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Running Android On Netbooks 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-portable-than-portable dept.
jjohn_h writes "Two guys at VentureBeat have managed to take the source code for Google's Linux-based operating system for mobile phones, Android, and compile it for an Asus netbook. Immediately, speculation began that Android will soon be running on PCs and laptops. '... we discovered that Android already has two product "policies" in its code. Product policies are operating system directions aimed at specific uses. The two policies are for 1) phones and 2) mobile internet devices.' Though some remain skeptical, I surely hope it is going to happen. Since Android does not rely on X11, but has its own framebuffer graphics, that would indeed be a cosmic shift."
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Running Android On Netbooks

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  • by Saffaya (702234) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @10:38AM (#26311449)

    A new hope

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @10:41AM (#26311467)

    While I see the utility for phones, I'm not sure that the Android UI as currently implemented would be as flexible as X11 for computer-type applications...

    On the other hand, it's great for stuff like car GPSs, where a very simple, touch-based UI is ideal. Something you can lean over while driving to use. Get directions. Make a phone call. Quick check of email (while filling the tank..)

    Android seems perfect for stuff like that, but for normal everyday computing... why?

    • by Draek (916851) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:48AM (#26311809)

      Same reason you run NetBSD on your toaster: because you can. That, and I imagine it'd be more comfortable to test apps on a netbook than on a phone, thanks to the larger screen and real keyboard.

      • by wampus (1932) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @12:23PM (#26312009)

        Then use your PC, the devkit comes with a phone emulator.

      • I personally think, people testing software (such as Firefox) on devices with much more capability than the machines it's most likely to run on, are the reason a lot of software packages run sluggish and have unrealistic system requirements. I'm one of those people who have always said to make the developers run the software on computers that just meet the minimum system requirements. Not to develop it on those systems, but to run it on those systems before giving themselves that pat on the back. Even bette

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Vitriolix (660279)

      If you do almost all your computing using "cloud" services like google docs, flickr, gmail/gcalendar/etc, who needs a full fledged desktop os? For most people that accounts for their entire "every day" computing task load. all you need is a lightweight, easy to use, energy efficient OS. Android would be perfect for that use. There are netbooks coming out now with built in 3g cell broadband adapters, so throw android on one of those and you have yourself a cloud computing terminal that is instant on and

  • by miknix (1047580) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @10:52AM (#26311509) Homepage

    What? Someone has to change the meme sometimes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      No one has to. Memes mutate. In this case in exiting your meme breeding ground, a (Score:5, Funny) mutation occurred. Sometimes the mutation enables the new meme to reproduce faster than it's parent and displace it. Though in this case. I think not.
  • Hurm. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kooty-Sentinel (1291050) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @10:54AM (#26311523) Homepage
    If I recall correctly, the self-build versions of Android cannot connect to the app-store. Although still lacking in many areas, the app-store is one of the biggest selling points for Android. Without it, you arn't able to easily add your own applications - a major no-no if you want this to be mainstream. This will fix itself once we get Google-built and signed firmware images for different netbooks.

    I'm all for hacking stuff for the whole 'because we can' mentality, but why reinvent the wheel? Why not use something like Ubuntu Netbook Remix - which already does everything Android can do + more. If you want to get Linux more in the mainstream market, let's try to refine what we already have, and leave the netbook version of Android to the professionals - aka Google.
    • Re:Hurm. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by transiit (33489) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:22AM (#26311685) Homepage Journal

      No, the app-store is important to the kool-aid drinkers that believed Apple when they said "No, we only reject apps from our device/profit model to keep you safe."

      The same kool-aid enthusiasts that shuffled off from the shareware-hell that was the Windows/DOS environment for the last 15 years or so.

      There was once a world that didn't recognize this as logical. These days, they are keeping themselves busy with actual problems, enough so that even raising a 1-finger salute to your line of thinking is likely unworthy of their effort.

      But hey, consume, consume, consume, man. I'm sure someone appreciates it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Have you ever used the AppStore?! I have an iPhone, and have a buddy who has a G1. He has never paid for an application, and I have only bought two the entire time I had an iPhone - and both were 99c. Everything you could ever want is avaliable for free.. aside from games that is. SSH Clients, VNC Clients, RDP clients, simple games, todo lists - name it!
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mikiN (75494)

          All nice and dandy, but why force people to use a signed, possibly locked-down firmware binary? To keep people 'safe'?
          If a web-of-trust is what you seek, why not stick to something like Debian's keyring?

