O.T.R.A. – Florida Or Bust

I’m going to be On The Road Again, starting in a few hours.

I’m headed to Florida “for a while”. (The rest of the family is staying in California this trip – so once again we are ‘bi’… bi-coastal.)

While I expect this to be a quick trip, just out and back, you never know. There’s always the risk I might get a contract there ;-)

So, for the next few days, new postings might be a ‘bit thin’. I’ll have the tablet with me ‘outbound’ and then a laptop available at the other end (where I have a load of “stuff” of mine I need to deal with – thus the trip…)

We’ll see what happens. Life is like that.

I do know that I’m not well suited to both travel and posting. I tend to “focus” a lot, and when traveling there is much that takes attention.

So, don’t be surprised if my comments are a bit thin.
Until I’m more static, think of this as something of an open-thread.

Current Hot Topics:

1) Hillary and the DNC. The Email leaks. The Russian Connection – if any… (it is a very convenient dodge for Hillary…)

2) Yet Another “Hottest Year Evvaaaahhh!” yet with snow in both hemispheres and most continents all at the same time.

3) Hillary and The Donald tied at 42% each in a recent poll…

4) Germany – what is it now, 3 or 4 attacks by Muslim Terrorists in as many weeks? Frankly, I’ve lost track. So how’s that open immigration workin’ out for you, Frau Merkel?

5) Markets looking to me like a ‘local top’, so likely to go down in the next few weeks (then likely back up again… flat roller). I’ve not done a full analysis on it yet, but maybe enough folks have “seen the drill” to know how the chart reading works. So what’s your opinion?

6) The Global Liquidity Trap – the Oh So Slow stagnation and eventual implosion of Abused Keynesian Run Wild. When reality doesn’t support more economic growth, no amount of monetary policy can fix it. Excess taxes, regulation, and Mercantilist China dominate. So “next step”?

7) Water drives the planet. Net, evaporated water moves from sea to land (thus all the rivers of condensed flowing back…) This shows solar heating of oceans is the major driver of the water cycle. Everything else is sequela. IR and Blue penetrate the ocean to depth, so have a long cycle time to exit. IR and Red are either prompt evaporation or near surface absorbed, so rapidly cycled to the air as water vapor. What happens to the system as the sun shifts from LOTS of blue and UV, to much less, but with increased Red and IR keeping total solar irradiance near constant? Think that might cause a long cycle shift of warming ocean then cooling? And maybe a spike in rainfall at the transition from high UV to high IR with a warmed ocean? (Then back again in 30 years…) Add in lower altitude per barometric pressure level (atmosphere shortening – measured and changing satellite lifetimes on orbit) and you get more snow “up high” in mountains and at the poles (where stratosphere comes to earth anyway). Nice little albedo / ocean oscillator there, eh? Now play it forward through 30 years of ocean cooling and prompt IR driven evaporation and added ice / snow build up at altitude…

8) Rossi and Cold Fusion / LENR. Lot of asserted replications often with spectacular meltdowns. Claims to be starting manufacture in the USA. Any other evidence? (Either way…) Think I ought to schedule a day trip to his offices in Florida and apply for a job? See what happens?

So that’s a starter list. Feel free to cover the “topic du jour” whatever pops up. I’ll try to check spam & moderation queues at least once a day, but it will depend on running into WiFi hotspots along the way… and having time.

So for a little while, it’s up to you all to keep the conversation going. I’m going to be ‘otherwise occupied’ a lot of the time.

Posted in Human Interest, News Related, World Economics | Tagged , | 61 Comments

Where To Get Older Linux Releases


1) Drivers

2) Size

3) Mis-Features

4) Methods

This article gives a good example of some small-hardware-friendly Linux releases and an idea of one reason “why”:


Note that it is from 2006, so add a decade to his idea of small old hardware…

Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier
February 24, 2006

Linux distros for older hardware

For these tests, I dug out Igor, an old PC that had been collecting dust in my closet. Igor is a Pentium II 233MHz machine with 64MB of RAM, an 8x CD-ROM drive, a 3GB hard drive, and an integrated ATI 3D Rage Pro video card with 4MB of video RAM. You can run Linux on older and slower machines, but this is the most under-powered machine I had available.

Next, I selected a handful of lightweight Linux distributions that looked promising, and started downloading. The distributions ranged from popular “mainstream” distros such as Slackware and Debian to distros that are specifically developed for lightweight machines, such as Damn Small Linux (DSL). I apologize in advance if your favorite lightweight distro is not represented here.

Sadly, I suspect the Raspberry Pi is going to kill off much of that antique gear. Heck, I’m looking at my old White Box PCs and thinking of deep-sixing them… and I have an old TUBE radio the size of a small stove in my office…


Old equipment is made of old parts. Pretty obvious. Those old parts need “drivers” to work. Drivers are the software that sits between the basic operating system and the actual hardware. Things to make that old dot matrix printer run, or that old serial mouse and primitive screen function.

As time goes on, fewer of those machines run the newer operating system. Eventually, the maker of the OS decides to not bother putting that old driver into his operating system, making it bigger and more complex, for no real use. Then that OS no longer works on that old hardware.

If, like me, you have a bunch of old hardware, or sometimes inherit it for “free”, you want those drivers. The place to find them is in the old operating system.


Code bloats. There are many reasons for it, some more valid than others. The simple fact is, it happens. The original Linux ran in 16 MB of memory. 32 MB if you wanted a nice graphical X-window environment.

My last 16 MB machine just hit the trash can. An old Hitachi laptop that finally had too much hardware die to keep it running. It had been my “office router” for a few years, starting about 15? 18? ago. I’d plug it into the wall ethernet, then it would be my boundary router to the company and the rest of ‘my gear’ was on a switch or hub behind it. That, and ‘blinky lights’ on things, meant that IF our network were hacked (or someone in Engineering was ‘playing’…) my desktop had an extra level of security and inspection. (Hey, I was the Sys Admin, they were out to get me! ;-) Besides, I have the logs to show it…)

But over time, code gets bigger. Then you needed 64 MB or 128 for the fancy releases. Now it’s up nearer 512 MB / 1 Gig. Heck, even the Raspberry Pi Model 2 with a Gig of memory has people complaining the memory is too small.

Some of this is from compile time parameters (you can set how big buffers are) and some is from changes of languages used ( the Object Oriented languages are generally fat and pudgy bloat makers). Sometimes it is just that a fine intensely hand crafted bit of code needed a re-write for some valid purpose, and the new party was not going to sink 1000 hours of time into making it smaller when “memory is cheap now”. More is from the ever acuumulating long list of drivers for “New” hardware that isn’t in your “old” box. (Modular kernel design could help here). Then there are a growing list of new “protocols” to support… all taking more code.

In any case, IF you want a small OS or just to compare the small program with the fat current one to ask “why?”, having the old copy is essential. For old equipment, it is usually a small memory size that limits running the newer versions, not the instruction set or disk / video.


Far less frequently, something gets ‘fixed’ in the new versions that is just horrible for some other uses. Time to go digging in the old freezer for that now deprecated version so you can resurrect it and / or use it as a basis for new replacement version sans ick.

While the general bugaboo thrown at folks is that you just MUST get the newest version to have security, the old one being buggy and having had those security holes not-patched, an equal truth is that all the new “features” added often are the source of the “new” bugs of tomorrow. So your vendor shoves “systemd” down your throat and against your will. 2 years later when you want to swap from Ubuntu to, oh, CentOS, where do you find that last old release pre-systemd?


