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{ Category Archives } is the best Linux conference I have been too. 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

This is a cross post from the HDMI2USB website about my plans for 2016 and the TimVideos project. Last year was an exciting time for my personal projects! 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

Hello everyone,

Hope everyone has had an awesome start to 2016 so far. As is tradition in many western countries, I thought I would put together some New Year’s Resolutions and reflect on our progress in 2015. I guess more business minded people might call it a “project roadmap” 🙂

TimVideos Project

In 2015, I decided to focus the TimVideos project on the HDMI2USB project. The three key results of this focus were;

With the success of this focus in 2015, the TimVideos project is going to continue to focus on theHDMI2USB project for 2016 (and I’ll go into more detailed goals shortly).

The TimVideos project has also been mildly successful in collaborating with other open source groups doing things related to video recording and production. In 2016, I hope we can strengthen these bonds and forge new ones. Some specific goals around this include;

HDMI2USB Project

As we are concentrating on the HDMI2USB project, we have some specific goals around that.

HDMI2USB firmware goals;

  • Refactor the HDMI core to allow support a wider range of interfaces, better debugging and addition of more features. A document about the refactor has been started here.
  • Add support for the high-speed GTP transceivers and Mike “Hamster” Field open source DisplayPort core.
  • Get Ethernet support working (on both the Atlys and Opsis boards). The two major Ethernet features are;
    • Ethernet supports identical capture and control feature set to the USB port.
    • Allowing HDMI2USB boards to act has “HDMI over Ethernet extenders”.
  • Support for more hardware;
    • miniSpartan6+
    • Digilent Nexys Video
    • New HDMI2USB designed hardware!
  • Stretch Goals (1)

HDMI2USB hardware goals;

  • (By end of year) Development of a low cost PCI-Express capture card.
  • (By middle 2017) Development of an Opsis V2 based around either an high end Artix-7 or a low end Kintex-7 FPGA.

(1): Stretch goals are things we plan to try and achieve if things go well.

Hope this update give you an idea of what we have planned for 2016! We would love your help making it all possible.

Tim ‘mithro’ Ansell

Can haz kernel patches?

As it’s only a couple of weeks till another is underway, I thought I better post this draft from the last one! This year LCA is in Wellington, New Zealand, sadly I didn’t get my act together enough to make a proper holiday of it. I’m definitely looking forward to catching up with all the cool hackers at the conference.

One of the best talks I went to last year was the Ksplice talk. This is a wonderful tool which allows people to develop “hot patches” so that you never need to reboot again. The developers have done some very cool work which means for 88% of patches a hot fix can be generated automatically. The presenter was a really great speaker too, during the talk he explains some advanced concepts (like hot to fix-up memory structures) I was able to easily understand it all. I can’t watch until I never have to reboot my Linux machines again!

I also attended Rusty‘s tutorial on hacking lguest. Two years ago I submitted a very important patch to lguest which is now included in the kernel. This year I didn’t get as far as I had wanted mostly because I had not gotten enough sleep the night before. I did however submit one patch which was accepted. I guess that makes me a kernel hacker :).

Sadly, Rusty won’t be running another lguest tutorial this year, so it’s unlikely I’ll submit a third patch.

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Compiling for Windows using Cygwin on Linux….

So for the past week while I have been at the best conference in the world I have been trying to compile tpserver-cpp for Windows. I had done the hard work and gotten it to compile (as documented here, here and here) on Windows previously. However, as I was in Hobart at a Linux conference I didn’t really have access to Windows computer. That was not going to stop me, so I attempted to cross compile the binaries under Linux. This has a number of advantages as it would mean when someone finally gets around to creating a autobuilder, we can produce Windows binaries too.

Ubuntu provides the mingw32 compilers in the repository so I didn’t think it would be all that hard to get working. The problem is that tpserver-cpp does not have a “native” Windows support but cygwin comes to the rescue and provides a compatibly layer. Using cygwin turned out to not be as simple as using mingw32 compiler with the cygwin headers.

