FreeBSD on the CubieBoard2

I have previously been running NetBSD/evbarm and OpenBSD/armv7 on my CubieBoard2, and wrote about it here and here. The Cubieboard2 is an ARMv7 device which was released in 2013 so it is quite ancient by now. However, a renewed interest in FreeBSD on my side prompted me to try running the system on this device. ARMv7 is a Tier 2 architecture on FreeBSD, so the system cannot be upgraded by freebsd-update and must be kept up to date by source....

March 14, 2022 · 6 min

Toolchains adventures - Q4 2021

This is the third post in my toolchains adventures series. Please read the introduction and the Q3 2021 report if you want to get more context about this journey. The fourth quarter of 2021 started out in the best possible way, as I’ve been granted commit access to the LLVM project on October 1st. During the first part of October, I did commit a couple of micro-optimizations to several compiler drivers along with small improvements in various places, as highlighted in the commit list at the end of this post....

January 3, 2022 · 5 min

OpenBSD on the VIA Eden X2 powered HP t510 Thin Client

Back in 2017, I bought two used HP thin clients on a local auction site, the t5570e and the t510, both of them powered by VIA x86-64 CPUs. In this article, I will focus on the t510, which is the more powerful of the two. The CPU in this machine is a VIA Eden X2 U4200, which is a dual-core x86-64 CPU running at 1GHz released in 2011. For those interested about the status of those CPUs, I wrote an article about the future of VIA x86 processors back in 2018....

November 25, 2021 · 7 min

NetBSD, CTWM, and Spleen

Back in the fall of 2020, I was approached about adding Spleen to the NetBSD’s xsrc repository. Needless to say, I wasn’t difficult to convince, and imported Spleen 1.8.2 as font-spleen-misc. With this being done, nia@ added all the required glue to hook the fonts to the build, and then changed the default CTWM configuration to do automatic font scaling based on screen size, and make Spleen the default font....

October 9, 2021 · 1 min

Toolchains adventures - Q3 2021

I’ve been keeping myself busy since I posted the “Diving into toolchains” article at the beginning of June, so here is an update detailing what I’ve been up to during the past couple of months. At the end of June, I went through the FSF copyright assignment process for both Binutils and GDB, which now allows me to contribute larger changes to these codebases. I thus updated the NetBSD system call table in GDB, and added support to readelf for reading OpenBSD ELF core notes....

October 1, 2021 · 4 min

OpenBSD on the Vortex86DX CPU

This is the OpenBSD counterpart of my article about running NetBSD on the Vortex86DX CPU, and its purpose is mostly to archive a dmesg entry and various benchmarks for this machine. I should note that with only 256MB of RAM, the machine is too constrained to do kernel and libraries relinking in a timely manner, due to swapping. For more information and background about the hardware, please refer to my other article....

September 24, 2021 · 5 min

Diving into toolchains

I’ve been wanting to learn more about compilers and toolchains in general for a while now. In June 2016, I asked about recommended readings on lexers and parsers on Twitter. However, I have to confess that I didn’t go forward with reading the Dragon Book. Instead, I got involved as a developer in the OpenBSD and NetBSD projects, and witnessing the evolution of toolchains within those systems played a big role in maintaining my interest and fascination in the topic....

June 8, 2021 · 3 min

NetBSD on the Vortex86DX CPU

I’m not exactly sure how I first heard about the Vortex86 CPUs, I think it was either when seeing the demonstration video on KolibriOS project site showcasing the system running on a DMP EBOX machine, or when skimming NetBSD’s identcpu.c code. Or did the discovery of the machine prompted me to check if the CPU would be correctly probed by the NetBSD’s kernel? For those interested, Wikipedia has an article retracing the history of the Vortex86 from its birth at Rise to our days....

June 3, 2021 · 8 min

Character and color cycling effect in C on DOS

As mentioned in my previous post about playing with DJGPP and GCC 10 on DOS, I have been redoing my small character and color cycling effect in text mode. The original version in JavaScript can be seen here. To understand why we can’t access video memory directly and need to use the DPMI service to create a selector to access the required real-mode segment address, please refer to section 18.4 of the DJGPP FAQ....

May 27, 2021 · 2 min

Playing with DJGPP and GCC 10 on DOS

I was recently amazed to discover that DJGPP was still being maintained, and had very recent versions of GCC and binutils available. I have not been doing any C programming on DOS in a very long time now, so I think the timing is right. There is an installation program with an interface very similar to the good old Turbo Vision, which could be helpful in case one wants to install the full environment....

May 23, 2021 · 4 min