[personal profile] mjg59
I picked up a couple of cheap Linux devices at the weekend. First of all, a $99 Android tablet from CVS, made by Craig. It's a generic RK2818 device and of course it's lacking any kind of GPL offer in the documentation. As far as I know the only company that's released any Rockchip source so far has been Archos, and even then they haven't released the tools you need to actually build an image - they seem to be floating around the internet anyway. But it's straightforward to get it to run the Android market, and it runs Shortyz quite well, so fit for purpose from my point of view. I am, obviously, attempting to contact Craig to find out how they're going to satisfy their obligations but haven't got past their bizarre text-to-speech based support menu system that dumps you to answerphone after 5 minutes of being on hold. Next attempt will involve pressing more buttons.

The other one was a Sharper Image Literati e-reader, $49 from Macy's (on clearance, obviously). This one's interesting by virtue of not being an Android device. Instead it's got a fairly recognisable Busybox-based Linux environment that's even got udev and dbus running. It brings up a framebuffer and just dumps a QTE-based reader (from Kobo) onto it. Other than being woefully underpowered and slow, it actually seems very competent. There seem to be several versions of the hardware - the one I got has an ARM SoC from SiRF on it. SiRF make GPS chipsets, and it turns out that their Atlas 5 platform is actually intended for Linux-based GPS units. The embedded world always seems to find a way. What surprised me more is that it's probably the most polished looking Linux I've bought for under $300. No bizarre kernel spew. echo mem >/sys/power/state works. Standard backlight interface.

Oh, and no source. Obviously. But an interesting device regardless.


Date: 2011-03-01 04:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm9Ddk9_B5pno7LEz90AeLif2fWHcd24U8
Regarding the Kobo-like Sharper Image Literati, you might be interested in some work I've done dissecting the innards of the Kobo Wifi here: http://soapyfrogs.blogspot.com/search/label/kobo

Since it sounds like the lower level parts of the platform are not based on a Netronix part (EB600 like the original Kobo, or otherwise) only some of it will apply, but it might still be interesting.

FWIW, Kobo publish full sources at https://github.com/kobolabs , and have been seriously impressive about their GPL responsibilities. Most unlike almost any other company I've ever dealt with. After talking with them, I even got them to push full build scripts (!!), their QTE configuration, etc, so it's possible to build almost the full environment from scratch with the published sources. About the only things they leave out are the Epson display init sections (easily dumped from the firmware of an existing Kobo) and the sources to the closed source Kobo "nickel" application that runs on the platform.

Pretty much the opposite of HTC, Motorola, and that bunch, really.

(BTW: commenting on this weblog using OpenID involves a truly bizarre number of hoops to jump through. It would've been simpler to create a DreamWidth account than use OpenID, I suspect.)

Date: 2011-03-01 06:18 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] loic
I wonder if it's worth getting the feds in on this. If the Baidu search engine linking to companies selling software in violation of the license surely they should be taking more serious action against CVS and Macy's.


Date: 2011-03-01 07:27 am (UTC)
jld: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jld
I have nothing interesting to say about the hardware, but: it looks like the %%comment_url in your crosspost footer could use another %%.

Date: 2011-03-21 11:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pjc50.livejournal.com
"The embedded world always seems to find a way"

The general rule of repurposed devices being more hacker-friendly seems to hold. Also the cheaper something is, the less it will try to differentiate by adding antifeatures.

(Could you friend me on DW please?)

Date: 2011-03-29 02:31 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Craig is releasing 10 more tablets: http://www.androidtablets.net/forum/craig-tablets/11326-craig-electronics-releasing-10-new-tablets-line-up.html

They obviously have no concerns about the availability of GPL source code whatsoever.


Matthew Garrett

About Matthew

Power management, mobile and firmware developer on Linux. Security developer at Google. Ex-biologist. @mjg59 on Twitter. Content here should not be interpreted as the opinion of my employer.

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