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posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday December 27, @05:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the Babelfish-for-PCBs dept.

Cadsoft's Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor (EAGLE) is an ECAD (Electronic Computer-aided design), a software product for designing printed circuit boards. As that product has a demo/freeware version which is adequate for many users, as well as having a reasonable price structure for more-capable versions, and being cross-platform, it had considerable popularity.

A year ago, Autodesk acquired Cadsoft Computer GmbH and changed the licensing of the product to a subscription model. Since then, many users of EAGLE have been seeking a path away from that EULAware app. Many have moved to (FOSS) KiCAD, a project started by French academics which has gained developer support from personnel at CERN.

A sticking point for those wanting to transition to a new tool is the projects previously developed using the old tool and saved in the native format of that package.

Hackaday reports

There is a desire to port those innumerable Eagle board layouts and libraries to other PCB design packages. This tool does just that.

The tool is an extension of pcb-rnd, a FOSS tool for circuit board editing [itself, a fork of gEDA's "PCB" module], and this update massively extends support for Eagle boards and libraries.

As an example, VK5HSE loaded up an Eagle .brd file of a transceiver, selected a pin header, and exported that component to a KiCAD library. It worked the first time. For another experiment, the ever popular TV-B-Gone .brd file was exported directly to pcb-rnd.

This is a mostly-complete solution for Eagle-to-KiCAD, Eagle-to-Autotrax, and Eagle-to-gEDA-PCB, with a few minimal caveats relating to copper pours and silkscreen--nothing that can't be dealt with if you're not mindlessly using the tool.

While it must be noted that most Open Hardware projects fit inside a 80 [sq.cm] board area, and can therefore be opened and modified with the free-to-use version of Autodesk's Eagle, this is a very capable tool to turn Eagle boards and libraries into designs that can be built with FOSS tools.

Previous: Cadsoft EAGLE is Now Subscription-Only
CERN is Getting Serious About Development of the KiCAD App for Designing Printed Circuits


Original Submission

Related Stories

CERN is Getting Serious About Development of the KiCad App for Designing Printed Circuits 18 comments

The computer-aided design software packages (ECADs) available to electronics folks for creating schematics and printed circuit board layouts have long been an aggravation when trying to share data with someone who uses a package produced by a different vendor--due to proprietary file formats that are (apparently, purposely) incompatible.

Many years ago, Cadsoft's EAGLE was available as a demo that would do very limited PCB creation but which had unlimited ability to view/print already-created files. It was also cross-platform. For a short time, EAGLE-compatible files became a quasi-standard for amateurs and pros on a budget.

In 2006, however, Cadsoft got greedy and DRM'd their stuff so that it would lock you out of your work product under certain circumstances, as described by Markus Zingg on October 24. Cadsoft quickly lost what little luster it had in the community. CERN engineers are hoping to produce a package that will do the same job - but better.

More down the page...

Cadsoft EAGLE is Now Subscription-Only 34 comments

EAGLE, The Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor is an ECAD (electronic computer-aided design), proprietary software for creating printed circuit boards. Cadsoft, the company that created it, sold EAGLE to Autodesk in June.

Hackaday reports

Autodesk has announced that EAGLE is now only available for purchase as a subscription. [Previously], users purchased EAGLE once and [could use] the software indefinitely (often for years) before deciding to move to a new version with another one-time purchase. Now, they'll be paying Autodesk on a monthly or yearly basis.

Before Autodesk purchased EAGLE from Cadsoft, a Standard license would run you $69, paid once. [...] Standard will [now] cost $15/month or $100/year and gives similar functionality to the old Premium level, but with only 2 signal layers.

[...] The next level up was Premium, at $820, paid once. [...] If you [now] need more [than 2] layers or more than 160 [sq.cm] of board space, you'll need the new Premium level, at $65/month or $500/year.
New Subscription Pricing Table for Eagle

[...] The [freeware] version still exists, but, for anyone using Eagle for commercial purposes (from Tindie sellers to engineering firms), this is a big change. Even if you agree with the new pricing, a subscription model means you never actually own the software. This model will require licensing software that needs to phone home periodically and can be killed remotely. If you need to look back at a design a few years from now, you better hope that your subscription is valid, that Autodesk is still running the license server, and that you have an active internet connection.

The page has well over 100 comments, with many saying the equivalent of "Goodbye, EAGLE; Hello, KiCAD".
KiCAD is gratis and libre, cross-platform, has been adopted as a software development project by nerds at CERN, and has seen marked improvement in recent years.

