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Introducing CERN BE-CO-HT


Dear all,

As you know, the BE-CO-HT section at CERN has been contributing to Kicad
for some time now. We see this involvement as a key part of our activities
regarding Open Source Hardware [1]. We are also contributing to the
adoption of VHDL and SystemVerilog in the Icarus Verilog simulator, so as
to enable cross-language simulation. Other related activities include the
operation on the Open Hardware Repository [2] and the development of the
CERN Open Hardware Licence [3].

Regarding our contribution to Kicad, it took us some time to put our act
together, but I believe we are now ready to announce that development has
started in earnest. We have come up with a preliminary roadmap [4], which
has been discussed with the main Kicad developers [5]. We have agreed that
this strategy is at least a good enough base to start development work.

The main actors involved on our side will be:

- Maciej Sumiński, aka "Orson". He is going to be with us for a year within
CERN's Technical Student Programme, working full time on Kicad. He started
in March. He has already started working on a new View component for Kicad
as you saw yesterday.
- Tomasz Włostowski, aka "Tom" or "Tomek", Orson's supervisor. Tom works on
hardware design most of the time, but is also developing a Push & Shove
router for Kicad.

We are very excited about the opportunity to contribute to Kicad, and I
would like to thank all Kicad developers (in particular the main
developers: Jean-Pierre, Dick and Wayne) for bringing Kicad up to a level
of quality and features where we would judge it worthwhile to invest in. We
very much look forward to collaborating with you all.

In addition to the manpower I described, we have a small budget we
sometimes use to get work done through companies. If browsing Kicad code
you see files with a CERN copyright statement and an author either from
among the main Kicad developers or another company (only Igalia [6] so
far), that's the way that code was contributed. We believe one way of
making Kicad sustainable and reliable for professional use is to have
companies sell support contracts for Kicad, and companies which contribute
code to Kicad will of course be ideally placed to sell such contracts. This
should sound familiar to people who know how many of the major Linux
distributions work from a financial point of view. There are probably other
ways to reach these goals, and I am very interested in this topic, so
please don't hesitate to contribute ideas in this domain.

Our budget for Kicad development is as I said very modest. If you think
what we are doing is useful and you would like to help us work better and
faster, please consider donating. CERN's Knowledge Transfer Group has set
up a donations page [7], as part of a global fund-raising effort for
projects which present an interest to society, even if they are not in the
core mandate of CERN (Particle Physics research). There is also a link to
the donations page from the CERN Kicad wiki [4]. I would also like to ask
you to forward this link to whoever you think might be interested. The
donations page is in a very primitive state right now. It does not allow
payment through Paypal, credit cards or other methods yet. You are
requested to send a message to cern.and.society@xxxxxxx and then you get
bank account details which allow you to make a money transfer. This is a
bit inconvenient but I can tell you any contribution at this point in time
will be very useful to go faster through the roadmap.

Thanks in advance for your help. We are really looking forward to working
with all of you. Cheers,


[1] https://indico.cern.ch/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=190126
[2] http://www.ohwr.org/
[3] http://www.ohwr.org/cernohl
[4] http://www.ohwr.org/projects/cern-kicad/wiki
[5] Referred to as "Main Authors" in file AUTHORS.txt of the Kicad sources.
[6] http://www.igalia.com/
[7] http://cernandsociety.web.cern.ch/technology/kicad-development

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