How things are done changes over time. Languages have fads. Compilers change. When memory is cheep folks use algorithms that are memory intensive. When memory was incredibly expensive, folks used very memory-careful code. The old code often has the old methods embodied in it.

So lets say you are working on a 6 GB Memory Octo-Core SuperDuper machine with a Linux that takes 2 GB before you load up your 4 GB of Applications and datasets… and you are swapping a little sometimes… Now your boss hands you a new project. An embedded system board with 128 MB of memory and about 1 GB of flash. Where do you go to look at “how to make it fit”? Where’s the textbook of “the old ways”?

It is often easier to just look over some old code to get a quick set of clues.

Odds & Ends

I’m sure there are other reasons too. That’s just the set I think of most often. Sometimes I’ve just wanted “that old favorite wallpaper” and sometimes I’ve wanted to open an old file that has a format no longer supported. Archivists often have need of old ways. Or a forensic investigation might hinge on “could someone have broken into the suspects machine?” (to frame them). Or a movie maker wants “period correct” graphics on the screen… or There’s a long list of other reasons.

But whatever the reason, sometimes you need versions that just are not the newest.

So I’m going to just link a few sites here. If you know of any others, or have any favorites, please add them below in comments.

Note that this isn’t a ‘retro computing’ thing. While I like retro-computing and pine for my own B6700, and welcome any links to them, too; this is specifically including software you can run and use on hardware today.

Some Linux sites I use:

Least Old: Void Linux

This is just their active download page. I have yet to test drive it yet. I did download a copy to the PC, but it had issues at boot. Likely my fault for that particular old hardware, but I may need to work out a driver issue (sound familiar?)


They also have ARM images for the Pi:


“someday” there will be a need for “Old Void images”, but for now, as a new port, there isn’t much old out there to find. Just as an example of one extreme.

For this kind of site, you would need to make a clone of the ‘repository’ (often, now, a ‘git repository’) to capture the past iterations.


Releases that have been around longer, often have a formal release cycle and formal “support” periods where serious security fixes get applied (as a ‘patch’) to older versions. Eventually, even older releases exit the “interesting to developers” land and are left to rot. Sometimes a ‘friend of the project’ takes on the job of being the project attic…


Ubuntu loves to come out with new releases and rapidly drop older software from their “current”. From live desktops (Unity) to their preferred applications, they love to do that Microsoft thing of “that’s old so it’s gone, this is new so it’s all you get”. Then the hollers from the masses cause them to sometimes recant. BUT, while that new one is shoved at everyone, you sometimes need to know where to get the old ones.


The following old releases of Ubuntu are available:

Ubuntu 4.10 (Warty Warthog)
Ubuntu 5.04 (Hoary Hedgehog)
Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger)
Ubuntu 6.06.2 LTS (Dapper Drake)
Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft)
Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn)
Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon)
Ubuntu 8.04.4 LTS (Hardy Heron)
Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)
Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope)
Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)
Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS (Lucid Lynx)
Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)
Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal)
Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)
Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal)
Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail)
Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander)
Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn)
Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet)

The following releases are also available which have been superseded by later point releases (the current point release is available on releases.ubuntu.com as usual):

Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS (Precise Pangolin)
Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS (Trusty Tahr)

Some old releases of Kubuntu, Edubuntu, and Xubuntu are also available here.

For current releases, see releases.ubuntu.com.

Ubuntu is based on Debian. It takes a bit more to find where Debian has their attic.



Even here, early versions are not to be found. Nothing from the 1.x series, and 2.x is sparse. Historians will be frustrated…

The following releases are currently available here:

    Some user-provided 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2 images (Hamm, Slink, Potato)
    3.0_r0 to 3.0_r6 (Woody)
    3.1_r0 to 3.1_r8 (Sarge)
    4.0_r0 to 4.0_r9 (Etch)
    5.0.0 to 5.0.10 (Lenny)
    6.0.0 to 6.0.10 (Squeeze)
    7.0.0 to 7.11.0 (Wheezy)
    8.0.0 to ... (Jessie) 

Then there are the “oddball” formats to deal with and the obligatory nag to never ever even think of using anything but the latest bit of 2 GB memory needed and quad core Intel code on your old 386 box with 64 meg of memory… (bold mine)

Notes for older versions

Most importantly: the archive images are provided as a service for our users who may need them. We strongly recommend that you install the current stable release of Debian if at all possible, as that is where you will receive the best support. Older releases will no longer receive security updates – this is limited to 12 months after the release of the succeeding stable version (e.g. Squeeze was released on the 6th of February 2011, meaning that we stopped formal security support of Lenny in March 2012).

By default, for each release here we keep all the images in jigdo format to save on space and download times. We also often keep the ISO images for the last release of each series.

In the days of Woody (3.0), we started producing DVDs reliably for every release from r5 onwards. Later releases included both CDs and DVDs as a matter of course.

Starting with Etch (4.0), we started making multi-architecture CDs/DVDs which would boot and allow for installation on more than one type of computer.

Starting with Lenny (5.0), we added Blu-ray (BD) images, downloadable only in jigdo format for the sake of mirror space and bandwidth. We also regularly produced live images – bootable images that run completely from the CD/DVD/USB stick and do not need to be installed to your hard disk. (More details…)

Starting with Squeeze (6.0), we started building CDs and DVDs for kfreebsd-amd64 and kfreebsd-i386, marking the first released non-Linux port of Debian.

Not familiar with “jigdo”? Well, nobody else is either. Last I looked there were something like 2 places still using it. I would characterize it as a sort of strict Bittorrent with central control. Never has caught on. Eventually, it will only be found in old archives of other releases… but a bit longer in Debian.

Now a particular peculiar problem comes up with Net Based Releases like Debian, where you do most of your install from the internet. You need an online repository from which to get that “apt-get install”… It is unclear to me where you find that for an old “Woody” release, but it likely ought to be found, and mirrored to be saved along with those CD or DVD images. Either that, or figure out how to create such a system from the DVDs.

Oddly, there is also ANOTHER site that claims to be the Debian archive (and points to a third…):


but it looks to be more an archive of the source listings:


If you need to access one of the old distributions of Debian, you can find them at the Debian Archives, http://archive.debian.org/debian/.

You can search packages in the old distributions at http://archive.debian.net.

Releases are stored by their codenames under the dists/ directory.

squeeze is Debian 6.0
lenny is Debian 5.0
etch is Debian 4.0
sarge is Debian 3.1
woody is Debian 3.0
potato is Debian 2.2
slink is Debian 2.1
hamm is Debian 2.0
bo is Debian 1.3
rex is Debian 1.2
buzz is Debian 1.1

As time goes on we will expire the binary packages for old releases. Currently we have binaries for squeeze, lenny, etch, sarge, woody, potato, slink, hamm and bo available, and only source code for the other releases.


