds of products from the Provence area. Every day from 6:30 am to 1:30 pm vendors sell local vegetables, herbs, meats, olives and oil, and anything lavender-related. The market is housed in a big, modern building in the city center which facade is overgrown with plants and moss, making it stand out from the traditional architecture around it.
The Rue de la Republique, the central axis of the city, and the pedestrian areas are rather dedicated to big shopping brands: Fnac (books, music and technology), Zara, H&M, Eram, André, Naf-Naf, Promod, Kookai, etc.
You can also find many little designer shops in the very typical Rue des teinturiers.
To eat at the restaurants in town, it is recommended to book a table in advance. The best idea for up-to-date advice is probably to use sites that collect tourist reviews (here’s the TripAdvisor page for restaurants in Avignon).
Here are a few that we like and at least gave us a good impression the last time we went:
Chez Lulu, 6 place des Chataignes, 84000 Avignon, 04 90 85 69 44
Le 26, 26 rue des Trois Faucons, 84000 Avignon
D’ici et d’ailleurs 4 Rue Galante, 84000 Avignon, 04 90 14 63 65
L’Epice and Love, 30 Rue des Lices 84000 Avignon, 04 90 82 45 96
Here are more good restaurants worth visiting outside of Avignon:
Domaine de la Camarette 439 Chemin des Brunettes, 84210 Pernes les Fontaines, 04 90 616 078 (booking is compulsory)
Mas de Grès 1651 RD 901 – Four à Chaux-Isle sur Sorgue, 84800 Lagnes 04 90 20 32 85
More sightseeing in Provence
Culture and heritage
Pernes les Fontaines
The museum of the Comtadin costume: in an ancient shop of the 19th century, exhibition of ancient Comtadin costumes and traditions linked to the materials.
The Maison Fléchier: reconstruction of the last santonnier’s workshop of Pernes les Fontaines, traditions of the Comtat Venaissin and of Provençal Christmas.
Fontaine de Vaucluse
Speleology museum: in a recreated life-size scenery, presentation of the researches and explorations of the Fontaine de Vaucluse and other speleological sites.
Library Pétrarque museum
Duplessis museum: collection of fine arts of the town and art works by artists of the Comtat Venaissin
Pharmacy Museum: preserved in order from the 18th century with its jars of Italian, Montpellier and Moustier earthenware.
Provençal nativity scene museum: one of the nicest santon collections of the Luberon and the Alpilles.
Pol Mara museum: 200 works to discover in the castle with the biggest Renaissance chimney of Europe.
The régional Parc of the Luberon: it provides a habitat to a exceptional variety of flora and fauna, as for an architectural and natural heritage of high value.
Fontaine de Vaucluse: natural resurgence of the Sorgue that gushes forth at the foot of a 230 m cliff.
The Provençal Colorado: Remains of an ancient ochre quarry on more than 30 hectares.
The Alpilles: exceptional massif with famous towns and villages such as les Baux de Provence, Saint Rémy en Provence
The Thouzon cave in le Thor: discovered the 23rd of January 1902, it is the only natural cave laid out for tourism in the Vaucluse. It lies in the centre of the Pays des Sorgues.
The Dentelles de Montmirail: A small chain of mountain with a dramatically jagged shape of their peaks. A perfect place for hiking.
The gorges of the Nesque: imposing wild canyon, perfect for cycling and walking.
The gorges of the Toulourenc: walk that starts at the small village Saint Léger dans le Ventoux and that follows the river bed to the Vaux bridge.
The Orgnacpothole in Bollène: Cave and regional prehistoric museum
Our region is famous for its picturesque villages, with their Mediterranean flair. One can, while walking, make discoveries and plunge in the history of the region.
The villages with character in:
The Ventoux: Venasque, Le Beaucet, Séguret, Le Crestet, Brantes, Méthamis, Mazan
The Luberon: Gordes, Roussillon, Murs, Joucas, Bonnieux, Lacoste, Ménerbes, Lauris,
Oppède le Vieux, Lourmarin, Cabrières d’Avignon, Saignon, Curcurron
The Alpilles: Les Baux de Provence, Saint Rémy de Provence, Eygalières and their markets
Between rosemary and thyme, melon or figs. The beautiful stallholders with their singsong accents sale peaches, apricots or a nice bunch of lavender.
Monday: Cavaillon, Bédoin, Saint Didier
Tuesday: Gordes, Vaison la Romaine, Aix en Provence
Wednesday: Saint Rémy de Provence, Malaucène, Le Thor
Thursday: Villeneuve les Avignon, Nyons, Orange
Friday: Carpentras, Lourmarin, Châteauneuf du Pape
Saturday: Apt, Pernes les Fontaine, Uzès
Sunday: L’Isle sur la Sorgue
Do not miss: the farmer markets in Coustellet (Sundays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.) and in Velleron (in the summer, every day as from 6 p.m., except Sundays and bank holidays).
The Wine road
Between the Luberon, the Ventoux and the Côtes du Rhône, the Vaucluse can be proud of being one of the nicest wine region of France. The clayey chalky soil, the different grape varieties, and the wine grower’s know-how produce world famous wines. Here under, a list of the best wine growers of the Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Luberon and Côtes du Ventoux.
To taste with moderation.
The famous truffle markets, with their special atmosphere, take place in winter (Fridays in Carpentras and Saturdays in Richerenches). Once in the season (the last week of December) takes place the big Truffle Market of Ménerbes, where is also to see the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin du Luberon (the House of truffle and wine of the Luberon), bringing lots of information on those subjects.
