Notes from a Senior Editor:
Jan 06, 2006, 19:00 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by James Turner)
Elvis Linux Is Everywhere (CES Day One)
By James Turner
Good morning from my recovery from the first full day of CES. To
say that my feet are killing me would be like saying that Larry
Elison has a mild dislike of Microsoft. The essential experience of
a day at CES can be simulated at home by the following
- Walk 1000 yards through heavy crowds
- Stand in line at the department of motor vehicles for 30
- Repeat until your feet feel like they will fall off if you take
Anyway, for those of you who complained about the Microsoft
content of my day zero coverage, you'll be happy to hear that today
is devoted solely to Linux and Linux-related products. Now shove
off or I swear, tomorrow it'll be all iPod accessories... don't
make me do it.
Elvis asks, why aren't you moving to Linux?
The day started for me with a tour of the massive Samsung booth
(the size of a small city block...) Among all the pretty pretty LCD
and LDP displays, I found for your viewing pleasure their latest
color laser printer. Featuring a 4 page per minute full color
600x1200 output, and a 15 cent per page cost, this printer also
explicitly supports Linux in it's specifications. It also sports an
under-$300 list price, if my leaky brain remembers correctly.
This killer color laser printer from Samsung sports Linux
as an explicitly supported operating system.
I spent some more time wandering around the floor before heading
off for a press lunch. It's impossible to describe just how big CES
is, and because of some poor booth layouts that make nasty traffic
snarls, it can take 20 minutes just to get from one end of a hall
to the other (did I mention my feet already?).
If you enjoy hand-configuring your kernel build parameters,
this is the amplifier for you.
The annual press lunch at a nearby restaraunt was by far the
Linux goldmine of the day. The PicoPSU is designed for use in
embedded applications, the power supply is literally the size of
the ATX power connector, and will turn 12V DC into everything a
MiniATX system needs to run.
The PicoPSU from mini-box is just the thing for your next
embedded Linux application.
VIA was showing off some of their MiniATX and other small form
factor barebones systems. Although they were running Windows Media
Center, they'll have no problems running Linux.
Ignore the Windows screen in the background, this VIA
barebones can serve as the heart of a fanless Linux
Linspire was there with their Koolbox retail Linux PC, but also
had a new system based on an A/Open chassis that is not much bigger
than a DVD drive. Can you say set-top?
Linspire was showing their Koolbox desktop
As well as a new teeny tiny system based on an A/Open
Probably the most surprising vendor at the lunch was Khronos
Group, who were promoting their OpenMAX open standard for media
streaming and authoring. They already have a royalty-free version
available for Linux, and are hoping for someone to implement an
Open Source version soon.
Khronos Group was showing their work in developing an open
standard for video acceleration and authoring.
In addition for VIA, there were a TON of other small form factor
and fanless systems on display, all ready and willing to accept
Linux as their true path. These included fanless devices from Hush
Systems and and Mini-ATX chassis by the dozens from Logic
A fanless system from Hush Technologies.
And a slew of Mini-ITX systems from Logic
chilisystems was also showing an end-user appliance combining a
firewall, file sharing with Samba, and a sendmail-implemented mail
server intended for small businesses and SoHos. It runs on top of
BSD, but in the fight against the great Redmond Beast, all Unixes
are brothers in arms, right?
chilisystems had a firewall, fire sharing and email
appliance based on BSD.
Another leisurely stroll back to the convention center (the
phrase "conviniently located next to" takes on a new and
frightening connotation in Las Vegas), and more strolling through
the cavernous halls before my meeting with SageTV.
More walking, but at least it was a nice day.
My official Big CES Linux News of the Day item (accept no
substitutes) is that SageTV is now officially supporting a Linux
version of their product. This means that their is a commercially
available alternative to MythTV for those who want to run a DVR
using Linux. In addition, the Linux version of SageTV can stream
content to clients running on Linux or Windows, or to the Hauppauge
Actual Linux on the floor, SageTV announces availability of
their product under Linux.
Next, it was over to the Sands convention center to look at a
couple of quirky consumer products. The Sands shares space with the
Adult Video News show (which is open to the general public.)
Watching the crowds walk by, it's fun to play "Guess which show
this person is attending." It's not a hard task, the CES folks are
suit and tie and usually don't look happy, the AVN attendees are
shorts and t-shirts and baseball caps, and definitely look like
they're glad to be here.
Show of hands, who wants me to cover this show tomorrow
instead of CES?
A/Open led me through their strategy for Motherboards for the
coming year. Although they'll continue to support the latest and
greatest (such as dual core), they are focusing on the use of
mobile processors in non-mobile applications, to take advantage of
the reduced power and cooling requirements.
A/Open is focusing on mobile processors in desktop and
I had about an hour to kill, so I wandered the Sands some more.
Of the various venues, the Sands has the most diversity and in some
cases, wackiest of products. I mean, there was a guy there selling
ladders. Not USB-enabled ladders. Not robotic ladders. Just
ladders. There was also a section devoted to Robotics, which
included the new generation of Lego Mindstorms based on the Connex
I, for one, welcome our new Lego Mindstorm
The high point of the day for me was competing in the
TigerDirect Build a PC Race for Charity. Basically, 30 industry
analysts and writers compete to see who can put together a PC
pretty much from scratch (the motherboard and processor are
installed for us), with the winner getting $10,000 to their
favorite charity. This was my second time competing, and I turned
in a pretty fair 15 minute time, placing me 11th out of 30. The
winning time was just over 9 minutes. My charity, Heifer International got the PC I built
(worth about $3500), as well as a Ferrari-inspired laptop that I
won in a random draw. I got a nifty toolkit and an apron.
Your humble correspondent placed a respectable 11th out of
30 on the PC Race for Charity.
Finally, off to ShowStoppers, which is basically a big party
with around 100 vendors pitching their products while we eat Duck
and Foie Gras Ravioli and drink. Not much in the way of Linux here,
except for a couple of products with Linux inside them. However, be
sure to check out the chassis from Kick Butt Computers. Every data
center needs a disco ball, especially inside the system itself.
Linux Inside this Devicescape Appliance.
As well as this one from eli.
Just the thing to enliven your data center; note the
hanging disco ball.
I've got to sign off, I'm going to be late for my morning
meetings. Hopefully, at least a few more interesting Linux products
today and Larry Page's (Google's) keynote this afternoon.