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New Handheld Computer Is 100% Open Source

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the small-wonder dept.

Handhelds 195

metasonix writes "While the rest of the industry has been babbling on about the iPad and imitations thereof, Qi Hardware is actually shipping a product that is completely open source and copyleft. Linux News reviews the Ben NanoNote (product page), a handheld computer apparently containing no proprietary technology. It uses a 366 MHz MIPS processor, 32MB RAM, 2 GB flash, a 320x240-pixel color display, and a Qwerty keyboard. No network is built in, though it is said to accept SD-card Wi-Fi or USB Ethernet adapters. Included is a very simple Linux OS based on the OpenWrt distro installed in Linksys routers, with Busybox GUI. It's apparently intended primarily for hardware and software hackers, not as a general-audience handheld. The price is right, though: $99."

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A couple of the potential uses (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458318)

Emulators, remote desktop control, a nice little side companion for reference while playing Video Games/MMOs, etc...

Re:A couple of the potential uses (4, Insightful)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458336)

It would be a LOT more useful for remote desktop if it had built-in networking. /sigh

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458414)

With a 320x240 display, you're better off using pretty much anything else for remote desktop (most smartphones are at least 480x320).

I guess you can have an 80x30 terminal though, with a 4x8 pixel font.

Otherwise, C64, Spectrum, CPC, Atari 8-bit, etc, emulators would be good because of the full keyboard.

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458500)

Can't argue with that. Still, the lack of networking these days sure does limit its usefulness, especially because of its feeble resolution.

Re:A couple of the potential uses (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460038)

The entire 'feature' list looks like a long list of limitations, with the exception of the underlying OS. If this is the tech crowd's answer to the iPad, they need to try harder. What the hacker crowd needs is a feature and spec sheet compatible (or better) handheld with a FOSS OS underneath the covers. This is not it.

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460382)

To be fair the device is really quite small. But there's a lack of software for Linux that is optimised for tiny screens. Using the MIPS port of Android could be an idea?

Maybe they should use the new quad-core Chinese Godson 3A CPU - 10W for four 1GHz cores...

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

tao (10867) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458594)

320x240 is too small for C64 emulation -- while the text area is only 320x200 (8x8 pixels/character, 40x25 characters), the borders need to fit too, since a *LOT* of software for the 64 uses the border.

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460404)

Oh well, sucks to not be able to run every piece of C64 software. However a lot could run, and that's better than nothing.

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458676)

With a 320x240 display, you're better off using pretty much anything else for remote desktop (most smartphones are at least 480x320).

I guess you can have an 80x30 terminal though, with a 4x8 pixel font.

Otherwise, C64, Spectrum, CPC, Atari 8-bit, etc, emulators would be good because of the full keyboard.

The other thing is My g1, a slow phone by today's smartphone standards has a much better processor.

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459482)

I guess you can have an 80x30 terminal though, with a 4x8 pixel font.

Isn't that enough?

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459736)

No. I have an ssh client with a built-in terminal that uses a 4x8 pixel font on my LG Rumor messaging phone and while somewhat usable, it is barely so. My phone has a smaller screen at 176x220 -- roughly half the size of this device, so YMMV on this screen, but I doubt it'll be much better or more readable.

The device doesn't have an integrated NIC, but you can plug in one to the integrated USB port (or the SD slot, apparently)

USB wireless NICs are a dime a dozen these days and most are supported on Linux using either native drivers or ndiswrapper.

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460250)

You will have to have native drivers; NDIS wrapper won't do you any good with the MIPS proccessor in this thing.

Amen! (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458990)

I'll stick with my N900 thank you very much.

Re:Amen! (1)

CreamyG31337 (1084693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459624)

It's kind of hard to recommend a $650 phone versus a $100 tablet. The N810 is about $200 on ebay, and you can run Mer [youtube.com] on it which is a combination of Ubuntu and Maemo if you want. I just stuck with the OS2008 version of Maemo for now myself. N900 is a lot of fun though, there's a lot of apps available already and the OpenGL ES 2 looks promising.

Comments on the N900 (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459930)

Imho, there were three big features missing form Maemo : video calling, rotation, and printing. We've now got video calling and limited rotation, but still no printing.

