When we woke up this morning our email contained, amongst other things, a series of messages from a mailing list complaining about a particular multinational vendor that seems to have forgotten the southern hemisphere of the world since ceasing operations in Australia.
We’ve also seen or heard comments more than once that it would be good if a large company bought out Ultibo and put their resources behind developing the features that are missing like WiFi, Bluetooth and graphics acceleration.
That got me thinking, isn’t it kind of strange to wish that a big corporate would take over your favorite open source product and make it part of their ever expanding line up. If everything followed the normal course you should also expect to soon find yourself complaining bitterly about the poor quality support offered and the ever increasing cost not only for the product but also for their so called annual maintenance subscription.
So why do we wish for something that in reality we might not want, for that matter why do we keep paying the exorbitant costs demanded by some vendors while we often seem to give no thought at all to the notion of paying an open source developer for their time and effort, even if that payment would be a fraction of the fee demanded by the corporate heavyweight.
Some might argue that there is no escaping the need for the resources of global companies in order to develop and support complex applications and that open source is really just a bit player in the process, others could suggest much more sinister intentions that are part of a greater conspiracy. What if the real reason is much simpler than that, what if we just feel a little bit awkward about open source and how to behave around it, a bit like a teenager who doesn’t quite know what to say when meeting someone’s parents for the first time?
Most of us have grown up in a world where there is automatic skepticism about anything that seems too good to be true and open source software is almost the ultimate expression of that concept, why would a developer who is passionate, motivated and knowledgeable put time and effort into a product and then give it away for free and yet the creation of open source continues to grow every year while the world struggles to fully understand.
Next time you look at an open source project remember your inner teenager, stand up straight, smile and try not to mumble.
Open source is all about choices and while many are happy to use Windows as the development platform for their Ultibo projects we have been getting questions about using Linux instead.
So if you have a preference to use Linux for your Ultibo development then we now have instructions on how to build the sources. It isn’t as simple as a few mouse clicks but we figure if you use Linux regularly then you might already be used to following command line instructions.
The instructions come in two flavours, one for Debian which is a pretty traditional distribution and the ancestor of many other popular versions, and to keep things in the Raspberry Pi family we also have the Raspbian version.
You can find the build instructions on the Ultibo wiki, see here for Debian and this one for Raspbian.
We’ve just released the latest episodes in the Discovering Ultibo video series and we’re continuing our exploration of what you can do with Ultibo core.
Episode 5 shows just how simple it is to scroll text on a small 2 line LCD by using the standard console functions, no need to learn a new API for each and every device our 16×2 LCD driver lets you use what you already know in a whole new way.
Part of the fun of creating things is using them and what could be more fun than controlling your gadgets using a tablet, phone or computer. In episode 6 we look at how to use a web page to remote control your projects, if you’ve ever tried to do this with other tools we think you might be surprised how easy it can be with Ultibo core.
You can find the latest episodes plus the full Discovering Ultibo series on the YouTube channel, hope you enjoy them.
Just a few days ago it was officially 6 months since the release of Ultibo, in fact at almost the exact time of the first announcement we were on a plane heading to Sydney to talk about what Ultibo is and what you can use it for.
That got us thinking and we realized that in just 6 months Ultibo has opened up a whole new world of options for creating the kinds of things you have been wanting to create.
Take a couple of recent examples, in June we announced support for I2C and SPI devices amongst many other things. If you’ve ever had a look at the websites of suppliers like Adafruit or Pimoroni you might have noticed just how many useful addons like sensors, displays and controllers use these protocols to communicate. So now if you have access to a datasheet or some example code most of these cool gadgets are available to use in your Ultibo projects.
The other announcement that quietly came and went was support for connecting Arduino devices to your Ultibo projects and allowing you to communicate with them. At first glance that might not seem revolutionary but think about the possibilities that come from combining the world of Arduino with the power of Raspberry Pi and Ultibo and at the same time removing the limits imposed by an operating system.
A project like Ultibo has no end, no point at which it is complete because there will always be more to add and new things we want to support. The best time to start creating your own exciting world of gadgets is today so why not just get started.
Go on, make something. I dare you.
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