Setting up ALSA on Chromebook Asus C201 Debian

ALSA – Advanced Linux Sound Architecture

After initial preparation of the bootable Debian images, I managed to boot into Debian from the SD card and run system upgrade and migrate the Operating System from Debian Jessie to Debian Stretch (current Debian testing release). The migration was successful. There are a few things that still require tuning on this laptop, one of them is the ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) system. Before proceeding with ALSA settings, there are a few things worth mentioning. The default installation doesn’t provide the working ALSA subsystem, and it can be “unsafe” (see disclaimer on the bottom of this article) if you try using the sound system without the correct system configuration, as you might even damage or ruin the speakers. So to begin with the settings:

First we will install the base of the ALSA packages, alsamixer for tuning the settings and pavucontrol monitor for setting additonal pulseaudio values:

  • aptitude install alsa-utils alsamixergui pulseaudio pulseaudio-utils pavucontrol

We start with configuration of the ALSA values by using the “amixer” entries. It’s advisable to copy all these values inside the script, so they can be executed after reboot in case of configuration loss. We will be using program “amixer” with “-Dhw” parameter and “ROCKCHIPI2S” is the device name we’re setting up. You can ignore the error “shared memfd open() failed: Function not implemented” if it appears. It is something related to the Linux kernel settings, which cannot be alternated inside the current running kernel. Apply the settings below as root or use “sudo” from the user account.

amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Left Speaker Mixer Left DAC Switch’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Right Speaker Mixer Right DAC Switch’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Headphone Left Switch’ off
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Headphone Right Switch’ off
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Digital EQ 3 Band Switch’ off
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Digital EQ 5 Band Switch’ off
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Digital EQ 7 Band Switch’ off
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Biquad Switch’ off
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Filter Mode’ Music
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’ADC Oversampling Rate’ 0
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’DMIC Mux’ DMIC
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’MIC2 Mux’ IN34
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Right ADC Mixer MIC2 Switch’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Left ADC Mixer MIC2 Switch’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’MIC2 Volume’ 20
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Headset Mic Switch’ off
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Int Mic Switch’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’ADCR Boost Volume’ 4
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’ADCL Boost Volume’ 4
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’ADCR Volume’ 11
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’ADCL Volume’ 11
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Left Speaker Mixer Left DAC Switch’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Right Speaker Mixer Right DAC Switch’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Speaker Left Mixer Volume’ 2
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Speaker Right Mixer Volume’ 2
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Record Path DC Blocking’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Playback Path DC Blocking’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Speaker Left Switch’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Speaker Right Switch’ on
amixer -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S cset name=’Speaker Switch’ on

After implementing these values, the sound system should be ready. Test if there is any sound coming from the speakers by playing a .wav file on your computer. You can do this with the program “aplay”. There is a short manual for soundcard testing.

  • aplay -vv soundfile.wav

If this command gives you a visualisation of playing graphics inside the terminal but not producing the actual sound from the speakers, you can continue with sound test outside of “pulseaudio” mode with:

  • pasuspender — speaker-test -c2 -twav -l3 -Dhw:ROCKCHIPI2S

This should produce the sound in your speakers by a voice saying “Front left (on the left speaker) and front right (on the right speaker)”. You should probably hear this. This means that the hardware itself works and it could also mean that the pulseaudio is doing something strange not to hear the sound by using “aplay”. Next thing you could try is using pavucontrol GUI, which is the main pulseaudio configuration tool. Look at the picture below and match your settings similar to it, focus on the “Output devices” section and make sure the output device is selected as your fallback device and that it is not muted. Start “pavucontrol” as root and a GUI will open a similar image like the one below:

Select the bottom output device where it says “ROCKCHIP-I2S Analog Stereo” click on the speaker button to mute it and then again to unmute the device (just to be sure) and click the green button on the right side where is the setting for setting default output device. This worked for me and I was able to hear the sound coming out from the speakers.

