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
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
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
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
And there was more news than just Transmeta:
PR: Qt/Embedded and Qt Palmtop Environment available for
"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
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
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