And they have maintained their achievements mostly private, perhaps because whenever they've talked about their details publicly, the commentary has mostly been of the form "This isn't possible" and "This is obviously a fraud" from the sorts of ignorant people who make a living installing virus scanners and pirate copies of Windows and thus imagine themselves to be computer experts. (All of this happened entirely in Spanish, except I think for a small amount which happened in Zapotec, which I don't speak; the family counts the authorship of a Zapotec dictionary among their public achievements.) In particular, they've never published the source or even binary code of their operating systems and web browsers, as far as I know.
This changed a few years back when Óscar Toledo G., the son of the founder (Óscar Toledo E.), won the IOCCC with his Nanochess program: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Obfuscated_C_Cod... and four more times as well. His obvious achievements put to rest — at least for me — the uncertainty about whether they were underground genius hackers or merely running some kind of con job. Clearly Óscar Toledo G. is a hacker of the first rank, and we can take his word about the abilities of the rest of his family, even if they do not want to publish their code for public criticism.
I look forward to grokking BootOS in fullness and learning the brilliant tricks contained within! Getting a full CLI and minimalist filesystem into a 512-byte floppy-disk boot sector is no small achievement.
It's unfortunate that, unlike the IOCCC entries, BootOS is not open source.
I just watched some of TV interviews with the family and saw the rest of his work, and it's pretty amazing. Check out Invaders in 512 bytes , or Aardvark game for the Atari 2600 ().
Also seems he has just self-published a book (as of July 27):
Do you would like more details on the inner workings? This program is fully commented in my new book Programming Boot Sector Games and you'll also find a 8086/8088 crash course! Now available from Lulu 
The unqualified claim - may I say lie - that CPU time is cheaper than programmer time was never true and never will be because it depends, it depends on the economics, and a surprising amount of my time has been taken up optimising for speed on multicore modern CPUs. Exactly what other people say isn't worth doing, right up until it is - and it often is.
Optimising for speed often means optimising for caches, and that means optimising for size, so I'm going to dive into this guy's stuff.
 and I'd ask people to stop repeating it unless the larger context is accounted for.
 and cache-friendly access patterns; another issue.
I'll be surprised if you learn new things about cache-oblivious algorithm design from BootOS, though.
> Do you would like more details on the inner workings? This program is fully commented in my new book Programming Boot Sector Games and you'll also find a 8086/8088 crash course!
I created one such game  a few years ago and had plenty of fun. I'm pretty shocked to see an actual book published specifically about this niche topic. I haven't read it, but I hope it gets some recognition, because IMO toying with 8086 is one of the best ways to get into bare-metal coding.
This is ridiculously impressive hacking up there with Woz code.
Why did Mozart write music? What would Mozart have done if he lived in the city of the deaf?
I mean they've written a lot of stuff on their web site about their motivations — they saw that electronics were the wave of the future, they wanted to make Mexico technologically independent and limit the damage of the neoliberal economic model, they wanted to preserve the Zapotec culture from obliteration, and so on — but I think basically it's that they like doing it, in the way Mozart liked music. I'm sympathetic to those other motivations but I don't think they would have been sufficient to maintain their progress in the face of the opposition they've faced from the Mexican government, which continues to adhere to the obsolete "progress is big factories" model mixed with the simply traitorous "progress is installing Microsoft software" model. (They've written about this stuff on their website too.)
As far as I can tell, they make a living by building some industrial control hardware and teaching electronics classes. Maybe a member of the family will comment and offer more detail.
The HN profile of OP says: “I fight boredom by challenging myself to my limits.”
That’s the hacker spirit :)
But only in my dreams do I approach achievements like Biyubi.
>Probably nobody will read this comment here, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
They've translated some of their pages themselves, although the translation is somewhat out of date: http://www.biyubi.com/eng_principal.html
If you make fun of the errors in the translation I will make fun of you mercilessly for not knowing any Spanish at all.
Unfortunately I can't update my top-level comment above.
Wow. None of this is plausible.
It's not? What's that asm file in there? It looks like it's the full source code for the image. Or do you mean there's no license file, so it's not free-software/copyright?
"Open source" has been understood to mean "freely redistributable and modifiable" source for a couple of decades now, and if you used it to mean something else without clarifying, you should expect that they will misunderstand you.
I don't know if this is true universally, or only in certain communities.
The same exact arguments can be made about free software, only worse because colloquially users have traditionally confused it with the term freeware.
That's not a normal sentence construction though, it sounds tortured.
You may be able to see through my windows into my home: that doesn't mean my home is open to you.
It’s the difference between UFC and MMA, or declaring that addition == subtraction (if only you negate all the terms).
If you don’t use the term correctly, then you’re muddying the waters.
Source Available - unknown license
Free Software - no cost, may or may not have source available
Open Source - OSI approved, there exists an automatic license to at least use or redistribute the code unmodified
Two commonly used definitions are the Debian Free Sotware Guidelines (https://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines) and the FSF's Free Software Definition (https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html).
Not really, no. The FSF definition of 'free software' is accepted by the technical community as the definition of the term. Same goes for the OSI's definition of Open Source.
> not everyone automatically understands the terms according to these definitions
Not really, no. No-one knowledgeable about these topics is going to insist upon non-standard definitions of the terms. Marketing drones may abuse the terms, and ignorant people don't know any better than to be imprecise, but they are not the same thing as what you are suggesting.
Debian do not make up their own definitions. They explicitly mention both the FSF and OSI in their article on licensing. They certainly have their own ideas on intellectual property (their famous objections to Mozilla's rules about the Firefox trademark), but I don't see them redefining any terms. They are careful to use Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) when referring to their own rules. 
Aside: it can be helpful to capitalise to emphasise that you mean the proper definitions of the terms, e.g. The software is neither Free Software nor Open Source. Clunky, sure enough, but people do occasionally make up their own definitions and run with them, often enough that it's a problem for clear communication.
I'm not really sure why. Making up your own personal definitions for terms already in common parlance, is usually treated as an exercise in obtuse silliness, for obvious reasons.
Usually, no exception is made for when an accepted technical term is misused in common parlance, e.g. using 'theory' for any explanation that pops into your head, or referring to an automatic rifle as a 'machine gun'. In those instances we separate the popular use of the term from the technical one, and still insist on correct terminology in technical circles.
 Point 31 of https://people.debian.org/~bap/dfsg-faq.html
At least for "free", it (used to be?) very common to add an "as in" after, like "free as in beer" (you don't have to pay) or "free as in speech" (you can do what you want with it).
Who benefits from watering them down? People who want to take advantage of confusion to release their software under weaker licenses while taking advantage of the "open source" or "free software" names.
(Not, of course, BootOS; it never claims to be open-source.)
Well, language is open, and confusing terminology will cause misunderstandings. Besides, there is not one definition of open source, and the most common definition has 10 criteria. You're not exactly doing anyone a service by calling someone who is not aware of all this background and understandably uses a rational interpretation of "open source" a roach. In fact, you come across as a douchebag.
(Now, I agree that intentionally abusing the term is reprehensible, but that does not seem to be the case here)
Whatever problems you may have with my ethnicity hardly seem relevant here! We're talking about con men falsely claiming that their software is open-source in order to free-ride on the goodwill the open-source community has earned through decades of hard work and persistence against impossible odds in order to guarantee basic human rights to everyone in an increasingly computer-mediated world. If it takes douchebags to show the falsity of their false claims, then let's have more douchebags! (But actually I think people of any ethnicity are equally capable of standing up for what is right; it doesn't have to be a douchebag like me.)
I don't know why you think the error was unintentional in this case. The poster in question wrote, "You mean open source yes, free software no." They are implying that they not only have knowledge of the nuances of the definitions in question, but are so certain of it that they correct other people for misusing the terms — they aren't just guessing. Presumably such a person will at least have read the introductory paragraph on the Wikipedia page for "Open-source software"!
(I don't understand your remarks about ethnicity. As far as I know 'douchebag' is not a racial slur.)
People who have been using a term their whole lives might not have any idea where it came from, or that it even has an official definition.
Compound this by the fact that many people are jumping into this field where English is not their first (or even second) language.
When you open source, you can see the source.
I'm well aware that people in Mexico City aren't illiterate paupers. That's not what I was saying, man. But you're going to have a hell of a time launching a new kind of laptop in Mexico City, and that's what they were trying to do.
> Unfortunately, they live on the outskirts of Mexico City, not Sunnyvale or Boston, so the public accounts of their achievements have been mostly written by vulgar journalists without even rudimentary knowledge of programming or electronics.
It would be a valid reason in '80s
Sometime in the past couple months, there was a link on HN to a project also by one dude, who's implementing a CPU on breadboards, with wires. (Can probably be found by the score filter from the ‘undocumented features’ of HN: the post got >2000 points.)
Computers aren't necessarily gigantic corporate undertakings.
I'm not saying it's not possible, there are much stories in HN about guys creating VGA cards or self-made computers, I'm asking for evidence.
Maybe you mean Ben Eater. He has a great Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS0N5baNlQWJCUrhCEo8WlA
I was mistaken, the CPU is a stock Z80 but the guy implements other parts of a bespoke game console, in microcontrollers.
All of that sounds very interesting, but as edgarvm points out, it's not exactly evidence. Reads more like a product brochure than a research paper detailing how their claims are possible.
Also they offer a course in building your own electronics that you can sign up for if you go to their workshop. I can't go to Mexico so I haven't signed up for it; it's at least theoretically possible that the course doesn't really exist and will be canceled if you do sign up for it. But if that doesn't happen you can go there and take the course and see the G11V3 and presumably Fénix and Biyubi in person. I've seen comments in news-website comment threads from people who claim to have done so and claim that it's real, and no comments from people who claim to have done so and then been rejected, so it seems most likely that the course is for real.
Together with Óscar Toledo G.’s amply demonstrated skills at programming under extreme resource constraints, skills which require a great deal of practice to acquire, I think the evidence strongly favors the hypothesis that Fénix, Biyubi, the G11V3, the electronics courses, and the rest of it is real, if maybe a bit oversold.
I could not find any information on a course available, could you point me in the right direction? It is a bit odd to me that none of their products are available for purchase from their website (I saw the $99 computer with minimum order of 1000 units but when clicking through I was redirected back to the home page).
I think their G11V3 computer design is pretty out of date now.
> No defects present, thanks to the constant improvement.
> without vulnerabilities