The last thing which you need to apply is storing the ALSA values permanently into the system which will also work after reboot.

You can do this as root just type:

  • alsactl store

Alternative thing if “alsactl store” doesn’t save the values for you, you can still save the settings for ALSA inside the script with:

  • alsactl –file ~/.config/asound.state store

Which you reload after reboot with:

  • alsactl –file ~/.config/asound.state restore

That’s about it.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility if you damage your speakers by following this manual, there is no warranty however that you will get a working sound system. Consider contacting the ALSA support team for further information. You can use this script to debug and show more details about your ALSA system and publish its content. You can run it as a regular user it doesn’t need root access.

Huawei E3372 LTE modem on Ubuntu

I have purchased Huawei E3372 LTE modem for the purpose of using it as a backup link for my home Internet connection. I have found a good option with Telemach mobile carrier that offers pay-per-use access to their LTE network with NET2GO mobile data package. You only pay when you actually need to access the Internet. So let’s see how to configure this thing on Ubuntu ARM computer.

When first inserting the USB dongle with the SIM card into computer, this is what “dmesg” will reveal:

# dmesg

  • usb 1-1.4: new high-speed USB device number 3 using ci_hdrc
  • usb-storage 1-1.4:1.0: USB Mass Storage device detected
  • scsi1 : usb-storage 1-1.4:1.0 scsi 1:0:0:0: CD-ROM HUAWEI Mass Storage 2.31 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
  • scsi 1:0:0:1: Direct-Access HUAWEI TF CARD Storage 2.31 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
  • sd 1:0:0:1: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk
  • usb 1-1.4: USB disconnect, device number 3
  • usb 1-1.4: new high-speed USB device number 4 using ci_hdrc
  • usb-storage 1-1.4:1.2: USB Mass Storage device detected
  • scsi2 : usb-storage 1-1.4:1.2
  • scsi 2:0:0:0: Direct-Access HUAWEI TF CARD Storage 2.31 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
  • sd 2:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk

# lsusb

  • Bus 001 Device 004: ID 12d1:14dc Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

For things to work you need several usb modules compiled already in the kernel. Since I have an ARM machine I don’t have the required modules (usbnet, usbcore, cdc_ether) compiled, therefore I was unable to continue from here, without kernel recompilation. It is suggested that you have all the required usb packages installed to further continue with the setup.

# aptitude install libusb++-0.1-4c2 libusb++-dev libusb-1.0-0-dev libusb-dev

There is a tool called “usb_modeswitch” that I used to detect the modem. Next packages to be installed are “usb-modeswitch usb-modeswitch-data”.

# aptitude install usb-modeswitch usb-modeswitch-data

# usb_modeswitch -J -v 0x12d1 -p 0x14dc

From this point on I was out of luck to continue with the setup. Here is a list of related links from where you should find the additional information.


Libreboot with Debian on Chromebook C201

libreboot logo
Libreboot logo made by Marcus Moeller (2014) – Creative Commons license CC0 1.0 Universal

A few months back I obtained a Google Chromebook Asus C201. It arrived preinstalled with Chrome OS as default operating system. This laptop was listed as one of the possible laptop models that can use Libreboot. Free Software developer Paul Kocialkowski has ported Libreboot to this Chromebook. Libreboot is a free BIOS or UEFI replacement (free as in freedom); libre boot firmware that initializes the hardware and starts a bootloader for your operating system. It’s also an open source BIOS, but open source fails to promote freedom; please call libreboot free software. Since I know Paul K. from the Internet, he helped me with the guidelines about creating bootable Debian image to be used on this laptop. In my next blog post I plan to describe how to successfully create these bootable Debian images. This laptop has three possibilities about using a secondary operating system.

  • First possibility is to install the system on internal storage and replace the default Chrome OS.
  • Second possibility is to use an external USB key and have it stored there and the
  • third possibility (which I have chosen) was to install Debian on the Micro-SD card.

