Today marks two years since the release of Ultibo and so much has happened in that time it is almost impossible to remember what life was like before. We won’t deny that there have been some disappointments along the way, like the apparent lack of interest in the VC4 port, still we remain convinced that the need for what we are doing is greater now than ever.
You might have noticed a little less activity lately, we’ve been busy with another project, but we’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the future direction of Ultibo. No matter how much the project expands and no matter how capable it becomes, one recurring theme we see is that the Pascal language is too often cited as a reason not to use Ultibo.
Ultibo is about making a difference not about making excuses, so the time has come for some changes. In order to grow the project to its full potential we’ve decided to broaden the audience beyond the Pascal language and create opportunities for people to build projects using a wider range of tools. Some may question why, couldn’t those people create their own project after all? We’ve looked long and hard and it seems that in spite of the best efforts of many, nothing else has come close to reaching the capabilities Ultibo already has and the future potential it holds.
We haven’t yet finalized all the details of how this will work but you can be sure that Pascal will continue to be supported as the core itself will remain unchanged, support for new languages will be added on to what we already have. Which languages you ask? We’re not going to say right now but if you look at any top ten list of most popular programming languages you’ll be sure to see the ones we’re thinking of.
We hope you’ll join us in welcoming a whole new group of makers to share the future of Ultibo.
When Ultibo core was first released at the start of 2016 perhaps the most surprising thing for us was how much interest there was in using graphics and displaying information on screen, the questions began almost from day one and have persisted to this day.
We had initially envisaged Ultibo as an IoT platform to be hidden away and used for sensing, controlling and monitoring often without any console, display or visual output at all. Of course IoT means many things to many people so our vision of network connected gadgets didn’t quite take account of the true potential offered by the Raspberry Pi.
It is with great pleasure that we announce today the release of Ultibo core 2.0, the Beetroot release, and the inclusion of full support for the VideoCore IV GPU in all models of the Raspberry Pi. Anyone who has read about this subject will have seen a lot of information, some of it true, some of it not so true and others just plain wrong.
Along the way we’ve seen many claims, there is no documentation, it’s all a secret and closed source or it can’t be done because they won’t release the details. We are not about to try and tell you this was an easy task but with a lot of research, reading, exploration and experimentation we have arrived at a result that we are very proud of. Once again it shows that anything can be done if you really want it to happen.
Today we pass the baton to you, the Ultibo community, it’s your turn to show us what you can do now that you have some of the most powerful graphics features at your disposal. Let’s get the message out to the world and show everyone what is possible if you have a little bit of imagination, it’s time to make something amazing.
As always the latest installer is available from the download page, get your copy now and try it out. For those who might prefer to build their own version for Windows or for Linux see the wiki for instructions.
How do you describe something like Ultibo so that people can decide if it is what they are looking for or not?
At various times, and depending on the audience, we use terms like bare metal, unikernel, embedded platform and so on but none of them really seem to capture both the purpose and the possibilities of the Ultibo project. There are a number of purposes that drive what we are doing but it can be easy to miss the whole story if you just look at any one element. If you focus on just the technical details of creating programs without an operating systems and the necessities of drivers, devices and boards then you might not notice that there is a learning aspect to the project as well.
The world needs more good programmers to drive the development of future systems and applications, sadly there has been a catastrophic failure of industry, schools and universities to educate new generations of developers, many have no concept of how a pixel appears on screen or a packet crosses the internet, let alone the ability to understand the intricacies of modern computing. We don’t claim that Ultibo is the complete solution but without tools that make it possible to concentrate on learning instead of being swamped by the idiosyncrasies of an operating system then the situation is not likely to change.
On the other hand if you see Ultibo only as a teaching tool or a way to learn about the low level functionality of a computer then you miss the fact that Ultibo is a powerful platform which can be used for serious development and creating real products, without the unnecessary overhead and complexity of a full desktop operating system.
It’s a simple question with a multitude of answers, we don’t want to make Ultibo sound too complex or unapproachable so that people think it is beyond their knowledge, at the same time if we make it appear too simple then those who have a definite purpose in mind might think it is not advanced enough for their needs. In truth it should be possible to accommodate both ends of the spectrum, we still don’t know the best way to describe it but you can be sure we’ll continue thinking.
There’s been a lot of discussion lately about support for some of the major items still missing from Ultibo, while everyone has their own point of view about what is most important not everything can be done at once so we’ve decided to run a poll for about 3 months to seek feedback on what you would like to see most.
This is not a survey to decide what features will be included, everything on the list is planned to be supported, it’s simply about you telling us which one you think is most important in order to guide the roadmap for future development.
You only get one vote so think carefully about your choice, we think the list covers the really big ticket items but if you have something else that is bigger feel free to let us know.
You can find the Ultibo Feature Survey on the forum right now, happy voting!
You might have guessed that we have big plans for Ultibo and what it can become. Our goal is to create a platform where the only limit is your imagination, where the technology doesn’t stand in your way or force you to compromise your ideas.
Of course we realise (and we hope you do too) that this doesn’t happen overnight, creating something truly different takes time, effort and a fairly large serve of determination.
A good example of this is some recent fine tuning we’ve been doing on the critical file system and network subsystems in Ultibo, it might sound rather glamorous and even exciting but in reality it amounts to hours and hours of looking at packet captures and debug logs just to improve performance by a few percent or implement the correct behaviour in response to unusual cases.
It’s been a while since our last commit and those with a shorter attention span may have wondered if we’d simply chucked it in but the truth is good things take a little while to get right.
The same applies to your projects, some of you have ambitious goals, some are tinkering just for fun and others are using Ultibo for learning. Whatever our goal we are all learning every day and it is the simple act of taking each step towards a goal that helps us learn how to take the next one.
Some days will be exciting, others will be frustrating and occasionally it might seem like the goal is just beyond your reach. If you make learning a natural part of everything you do then no goal will ever be too big.
An ancient proverb says that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a map of how to reach our destination but if we simply put one foot in front of the other then we’ll get there in the end.
You could try to move both feet at once but you’d probably just fall over.