CentOS (as the Community ENTerprise Operating System) derivative of Enterprise Red Hat (i.e. RHEL without the price) is easy to find, and surprisingly complete. Then again, it tends to be used by folks who know they may be sued and know they may need to assemble “what the system was like then” or lose. Though even they are missing the 1.x series…


[DIR]	2.1/	19-Aug-2009 01:36 	- 	 
[DIR]	3.1/	31-Jul-2005 16:05 	- 	 
[DIR]	3.3/	17-Mar-2005 11:17 	- 	 
[DIR]	3.4/	01-Mar-2005 01:38 	- 	 
[DIR]	3.5/	28-Jul-2005 16:14 	- 	 
[DIR]	3.6/	04-Apr-2006 16:59 	- 	 
[DIR]	3.7/	06-May-2006 01:20 	- 	 
[DIR]	3.8/	20-Apr-2012 10:55 	- 	 
[DIR]	3.9/	20-Apr-2012 10:49 	- 	

and on down to 7.2 of May 2016… I’m not listing the RHEL or older Red Hat (the original) series. While I have an old Red Hat 7.2 CD set (from just before the RHEL conversion of numbers) and used to run it preferentially, that conversion and subsequent changes left me uninterested in them. CentOS is about as close as I come. In anyone else cares, they can put up links to that stuff.


For some things, you may need to go to “The Wayback Machine” at archive.org. Here’s an example using Slackware:


A bit sparse. Some sites ask to be left out. Others just got missed. Sometimes the same name of a link causes it to be hard to find as you must pick the right date and hope an archive sweep caught it. Still, it can be your friend.

Slackware has dozens of mirrors, and each may well have different ‘cut off’ for the oldest releases they have “up”. Good luck digging through all that…


At one time I’d just occasionally buy a CD set for various releases, and I’ve got a few very old Slackware… in a box… somewhere…

An Archive For All:

On my “someday” dream list is to set up a Linux / BSD archive site where I can collect at least one copy of every release… but that would take a lot of money I don’t have. Oh Well. Besides, someone else is already doing it, and for Mac & Windows too:


BSD and other Hardware Broad support OSs

There are literally hundreds of “distros” of Linux and a half dozen of the BSDs. Each with a dozen or more major releases. The problem space is exponential in growth. Then some OSs, like FreeBSD, run on a half dozen different chip sets and platforms. Note the naming in this link. FreeBSD-Archive/old-releases/i386/ That’s the old i386 CPU and the 8.1 release.


At that “old-releases” level they have:

Index of /pub/FreeBSD-Archive/old-releases/
Name	Last Modified	Size	Type
Parent Directory/	 	-  	Directory
alpha/	2009-Feb-09 11:40:11	-  	Directory
amd64/	2014-Jun-24 11:55:14	-  	Directory
i386/	2014-Jul-01 09:29:11	-  	Directory
ia64/	2014-Jul-01 10:06:00	-  	Directory
pc98/	2014-Jul-01 10:17:03	-  	Directory
powerpc/	2014-Jul-01 10:19:28	-  	Directory
sparc64/	2014-Jul-01 10:39:32	-  	Directory

Seven different major CPU chips. Other releases, too, can have “variety chip-sets”… So a “full collection” would be:

Chip-sets x OS_Distro x Version x Minor_Number x {Options – like Libraries or toolchains} x Size {CD / DVD / Full / Source} and maybe a few more things I’ve forgotten.

While hot impossible to “capture that history”, the odds that it will be done, and effectively, are slim.

So I just hope that “enough” is captured for “folks like me” to do “the things we do”… I have a bookcase of old software to upload to that “oldversion” website. “Someday”. Heck, I even have one machine with a floppy drive in it that can still read the media! I just need about 4 months to “get a round tuit” and do all the unpacking, booting, uploading, etc. etc. etc. before my kids just toss it out one day after the “service” and while “cleaning out the garage”…

Oh Well… I’d do it now, but I’d rather have a cold beverage and ‘sun time’ ;-) Priorities, don’t you know ;-)

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Posted in Tech Bits | 6 Comments

What’s With The Smoking Airbus?

So I saw a bit of news about some Airbus that had to make an emergency landing due to smoke, and thought I’d check up on the story…

A quick Web Search and… WT? Dozens of such stories…

Leading me to wonder: We’ve had several Airbus planes go down from presumed “terrorist actions”, but mostly just because their was evidence of a fire or similar on board. Yet there’s a lot more in this list. So what’s with the Smoking Airbus? Is there, perhaps, some bigger design problem?

Jet Blue A320 Fire Indication and Smoke in Cabin – Cockpit …
Jet Blue A320 Fire Indication and Smoke in Cabin … After the aircraft came to a stop the crew advised the tower they were initiating an evacuation asking …
[Search domain http://www.cockpitchatter.com] cockpitchatter.com/jet-blue-a320-fire-indication-and-smoke-i…

US Airways plane in Denver evacuated after smoke filled cabin
US Airways plane in Denver evacuated after smoke filled cabin Share this: … The plane, an Airbus A321, was being operated by American Airlines.
[Search domain http://www.denverpost.com] denverpost.com/2015/03/04/us-airways-plane-in-denver-eva…

JetBlue flight returns to Calif. after smoke fills cabin
JetBlue flight returns to Calif. after smoke fills cabin. A JetBlue airliner returned Thursday to the airport in Long Beach, Calif., after one of two …
[Search domain http://www.usatoday.com] usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/19/jet-blue-fli…

Cabin Smoke, Fire, Fumes, or Odor Incidents – Aviation Safety
Cabin Smoke, Fire, Fumes, or Odor Incidents . … (Astra Galaxy) aircraft. The APU door was open, but the APU was not running. No Fire Warning in cockpit.
[Search domain asrs.arc.nasa.gov] asrs.arc.nasa.gov/docs/rpsts/cabin_fumes.pdf

AF Airbus 388 Smoke In Cabin Over Atlantic — Civil Aviation …
AF Airbus 388 Smoke In Cabin Over Atlantic : USER … A common cause of smoke in the cabin used to be the crews stowing personal items and handbags etc in the ovens …
[Search domain http://www.airliners.net] airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.mai…

Cockpit / Cabin Smoke Procedures
Cockpit / Cabin Smoke Procedures Operational Liaison Meeting – Fly-By-Wire Aircraft 2004 CustomerServices
[Search domain http://www.smartcockpit.com] smartcockpit.com/download.php?path=docs/&file=Cockpit_and_…

Easyjet Airbus A319 Smoke in cabin before the take off – YouTube
Easyjet Airbus A319 Smoke in cabin before the take off … Smoke in the Cabin – Emergency Evacuation Drill – Duration: 2:57. JustPlanes 28,291 views.
[Search domain http://www.youtube.com] youtube.com/watch?v=s-Bgqx1HpWI

Flight Operations Briefing Notes Cabin Operations – Airbus
Flight Operations Briefing Notes Cabin … onboard aircraft. It is important for the cabin crew to … After any fire or smoke occurrence, one cabin crewmember …
[Search domain http://www.airbus.com] airbus.com/fileadmin/media_gallery/files/safety_libr…

Smoke forces Qatar Airways plane to make emergency landing in …
The plane was bound for London, but turned around 10 minutes into its journey yesterday, after smoke was detected in the cabin.
[Search domain dohanews.co] dohanews.co/passengers-distressed-smoke-forces-turn-b…

Smoke Procedure Finalization – dream-air.ru
Smoke Procedure Finalization Presented by Xavier VILLAIN … Review of the Airbus Smoke Procedure Crew (cockpit or cabin) perception without ECAM Warning SMOKE /
[Search domain http://www.dream-air.ru] dream-air.ru/new/pilotam/20_smoke.pdf

