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Re: [News] Linux Handheld Can Become Completely Open

  • Subject: Re: [News] Linux Handheld Can Become Completely Open
  • From: Jamie Hart <usenet@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2006 14:58:20 +0100
  • In-reply-to: <1154609782.8673.0@despina.uk.clara.net>
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • References: <2362064.ZTfZHmWSpG@schestowitz.com> <1154602627.10302.0@proxy02.news.clara.net> <1154606490.57902.0@iris.uk.clara.net> <1154609782.8673.0@despina.uk.clara.net>
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  • Xref: news.mcc.ac.uk comp.os.linux.advocacy:1136249
BearItAll wrote:
Jamie Hart wrote:

BearItAll wrote:
Roy Schestowitz wrote:

$50 breakout box turns the GP2X game system into completely open Linux

,----[ Quote ]
| While this may not be exciting for the casual user, Linux geeks who
| like to get down and dirty with their hardware should be drooling
| right now at the possibilities. Add a few gigs of storage to the
| storage along with some of your favorite Linux applications, and you
| have a very inexpensive and fun micro-system to play around with. This
| also makes it very easy to flash and debug GP2X systems. All for
| $45.99.

Fun for hackers, but sometimes you have to wonder why they would want to
do some of these things.

Same reason people climb mountains.

I can't think of any great benefit in having linux on a diddy little game
boy type box, it's not like you can do much on a screen and keyboard like
that, other than play games, so why not leave the OS as it is and play
the games? (I can't even see those screens properly so I can't play them

it lets you add other software, or even hardware to it.  You could run a
web server on it, less heat and noise.  and it'd use far less electricity.

The only real reason I can think of is to reverse engineer the unit and
the games, with the intent of cheating, duplicating and counterfeiting.

Or to take what is in essence a full blown computer vastly more capable
than the original IBM PC and use it to its full capacity.

Yet again Linux gets associated with stealing.

Only by people who don't see any other advantages.

Some of these 'get linux into everything' schemes feel to me a bit like
getting excited over someone claiming to have installed Linux into their
washing machine controller. What would we get from that? whiter than
white yfronts or something?

Sure, and an upgradeable system.  Currently, the firmware in washing
machines is static, once you've bought it that's it.  With linux on it,
you can upgrade if the manufacturer brings out a newer version.  You'd
maybe also get sensible logs in the event of it breaking down.

In my electronics design days I did a washing machine controller. The washing idea is simple enough that a fairly simple logic grid or if I wanted to play a bit, an asic would have done the job fine.

Sure and the purely mechanical timers on the very early electric washers did the job just as well. The question is not whether a simpler system can do the job, but what extra things a washer with a CPU can do.

But the company I did the contract for wanted a CPU in there simply so that
they could say 'Microprocessor controlled'. I felt sorry for the cpu I put
into that, was like having Marvin the Paranoid robot work the light
switches in your house. Making drove the design. not need.

Which again highlights the point, putting a CPU in and locking it down so that only you can change the software and then never using a fraction of its capabilities is a waste.

Putting a CPU in with linux on and finding or letting others find new capabilities is not a waste.

It isn't 'need' that is pushing many of the embedded Linux ideas though, it
has to be money. Marvin working the lights because he is cheaper than

I'll agree there, but like most "blue sky" research, whether performed by scientists or geeks with a new toy, it's more likely to bear fruit (find a better way of doing something) than not.

Hackers are bound to get bored with linux because it works too well,
there must be something on sourceforge that interests them enought to
channel this excess energy that is currently being wasted.

Hackers don't like linux because it is hard, they like it because it's
scaleable, robust and easy to port to a new architecture. Pretty much
the same reasons businesses are putting it on new devices.

Businesses use it because its cheap, plus with more programmers available, even script writters sometimes being enough for the job, then it is a viable option for design.

But it's cheap _because_ it's scaleable and robust. If they had to spend lots of money to get it to run on whatever appliance they produce or they had constant problems with it, they wouldn't use it.

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