Codex Alpe Adria report by Varthall
Date 9-Jul-2007 0:18:57
|This is a small report from the Codex Alpe Adria fair, which was held from 6th to 8th of July 2007. This year's event has been quite different from the past ones, since it was much less focused on computing in general and more on social contacts. It has been in fact an opportunity to spend some time among friends, rather than sitting in front of a computer! There have been some problems with the organization, too, one of which was the fact that a demoscene meeting have been organized during the same days, so a different program had to be arranged. I must say that nevertheless everything has been organized well, most of the things went smooth and, although unusual and smaller, the meeting has turned out to be quite enjoyable. I have been present in the central and most important part of the event, i.e. on Saturday the 7th of July, I'm going to write about what I believe has been the most interesting part, the speech by Max "M3x" Tretene about the Sam440 motherboard.|
During the speech, the rev. B of the motherboard has been shown. It's a prerelease version which is being betatested in these months. Unfortunately, it couldn't have been shown running since the entire event has been hosted on a bus (!), traveling across the region around Udine. In the next weeks the newer rev. C should be released, which will be the final version before the release one. Tretene has pointed out that the differences between the revisions are minimal. The Sam440 board is going to be released at the end of September, during the Italian Pianeta Amiga show; during the show it will be possible to buy it! The version on sale will be the "End User" one, while there's another version, the "Embedded" one, I don't remember if the release date of this version has been announced, too (if it will be released at the same time as the End User one, for example). The OS shipped with the board will be Crux Linux, a distribuition specialized in PPC support, while the price tag should be in the same range as declared last year during the Pianeta's presentation. They are now evaluating in which configurations to sell the board, what seems most likely is that the End User one will have 512M of RAM directly soldered onboard. At the moment the only version of Linux running is a custom one, partly derived from the distribution released with the reference board of the AMCC CPU used on SAM, and partly from Debian. Other planned OSes are FreeBSD, an AROS bounty has been opened but not assigned yet, while there have been some informal contacts with the MorphOS team, although nothing has been decided yet. Regarding OS4, it was and still is the most important reason for this project. At the moment even ACube can't predict when and how the court case will finish (they are following the proceedings through the public available court documents), they have confessed they prefer to focus on the development and release of the board.
As already known, the version of UBoot which will be shipped with Sam will be 1.2.0. It is probable that this version will be available for A1 users too, since the SAM version of UBoot differs of just 5% from the A1 version, at the moment they have just stated that this release has a low priority. During the speech it has been asked if the board will follow the CHRP specifications, which would make it compatible with most of the Linux PPC distros available. As I have understood, the CHRP specifications require the use of OpenFirmware, so any OS destined to CHRP machines would have to be adapted in order to run under a different firmware. Tretene has said that UBoot has now a compatibility interface for OpenFirmware, which should make it possible to run Linux distros for CHRP machines under Sam440, too. During the meeting the official case for Sam has also been shown (it's the Nexus Psile case), it looks quite elegant and resembles the one of the Mac Mini. The case included a SATA slim DVD reader (I guess it was a writer, too).
The latest issue of the Bitplane magazine has also been released; it contains an article describing the Phoenix Project, a group of programmers (25 or so at the moment I have been told) which are developing software for OS4. Their first projects are a GUI for Transmission, the Bittorrent P2P client, and the X11 port of Firefox. At the moment the port is proceeding well, all the dependencies have been resolved (which should mean that a first executable already exists), there are now some issues with a library which have to be cleared. Also, a test and working version of VLC with the GUI exists (again under X11), but it won't be released since it's too slow for normal use, it will require a native port to be usable. Another goal of the team is to bring on OS4 the remakes of old Amiga games that have been recently released for other platforms, a nice idea without any doubt.
That's all for now, I will hopefully write about the whole event in another review. If there's any error or omission, feel free to point it out.
Varthall/Up Rough, 09/07/2007