AF Airbus 388 Smoke In Cabin Over Atlantic – Airliners.net
AF Airbus 388 Smoke In Cabin Over Atlantic #7190187. By Gonzalo – Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:04 am – Fri Jan 20, … This is a HUGE factor! Smoke in a cabin, …
[Search domain http://www.airliners.net] airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=532243

France: Smoke detected on EgyptAir flight before crash
France: Smoke detected on EgyptAir flight … with 66 people aboard had transmitted automatic messages indicating smoke in the cabin. … Airbus 320, from Paris to …
[Search domain http://www.aljazeera.com] aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/egyptair-crash-smoke-detecte…

Plane Smoke Causes Dramatic Landing – ABC News
An American Eagle flight bound for Chicago was diverted first because of bad weather, but as the plane was about to land smoke began to fill the cabin, causing …
[Search domain abcnews.go.com] abcnews.go.com/US/smoke-plane-dramatic-emergency-landing…

Delta flight diverted after smoke fills cabin – CNN.com
(CNN)A Delta flight was diverted to a South Carolina airport on Thursday after the crew reported an engine problem and smoke filled the cabin.
[Search domain http://www.cnn.com] cnn.com/2015/05/07/travel/delta-flight-diverted/i…

Smoke In Cabin Forces Heathrow Flight Evacuation
Smoke In Cabin Forces Heathrow Flight Evacuation. Footage shows several passengers, including children, sliding from the American Airlines plane to the …
[Search domain news.sky.com] news.sky.com/story/1717870/smoke-in-cabin-forces-heath…

Smoke removal A320 – PPRuNe Forums
Qrh 1.06 (Smoke removal) then 1.09A According to Airbus you do not any longer do Elec sheding, … vital for information about a smoke source in the cabin.
[Search domain http://www.pprune.org] pprune.org/tech-log/334808-smoke-removal-a320.html

What is the white smoke that planes blow into the cabins? – Quora
What is the white smoke that planes blow into the cabins? I often see white smoke blowing into aircraft cabins. Update Cancel. Answer Wiki. 5 Answers. John Fiscus, …
[Search domain http://www.quora.com] quora.com/What-is-the-white-smoke-that-planes-blow-…

EgyptAir crash: ‘Smoke detected inside the aircraft cabin’ as …
EgyptAir crash: Flight data points … ‘Smoke detected inside the aircraft cabin’ Experts say flight data ‘seems to point towards a bomb’ First body parts returned to …
[Search domain http://www.telegraph.co.uk] telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/21/egyptair-crash—smoke-de…

Aircraft Crew Smoke Hood – Breathing Apparatus | SkyArt …
Aircraft Cockpit Smoke Hood. Aircraft Cockpit Smoke Hood is taken from an Airbus 300 Aircraft and it is a piece of aviation history. The smoke hood, also known as pbe …
[Search domain http://www.skyart.com] skyart.com/sold-out/aircraft-crew-smoke-hood/

Delta Airlines flight cabin fills with smoke on … – Mail Online
Just what you don’t want to see on a plane: Aircraft fills with smoke just after takeoff and horrified passengers look on helpless. Cabin of a Delta …
[Search domain http://www.dailymail.co.uk] dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2349254/Delta-Airlines-fligh…

Emergency Evacuation on Land – SKYbrary Aviation Safety
Emergency Evacuation on Land. … (On 6 January 2011 an Easyjet Airbus A319 experienced the sudden onset of thick “smoke” in the cabin as the aircraft cleared the …
[Search domain http://www.skybrary.aero] skybrary.aero/index.php/Emergency_Evacuation_on_Land

Passenger wearing oxygen mask films … – Daily Mail Online
A video filmed by a passenger wearing an oxygen mask shows the dramatic scene inside an aircraft after one of its engines malfunctioned and filled the cabin with smoke.
[Search domain http://www.dailymail.co.uk] dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2762278/Passenger-wearing-ox…

Japan Airlines Jet Evacuated After Engine Trouble, Cabin …
Soon after, smoke and an odor were detected inside the cabin, prompting the crew to evacuate the aircraft. Firefighters said they did not have to extinguish any …

[Search domain http://www.nbcnews.com] nbcnews.com/business/travel/japan-airlines-jet-evacua…
Flight from Fort Lauderdale diverted to South Carolina after …
Flight from Fort Lauderdale diverted to Charleston after reports of smoke in plane’s cabin


Delta Flight From Florida Diverted After Smoke Fills Cabin …
Smoke filled the cabin of a Delta Air Lines that had departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, today, causing the plane to be diverted to Charleston, South …
[Search domain abcnews.go.com] abcnews.go.com/US/delta-flight-florida-diverted-smoke-fi…

I’m way too over-committed at the moment to follow it up, but it sure looks odd.

I did follow up reading one of the “Pilot / Procedure” blogs and there was a discussion of confusion over the procedure published to clear smoke. (Seems that an indented line could have you skip the bit where you put the APU breakers on, not to run the aux power, but to connect the batteries to a vent valve..). But that would only explain a tendency to not clear smoke fast; not why it is there in the first place.

Maybe I’m just not familiar with how often airplanes go “up” then “smoke” (as opposed to “up in smoke”…) but I’d expect even 2 or 3 to cause all sorts of alarms to go off at the FAA. That list, BTW, goes on for more pages…

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

There’s an App for That – disable Tab Tearing in Firefox

So for a few months (years? it seems like) now I’ve had this annoying Very Not-A-Feture bugging me in Firefox.

At various times, and against my will, based on no behaviour I can identify (but I think it is a timing issue on slower CPUs like the PI) I’ll be moving the slider to scroll down a browser window and BANG! the sucker becomes a new window.

I wait while the window paints and finishes. Then drag the tab back to the “other window” where it belongs with all the other tabs…. grumbling the whole time.

Was I the only person who hated this “mis-feature”?

Turns out, no. In fact someone else hated it so much they wrote an extension / add-on to let you turn it off!

I finally got around to doing a web search and found:


That search yielded may hits…

bug489729 (Disable detach and tear off tab) – Add-ons for Firefox
bug489729 (Disable detach and tear …
[Search domain addons.mozilla.org] addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/bug489729-disable-det…
Disable Tab Tearing | Firefox Extension Guru’s Blog
Disable Tab Tearing. … With Firefox 3.5 Released yesterday, … which gives you the ability to turn off the tab tearing ‘feature’. …
[Search domain blog.ffextensionguru.com] blog.ffextensionguru.com/2009/07/01/disable-tab-tearing/
Disable Tab Tearing In Firefox 3.5 | Lifehacker Australia
… there’s no easy option to enable or disable tab tearing in Firefox 3.5. … you can find sites tearing off when you … 10 Courses To Turn Into A …
[Search domain http://www.lifehacker.com.au] lifehacker.com.au/2009/07/disable-tab-tearing-in-firefox-35/
Week in Geek: The Disable Firefox 3.5 Tab Tearing Edition
… that lets you drag tabs off the bar … Firefox 3.5 release adds a new “Tab Tearing” feature that lets … in Geek: The Disable Firefox 3.5 Tab Tearing …
[Search domain http://www.howtogeek.com] howtogeek.com/howto/2082/week-in-geek-the-disable-firef…
Firefox 3.1 gets tab tearing | Mozilla Links
Tab tearing is the latest in a long list of … 61 thoughts on “Firefox 3.1 gets tab tearing … This really should be in the preferences to turn it off.
[Search domain mozillalinks.org] mozillalinks.org/2008/11/firefox-31-gets-tab-tearing/
bug489729 (Disable detach and tear off tab) – Add-ons for Firefox
bug489729 (Disable detach and tear off tab) by White Alice0775. Rated 5 out of 5 stars Average (116) … (Disable detach and tear off tab) 2.1 ] Mozilla Firefox 25.0
[Search domain addons.mozilla.org] addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/bug489729-disable-det…

From which I picked:


Disable Tab Tearing In Firefox 3.5
Angus Kidman
7 July 2009 11:30 AM

The ability to tear off tabs into a new window was one of the earliest planned features for Firefox 3.5, but it’s not one of those options everyone’s going to love. Here’s how to switch it off.

