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Just-In-Time in Open Tech

It has become a commonplace in my circles that modern open source has a just-in-time nature that is rather amusing. One goes to look for an open source software package to perform some obscure function, and finds something that was just created last week that does the job perfectly. I have lots of examples… One good example would be the old IPW 2100 802.11 Linux driver, which I found in an attachment on an obscure mailing list just a few days after it was first posted.

The other night, I was debugging some code that read from Linux /dev/random and ran out of random numbers: the device blocked my program. So I popped open a browser and started at looking for USB HW random number generators. I found several things in the $100 range, but that seemed ridiculous for something this simple. So I started looking at open hardware designs, and working on my own.

The next day, I was talking to Keith Packard, and he was saying to a bunch of us "You should try out the new open tech USB hardware random number generators Bdale Garbee and I are building. We just sent the boards into OSH Park yesterday."

Last night, I sent to OSH Park for my own boards, and to Digikey for parts. Just in time. Fob

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