I thought I'd take a minute to post an update on several project I'm actively working on. I might even make this a regular thing...
Ever think about how Google's Chromebooks are pretty great, but Google is pretty terrible? I thought about this a lot and decided to do something about it. I started the NextBook project in an effort to create a computer that has all the virtues of ChromeOS (and more!), without the surveillance capitalism.
I also want to create something sustainable by leveraging as much FOSS software as possible, so I choose to design the system around Nextcloud (hence "Next" in the name). In simplest terms, NextBook is just enough Linux to boot the machine and connect to a Nextcloud instance which provides all the functionality (just as Chromebooks connect to Google's applications).
The devil is in the details of course, and there's more to running a computer than the web applications provided by Nextcloud. To some extent that's where the next project comes in.
As the name implies, RESTMetal provides a REST interface to the underlying hardware of the computer it runs on. It is a combination of two of my most successful past projects: RESTduino and JSFS.
I started this project initially to provide a foundation on which to develop a range of privacy-respecting smart/IoT devices, but as I started to dive-in to what it would take to build the NextBook, it became clear that RESTMetal could provide the interface necessary to manage the local hardware resources of the NextBook (battery level, network configuration, resource utilization, etc.) to web-based applications which in turn provide a user interface compatible with the web-based application mode of operation of the NextBook.
So completing RESTMetal is somewhat of a prerequisite for completing the NextBook, but a lot of that work can be done in parallel before one project blocks the other. However, a working build of RESTMetal is a blocking dependency for the smart device work, so that project is effectively paused until a working build of RESTMetal is available.
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SOS is still in "stealth mode", primarily because the idea is so simple that I'm afraid if I talk about it too much, someone might implement it and miss some of the important details. The plan was to quickly create a prototype and begin field tests a couple months ago, but as it's a hardware project, and my lab has been dismantled for the time being, work on the prototype is halted until I get that put back together.
Porting Haiku OS to ARM
I see a lot of potential in Haiku , especially as a way to make lower-powered (both in terms of compute power and energy consumption) devices perform well at traditionally resource-intensive applications. Specifically, I want to be able to run Haiku on the Pinebook Pro , so I started looking into how far along the work to get Haiku running on ARM was.
As it turns out, there's a long way to go. Not that a lot of work hasn't been done, but due to the moving-target nature of ARM hardware over the last decade, there's been a lot of push-pull between what the hardware can provide and what the operating system needs. This means that a lot of the development effort went into working-around hardware limitations that in many cases have since been addressed. The good news is that new porting efforts have a lot more hardware capabilities at their disposal.
So I've thrown my hat in this ring, and I'm slowly working on getting Haiku to run on Pine64 hardware. So far I haven't published work on this in any specific ways (mostly a series of Fediverse posts) but I hope to change.
Last but not least, I resurrected Preposter.us . So far that has been very satisfying and has already achieved its primary goal, which is getting me to write more frequently.
Aside from that I've made more progress than expected in tidying things up, and I'm excited about the prospect of having a pure software project to hack on over the winter.
Of course there are countless other bits I've been picking-at as time allows, and some long-running projects that get a few cycles as well. But at the moment, this is the work that I'm currently focused on.