I ended up using crosstool to build my own cygwin compiler. I battled for a long while with the fact that Ubuntu now enables “fortify source” by default. This breaks many versions of things like binutils and gcc (which often do naughty things which fortify source does not like). After I figured out how to disable it, I was still was only able to get an ancient version of gcc to compile (3.3.6) which meant I had to fix a lot of problems in the tpserver-cpp code. I guess someone had to do it eventually, but it was annoying that I was forced too.

I then manually downloaded a bunch of cygwin packages to build a tree for the dependencies (such as boost and guile). This was much faster then trying to compile them on my own. Finally, I was able to build tperver-cpp and create a Windows binary! I can confirm it runs fine under Wine and am now getting friends who are still shacked to Windows to test it there.

It sounds much simpler now, but it took me over a week of work to boil it down to these steps. It was like a constant game of wack-a-mole, once I had solved one problem another popped up.

So what now in this area? I want to get a recent version of the compiler working and preferably build all the dependencies ourselves (rather then rely on the cygwin compiled versions). I would ultimately like to see the cygwin compilers being packaged with Ubuntu/Debian in the same way that the mingw32 compilers are. I don’t know if any of that is likely to happen however as I never seem to have enought time. For now I have uploaded a copy of my cross compiler (It needs to be extracted so it is found in /opt/crosstool).

I hope this helps someone!

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Gaming Miniconf Videos

At 2008 the AV team did a great job of recording the main conference and almost all the talks can be downloaded from the main website. They where however, unable to record all the miniconf proceedings. I ran the Gaming Miniconf again and like last year I was able to record the proceedings myself. It took me a while, but I have finally finished encoding the videos and you can now download the videos. They should be of similar quality to the main conference videos.

The day on a whole was fairly successfully and there where lots of interesting talks, panels and tutorials. One of the coolest talks was Douglas Bagnall’s “Playing with Crayons“, while we had a number of technical difficulties with getting his laptop talking to the projector (he has an evil Nvidia card), it was really cool to learn about this program which turns a kid’s crayon drawing into a playable game. Douglas has now open sourced the code and looking to port it to the OLPC!

We also had some very cool panels sessions. The first was about using FOSS in Game Development education, we had some representatives from some of the top game education institutes in Australia. The second was an interesting licensing panel which includes Jessica Coats from Creative Commons Australia and Kimberly Weatherall – a former Rusty Wrench winner. I think our last panel was the best however, people got to grill representatives of the Australian commercial game industry on how they are using FOSS at their commercial game companies!

There where also some really good talks by Richard and Alex about pyglet, including the most impressive live coding I have ever seen. As the pyglet tutorial is so cool and I have also uploaded it to Google Video for your viewing pleasure. Of course, we couldn’t keep Rusty Russell away, he gave a short lightening talk about his new Pong Hero!

So why not download the Gaming Miniconf vidoes and take a look.

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Thousand Parsec primary client 0.3.0 released!

As announced at, I’m happy to point out that we have finally anounced the 0.3.0 release of the Thousand Parsec client which I work on.

It’s been a long time since the last release of the primary client for playing Thousand Parsec games. Now, the wait is finally over and it was well worth it. Large parts of the client have drastically changed. Connecting to game servers is simplified. The new user interace enables you to more easily see important information and then more efficiently issue orders. Translation support makes it possible to conqueror the universe in your mother language. For all the details check out the full release announcement. If you downloaded a previous release and didn’t like it, please give this new release a try!

LCA2008 all over :(

Well, I am back at work after spending last week at, it was a huge amount of fun and the organisers did a great job. I am really happy that I got to catch up with all the people cool I had not seen for almost a year. We managed to have a Thousand Parsec developer meeting which was pretty fruitful. As with last year, I ran the Gaming Miniconf and a large “Open Source Gaming” stand on Open Day.