          Also, why have a single, commercial company have censorship of what goes into the app-store and what not? I'd rather have something like the popularity-contest package do the voting and ranking for me.

          • Re:Hurm. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Adambomb (118938) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @01:41PM (#26312499) Journal

            why have a single, commercial company have censorship of what goes into the app-store

            Because a single, commercial company creates and maintains the product which the same single, commercial company is also liable for in terms of company image, damage to devices, even overflow of support calls causing penalties on their service contracts with subcontractors.

            If you don't like it, you don't buy an iphone. This is like saying "Why is XBox Live the only XBox 360 online gaming service!". To put it into the overused car analogies, why would Ferrari support third party machined components in their catalogues? At least Apple is allowing for the third party components, it just requires approval first.

            Or if you're still strung out over this, going by app popularity and the whole support/liability angle, think of the number of people who STILL install those "magic cursors" and "Bonzo Buddy" type idiocies.

            • Re:Hurm. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @07:24PM (#26315061)

              Because a single, commercial company creates and maintains the product which the same single, commercial company is also liable for in terms of company image, damage to devices, even overflow of support calls causing penalties on their service contracts with subcontractors.

              A single commercial company also maintains Windows Mobile. On a WinMo device, the user is given root access, full permissions to fuck with the filesystem/registry and install any application that she wants. Moreover, WinMo applications don't need to be approved by anyone, you just download the SDK (C++ or C#, your choice) and write the app and package it as a file. Send the file to anyone you want, host it free on the web, sell it for $1000000/copy, barter it for live chickens...

              Compare this to Android, where the user doesn't have root access and is locked out the filesystem. The Android developer is similarly fucked -- she can't just package his application as a file and send it off to whoever but must submit it for approval and then, if the overlords deign to approve, can only distribute it through their app store.

              It's ironic, in some sick and twisted sense, that an OS built on open source affords the user and developer so much less freedom than one built on closed source by the much-maligned Microsoft.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by CTachyon (412849)

                Compare this to Android, where the user doesn't have root access and is locked out the filesystem. The Android developer is similarly fucked -- she can't just package his application as a file and send it off to whoever but must submit it for approval and then, if the overlords deign to approve, can only distribute it through their app store.

                *cough [andappstore.com]* *cough [handango.com]* *wheeze [google.com]*

              • Mod me down (Score:3, Informative)

                by Wrath0fb0b (302444)

                I was mistaken about some key facts. I apologize for the inconvenience (and for having been modded Insightful despite being incorrect).

                I still have some strong misgivings about the Android software dev model (including the fact that you can't make a proper tethering application because the API doesn't expose the packet gubbins) but this appears to be OK.

        • by CdBee (742846)
          Everything you could ever want is avaliable for free

          So i can get an office app? and a MMS sending/receiving app? and a full bluetooth profile app? and an app to allow use of an external keyboard, and video recording? And A2DP? And VoIP? And J2ME for all those useful java apps I have on my own phone?

          Seems I've been misinformed. /irony
        • Everything you could ever want is avaliable for free
          An app that provides cut and paste?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by samkass (174571)

        Apple's App Store is a revolution in easily adding functionality to a cell phone. If Google can replicate it it will be huge for them. If not, it will be a major impediment.

        Having 10,000+ apps, many of them free or $0.99, all available in a trusted, easy-to-access, categorized, searchable and peer-reviewed place is valuable. Sure, there are now a dozen or more "fart sound" and "flashlight" apps, but there are also some really innovative things (like "please name the song that's playing in this restaurant

        • by mdwh2 (535323)

          but there are also some really innovative things (like "please name the song that's playing in this restaurant right now" and others).

          FYI, that's been around for years, available on any phone capable of SMS.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            He's talking about an app like Pandora, which records any sound source, sends it to a sever, and attempts to recognise the song. You can't do that or anything similar via SMS. SMS services require a radio station or place to have an agreement with the service, it's not the same thing.

            • by mdwh2 (535323)

              You can't do that or anything similar via SMS. SMS services require a radio station or place to have an agreement with the service

              Yes you can, and no you don't. It works as the AC reply points out.

              If Pandora has to first record it then send it, that sounds like a more inefficient (and probably more costly, depending on your plan) way of doing it.

            • by CdBee (742846)
              You can do it via MMS however, oh wait sorry the iPhone is stuck in 1996 in that respect and doesnt do MMS does it?
            • by hitmark (640295)

              i have tested both j2me and mobile web apps that do exactly that. the j2me had built in recording, the web app made use of the phones own ability to record a bit of audio and then upload it.

              what it comes down to is the operator and what firmware they put on their "network approved" phones.

              and in some parts of the world, that kind of "branding" is basically unheard of...

              the company is mother, the company is father, the company knows whats best for your 24/7? yeah right...

              i say that usa and its clones have re

      • No, the app-store is important to the kool-aid drinkers

        I understand that you might be a little upset about Apple's somewhat obsessive and illogical control over their products.

        However, comparing that to an event [wikipedia.org] during which 1,000 people died seems a bit inappropriate, doesn't it?

        Even from a logical point of view, the analogy doesn't even stand. Are you seriously insinuating that Apple users are impressionable to the degree by which they'd join a suicide cult? Sure, the CEO is charismatic, though it's not really all that difficult to see why their products ar

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bogaboga (793279)

      If I recall correctly, the self-build versions of Android cannot connect to the app-store.

      Who needs the app-store? We'll build a new one. If this effort materializes, the Open Source Android code will be adequately modified to connect to a newly built "app-store." Then at this moment, all the rest will be history.

      My only hope will be that every application in the new app-store works as advertised and better than what is currently available on the Linux desktop.

      My other hope is that at that time, we in the Linux desktop world will have learned that "too much choice breeds confusion" which we have

    • Re:Hurm. (Score:4, Informative)

      by blackest_k (761565) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @12:16PM (#26311961) Homepage Journal

      Have you tried Netbook Remix? I have and I just did not get on with it, mainly because its been stripped down too far. Especially annoying was a lack of reiserfs support, which I'd taken to using due to the ability of ext2/3 to lose everything on an sd card under certain circumstances.

      But Some people must like it. Surprisingly OSX runs quite well on a netbook, I took a triple booting hdd from a laptop and found the osx and ubuntu installs both booted up fine (Xp didn't but thats MS for you) I soon got wireless working on OSX using an Edimax usb card with a ralink 2500 chipset. It's certainly responsive enough but then again the Macbook Air has a 1.6 dual core CPU so a 1.6 atom isn't that much poorer (the image had been used on a 1.4 Celeron without issues).

      Now we find that Android is also a possibility for a netbook, isnt that cool. So much choice, ok there are issues to be resolved for OSX (apart from legal ones) and also for Android and less so for Ubuntu and other Linux versions. XP works quite well, 2000 is good but no webcam driver.

      quick google finds
      http://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2008/12/22/atom-support-now-in-opensolaris/ [intel.com]
      and http://masafumi-ohta.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] This second link has a picture of a EEE running opensolaris.

      How can you not love having lots of options available, I am so tempted to build a collection of images to use with my netbooks.

      choice is good very good :)

  • Downside... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Junta (36770) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @10:59AM (#26311549)

    As much as so many people seem to hate X (many for no particularly well found technical reason I will add, some have technical justifications, but many just think it's 'old'), Android would not be an improvement in display or UI technology for desktop usage:
    -No inherent remote display capabilities. X has this in it's very foundation. There was no reason for a cell-phone/embedded OS to implement such functionality in the contexts Android target, so this wasn't a bad decision.
    -Multi-window operation. Again, the target is applications where the resolution, screen size, and interface methods do not lend themselves well for multiple windows. As such the paradigm is single application.
    -Extending from the above, no advanced window management/compositing. The inter-application effects and utility with 3D acceleration found in Compiz, Aero, and Quartz have no reason to be there, despite providing productivity benefits (at least in the compiz and Quartz variants).

    Do not get excited about the prospect of any arbitrary display technology displacing X, regardless of the underlying technical merits in the given context. Try to understand the hard technical reasons for your X hate, and do a bit of research to make sure they are not FUD or that the Xorg team isn't already addressing your concerns in a reasonable manner.

