Bakul Shah
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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:04 am

tufty wrote:
DexOS wrote:So in short ASM is like a scalpel, yes you can cut your fingers off if your not careful, but you can also save lives, HL are like plastic knives, yes very safe, but limited in uses.
That's possibly the most utterly wrong statement I've come across all week. You win a prize.

;)
An assembly language is like a double edged razor blade; it breaks easily, it will nick you unless you are super careful, and it can get tedious if you have to cut a lot of material. A high level language on the other hand is like a samurai sword. With a handle! A superprogrammer can do amazing things with it; just like the guy below who cuts a BB gun pellet with a samurai sword : )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8ZWBjgTbVw

Not really. These analogies are ridiculous!

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:13 am

DexOS wrote:Theres nothing hard about assembly, its the simplest programming language theres is.
.
Yes there is, and no it isn't.

It's a damn sight MORE difficult to write in assembler than in a HLL. Assembler is only 'simple' in that it maps directly on to what the processor understands, it certainly doesn't map directly on to what the brain understands.
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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:19 am

tufty wrote:
DexOS wrote:So in short ASM is like a scalpel, yes you can cut your fingers off if your not careful, but you can also save lives, HL are like plastic knives, yes very safe, but limited in uses.
That's possibly the most utterly wrong statement I've come across all week. You win a prize.

;)
Well, I think he wins the award for "Last Guy Still Writing Assembler 2012". :)

C was invented specifically to write an OS, and that was in 1972!

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:01 am

bobc wrote:Well, I think he wins the award for "Last Guy Still Writing Assembler 2012". :)

C was invented specifically to write an OS, and that was in 1972!
Our branch of the Linux source tree contains 1241 assembly files.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:55 pm

jamesh wrote:
DexOS wrote:Theres nothing hard about assembly, its the simplest programming language theres is.
.
Yes there is, and no it isn't.

It's a damn sight MORE difficult to write in assembler than in a HLL. Assembler is only 'simple' in that it maps directly on to what the processor understands, it certainly doesn't map directly on to what the brain understands.
I do not want to get into a language war, but how hard or easy something is is down to how your brain is wire, not how smart you are.

When i started to learn programming, i went from language to language, i found pascal very logic and ASM ( once past the this looks complected stage) logic, but try as i may i found C very hard.

Now i find ASM easy, but i am also not that smart a person in the conventional way of thinking, i left school at 13 (waged it), had a read/write age of about 8, spent my time in the city library teaching myself to read.
Always worked in low pay, dead end jobs, but as a hobby i coded a fully self supporting OS in full ASM, which is also supposed to be hard.

So for some people ASM is very easy, most ASM coders do not shout out how easy it is, they like the idea that others think they are smart, even if they are not.

As a example, i could teach anyone that really wants to learn to code, to code in ASM, just as fast as any other language, as long as they were wired right.
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:06 pm

dom wrote:
bobc wrote:Well, I think he wins the award for "Last Guy Still Writing Assembler 2012". :)

C was invented specifically to write an OS, and that was in 1972!
Our branch of the Linux source tree contains 1241 assembly files.
Are you seeking an award for "Most Meaningless Statistic"? :D

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:50 pm

DexOS wrote:As a example, i could teach anyone that really wants to learn to code, to code in ASM, just as fast as any other language, as long as they were wired right.
Different languages only exist because there is a (sometimes perceived) need for them. Turing-completeness means that all Turing-complete languages are ultimately equivalent, but that's largely a theoretical statement - different languages have different strengths <joking mode="or am I"> except for BASIC </joking>.

Assembler is useful (and, indeed, necessary) in certain cases. But in most cases, it's far easier to write (and understand, and, above all, maintain) code in a higher level language. So while it's usually necessary to write stuff like atomic operations and top level interrupt handlers in assembler, it's far easier to write (for example) the code that maintains a balanced binary tree of mutable strings ordered by some arbitrary hashing function in a higher level language.