One of the most original and beautiful ways of discovering the Luberon, gliding with the birds over the beautiful landscapes. One can do that just next to ours, in Joucas:
During the summer
Kayak Vert in Fontaine de Vaucluse (March – November)
From Fontaine du Vaucluse down to l’Isle sur la Sorgue, discover the joys of canoeing during the 2 hours of the descent of the Sorgue. https://www.canoefrance.com
Passerelle des Cimes (bridges in the trees) in Lagnes (March – November)
Young and not-so-young will go for an adventure on differents secure itinaries: https://www.parcours-aerien.com
Mini golf de la Peupleraie in Isle sur la Sorgue (Mai – September)
Outdoor activity Espace for the whole family
Circus castle Alexis Gruss in Piolenc (Mai – September)
Visit of the Circus Gruss museum, make up, ride in a barouche, circus workshop, trapeze, horses. https://www.alexis-gruss.com/piolenc/accueil.htm
Colorado Aventure in Rustrel (March – November)
3 hour adventure for the whole family, courses for children and juniors.
Bambouseraie en Cevennes (March – November)
A unique journey in the heart of giant bambou forest and hundred-year-old trees, approximately 100 km away from Avignon.
At Bootlin, we owe a lot to the Free Software community, and we’re doing our best to give back as much as we can.
One way of doing that is welcoming community contributors in our public training sessions about embedded Linux, Linux kernel and Android system development organized in France. We’ve done that multiple times in the past, and this allowed us to meet very interesting people (who even had very valuable experience and points of view to share with the other course participants), while of course giving them extra knowledge that they can use for further contributions.
The next session in which we can offer a free seat is about Android system development, and will take place on June 20-23 in Toulouse, France. The session has a value of 1890 EUR (without V.A.T.) and includes lunch and breaks, as well as a free Beaglebone Black board with its 4.3″ LCD touchscreen cape.
This course will teach you how to modify Android to support a new embedded board (assuming that it is already supported by the Linux kernel), and how to build a real system through accessing specific hardware, customizing the filesystem and using debugging techniques.
How to apply?
You need to be a student or a contributor to a free software project, which doesn’t have to be related to the embedded field, and even if your contributions are modest.
Write to email@example.com before May. 30 and tell us about your contributions and your interest in the session.
Thomas Petazzoni and Michael Opdenacker will review all the proposals and will select the candidate who best stands out in terms of past contributions and/or in potential for further ones after taking the course. Bootlin reserves the right not to select any candidate if nobody actually makes a sufficiently interesting application.
The winner will be notified by June 2, and will have to be ready to travel to Toulouse and stay there the whole 4 days at her/his own expense.
Don’t hesitate to apply to this free seat. In past editions, we didn’t have so many people applying, and therefore you have a real chance to get selected!
The Bootlin team wishes you a Happy New Year for 2016, with many new bits to enjoy in your life!
Bootlin is happy to take this opportunity to share some news about the latest training and contribution activities of the company.
Bootlin work on the $9 computer
As announced in our previous newsletter, Bootlin has been working intensively on developing the low-level software support for the first $9 computer, the C.H.I.P by Next Thing Co.
Next Thing Co. has successfully delivered an initial batch of platforms in September to the early adopters, and has started shipping the final products in December to thousands of Kickstarter supporters.
Those products are using the U-Boot and Linux kernel ported by Bootlin engineers, with numerous patches submitted to the official projects and more to be submitted in the coming weeks and months:
Support for the C.H.I.P platform itself, in U-Boot and in the Linux kernel;
Support for audio on Allwinner platforms added to the Linux kernel;
Development of a DRM/KMS driver for the graphics controller found on Allwinner platforms;
Significant research effort on finding appropriate solutions to support Multi-Level Cell NANDs in the Linux kernel;
Enabling of the NAND storage in Single-Level Cell mode, until the Multi-Level Cell mode can be enabled reliably;
Addition of NAND support in the fastboot implementation of U-Boot, which is used to reflash the C.H.I.P.
We will continue to work on the C.H.I.P over the next months, with among other things more work on the graphics side and the NAND side.
The primary focus of the majority of our customer projects remain the Linux kernel, to which we continue to contribute very significantly.
We contributed 203 patches to this release, with a new IIO driver for the ADC found on Marvell Berlin platforms, a big cleanup to the support of Atmel platforms, improvements to the DMA controller driver for Atmel platforms, a completely new driver for the cryptographic accelerator found on Marvell EBU platforms.
In this cycle, our engineer Alexandre Belloni became the official maintainer of the RTC subsystem.
We have started to work on supporting the Linux kernel on several ARM 64 bits platforms from different vendors. We will be submitting the initial patches in the coming weeks and will progressively improve the support for those platforms throughout 2016 where a major part of our Linux kernel contribution effort will shift to ARM 64-bit.
Growing engineering team
Our engineering team, currently composed of six engineers, will be significantly expanded in 2016:
Two additional embedded Linux engineers will join us in March 2016 and will be working with our engineering team in Toulouse, France. They will help us on our numerous Linux kernel and Linux BSP projects.
An engineering intern will join us starting early February, and will work on setting up a board farm to contribute to the kernelci.org automated testing effort. This will help us do more automated testing on the ARM platforms we work on.
Upcoming training sessions
We have public training sessions scheduled for the beginning of 2016:
At the beginning of 2016, our entire engineering team will be attending the Embedded Linux Conference in San Diego (US), which means that no less than 9 engineers from Bootlin will be present at the conference!
Porting Linux on ARM seminar
In December 2015, we gave a half-day seminar entitled “Porting Linux on ARM” in Toulouse (France). The materials, in English, are now freely available on our web site.
All this is of course a priceless addition to the on-line slides. We hope these talks will incite you to participate to the next editions of the Embedded Linux Conference, like in San Diego in April, or in Berlin in October this year.
In particular, here are the videos from the presentations from Bootlin engineers.