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Portables Software Hardware Linux

3D Linux Laptop Available 197

Anonymous Writer writes "EmperorLinux is distributing the Sharp Actius RD3D autostereo laptop with Linux pre-installed, dubbing it the 'Molecule'. Almost all the hardware features can be utilised under Linux; the autostereo 3D display (most importantly), CD-RW/DVD-RW combo drive, Ethernet port, audio hardware, PC Card slot, 4 USB 2.0 ports, FireWire port, Sony Memory Stick slot, Compact Flash slot, SD slot, and internal floppy dive. The only built-in feature unsupported is the internal 56 Kbps modem, however a supported 56 kbps PC Card modem is available as well as a WiFi PC Card."
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3D Linux Laptop Available

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  • by BodyCount07 ( 260070 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:54PM (#9456689) Homepage
    3-D displays first hand? Care to give a quick honest review?
    • by n__0 ( 605442 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:38PM (#9457100)
      They're like anything only as good as the programs that utilise them. The ones I've seen didnt give much sense of depth from what I remember. Because it only ever gives one perspective the 3d nature of what I saw cant offer much more than simulated 3d on normal displays, moving your head still doesnt do anything, other than stopping the 3d working.
    • by Anthracene ( 126183 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:55PM (#9457252) Homepage
      I saw a demo of a molecular visualization program running on one of these at the American Chemical Society convention a couple months ago.

      In general, I'd say the quality is quite good. The image I saw had about 6 or 8 inches of apparent "depth" between what appeared to be closest to me and what was furthest away. It was reasonably clear, although not quite as clear as the flat image. You seem to lose some resolution (horizontal resolution, at least) when it goes into 3D mode.

      Of course, one of the big deals about it is that it doesn't require glasses, so nothing to lose, no flickering, etc. This does mean that there is a fairly small "sweet spot" that your head has to be in in order to see the 3D display. If you're positioned outside of this the display looks like a mess. I don't think more than one person can really see the image at a time when it's in 3D mode (there's a big button above the keyboard for switching between 2D/3D).

      I'm not sure what the API is like for getting a program working with the 3D functions. It was being demoed by a software company, and the guy there gave me the impression that some amount of modification to their app had been necessary (ie that most 3D apps wouldn't work correctly without being adapted) but that it hadn't been too difficult. 'Course you've generally got to take tech info from salesfolk with a grain of salt.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:59PM (#9457288)
      I have seen the auto-stereoscopic displays by sharp on a holography conference in San Jose, CA (2004). Basically: it works.

      These devices use a thin grating over the screen to ensure that each eye sees only the pixels of one view. The viewing angle is constrained, but that is not an issue for laptops (there is probably only one person watching anyways).

      If you have ever seen an IMAX 3D movie, it is a bit like that. There was a video clip where objects seemed to hover in front of the screen, and they had a funky stereoscopic UI (windows in the backgroud would seem to be further away from the viewer).

      Obviously the main problem is resolution: they have to throw away half the pixels to provide two views...

      I expect that many 3D applications would work out of the box. Standard hardware (NVIDIA quadbuffer cards) can already render stereoscopic scenes transparently (this is why you can hook up a pair of good old vr glasses to an NVIDIA card, and run any opengl app in stereo mode).
    • by ccnull ( 607939 ) <null@@@filmcritic...com> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:42PM (#9457716) Homepage
      I reviewed this (Windows version) earlier this year for Mobile PC... link [mobilepcmag.com]
    • by stripe ( 680068 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @07:03PM (#9457926)
      The 3D displays work. I have a DTI2018XLQ at home. It works by creating sepearate "zones". You place your head so that each eye is in a different zone. What happens is that each eye sees a diffrent image. I have only used the monitor for 2 games (MC2 & NWN) as I am not into FPS games. http://www.dti3d.com/Products/dti_2018xlq.htm
    • I would be interested in a first hand report, too. But with Linux installed, to include it into the TuxMobil Linux laptop and notebook overview [tuxmobil.org].
  • Linux? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:54PM (#9456692)
    "The autostereo 3D display (most importantly), CD-RW/DVD-RW combo drive, Ethernet port, audio hardware, PC Card slot, 4 USB 2.0 ports, FireWire port, Sony Memory Stick slot, Compact Flash slot, SD slot, and internal floppy dive"

    Yeah but... does it run Linux? Oh wait...

