Free FPGA programming with Debian

Thu 22 December 2016 by Steffen Möller with tags fpga programming

Translations: vi

FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) are increasingly popular for data acquisition, device control and application acceleration. Debian now features a completely Free set of tools to program FPGA in Verilog, prepare the binary and have it executed on an affordable device.

See for details. Readers familiar with the technology may rightly guess that this refers to the yosys package together with berkeley-abc, arachne-"Place-and-Route" and the icestorm tools to communicate with the device.

The packages have been contributed by the Debian Science team.

We hope this effort to support the FPGA community to collect an increasing number of skills to further smoothen the Open Source experience and lower the entry barriers for this tantalising technology.

The Debian Contributor Survey launched last week!

In order to better understand and document who contributes to Debian, we (Mathieu ONeil, Molly de Blanc, and Stefano Zacchiroli) have created this survey to capture the current state of participation in the Debian Project through the lense of common demographics. We hope a general survey will become an annual effort, and that each year there will also be a focus on a specific aspect of the project or community. The 2016 edition contains sections concerning work, employment, and labour issues in order to learn about who is getting paid to work on and with Debian, and how those relationships affect contributions.

We want to hear from as many Debian contributors as possible—whether you've submitted a bug report, attended a DebConf, reviewed translations, maintain packages, participated in Debian teams, or are a Debian Developer. Completing the survey should take 10-30 minutes, depending on your current involvement with the project and employment status.

In an effort to reflect our own ideals as well as those of the Debian project, we are using LimeSurvey, an entirely free software survey tool, in an instance of it hosted by the LimeSurvey developers.

Survey responses are anonymous, IP and HTTP information are not logged, and all questions are optional. As it is still likely possible to determine who a respondent is based on their answers, results will only be distributed in aggregate form, in a way that does not allow deanonymization. The results of the survey will be analyzed as part of ongoing research work by the organizers. A report discussing the results will be published under a DFSG-free license and distributed to the Debian community as soon as it's ready. The raw, disaggregated answers will not be distributed and will be kept under the responsibility of the organizers.

We hope you will fill out the Debian Contributor Survey. The deadline for participation is: 4 December 2016, at 23:59 UTC.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us via email at:

The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months:

  • Adriano Rafael Gomes (adrianorg)
  • Arturo Borrero González (arturo)
  • Sandro Knauß (hefee)

The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months:

  • Abhijith PA
  • Mo Zhou
  • Víctor Cuadrado Juan
  • Zygmunt Bazyli Krynicki
  • Robert Haist
  • Sunil Mohan Adapa
  • Elena Grandi
  • Eric Heintzmann
  • Dylan Aïssi
  • Daniel Shahaf
  • Samuel Henrique
  • Kai-Chung Yan
  • Tino Mettler


The theme "softWaves" by Juliette Taka Belin has been selected as default theme for Debian 9 'stretch'.

softWaves Login screen. Click to see the whole theme proposal

After the Debian Desktop Team made the call for proposing themes, a total of twelve choices have been submitted, and any Debian contributor has received the opportunity to vote on them in a survey. We received 3,479 responses ranking the different choices, and softWaves has been the winner among them.

We'd like to thank all the designers that have participated providing nice wallpapers and artwork for Debian 9, and encourage everybody interested in this area of Debian, to join the Design Team. It is being considered to package all of them so they are easily available in Debian. If you want to help in this effort, or package any other artwork (for example, particularly designed to be accessibility-friendly), please contact the Debian Desktop Team, but hurry up, because the freeze for new packages in the next release of Debian starts on January 5th, 2017.

This is the second time that Debian ships a theme by Juliette Belin, who also created the theme "Lines" that enhances our actual stable release, Debian 8. Congratulations, Juliette, and thank you very much for your continued commitment to Debian!

Following the success of the last round of Outreachy, we are glad to announce that Debian will take part in the program for the next round, with internships lasting from the 6th of December 2016 to the 6th of March 2017.

From the official website: Outreachy helps people from groups underrepresented in free and open source software get involved. We provide a supportive community for beginning to contribute any time throughout the year and offer focused internship opportunities twice a year with a number of free software organizations.

Currently, internships are open internationally to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Additionally, they are open to residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.

If you want to apply to an internship in Debian, you should take a look at the wiki page, and contact the mentors for the projects listed, or seek more information on the (public) debian-outreach mailing-list. You can also contact the Outreach Team directly. If you have a project idea and are willing to mentor an intern, you can submit a project idea on the Outreachy wiki page.

Here's a few words on what the interns for the last round achieved within Outreachy:

  • Tatiana Malygina worked on Continuous Integration for Bioinformatics applications; She has pushed more than a hundred commits to the Debian Med SVN repository over the last months, and has been sponsored for more than 20 package uploads.

  • Valerie Young worked on Reproducible Builds infrastructure, driving a complete overhaul of the database and software behind the website. Her blog contains regular updates throughout the program.

  • ceridwen worked on creating reprotest, an all-in-one tool allowing anyone to check whether a build is reproducible or not, replacing the string of ad-hoc scripts the reproducible builds team used so far. She posted regular updates on the Reproducible Builds team blog.

  • While Scarlett Clark did not complete the internship (as she found a full-time job by the mid-term evaluation!), she spent the four weeks she participated in the program providing patches for reproducible builds in Debian and KDE upstream.

Debian would not be able to participate in Outreachy without the help of the Software Freedom Conservancy, who provides administrative support for Outreachy, as well as the continued support of Debian's donors, who provide funding for the internships. If you want to donate, please get in touch with one of our trusted organizations.

Debian is looking forward to welcoming new interns for the next few months, come join us!

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