The Gaming Miniconf was a little slow to start, my first speaker turned up late and my second speaker was unable to get his laptop to work with the projector. I was disappointed with the turn out during the morning, last year we easily had 70 people for most of the day, while this year it was closer to 40. The competition for people’s attention in the morning was tough, there where 8 other miniconfs running. The keynote speeches before the Miniconfs last year, really helped make everyone was getting out of bed.

I am much happier with the afternoon, things ran significantly smoother and the pyglet tutorial was a huge hit. It was amazing to watch Richard and Alex work, they really should give a main conference tutorial next year. I am currently encoding all the talks and hope to have them up very soon (for those who where silly enough to attend the wrong Miniconf). Watch this space for more information.

The Open Day was pretty cool, I would like to thank all the helpers – they did a great job and allowed me to concentrate on organising things (like setting up hardware and finding lunch for everyone). I do wish that the Open Day venue was much larger, it was rather cramped for most of the day. The open day is one of the best events we have to show the general public all the cool things FOSS is doing and I would like to see it become a bigger and longer event.

I belive that previously Miniconf organisers had been given the short end of the stick. The effort required to organise a Miniconf is significantly more then required for a talk, yet they received none of the perks or recognition that speakers did. I’m glad that the organising committee decided to make a change this year and I feel this small gesture made a huge difference.

Of course, I also managed to attended a number of cool talks. I would recommend going and watching some of them.

In the news!

As I have been organising the Gaming Miniconf, I was interviewed for a “blog” on ITWire. The post was finally publish today, you can find it here. It wasn’t to bad and the stuff comes of pretty positive.

Gaming Miniconf CFP open!

Just in case you missed this, the Gaming Miniconf has opened it’s call for participation. We are not just after presenters either!

This will be the second year that the Gaming Miniconf runs and with your help it will be even better. This Miniconf is not just a bunch of cool talks, it aims to be FUN! The Miniconf will be running some cool interactive demonstrations of FOSS games at the Open Day.

So why not come and participate in this exciting event?

The latest version of the announcement can always be found at woo!

As you may have already noticed, 2008 has announce that registrations are finally open, woot! If you are planning on coming, don’t forget to come to the best miniconf there is, the Gaming Miniconf! I am running it again this year and it is going to be packed with Gaming and Game Development goodness.

Much to my embarrassment I managed to accidentally announce the fact early to the channel, I just happened to check the website for some Gaming Miniconf business and noticed the registration button. Thinking I had missed the announcement (it has been long day) I hopped on to the channel to ask how long it had been opened. Turned out they had just started doing some testing and thanks to me the whole channel jump on being the first to register. Sorry guys!

I have booked my flights and registered, so I am all good to go.

Open Source @ Freeplay debrief

As some of you may know, I was invited to speak about my experiences with Open Source games at the Independent Game Developers conference, Freeplay. The conference was in Melbourne at the ACMI and at my guess around 250 people attended the event.

I organised with the Freeplay organisers to have postcards available at the registration desk and dotted around the other venues. About 100 cards where picked up and the remainder where given to Geoff Leach (who lectures at RMIT) to distribute to students. I also advertised the “Gaming Miniconf” which I will be organising at

I gave a talk entitled “The best things in life are free” which was split into two sections. The first was an introduction to what FOSS actually is, while the second was a brief tour of various open source game technologies and games which exist. I hoped to show how the independent game developers and open source game developers where closer then both sides realise.

The talk went well and there seemed quite a bit of interest. There was quite a bit of interest (among game library developers) in the dual-licensing model that MySQL and Trolltech both use. More importantly many of the upcoming game development students attending were interested in both using open source and open sourcing their own games.

I also talked directly to a variety of leading Australian game developers to find out how, where and why they are using FOSS in there company and games. As I have previously thought (and discussed at last year’s Gaming Miniconf), the amount of FOSS being used is extensive. Python, for example, been embedded in many AAA games and is used in multiple MMORPGs. Hopefully I will have some cool case studies very soon.