BeagleBoard.org launched with support of Digi-Key in 2008 and DIYers quickly adopted BeagleBoard for migrating XBMC to ARM, building GPS accurate down to the centimeter, eight-legged robots and creating controller hacks. In 2010, Google Summer of Code students contributed numerous projects to help other open source developers, including sniffing USB traffic and XBMC performance optimizations. GSoC students are back at it again in 2013, providing solutions for booting BeagleBone from aNexus phone, running Arduino sketches and even building new peripherals out of an on-chip microcontroller.
The Release of BeagleBone Black
As of the recent June 20th software release for BeagleBone Black, significant improvements have been made since launch. Monitor support is greatly improved with better automated resolution setting and a documented process for setting specific resolutions over the command-line or at boot-up, including resolutions up to 1920x1080 at 24fps. The node.js-based BoneScript library, used in such fun things as multi-room physically interactive video games, has several bug fixes and a growing body of interactive wiring examples that work within Chrome and Firefox browsers. Support for the on-board 32-bit microcontrollers called PRUs has been improved with an updated assembler and documentation supporting previously undocumented instructions, including multipliers, and hints have been made at a C compiler being developed, including Pantelis Antoniou's example of using the PRU C compiler to add 32 additional channels of pulse-width modulation (PWM). The value of aggressively chasing the mainline kernel is also being shown with simple command-line statements for enabling UARTs, SPI, I2C, CAN and more peripherals, including improved cape add-on board support.
With an amazing community, stand-out performance and capability, a true open hardware approach that is sustainably profitable but not greedy, continuous demonstrated improvements and a focus on educating aspiring engineers and hobbyists alike, BeagleBoard.org has proven to be a DIY force with which to reckon and an inspiration for makers everywhere. Happy Birthday Boris!