Previous:
CERN is Getting Serious About Development of the KiCAD App for Designing Printed Circuits
Scripts Make the (Proprietary) Cadsoft EAGLE-to-(FOSS) KiCAD Transition Easier

Some time back, anubi and I conversed about how EAGLE has been DRM'd for quite a long while.


Original Submission

What's Coming In KiCAD Version 5 28 comments

KiCAD is a GPL'd Electronics Design Automation (EDA) suite with schematic capture and printed circuit board layout abilities. Its capabilities continue to expand.

Hackaday reports

[...] five years ago, if you wanted to design a printed circuit board, your best option was [Cadsoft's Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor (EAGLE)]. [These days], EAGLE is an Autodesk property, the licensing model has changed, [...] and the Open Source EDA suite KiCAD is getting better and better. New developers are contributing to the project and, by some measures, KiCAD is now the most popular tool to develop Open [Design] hardware.

At FOSDEM last week, Wayne Stambaugh, project lead of KiCAD laid out what features are due in the upcoming release of version 5 [Video]. KiCAD just keeps improving, and these new features are really killer features that will make everyone [who is] annoyed with EAGLE's new licensing very happy.

Although recent versions of KiCAD have made improvements to the way part and footprint libraries are handled, the big upcoming change is that footprint libraries will be installed locally. The Github plugin for library management--a good idea in theory--is no longer the default.

SPICE [Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis] is also coming to KiCAD. The best demo of the upcoming SPICE integration is this relatively old video demonstrating how KiCAD turns a schematic into graphs of voltage and current.

The biggest news, however, is the new ability to import EAGLE projects. Wayne demoed this live on stage, importing an EAGLE board and schematic of an Arduino Mega and turning it into a KiCAD board and schematic in a matter of seconds. It's not -quite- perfect yet, but it's close and very, very good.

There are, of course, other fancy features that make designing schematics and PCBs easier. Eeschema is getting a better configuration dialog, improved bus and wire dragging, and improved junction handling. Pcbnew is getting rounded rectangle and complex pad shape support, direct export to STEP files, and you'll soon be able to update the board from the schematic without updating the netlist file. Read that last feature again, slowly. It's the best news we've ever heard.

The author is tolerant of subtractive changes to proprietary licenses; other hardware hackers/tool users, in the comments there, not so much.

Previous: A Tool to Export EAGLE Projects for Use With FOSS ECADs
Cadsoft EAGLE is Now Subscription-Only
Scripts Make the (Proprietary) Cadsoft EAGLE-to-(FOSS) KiCAD Transition Easier
FOSS Printed Circuit Software KiCAD 4.0 Released
CERN is Getting Serious About Development of the KiCAD App for Designing Printed Circuits


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday December 27, @05:59AM (7 children)

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 27, @05:59AM (#614625) Homepage Journal

    Why do you hate freedom?

    --
    "MICHAEL DAVID CRAWFORD IS A LYING MOTHERFUCKER."
    -- Anonymous Coward
    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @06:21AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @06:21AM (#614629)

      Just a note to the eds, in this holiday season. Seems submissions are sparse. But there are a couple of fine ones by aristarchus! I, for one, would love to see the furry piece on the Mainpage, if only to see a furry piece on the Mainpage. CAD? Proprietary? Lawyers call stuff like this "billable hours", and engineers are less capable of professional ethics than lawyers, despite how much they wish otherwise.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by anubi on Wednesday December 27, @07:49AM (4 children)

      by anubi (2828) on Wednesday December 27, @07:49AM (#614644)

      MDC: I don't know why they are doing this... The business model they were offering was why I went with EAGLE in the first place. Before then, I was an ardent FutureNet / PADS PCB user. Both of which I have perpetual licenses and operational systems to run same - even to this day, I can still pull up schematics and edit files I did 20 years ago. The kind of people I work with often have machines older than I am. A lot of the stuff I work on is 60's genre robotics.

      I hate being cornered into someone else's business model which likely includes planned obsolescence.

      What's good for the fisherman doesn't necessarily end up good for the fish. And in this case, I am the fish.

      I would also hate to buy a house, knowing its in my homeowner terms that only a certain company can legally fix anything in it. Under the legal contract, I may not even be able to change a leaky washer. I have to "trust" them they won't force me to buy a new house because I have a leaky faucet. But my trust of business is almost nonexistent these days. With software/media being lowest on the list due to how easy it is to manipulate me by having my own machine enforce their wishlist - no matter how absurd - to the letter. While holding themselves harmless for whatever grief they cause me.

