While its still a long way away from a home-grown semiconductor industry it is nice to see our local Cape Town Linux User Group (CLUG) getting stuck in with the equivalent of the Arduino. The Arduino is to open source physical computing as Linux is to free software, and a local site called Geek Studio has published the schematics of an “Arduino derivative designed specifically for South African Arduino users but available to anyone. It uses the most common sized components which are the easiest to find here in South Africa.”
The day when locally built CPUs and backyard silicon chips pop out of a factory with an Ubuntu open specification may still be a pipe dream, but Geek Studio is providing incentives for geeks to get soldering on their own projects. A recent talk by Peter Ing’s sent some CLUG members into a feeding frenzy. According to the CLUG wiki, there are now some 50 or so boards in the process of being populated with doodads and gizmos. Enough to make even the most hard-core software junkie salivate.
Remember, computing is not only software. It’s all about the hardware dammit, and frankly we are at the mercy of badly made Chinese imports and expensive American designed chips, the combination of which invariably creates minor disasters for Linux users as they struggle to get their hardware to do anything non-proprietary. Zardino signals a turning point. The board will hopefully allow customised electronics projects to leap out of the conceptual ionosphere, and I am fairly certain I won’t be the first member to sign up for a robot-slave able to knock out my enemies.