"But compilers spit out suboptimal code", I hear you wailing. Yes, they do. Take, for example, the replacement memcpy and memset functions we were looking at last week. By using some relatively intimate knowledge of the hardware, and by throwing away any idea of portability (even across processors of the same family), we were able to improve by a massive factor (and the tiny factor I added towards the end) the performance of these low-level functions on the Pi hardware as it stands. And that's where, outside of low level booting, assembler has its place for programmers who aren't writing compilers - in improving the performance of identified hotspots. I haven't picked apart any of the later stuff you've put out, but looking at the first release of DexOS for the Pi, it would be significantly faster if written in C. This doesn't mean you're a bad programmer, this means that in most cases, outoptimising even the most naive compiler is more work than it's worth, and results in code that's hard to follow and harder to maintain.

"I can get around the readability issue by implementing a macro-level language that spits out assembler", I hear you say. Yes, you can. The downside to this is that the code it generates out will be vastly less optimal than than anything a sane compiler would spit out, and you're usually restricted to producing something that's horrible to program with in high level terms as well. And it's fragile, and nonportable, and a thousand other little "gotchas" that aren't obvious in the first place.

Assembler is also vastly more buggy. Any given programmer will produce roughly the same number of bugs per KLoC regardless of language. There is a slight bias to less bugs as the level of abstraction is increased, but you might as well treat it as a flat line. Assembler, being a language, is part of this, and assembler requires more lines of code to carry out a given task than any language I can think of <joking mode="or am I"> outside of COBOL </joking>.

The unpleasant truth is that operating system projects written purely in assembler don't take off. The idea is appealing ("raw performance" etc) but the reality is suboptimal, unmaintainable and totally unportable code that doesn't do half of what an OS written in a higher level language and only using assembler where it makes real sense would do in a hundredth of the development time. I'm gonna pick on you here Craig, but please don't take it personally - you've spent ten years of your life producing DexOS, and it's a fairly impressive feat - I take my hat off to you for getting that far. But it's still a single-tasking, buggy, "toy" OS that's actually of no real use to anyone. Apart from what you've learned doing it, that's ten years effectively wasted (although it's your time, and it's probably no more wasted than the majority of the stuff I've produced over the last ten years) and you don't seem to have learned the most important lesson of all, which is "sane people don't implement operating systems in pure assembler".

Now, I would take your statement above as also being wrong. You can teach certain aspects of programming using assembler, but there are whole swathes of extremely useful stuff that, while they can be expressed in assembler, cannot be easily explained using it. Certainly not enough to introduce a concept and how it can be used to someone totally unfamiliar with it.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 6:42 pm

@tufty, One thing that is always misunderstood about coding fully in asm, is in most case we do not use it for speed or size optimization.
Its because we like coding in asm, its fun :shock: .
Its the same as people that like dangerous sports like jump out of airplanes with just a bit of cloth to save them, they find it fun, you and i may not.

I would also point out that ASM OS Dev is more alive than C OS Dev.
Linux has and will in the long run kill C coded OS's.

And here's why, in the linux world C is king and if your into C linux is the OS for you.
Now theres the problem, if your also into OS Dev, no mater how you try you will end up taking the easy option and running your OS on top of linux.
It solve so many problem you get when trying to make your own OS.
Now if your into ASM OS Dev, going the linux rout is never a option.

And DexOS is where most OS are heading.
Example in 2003 we had a GUI that was based on a game sys gui for the x86, menu driven.
See the new win8 and metro, plus the i-pad/pod.
We had single task (but multi-threading), full screen app (but still could play music etc, in the background)
Also see the metro, i-pad/pod

We did not listen to people that said you need to do a gui like windows.
We innovate not copied.
Our OS got in the "10 best alternative operating systems
The desktops with the potential to change computing"
http://www.techradar.com/news/software/ ... ems-934484

Also my R-PI port of DexOS is moving along just as fast as any other bare metal OS.
This is on top of the fact, that i am having to learn ARM asm coding at the same time, as this is the first arm coding i have done.

I am not here to covert anyone to ASM, but i can only give advice about the way i do it.
But thanks for your advice tufty :D
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

Bakul Shah
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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:02 pm

dom wrote:
bobc wrote:Well, I think he wins the award for "Last Guy Still Writing Assembler 2012". :)

C was invented specifically to write an OS, and that was in 1972!
Our branch of the Linux source tree contains 1241 assembly files.
These include files for *all* the supported archs. Out of about 30K total files.