Perhaps figuring that only mouse-phobics (such as Lifehacker AU’s editor) and people who liked dragging tabs to create shortcuts would care, there’s no easy option to enable or disable tab tearing in Firefox 3.5. Fortunately, you can get there with the prosaically-named bug489729 extension. Install it, restart Firefox, select Disable detached tab and you’re in business.

For more Firefox 3.5 fixing tips, check what to do before installing it.

bug489729 (Disable detach and tear off tab) 1.3 [via Mozilla Links]

Thanks, Angus!

Though at 2009 date stamp, it would seem I didn’t notice this effect on faster processor machines, reinforcing my belief that it is a timing related issue / bug…

Which leads to:


Rated 5 out of 5 stars

116 user reviews
5,092 users

bug489729 (Disable detach and tear off tab) 2.1.1-signed.1-signed
by White Alice0775

Workaround: Bug 489729 – Clicking a tab once and then moving your mouse in a downward motion causes a new window to open.

Optionally(If you want):
Disable detach tab completery, Enable to create Shortcut on the desctop/explorer.

Ah, relief at last!…

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Posted in Tech Bits | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

5 Degrees in 10 Degrees

I was looking up Sarasota, Florida and one thing lead to something else entirely, which seems to be a pattern…

First I got a look at the Seminole Indians, who have very straight European noses and look more Basque than Asian

Seminole Indians Portrait from the Wiki

Seminole Indians Portrait from the Wiki

Then I wandered…

Into the Loop Current. More on that below and some rampant speculation.

Which ended at this interesting temperature map of The Gulf Of Mexico and Florida waters from the U.S. Navy. Interesting side bar being that they map where it is just too damn shallow to take any real ship, and overlay the actual “coastline” on that.

Sea Surface Temperature of near Gulf Of Mexico

Sea Surface Temperature of near Gulf Of Mexico

From: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/global_nlom32/ias.html

First off, this has an interesting capture of a loop current where that warm water rises up into the Gulf of Mexico between Yucatan and Cuba and puts that green blob off the west coast of Florida. Sometimes it is there, sometimes not. This matters for hurricane formation among other things.

But the next thing I noticed was that there is a roughly 12 degree F range in about 25 degrees of latitude to the Sea Surface Temperature SST. In some parts of the map, 5 F in 10 Lat.

Now IF a “well mixed gas” like CO2 were driving temperatures, would they range over 5 F in 10 degrees? Really? Since SST drives land temps for anything near water, and Florida is very much driven by the surrounding water, the land temps will show similar (though more widely ranging) variation with latitude. Which leaves me wondering:

Is temperature driven by a Magic Gas in the air, or by insolation with latitude? This map seems to show strong banding with latitude and strong correlation with ocean currents. Gas not so much.

To understand temperatures on land, you really MUST look at latitude, insolation, and ocean currents.

The Loop Current

There’s an interesting phenomenon where a warm “loop” rises up into the Gulf of Mexico. From that Wunderground link above:

The Gulf of Mexico Loop Current: A Primer

By Jeffrey Masters, Ph.D. — Director of Meteorology, Weather Underground, Inc.

The Loop Current is an ocean current that transports warm Caribbean water through the Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico. The current flows northward into the Gulf of Mexico, then loops southeastward just south of the Florida Keys (where it is called the Florida Current), and then just west of the westernmost Bahamas. Here, the waters of the Loop Current flow northward along the U.S. coast and become the Gulf Stream. With current speeds of about 0.8 m/s, the Loop Current is one of the fastest currents in the Atlantic Ocean. The current is about 200 – 300 km (125 – 190 miles) wide, and 800 meters (2600 feet) deep, and is present in the Gulf of Mexico about 95% of the time. During summer and fall, the Loop Current provides a deep (80 – 150 meter) layer of vary warm water that can provide a huge energy source for any lucky hurricanes that might cross over.

Now the Gulf Stream eventually reaches Europe and the Arctic regions where it keeps things much warmer than otherwise. All that loverly tropical sunshine warming all that Caribbean water ends up deposited in Merry Olde England and surrounding.

So what happens during an Ice Age Glacial?

From that wiki on Sarasota:

Gulf of Mexico in 3 D

Gulf of Mexico in 3 D

First off, all those shallow shelf areas become land. No longer collecting solar energy into the Gulf Stream, but instead putting it into the air. That is one heck of a lot of energy NOT going to the UK or the Arctic.

Second, a broad swath of area for shallow currents is cut off. I have no idea what the water flows would look like then, nor I suspect does anyone else. It becomes a very different hydrological feature then; one with global impact. I do think it is fair to say that the Gulf Stream would be far weaker and with much less heat in it, given the reduction on collecting area and channels for heat driven current flow.

I would guess that the loop current stops, and that the flow of energy to the arctic is drastically cut down. Perhaps that is part of the mechanism (and maybe a key part?) of the hysteresis that puts us into an Ice Age Glacial state instead of a interglacial. Rampant speculation, I know. BUT, that is one heck of a lot of water NOT warming and NOT melting ice at the north pole.

There is evidence of icebergs ploughing grooves into the mud off the Atlantic coast of Florida during an Ice Age Glacial. IMHO that is strong evidence that hot water isn’t “going there”. Would an iceburg really swim ‘upstream’ against the Gulf Stream and survive such a hot water bath all the way to Florida? Somthing else is going on in the Atlantic, then.


Icebergs once drifted to Florida, new climate model suggests

October 12, 2014
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Using a first-of-its-kind, high-resolution numerical model to describe ocean circulation during the last ice age about 21,000 year ago, oceanographers have shown that icebergs and meltwater from the North American ice sheet would have regularly reached South Carolina and even southern Florida. The models are supported by the discovery of iceberg scour marks on the sea floor along the entire continental shelf.

Much of the rest of that article is rampant computer speculation (i.e. models) about meltwater and changes in ocean currents. Hit the link to read it.

For me, what matters is those marks on the ocean floor.

IMHO, a key driver of the oscillation between ice age Glacial and Interglacial states must be the change in warm tropical water flows to the Arctic. For that, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico, hydrological changes with sea level drop must be important.