With my current setup I prefer to keep Chrome OS on internal storage and I can select secondary booting method to boot up Debian from Micro-SD card. I used Debian stable (Jessie) image and afterwards I have upgraded to Debian testing (stretch) to use more recent Debian packages. Just a short info for people that don’t know about Debian. Debian has one of the best designed release methods amongst GNU/Linux distributions, and their “main” software pool contains only free software. The “main” pool is also the only software pool that I will use on this laptop. Currently there are no other suitable FSF authorised distributions that would run on this laptop, next possible ports will include the Guix system distribution and Paul Kocialkowski is working on porting the Parabola GNU/Linux-libre distribution. My goal is to use only free software on this laptop, but there are some limitations. First the BIOS needs to be replaced with Libreboot, and the integrated Wi-Fi chipset would only work with proprietary software. Therefore for this purpose I have purchased a free hardware replacement – Qualcomm Atheros external USB Wi-Fi card, that uses AR9271 chipset, which is known to operate with free software. The model of this access point card is Sophos AP 5 Rev. 1. More about the recommended steps will follow up soon …

GNU is 33 years old

GNU logo made by Aurelio A. Hackert – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license

GNU is an operating system and an extensive collection of computer software. GNU is composed wholly of free software, most of which is licensed under GNU’s own GPL.

GNU is a recursive acronym for “GNU’s Not Unix!”, chosen because GNU’s design is Unix-like, but differs from Unix by being free software and containing no Unix code. The GNU project includes an operating system kernel, GNU HURD, which was the original focus of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). However, non-GNU kernels, most famously Linux, can also be used with GNU software; and since the kernel is the least mature part of GNU, this is how it is usually used. The combination of GNU software and the Linux kernel is commonly known as Linux (or less frequently GNU/Linux; see GNU/Linux naming controversy).

Development of the GNU operating system was initiated by Richard Stallman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Artificial Intelligence Laboratory as a project called the GNU Project which was publicly announced on September 27, 1983, on the net.unix-wizards and net.usoft newsgroups by Richard Stallman.

More about GNU in the links below:

Upgrading U-boot to 2015.07 on Compulab Utilite

Utilitie-introThis manual is about upgrading U-boot on Utilite Standard / Pro device.

Originally the default U-boot on Utilite has version U-Boot 2009.08-cm-fx6-0.87+tools (Oct 06 2013 – 13:46:27). Here we try to flash the chip to U-Boot 2015.07-cm-fx6-3 (Sep 02 2015 – 13:30:11 +0300). This is how you proceed.

  • Have the Micro SD card ready and partitioned with “vfat” on the first /dev/sdb1 partition. Your partition name can be different than /dev/sdb1, put in the Micro SD card into the PC slot and run “dmesg” it will reveal which device it is at the end. Run the “mkfs” command with filesystem un-mounted to create vfat partition.
  • # mkfs -t vfat /dev/sdb1
  • Download the latest U-boot release from Compulab Utilite website or from this alternative location.
  • Ensure the integrity of the file with md5sum utility.
  • # md5sum utilite-updater.tar.bz2
  • bf0d453aeb61a680e15e263eb3ff31bb utilite-updater.tar.bz2
  • Untar the archive on PC to get the firmware image (cm-fx6-firmware file) and update script.
  • # mkdir utilite-updater
  • # tar -xvf utilite-updater.tar.bz2 -C utilite-updater
  • Copy the “cm-fx6-firmware” file onto first partition example /mnt/sdcard1 of the Micro SD card.
  • # cp utilite-updater/cm-fx6-firmware /mnt/sdcard1
  • Insert the Micro SD card into Utilite and boot Utilite, your old U-boot will appear.
  • Perform these commands
  • CM-FX6 # mmc dev 2
  • mmc2 is current device
  • CM-FX6 # mmc rescan
  • CM-FX6 # fatls mmc 2
  • 512000 cm-fx6-firmware 1 file(s), 0 dir(s)
  • CM-FX6 # fatload mmc 2 10800000 cm-fx6-firmware
  • reading cm-fx6-firmware
  • 512000 bytes read
  • From here on we will flash the U-boot (be aware that anything above this step is dangerous and can break your device, make sure you keep it powered until you finish all the other steps !)
  • CM-FX6 # sf probe 0
  • JEDEC ID: 0xbf:0x25:0x41 2048 KiB SST25VF016B – 2MB at 0:0 is now current device
  • CM-FX6 # sf erase 0 80000
  • Erasing SPI NOR flash 0x0 [0x80000 bytes] ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..SUCCESS
  • CM-FX6 # sf write 10800000 0 80000
  • Writing SPI NOR flash 0x0 [0x80000 bytes] <- ram 0x10800000 …….SUCCESS

This is all, you can disconnect Utilite and replug it back to power. You should see the new U-boot on it.

If you upgrade from a more recent U-boot like U-Boot 2014.04-cm-fx6-1.3 (Sep 16 2014 – 16:11:56), then your messages will appear like this:

  • CM-FX6 # fatload mmc 2 10800000 cm-fx6-firmware
    reading cm-fx6-firmware
    512000 bytes read in 58 ms (8.4 MiB/s)
  • CM-FX6 # sf probe 0
    SF: Detected M25PX16 with page size 256 Bytes, erase size 64 KiB, total 2 MiB
  • CM-FX6 # sf erase 0 80000
    SF: 524288 bytes @ 0x0 Erased: OK
  • CM-FX6 # sf write 10800000 0 80000
    SF: 524288 bytes @ 0x0 Written: OK

Links used for this manual:

I take no responsibility if you damage your Utilite device, this is not an official manual !

Compulab Utilite image with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr)

Utilitie-introA new image for Utilite devices is available. Default Utilite images were based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) now there is a new image with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr). You can download it from here or from alternative download location. Once you have it on your hard drive, you can extract it to the Micro SD card. This is a 5 GB bootable image with lots of desktop applications, make sure you have at least 6 GB of available space on your Micro SD card. You can use this command to put the content of the file on your Micro SD card (be aware that it will erase all existing content on your SD card).

# xz -dc armhf-trusty-vpu-gpu.img.5G.xz | sudo dd of=/dev/<sdcard device node> bs=1M

After you are done, insert the Micro SD card into Utilite SD card slot and boot the device.

How to monitor Bind with Munin on Debian Jessie

Munin is a networked resource monitoring tool for monitoring your servers. Bind is most widely used open source software that implements the Domain Name System (DNS) protocols for the Internet. This manual doesn’t cover Munin or Bind installation, only the manual how to sync those two together to display queries from Bind inside Munin, here is how you do it :

1. Set some logging permissions for bind

# mkdir /var/log/bind9
# chown bind:bind /var/log/bind9
# service bind9 restart

2. Edit /etc/bind/named.conf.options and add these settings:
logging {
         channel b_log {
                 file "/var/log/bind9/bind.log" versions 30 size 1m;
                 print-time yes;
                 print-category yes;
                 print-severity yes;
                 severity info;
         channel b_debug {
                 file "/var/log/bind9/debug.log" versions 2 size 1m;
                 print-time yes;
                 print-category yes;
                 print-severity yes;
                 severity dynamic;
         channel b_query {
                 file "/var/log/bind9/query.log" versions 2 size 1m;
                 print-time yes;
                 severity info;
         category default { b_log; b_debug; };
         category config { b_log; b_debug; };
         category queries { b_query; };

3. Restart bind
# service bind9 restart

4. Configure munin-node plugin
# ln -s /usr/share/munin/plugins/bind9 /etc/munin/plugins/bind9

5. In /etc/munin/plugin-conf.d/munin-node make sure you have declared bind9 plugin: 
user root

6. Restart munin-node
# service munin-node restart

7. Enable rndc statistics in bind. Add a context inside /etc/bind/named.conf.options
statistics-file "/etc/bind/zones/statistics";
zone-statistics yes;