  • by x.Draino.x ( 693782 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:56PM (#9456725)
    So who's going to be the first to the market with a 3D-Enhanced porn site?
  • by FrO ( 209915 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:56PM (#9456726)
    you know, seeing integrated wifi that works with linux would be a real plus on a laptop like this. Especially if it were a non-centrino wifi card built in.

    I have a Gateway 450SX non-centrino, and it runs linux really well. Everything works perfectly (except for the 56K modem, of course), but sadly I don't have internal wireless. My external WaveLAN card works great under any distro though. Rock stable laptop, not terribly expensive and everything runs great under any distro (I've tried Fedora Core 1, Gentoo and Debian).
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:58PM (#9456738) Homepage Journal
    Since $3,000+ is a bit outside my range (my range being closer my $35 PII Linux box [retrobox.com]), I naturally checked out the Emperor Linux Jobs Page [emperorlinux.com] to see if I could suppliment my income. What a blast from the pre-bust past, mixed with a bit of post-bust reality:

    Work at EmperorLinux: the most fun you can have with ...

    EmperorLinux is not actively hiring.

    However, we are always on the lookout for fun and knowledgeable people who like things Linux. If you like to:
    ride your bike to work,
    hike in the mountains,
    recompile your kernel weekly,
    drink Mountain Dew with extra sugar,
    play in the dirt with your hands,
    make fun and informative web pages,
    use the "taste test" when debugging circuits,
    run with scissors barefoot in the rain,
    or anything similarly off-center,

    send us an interesting mail telling us why you think we would like you.

    I've done nearly all of those things, if you can substitute "hand-code Z80 machine code" for "recompile your kernel". But I think I'll stick with my boring but very stable job coding VB in the tax accounting business. I'll have time to lick random circuitry when I retire.
    • My Substitute (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blunte ( 183182 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:33PM (#9457055)
      I'd have to take a substitution on the circuit licking myself.

      I've sent suspected-bad UARTs to their fiery deaths with the aid of a tough little punch board and a variable power supply...

      Did you know you can actually cause a small jet of flames to shoot out of the center of a heat-induced crack in a UART chip? It's most impressive, if only for 1.5 seconds.

      And I'm sure you know that all UARTs go to heaven. For ours, heaven was the gpysum ceiling tiles in the lab. They punch down nicely, and they'll stay there for years if your professors are short and rarely look straight up.
    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:28PM (#9457552) Journal
      I've done nearly all of those things, if you can substitute "hand-code Z80 machine code" for "recompile your kernel".

      No. You're obviously some geezer who might have some experience with punch cards and COBOL but knows nothing about pointless fiddling with Lunix. Go run with scissors in the rain some more and then send your resume to EDS. Maybe they'll give you an employee discount on an old PRIME.

    • by FauxPasIII ( 75900 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:42PM (#9458629)
      > What a blast from the pre-bust past, mixed with a bit of post-bust reality

      -nod- And for the most part, it's straight-up. The atmosphere there is very easygoing. I worked there for quite a while, and still do part time. As compared to the hoops I jump through reporting time at my other job, the official time reporting instructions at emperor are "email me a float on the tenth of the month"
  • 3D? Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:58PM (#9456742) Journal
    My laptop is 2D. I hate the way it's so flat. It's horrible to type on because the keys have no travel. It's easy to bend and tear by accident. Sometimes it's really hard to see because when you look at it edge on it has no thickness. It disappears in piles of paper. A 3D laptop would be much better!
  • 3D? (Score:2, Funny)

    by dickeya ( 733264 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:59PM (#9456753)
    Do we get free 3D glasses?
  • by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:00PM (#9456763) Homepage Journal

    No mention of Linux pre-installed on the Sharp website. [slashdot.org]

  • Holy ripoff (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fatwreckfan ( 322865 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:00PM (#9456769)
    Under "Recommended Accessories" they have a Logitech wheel mouse [emperorlinux.com] for $50. Insanity, considering the same mouse can be bought at any computer store for like $20CDN.
  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:02PM (#9456785) Journal
    Almost all the hardware features can be utilised under Linux

    I bet the zealots have no problem overlooking the word "almost", but I'd expect to utilize all of the hardware features of a $3600 laptop.

