Linux Format



of cases, you can feel the teachers in the background desperatel­y trying to ensure they make a good impression.

LXF: First of all, thank you, but what made you decide to open the work you are doing to the community, by using open source licences?

IAN: By giving everyone the tools to be able to duplicate their own discs and then decode the contents, there is a higher chance of the data surviving for the next generation.

CHAD: I wanted to make sure anyone with the skills could replicate what I’d done. If it wasn’t open, it would have just been that metaphoric­al half-working project that probably would have been ignored by everyone (including me, eventually).

SIMON: Archival and preservati­on only works if it’s open. I firmly believe that the only way to really preserve this type of history is the ‘many copies, many mediums’ approach. The unsung hero of any successful open project is documentat­ion, though. Chad and I placed this high on the importance list, ensuring that the barrier for entry was low for newcomers.

LXF: Can you tell us a little more about the community you have with the Domesday86 project?

IAN: The community has expanded from just a few interested parties in the early days to a few hundred people actively using ld-decode and vhs-decode. There are hobbyists experiment­ing with the technology through to profession­al television engineers. The community has been an invaluable resource, As more people have discovered items and Googled what they are, they get in touch often to find out more and even donate items.

SIMON: The Domesday86 project and ld-decode are sister projects. On the Domesday side there has been a lot of community interest and assistance; people have provided valuable insight into the project and we’ve had

contact with nearly all of the primary project members from the BBC and beyond. The Domesday86 website is packed with info about the system and its history.

LXF: The geeky part: how many rooms’ worth of Domesday-related hardware, LaserDiscs and other equipment do you have to enable you to do your work?

IAN: I’ve never put it all in one place and am scared to find out. I have been known to drive more than 150 miles with a LaserDisc player and scanners in the boot of the car to scan a rare disc or collect some paperwork.

CHAD: A bit all over the place. My main setup is in the corner of the living room with my main PC setup, and then I’ve got LaserDiscs in various places that I need to capture – or cull in the case of common stuff.

SIMON: Two rooms (I can hear my better half grumbling in the background as I write this). I have one room that is full of all my retro gear and another that contains all my software and hardware developmen­t equipment.

LXF: What about Linux makes your life a lot easier when working on Domesday or

ld-decode-related matters?

IAN: My first real introducti­on to Linux was in writing the software to get analogue RGB frame captures from the real Domesday player under serial port control from Python. I could not coax the serial port library to work under

Windows, which resulted in my first dual boot, and I haven’t looked back.

SIMON: Linux is core to any modern open source developmen­t; there is no point in producing open hardware or software if you are then forced to use a closed environmen­t to run it. As the project stabilised, prebuilt ports for other operating systems have arrived, but I still prefer Linux – the available tools, especially around developmen­t, are second to none.

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