If you look at compiled code for a specific arch., the ratio of asm code bytes to compiled C code bytes is even more lopsided. I did this for my local FreeBSD-amd64 9.0 kernel. It is 7.7K asm bytes to 23M compiled C code bytes! If I compare against just the default GENERIC kernel and none of the loadable modules, it is still 7.7KB to 12MB. So less than 1 byte of compiled asm code for every 1000 bytes of compiled C! This matters because roughly 10 asm line are needed to do a single C line's worth of logic. I imagine Linux is similar.

Basically you need asm to deal with some initialization, platform peculiarities, interrrupt handling glue, atomic ops and some efficiency hacks for performance critical code. So yes, systems programmers need to understand asm and understand it well, but the goal is to write the minimal amount of asm so that you can write the rest in C. And DexOs is right in one regard: C is just portable assembly code : )

[Some more stats: the FreeBSD 9.0 kernel has 8.2K *.[chsS] files, out of which 207 are asm files. For the amd64 only 20. In terms of lines, 70K asm to 5.5M lines. Amd64 has 4.7K asm lines. Contrast this with the plan9 kernel: 56 asm to 1K total!]

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:29 pm

I stopped reading after the plastic knife / scalpel analogy.

Basically I'm not prepared to do anything I don't at least vaguely understand and would like to go bare metal for my balancing robot as I wan't to ensure uninterupted contol.

I am grateful for the examples and explanations already given in this post but I think I also need to learn about how the Pi works - can anyone direct me to an entry level explanation of how the Pi's architecture functions with reference to assembly language?

In other words, I am quite happy to eat my ready meal with a plastic knife but can't open the packaging so need to use a scalpel but have ... oh nevermind - what I just said before
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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:05 pm

I notice from this thread: http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewt ... er#p102464 that the nay-saying doom mongers who pooh-poohed the possibility of anything approaching Real-Tme via Linux may not be correct.

As Puppy Alpha 3 is roud the corner, I think I will develop my robot control program in C++ and then still re-package it as a kernel.img file for elegance and performance sake at a later date...
Ostendo ignarus addo scientia.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:21 am

pygmy_giant:

To get an overall view of arm programming, you'll be wanting a copy of the ARMv7-AR Architecture Reference Manual (the ARM-ARM, don't you love acronyms, registration required or find a hooky copy on scribd) and a browser tab or six open on the ARM site, particularly the ARM1176JZF-S stuff and the bits about the arm peripherals available on the Pi's SoC. The stuff on the ARM site uses syntax for the ARM toolset, so you'll be wanting to understand the syntax differences between the ARM and GNU toolsets. The ARM-ARM has a full instruction set breakdown, but it covers stuff the Pi doesn't have, you want (probably) only ARM instructions ("encoding Ax") as opposed to thumb ("encoding Tx") available on ARMv6 or lower. Forget using any of the ARMv7 stuff, you don't have it.

There's a bunch of blogs covering bare metal coding on the ARM, Balau's is one and mine has some stuff covering low level bringup. I believe Craig (DexOS) is planning to put some tutos up too.

Then you'll want a copy of the Broadcom datasheet, browser tabs open on the Linux, FreeBSD, uBoot and Dave Welch's source code.

Obviously, dependig on your code's licensing terms, you have to be careful about what you borrow.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:24 am

DexOS wrote:@tufty, One thing that is always misunderstood about coding fully in asm, is in most case we do not use it for speed or size optimization.
Its because we like coding in asm, its fun
Oh, I fully understand that. I even agree - asm is fun.
DexOS wrote:I would also point out that ASM OS Dev is more alive than C OS Dev.
Linux has and will in the long run kill C coded OS's.
Far from it. For starters, there's a massive army of people developing C based OS projects other than the "big ones" (Windows, OSX, Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD et al). Really, there's loads of 'em out there. Linux hasn't killed C coded OS development (in commercial space, Apple and Microsoft are doing very well, and the *BSDs are pretty handy in server space where support for the latest gizmo isn't necessary) - if anything it's revitalised it.

