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Handhelds Communications Software Hardware Linux

Ubuntu Mobile Announced 66

Placid writes "The BBC has up an article detailing the 'Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded' project which was announced by Matt Zimmerman, Ubuntu's CTO, on the Ubuntu developers mailing list. Zimmerman stated that 'These devices place new demands on open-source software and require innovative graphical interfaces, improved power management and better responsiveness.' According to the article, Intel will have their finger in the pie too, as they've recently announced a prototype device running Ubuntu. Part of the project's goal is to maximise the power saving abilities of a planned low-energy chip codenamed Silverthorn. The chip will be just one-seventh the size of normal chips, and consume only 10% of the power of existing processor. What does this mean for projects such as OpenMoko? Healthy competition, or the beginning of the end?"
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Ubuntu Mobile Announced

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  • Competition (Score:2, Interesting)

    by janrinok ( 846318 )
    Surely, this will be good for competition?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ClaesMogren ( 894070 )
      I'm sure it will be good for the competition, and it will make more people interested in getting their applications to run on embedded devices. Ubuntu is generally good at contributing patches upstream and I'm sure this will give the GNOME Mobile And Embedded [gnome.org] initiative an extra push. It's nice to see free and open software becoming more widespread on other devices than just PCs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by link7 ( 966918 )
      I'm sure it will, and don't call me Shirley.
    • Is it just me or is that OpenMoko logo dangerously close to infringing on the Cingular trademark?

      Same industry, same color, same over all picture.

      I dunno...maybe it's just me...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:08AM (#19036101)
    http://projects.openmoko.org/ [openmoko.org]

    Hosted Projects: 20
    Registered Users: 525

    That's not so much... Even http://opensource.y7.ath.cx/ [y7.ath.cx] doesn't cover them...
    • I agree, but I was thinking of competition in a much wider sense. A power efficient chip will create some competition amongst the (few!) chip manufacturers. The fact that Ubuntu is being used could create competition between other linux distros and even other OS'. A power efficient device manufactured using this chip could also create something of a stir in the market place as it should have a battery life considerably in excess of other similar devices which use a different chip.
    • OpenMoko was demoed at the last Ubucon. It's very nice if you like touchscreens. I don't. I hope the next one has real buttons with real tactile feedback (unlike Razrs which sort of have buttons but have no feedback at all). Can't dial n drive with a touchscreen.
  • Only 10% of power? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dcskier ( 1039688 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:12AM (#19036173)
    Sounds great, but rather bold prediction of using only 10% the power of existing chips. I seem to remember the crusoe chip [wikipedia.org] being hyped like this, until it was released.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by viewtouch ( 1479 )
      I was able to do something useful with the crusoe chip, running this portable wireless X terminal. http://www.viewtouch.com/mobile.html [viewtouch.com] The problems were that Hitachi sold these in small quantities at three times the price it sold them in larger quantities and that Hitachi stopped manufacturing these without any notice.

      These devices can and do work. What's needed are hardware designers and manufacturers who are absolutely convinced that mobile devices are NOT going away, that they need to be able to be a
  • Now i get to see exactly how fast I can txt "sudo aptitude update -y && updatedb"

  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <(ag-slashdot) (at) (exit0.us)> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:21AM (#19036337) Homepage
    ...will it run Beyrl? [beryl-project.org]
  • Momentum (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FredDC ( 1048502 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:27AM (#19036455)
    It seems like Ubuntu is gaining alot of momentum in different areas right now. I hope they can make all/alot/some of the objectives they set for themselves real.
    Especially the fact that larger hardware/software companies are willing to work together with them (the Dell deal, now Intel with this chip) looks like a big step in the right direction! What's good for one distro is good for every distro as far as I'm concerned. If Ubuntu becomes more mainstream perhaps we'll finally be able to get some good drivers for our hardware and such!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hercynium ( 237328 )
      Well, while Canonical's approach *seems* to be working, I personally am skeptical of the long-term maintainability of all these projects. Granted, they've got money right now and they might as well spend it developing and advancing Linux... but can they make their efforts profitable?