    What doesn't work in linux?
    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Funny)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:09PM (#9456848) Homepage Journal
      RTFS(tory): The only built-in feature unsupported is the internal 56 Kbps modem

      Now I can understand being too lazy to read the article, but the relevant information was actually in the story submission.

      You, sir, win THE PRIZE.

    • by irokitt ( 663593 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `ruai-setirdnamihcra'> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:12PM (#9456886)
      Well, the modem doesn't work. If you need dial-up, the company selling these babies should provide a PC Card solution. For me, however, the important thing is whether or not the RJ-45 port works, so I can run Ethernet connectivity.
    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tin Foil Hat ( 705308 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:18PM (#9456938)
      Near as I can tell, it's just the 56K software modem that doesn't work.

      The added value comes in the various tweaks they've made to their Linux OS. It also looks like you have to be a customer to get a copy of it, so you can't cheap out and buy a laptop for half the price of theirs.

      Is it worth the extra 600 bucks? I think if I were going to pay 3 grand for a laptop, I might consider it. Linux can be difficult to get to work correctly on laptops, but $600 is nothing to sniff at.

      • Re:Wow (Score:2, Informative)

        by dshea ( 789187 ) <dshea@emperorlinux.com> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:27PM (#9456994)
        Well, you can "cheap out" and buy the laptop on your own then send it in for a Depot Install [emperorlinux.com], but the prices come out to about the same as if you bought the laptop from us. The price includes not only the laptop and distro tweaks: it also includes a year of email and phone support. So not only do we help you get Linux, we help you keep it running.
      • Re:Wow (Score:2, Informative)

        by Iconoplast ( 14611 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:29PM (#9457020)
        You're not just paying for having Linux installed. You're paying for support - an actual human on the phone if the machine craps out, or someone to personally reply to your mail. It's also the research that went into making all the hardware work, tracking down drivers, etc.

        What a lot of people don't understand here is that big companies, educational institutions, and research groups just don't care about the price. To them, the support, assurance that everything works, and time savings are worth the extra cost. What's $600 compared to the hourly rate of a guy in IT spending an entire week outfitting machines with Linux and verifying that they completely work? People who get their kicks sitting at home and banging on the machine until it works simply aren't the target market for a product like this.
    • by fwitness ( 195565 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @07:19AM (#9461493)

      Yeah, that little snippet gave me concerns too.

      Especially since we just had a discussion [slashdot.org] about Linux on the desktop, and the problem of vendor support. [slashdot.org]

      It's discouraging to see someone actually selling a Linux laptop that doesn't even support all of it's own hardware. Yes, it's a minor 56k modem, and it does 3D, but can't we step back a second? Ship a 2D laptop that can run any flavor of Linux, then work on getting the way cool features to work.

      This is also similar to cell phone companies striving for 3D gaming on phones [slashdot.org] whilst I still can't get a clear signal on my cell phone in common areas. "Form following function" is the design principle to emulate. Perhaps we should change that to "Features following fixing the function."

      Or, as I call it, "F**k with it after it's finished."

  • Memory Stick (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FrostedWheat ( 172733 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:03PM (#9456790)
    Sony Memory Stick slot

    This would be a good reason *NOT* to buy it.
  • by Rogue Leader ( 786192 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:05PM (#9456807)
    Notice the 256MB Lexar USB keychain drive; For $120.00. Same item is selling for under $50 on Newegg. Yeah, EmperorLinux seems like the kind of site I'd like to do business with. I wonder if they ever sold toilet seats to the Pentagon.
    • by Trepalium ( 109107 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:05PM (#9457343)
      And $50 Logitech mouse [logitech.com], that you can buy direct from Logitech for half that, and probably even less at any retail store without even needing a sale. Or the $150 3COM 802.11b/g PC card [3com.com] that you can pick up for 60% less anywhere else. Or even their 60GB hard drive upgrade for $500, that I can get for less than half price in Canadian funds, ignoring the exchange rate, here [ncix.com] and it's a faster drive, too!

      For anyone who's buying from them, stay away from the accessories. Mice are universal, PS/2 or USB. Laptop hard drives are universal, and the only thing you might need to worry about is height (9.5mm or smaller?). Laptop memory may not be completely universal, but it's pretty easy to find [kingston.com] compatible [crucial.com] stuff [corsairmicro.com]. All or virtually all external USB storage devices are compatible with Linux.

      • For anyone who's buying from them, stay away from the accessories.

        For some strange reason, I don't agree with that. If you are looking to go the cheap route for a linux laptop, you are better off installing it yourself. But, if you want simplicity, the extra money is nothing. In addition, spending a bit more is nice to support a company that is trying to be good.

        But because I am a raging hypocrite, in a few weeks I'm buying an Apple notebook. :P My first time without a linux laptop since buying a brand spanking new 25 MHz 486 with 4 meg of ram just for linux (and four newer models since then).

  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:05PM (#9456808)
    Does it have drivers for Windows?

    How about Sound/modem Drivers for DOS (you heard me!)?
  • At $3600, it will be something of a luxury laptop and a gizmo, considering the number of Linux users who are in disciplines that deal with 3D imaging. Except, perhaps, game and movie designers I think. Most molecular imaging people that I know use SUN, SGI or HP hardware still. I don't think that stuff like RasMol or Cn3D (for protein structure viewing) currently supports it. Knowing the Linux community, it pobably soon will be. Then, this machine can potentially be a great tool for scientists. You can go and view all of your proteins in 3D which will help immensely with the interpretation of mutations for instance, while avoiding the need for proprietary hardware and OSes. Then we can break free of friggin' MS. You won't believe how many times I cannot fill out a grant application because it's a .exe.. A vital app such as 3d molecular imaging should be a good place to start.
  • by startleman ( 567255 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:08PM (#9456839)
    . . . is explained here [sharp3d.com].
  • by HaloZero ( 610207 ) <protodeka@@@gmail...com> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:10PM (#9456858) Homepage
    3D?! Wow! Never before have I seen a laptop that has width, length, AND depth. COOL!
    BR *gently pushes corner of ThinkPad* O_O! DUDE! It looks like mine is compatible!
  • by FerretFrottage ( 714136 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:10PM (#9456863)
    I too go why 3D for that much money, but then again look at the benefits to the Linux community.

    --Linux has been getting mainstream press thanks to SCO, and all the Window viruses; people have heard of it.

    --Now you're in come public place with your nice ~$4000 laptop and someone sees the cool 3D effect (hopefully non-porn related).

    "Cool, I wish my laptop could do that" (even though the person doesn't know why they wish their lappy could do it) "What version of Windows is that?"

    "It's not Windows, it's Linux"

    It may just be a small attention getter, but a lot of small attention getters can add up to a big boost of Linux awareness among the [general] public.
  • by freeduke ( 786783 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:25PM (#9456987) Journal
    I read about this technology when it was launched in Japan, but I have concerns about the viewing angle that allows to watch the screen in real 3D. In fact this technology is based on the same as the small cards made of plastic and paper, that allow you to see a kind of animated 3D caracters. And here, even with explanations on sharp site, I would say that there should be some problems when you are not exactly in front of your screen... If someone has got an answer about this accuracy. Moreover, this technology is not used for professional 3D computer visualization.
    • by emorphien ( 770500 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:28PM (#9457007)
      It's called a lenticular image, if I'm understanding you correctly. That grooved piece of plastic on the surface is a lenticle (a type of lens basically) and it allows vertical (or horizontal but in this case vertical) strips to carry different information. You could turn the laptop 90 degrees and just see a mess.
  • by tekunokurato ( 531385 ) <jackphelps@gmail.com> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:29PM (#9457016) Homepage
    10.1 pounds? an hour of battery life? Jesus, why bother? That's absolutely terrible.
    • Re:terrible! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Iconoplast ( 14611 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:39PM (#9457109)
      Everything in a laptop is a tradeoff game. Want fancier graphics/more powerful CPU/wireless/faster hard drive? You're gonna pay for it in weight and power consumption. Want to lighten the machine a bit? You're gonna pay for that in display size and power consumption. This thing essentially has two video displays crammed on top of each other to provide the 3D effect, which really kills the battery life. But if the display is the most important aspect to you, you're probably going to toss it on a desk and plug it into the wall.