For Linux to "kill" the others would require it to get a significant foothold in desktop space, and that means throwing away application support, because what's holding Linux back isn't, to my eyes, the OS itself, but rather the GUI. Android almost got it right (take Linux, throw away X in favour of something more sane for the majority of machines) but then failed miserably as anything other than a pisspoor clone of iOS aimed squarely at "content consumption" space.
And DexOS is where most OS are heading.
Example in 2003 we had a GUI that was based on a game sys gui for the x86, menu driven.
See the new win8 and metro, plus the i-pad/pod.
We had single task (but multi-threading), full screen app (but still could play music etc, in the background)
Also see the metro, i-pad/pod
Hardly. The UI paradigm you've used is similar to where some systems are heading in the mobile / "consumption device" space. "Under the hood" iOs, Win8 with Metro, Android and so on are all running a fully multitasking operating system of one flavour or another with all that implies. It's only the UI that has changed, and even then it's largely useless for anyone who wants to do serious content development. There's a lot of work to be done in terms of UI design for (for example) programming, even using the current "desktop" paradigm, and far more to be done when you start talking about touch screen interfaces. Indeed, Cheery's structural editor is going way beyond the current status quo, and is far more interesting and important than what's effectively a glorified ST launcher circa 1987, even if it's an ST launcher with a fully-multitasking OS underneath it.

None of which is to say that developing a UI that's not a "classic" WIMP interface isn't a worthwhile exercise - it is, experiments in the UI space are necessary and becoming more so, but UI != OS. There's a lot of academic UI research out there, but very little that is being turned into anything worthwhile you might want to try looking into functional reactive or immediate mode GUIs. There's an awful lot of room for experimentation, and very few people are doing it. That's the space where real changes are going to be made in UI space, but you don't have to develop a new OS to do it - The hated Linux kernel, some C and OpenGL would be a decent starting point, that's where I'd start from if I was wanting to push in that direction. Unfortunately, it's not - I want to do stuff that can't be done using any existing OS, to throw away the majority of the concepts of "current" OS thinking. And that means writing a new OS from scratch.

I suspect you're always gonna disagree with me on a lot of this stuff, but that's the nature of community. I certainly wouldn't want to dissuade you from doing what you're doing - after all, you may turn out to be right - but I would suggest asking yourself the question of exactly why you're doing it, and what you hope to achieve.

Simon

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:56 am

DexOS wrote:we like coding in asm, its fun :shock:
One man's fun is another man's masochism :D

I have no objection to how anyone would do anything for their fun but it's often a different issue when the primary goal is to achieve something with a purpose and that's where 'the best tool for the job' is usually most appropriate.

Ultimately it's the why and goals which dictate the best way of how to, whether it's more about the journey or the end result.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:10 pm

@tufty, lets agree to disagree ;)
hippy wrote:
DexOS wrote:we like coding in asm, its fun :shock:
One man's fun is another man's masochism :D

I have no objection to how anyone would do anything for their fun but it's often a different issue when the primary goal is to achieve something with a purpose and that's where 'the best tool for the job' is usually most appropriate.

Ultimately it's the why and goals which dictate the best way of how to, whether it's more about the journey or the end result.
Sure your right, but my aim is to code a fast booting real time OS, with both CLI and GUI, that can load from the SD card a app or number of apps.
And give the coders of that app a full range of API, but at the same time give full access to hardware in both ASM and Basic.
Plus the OS will work just as well in head less mode.

If i do that in a give time frame, then i made the right chose.
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:59 pm

DexOS wrote:@tufty, One thing that is always misunderstood about coding fully in asm, is in most case we do not use it for speed or size optimization.
Its because we like coding in asm, its fun :shock: .
So why all the arguments about scalpels and plastic knives?

If you like shaving with a Bowie knife that's fine by us. Just don't pretend that it shaves better than our varied razors.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:16 pm

I can understand the satisfaction to be gained from directly manipulating hardware on its own terms, and admire people who are able to do so, but I'm not one of those (yet).

NB. rurwin has a beard.
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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:44 pm

rurwin wrote:
DexOS wrote:@tufty, One thing that is always misunderstood about coding fully in asm, is in most case we do not use it for speed or size optimization.
Its because we like coding in asm, its fun :shock: .
So why all the arguments about scalpels and plastic knives?

If you like shaving with a Bowie knife that's fine by us. Just don't pretend that it shaves better than our varied razors.
Sorry the truth sometimes hurts, but stop b***hing about it and start listening, You may just learn something, then you will not have such a big chip on your shoulder :roll:
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:04 pm

umm - we're all entitled to our views - this is not the way to attract new posts :cry: :cry:
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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:33 pm

DexOS wrote:stop b***hing about it and start listening, You may just learn something, then you will not have such a big chip on your shoulder :roll:
Hello Pot, this is the kettle. As for a chip, I've got nothing against assembler. My first computer was programmed in machine code, I've brought up a 16-bit machine I designed and built, by hand coding the machine-code into the EPROM. I wrote a multi-tasking scheduler for the Acorn Atom. There are many industrial control machines out there that people paid serious money for, with my assembler code in them. Including a RS232 multiplexer based on a 6502 machine with no RAM; we were well proud of that. I wrote Mr T's teleport routine and optomised it until it squeaked. I have twenty year's (1982-2002) experience with assembler code on a more or less constant basis, and almost another twenty on a more occasional basis. Assembler does not scare me, but it does not impress me either. It is a language just like any other with its good points and its bad points; it is not magic, it is not a cure for cancer, and using it does not make you morally or even technically superior to anyone else.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 4:13 pm

I agree that when it comes to language choice it is horses for courses and that different languages have their pro's and cons dependant on context.

I think we all agree that assembler has its place alongside all the other languages.

I also think that assembler is unique in that it most closely relates to the way that the machine operates, and so is particularly useful in certain circumstances and deserves to be promoted on the Pi.

Assembler is also a good way of learning about how computers work just as learning French is a good way of learning about French culture and whether the French use plastic cutlery.
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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:21 pm

rurwin wrote:
DexOS wrote:stop b***hing about it and start listening, You may just learn something, then you will not have such a big chip on your shoulder :roll:
Hello Pot, this is the kettle. As for a chip, I've got nothing against assembler. My first computer was programmed in machine code, I've brought up a 16-bit machine I designed and built, by hand coding the machine-code into the EPROM. I wrote a multi-tasking scheduler for the Acorn Atom. There are many industrial control machines out there that people paid serious money for, with my assembler code in them. Including a RS232 multiplexer based on a 6502 machine with no RAM; we were well proud of that. I wrote Mr T's teleport routine and optomised it until it squeaked. I have twenty year's (1982-2002) experience with assembler code on a more or less constant basis, and almost another twenty on a more occasional basis. Assembler does not scare me, but it does not impress me either. It is a language just like any other with its good points and its bad points; it is not magic, it is not a cure for cancer, and using it does not make you morally or even technically superior to anyone else.
You do not read a word i posted and than you start b***hing at me.
How do you turn these words
I do not want to get into a language war, but how hard or easy something is is down to how your brain is wire, not how smart you are.

When i started to learn programming, i went from language to language, i found pascal very logic and ASM ( once past the this looks complected stage) logic, but try as i may i found C very hard.

Now i find ASM easy, but i am also not that smart a person in the conventional way of thinking, i left school at 13 (waged it), had a read/write age of about 8, spent my time in the city library teaching myself to read.
Always worked in low pay, dead end jobs, but as a hobby i coded a fully self supporting OS in full ASM, which is also supposed to be hard.

So for some people ASM is very easy, most ASM coders do not shout out how easy it is, they like the idea that others think they are smart, even if they are not.
Into what you say in the above post :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?:
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:14 pm

I didn't. I did it with these words.
DexOs wrote:stop b***hing about it and start listening, You may just learn something, then you will not have such a big chip on your shoulder :roll:

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:57 pm

rurwin wrote:I didn't. I did it with these words.
DexOs wrote:stop b***hing about it and start listening, You may just learn something, then you will not have such a big chip on your shoulder :roll:
As in reading what i wrote, instead of what you think i wrote, then you will not have a chip on your shoulder, about me thinking i am better or smart in some way.
I post about how i do things, it up to others to decide how they want to do things and i am not going to apologize for the way i do things.
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

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Re: Programming the RPi on the bare metal

Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:01 pm

If you two don't let it drop I'm going to set up a thread just for you two called 'DexOs v Rurwin' so other people can get back to talking about programming the Raspberrt Pi computer, which is more interesting.
Ostendo ignarus addo scientia.

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