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AllLinuxDevices: Weekly Roundup: November 15, 2000

Nov 15, 2000, 16:19 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

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Hello, from COMDEX!

It's the end of day two as I write this. I spent the bulk of day one on the floor of the Linux Business Expo (LBE) at the Sands, where several of the major players in the Linux handheld scene are on hand with demos. TrollTech is showing off Qt/Embedded, Greg Haerr and Century Software are demoing Microwindows, and PocketLinux has a booth (I'll talk to them today and provide a look at what they have to offer soon).

Today was spent at the main floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center after a morning meeting with the folks at Xybernaut, a Virginia-based wearables company. Xybernaut isn't a "Linux company", but their Pentium III-based systems are full computers in their own rights and they run any OS that'll run on the x86 architecture. Linux is very much on their radar, as well. When I spoke to Ed Vogt, the company's Germany-based general manager at the wearable conference a few months ago, he told me that his German staff is overwhelmingly interested in developing Linux for their platforms. The company also recently released some voice recognition software for Linux and Windows under the GNU GPL.

I also paid a visit to ZapMedia, a company building a Linux-based DVD player, MP3 jukebox, and set-top 'net appliance. ZapMedia licenses their DVD player from Intervideo, who write a lot of software for Windows and developed LinDVD for Linux - fully licensed DVD software.

Wearing my other hat as an editor over at LinuxToday and LinuxPlanet, I originally showed up at the booth thinking I was going to be shown a running demo of a desktop machine with LinDVD. Unfortunately, Intervideo has no intent to provide a DVD solution for the Linux desktop at this point. According to the people I spoke to at the booth, it's an issue of support. The box used for ZapMedia is essentially an Intel machine running a near-stock Red Hat 6.2 and a stock kernel, and one person at the booth says they can run LinDVD on their desktop development machines.

So what's the problem? Why not sell a shrinkwrap version of their DVD player?

It's an issue of support:

They're shy about going to general release with a piece of software that requires a fairly specific configuration (video and sound on the box have to at least be configured correctly to take advantage of their graphics and sound cards) and they don't want to go near the issues surrounding supporting a wide variety of distributions and configurations. Anyone who's ever forgotten to load the Open Sound emulation module in Alsa knows what this will do to apps that would work otherwise, such as XMMS or RealPlayer.

It's an unfortunate blow to desktop Linux users, who will continue to wait for legal DVD players for their PC's.

Stop by AllLinuxDevices for the COMDEX news I've gathered so far. My day one wrapup: a look at some of the handheld software is here:

COMDEX Notes, Part One: Hands on with Linux Handhelds

The Week That Was
Besides COMDEX, there was plenty of other news. Late last week, for instance, Gateway took the wraps off of their Transmeta and Linux-based 'net appliance. If there's anything to say about Transmeta at this point, it's that while the company appears to be taking some setbacks on the laptop side, they're moving ahead on the embedded side. Here's a sample of the Transmeta headlines from the past week:

  • Gateway unveils touch screen web pad
    "Called the Gateway Connected Touch Pad, it is a web access appliance that is closely linked to America Online's (AOL's) internet service. Users interact with the system using either a stylus, the touch screen or a wireless keyboard, to gain access to a range of services such as AOL email, instant messaging and web channels."
  • Gateway, AOL to launch Transmeta webpad
    "The internet device will include a customised version of AOL's internet service that displays web pages, and runs email and personalised information. It is also expected to include home networking functionality from networking chip specialist Broadcom. However, the device, which will be aimed at the US consumer market, is not expected to be available in the UK."
  • The Register: Gateway to unveil Linux-based AOL box Friday
    "The announcement will follow today's alliance between Gateway and chip-maker Broadcom, which will see the duo co-develop systems capable of pumping streamed digital audio and video content to a variety of consumer electronics devices, such as TVs, PCs and (hint, hint) Internet appliances. "
  • Wearable Transmeta device planned
    "The company's next generation wearable computers will incorporate the 700Mhz Crusoe chip and will run Microsoft Windows 2000. The systems will be designed to work with Via's super VGA indoor readable display or indoor/outdoor display. Testing will be completed by the end of the year and general availability is planned for the end of the first quarter of 2001."
  • The Register: Casio chooses Crusoe
    "The Casiopeia Fiva is a sub-notebook machine, running Windows ME rather than CE, the OS of previous Casiopeia's. Casio hasn't said what speed the machine will run at, but reckons Crusoe gives Fiva six to nine hours' of continuous use on a single battery charge."

And there was more news than just Transmeta:

  • PR: Qt/Embedded and Qt Palmtop Environment available for download
    "Trolltech is proud to present the release of Qt/Embedded, version 2.2.2. For the first time, Qt/Embedded is released under both a commercial and an open source license, the GPL (GNU General Public License). Also released today is the Qt Palmtop Environment, which is the first Personal Information Management (PIM) package for embedded Linux released under the GPL."
  • Netpliance to Drop i-opener Appliance
    Sad but true: the i-opener, subject of quite a bit of interest in the Linux community when it was learned the $99 appliances could be hacked to make low-cost X terminals and the like, is being discontinued. Netpliance is dropping some staff, and says the appliance market is still growing too slowly.

Editor's Note: Leave Your Politics at the Door with the Indrema
When Indrema subtly restated its position on certification fees for "garage developers" this week a lot of people got their noses bent out of shape saying that the company was no better than any of the major game houses. When we're talking a "token fee," though, and less than $1000 for a complete development environment, developers console included, though, that's a petty complaint. What Indrema has shown, though, is that where open source and the entertainment industry are concerned, coexistence has a price in terms of software freedom we're going to have to get used to.
Coming Up:

  • Keep an eye out for more COMDEX coverage, including a look at PocketLinux and the iRobot, which will be posted over the next few days.

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