Re:Comments on the N900 (1)

CreamyG31337 (1084693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460120)

yeah but the video calling only works for skype or gtalk -- not for the actual "real" phone. There's a lot of obstacles to printing, and i don't see much work being done unless a lot of people asked for it. What would you use it for?

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459240)

I'm a touch befuddled by the severely limited RAM. Shoving in an SDIO wifi card is a doable upgrade. Upping the RAM would pretty much involve breaking out the rework station. How much could it have possibly added to the price to go to 64 or 128MB?

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459398)

Agreed... this thing is lacking is some very basic ways by the standards of today, especially considering how cheap many components are.

Re:A couple of the potential uses (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459670)

From having done a fair amount of fiddling with the NSLU2(266MHz ARM, 32MB RAM, 8MB onboard flash, 2 USB 2.0 ports(with the ability to hack another couple on) 1 10/100 ethernet) RAM ended up being the big kicker for a lot of applications.

With USB, you can trivially add terabytes of mass storage(or in the case of this portable, SD cards up to 32 gigs are cheap), and the onboard 8MB is enough for a kernel and initrd; but if you start swapping into a swapfile located on a USB HDD, your performance will tank.

With a 233MHz ARM, you can run an entire network's worth of services for a smallish household of users(RADIUS server, file server, VPN endpoint, SFTP, mostly-static web server, etc.) for 2-5 people, no problem; but you'll have a harder time doing that in 32MB of RAM, without serious effort that just isn't justified by the cost of 64 or 128MB. Adding a framebuffer to the equation isn't going to help any.

Re:A couple of the potential uses (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459932)

32MB is plenty. It comes with a choice of Slackware, Yggdrasil or MCC Linux.

Open Pandora (5, Interesting)

kiberovca (524346) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458368)

What about http://www.open-pandora.org/ [open-pandora.org] ? It's a much better device than this one, has all of the stuff mentioned, and more.

Re:Open Pandora (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458396)

Pandora's PowerVR GPU is proprietary.

Re:Open Pandora (2, Insightful)

kiberovca (524346) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458484)

So is the MIPS. I'd say there is not so much difference between the two. Yes, the Qi has all of the blueprints, but the Pandora can be actually used for a bit more than just as an example of the open design. I applaud the people behind the Qi, but the device has to be usefull too.

MIPS has a free implementation (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458758)

So is the MIPS.

The MIPS architecture has a Free implementation called Plasma [opencores.org] . The trouble is that the PowerVR GPU is also a trade secret. That said, I do plan on buying a Pandora PDA once they get a couple more batches out; it'll surely be better than Apple's "iDon't touch".

Re:Open Pandora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32458992)

Way to steal there thunder man, what a bad poster. Don't you know on slashdot you have one of two allowed responses, support or di

Re:Open Pandora (2, Funny)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460470)

responses, support or di

Alas, we now know which one you chose.

Re:Open Pandora (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458400)

The Pandora hardware is closed once you get to the level of individual chips, though it's not that big a deal for someone trying to build one.

Re:Open Pandora (2, Interesting)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458808)

The Pandora hardware is closed once you get to the level of individual chips, though it's not that big a deal for someone trying to build one.

Since when did you or anyone here own a chip foundry? You statement is pure fluff. You are getting sucked in by the word "open". You might not like the whole concept of "profit" but without a profit motive and some semblance of even temporary exclusivity, no competent company will ever develop an innovative product. Hiring real talent requires money and despite what everyone says, most techie people will not produce the same kind of quality on an open source project as they would on a closed source one where they are getting paid a lot of money.

One of the major downfalls of all of those "open" initiatives is that, once you go beyond basic things like a web browser with an well established UI paradigm or core services, the design by committee effect drags down not only innovation but quality of the end product. Core services tend to work out better because they are usually licensed to be compatible with wide participation from everyone including corporations and are focused on implementing an open standard.

Ultimately the problem is not about money but rather a herd mentality in open source. With a closed product, the employees have some incentive to come up with the best possible product because bonuses could hinge on good sales and because any team member could get rewarded even more if they came up with a brilliant innovation which set the product apart from the field.

Re:Open Pandora (3, Interesting)

spazdor (902907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459084)

With a closed product, the employees have some incentive to come up with the best possible product because bonuses could hinge on good sales and because any team member could get rewarded even more if they came up with a brilliant innovation which set the product apart from the field.

Dan Pink says it doesn't work that way:
http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html [ted.com]

Re:Open Pandora (2, Informative)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459742)

I disagree with the assumption that only commercial software can innovate. Like Walt Disney "borrowing" fairy tales, commercial software often "borrows" from open source code. For example: ftp, rcp and rsh in Windows originally were ported from BSD. And how about all the hot features from FOSS web browsers being imitated by commercial browsers? Or KDE 4 features finding their way to Vista & W7?

Re:Open Pandora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32459818)

Drops in the sea compared to what open source copies from commercial software.

Re:Open Pandora (5, Insightful)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459806)

You might not like the whole concept of "profit" but without a profit motive and some semblance of even temporary exclusivity, no competent company will ever develop an innovative product.

That's a bit ironic posting on Slashdot (one of the first public blogs which gave its source away, not initially written for profit), read in a browser (not written for profit), all via the web using HTML over HTTP (again not written for profit). There are plenty of other innovative products not initially written for profit (Napster/Kazaa/BitTorrent spring to mind).

Hiring real talent requires money and despite what everyone says, most techie people will not produce the same kind of quality on an open source project as they would on a closed source one where they are getting paid a lot of money.

You are confusing quality with speed of development, and time with money. No matter how good the techie, he still has to put food on the table. If his OS project isn't paying the bills then he has less time he is able to devote to it. You can easily flip the argument around and say an OS project is always going to come up with the best possible product because he has no time limit whereas a commercial product has a deadline to get out of the door. Both arguments are false, as each has its own unique set of constraints.

One of the major downfalls of all of those "open" initiatives is that, once you go beyond basic things like a web browser with an well established UI paradigm or core services, the design by committee effect drags down not only innovation but quality of the end product.

I do not believe this to be true. A good leader with a clear vision and realistic project management will lead to a successful end product. Linus Torvalds has managed to create a superior operating system to Microsoft, who employ thousands and pay very well. There are plenty of examples where OS are clear winners and others where proprietary are clear winners (eg Photoshop).

Ultimately the problem is not about money but rather a herd mentality in open source.

Oh please, that is nothing to do with open source. Any time there is a successful proprietary product there are always clones. Most of them pretty bad. If you want to look at herd mentality, look at all the proprietary developers flocking to write for the iPhone despite the fact their product may get canned by Apple for absolutely no reason.

With a closed product, the employees have some incentive to come up with the best possible product because bonuses could hinge on good sales and because any team member could get rewarded even more if they came up with a brilliant innovation which set the product apart from the field.

I've worked as a programmer most of my life, and I've always had a fixed salary. Share options sometimes, but that's not the same as a bonus. Possibly myself and my colleagues are exceptions, but the biggest motivator for the people we see around us is the risk of getting fired.

I am not arguing against that money motivates some people, but do not agree with the supposed inherent flaws you see in open source vs closed source.

Phillip.

Re:Open Pandora (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459908)

Nice MBA degree you have there, too bad it's content is based outside of reality.

Open Source happes everywhere. Even medical fields.

Places like the Van Andel Institute are working to cure cancer and they attract the top of the crop doctors and researchers.... Not because they pay them insane amounts of money, but because they are working towards a goal that helps humanity.

In fact everywhere you will find the best of the best doing things for FREE. The ones that dont are never the Best but people who claim they are or try to act like they are.

Open source built and is running the internet. You think Microsoft would have been able to pull this off all for profit only? not a chance.

Re:Open Pandora (1)

Dracker (1323355) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458812)

Reverse engineering and building one? Good luck with the analog nubs, those were specially designed just for this device, and have proprietary drivers.

Re:Open Pandora (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458622)

Apparently you can actually order this device and get one, unlike the Pandora, where you have to apply to be a member of their club and then wait expectantly for your hardware. I'd like to buy a Pandora, but I have to be able to order one from stock on hand before it gets to be referred to as a retail product.

Re:Open Pandora (1)

kiberovca (524346) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458702)

Well, Pandora people started shipping the device. It all depends on the demand for it. If suddenly several thousand devices were to be ordered, I wonder if the Qi people would be able to supply all of the devices on demand. Since both projects are enthusiast based, I'd say the situation is still the same.

Re:Open Pandora (3, Informative)

Dracker (1323355) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458770)

I know a lot about this device. I preordered one Sep. 30, 2008 and am about to receive it as they are finally shipping them.

There are a few problems with this device for thr purposes of a "100%" open source platform
-Philosophical: It's not 100% open. There are no blueprints available, and proprietary chips and interfaces (SD card reader, etc) inside. Furthermore, while the OS is open source, some drivers (wifi, analog nubs) are not.
-Practical: Even though they're finally in production, you'll probably have to wait a year to get yours if you order now. There are no large scale factories assembling them, it's done by the team behind the product (just a few guys) and any volunteers they can muster.

While an interesting device (and certainly one you can do a lot more with than the Qi) it's not really appropriate for a conversation about available 100% open devices.

Re:Open Pandora (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459094)

I pre-ordered back then too, then got fed up of waiting, cancelled my order, and bought a PSP. Which I don't really use. Ahem. I still might buy a Pandora when they actually get some spare stock.

Though I have another idea of something I might actually make use of rather than just having another toy lying around: buying an iPad, jailbreaking it, installing a bunch of emulators and oldskool point'n'click adventures (since they're about the only type of game I'd want to play on a touchscreen-only device).. that would be Nerdvana :)

Re:Open Pandora (4, Interesting)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460004)

The idea of the Qi project is to have 100% open hardware, but I agree that not everything is open.
If it were 100% open hardware the following would need to be met:

  • the Verilog or VHDL for any chips, would be included
  • as would the exact masks used to manufacture the chips, including the memory chips
  • Full specifications sufficient to fabricate the plastic shell, lcd, and any other component used would be included. They must be detailed enough that anybody familiar with fabricating that type of component could theoretically produce an indistinguishable product
  • The PCB files would be included
  • I would permit them to omit including instructions for simple well known components like widely available resistors, capacitors, and even LEDs, as long as the requirements for those parts are sufficiently specified, such as value, tolerance, mounting standard, wattage (for resistor), and information about required shape, and and the specific maximum current, and voltage drop for the LED. (There are for example multiple kinds of green LEDs, which have different voltage drops and current requirements, so they are not all inter-compatible).

While I'm sure they have included at least some of that, I doubt they have included all of it. Particularly, I find it very hard to believe that instructions sufficient to recreate the LCD were included. I also tend to doubt that semiconductor masks for all used chips were included, even if they included the VHDL/verilog.

Re:Open Pandora (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460284)

One big strike against Pandora: You can't actually get one. [open-pandora.org]

Since the Pandora is a project started by only a few people (and it isn't even out yet), you can't buy it at any online stores! As the first batch is currently produced and shipped, pre-orders will be available at www.gbax.com, shop.gp2x.de or www.gp2xtr.com soon.

Please check back regularly to find out when preordering for the second batch starts.

Other than that </snarky> it does sincerely look pretty cool. What do Pandoras cost? $99 for the new one is cool, and the lack of WiFi is made up for (at least to me) by ready acceptance of WiFi cards. But the Pandora does have a much better screen.

Re:Open Pandora (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460388)

Sorry, forgot to click the store links. The one place that shows a price says $330.

This story contains one egregious error. (5, Interesting)

Annirak (181684) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458382)

MIPS is not open source. MIPS is a proprietary, licensed technology.

There are a few OSS processors out there, but they're pretty rare. One example is the xr16 [fpgacpu.org] .

Re:This story contains one egregious error. (1)

Annirak (181684) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458416)

Correction, the xr16 source is free for non-commercial purposes, not OSS.

OSS processor is here (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32458608)

http://www.opensparc.net/

Proprietary in what way? (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458940)

MIPS is a proprietary, licensed technology.

A microprocessor can be covered by three different proprietary rights: trademark, mask work, and copyright. Trademark is easy: "The XXX CPU is compatible with a useful subset of MIPS-I user-mode instructions." Mask work is similar to copyright and is worked around in the same way: design your own CPU based on the ISA description rather than copying from a microscopic photo of the existing CPU. As for patents, someone went down the claims in the patents for the MIPS-I architecture and found prior art for 99 percent of them. Hence Plasma [opencores.org] .

Re:This story contains one egregious error. (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459152)

Not to mention that the RAM and Flash among other pieces of the computer are all also most likely covered both patents and are proprietary.

Re:This story contains one egregious error. (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459324)

MIPS is not open source. MIPS is a proprietary, licensed technology.

You forgot one other glaring closed-source technology used in the product: matter. We're still trying to crack the DRM on this stuff.

Re:This story contains one egregious error. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32459570)

You're trying to crack the DRM on matter?

Re:This story contains one egregious error. (1)

Albatrosses (1712146) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459824)

Yup, we've been trying to duplicate the stuff for thousands of years, but we haven't been able to crack this stupid Deity's Responsibile for Making the universe scheme...

Maybe those folks on Doom9 will succeed where the Alchemists failed.

Re:This story contains one egregious error. (2, Informative)

maitas (98290) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459424)

SPARC T2 has is 100% GPL Verilog.

No Proprietary Technologies? (2, Informative)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458384)

I thought the MIPS architecture was a licensed design... surely you can't call something 100% open source if even one component has to be licensed, can you?

Re:No Proprietary Technologies? (3, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458448)

Rounding error.

Re:No Proprietary Technologies? (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458722)

open source != free.

Re:No Proprietary Technologies? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32458904)

While the official mips implementation designs are often not open source but rather proprietary licensed in a manner similar to ARM cores as you say, there are only four instructions the implementation of which are (or were - I think the relevant patent may have expired!) patent-monopoly-blocked in the mips instruction set. A cpu can get along just fine without them. While Loongson [wikipedia.org] is now a mips licensee anyway, it originally was making "mostly mips compatible" cpus, missing those four instructions.

There therefore also exist opencores implementations [opencores.org] of "most of the mips instruction set" cpus.

Licensed under what proprietary right? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458970)

I thought the MIPS architecture was a licensed design... surely you can't call something 100% open source if even one component has to be licensed, can you?

While you were typing up your post, someone else said the same thing [slashdot.org] . Please see my reply there.

Lemote Yeelong (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32458468)

The Lemote Yeelong is also all open-source

  http://www.lemote.com/en/products/Notebook/2010/0310/112.html

and it has better specs than the Ben NanoNote.

Re:Lemote Yeelong (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32458764)

Is that chinese for Remote Yearlong?

Re:Lemote Yeelong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32458998)

They prefer the term Chinglish, thank you very much.

Re:Lemote Yeelong (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459698)

That's pretty nice. How much and where can I order one?

Re:Lemote Yeelong (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459782)

I found it [freedomincluded.com] . At $450, it's not quite in the same market as this thing. Worth it if you're Stallman [flickr.com] , but not for the rest of us.

Re:Lemote Yeelong (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459800)

It is a complete netbook, with a HD/SSD and a DDR2 SODIMM, so it's not really comparable if you want a smaller handheld. But at least it is Free as in GNU/RMS [stallman.org] .

(I have no affiliation with this company [tekmote.nl] , but it seems to be the only professional-looking vendor I have found so far.)

Re:Lemote Yeelong (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459984)

That is a older MSI laptop. I have one of those that has MSI blased all across the top of it and the Bios boots saying MSI.

It looks 100% identical to a 5 year old mini laptop I bought from newegg.

SD card? (5, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458472)

The SD Card Association says:

If your company is planning to manufacture or have manufactured SD host products (eg. cell phones, cameras or computers) or SD ancillary products (eg. adapters or SD I/O cards), your company is required to:

      1. Join the SD Card Association and
      2. Enter into a Host/Ancillary Product License Agreement (HALA)** with the SD Card Association and the SD-3C, LLC. Latest Revision: December 12, 2009

I suspect that interface standards are probably the biggest barrier to doing a totally copyleft product. You can't lose them if you want a practical product, and can't keep them if you want complete IP release.

Re:SD card? (1)

Gleapsite (713682) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458596)

If your company is planning to manufacture or have manufactured SD host products...

Looks like it only applies to manufacturing. I see nothing in what you posted that would prevent a complete IP release.

OSS App Store (5, Funny)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458492)

Yeah, but if you want to run anything on it, you have to get approved by the Free Store. The draconian linux overlords will reject anything that isn't 100% free, open, copyleft, and blindingly geeky.

Free to add repositories (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459062)

Yeah, but if you want to run anything on it, you have to get approved by the Free Store. The draconian linux overlords will reject anything that isn't 100% free, open, copyleft, and blindingly geeky.

You've described the policy of the "main" components of Fedora, Debian, and Ubuntu repositories. (For example, see the descriptions of Ubuntu components [ubuntu.com] .) But because the operating system is free, you are free to add additional repositories, such as non-free and contrib (Debian) or restricted and multiverse (Ubuntu). Blocking the user of a consumer product from adding repositories would be tivoization, which GPLv3 prohibits.

Re:OSS App Store (1)

mounthood (993037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459798)

Yeah, but if you want to run anything on it, you have to get approved by the Free Store. The draconian linux overlords will reject anything that isn't 100% free, open, copyleft, and blindingly geeky.

"RTFM" is all the rejection letters say. Not even any guidance about what to change!

Re:OSS App Store (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460008)

Yup. That's why we dont have Nvidia and ATI video card drivers.

Damn I wish we could use Nvidia and ATI cards. as well as Intel cards and chipsets...

CURSE YOU LINUS!!!!!!!!!

Re:OSS App Store (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460328)

So, porn is OK then?

iPad? Really? (5, Insightful)

TheOV (1640259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458506)

I don't think this device deserves to be compared to the "iPad and imitations thereof" - A) it's not a tablet; B) it's far less powerful; C) it doesn't even have any built-in network capability, which is what the iPad and its following are intended for; and D) it's horribly ugly. That being said, it looks like an excellent little device to hack on, and a big bonus is that it has USB ports! I may actually pick one up one of these days.

Re:iPad? Really? Mod Parent up (2, Interesting)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458896)

I don't think this device deserves to be compared to the "iPad and imitations thereof" - A) it's not a tablet; B) it's far less powerful; C) it doesn't even have any built-in network capability, which is what the iPad and its following are intended for; and D) it's horribly ugly. That being said, it looks like an excellent little device to hack on, and a big bonus is that it has USB ports! I may actually pick one up one of these days.

Agreed. Although I had mod points, I decided to post in agreement instead. This product bares more resemblance to the Atari Profile than it does the iPad. Ok, to be fair, it bares some resemblance to the Toshiba Libretto but the Libretto is probably much more powerful and functional despite being a very old product.

This product will not sell well. I would be surprised if it even sells 4000 units. I remember everyone hyping up the JooJoo tablet but it only sold 4000 units initially and many of those were returned.

Re:iPad? Really? Mod Parent up (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459036)

part of the joojoo thing was the fall out of the the techcrunch guy and the now owners of the joojoo. I know it left a sour taste in my mouth. I think both were being dumb about it.

The big issue with this device for me is lack of anything that resembles a decent screen. I have a 10.6" 1280x768 screen(http://www.greenfly.org/fujitsu/) from 2003. Why why why can't i get better than that on the 2010 iPad? surely the cost of producing LCD screens has gone down in the last 7 years? lack of networking also makes it just about worthless, it doesn't even make a good thin terminal.

Re:iPad? Really? Mod Parent up (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459190)

Hey thanks man, didn't know that was out yet - and I've just read that you can install Ubuntu on it rather that stick with the customised version.. £200 cheaper than an iPad too - I'm going to get one :)

Just a Slashvertisement (1)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459762)

I wonder if kdawson gets a cut or just posts what he's told to post.

Two words for their marketing department: (1)

the_mind_ (157933) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458638)

Portable Nethack.

Re:Two words for their marketing department: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32459132)

i'll wait for the pandora or an n900 so i can get portable crawl w/ tiles

Re:Two words for their marketing department: (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459342)

My G1 works great for that already. Suck it all you other smartphone users that only have a touch keyboard!

Ugh (3, Insightful)

TyroneShoe (912878) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458674)

"While the rest of the industry has been babbling on about the iPad" the geeks have been babbling about any random piece of vaporware that is remotely flat and meant to be touched as the next "killer"

Re:Ugh (1)

dn15 (735502) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459148)

"While the rest of the industry has been babbling on about the iPad" the geeks have been babbling about any random piece of vaporware that is remotely flat and meant to be touched as the next "killer"

My thoughts exactly. The post seems a bit confused – it starts off with a slight slap-in-the-face to the iPad but concludes with a statement that this device won't have broad appeal beyond hackers. It doesn't make sense to compare those two any more than it makes sense to compare a motorcycle and a dump truck. They both have wheels and an internal combustion engine, but the similarity ends there.

Uh, Busybox *GUI*? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32458720)

When did that come out?

Re:Uh, Busybox *GUI*? (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459060)

it has a gui, a terminal is graphical and busybox provides ash, seems like a Graphical user interface. It could click at you and you could knock on it back...

Kindle killer? Not yet but... (4, Insightful)

JThaddeus (531998) | more than 4 years ago | (#32458822)

For what I want, this is the right track. I'm not interested in paying several hundred dollars for something that binds me to Amazon or Barnes & Nobel or Apple or whomever. I learned that lesson from having an iPod. It was a generous Christmas gift and I get a lot of use out of it, but managing it in my Linux-only world is a pain. My idea for an e-book reader is something I call Gutenberg friendly: It has what I need to download and display text, HTML, PDF, and Postscript files that I might download from Project Gutenberg or other open sites as well as software manuals. That and a $100 price tag could win me over to the e-book world.

Re:Kindle killer? Not yet but... (1, Informative)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459004)

Get a used Toshiba E800, the device is very good for reading and quite cheap.

Re:Kindle killer? Not yet but... (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459430)

My idea for an e-book reader is something I call Gutenberg friendly: It has what I need to download and display text, HTML, PDF, and Postscript files that I might download from Project Gutenberg or other open sites as well as software manuals. That and a $100 price tag could win me over to the e-book world.

For $150, I'm tempted by the Sony e-reader. Sony does have an e-book store, but they seem to be the most open e-readers out there & usable under Linux. If/when my ancient Palm Tungsten dies, it'll be between the Sony or a Touch for a replacement - I mostly use it for reading, but the PIM features are still handy.

Re:Kindle killer? Not yet but... (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459584)

My idea for an e-book reader is something I call Gutenberg friendly: It has what I need to download and display text, HTML, PDF, and Postscript files that I might download from Project Gutenberg or other open sites as well as software manuals. That and a $100 price tag could win me over to the e-book world.

Walgreens has the delstar for $99. About five weeks ago, newegg was selling the ectaco jetbook-lite for $99 (now $119), and sears was selling the similar aluretek libre for $99. I bought a used ipod touch for $85, which is an okay ebook reader.

Seems like we're getting there. I think that, within the next few months, $99 ebook readers will be common.

Re:Kindle killer? Not yet but... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460034)

all of which are 100% useless at reading anything but a epub file.

PDF on all those suck horribly. so unless you are only using it for casual reading they are useless.

I've tried all them, they suck. I'm hoping that android will get a decent pdf reader by the time the android based readers come out...

I dont want to be stuck with my only choice being a n iPad.

Re:Kindle killer? Not yet but... (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460064)

I learned that lesson from having an iPod. It was a generous Christmas gift and I get a lot of use out of it, but managing it in my Linux-only world is a pain.

Dude, Rockbox [rockbox.org] . I wouldn't even use my iPod (5.5g - 30GB iPod Video) if it wasn't for that.

Re:Kindle killer? Not yet but... (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460196)

I own a Kindle. It is completely unsuitable for displaying PDF documents that have not been customized for the screen dimensions. As is every other eBook reader out there, because you cannot see a full page and there is no good way to zoom and pan quickly. Unless of course you have an LCD display, which then makes it useless for reading other materals.

Same goes for Postscript - after all, PDF is a subset of Postscript.

Some eBook readers display a special eBook version of PDF which is designed specifically for Adobe-enabled readers. The page description is thrown out and the text is reformatted to fit the screen. As far as I am concerned, this isn't a PDF anymore. PDF is a page description language where the pages are intended to be rendered as the author intended.

HTML has a different problem with the Modern Web - games are played to get the page to display in a particular format with the screen width pretty much hard-coded into the page layout. At least a minimum width. For these documents, again a eBook reader is going to fail.

For all of these what is needed is something that can display an A4 or USA letter size page in a readable manner. Given display costs and yields today, you could probably have that for $500 or a bit more. Anything less than that is going to have an unreadably tiny display forcing you to (slowly) pan and zoom, zoom and pan.

I keep seeing posts like this, mostly from people that haven't tried to read an 8 inch wide page on a 4 inch wide display. With an eInk display it responds well to turning pages while reading and infuriatingly slowly attempting to move quickly. It doesn't work. Anything where the page is laid out by the author with a fixed idea of how the page should appear isn't going to come out very well without a display capable of handling at least that width, if not that height. Where eBook readers shine is where the "page" is dynamically formatted from unformatted text to fit the display. Just about anything else is a waste of time.

Neat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32458874)

Interesting philosophical ideas and if it's useful, well then great! Chances are though like most of these products so far it's still going to be a boggy buggy mess. For those with the patience to fix these copyleft products, I can only say enjoy it and I hope you do wonderful things with it. I believe that having this kind of competition to more closed platforms is good for everyone because I'm for a balanced center. Just a note to Qi... you'd come of as more of a comforting company if your website didn't look awful and run as slow as a jog in the mud. Just wanted to point that out.

Another dumb P.O.S. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32459154)

Just another stupid me-too handheld. Why doesn't somebody start putting BeagleBoards into a case with a [digikey.com] 480x640 touchscreen LCD [sharpsma.com] ??? That, I would buy.

Re:Another dumb P.O.S. (1)

Dracker (1323355) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460068)

Something like this? [open-pandora.org]

Now shipping, but still be prepared to wait a long time before you get yours if you order now.

Nice... (1)

EriktheGreen (660160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459326)

At $99, I can buy one with low expectations and play with it... much better than the ZL-5000 or the other 20-ish handhelds I've had over the years, but never used regularly. I'm just a sucker for gadgets like this. I think I'll use it to control the rotary table on my mill until I get CNC set up... Erik

32MB RAM... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32459344)

32MB RAM and no networking?
I'm sorry, but that doesn't qualify as a "computer" today, that's a calculator.

Re:32MB RAM... (1)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459522)

Replace MB with KB, and you have a real calculator. Which people [url=http://www.ticalc.org/pub/83plus/asm/games/]still write ASM games[/url] for.

Ideal HTPC Remote? (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459594)

This could be the silver bullet for all the HTPC (ie. XBMC) enthusiasts out there looking for a remote! I know that's how I'll justify my order.

Re:Ideal HTPC Remote? (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 4 years ago | (#32459886)

...except for the lack of built in networking

yuo Fai7 It! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32459778)

useful for us blind folk... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32459866)

This could be very useful if someone were to put speakup on the thing and make it accessible. There are handheld computing devices for blind people, but they cost upwards of $1k and have crappy specs.

Let it go Apple haters.... (1)

uprise78 (1256084) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460118)

Why, why, why must every article mention the iPad/Apple? Can't any of the Linux/MS fanboys of the world find anything compelling enough to actually stand on its own? In other news: - Some BP employees helping with oil spill wrecking the Gulf enjoy using iPads - The massive sinkhole that isn't a sinkhole in Guatemala happens to be within 100 yards of an iMac - AMD's Fusion Processor Combines CPU and GPU (won't run iPhone OS 4.0)

Ben! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460270)

The name "Ben" is the Chinese word for "origin,"

Chinese words are more than just spelling, there is also tune. The word "Ben" can also mean "stupid" or "running" with different tunes. I'm not judging the device (in fact I think it is cool) nor the people involved (keep it up guys!), just passing along an interesting fact.

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