What is also very clear from that SST map, is that temperatures are controlled by currents (note the hotter Pacific side of Panama where currents do not take the heat away to Europe…), latitude (note the nice temperature banding with latitude on the Atlantic side), and insolation (it changes with season, not shown). Again, CO2 not so much…

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Posted in AGW Science and Background | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

Faux Pas ou Faux Snobisme

All over the Loony Side Of Left news (CNN, MSNBC, etc.) is The Horror, the Sheer Stark Outrage, that Melania Trump has plagiarized Michele Obama!!! Quelle Horreur!…

But I watched her whole speech live, and on replay, twice. Frankly, it was very Donald Specific throughout most of it. Donald did this. His family (by name) did that. “I love my husband” and “My husband will do”{this and that great thing}. as more or less quote / paraphrases.

Yet the Loony Side Of Left news can’t let go of the Talking Point Du Jour of “Plagiarize Plagiarize Plagiarism!!!”

Look, dear Biased Clueless and Classless Main Slime Media: It is not possible to speak without repeating a thousand times a day phrases from the past. Worse, there are only so many ways to say “I love my husband” or “I love life” or even “I love my husband, my family, my city, my state and my country!” without doing it exactly the same way 10,000 or 10 Million people have said it before. Certain structures and orders of process are obvious and recurring.

Like a jazz riff, we may have heard it once, a decade back, and it floats to the surface when the emotion rises again and flows out the fingers to the keyboard. Or, like that “order of precidence” riff on “I love” above, it is just an obvious and in some ways trite ranking from closest to furthest.

I’ve had a dozen and one times in my life I’ve invented a Brand New Outrageously Original Thing with my Brand New Never Been Thought Before Idea… only to discover on some searching that it was found by someone else a couple of years before me. Just look at the telephone and Bell / Gray.

The Fuss?

Out of a very long speech, I’d guess about 15 to 20 minutes (but I was distracted… ;-) so might have a wrong time sense) this is the “issue”:

“And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

“And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

And here’s the passage from Trump’s remarks Monday night that came under scrutiny:

“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect.

They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

How many ways can you say “Based on values with which I was raised: Work hard, your word is your bond, Do what you say you will do and keep your promises, treat everyone fairly and with dignity, and even if you don’t agree with them, respect them. We set out to live our lives together, and raised our children as we were raised, with morality and values. What I learned was that, in America, you can go as far as your ambition and work ethic will take you. Just apply yourself and work hard for your dreams.”

Frankly, I’ve said something much like that a dozen times. I was told it by my Mother and Father. It is part of the American fabric of life. My “paraphrase” was written ‘stream of consciousness’ without having read either statement, but with a glance at both to see if I was tracking the topics more ore less in sync. Is that plagiarism? If I say “What a GAME! The Sharks are IN THE STANLEY CUP FINALS!!!” as did a few dozen announcers, is that a faux pas (false step – social gaff) or a faux snobisme (fake snobism) when someone accuses me of copying an announcer I never heard? I’m quite certain I texted it to my son. I’m also certain that a thousand other people said it, texted it, and wrote it. Some of them “on air”.

It is part of the fundamental story of The American Dream. “We started from nothing. Based on our values and hard work, we achieved. I’ve passed this on to my children. America is a great land of freedom and opportunity and I’m thankful for it! Work and ethics will get you there, and that is what I’ve told my children”.

It is a time sequence and values based series, and can only be told in a time based and ethics connected way. That isn’t plagiarism, it is shared values and history.

The Spin from the Left makes me want to vomit.

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Posted in News Related, Political Current Events | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

ARM – Arm Holdings Takeover and Open CPUs

In the financial news was the buyout of Arm Holdings by Softbank. Arm Holdings are the British folks who design all the ARM CPU chips. Like the ones used in the SOC System On Chip that’s the heart of the Raspberry Pi (along with oodles of network routers, embedded systems, cell phones, and gadgets all over the world.)

There was about a 47% price bump in the offer over the present market price. Now part of that came out of the buyer being Japanese and the ARM shares being priced in £ Sterling (it being down lately) but not the whole jump. A large part was the buyer (Softbank) paying up. Why pay up?

Well, Intel makes very good CPUs, but they are very large, suck lots of power, and cost a fortune. ARM chips are very small, sip barely any power, are dirt chip to fabricate, and are in just about everything that isn’t a PC.

Softbank has been playing the “rollup” game, buying all sorts of telecom related properties, and “growing” like a weed. Not too long ago they bought up Sprint / Nextel. I put growing in quotes as rollups LOOK like they are growing on financial reports, but just because you glue two $Billion companies together it doesn’t mean you actually created a $Billion of something new. Often “rollups” end badly. (See Rite Aid as an example, or Tut Systems, or a dozen others). It takes a fair amount of digging to determine if the rollup is “strategic acquisition” or just “hide the stagnation”. Beware the “synergy story”…

Here’s what Arm Holdings did on the news (and I don’t know what currency this is in or what the conversion was):

ARM Arm Holdings on Softbank Takover

ARM Arm Holdings on Softbank Takover

The first thing to notice is the rocket up at the open on the news of a high premium buyout. The second thing is the folks selling on higher than normal volume after that to “lock in the gains” in case the deal falls through.

Generally, price rockets up to near the offered buyout price. Not exactly to it, as there is a risk of failure fo the deal. Most folks ought to “sell the news” if the price is at all near the takeout offer. If it isn’t near, someone is expecting the deal to likely fail. Sometimes the offer is near the prior market price, then the bump may be to at, or above, the offer as “folks in the know” expect a higher bid or a bidding war. Then the better strategy is usually to hold out for more. Each deal is unique, though.

So what is Arm Holdings?

The short form is that they are a British CPU designing company that makes a nice, efficient, and very widely used design for a CPU chip.

Generally speaking, someone else makes all the chips. This matters a lot.

So what Arm does is license their IP (Intellectual Property) to others to build. Folks like Broadcom and Allwinner. Though even in those cases they may not actually fab their designs, but just glue the Arm design onto other bits and send that collective IP to a fab shop…


Allwinner Technology is a Chinese fabless semiconductor company that designs mixed-signal systems on a chip (SoC). The company is headquartered in Zhuhai, Guangdong It has a sales and technical support office in Shenzhen, Guangdong, and logistics operations in Hong Kong.

Since its founding in 2007, Allwinner has released more than fifteen SoC processors that have been widely implemented in Android-based tablets, as well as in smartphones, over-the-air OTT boxes, video camera systems, car DVRs, and car media players.

The company provides a backdoored Linux kernel, that is available in their products, lowering their security considerably. The company itself has also released low-quality contributions to the open-source community, via the release of mainly binary blobs, which is in clear violation of the GPL license that the Linux kernel uses.

Why I prefer the Broadcom chips to the Allwinner chips…

But notice that you don’t need a “CPU Designer” to make an integrated SOC (System On Chip) cell phone? Just license the one from Arm, glue it to your interface designs, and send it to fab. Oh, and since Linux already runs on ARM Cores, a port to your new system is pretty easy and quick. Mostly a few drivers and some debugging. And maybe a backdoor for The Party Bosses if you are in China…

ARM came to this position by having a pretty good chip design early on, and being willing to license it. In the 1980s, they were NOT that unique. Lots of players made CPUs. But they mostly wanted to fab their own… so all those “Me Too!” folks licensed from Arm. I was at Apple then, and my desk was not far away from the guy working on the early PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) product ideas. What later became the Newton, the Pocket Crystal (General Magic spin out), and eventually the iPhone – after a generation or two. Apple was trying to decide “make our own or buy in?”. He talked to Arm, looked over their stuff, and pitched it as the best solution for lowest cost. A hundred other shops were busy doing the same thing…

So National Semiconductor had a nice 32 bit chip. Now forgotten.

