Pengutronix at FOSDEM 2022

"FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Every year, thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world gather at the event in Brussels." -- FOSDEM

Sadly in 2022 we, again, gathered online instead of in Brussels. But this did not stop us from searching local supermarkets for Belgian beers and baking our own waffles. (What would FOSDEM be without beer and waffles!)

We want to thank the FOSDEM team, all volunteers, devroom staff, speakers and guests for this great event. We hope to meet in Brussels in 2023!

In this post we want to recommend a few talks that we think are especially interesting.

Jan's Suggestions

What's coming in VIRTIO 1.2 - new virtual I/O devices and features

Stefan Hajnoczi's excellent talk gives a concise overview of VIRTIO in general and the many improvements added in version 1.2 of the standard. From the embedded perspective, especially the new specifications for GPIO, I2C, SCMI, RPMB and sound are interesting, as they also allow moving the direct control of the physical interfaces to isolated co-processors on the same SoC for safety-related scenarios.

Even if you're new to VIRTIO, this talk is a well worth your time.

Arm CCA enablement through the Trusted Firmware community project

With the introduction of the Confidential Compute Architecture (CCA) in the ARMv9 architecture, some changes are coming: in addition to the normal world (Linux) and secure world (TrustZone/OP-TEE), the new CPUs support multiple "Realms". A Realm is protected against access from other contexts by default and can optionally allow access to parts of it's memory for communication with the rest of the system.

In their talk, Charles Garcia-Tobin and Matteo Carlini explain how the different software components will work together to allow use of these new hardware features.

If you are currently using OP-TEE on ARMv7/8, this is a must-see.

ply: lightweight eBPF tracing

On servers, bpftrace and BCC are powerful tools to analyze how the system (or just the kernel) behaves while under real-world load. As these tools use the LLVM toolchain to generate the eBPF bytecode, they are not very lightweight when seen from an embedded background.

In his talk, Frank Vasquez gives an introduction to the ply tracing tool. It just needs the libc and a modern kernel, while supporting aarch64, arm, powerpc and x86_64. The trace probes are written in a custom language (describe by Frank as awk-like). It can probe kernel function entry/return, any kernel tracepoint and also any instruction (via dynamic probes). Optionally, maps can be used to aggregate results.

PlayStation 3 emulation - (re)implementing the impossible

Alexandro Sanchez Bach gave a highly information-packed one-hour talk about the PlayStation 3 and how it is emulated by RPCS3. RPCS3 was started more than 10 years ago and is now capable of running about 65% of the games in a playable state. The PS3's unique system architecture (CPU with 1xPPE+8xSPE and a discrete GPU) makes for a challenging emulation target, but also a very interesting story of how the project continues to improve.

Chris' suggestions

KiCad project update

KiCad is the open source PCB design tool for professionals. At Pengutronix we use KiCad for all electronics development such as the USB-SD-Mux.

Like every year at FOSDEM, Wayne Stambaugh talked about the state of the project. And like every year the KiCad developers have delivered a lot of useful new features for the KiCad 6 release.

This talk is a must-see if you use KiCad!

Advanced PCB simulation with KiCad - introduction to IBIS and FEM-based simulations

At the moment, KiCad has support for SPICE simulations using ngspice as the backend. SPICE simulations allow us to model time- and frequency- domain behavior of electronic components. This is a great tool if you want to develop, for example, an analog circuit around an OpAmp.

In this talk Fabien Corona presents his work on two more simulation approaches for KiCad:

First: integrate a FEM (finite element model) simulation into KiCad. He shows a prototype based on KiCad, Gmsh and Sparselizard that allows us to do current density, voltage drop, plane capacitance analysis and more on a KiCad PCB.

Second: the integration of IBIS-models into the SPICE simulation in KiCad. IBIS-models contain an electrical description of the properties of an input or output pin of an integrated circuit. With IBIS capabilities, the KiCad SPICE simulation would not only be able to simulate simple analog circuits but also complex mixed signal ICs in their circuit.

These functions currently only exist in a fork of KiCad and are not yet ready for production. But his talk lets me really hope that these features will be available in KiCad in a few years!

A brief history of spreadsheets - from LANPAR to VisiCalc to Lotus to LibreOffice

Ever wondered why spreadsheets look like a relic from the 1970s? That is because a lot of their properties are based on software from the last century...

In this talk Jim Hall traces the origin of modern office software back to 1969. He even does live demos using the original software.

This talk is not so much about open source, but it is a good opportunity to grab a cold beverage and relax. 🙂


Further Readings

Tutorial: Evaluating RAUC on QEMU - A Quick Setup With Yocto

RAUC is an update framework for safely deploying verified updates on your embedded Linux devices. It ensures atomicity of the update process to protect from sudden power outages, hardware failures, etc. So, why would one like to run RAUC on an emulated platform?


Conferences 2021: A Retrospective and Outlook

Besides the improvements around embedded Linux software and ongoing development of Linux kernel components, the Pengutronix team took the corona pandemic as an opportunity: Last year, many conferences were accessible via internet, so we joined from the comfort of our home offices and shared our experiences and ideas with the community.


Pengutronix at FOSDEM 2021

"FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Every year, thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world gather at the event in Brussels. In 2021, they will gather online." -- FOSDEM


rsc's Diary: ELC-E 2022 - Day 4

Friday, the last day of ELC-E 2022, is traditionally the day of the Embedded Linux Closing Game, with Tim Bird reporting about the embedded Linux world (universe?) domination progress and the overall state of the union. Of course, there were again several interesting talks.


rsc's Diary: ELC-E 2022 - Day 3

The Convention Centre is directly at the water front of the Liffey river, just a few walking minutes away from O'Connell Bridge, Temple Bar and Trinity College. Visiting ELC-E is always a good opportunity to visit interesting cities in Europe. However, here is my story of the talks I heard on day 3.


rsc's Diary: ELC-E 2022 - Day 2

The Dublin Convention Centre is huge - there is more than enough space for all the developers participating in the Open Source Summit. Fortunately, the talks will be on YouTube after the conference, so it's no problem that one can only hear a small selection of talks. However, here is my report of the talks I heard on the 2nd day of the conference.