      Now, that company now has the leverage to hold my investment of time I spent creating my content as incentive for me to agree to whatever he demands in the future. He wants absurd payment or changes my house whether I like it or not, I no longer have much of a choice. I don't blame the company for seeking the handshake of the Congressmen who will codify their wishes into the Law of the Land, however I also see this as a huge demonstration of how risky it is to have a representative form of government that will pass such law.

      I am a EAGLE user too, and for now, I am staying put with my current version of EAGLE, however I am being very careful to baseline and image-backup my system, as if I am not careful, some sort of "upgrade" may be slipped into my system via the internet, and I find one day I cannot access or edit my own work without agreeing to whatever the demands stated are. Basically, my work is held hostage. And I see businesses which will do such things being the equivalent of ransomware. Like inviting Cryptolocker into my machine.

      So, yes, this Soylent News story is of great interest to me. I will jump ship over this.

      Not because it costs too much NOW, rather its my fear of having my work held hostage in the future. I do not sleep well at night knowing I have a time bomb in my machine. A time bomb that can go off at any time, possibly rendering my own work as inaccessible as a Circuit City DIVX disk, or a networked game when the authentication server is turned off.

      Inviting hostageware into my system to me is out of the question. I feel that way because if I show such poor judgement in the choice of the tools I use, I am the "responsible engineer", and expect to have to answer for it. Making a decision to use ransomware to me is more for the upper level executive class who are too high up to take a personal hit when the ransom notes arrive.

      I am not going to complain too much though, as this is one of the methods that large top-heavy corporations become so burdened with expenses they fail, making room for more efficient smaller organizations. Organizations not hampered with the executive leadership ignorant of how much their own company's database of their own engineer's work is worth.

      The big highly paid executive gets his hand shaken by a sales rep.

      The smaller guys have the resources to build on the work they have already done. And can continue to support their customer.

      And the guys who are investing their money choose which faction they wish to work with.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @08:30AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @08:30AM (#614652)

        Yup. I'm not surprised to see you in this (meta)thread.

        We've discussed EAGLE and Cadsoft's business model before. [soylentnews.org]
        Multiple times, in fact.
        I noted that the original company had invoked an occult DRM mechanism in order to deal with pirates--and made that a collective punishment thing which harmed some legit users. [electrondepot.com]

        I dropped that brand when I quit Windoze.
        You were too invested to follow suit.

        my work is held hostage [by the EULAware folks]

        There is a LONG comments section attached to TFA.
        One guy said that his company forbids machines with work product on them onto the internet.
        Autodesk's little subscription model is an absolute deal breaker for him.

        this Soylent News story is of great interest to me. I will jump ship over this

        I was pretty sure I'd hear that from you.

        -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @08:43AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @08:43AM (#614656)

          Oops. That was in a related page.
          EAGLE: One Year Later [hackaday.com]
          102 comments to date.

          -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 27, @06:07PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 27, @06:07PM (#614810)

        The business model they were offering was why I went with EAGLE in the first place.

        What makes you think a company is going to stick with a business model forever?

        I hate being cornered into someone else's business model which likely includes planned obsolescence.

        Then you should try to avoid companies whose products have vendor lock-in.

        I would also hate to buy a house, knowing its in my homeowner terms that only a certain company can legally fix anything in it.

        Then don't buy that house.

        I am a EAGLE user too, and for now, I am staying put with my current version of EAGLE,

        So you're going to stick with the vendor lock-in, and just whine and complain about it. This is exactly why these companies behave this way: because users allow them to.

      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday December 27, @06:51PM

        by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 27, @06:51PM (#614832) Homepage Journal

        My OP was intended to be a joke

        --
        "MICHAEL DAVID CRAWFORD IS A LYING MOTHERFUCKER."
        -- Anonymous Coward
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @10:38AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @10:38AM (#614679)

      cmn32480 is posting today. He is a windows user. 'nuf said.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @08:55AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @08:55AM (#614662)

    ECAD - Electronic Computer Aided Design, as opposed to CCAD - Clockwork Computer Aided Design???

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday December 27, @09:03AM (1 child)

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 27, @09:03AM (#614664) Journal

      I think most people designing clockworks don't need the aid of a computer to do it.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by fyngyrz on Wednesday December 27, @11:18AM

        by fyngyrz (6567) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 27, @11:18AM (#614687) Homepage Journal

        I think most people designing clockworks don't need the aid of a computer to do it.

        I think the people who designed pretty much any watch or other modern clock or those who designed the system from which the standard time broadcasts from Colorado might want to quibble with both your assertion, and the definition of "clockworks."

        You did say "designing", which is present tense... and "most"... not a lot of mechanical clockworks being cooked up these days, and for those that are, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find they were using CAD to do it. Can you imagine a modern mechanical watch being designed without CAD? Or even a decent electrical motor? Masochist much?

        I mean you could... but why would you?

        OTOH, I do have a good friend who does blacksmithery for a hobby, loves it. So there's that.

        --
        The eyes are the windows to the soul.
        Sunglasses are the window shades.
    • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Wednesday December 27, @10:20AM

      by MostCynical (2589) on Wednesday December 27, @10:20AM (#614674)

      As opposed to CAD *for* Electronics.
      Lots of them already:
      CADE Computer Aided Document Engineering
      CADE Computer Aided Design and Engineering
      CADE Controller/Attitude-Direct Electronics (NASA)
      CADE Computer-Aided Data Entry
      CADE [thefreedictionary.com]

      --
      (Score: tau, Irrational)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 28, @12:36AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 28, @12:36AM (#614930)

      Never heard ECAD, but MCAD, a hanful times. Mechanical computer-aided design.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday December 27, @11:34AM (8 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Wednesday December 27, @11:34AM (#614692) Journal

    I knew, years ago, that there was no decent CAD software that was FOSS.

    Last time I fooled with AutoCAD was the early 90s, when it was on release/version 12 as I recall. I was stunned by how primitive and awful AutoCAD's user interface was. At start, it showed a top level numbered menu of about 8 options on a text screen. No GUI. Users had to key in the number, and press the Enter key. Who knows why they made the users press Enter, it was a completely unnecessary extra keystroke. Maybe it's because under the hood, they used the infamous C library function gets, you know, the one that you should never use because it's insecure and will make your program insecure.

    One of the menu options was to load a drawing file, and AutoCAD would not give the user a helpful list of file names from which to choose, no, AutoCAD insisted that the user type in the full name, blindly. If you couldn't remember the exact name, a different menu option on the top menu would display a list of all the files. The interface did not keep the list on the screen when the user navigated back to the prompt for the file name. It was the worst file load interface I've ever seen, and I found it ominously suggestive that the rest of the interface might be as bad. It nearly was. The interface with the mouse was an afterthought. You could just use the mouse to draw lines, but it was near impossible to draw nicely aligned lines. Had to dig into the interface to find "grid" and "snap", then the mouse was more usable. AutoCAD was obviously keyboard oriented.

    So I thought it ought to be easy for FOSS to improve on that. But the years rolled by and no one ever made a decent FOSS CAD program. What little there was were toys, or mockups with all kinds of major features that were planned but never implemented. There's BRL-CAD, but, well, bleh. Wasn't open source before 2004. I eventually moved on to other things. So this story is the first I've heard of KiCAD. Been around since 1992, hmm? Well, it sounds like it's specialized for PCB. What about a more general CAD program?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @12:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @12:12PM (#614699)

      FreeCAD.

      And dont dismiss BrlCAD. Sounds like its too complex for you.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @01:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @01:21PM (#614722)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_computer-aided_design_editors [wikipedia.org]
      Several *n?x-compatible things and blue rectangles (FOSS).

      Recommendations from a (now retired architect):
      FOSS mechanical CAD offerings [googleusercontent.com] (orig) [linuxmint.com]

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @02:02PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @02:02PM (#614734)

      5 Autocad Alternatives for Linux user - June 2016 [linuxlinx.com]

      .
      Softpedia's last item on the CAELinux live distro was in 2013. [softpedia.com]

      comes with Computer Aided Design & Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and simulation (CAE, FEA / CFD)
      [...]
      The CAD / CAM support includes a number of very prolific applications, such as LibreCad, SagCad, PyCAM, GCAM, dxf2gcode, Cura, and much more.

      There's been a recent release. [distrowatch.com]

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 2) by Rich on Wednesday December 27, @04:26PM (2 children)

      by Rich (945) on Wednesday December 27, @04:26PM (#614772)

      For simple 2D, there is LibreCAD. I had to do a steel case for a large desktop device (about 60cm wide, 40 deep, 20 high) this year. The sheet metal company wanted DXF for direct import into their CAM. The case in the end consisted of 10 sheets, some rather irregular shaped, with lots of folds and holes of different sizes. I was able to draw the stuff reasonably well and put cutting outlines, folds, and drills on separate layers. It took a while, because I am not used to the Autocad-heritage GUI, and there was an issue with the company not being able to import the written DXF, probably because the written one was too new or something. I might have gone back and forth a bit, between QCad (of which LibreCAD is forked off, and which is rather castrated in the free version; 'cause it ran on Snow Leopard?! I don't remember exactly) and LibreCAD itself (because of the comprehensive DXF export).

      After the little bumps in the process were sorted, the sheets came out very well. They are going to be filled with electronics done in KiCAD, using which was also an overall pleasant experience. 6 boards so far, from 10 x 5 to 20 x 16 (double euro), without a single problem, except for mistakes I made myself. The only major issue with KiCAD is their infamous buggy libraries, where you have to diligently check every component not only when initially picking it, but also after each update.

      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday December 27, @06:40PM

        by urza9814 (3954) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 27, @06:40PM (#614828) Journal

        Well, I don't do much CAD, but when I do I absolutely love OpenSCAD [openscad.org].

        It's not really a typical CAD software though, and not loaded up with a ton of features either although it doesn't necessarily have any use for a ton of toolbars and utilities*. Essentially it works by programming a model in instead of drawing it. You type up the code, hit render, and it displays the object. Great for people like myself who suck at drawing but are pretty good at programming and geometry. And it also makes it easy to script and parameterize your models which can be extremely handy.

        Definitely isn't a tool you'd use for PCBs though. But it seems to be pretty good for 3D printing.

        *For one example of the missing/unnecessary features...there's no parts library that you can click and import from, but you can include external code files, so you could easily put together a library of common functions that each represent some often used component.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @07:18PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @07:18PM (#614838)

        It looks like KiCad has recently taken some action regarding their libraries. We'll how that holds up over time. :)
        http://kicad-pcb.org/post/kicad-official-libraries/ [kicad-pcb.org]

    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 27, @06:04PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 27, @06:04PM (#614809)

      This article isn't about mechanical design CAD, it's about PCB design CAD. You've never noticed probably because you never designed PCBs. I've been using KiCAD for many years now; it works great, though the libraries need help. I used EAGLE before that, but switched to KiCAD early on, since EAGLE wasn't FOSS and had serious limitations if you didn't buy a license.

    • (Score: 1) by tftp on Thursday December 28, @01:15AM

      by tftp (806) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 28, @01:15AM (#614944) Homepage

      The interface with the mouse was an afterthought. You could just use the mouse to draw lines, but it was near impossible to draw nicely aligned lines. Had to dig into the interface to find "grid" and "snap", then the mouse was more usable. AutoCAD was obviously keyboard oriented.

      Excuse me, but that's not how Autocad is used. Grid and snap (to the grid) are not needed. You can draw by coordinates and angles, abs and rel, and you can use reference geometry and qsnaps to existing one. I worked with acad for several years. You can also use autolisp scripts, stock and your own, with parameters. Autocad is the best 2d tool today. Draftsight would be the remote second, but it is too buggy.

  • (Score: 2, Disagree) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 27, @06:11PM (1 child)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 27, @06:11PM (#614813)

    I've seen lots of hobbyists and engineers on their own time using EAGLE, despite the availability of KiCAD and gEDA. I used EAGLE many, many years ago, but quickly switched to KiCAD because of the lock-in and EAGLE's terrible limitations on the free version: why bother with that, and have to pay for a license, when there's a perfectly good alternative in the FOSS world?

    But all those hobbyists doggedly stuck with EAGLE, and had no interest in FOSS alternatives that I advocated. Personally, I don't think these conversion tools should exist: these idiots should have to stick with EAGLE, despite any price increases the company desires to force, and if they want to switch, they should have to do it all by hand. They made their beds, now let them lie in them.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @08:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, @08:44PM (#614867)

      I agree with your general sentiment.
      Yeah, the longer you stay with a proprietary app and its closed file formats and maximize-profits model, the deeper you allow yourself to sink into the ooze and the harder it is to get yourself out.

      IIRC, it was Protel (another proprietary app) which many folks liked specifically because of its broad importing abilities.

      Besides gEDA and KiCAD, TFA/TFS mention AutoTRAX (a proprietary app) and this tool's ability to convert EAGLE files to that app's format.

      It will be interesting to see how many other non-subscriptionware apps which Free Software pcb-rnd will come to support among its conversions.

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

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