MIPS had a great chip set. Barely remembered by a few.

DEC made the PDP into a chip set. Dust of time.

Apple used the ARM chip for the low end, but decided to design a Super Duper Chip for the future desktop. That was the project I was on, running the hardware used in the designing. That Cray time. Though that project was killed (in a very stupid way, IMHO) the chip design went on to be the foundation for the Power PC (merged with the IBM RS 6000 IIRC) via Taligent corp (an IBM / Apple combine). Apple used that chipset until recently when they went over to the Intel chips (that had bought tech from HP as HP left the CPU design business and my Old College Roomie who worked at HP went on to other things…) As you can see, that era of my career was “in the thick of it” on chips and chipsets.

The “bottom line” is that then, to design and debug and get to the point of fab, a whole new CPU chip, could run into the many $MILLIONS per chip. Then, when done, you get to start all over on the next generation. A LOT easier to pay $1 / chip (now closer to 5 ¢ / chip in bulk) to Arm for a tested design…

So that’s what Softbank is looking to buy. A “strategic position’ in telecom infrastructure IP owning the designs used in much of the telecom gear globally.

Who is Softbank?

You can “hit the wiki” for the details. I’m just going to quote a couple of bits for illustration.


SoftBank Corp. (Sofutobanku Kabushikigaisha?), previously as SoftBank Mobile Corp., Vodafone K.K. (also known as Vodafone Japan) and J-PHONE is the telecommunications subsidiary of SoftBank Group, including mobile and fixed-line services.

Masayoshi Son is chairman and Ken Miyauchi is President and CEO.

SoftBank store, Hankyu-Ibaraki, Futabacho Ibaraki-City Osaka, Japan
SoftBank Mobile operates W-CDMA (UMTS 3G) network (“SoftBank 3G”). SoftBank’s 3G network is compatible with UMTS and supports transparent global roaming for existing UMTS subscribers from other countries. SoftBank 4G uses TD-LTE / LTE. SoftBank offers 4G speeds of more than 110 Mbit/s. SoftBank WiFi Spots are available almost everywhere in Japan.


J-PHONE store in Nagoya

The company was originally founded in 1981 as the mobile phone division of Japan Telecom under the name Digital Phone. J-PHONE Co., Ltd. was formed in 1999 by the merging of Digital Phone Group (DPG, 3 local companies) and Digital TU-KA Group (DTG, 6 local companies, not to be confused with TU-KA). Japan Telecom owned a stake of 45.1%. In October 2001, the British mobile phone group Vodafone increased its share to 66.7% of Japan Telecom and 69.7% of J-Phone. On October 1, 2003, the name of the company and the service brand was officially changed to Vodafone. The growth and success of the company during this period is due in large part to then president Bill Morrow.

On March 17, 2006, Vodafone Group announced it had agreed to sell its holding of Vodafone Japan (Vodafone K.K.) to SoftBank for about 1.75 trillion Japanese yen (approximately US$15.1 billion). On April 14, 2006, SoftBank and Vodafone K. K. jointly announced, that the name of the company will be changed to a “new, easy-to-understand and familiar” company name and brand.

It was announced in a press conference on May 18, 2006 that the new name would be “SoftBank Mobile Corp.”, effective October 1, 2006. SoftBank started the rebranding around June 14, 2006.

Or is it the parent, SoftBank Group Corp? (Welcome to the world of Japanese Keiretsu and layered holdings / cross holdings)


SoftBank Group Corp. (Sofutobanku Gurūpu Kabushiki-gaisha?) is a Japanese multinational telecommunications and Internet corporation, with operations in broadband, fixed-line telecommunications, e-commerce, Internet, technology services, finance, media and marketing, semiconductor design, and other businesses.

SoftBank was established in 1981 and is headquartered in Tokyo. As of 2015, SoftBank was the 62nd largest company in the world (based on a composite of sales, profit, assets and market value).

and on and on.

Basically it’s a fairly large telecoms corp going for the usual Japanese vertical integration. From chips and wires to telco service to the end customer.

In such a behemoth, a tiny little boutique CPU designer will be rapidly lost. THE big questions are:

1) Can they keep the Arm Holdings culture alive and thriving?

2) Can they keep the present employees and attract similar folks in the future?

3) Will they be bright enough to keep the present business (licensing) model?

4) Will they be so self centered as to give themselves favor in chip availability?

If they fail in any of those, the end result will be all the other telecom players leaving the ARM chip for other designs. Sooner, or later.

Arm Holdings was never seen as a direct competitor to their licensees. Broadcom, as a random example, doesn’t have to fear Arm Holdings giving preferential access (in time or dollars) to Allwinner. BUT, if Allwinner gets a design 6 months earlier, or at 1/3 off the cost; Broadcom would be strongly disadvantaged on time to market or parts cost. At that point, they MUST change vendors.

Over time, if Japanese Conglomerate Arm isn’t able to attract the kind of guy who works at Arm Holdings, the product will become stale and folks will just ‘move on’ to other providers.

Who Are The Alternatives?

Well, the one that comes to mind first is MIPS. Now “Imagination Technologies”.

The “Mips chip” has always been a good one. I was a bit disappointed when ARM beat them in the small scale licensing market. They do have enough market presence (mostly in bigger machines) to have Linux ports available.


MIPS64 I-Class I6400
Multiprocessor Core

MIPS Series6 Warrior I-class core offers 64-bits, simultaneous multi-threading
SIMD, virtualization and more
Classic Cores

Widely licensed and cost-effective solutions for embedded and multimedia applications.

Though I think they need to get the idea of “Classic” (that seems dangerously close to “legacy” to me…) out of their mind and instead focus on “power efficient embedded” cores… But then I’m not in marketing, likely for a reason ;-)

For my money, it is a “first stop” for things like tablets and cell phones, especially as performance demands increase.


Imagination Technologies Group plc (LSE: IMG) is a British-based technology R&D company, focussing on semiconductor and related intellectual property licensing. It is most noted for its PowerVR mobile graphics processors, MIPS embedded microprocessors and for its Pure consumer electronics division. It also supplies radio baseband processing, networking, DSP, video and audio hardware, VoIP software solutions, cloud hosting and silicon and system design services. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Note that PowerVR. In some SOC designs, you get an ARM CPU core and a PowerVR graphics core, each licensed from a different company. It would be a small ‘leap’ to go from that to an all-MIPS license…

Then there is an interesting design from another company with an extensible CPU core…


Tensilica is a company based in Silicon Valley in the semiconductor intellectual property core business. It is now a part of Cadence Design Systems. Its dataplane processors (DPUs) bring together the strengths of CPUs and DSPs and custom logic with 10 to 100 times the performance[citation needed], making them suited for data-intensive processing tasks.

The Tensilica brand is best known for its customizable microprocessor core, the Xtensa configurable processor.
Other products include: HiFi audio/voice DSPs with a software library of over 125 codecs from Cadence and over 55 software partners; IVP Image/Video DSP, designed to handle complex algorithms in imaging, video and computer vision; and ConnX family of baseband DSPs ranging from the dual-MAC ConnX D2 to the 64-MAC ConnX BBE64EP.