      Yes it's a niche product, but not every piece of hardware can be good for every possible situation. If you want something with excellent battery life and is very lightweight, the Sharp MM20 or IBM X series are both good. The Dell X300 is pretty nice too.
  • Emperor Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcelrath ( 8027 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:29PM (#9457017) Homepage
    Keep in mind that Emperor Linux purchases name-brand laptops with windows and removes the windows. You're paying for windows you're not using . For a list of companies that sell linux laptops and do not do this check here [mcelrath.org]. -- Bob
    • Re:Emperor Linux (Score:3, Informative)

      by dshea ( 789187 ) <dshea@emperorlinux.com> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:38PM (#9457106)
      The companies on this list sell either used laptops or non-brandname laptops. As noted on the site, this isn't much of an issue as far as components, but it is for support. There will be no hardware or warranty support with these machines.

      No attempt at deception is being made here. The laptops come with windows, and most people want them that way. If you don't want windows, we'll remove it for you. No lies, no smoke and mirrors. You simply aren't going to find a laptop from Sharp, IBM or Dell that doesn't come with a Windows license.

  • This is great! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by callipygian-showsyst ( 631222 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:32PM (#9457046) Homepage
    We've been supplying 3D products, like our 3D WebCam [robert.to] for years now, but potential customers are put off by the viewing methods that require glasses.

    I'm really hoping that autostereo displays will catch on, not just for gaming, but for natural appearance 3D photography.

    Once you've seen how nice a 3D photo can appear (the best way is to view Realist 3D Slides on a polarized screen), you'll never want to go pack to "flat" photography again.

  • by Tekmage ( 17375 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:37PM (#9457086) Homepage

    So, the Linux drivers [nvidia.com] exist, and I know they have hardware-accelerated OpenGL support built in... Does anyone know if this machine+display combo will work "out of the box" without any tweaks to applications?

    An option or two applied to XF86Config is OK by me, but per-application mods would be a little excessive... Anyone tried UT2K4 [unrealtournament.com] on one yet?

  • software? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by willCode4Beer.com ( 783783 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:49PM (#9457196) Homepage Journal
    I'm still waiting for a review of someone who's actually used one of these.

    So, what linux software do we have that will take advantage of this? Are there Mesa or Glide extensions?

    I'd love to try one of these but, if none of my apps use it then whats the point?
  • The sucky part... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tha_mink ( 518151 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:55PM (#9457260)
    Almost all the hardware features can be utilised under Linux;

    I love linux. I do. But I hate reading about a linux company putting out a linux machine with the sentence "Almost all the hardware features can be utilised under Linux;" What's with the "almost"? Why can't ALL of the hardware features be "utilised" under linux. C'mon this isn't BeOS we're talking about.
  • by base_chakra ( 230686 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:08PM (#9457372)
    First anti-aliased fonts, now this!
  • What the f*** (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tharald ( 444591 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @07:17PM (#9458046)
    Sorry, but I would like to state my opinion: what the f**k? this is news? When I installed Mandrake 9.2 and later 10.0 on my 1 year old toshiba satellite, everything worked ok (3d graphics, firewire, but not the SD cardreader...) I dont really see the news in this article. But thats OK, but what really pisses me off is that anyone still uses the memory stick thingy. I dont ever want to have that proprietary shit be part of what I buy again. I have a Zaurus with SD card reader and CF card reader. Two nice standards, universally accepted. Then I have a Sony Clie with only a Memory stick reader. What the **** is that? what am I supposed to use the slot for? This is one of the most important issues I have against Sony, and one of the reasons I am switching to the new Zaurus 6000.

    I think the Idea of a nice Linux notebook is cool, but could people please help me boycot the Memory stick thing. I want general standards, and the world has settled on SD and CF...

  • bash in 3-D...NICE!
  • Killer app (Score:2, Funny)

    by fpedraza ( 757989 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @10:50PM (#9459361)
    3D porn!
  • What's the point? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Boson245 ( 789250 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @11:14PM (#9459508)
    Immediately I had a few thoughts without RTFA. With an afterthought 3d algorithm the proportions won't be accurate. I could see real use for this with topology or for an avid gamer, but if the programs aren't able to pass spatial information for the screen why bother? I can appreciate a proof of technology and anything linux must be great..right, but this just seems a little too early.
  • by fok ( 449027 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @11:43PM (#9459694) Homepage
    I'm selling my old 2D laptop to buy a new 3D laptop.
    Here's the pictures:

    Front view, chassis closed:


    Side view, chassis closed:


    Anyone interested?

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus