You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Mobile Computing’ category.

In August 2009, I published an article on developerWorks that describes how to boot Angstrom Linux on the BeagleBoard revision C. The article has been very popular, with over 52,000 views.

Today, check developerWorks for a new article titled
Booting Linux on the BeagleBoard xM. This new article describes how to get Angstrom, Ubuntu, and Android running on the xM. I’m thankful for any comments.

I am fresh back from OSCON and my brain is exploding. More on that soon, but first some news from the world of automotive “infotainment”.

First, go read Eric Brown’s piece on LinuxForDevices outlining GENIVI’s selection of MeeGo as the reference software stack for GENIVI. Also stop by ComputerWorld to read Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols’ summary from Friday’s blog.

For those who don’t know, MeeGo is the result of a merger between Intel’s Moblin platform and Nokia’s Maemo platform, managed by the Linux Foundation. I was able to speak briefly with folks at Intel in the booth this week at OSCON and they are definitely buzzing hard about MeeGo, and they have a right to be proud – MeeGo is a great accomplishment and a testament to Intel’s commitment to open-source. Kudos to Intel’s Open Source Technology Center.

For background information about GENIVI, go read this post on the MontaVista blog. In short, GENIVI is an alliance among auto manufacturers, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) developers, and embedded Linux providers who are developing a new Linux-based reference platform for IVI. MontaVista is a member of the GENIVI board, as is Intel.

Now, for more background, see this blog post that explains MontaVista’s recently-announced relationship with Robert Bosch Car Multimedia, a premier IVI provider.

What does all this add up to? Hard to say, but from my perspective as an open-source philosopher and embedded Linux cheerleader, I’d say it is a big multi-way win among GENIVI and all of its members, Intel, embedded Linux developers in general, and, eventually, end users. Collaboration works so well it makes one wonder why some companies and industries still insist on competing the hard way.

What I want to know next… GENIVI has promised both x86 and ARM reference systems, so which ARM platform will GENIVI choose?

I have the honor to be the track chair for the Embedded Internet session track at the ARM Technical Conference, November 9-11, 2010 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is the premier ARM-specific conference of the year, with over 60 classes, sessions, and tutorials. This is an important conference for all developers who target ARM processors with any operating system, but I believe it is of primary importance to embedded Linux developers, particularly those using Android.

The Call for Participation is open through June 25. If you would like to speak at the conference, now is the time to get your slides together and submit your abstract. The track with which I am involved will discuss the Embedded Internet – hardware, software, and cost considerations for managing network connectivity in embedded devices. I would love to see some proposals covering hardware and drivers, particularly 4G drivers for Linux, and business reasons for choosing one component, driver, or software stack out of the many options available.

Some important dates to remember:

  • June 25 is the last day to submit proposals. That’s just two weeks from now, so get ’em in.
  • June 30 is the last day of early bird registration. Register now and save $300.
  • August 30 is the last early registration day, still a good savings but not as good as early-bird.
  • November 8 is the last day for advance registration, still saving $100 over onsite registration.
  • November 9 the conference begins in Santa Clara.

Like other attendees at Chris DiBona’s keynote at Linux Collaboration Summit last month, I obtained an unlocked Nexus One super-duper-phone. (Thanks, Chris!)

The gift was completely unexpected, and while it was wonderful to receive, I am just not sure I am mobile enough to really get the best user experience from it. Lest I seem ungrateful, I must say that I am totally blown away by the user interface and the potential for the device. The last similar devices I had were a Palm Tungsten T5 and a Palm Treo 650, both obtained while I was working at Palmsource/Access a few years ago. I know from experience with both of them that I simply don’t naturally take advantage of such devices. I have no cellular service of any type at my house, and in town we get maximum 2G. I don’t travel a whole lot, so obviously it makes little sense to sign up for a cellular data service. I do have a wi-fi router at home and can use one in town at the coffee house or pizza shop, but that means sitting on one place—it isn’t exactly mobile, which is how the device was designed.

The Nexus One isn’t bad as a wi-fi-only gadget, and some of the applications—like the star map—are nothing short of brutally awesome. With 3G, GPS, and accelerometer it is better equipped than any other electronic device I have ever owned or carried, bar none. But I can’t really take advantage of those things without spending more and traveling more than I intend. Not to mention, my fingers must be extra-large, because I find the onscreen keyboard barely usable. I could get a bluetooth keyboard for the thing but that seems like it would make it far less mobile – by that point I might as well get a netbook. Between lack of typing input and the 3.x inch screen, I don’t find the user experience compelling enough to just use it around the house. Again, this is not an issue with the Nexus One nor with Android. It is an issue with my usage mode and my fat fingers.

On the other hand, I do write about the mobile Linux experience fairly often, more and more with Android in the title, and this is currently the only Android device with which I have any real amount of experience (other than the SDK and x86 emulator). Granted, my writing is most often about the developer experience rather than the user end, but one naturally depends on the other, so perhaps owning and using the device can help me provide better advice to developers. And, the typing thing could be obviated by using voice integration, which I confess I have not worked with much yet other than grinning over Babelfish.

Also, Froyo (Android 2.2) is just around the corner. Would the added speed and usability tip me over the edge and make me into an official gadget-carrier? I don’t think so, given that speed is not a barrier for me, but I’m willing to wonder.

On the third hand, if I sell the Nexus One I can put the money toward a different Android-based gadget that might make more sense with my usage mode. I am very interested in Notion Ink’s Adam. Or perhaps a netbook, a form factor against which I have cautioned in the past but on which I might be persuaded, particularly running Linux. Or an e-reader: I think everyone knows now that the Kindle, Nook, and Sony’s e-readers all run Linux.

That’s a lot of issues on both sides, and I have more in my head. The gift has me conflicted.

Maybe I should think more about my usage model. What would I use the device for? What do YOU use it for, and is that usage or service really worth what you pay for it?

PS. No, I won’t be buying an iPad. Not yet, anyway. But if anyone in charge is listening, I’d be glad to evaluate one. 🙂