So what's state-of-the-art in open-source ?

Is where it's at? I'm interested in synthesizing cpu cores which I think puts me in the area of large-ish fabric devices but again I stopped looking for a few months and now I feel like I have no idea what to expect :)

@vertigo @h @cstanhope

@jjg @cstanhope Apart from Ice there's things like TinyFPGA, and a whole array of simple Arduino-related tools, but those little platforms may not be a good match for the applications I assume you'll be working on. You may also want to take a look at projects on github like:
github.com/aws/aws-fpga
and elsewhere:
hdmi2usb.tv/hardware/

@vertigo

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@h

Yeah I'm not sure exactly what I need, I probably just need to block some time to do the homework.

I might pick one of those ICEsticks up just to go through the motions and see how much I enjoy the work. I picked up some other FPGA dev board a year or so ago but I've never had the time/patients to get the dev tools setup.

This 20 page PDF that gets you a open-source soup-to-nuts CPU running forth is my kind of carrot on a stick though :)

@vertigo @cstanhope

@jjg Yeah, becoming a professional of some of those mammoth tools feel like converting to a mainstream religion to me too. I'm only looking into this now because the kind of work I'm doing is getting closer to the iron all the time. But I'm really more interested in building excellent GUI systems. I just have to know what are the tools that may make the ends more achievable.

@cstanhope @vertigo

My interest in hardware is mainly to see what can we do to bring truly, wholly free systems closer to the mainstream.

The state of affairs is incredibly anti-ethical and repugnant to me.

Read-only open systems aren't really free if people can't use them to make the best machine the machine is capable of becoming.

There's no good reason meta-machines must be read-only, or write-with-caveats-only. It's just a neoliberal deviation that too many have accepted as the new normal.

There's no good reason for being forced to produce an ellaborate OpenGL based compositor and window manager if you want to make some things move on screen, or just have some windows and pushbuttons that actually work.
There's no good reason for having a massive dependency on web browsers that are de facto controlled by the hands of three corporations. One of them, Mozilla, may be benign for the most part, but that's not sufficient justification.

@h Mmm.

So much of what we actually want to do with computers seems to be 'small jobs' - store little bits of very personal and very important data - but we have to use 'big systems' to do it.

Feels like a mismatch to me. Why can't we have small systems that we can use for small jobs and then build bigger systems OUT of small systems?

I don't know what the smallest SAFE system is though.

I don't want a tiny system that can corrupt its RAM or hard drive if I breathe wrong.

@natecull @h The safest system is any system not attached to a network. A lot of what we use computers for can be satisfied using store-and-forward networks (e.g., BBSes) with intermittent connectivity.

About the only exceptions I can think of presently are streaming audio/video.

@vertigo Some ways to architect systems exist that could make personal computing less repugnant.

For instance, a "front-computer" as a sort of kerberos that grants or rejects access to the main computer. Think the way baseband is your gatekeeper to the outside world on a mobile device, but in the other direction.

There's no good reason this couldn't be built in modern devices. The only reason is that marketers, liberals, and fascists wouldn't get to read about your laundry.

@h This architecture is known as the "egg shell" approach to security, and for the longest time it has worked well. However, recent advancements in key breaking, side-channel attacks, etc. are showing that it's no longer as effective as it once was.

Every breach made recently has been through a compromise in the egg shell.

@h Don't get me wrong; I think it's a great first step, and clearly vastly superior to nothing at all. But if you're dealing with credit card numbers and/or medical information, it's not enough.

@vertigo I agree on both counts. Still not enough, but possibly a good start.

@vertigo @jjg Re. alt-REBOL impl. i think I'm going to write a bareboes interpreter in Go first anyway. That will probably be a good learning experience targetting known archs first. Instead of attempting to implement it on RISC-V with extra complexity. It may be useful to bootstrap later if the interr̀eter itself is wrotten in Rebol too.

@jjg @vertigo Sorry for the typos, currently on the road.

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