8. Create zones directory and statistics file
# mkdir /etc/bind/zones
# chown bind.bind /etc/bind/zones
# touch /etc/bind/zones/statistics
# chown bind.bind /etc/bind/zones/statistics

9. Restart bind
# service bind9 restart

10. Run rndc statistics
# rndc stats

11. Enable bind9_rndc plugin in munin
# ln -s /usr/share/munin/plugins/bind9_rndc /etc/munin/plugins/bind9_rndc

12. In /etc/munin/plugin-conf.d/munin-node make sure you have declared bind9_rndc plugin
user root
env.querystats /etc/bind/zones/statistics

13. Restart munin-node
# service munin-node restart

This should be all. Wait about 10 minutes that Munin 
graphs become visible and they will look like this:


I will buy a Lemote Yeeloong laptop

Yeeloong2Chinese company by the name Lemote produced a few batches of FSF endorsed laptops called Lemote Yeeloong back in 2010 – 2012. First Yeeloong was the model 8089B with a 8.9″ screen, followed by 8101B with a 10.1″ screen size. These laptops are now out of sale and only obtainable on a second hand market. If you happen to know the information where these laptops would still be obtainable from or you have one available from second hand yourself and are willing to sell it, please contact me on my e-mail (or just use the comment section in the blog form). I would be interested to order one for my personal use. Regarding the shipping, I live in Slovenia, Europe. Regarding the payment we could discuss various possibilities. Thank you !

Rescue mode for Fonera+ (FON2201) Wi-Fi router / OpenWRT / Redboot / Wlan-si

fon-la-fonera-970-80Running customized OpenWRT/Wlan-SI image for a long time and then upgrading the router caused it to crash, the error was probably triggered with the telnet/ssh timeouts and probably a high CPU load on the router which disconnected me several times before I managed to write in the image. As suggested on Wlan-SI website, you should upgrade this type of router (and others) using their “nodeupgrade” [1] application. If you fail to boot into the new image, there is one thing you can still do to reflash over ethernet. A good idea is to put Redboot as the rescue method prior to flashing (but this manual won’t cover that step). So considering that Redboot is already installed here is how to proceed:

1. Install required  packages on a PC.

# apt-get install tftpd-hpa tftp telnet netcat

Configure tftpd-hpa download directory in /etc/default/tftpd-hpa where you will put firmware images.

2. Set your PC to listen on Connect your PC ethernet port with any of the two ethernet ports on Fonera router.

3. If Redboot is installed on Fonera router, it will listen for a few seconds on IP or port 9000, simply telnet there [2] , you will see a message like this one:

== Executing boot script in 8.530 seconds - enter ^C to abort

Press Ctrl+c in your terminal to enter

If you have problems here that Ctrl+c doesn't work 
(and router therefore already bypasses the escape sequence into failed boot mode) you can try the following trick [3]:

# echo -e "\0377\0364\0377\0375\0006" >break.bin 
# nc 9000 <break.bin

Just press "enter" or telnet again to 9000, and you entered Redboot.

4. Installing firmware into Redboot [4]

RedBoot> ip_address -l
IP:, Gateway:
Default server:
RedBoot> ip_address -h
IP:, Gateway:
Default server:
RedBoot> fis init
About to initialize [format] FLASH image system - continue (y/n)? y
*** Initialize FLASH Image System
... Erase from 0xa87e0000-0xa87f0000: .
... Program from 0x80ff0000-0x81000000 at 0xa87e0000: .
RedBoot> load -r -v -b 0x80041000 foneraplus-v2_0b_33_gbb622cc-kernel.lzma
Using default protocol (TFTP)
Raw file loaded 0x80041000-0x800f0fff, assumed entry at 0x80041000
RedBoot> fis create kernel
... Erase from 0xa8030000-0xa80e0000: ...........
... Program from 0x80041000-0x800f1000 at 0xa8030000: ...........
... Erase from 0xa87e0000-0xa87f0000: .
... Program from 0x80ff0000-0x81000000 at 0xa87e0000: .
RedBoot> load -r -v -b 0x80041000 foneraplus-v2_0b_33_gbb622cc-root.jffs2-64k
Using default protocol (TFTP)
Raw file loaded 0x80041000-0x80360fff, assumed entry at 0x80041000
RedBoot> fis create rootfs
... Erase from 0xa80e0000-0xa8400000: ..................................................
... Program from 0x80041000-0x80361000 at 0xa80e0000: ..................................................
... Erase from 0xa87e0000-0xa87f0000: .
... Program from 0x80ff0000-0x81000000 at 0xa87e0000: .
RedBoot> fconfig
Run script at boot: true
Boot script: 
.. fis load -l kernel
.. exec
Enter script, terminate with empty line
>> fis load -l kernel
>> exec
>> (press enter here with a blank line)
Boot script timeout (1000ms resolution): 10
Use BOOTP for network configuration: false
Gateway IP address: 
Local IP address:
Local IP address mask:
Default server IP address:
Console baud rate: 9600
GDB connection port: 9000
Force console for special debug messages: false
Network debug at boot time: false
Update RedBoot non-volatile configuration - continue (y/n)? y
... Erase from 0xa87e0000-0xa87f0000: .
... Program from 0x80ff0000-0x81000000 at 0xa87e0000: .
RedBoot> reset
This is all, wait some minutes then replug router in electricity.

Instead of image name foneraplus-v2_0b_33_gbb622cc-kernel.lzma 
you can use openwrt-atheros-vmlinux.lzma
Instead of image name foneraplus-v2_0b_33_gbb622cc-root.jffs2-64k 
you can use openwrt-atheros-root.squashfs

Download the OpenWRT firmwares here.

Manuals used in this procedure:





I take no responsibility if you break the router using this manual (it has only been tested once), do it on your own risk !

Free hardware designs

Yeeloong2In the recent years the Free Software Foundation has encouraged (computer) hardware manufacturers to start producing free (free as in freedom) hardware. Most hardware produced and sold today has proprietary design (Apple, Intel, etc.) and is therefore restricted/encrypted and hard to use with free software, requiring programmers to use reverse engineering methods and write the code to free up parts of the hardware and optimize it for the use with free software. Free Software Foundation maintains a list of the high priority reverse engineering projects. Free hardware would be optimized for the use with free user respecting GNU+Linux software and should be released under the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 3 or later. Currently there are few alternatives around free hardware designs. In 2012 the Free Software Foundation started a project with the Chinese manufacturer Jiangsu Lemote Technology Corporation Limited for the production of the Lemote Yeeloong netbook. Yeeloong’s used the early Loongson 2F, a single core MIPS3-compatible 64-bit CPU with some custom ISA extensions (not all used in software), therefore a lot of customized software still had to be written for it. For that purpose a special customized GNU+Linux distribution gNewSense has seen the light of day. Since then we have seen other alternatives to free up parts of the hardware. The project Libreboot has written replacements for the standard BIOS using reverse engineering on Lenovo Thinkpad models, such as X60, T60 and X200 which are all obtainable from the U.K. store Gluglug. Another crowd funding initiative called Purism has raised funds and started with the production of the free modern laptops. Michał Tomasz Masłowski has written about Laptops and free software in 2013. There are also Replicant, a free operating system that works as a replacement for Android based devices and libreCMC a free replacement operating system for wireless routers. There are videos (with Slovene translations) from the Libreplanet 2013 conference, where Dr. Richard Stallman talks about the free hardware designs (video part 1) (video part 2) and also explains the idea in his recent articles “Why we need free digital hardware designs” and “How to make hardware designs free“.