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Date: 2008-07-01 12:14:11
ASK-OSS June 2008 Newsletter

Project News

ASK-OSS is proud to relaunch our monthly newsletters! In this first edition we've covered a few events and publications about Open Source over the last 6 months, and we will also be updating and restructuring the content on the website over the coming few weeks. If you have any new resources, links or ideas for ASK-OSS, we'd love to hear them! We'll be chasing up all our existing case studies for updates on their projects so keep an eye on the website for new content.

Open Source newsfeed

Many ASK-OSS readers aren't aware of the ASK-OSS news aggregator which makes keeping up to date with news about Open Source easy. We currently aggregate several online RSS news feeds relating to Open Source and if you have any suggestions for new RSS feeds, please let us know:


Welcome back Pia

Finally, welcome back to Pia Waugh, who along with Jeff Waugh (both from Waugh Partners) will be helping with some ASK-OSS updates and events.


Events Update

We decided to give a brief overview of a couple of Open Source events in Australia over the last 6 months:

New events coming up include:

  • 24th - 26th September 2008 – The International Open Access and Research Conference (Hosted by The OAK Law Project, QUT)

  • 2nd - 5th December 2008 – Open Source Developers Conference - a conference run by open source developers, for developers and business people. It covers numerous programming languages across a range of operating systems, and related topics such as business processes, licensing, and strategy.

Recommended Reading

In each newsletter we'll mention a useful book or reference about Open Source.

April 2008 saw the release of a comprehensive study in the Australian Open Source Industry and Community. It was run by a private company (Waugh Partners) with the support of NICTA, IBM, Fujitsu, the NSW Department of State and Regional Development, Open Source Industry Australia and Linux Australia. The report includes information about the higher education and research sector in particular, and demonstrated that there is both a substantial need for Open Source skills in a rapidly growing industry, and that the higher education sector is not meeting this need. There was however a high level of research and innovation in the industry and community.

Find the report freely downloadable at:


We would also like to recommend an interesting paper on Open Access to research by The OAK-LAW Project which should be relevant to many of our readers:

The OAK Law Project has released the results of its 2007 nation-wide survey of the attitudes and practices of Australian academic authors towards the publication and dissemination of their research in its report, Academic authorship, publishing agreements and open access: Survey Results. The survey obtained evidence of author’s experiences with publishing agreements, their perceptions of open access and commercial publishing, their understanding of copyright ownership in their research and their involvement with online repositories and open access journals. It is envisaged that the results will be used to enhance the strategic management of copyright in the Australian research sector, especially in relation to open access.”


Case study of the month

In each months case study we will publish some key points about the case study. Please visit the website for full details of all case studies at http://ask-oss.mq.edu.au/.

This months case study is on a robotics project called Hykim, a cutting edge robot utilising Open Source technologies and an Open Development Platform (including hardware).

Project Details

Name of Open Source project:

Hykim - the 21DOF Robot Bear

Brief overview:

Hykim is a Robot Bear originally designed in response to RoboCup's call for a Standard Robotic Platform (information on the proposals (July 2007) can be viewed at http://tribotix.com/Products/RoboCup Tender/Intro.htm). The design philosophy used to produce Hykim was that Hykim would be an Open Development Platform, all necessary documentation is available to anyone along with the software. Hykim is a project in its early stages. The hardware is complete, and the software is currently in development, so if you are interested in robotics, get in touch with the team.

The Robot Bear functionally can move around on all four legs, on two legs, can record video images and sound through the web cam. It has 5-axis IMU (inertial measurement unit) and accelerometer in the head and chest to help it figure out where it is and where it is moving to. This can be useful for general robotics (such as the soccer competition) but also for real life applications like rescue missions, which Hykim is also being designed for.

Standards used: Ethernet, 802.11g, Serial interface, Posix

OSS technologies and methodologies used:

On the robot: eLinux (built from Debian) is used on the AMD geode microcontroller (the same as in the OLPC project) to controller all the elements of the robot. Python and c are used along with gcc, Apache (for viewing web images through a web browser) and the Debian webcam application for capturing imaging. They are controlled remotely via a wireless network, and can be programmed dynamically.

Methodologies: The project is attempting to build a community around the project, which includes the University of Newcastle, UTS and the The Hamilton Institute (Ireland).

OSS projects contributed to: No. They are mainly using the Open Source software in a simple way and the code written specifically for this project is made available on the website.

Implementors (internal, external): The three universities mentioned above and Tribotix all collaborate together (led by Tribotix), with a growing external collaborator community.


Rationale of Open Source technologies used: One of the main things we try to achieve is to make our projects expandable, user friendly and adaptable. You don't want people to be bound by the hardware, software or project vision when trying to implement our creations in new and innovative ways. Also, by making it able to be broken down into components (generally generic hardware, open source software) it can easily be fixed or modified at a component level. So when a motor breaks, or software bug is found, users can actually replace or choose to work with Tribotix to fix and improve it. The Open Source development model makes collaborative development between organisations and individuals easier for us. It gives people access to be able to learn what is going on at a software level, and this is also applied at a hardware level for the same reason. It gets rid of the magic and confusion.

Name of institute: Partnership between Tribotix and the University of Newcastle with collaboration from UTS and the The Hamilton Institute (Ireland)

Contact person: Peter Turner

Contact details: Peter dot Turner at tribotix dot com

URLs (project and institute): Details of the project are available at http://tribotix.com/

http://tribotix.info/wiki & http://livesite.newcastle.edu.au/cdsc/Home.page & http://www.robots.newcastle.edu.au/robocup.html

The team can be visited at #tribotix on the freenode IRC network.


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