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.
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:
Le 26, 26 rue des Trois Faucons, 84000 Avignon
D’ici et d’ailleurs 4 Rue Galante, 84000 Avignon, 04 90 14 63 65
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 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
Visit 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.
You’ll find the planning for markets around Avignon here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
One way to do that is to buy electricity that is produced from renewable resources (solar, wind, hydro, biomass…). With the worldwide opening of the energy markets, this should now be possible in most parts of the world.
So, with a power consumption between 4,000 and 5,000 kWh per year, we have decided to make the switch for our main office in Orange, France. But how to choose a good supplier?
Greenpeace turned out to be a very good source of information about this topic, comparing the offerings from various suppliers, and finding out which ones really make serious investments in renewable energy sources.
Here are the countries for which we have found Greenpeace rankings: AustraliaFrance
If you find a similar report for your country, please let us know, and we will add it to this list.
Back to our case, we chose Enercoop, a French cooperative company only producing renewable energy. This supplier has by far the best ranking from Greenpeace, and stands out from more traditional suppliers which too often are just trading green certificates, charging consumers a premium rate without investing by themselves in green energy production.
The process to switch to a green electricity supplier was very straightforward. All we needed was an electricity bill and 15 minutes of time, whether you are an individual or represent a company. From now on, Enercoop will guarantee that for every kWh we consume from the power grid, they will inject the same amount of energy into the grid from renewable sources. There is no risk to see more power outages than before, as the national company operating and maintaining the grid stays the same.
It’s true our electricity is going to cost about 20% more than nuclear electricity, but at least, what we spend is going to support local investments in renewable energy sources, that don’t degrade the fragile environment that keeps us alive.
We used to keep a list of Linux friendly embedded board makers. When this page was created in the mid 2000s, this page was easy to maintain. Though more and more products were created with Linux, it was still difficult to find good hardware platforms that were supported by Linux.
So, to help community members and system makers selecting hardware for their embedded Linux projects, we compiled a first selection of board makers that were meeting the below criteria:
Offering attractive and competitive products
At least one product supported Free Software operating systems (such as Linux, eCos and NetBSD.
At least one product meeting the above requirements, with a public price (without having to register), and still available on the market.
Specifications and documentation directly available on the website (no registration required). Engineers like to study their options on their own without having to share their contact details with salespeople who would then chase them through their entire life, trying to sell inappropriate products to them.
Website with an English version.
In the beginning, this was enough to reduce the list to 10-20 entries. However, as Linux continued to increase in popularity, and as hardware platform makers started to understand the value of transparent pricing and technical documentation, the criteria were no longer sufficient to keep the list manageable.
Therefore, we added another prerequisite: at least one product supported (at least partially) in the official version of the corresponding Free Software operating system kernel. This was a rather strong requirement at first, but only such products bring a guarantee for long term community support, making it much easier to develop and maintain embedded systems. Compare this with hardware supporting only a very old and heavily patched Linux kernel, for example, which software can only be maintained by its original developers. This also reveals the ability of the hardware vendor to work with the community and share technical information with its users and developers.
Then, with the development of low-cost community boards, and chip manufacturers efforts to support their hardware in the mainline Linux kernel, the list again became difficult to maintain.
The next prerequisite we could add is the availability as Open-source hardware, allowing customers to modify the hardware according to their needs. Of course, hardware files should be available without registration.
Don’t hesitate to post comments to this page to share information about hardware which could be worth adding to this Wikipedia page!
Anyway, the good news is that Linux and Open-Source friendly hardware is now easier and easier to find than it was about 10 years back. Just have a preference for hardware that is supported in the mainline Linux kernel sources, or at least from a maker with earlier products which are already supported. A git grep -i command in the sources will help.
NextThing Co, a company based in Oakland, California, made the news in the last months by starting a successful crowdfunding campaign to develop a $9 computer! Much like the Raspberry Pi, this $9 computer called C.H.I.P is based on an ARM processor and runs a Linux operating system.
More specifically, at the core of this computer is an Allwinner ARM processor, and Bootlin engineer Maxime Ripard turns out to be the official Linux kernel maintainer for the support of this processor family. Since NextThing Co. is firmly engaged in having software support for the C.H.I.P that is as open-source as possible, they decided to contract us to do a lot of work in the official Linux kernel to improve the support for the Allwinner processor they are using.
Thanks to this project, some of the big missing features in the support of Allwinner processors in the official Linux kernel will be implemented in the coming months, so you can expect to see a lot of contributions from Bootlin on such topics in the future. We’re really excited to be part of the $9 computer adventure!
As usual, we continue to contribute significantly to the Linux kernel, with 100 to 200 or more patches from Bootlin engineers merged at each kernel release. Our focus continues to be on support for various ARM processor families.
In Linux 4.1, we had 118 patches merged, a smaller amount of contributions. See details.
Some major highlights of our contributions:
In Linux 4.0, we merged a complete driver for the display controller of the latest Atmel ARM processors. This DRM/KMS driver, written by Boris Brezillon, allows using the display of those processors with the mainline kernel. It was the last big feature missing in the mainline kernel for the Atmel processors.
Our engineer Alexandre Belloni was appointed as the co-maintainer of the RTC subsystem, and also as the co-maintainer of the support for the Atmel processors. As the maintainer of the RTC subsystem, Alexandre is now sending pull requests directly to Linus Torvalds!
In Linux 4.1, we completed the conversion of Atmel platform support to the multiplatform paradigm. And we also added support for the latest Armada 39x processor from Marvell.
Buildroot is very popular alternate solution to the Yocto Project to build embedded Linux systems, thanks to its ease of use and Buildroot, with Bootlin CTO Thomas Petazzoni being one of the top contributors to the project.
Over the 3 days of this training course, you will learn how to use Buildroot, how to add more packages, how to customize the filesystem generated by Buildroot, how Buildroot works internally and much more!
This training session, taught by Thomas, can be delivered anywhere in the world at your location, or individual participants can attend to our first public training session on this topic in Toulouse (France) in November 2015.
Besides our visible contributions, we also work on a number of projects for customer-specific platforms.
For a French customer making a custom i.MX6 base-board using a System-on-Module from SECO, we ported a recent mainline U-Boot, a 3.10 Freescale kernel, and provided a Buildroot based system with Qt5 and OpenGL acceleration to allow the customer to develop its own applications. Among other things, we had to add support for communication with an FPGA over SPI, and wrote a userspace tool to reprogram this FPGA over SPI.
This project lead to a few U-Boot contributions (support for the SECO module):
For a US based customer, developed a prototype system running on a Nitrogen 6x platform, built by Buildroot, and running the SuperCollider application for audio synthesis.
For a French customer, developed a Yocto Project based BSP for a custom i.MX6 platform. The work involved kernel development to adapt to the hardware and run some Qt5 application under X11.
Like we do every year, we participated to the Embedded Linux Conference in San Jose, California: seven engineers from Bootlin attended the conference.
The videos and slides of the three talks we gave have been posted:
The DMAengine subsystem, by Maxime Ripard (slides, video).
The Device Tree as a stable ABI: a fairy tale?, by Thomas Petazzoni (slides, video).
MLC/TLC NAND support: (new ?) challenges for the MTD/NAND subsystem, by Boris Brezillon (slides, video)
For more details about our participation to ELC, see our blob post.
We have submitted several talks for the upcoming Embedded Linux Conference Europe, which will take place early October in Dublin, Ireland.
Upcoming public training sessions
In addition to offer our training courses on-site everywhere in the world (we recently delivered training in the United States, Israel, India and Mexico!), we also offer public training sessions opened to individuals. Our next public training sessions are:
At Bootlin, we are starting to get more and more requests for very cool projects. As it can be very frustrating to turn down very interesting opportunities, we have decided to look for new engineers to join our technical team.
Therefore, if you are a junior engineer showing a real interest in embedded Linux and open-source projects, or an experienced engineer with existing visible contributions and embedded Linux knowledge, do not hesitate to contact us.
At Bootlin, we are starting to get more and more requests for very cool projects. As it can be very frustrating to turn down very interesting opportunities (such as projects that allow us to contribute to the Linux kernel, Buildroot or Yocto Projects), we have decided to look for new engineers to join our technical team.
Job description in a nutshell
Technical aspects: mainline Linux kernel development, Linux BSP and embedded Linux system integration, technical training
Location: working in one of our offices in France (Toulouse or Orange)
Contract: full-time, permanent French contract
Mainline Linux kernel development
Believe it or not, we now have an increasing number of customers contracting us to support their hardware in the mainline Linux kernel. They are either System on Chip manufacturers or systems makers, who now understand the strong advantages brought by mainline Linux kernel support to their customers and to themselves.
Note that this job doesn’t only require technical skills. It also has a strong social dimension, having to go through multiple iterations with the community and with kernel subsystem maintainers to get your code accepted upstream.
Linux BSP and embedded Linux system integration
Such activity involves developing and integrating everything that’s needed to deploy Linux on the customer hardware: bootloader, kernel, build environment (such as Buildroot or the Yocto project), upgrade system, optimizing performance (such as boot time) and fixing issues. Another way is to provide guidance and support to customer learning to do such a job.
As opposed to Linux kernel development projects which are often long term ones (though with step by step objectives which can be reached in days), these are usually shorter and more challenging projects. They allow us to stay in touch with the real-life challenges that customer engineers face every day, and that require to achieve substantial results in a relatively small number of days.
Such projects also constitute opportunities to contribute improvements to the mainline kernel and bootloader projects, as well to the build system projects themselves (Buildroot, Yocto Project, OpenWRT…).
Training and sharing experience
Knowledge sharing is an important part of Bootlin mission and activity. Hence, after gaining sufficient on-the-job experience, another important aspect of the job is teaching, maintaining and improving Bootlin training courses.
You will also be strongly incited to share your technical experience by writing blog posts or kernel documentation, and by proposing talks at international conferences, especially the Embedded Linux Conference (USA, Europe).
Experience: we are open to both experienced engineers and people just out of engineering schools. Though prior experience with the technical topics will be an advantage, we are also interested in young engineers demonstrating great potential for learning, coding and knowledge sharing. People having made visible contributions in these areas will have an advantage too.
Language skills: fluency in oral and written English is very important. French speaking skills won’t be a requirement, but an advantage too.
Traveling: for training sessions and conference participation, you will need the ability to travel rather frequently, up to 8-10 times a year.
Ability to relocate, to one of our offices in France, either in Toulouse or in Orange, to strengthen our engineering teams here.
Details about Toulouse and Orange
Toulouse is a dynamic city with lots of high-tech and embedded systems companies in particular. Our office in Colomiers can easily be reached by train from downtown Toulouse if you wish to settle there. You would be working with Boris Brezillon, Antoine Ténart, Maxime Ripard and our CTO Thomas Petazzoni.
Our main office is settled in Orange in the heart of the Provence region, close to Avignon, a smaller but dynamic city too. It enjoys a sunny climate and the proximity of the Alps and the Mediterranean sea. Accommodation is very affordable and there are no traffic issues! You would be working with our founder Michael Opdenacker and of course remotely with the rest of the engineering team. In particular, we are interested in foreign engineers who could help us develop our services in their home countries.
We prefer not to offer home based positions for the moment, which have their own complexity and cost, while we have plenty of space left in our current offices.