      RedHat has managed to pull this off... but they had to take their previously more diverse product offerings and pare them down to just serve the applications/server market - since everything else was simply not profitable.

      What w
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        i think linux has the advantage of being open source. this means that ubuntu can take the product advances red hat has made and then add their own. people are starting to hear about ubuntu, it's as if "the industry" has got together en masse and decided that it's time for linux to move onto the desktop and has singled-out ubuntu as the distro to push. it would not surprise me to hear of linux-versions of products from adobe et al. being released in the next year. as well as this, mark shuttleworth must be l
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:28AM (#19036475) Homepage Journal

    What does this mean for projects such as OpenMoko? Healthy competition, or the beginning of the end?

    Unless it is based on anticompetitive practice, competition is always healthy.

    If the other projects deserve to survive, because they add substantial value, then they will continue to exist. Otherwise not.

    I have to say, I'd really appreciate a version of Ubuntu that would run on my iPaq. I installed Familiar but it wasn't all that exciting (it did, however, work. I don't want to take anything away from those guys.)

    • If the other projects deserve to survive, because they add substantial value, then they will continue to exist. Otherwise not.

      Or if they solve different problems. For example, OpenMoko may be better for OEMs manufacturing embedded or mobile devices, while Ubuntu will probably be better for aftermarket installs, since Ubuntu will likely be much easier for the end-user to install and upgrade.

  • buy a phone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mariani ( 700617 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .inairam.tnecniv.> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:34AM (#19036571) Journal
    Does anyone know when/where/how to get a hold of a phone capable of running an open os? Information is really scares on that subject, can seem to find many answers on the openmoko site. People are developing for it, so there must be a way to get a hold of one right?
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They're pretty early in the development phase. I think they only recently finalized the hardware and got development units out to a couple key people. They're looking at a September date for making it available to the public.
      • Not September (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The Slashdot crowd can get a bare-bones phone and start hacking on it in mid-May.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      At the http://openmoko.com/ [openmoko.com] website after May 10th.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by N8w8 ( 557943 )
      Though it's not _completely_ open (a few proprietary kernel modules IIRC), I love my new toy, a Motorola A780, which runs Linux natively.

      It runs a distro named EZX, which is based on a Montavista-modified Linux 2.4 kernel, a GNU-ish userland (glibc, etc.), and Qt Embedded as the graphics framework.

      You can easily cross-compile apps for this EZX environment (mkezx.org). Even cooler is that work is being done to reverse engineer the closed parts, and run Linux 2.6 on the device (openezx.org). Besides the kerne
  • Will this run on Pocket PC's as well, or is this just for mobile phones?
  • N800 and Maemo (Score:5, Informative)

    by lexarius ( 560925 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:39AM (#19036637)
    The N800's Maemo distribution is based on Debian, and while it does have a development community, things are a bit lacking right now. Would be nice if this device were supported, since a dist for many devices will probably get more development done for it than a dist for approximately two devices.
  • by UPZ ( 947916 )
    Competition is a wonderful world dun you think?
  • A nice thought. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:41AM (#19036683) Homepage
    Most embedded Linux installs are hand made. usually you do not need a full distro for an embedded device but a smaller subset to get the job done.

    I hope that Ubuntu project can create something that is workable that also delivers where all other embedded linux distros fell on their face, Size and performance.

    Honestly a kernel+busybox+your custom app is all that is needed for most embedded linux uses. and can be rolled together by your in house engineers in a day.

    Now trying to make a inly multi-purpose low power generic device is a different story but is the exception in the world of embedded lnux.
    • Now trying to make a inly multi-purpose low power generic device is a different story but is the exception in the world of embedded lnux.

      But that's what they (Intel) are trying to make, an Intel version of the Nokia N800 (which also runs a Debian derived distro)
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      One thing i've noticed with embedded linux is that it tends to be very device centric. Each piece of hardware seems to have a community around it and its own distro. It seems that many projects end up duplicating 50% of the effort from others and that co-operation between this projects is often lacking or only by chance when somebody happens to own two or more Linux enabled devices.

      I've used OpenPsion, Open Zaurus/pdaXrom, Familiar, OpenWRT, OpenSlug and Gumstix-buildroot on various platforms (Psion 5mx, Za
    • by Rimbo ( 139781 )
      Yep, and they're usually made by the manufacturer of the hardware. ARM has one guy up in the UK doing the whole toolchain, which is why it's still using GCC 2.95 for most platforms (although I now have access at work to a platform using gcc 3.4).

  • ...or (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:44AM (#19036725)
    "Healthy competition, or the beginning of the end?"

    ...or a false dilemma?
  • by TobascoKid ( 82629 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:48AM (#19036805) Homepage
    Looking at the article, this seems to be more about a version of Ubuntu for Web tablets instead of mobile phones. It looks like Intel are using Ubuntu for their Nokia N800 style device.
  • Which is a descendant of OpenZaurus, which is a descendant of Debian/Arm. I wouldn't be surprised, therefore, to see Ubuntu building on one of those. It'd save them lots of effort.
    • Well, if so, I hope Ubuntu can come up with a working package manager. After all these years the OE/OZ one still sucks seven different kinds of ass. And when I brought it up in their forums, I got the usual elitist explanation that all I had to do was fix the packages myself. Great for a hobbyist toy, not so great if you actually want to market a system based on it.
  • this is great. i have the motorola kernel and wanted to make something for my treo but this might make my life easier. so if you have carrier specific code and a custom rom, i wonder if you could feed that info into the ubuntu system and get it to work. this could free alot of people of preloaded cell phone software. usually you buy a phone and can personalize some of it but if this takes hold you could customize the whole thing. then that will make the other carries step up and be more creative with what
  • Intel will have their finger in the pie too, as they've recently announced a prototype [...] chip [that] will be just one-seventh the size of normal chips, and consume only 10% of the power of existing processor. What does this mean for projects such as OpenMoko? Healthy competition, or the beginning of the end?"

    Or more of Intel ridiculously over-hyping future products?

  • The chip will be just one-seventh the size of normal chips, and consume only 10% of the power of existing processor.

    Do the math. Core 2 Duo dissipates 65W. Silverthorn at 10% of that (65 * .1) = 6.5W. Transmeta used to have a 1W processor that Intel could only match by basically shutting down and underclocking everything possible, to the point of usability. I guess there are just different concepts of what a true low power processor is intended to be.

  • As somebody who helps maintain an embedded Linux distro (iPodLinux [ipodlinux.net]), I honestly have to wonder whether or not Ubuntu could ever become light enough to fit comfortably onto handhelds, and whether or not they're going to bring any improvements to community projects like ucLinux.
  • Heh, It's kinda fun to use Linux on portable devices. I got an old HP Jornada 690e (sh3 133 mhz 32 mb sdram) running JLime [jlime.com]. Once you get Linux running on it, the configurations possibilities are almost infinite. I installed many lite versions of the software I run on my desktop and plus some weird stuff for pocket devices like Apache.
  • OpenMoko is primarily a HW platform + kernel bits, AFAIK. Wouldn't this... help them?? I mean, I would LOVE an OpenMoko phone with Ubuntu. I don't see the poster's logic.

    http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Neo1973 [openmoko.org]

    "The Neo1973 is the first phone designed to run OpenMoko. It is manufactured by FIC who instigated the OpenMoko project."

    Project run by HW company, I can't imagine them being sad there is more embedded linux SW dev happening, especially by a major distro as opposed to another HW company.
    • It's a hardware platform, yes, but it also means they have a direct (and rather large) competitor in the Linux-based phone market. That was my point.