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ARM-Powered Linux Laptops Unveiled At Computex 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-and-what-arm dept.
Charbax writes "At Computex in Taipei on June 2-6th, several companies unveiled ARM-powered laptops that are cheaper ($99 to $199), last much longer on a regular 3-cell battery (8-15 hours) and can still add cool new features such as a built-in HDMI 720p or 1080p output, 3D acceleration, connected standby and more. The ARM Linux laptops shown as working prototypes at Computex will run Ubuntu 9.10 (optimized for ARM), Google Android, Xandros OS for ARM, or some Red Flag Linux type of OS. In this video, the Director of Mobile Computing at ARM, is giving us all the latest details on the status for the support of full Flash (with all actionscripts), the optimizations of the web browser (accelerating rendering/scrolling using the GPU/DSP), the stuff that Google is working on to adapt Android 2.0 Donut release for laptop screens and interfaces and more. At Computex I also filmed an interview with the Nvidia team working on Tegra laptops, the Qualcomm people working on Snapdragon devices and the Freescale people doing their awesomely thin ARM laptops in cooperation with manufacturers such as Pegatron as well."
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ARM-Powered Linux Laptops Unveiled At Computex

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  • by jginspace (678908) <jginspace AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:38AM (#28240911) Homepage Journal
    Well, they're not going to run Windows any time soon. Good opportunity here. I hope the application availability is going to be good - as a Nokia Tablet user I've been running a variant of Linux on a ARM processor for some time now and I can't wait to get my hands on a ARM netbook.
    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:58AM (#28241013)
      I'd consider buying one for the extended battery life as long as it's not too much slower. I generally only use a netbook for browsing, and occasionally remoting into home machines, but occasionally will run Eclipse or NetBeans. As it is, the big drawback is not the processor, but the vertical screen resolution that stops me from doing it more often.

      That said, I work in software development, and I'm the only one I know that has a netbook. I've heard that in Europe, purchase rates are 8-10 times higher than here in North America. Why is that?

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Bad data. They are super popular with the HS/College crowd.

      • by CODiNE (27417) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:34AM (#28241215) Homepage

        I'm the only one I know that has a netbook. I've heard that in Europe, purchase rates are 8-10 times higher than here in North America. Why is that?

        Full-sized laptops don't fit in Smartcars. Especially with the loaf of French bread poking out of the trunk.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dunkelfalke (91624)

          I know you were joking, but a Smart is surprisingly spacious.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Krneki (1192201)
            The average US citizen weights 450kg, this is why they drive around in Hammers. Besides they have absolutely no concept of beauty and design.

            *runs away before the flame war*
            • by rliden (1473185) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @12:37PM (#28242009)

              The average US citizen weights 450kg, this is why they drive around in Hammers. Besides they have absolutely no concept of beauty and design. *runs away before the flame war*

              I personally prefer to drive in the entire toolbox as a hammer is just too small.

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Hognoxious (631665)

                I personally prefer to drive in the entire toolbox

                I think I speak for everyone when I say there's no more fitting place.

            • To be honest I am very fat myself (170cm/135 kg) but since I did sports some years ago I am still pretty mobile for that weight.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I think the main reason is that here in Europe the mobile phone providers have been actively pushing mobile broadband and offer plan and netbook combo deals. Furthermore, it is a lot easier to get a broadband SIM card here in Europe and by far cheaper. Lastly, I would say these seem quite popular with the public-transport commuter crowd.
    • 7" size missing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As another Nokia Internet Tablet user, I look forward to a slightly larger size, but retaining 2+ days of battery use. 10" screens are too large.

      Don't get me wrong, my N800 is good for highly portable needs (geocaching, mobile email, skype, lite blogging), all without a mandatory cell data plan, but there are times when a larger screen would be useful without adding weight. A Eee is too heavy and too large. A 7" screen with a built-in keyboard that I can touch type on and GPS included would be really nice

      • You know there's 7" Eee's right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      They will be able to run Windows CE (which is a good thing for Linux though :) ).

      • by rzekson (990139)
        ...as well as the newest versions of Windows Mobile, which means you can have, among many others, things like Web and email access, basic word processing, spreadsheets, presentation kits, remote desktop client, SSH client, and believe it or not, even a (reduced, obviously) version of SQL server. Realistically, Windows Mobile gives you 99.9% of what you need for daily usage on the go, and anything that a slow device like this can get you. Even if someone ported Windows XP/Vista to ARM, you wouldn't really ge
        • by vivaelamor (1418031) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @12:47PM (#28242105)

          If you take a look at the progress the Moblin distribution has made for the atom processor then you can see what is possible with a full blown OS. Near instantanious bootup (faster than a lot of phones) as well as an innovative yet full featured small screen interface. I am sure that linux can adapt to slower processors faster than Windows CE can adapt to bigger screens considering linux is already feature complete for computers a lot slower than the new arm processor.

          One point you make which seems really fuzzy is about the tasks you do on a netbook being the same as the tasks you would do on a phone. I would be surprised if 99.9% of what you wanted to do on a current Windows CE device would include using a webcam, watching a high definition movie, running a complete development environment, playing strategy games, troubleshooting a network, writing a novel, running project management software, file sharing with a windows network.. etc. Basically, there is a lot you can do with a slow computer as long as the screen is big enough.

    • by Theolojin (102108) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @01:40PM (#28242531) Homepage

      Well, they're not going to run Windows any time soon. Good opportunity here. I hope the application availability is going to be good - as a Nokia Tablet user I've been running a variant of Linux on a ARM processor for some time now and I can't wait to get my hands on a ARM netbook.

      For all the fun poked at Debian for having such lengthy release cycles, I, for one, am glad that ARM is a fully-supported architecture. (Part of the reason for the long release cycles is each supported platform must be ready for the release.) I could have essentially the same setup on my x86-based laptop as I could on an ARM-based laptop. In other words, application availability really isn't an issue when it comes to the ARM platform.

  • by MathFox (686808) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:44AM (#28240945)
    I would buy such a 9" smartbook and use it as ultraportable second laptop (as it can do OOo impress presentations it would be very useful too.) I can imagine other computer users in Europe and the US to buy such a machine as second (third) system. However, if the suppliers can keep prices under the $200, it will be an affordable system for "the masses" in China, India and South America that were unable to afford their own PC before. Somehow, prices for netbooks crept up with the addition of harddisks and Windows.
    • Price? (Score:5, Informative)

      by siloko (1133863) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:50AM (#28240975)
      Nowhere in the article does it mention $99. The quote is "Some of the ARM-based systems will sell for as little as $199." Now $199 is pretty cheap but that is a starting price and will unlikely be the mean let alone allowing for $99 units. The summary is misleading.
      • Re:Link whoring (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jginspace (678908)
        Submitter was trying to squeeze in yet another techvideoblog.com link.
      • by MathFox (686808)
        From Wikipedia:

        [China's] middle class population (defined as those with annual income of at least US$5,000) has now reached 80-150 million.

        That is a market of considerable size for a $200 laptop. And many people that don't care about "using their old programs or data" because they never owned a computer before. For them Linux is perfect (they won't have to pirate MS Office.)

        • Re:Price? (Score:4, Informative)

          by adam1101 (805240) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:32AM (#28241209)

          And many people that don't care about "using their old programs or data" because they never owned a computer before.

          They will care about being able to use existing Chinese apps and games, which are pretty much all Windows-only. I don't know if you've actually been in China, but Windows is even more entrenched there than it is in the West.

          For them Linux is perfect (they won't have to pirate MS Office.)

          For them Windows is much better, because all the Chinese software that everybody around them is already using will work, and they don't give a hoot about piracy. In fact, lots of them don't even have a concept of "software piracy". Software is just something you copy from someone else, or buy from the street vendor for a dollar.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by houstonbofh (602064)

            For them Windows is much better, because all the Chinese software that everybody around them is already using will work, and they don't give a hoot about piracy. In fact, lots of them don't even have a concept of "software piracy". Software is just something you copy from someone else, or buy from the street vendor for a dollar.

            But the box to run it on is 3 months pay... The "Free" WinXP gets very expensive that way. This is one place MS can't just get market share with Piracy. But they will try with WinCE. They can not just abandon the market... And WinCE can't run WINE and Windows apps either...

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The $99 price is officially announced by Nvidia at http://techvideoblog.com/computex/nvidia-tegra-overview-by-michael-rayfield-general-manager-of-the-mobile-business-unit/

        Check out that video, I should have linked to that instead of the geeky video with the Engineer dude at Nvidia.

      • by Moochman (54872)

        In the article, no, but in the video the ARM head guy mentions "sub-$200" prices.

  • by eddy (18759) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:46AM (#28240959) Homepage Journal

    I don't understand who are going to sell these when Microsoft call them up and say "Oh, I see you're selling computers with [non-windows OS], that's interesting... Yeaaahh so... you know those rebates you get on Windows? Yeah, you can forget about those. Have a nice day"

    Do they think they're safe because they're on ARM?

    • by Haeleth (414428) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:03AM (#28241035) Journal

      Yeah, because Microsoft shareholders are just desperate for yet another massive antitrust case.

    • Do they think they're safe because they're on ARM?

      They are at least until Microsoft tries to revive Windows Mobile for subnotebooks [wikipedia.org].

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        A windows mobile phone with a slider is just a sub-subnotebook running wince. And I must ashamedly admit that I'm using one and find it "not too bad". It crashes less than my RAZR V3i did, that's for damnsure.

    • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@bea u . org> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @11:14AM (#28241425)

      > I don't understand who are going to sell these when Microsoft call them up and say...

      Notice who is doing this. Mobile phone carriers, mobile chipset makers, etc. are the driving force behind this effort. They came together and did Symbian because they understood letting Windows in would end up with them in the PC situation where Microsoft is the one making the bulk of the profit. So if Microsoft had the ability to hurt them I'd think they would have crushed them like bugs already.

      Remember also that Chinese contract manufacturers live in a totally different world where Microsoft has no influence. Get consumer electronics instead of PC makers to do the end marketing and again, Microsoft can't hurt them. That just leaves the retailers. Yes Microsoft owns a while isle in Best Buy so they might keep these guys out of there for an Xmas or two. And frankly Best Buy will fear them on their own for their ability to turn a $500 laptop purchase into a $200 netbook sale. Until the wireless carriers put them in the part of Best Buy THEY own bubdles with a 3G contract. And what of Walmart, Walgreens, etc. These puppies are cheap and heading down. Sooner or later they show up as impulse purchase items at Big Lots in blister packs. How much leverage does Microsoft have with any of those markets?

    • by Moochman (54872)

      My guess is that quite a few manufacturers will start producing these kinds of devices exclusively in the future... So basically they can give the finger to MS and its pressure politics...

  • by moon3 (1530265) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:47AM (#28240963)
    The most interesting part is that those devices have integrated CPU/GPU/Video Accel. on a single chip. Something that Intel, AMD and nVidia is pursuing for a long time, but these ARM based solutions from Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and others are delivering now and the performance / power consumption ratio is already impressive.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @11:05AM (#28241387) Homepage Journal

      HTC has been making phones with Qualcomm chips for a while, I just got myself a refurb HTC Fuze when I sold my soul to AT&T (I live in GSM land, and they own it all here now, literally.) It's also the Sprint-sold HTC Touch Pro. 528 Mhz Qualcomm chip, VGA display, respectable 3d acceleration, halfway decent touch. "A $500 value" free with a two year torture session. In real-world reviewed testing they manage five days of standby time and you get maybe six to eight hours of use... on a 1350mAh battery! (You can get power from any old USB connection with the included dongle, which also gives you headphone and headset connections.) That's a prior-generation version of this same idea, using am ARMv6 core (which runs ARMv4 binaries quite nicely, thankyouverymuch.)

      I'm no Windows Mobile fanboy, the phone gets chunky here and there. There ARE some hacks you can make (I used "Advanced Config", which should work across all Raphael devices) to dramatically increase the responsiveness (caching mostly) and you can find a list on xda-developers raphael forums. Touch Flo 3D is no iPhone interface, and you get dropped to the Windows interface on a regular basis, but that's far less odious than it used to be and besides, it's possible to run Android on Touch Pro already. I would never have got this thing if I thought I'd be stuck with WinCE forever. Best acronym ever.

  • RTFA it says FROM $199, not $99.

    now i'd love one of these products, i think ARM is sexy. but mass market appeal? very unlikely. if it can't run that cd i just bought from walmart, your sunk.

    • Re:$99 huh (Score:5, Informative)

      by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:57AM (#28241339) Journal

      The Eee PC and similar netbooks don't have a CD/DVD drive, either, and yet they sold millions. I don't think people are quite as interested in "that cd you just bought from walmart".

      • by Sique (173459)

        But that's only why the bought the $39 portable USB drive ;)

      • by Krneki (1192201)
        CDs are so '90.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I have an Asus Eee 100 0HE. It ships sans optical drive, and that was one reason why I wanted it. Considerable power savings, and really, most folks who have a netbook have another more powerful machine. Just rip and encode from CD/DVD to a file and enjoy. This netbook has a 160GB drive which is quite capable of holding a good bit of my FLAC files or H.264 videos.

        Then again, I'm biased against optical media. Once you've managed to archive all of your music and movies to files on a disk (or more likely an ar

        • I have an Asus Eee 100 0HE. It ships sans optical drive, and that was one reason why I wanted it. Considerable power savings, and really, most folks who have a netbook have another more powerful machine. Just rip and encode from CD/DVD to a file and enjoy.

          Yeah, that was a selling point for my Eee PC 4G, as well: no optical drive. It just takes up useful space, and I knew I wasn't going to use it. CD/DVD drives on laptops just don't work very smoothly for continuous usage (watching movies or when you have to put the original CD in while playing one of those DRMed games), and for those one-time installation sessions I can use one of my external DVD drives.

      • by Skapare (16644)

        I removed floppy drives from my computers years ago. CD/DVD drives are next. I can do emergency rescue boots, and installation boots, from an SDHC card (now available as large as 32GB or more). Oh, and there are also those minnepinne [google.com] things. As for music, are they still trying to sell it on those over sized low capacity plastic circles that are larger than players?

  • Come on, guys (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fnj (64210) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:54AM (#28240993)

    I looked at the pictures in the article and was crestfallen. I don't want some half assed useless handheld toy.. I want an ARM powered real, usable laptop with an 8.9-11.1" display, readable outdoors in daylight , with a real keyboard, that will be everything that all netbooks to date have emphatically not been. Something with true 20+ hour battery life while doing useful work. It should have WiFi and mobile broadband. An ARM would be more than powerful enough for taking notes, surfing, reading and replying to email, etc. Ubuntu 9.04 would be just perfect. I would pay real money for this. I thought the HP2133 would be it, but mine is going unused. You can barely read the display in a dark room, let alone daylight or even a bright office. The Lenovo X301 is about the closest I have come, but it is a long way from where it needs to be, and brutally expensive.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So you want something with a 20 hour battery life, a dual mode e-ink display, running full ubuntu and dirt cheap? Would you like a pony thrown in as well?

      • So you want something with a 20 hour battery life, a dual mode e-ink display, running full ubuntu and dirt cheap? Would you like a pony thrown in as well?

        Well, the OLPC XO comes pretty close for my purposes. While Ubuntu may be pushing it - I think some people have installed it - XFCE suits me for the kinds of things I do with it. The tremendous advantage of the OLPC is the e-ink mode of the screen, its 5-6 hour battery life, and its small size. I've taken it to the beach many times and have gotten a lo

      • by fnj (64210)

        Try to pay attention. I never said dirt cheap. In fact I plainly said I would pay real money for it.

    • Re:Come on, guys (Score:5, Insightful)

      by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:16AM (#28241119) Homepage

      You want a good laptop, and that's the problem. The industry has always moved toward pretty, flashy or buzzy devices, at the expense of usability and performance.

      That's why today's laptops still get only 1.5 to 2 hours on a charge. That's why 15" and 17" models are cheaper than travel-friendly sizes. That's why they can barely survive traveling in a padded bag. People would much rather pay for a shiny useless gadget, than an ugly functional one. The netbook is only the most recent cristallization of this attitude, users think of them as "cute toys". Some brands do offer a workable laptop, and they're all too happy to charge $3000+ for the "luxury" of a machine that cost maybe 10% more in parts and labor.

      • by siloko (1133863)
        I agree with the sentiment but this a a trade show and the designs on offer are by "industrial designers from the Savannah College of Art and Design". I am not saying they won't come to market . . . well, to chuck in a gratuitous car reference - how many of those concept cars that we see at motor shows actually make it to mass production?
      • by fermion (181285)
        they're all too happy to charge $3000+ for the "luxury" of a machine that cost maybe 10% more in parts and labor.

        Of course this is why we are left with crappy laptops. Sure a well designed with laptop, that has good usability and performance, can survive traaport might cost only 10% in parts and labor, but parts and labor are hardly the issue in such matters. The issue is getting the parts, and getting the parts that work. First, off the shelf parts will not work. When I was making wafer, I recall spe

    • readable outdoors in daylight

      implies either a monochrome e-ink display or something with enough backlighting to overcome skylight - which is where your battery life is disappearing to. Even LED lit displays are not going to give you what you want. OLED may one day get there, but is two technical breakthroughs short.

      Even at 100% conversion rates - which are not likely to be attainable - I doubt you would get 20+ hours from a 3 cell battery on a 10 inch screen. A very rough calculation shows that you wou

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:23AM (#28241159) Journal

        implies either a monochrome e-ink display or something with enough backlighting to overcome skylight - which is where your battery life is disappearing to.

        Or a transflective TFT. They're fairly common in small devices, relying on a backlight in low-light conditions but being reflective (front-lit) in bright sunlight. Because they don't use the backlight in direct sunlight, the battery lasts longer when they are front-lit.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          One more wank-session for my HTC Fuze; I have a GBA SP (reflective/frontlit) and a RAZR V3i (transflective) and honestly both of them look like dogshit in any conditions except inside, or with one's back to full sun. The Fuze's panel is viewable all the damned time. If only I could have a clamshell with about eight times the screen area and the same resolution per inch, and perhaps about sixteen times as much battery. Such a beast would still fit into one of my pockets... But they think this thing is worth

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by timeOday (582209)

        readable outdoors in daylight implies either a monochrome e-ink display or something with enough backlighting to overcome skylight - which is where your battery life is disappearing to.

        The key here is a reflective color display (not reflective in the sense of a mirror, but like a book, which uses the sunlight itself to illuminate the page). My Garmin GPS has what they call a "transflective" screen that is color, but visible in daylight in just the same was as a monochrome LCD, and for dark conditions it

        • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:36AM (#28241231)
          PS I would seriously consider buying a portable add-on E-ink screen for my laptop. It would have to be thin enough to sit in front of the normal screen (not with the lid closed, of course), and plug into the laptop's VGA output. Sure it would be monochrome and have a sluggish response time. But for sitting outside doing word-processing or spreadsheets, and consulting wikipedia etc, that would be fine. The add-on route would avoid having to make a special-purpose laptop with only an E-ink screen, which I agree is not too attractive.
          • you know thats not a bad idea, make it a touch screen too with a few user buttons plug into vga port and usb and let me attach it to the outside of my netbook and i'm sold, might even pick up a small usb keyboard to go with it.

            Actually that little unit could be useful on a server / desktop

      • by ogdenk (712300)

        I seem to remember my monochrome Apple Newton and early color iPaq screens being readable in daylight.

      • by fnj (64210)

        Transflective.

      • by Sique (173459)

        Interestingly though white paper manages to be readable in full sunlight without any backlight ;)

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      I think when the rubber hits the road, they will be 'standard' looking net books and not those weirdo 'concepts'.

      But if as another post stated is true and the 99 dollar price tag is misleading, why spend 250+ on one of those when you can get an atom and be a bit more compatible?

      Too bad if true, for $150 id get one in a heartbeat. Any more then that then a regular low end laptop makes more sense to me.

    • You're so right. But you've already found the ideal solution - have two boxen.
      I've a bunch off Asus Eee PCs for travel utility and backup, reading /. in the toilet etc.plus one each for the kids. You can load 'em with XP or any of a variety of great *nix distros that fans have rolled. All work pretty much 'out of the box' (including XP).

      But....but...for 'serious' work I still use a full-sized PC. Where's the problem?
      I'm typing this on a cheap (500Euro) Packard Bell which has a decent, bright wide screen

  • RiscOS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dynamoo (527749) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:02AM (#28241031) Homepage
    Of course, RiscOS [wikipedia.org] is a tailor-made OS for ARM processors. That really is a very lightweight and simple OS and while it doesn't have the applications available that a Linux distro does, it might make an interesting port for this sort of platform.
    • Re:RiscOS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by david.given (6740) <dg@cowlark.cCURIEom minus physicist> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:22AM (#28241149) Homepage Journal

      Last year I put together a basic kernel reimplementation in portable C (as much as possible); interested parties may want to check it out [cowlark.com]. It was a pretty unpleasant job. While RISC OS looks elegant on the surface, inside it's a nasty maze of inconsistent APIs, duplicated APIs, APIs that require certain (unfriendly) implementations, APIs that should have been deprecated and haven't been, APIs that don't exist and should to avoid having to read the kernel private workspace, and most terrible of all, APIs that expose kernel implementation details. And, just to add insult to injury, most of RISC OS is written in hard-to-maintain machine code. (And the APIs are very unfriendly to C.)

      Not to mention the fact that RISC OS is missing certain bits of functionality that everyone nowadays takes for granted: threads, preemptive multitasking, memory protection between processes, a GUI that can be driven from the keyboard...

      Given how much of an overhaul it would need to be meet modern standards of functionality, it'd probably be easier just to start again from scratch with a proper OS design. I find myself rather intrigued by Prex [sourceforge.net], for example, which is a minimalist embedded operating system with hypervisor-like functionality and a Unixish system call interface. And, unlike RISC OS, it's BSD licensed.

      • Re:RiscOS (Score:4, Interesting)

        by horza (87255) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @12:01PM (#28241683) Homepage

        There is certainly some truth to what you say, though I may disagree with some of your interpretations. Though I have been away from RiscOS for a number of years, so cannot comment on the current state, I always found the APIs a pleasure to use. The ability to add or patch 'modules' was great. I interned at Acorn for my Masters and worked directly on the kernel (the http module amongst other things) and found the source well written and commented. There was certainly some ARM assembler (not quite the same as machine code) but I don't remember it being 'most' of RiscOS. I bow to your more recent knowledge though, you seem to have investigated quite thoroughly.

        I've written RiscOS apps in ARM, C and BASIC, and it is the most pleasurable computer experience I have ever had. Even BASIC apps ran full speed, and GUI apps were a doddle to write. From a user perspective it was the most productive windowing system for its time. It did have limitations, however, and was very targeted at Acorn's own hardware.

        I disagree that it misses preemptive multi-tasking and threads. It was a design decision to go with co-operative multi-taking, much like Linus decided to go with a monolithic kernel instead of a micro-kernel. And in much the same way as one was supposed to be theoretically better than the other but one "just worked", RiscOS was the fastest most responsive OS on the market. One software manufacturer forced their clients to buy Acorn computers just to run their software as no other OS was responsive enough to run it (Sibelius). It requires a different way of thinking, much like writing a Twisted module instead of an Apache one, but for all the theory of a rogue app slowing or taking down the OS in practice it never happened.

        Though from a performance perspective RiscOS would be perfect for a netbook, and would be more responsive than most other OS, it doesn't make sense from a commercial perspective over Linux due to the vast wealth of available software easily ported. It is an easy choice for users between a slight performance increase, and Ubuntu with thousands of free apps installable in a single mouse click for free.

        Phillip.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by david.given (6740)

          The new owners of (one of the branches of) RISC OS has actually released it as shared source, available here [riscosopen.org] if you're interested.

          I'll agree that the overall design is very elegant, and the module system is nice, if rather primitive (relocatable code with no fixups! Aaaah!). But we know more about operating systems now, and a lot of Acorn's design decisions are no longer valid: for example, you actually get better performance from a preempting kernel than a cooperative one (because you can do work while o

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:25AM (#28241171)

    From one of the linked articles...

    "He acknowledged two concerns for smartbooks are the lack of native support for Adobe Flash on ARM and the fragmentation of Linux application environments. However, he said solutions to both issues are in the works." Emphasis in bold mine.

    And further,

    "One of the downsides of Linux is the fragmented nature of it," he said. "That's why so many designers are excited about Google's Android, because it's managed by a single entity," he added."

    Now, these are folks doing very serious work with Linux. Many Slashdoters have said the same things only to be branded as trolls. I can see a future for Android if Google continues to do a good job.

    • by christurkel (520220) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:53AM (#28241313) Homepage Journal
      So they're happy to have a single entity that focus on a subset of hardware with a consistent API and a development force behind it. Where have I heard that before? Let's see, it's run by a mercurial egomaniac...
    • by Celeste R (1002377) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @11:04AM (#28241377)

      Fragmentation may be an issue, but trying to fix fragmentation by making a one-shot wonder isn't going to make it less fragmented, it's only going to make it more so.

      Especially because it -is- Linux... I'm sure there's still people out there that are using e9 and xfce (for their own reasons).

      I myself am not disappointed with the fragmented nature of things. It gives me choice. I got tired of toying with GNOME, so I moved to KDE.

      Both of them have good applications, and yes, there are some applications that I'd still use over the 'native' counterparts, because they're just that much better. That's not a problem (to me) either.

      Android is lighter and all; which is a significant plus. Providing an alternative to the heavyweights (like X) is a good thing! However, as another alternative, it's only going to fragment the landscape that much more. (i.e. can I run Android apps on my linux netbook? yes, but only if you run a container app).

      And then, I have to ask: would you still want to use that KDE or GNOME app on your android netbook? Would you want it to be -capable- of running GNOME or KDE apps? (at worst, this means running a minimalized X server on top of Android).

      The only solution to being able to run those apps at all would mean getting a high-end smartbook. This would include things like more ram, some sort of hard drive (I'd go with SSD here), and things like that.

      And in the meantime, the general public would have to deal with a limited application environment. Which... isn't a big problem, provided it can at least do the basics.

    • From your posting and the quotes you refer to, I'm guessing the issue you seem to be having is the availability of proprietary software on Linux.

      From my perspective, I couldn't care less about proprietary software. I've got linux. I've got Debian Linux. I've got 24,000+ software packages ready to go on ARM. What do I need proprietary software for? What's the smartbook for? Reading e-mail, web browsing, watching a video, maybe doing a presentation. Where's the need for proprietary software? I already have go

  • by Godji (957148)
    So are these coming to Europe any time soon or will they be for the Asian market only?

    Eight hours on a battery at a 200$ price point? Windows is dead.
  • Let's see, what do we need... Email? Check. Browser? Check. Office suite? Check, with OO.

    Now, how to convince your boss that this is the laptop he's looking for. The 8 hours battery life should be a good selling point (heck, it sure would be one with mine), but what about the design? he'll need it for bragging purposes as much as for actual work, so it has to look really cool and important.

  • by Frequency Domain (601421) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:49AM (#28241287)
    Why do you need an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to power it?
  • The PDA offered all sorts of personal data and other functions for people who needed or wanted their information handy. It also played some simple and at times addictive games along with supporting ebook reading. The PDA never attained critical mass and the majority of people never really accepted them. They were seen as nerdy and geeky and at the same time they lacked the power to appeal to the actual nerds and geeks so each side had reasons for not getting them. Merging phones and PDAs were a good ste

  • by Qubit (100461) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @04:04PM (#28243671) Homepage Journal

    the status for the support of full Flash (with all actionscripts)

    Gnash [gnu.org] is getting extremely close to being a drop-in Free Software replacement for the Adobe Flash Player. In the linked videos, the ARM director of mobile computing was talking about how the ARM folks were working with Adobe to get Adobe Flash running on the ARM processors, but Gnash has already had ARM support for years. If they're demoing Ubuntu -- a Free Software OS -- on these machines, then why not use a Free Software program to play Flash programs on them? Why not invest their time and energy in the Free Software project?

    Rob Savoye (lead dev for Gnash) wrote a bit on this topic [mail-archive.com] on the gnash-dev mailing list:

    Jason Guiditta wrote:
    > Just saw this...article...bsquared porting flash lite to run on an upcoming dell
    > netbook.

    Yes, I'm familiar with Bsquared. They're porting the Adobe v10 to
    embedded platforms, basically getting rid of Flash Lite, which has
    always been somewhat limited. I've talked to several company's also
    talking to Bsquared.

    > ...This seems like a perfect opportunity to get some
    > funding for gnash, since it is already designed to run on so many
    > platforms. If a big company like Dell is willing to pay to get flash
    > well-supported on their netbook, why could that player not be gnash?

    We'd need a contact at a sufficiently high level. Of the companies I
    know using BSquared's promised flashplayer for ARM, MIPS, etc... have
    decided they'd rather spend hundreds of thousands of $$$ for the
    Bsquared solution, than give much smaller amounts to Gnash, which
    already runs on the ARM and Android. Big companies that prefer
    proprietary software seems to prefer to give business to each other,
    regardless pf the much higher price tag. Of the few machines I've played
    with the Bsquared plugin on, it usually hung the browser in seconds, and
    many other stability problems. But I guess they'll get it right
    eventually...

    I also talked to Google about Gnash for Android several times, but
    they don't appear to be interested in the slightest. Unfortunately, the
    only people willing to support Gnash with any funding are people that
    believe strongly in free software solutions already. To those people, I
    can't thank you enough!

                    - rob -

    Free Software can be a great benefit to the hardware folks like ARM, and can be great for a mobile platform like Android, but it's sad that these groups don't seem to take any interest in what the Free Software community is offering. That's why it's so important for people to donate time, code, and/or money to projects like Gnash. Software Freedom isn't going to just happen without people like you and me stepping up and getting stuff done.

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