- a microblogging service based on Free Software, AGPL, and Creative Commons logo

After a long time of ignoring (or at least not using) micro-blogging services such as Twitter, I recently tried the Free-Software based service, and I'm beginning to like it.

The choice of service was pretty obvious — while Twitter uses proprietary software and has custom Terms of Service, is based on software under the GNU Affero General Public License, and the contents are CC-BY 3.0 licensed.

The code behind is called Laconica (recently renamed to StatusNet) and is hosted at gitorious:

 $ git clone git://

My account details are available under, where I'm posting smaller announcements and notes about random technical stuff I'm working on (slightly more regularly than in this blog). Sometimes I use the web interface for posting, but using the Jabber integration available at is even more convenient. You can both be notified of new posts ("dents") in real time via Jabber, as well as post your own dents from within your Jabber client, which is nice. seems to become more popular every day, which will hopefully make the proprietary Twitter pretty much irrelevant sooner or later.

Open-Source software for LightScribe CDs and DVDs?

Dear Lazyweb,

is there any Free Software utility for putting those nice logos/images on LightScribe CDs or DVDs? I'm considering buying such a CD/DVD burner, but only if there's open-source software to control the device. I guess burning CDs/DVDs should be no problem using wodim/cdrecord, but adding images as labels on the CD/DVD is likely not possible without special software.

I know about the LightScribe Linux software (which is binary-only and not open-source, it seems) and LaCie LightScribe Labeler for Linux (which only creates labels but does not write them to the CD/DVD, and is not open-source either, I think).

Anyone aware of a Free Software utility for this? Or at least a public specification/datasheet which could be used for creating one? I might even be willing to join development if datasheets are available.

Qi Hardware: Freedom Redefined - New Open Hardware company to ship Ben NanoNote device in fall 2009

Qi Hardware Ben NanoNote

I recently stumbled over a neat new Open Hardware and Free Software friendly company — Qi Hardware — founded by former OpenMoko developers.

To quote from the website:

Qi Hardware, founded on the belief in open hardware, produces mass market quality hardware applying free software principles to consumer electronics. The three fundamental elements in our development are copyleft hardware, upstream kernels and community driven software.

They have put up a timeline for upcoming products, where the 本 NanoNote™ (Ben NanoNote™) — a fully open multifunction ultra small form factor computing device — is the first entry product that is supposed to ship in fall 2009.

The Ben NanoNote is based on an Ingenic SoC (336 MHz XBurst Jz4720 MIPS-compatible CPU) with 3.0” color TFT (320x240), 2GB NAND flash, 32 MB SDRAM, SDHC microSD, micro-USB 2.0. The whole device, including the 850mAh Li-ion battery, weighs only 126g. Detailed specs are available.

Their currently planned setup includes a Linux kernel, u-boot, and OpenWRT as software basis. Personally, I'd like to see a stock Debian running on the hardware sooner or later, of course. The 2GB of flash and 32MB of RAM should be fine for a small Debian system (for instance, my NSLU2 runs off a 1GB thumb drive and has 32MB RAM, and is still very useful).

The code is all GPL'd and available from various git repos, hardware will be CC-BY-SA 3.0 licensed, and they try to use Free Software design and development tools also, including KiCAD for schematics and PCB layout, and probably HeeksCAD as CAD tool for mechanical stuff.

gEDA/PCB logo
I'm really tired of seeing more and more self-proclaimed "Open Hardware" projects that often don't even mention any license for their schematics and PCBs, or use crappy, self-invented "open" licenses that are not even remotely open in any way. Probably even worse, many hardware related projects use closed-source, proprietary electronic design tools such as EAGLE or OrCAD, thereby ruining the whole project from the beginning by forcing everyone who likes to contribute or adapt the hardware to use non-free software. That's why I was really happy to see the Qi people thrive to use open tools from the beginning! I hope to see more hardware projects use KiCAD or gEDA/PCB for their designs in future...

Converting Mailman "Gzip'd Text" archive files to proper mbox files

Mailman archives are often only available in the pretty useless "Gzip'd Text" format, which you cannot easily download and view locally (and threaded) in a MUA such as mutt. But that is exactly what I want to do from time to time (e.g. because I want to read the discussions of the past weeks on mailing lists where I'm newly subscribed).

After some searching I found one way to do it which I stripped down to my needs:

 $ cat mailman2mbox
 while (<STDIN>) {
   s/^(From:? .*) (at|en) /\1\@/;
   s/^Date: ([A-Z][a-z][a-z]) +([A-Z][a-z][a-z]) +([0-9]+) +([0-9:]+) +([0-9]+)/Date: \1, \3 \2 \5 \4 +0000/; 

Example run on some random mail archive:

 $ wget
 $ gunzip 2009-August.txt.gz
 $ ./mailman2mbox < 2009-August.txt > 2009-August.mbox

You can then view the mbox as usual in mutt:

 $ mutt -f 2009-August.mbox

Suggestions for a simpler method to do this are highly welcome. Maybe some mbox related Debian package already ships with a script to do this?

AMD RS780 chipset documentation released, coreboot support upcoming

coreboot logo

Good news for kernel hackers, and especially coreboot developers like me: AMD has released the chipset documentation for the RS780 chipset, including the BIOS Developer's Guide. And these documents are being released freely and openly to the public, no NDAs required, which is great!

Quoting from the original announcement on the coreboot-announce mailing list:

The coreboot community, which includes government organizations, corporations, research labs and individuals from around the world, is very excited to expand on our existing and decade-long collaboration with AMD. This collaboration has, over the years, resulted in the inclusion of coreboot into everything from some of the largest AMD-based supercomputers in the world to some of the smallest embedded systems.

Together with the recent SB700/SB710/SB750 documentation release, the Developer Guide release for the RS780 family of Integrated Chipset/Graphics Processors enables the coreboot community to support any board with AMD chipsets out there, from embedded to enthusiast desktop and high-end server boards.

This new release once again demonstrates AMD's commitment to open standards and software that provides an improved user experience and Total Cost of Ownership for users in every walk of life. One cornerstone of this openness is the availability of documentation without NDA, enabling everyone to contribute.


Coreboot is open source, so every interested developer or user can modify, tweak and extend it to their heart's content.

An additional benefit of this documentation release is flashrom support for all AMD chipsets which enables users to reflash their BIOS/firmware/coreboot from within Linux and *BSD without rebooting.

Coreboot code for the SB700 and 780 chipset family is already being worked on by Zheng Bao at AMD in his spare time and the coreboot community is happy to work with him on finishing and integrating the code into the official coreboot codebase.

We'd like to thank Sharon Troia at AMD for making these documentation releases possible.

The exact download URLs are listed at

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