    From what I've tried, Android is a great platform for the environment it targets. It achieves this by not trying to be a one-size fits all solution. Usage styles that work on the desktop do not scale to handheld devices. By the same token, good handheld UI does not scale to Desktop.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      Your observations are correct, but as to why some hate X... I wouldn't say I hate it, just that I don't understand it. At all. And I'm a seasoned hacker. It's basically impossible to compile from scratch (the only time I managed to compile it was as part of Gentoo). Config files are obscure to the max, both in syntax and semantics, and there's no way to know where there's an error if there's one. Plenty of its options and capabilities are archaic and leave you scratching your head as to why they are in ther
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rich0 (548339)

        But, how else are you going to get your fancy new Dell laptop to interface with a 1980s sync-on-green 17" 350lbs Sun console monitor? :)

        That's why the 99.99999% of linux users who have VESA-compliant plug-and-play monitors manufactured in the last 25 years have configuration files that contain modelines.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          But, how else are you going to get your fancy new Dell laptop to interface with a 1980s sync-on-green 17" 350lbs Sun console monitor? :)

          I realize that some people out there might want to do this, for some reason, but they'd be much better off just buying a refurb 17" flat panel unless they're in fucking Bosnia or something. The power savings alone will pay for the laptop in the first year. At least make it a 19", then there's a plausible excuse why someone might want to subject themselves to that much monitor-based radiation. Trinitron? More like Trinity.

          Actually, I have two VGA to 13W3 cables with a bunch of DIP switches on them, and have

    • by fm6 (162816)

      many for no particularly well found technical reason I will add, some have technical justifications, but many just think it's 'old'

      I don't know anybody who hates X because it's "old". It would be very weird if they did, since X almost always runs on top of Unix (or Linux, which is Unix for all purposes except trademarks). And how old is Unix? Pretty darn old [faqs.org].

      There are plenty of good reasons to dislike X. It was designed by a committee and looks it. Working with it is nightmare upon nightmare: User Interface contentions, APIs, config files, protocols, all are obscure and complex. Whenever I work with it (and I use X-based apps every da

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        If you're smart, you're not poking X directly any more. You're using some toolkit, and it is abstracted away. Meanwhile the underpinnings of X are slowly, slowly being upgraded. (Yes, two "slowly"s are necessary here. You probably know this already.) It's really not even necessary to replace the current way of doing things. You just introduce a new way of talking to the server, and the old way becomes a module at some point down the road, which you can load or not. This is the same reason why arguments abou

        • by fm6 (162816)

          You're right about toolkits. But my poking (you make development sound obscene!) has never included X. Too complex for me.

          But that doesn't insulate me from X's baroque weirdness. There's the weird UI semantics. (If you can tell me how to make the clipboard in Cygwin/X or XMing not do copy-on-select, there's a small bribe in it for you.) There's the config files, which follow a logic all their own.

    • From what I've tried, Android is a great platform for the environment it targets. It achieves this by not trying to be a one-size fits all solution. Usage styles that work on the desktop do not scale to handheld devices. By the same token, good handheld UI does not scale to Desktop.

      The question isn't whether it scales to the desktop. The question is whether it scales to the netbooks. For the smaller, lower-end models with 800x480 screens, I can actually see it working - as I recall back from the days when t

      • 800x480 is still a lot of resolution compared to the G1. And an important difference here is that the netbook has a huge screen in physical size compared to a phone. It may have better aggregate resolution, but the DPI being horrible points to a different style of interaction.

        A phone tends to have less resolution, but in an even tinier form factor. That means your applications are designed for a 3" display that happens to be pretty good in terms of DPI. If you had 2560x1600 on a 3" display, you still wo

        • by tftp (111690)

          The reality would be a netbook equipped with Android would be an oversized cell-phone. It wouldn't offer anything meaningfully advantageous over a cell phone (same apps, same amount of data, happens to be bigger), without the portability of the cell phone.

          It will have a keyboard. That alone allows it to run applications that would be pointless on a cell phone. Specifically, word processor and spreadsheet come to mind, and those are the most important applications outside of email. There are more, of cou

    • by hitmark (640295)

      i would not be to sure about the handheld to desktop bit.

      i suspect it comes down to what one assume when one hear "desktop". in much the same way that the kde team found that they had to stop calling the launcher a menu, as it was coloring the design concepts people where coming up with.

      in the end, its the physical dimensions one work with thats the issue, not the software.

      smaller screens can show less data, as such the visible gui has to be scaled back.

      but thats not the same as having to cut the actual fea

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:00AM (#26311553)
    I hope this happens, and I hope it starts to create a paradigm shift.

    As far as office workers are concerned, the last 20 years can be seen as a terrible mistake. The problem is, basically, Office. It's interesting, reading discussions on Slashdot, to see people defending things like Word because OOo can't exactly reproduce the (usually visually illiterate) exact form of a Word document. The great majority of people in offices need to create files containing relatively transitory information, possibly with a shelf life of less than a day. Yet they spend absolutely hours fiddling with formatting and decoration, and thinking that thereby they are in some way adding value. Salesmen and people in marketing spend lots of time messing around with Powerpoint producing crappy presentations, and think that somehow this makes their message more convincing (perhaps at a subliminal level one corporate drone is influenced by the presentations of another, but education should be able to fix that.)

    Email came as a huge relief - so immediately Microsoft tried to extend email with formatting features to convert a text medium into a presentation medium, or turn it into a vehicle to shuttle Office documents around the Internet.

    The rise and rise of the netbook creates an opportunity to get rid of some of this shit. The netbook and the e-reader work well with plain black text on a white ground conveying information in a neutral way that allows it to be consciously read and analysed. They don't work well with overblown office applications.

    On the other hand they do work very well for delivering basic search, mapping, information retrieval and messaging, and Chrome works very well as a browser on netbooks (I run Firefox on my corporate laptop and Chrome on my netbook because it is just easier that way.)

    The cost of hardware is now so low that it probably makes more sense to have multiple single function devices than a general purpose PC again. The current obstacle to this is the cost of operating systems and the perceived need for Office. Get rid of most of this, and manufacturers can stop making minute variations on a theme and produce optimised devices - like why do I need top end sound or 3D on my photo editor, where what I want is reliable colour output from high res monitors and accurate rendition of color from the print drivers?

    • by token_username (1415329) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:57AM (#26311863)

      I don't think visually appealing documents can so easily be dismissed, especially in marketing and sales as you mention. The world we live in is obsessed with visual/multimedia stimuli and to not utilize these tools would result in an almost certain loss of effectiveness.

      I do, however, agree that the vast majority of people spend far too much time on these appearance things. I would also say that the majority of people overrate themselves in their talents in this area.

      • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @01:10PM (#26312295)
        I was referring to the majority of office users. Production of high quality documents, presentations and training materials requires a high skill level. I was complaining about the people who think that having the right program is a substitute for those skills, resulting in poor quality being the norm rather than the exception. How many managers really need PowerPoint to present misapplied statistics and add clip art to a boring diatribe?
      • Visually appealing is, as you say, important; but what I think grandparent is referring to is the rather perverse effect that "easy to use" office software has had. Time was, back in the day, when graphic design/document typesetting/slide layout and similar tasks were fairly specialized skills because the software was nonexistent or horribly arcane. Documents would either be just typed up, if relatively transient, or drafted and sent to the person or department that specialized in designing the final docume
      • by Nurgled (63197)

        I agree that these issues do matter, but I don't agree that the way to address this is to put design in the hands of your average office worker. I know I don't have the skills necessary to produce an attractive document, so I write the content and then one of two things happen. If it's only a transient internal document, I'll use software (designed by folks who know how to make things attractive) to format it; this gets an acceptable but not exceptional result. If it's a document that needs more than that,

    • by Progman3K (515744)

      I agree with part of what you said - simplicity.

      Text editors need not be all things for all people, that's for emacs.

      I un-fondly remember the years when it became blatantly obvious MS was tangling their products and operating systems in a bid to become irreplaceable. They quickly lost sight of the real reason these products were created and eventual chaos followed.

      It is nice in a way though, it validates the principle that things that are created with the intention of serving the customer first and not the

    • Chrome works very well as a browser on netbooks (I run Firefox on my corporate laptop and Chrome on my netbook because it is just easier that way.)

      Agree with your main post - but what about this bit? I run both on both, with no issues. Firefox for general browsing so I can benefit from the plugins, (noscript etc.), and chrome when just reading sites I already trust and are not loaded with flash and ads..

    • by bazorg (911295)
      That is somewhat reasonable but assumes that the capabilities of the netbooks will remain below the minimum for proper usage of OOo or MS Office. that will not be true for next generations of hardware. As soon as people find they can use netbooks the same way they can use desktop PCs, the lack of training in using certain applications will become apparent again.
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      I'm involved in a project at my place of employment that has brought in a big-5 consulting firm. I've never seen more beautiful powerpoint presentations in my life. Our group tells them what we want management to go for, and they prepare 15 slides with all the nice 3D shapes, interesting diagrams, etc to sell them on it. Management just eats this stuff up. We could probably get them to buy mortgage securities if we wanted to.

      And THAT is why everybody spends so much time on presentation and not on conten

    • by Angostura (703910)

      You're reading this in Lynx, aren't you?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...for the children!

  • by macemoneta (154740) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:13AM (#26311633) Homepage

    I have an old Zaurus SL-5500 PDA with 64MB of memory, and I run X on it continuously. X adds so much functionality, why would anyone choose a framebuffer-based display instead?

    It's like saying "now we don't have to use a word processor anymore, we can run notepad!"

    • by burris (122191)

      Why waste battery power with lots of extra junk that is hardly ever used?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mad Merlin (837387)

      I have an old Zaurus SL-5500 PDA with 64MB of memory, and I run X on it continuously. X adds so much functionality, why would anyone choose a framebuffer-based display instead?

      Nothing's wrong with X, but people hate things they don't understand, and most people perceive X as old and complicated, therefore it must be junk. It doesn't matter if it's the best solution for the problem at hand.

      • most people perceive X as old and complicated, therefore it must be junk. It doesn't matter if it's the best solution for the problem at hand

        X seems to me to be a good solution to the problems that were at hand when it was designed - around 1984 according to Wikipedia. Thus the network transparency. So to most people today, it just looks bizarre and complicated. Would you say that it's been an influential design?

        • by hitmark (640295)

          all kinds of remote desktop systems?

          that we seem to be moving full circle back to having some big iron (cluster in todays lingo) doing the lifting and the user looking at some terminal somewhere?

          there are big businesses out there that have made it their reason for existing, supplying for microsoft products what X supply for *nix as part of the basic package.

          the basic design of X is from back in 1984, sure, but then unix as a design hails from 1969. and yet it seems that more and more of the net is running o

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The network transparency is a great solution to the problems of today. If you could have a Core 2 Solo or so with a nice dedicated video card and GigE, it would make a dandy LTSP 5 client. (Just turn off the blinking encryption, the overhead will murder you when you're watching video or what have you.) The power consumption would be minimal and it could be fitted to the back of an LCD monitor via the ISO din connectors ala many of the cases from PC Engines. PC Engines, unfortunately, only sells slow low-pow

      • I have an old Zaurus SL-5500 PDA with 64MB of memory, and I run X on it continuously. X adds so much functionality, why would anyone choose a framebuffer-based display instead?

        Nothing's wrong with X, but people hate things they don't understand, and most people perceive X as old and complicated, therefore it must be junk. It doesn't matter if it's the best solution for the problem at hand.

        Say what you want about how good it is.... X is old and complicated. The 'old' part is mostly irrelevant, given that there's plenty of software that's both good and old (Unix itself being the obvious example). Dealing with the complexity is a bit more tricky, but can be done.

        My assessment is that X does a whole lot of things right, and a whole lot of things wrong. X.Org have done a fantastic job cleaning things up with their implementation of the protocol, though I think that there's a lot more that can

  • Why the X hate? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FrostedWheat (172733) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:20AM (#26311669)

    Since Android does not rely on X11, but has its own framebuffer graphics, that would indeed be a cosmic shift

    I'm curious what your reasons are for wanting rid of X?

    • by chrb (1083577)
      There's not even a reason to get rid of X here - the Android widget toolkit (Skia) already has an X-backend port.
  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:29AM (#26311715) Homepage Journal

    I run linux distros frequently on virtual machines because I can configure an efficient, low footprint purpose specific "appliance". It seems to me that a modern system specifically designed to run on actual appliances would be even better.

    As a developer I use virtual machines for testing (of course) but also to package up certain software services like databases or application servers that I don't need all the time. Rather than install them on a real machine, I make a copy of a generic virtual appliance and install to that.

    One thing that I've always thought that would make sense is to confine all one's risky operations, such as web browsing, to a virtual machine. But on most host machines the overhead of an entire virtual machine, both in memory and startup time, make it not quite convenient to do so. A much smaller, but still up to date machine might change this. Android requires as a minimum 32MB of RAM and 32MB of flash. This is small enough overhead to justify a virtual machine for a single process.

    Actually, I'd like to use a really minimal operating system as the virtual machine host as well. I'd like to be able organize my entire "workspace" in to severable, portable pieces joined by a virtual network. If I'm ever forced to deal with an issue like incompatible versions of glibc in the future, I could contain that; or if I want to try upgrading a piece of software, I can roll back to a snapshot or keep multiple copies of the virtual appliance around. In that case, I'd like to have the host operating system be as minimal as possible.

    • Actually, I'd like to use a really minimal operating system as the virtual machine host as well. I'd like to be able organize my entire "workspace" in to severable, portable pieces joined by a virtual network.

      And this is different from X11 how exactly ? This is why unix like OS's use the concept of servers. It becomes transparent to the network because it is intrinsically network based in the first place. There is nothing stopping you from installing Damn Small or Puppy Linux as the machine host then virtu

    • by ivoras (455934)

      One thing that I've always thought that would make sense is to confine all one's risky operations, such as web browsing, to a virtual machine. But on most host machines the overhead of an entire virtual machine, both in memory and startup time, make it not quite convenient to do so. A much smaller, but still up to date machine might change this.

      Hmmm... Java browsers anyone?

    • If I'm ever forced to deal with an issue like incompatible versions of glibc in the future, I could contain that; or if I want to try upgrading a piece of software, I can roll back to a snapshot or keep multiple copies of the virtual appliance around

      Why not use chroot/jails/containers/etc? The multiple kernel instances serve only to add overhead (trust me, I did virtualization and it suffered signigifcant performance degradation within a host). The performance may have had more to do with VM-host networking speed, but I'm much happier with the latter.

      If you had to bridge OS types, that is another matter, but the user experience per VM can not converge (Windows will have drive letters, other's won't, Applications won't transparently interleave, etc).

    • by ADRA (37398)

      Nice thoughts, but when you start linking in dependencies, shared resources, etc.. you're in for a world of hurt. I'd say the complexity of setting up a packaging and partitioning system like this would be along the lines of what SELinux does for security.

      The only advantage that I could see from this is that we may need yet-another-packaging-system to help organize installations, so we may be able to convince every Linux provider to use the same packaging format / layout.

  • Now take this a step further, and install it on one of those Acer Inspire One's advertized the week before Xmas for $99 by Radio Shack. Yeah I know, it isn't a real deal considering the plan you've to buy as well. That would be the right form factor for "mobile full-screen Android".

    • by wwwillem (253720)

      Oops ... I meant the Acer Aspire One of course.

    • Critical component still missing is of course the built-in GPS. Because AA1s don't have built-in BlueTooth, you still need a dongle :-(. In this case not for your 3G connectivity, but for either a BT transmitter/receiver or for a USB cabled GPS.

      If you've ever played with a mobile device that combines both 3G and GPS, all built-in, you never want to go back anymore!!

      • by hitmark (640295)

        and then have a device that chugs down battery and data traffic like its water in a desert...

  • I bought an OLPC (XO) on an impulse and well I hate the interface that it comes with. What are your guys thoughts on if Android will work on the XO laptop? I use mine primarily as a rugged ebook reader for outdoors and light web browsing.
    • The XO is almost entirely a stock x86 PC. The only real difference is that it has Open Firmware instead of an ordinary PC BIOS. I wouldn't want to be the one stuck making DOS work on it; but linux works just fine. You can already find instructions for running various other linux distros on it(which I recommend you try, if you dislike the default interface so much). You'd probably need to be moderately skilled to work out all the wrinkles; but Android on the XO should be in the same difficulty class as Andro
  • has been done before (Score:5, Informative)

    by wwwillem (253720) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @12:16PM (#26311959) Homepage

    oh well, only two weeks earlier .... :-)

    seriously, here is the link to a similar building-android-for-the-asus-eeepc-701 [virtuallyshocking.com] project, with detailed instructions on how to do it yourself

  • by taweili (111177) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:41PM (#26316875)
    Am I the only one surprised by the fact that Linux could run on an Asus notebook? ;)

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