Tensilica was founded in 1997 by Chris Rowen (one of the founders of MIPS Technologies) and was initially staffed by former employees of several other Silicon Valley processor and electronic design automation companies. It employed Earl Killian, who contributed to the MIPS instruction set, as chief software architect for several years. On March 11, 2013, Cadence Design Systems announced its intent to buy Tensilica for approximately $380 million in cash. Cadence completed the acquisition in April 2013, with a cash outlay at closing of approximately $326 million. [3]

Being owned by Cadence is both good and bad. Folks using Cadence will find it a benefit. Folks committed to their competition may see it as an annoyance. Yet the cores are available.

Then there’s. ARC International, now owned by Synopsys. (Notice a trend here of being bought?)


ARC International PLC was the designer of ARC (Argonaut RISC Core) embedded processors, which were widely used in SoC devices for IoT, storage, digital home, mobile, and automotive applications. ARC processors have been licensed by more than 200 companies and are shipped in more than 1.5 Billion products per year. ARC International was acquired by Synopsys in 2010.

The roots of ARC International date back to the early 1990s. The company was founded by Jez San to build upon the 3D accelerator technology previously developed for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System by a division of Argonaut Software. This forerunner to the ARC was originally called the Mario (Mathematical, Argonaut, Rotation & I/O) chip and later dubbed the Super FX. It went on to sell millions, at the time outselling ARM or any other RISC core.

Following the success of the Super FX, its designers were split from the main company to a subsidiary called Argonaut Technology Ltd (ATL). The design was renamed to ARC and marketed as a general-purpose configurable microprocessor. Later, ATL spun off as a separate company, ARC International. In 1995 Bob Terwilliger took over as ARC’s first CEO. He created the company licensing strategy, commercialized the product including the acquisition of Metaware, VAutomation and Precise Software. He raised $50 million pre-IPO and took the company public in September 2000, raising an additional $250 million.

A Moment To Ponder

Now take just a moment to look at those stories. A few guys with an idea found a company and design a chip. They sell the idea and the products, get noticed, and get bought up. Wash and repeat. It doesn’t take much to start a new chip design firm. A half dozen guys with clue and a bit of money.

Buying ARM, does not and can not have any monopoly power in the market. ARM has position power as it is widely used; but a truth of the electronics industry is that you are always one product design cycle away from being designed out. At one time, National Semi made a hot CPU chip. Now? I don’t know, but haven’t heard news on them for years so likely not. Maybe? Texas Instruments was “hot” for a while. Now? Who knows. Intel makes the hot Desktop CPU (with AMD constantly nipping at them…). Intel also makes a variety of embedded CPUs (though for licensing CPU Core designs for your own integration and fab, not such a good choice, as Intel is also your competitor). There are loads more, too. I can’t begin to list them all.

So between the “few guys with an idea” and the semiconductor designers (from Giant Global Blob to Boutique Shop) you have a wide range of options, if the ARM deal makes ARM less interesting.

But Wait! Theirs More! Annnndddd… It’s Free!

Think of it as “Open Source Meets Hardware and Falls In Love”…


They have a LOT of different hardware designs ready for “tape out” (just before fab). All free. Some of them of known decent designs. Others oddball, but interesting. A few just an idea, for now. Then my favorite, the “RetroComputing” cores. Folks have gone back and implemented retro instruction sets in modern design systems.

In many cases they have these cores running in FPGA (Field Programable Gate Array) configurable hardware chips to prove and test the design. This one is an ARM 7 compatible core:


(You do need to get an account and log in to download the layout or view the statistics)

I personally like the PDP 11/70:


The project contains a complete DEC PDP-11 system: a PDP-11/70 CPU with memory management unit, but without floating point unit, a complete set of mass storage peripherals (RK11/RK05, RL11/RL02, RK70/RP06, TM11/TU10) and a basic set of UNIBUS peripherals (DL11, LP11, PC11), and last but not least a cache and memory controllers for SRAM and PSRAM. The design is FPGA proven, runs currently on Digilent Arty , Basys3 , Nexys4 , Nexys3 , Nexys2 and S3board boards and boots 5th Edition UNIX and 2.11BSD UNIX.

This is a retrocomputing project, rebuilding hardware from the late 70s and running historical software. To get into the tune see Figure D-1, a 11/70 console, and Figure F-2, a baseline system setup.

News 2016-06-26: Release w11a_v0.73 available for details see section Releases.

News 2014-06-19: doxygen generated code browsing available for vhdl and C++ sources. No documentation text added so far, but helpful to navigate through the code. Good starting points are vhdl module list, or sys_w11a_n3 source, or C++ class list .

Then again, that was one of the first computers I ever used… I miss toggle switches on the front of computers..

Or how about that old National Semiconductor 32 bit CPU that was so “hot” once?:


M32632 is an implementation of the Series 32000 architecture of National Semiconductor. This 32-bit architecture was popular in the 1980’s and began to disappear in the beginning of the 1990’s. The first microprocessor was the NS32016. The third generation CPU was the NS32532. This processor is the basis of M32632. In addition M32632 implements the functionality of the NS32381 floating point unit.

But, for folks hopelessly in love with the new, how about a Java optimized core?



– Very small core:
– about 2000 LCs – 3000 LCs (configurable)
– fmax is 100 MHz in a Cyclone EP1C6
– Real-time features:
– architecture designed to simplify WCET analysis
– cycle accurate time interrupt (not tick based)
– real-time enhanced thread model
– WISHBONE master


JOP is the implementation of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) as concrete machine in hardware. The design has been sucessfully implemented in low cost FPGA devices from Altera (ACEX 1K50, Cyclone) and Xilinx (Spartan II and Spartan-3).

JOP is open-source under the GNU General Public License, version 3.

The point? IFF every single chip design house on the planet gets bought up by the various players, you can always just “roll your own” via an open source design. What used to take $Million of scalar processor to “reduce to silicon” can now be done on a home PC. What used to take a dozen guys with skilz working for a year or two can be downloaded for free. What used to take a few $Million of Fab to make, can be run in a FPGA. (For volume you can call up a contract fab company and hand them the tape…)

In short, where CPU design and build WERE terribly arcane, expensive, and hard things; they are now college Masters Thesis projects (or MIT undergrads, I’m sure ;-) and cost is approaching free. Not really all that hard either, with modern CAD software.

In Conclusion

I’m quite certain that across the Silicon World there are dozens of designers of cell phones, tablets, routers, telecom gear, embedded systems of all kinds; who are looking at their technology road-map and where it says “ARM 64 bit model TBD” penciling in “Or competitor chip TBD, pending review”.

For the next couple of years, nothing will change. Licenses are in hand, designs set, chips in fab. It’s the products 4 to 8 years out where change will hit. IF Softbank has a kind of “hands off just keep doing it” approach to Arm, it will retain dominance. However, any ‘bump in the night’, there are loads of alternatives.

Some folks will shift designs just because they fear a strong vertically integrated competitor owning their IP source and potentially knowing something of their plans (if YOU made a home telco IP router would YOU want a major supplier of them to know you wanted a license to make 2 Million A15 cores next year?). There WILL be ripples through the whole industry, short term.

Long term, it depends on Softbank and what they do with Arm… and that half dozen guys in a Venture Cap office making their pitch last week…

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Posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Tech Bits | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments