Tag Archives: API

Using Github To Track Hardware Projects By Gary Hodgson

Unlike software, hardware projects cannot be entirely defined, or contained within, the computer. That’s a shame because there are some really great tools for managing software projects.

Gary Hodgson has prototyped his proposal for using github to manage hardware projects. He called it githubiverse and, appropriately enough, hosted it on github. Here is an example of it functioning to track Mechanical Movement #27. All the files are on github and this custom webpage displays whatever is up to date.

If the name Gary Hodgson sounds familiar, that’s because he built a DLP resin printer, which Openalia covered previously. I don’t think I’m outing him as a true geek when I point to this…

An interesting advanced use case is the ability to use the same core template across many projects.  You could fork the githubiverse-template project and edit the html/css as you wish. Then, in each project’s gh-page branch create a submodule referring to this fork.  All that’s left would be to create a _config.yml file with the details in the root project gh-pages branch and an additional entry defining the source of the jekyll site as being the submodule folder.

…as reminding me of this Dilbert cartoon.

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A Survey of Open Hardware Debugging & Analysis Tools

One of the biggest brags of open source is that it reduces the cost of achieving a result to 1/5 or 1/10 of a commercial solution.

Of course, open hardware developers usually don’t include research & development costs. If someone wants to build their own project, the realization that development tools can cost far more than the small project they produce can come as a shock. Why would someone want to spend a thousand dollars on a tool to debug a ten dollar project?

Nathan Willis’ LinuxCon talk comes by way of LWN.net. Details of open source oscilloscopes, logic analyzers and more after the jump.

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Facebook and the Open Compute Project

Well, Facebook can’t be entirely evil…right?

Their Open Compute Project, started in April 2011 and still going strong with the release of Open Rack, is pursuing maximum efficiency. They have chosen to open source the entire design so that the industry can start to benefit from working together to solve the most fundamental challenges inherent in data centers. Basically, this boils down to turning electricity into cyber services with the least possible energy and hardware. Check out their specs here.

“Sharing software has existed for many, many years, but it hasn’t taken foothold in the hardware space or in the data center world…yet.” – Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook VP Technical Operations

“On the other side of the equation, we’ve started to see a convergence of voices among the consumers of this technology around where we think the industry would benefit from standardization and where we think the opportunities for innovation are.” – Frank Frankovsky, Facebook Open Compute Project President.

Here are some industry responses, collected by DatacenterDynamics:

“I think, overall, I like the idea of sharing their design data. I think there’s some good learnings there…but I think who can use it varies.” – John Kuzman, Intel Senior Data Center Architect

“Having a bigger set of eyes looking at their designs is only going to make the project better.” – Ian McClarty, Phoenix NAP President

“I’d like to congratulate Facebook for being open about their compute platform…They’re helping the industry.” – Al Edwards, Nokia, Americas Data Center Manager

“There are two things: cyber-things and physical-things…The management schemes were not released and it would be nice to know something about how their data center is managed.”  – Sandeep Gupta, Arizona State University, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

“If they open sourced that to the rest of the world, I think that would be a great benefit.” – Guy Tal, Limelight Networks, Director of Strategic Relations

The real core of open source hardware is, as Facebook puts it, hardware API‘s. The universal principle of an API is that it ensures compatibility across multiple vendors and a long periods of time. Interchangeable fasteners are a hardware API. The USB plug is a hardware API. Automobile wheel lugs are a hardware API. Since hardware is more expensive than software, it takes longer and costs more to establish standards, but those standards also produce more benefits when they are finally adopted.

Since Facebook’s Open Compute Project is redesigning all the hardware API’s in the data center from scratch, they can optimize the system of systems, ensuring on over-optimized sub-system doesn’t interfere with the overall performance of the data center. How much of their work gets adopted by the industry remains to be seen.

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