Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Mar 2009 19:17 UTC, submitted by Moulinneuf
Hardware, Embedded Systems We have found the device of your dreams. Make no mistake: this is what OSNews readers have always wanted. You are going to buy this device, in droves. Trust me, as far as geekness goes, this is pretty much the best it'll ever get. Fully open source (from hardware to software), easily servicable, runs Linux, has an ARM processor, accelerometer, powerful 3D capabilities, 10-15 hours of battery life, touchscreen, and internal USB ports. And you know what? I didn't even mention the best part: the keyboard of the Touch Book netbook is detachable, leaving you with a 8.9" tablet. And all that for USD 299!
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RE[2]: Compatibility
by vivainio on Tue 3rd Mar 2009 20:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Compatibility"
vivainio
Member since:
2008-12-26

Gentoo does support ARM so one can start with that if one is familiar with compiling stuff by oneself, or one can just wait for some more common distro to pump out ARM compatibility.

Debian already does it, Ubuntu Jaunty will have it. Gentoo seems like a bad idea, compiling is pretty slow on these devices.

It seems time is ripe for arm to enter the "general purpose" market (as opposed to closed gadgets that of course are selling zillions of units).

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: Compatibility
by DigitalAxis on Tue 3rd Mar 2009 21:02 in reply to "RE[2]: Compatibility"
DigitalAxis Member since:
2005-08-28

Actually, Gentoo (or Arch) would probably be pretty good once it was set up and working; I found Gentoo's main strength to be that it was designed to only have what you wanted installed on it; no more and no less. The fewer programs you have running on a computer, the faster it is.

Of course, any system that allows for that level of flexibility would also work well on systems like this. I'd worry more about compile issues in Gentoo's stable tree (or, having to use the ~ARM arch to get reasonably up-to-date software...)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Compatibility
by WereCatf on Tue 3rd Mar 2009 21:05 in reply to "RE[3]: Compatibility"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I am a former Gentoo user myself. I did love the flexibility it offered, but eventually I just grew tired of constantly having to compile stuff and often the builds failing for whatever reason. As such, I'd use Gentoo on one of these low-cost devices only until a suitably stable ARM distro with large repository became available.

Gentoo does have its strengths, but the bad things only get more pronounced the slower the machine is.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[4]: Compatibility
by Laurence on Wed 4th Mar 2009 10:41 in reply to "RE[3]: Compatibility"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Actually, Gentoo (or Arch) would probably be pretty good once it was set up and working;


Sadly Arch is x86 only.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Compatibility
by timl on Tue 3rd Mar 2009 21:51 in reply to "RE[2]: Compatibility"
timl Member since:
2005-12-06


It seems time is ripe for arm to enter the "general purpose" market (as opposed to closed gadgets that of course are selling zillions of units).


Funnily enough, that would be a re-entry to that market. The A in ARM originally stood for Acorn, then a British producer of home-computers which was fairly successfull, especially in the UK. The original ARM processors were designed specifically for their computers.

The last more or less general purpose machines with ARMs in them were (iirc) the Acorn RISC PCs, which ran RISC OS. That one may have come up here on OS News once or twice ;)

I think that several factors contributed to ARM disappearing from the stage for general purpose computers at that time. To name 2 that in my opinion are very important: Microsoft was king at the time, and only x86 was really well supported by them. Secondly, there was a very capital intensive race on to produce the most computing power, at any cost.

This latter point resulted in more and more power hungry CPUs. However, a small chip area and corresponding modest energy consumption had always been strong points of ARM designs. I also doubt ARM would have had the cash to participate in that race (and nowadays AMD is more or less the only competitor of Intel left in the x86 arena, others having gone bankrupt and/or taken over).

Now that in recent years a bit of a ceiling has been reached in terms of raw computing power per core, emphasis is being placed on more, simpler cores on one die, but also on energy efficiency. Of course, the increasing demand for mobile devices and ubiquity of wireless communication helps a lot with that last trend.

So while the big CPU manufacturers first ramped up pure power, and only then got into the habit of conserving energy, ARM remained on the side of the curve that demanded less energy. But still, their CPUs became steadily more powerful, and apparently can now compete on the mobile end of the spectrum for general purpose computers again.

To that you can add the diversifying software ecosystem, which is starting to make people slightly less leary of Anything Not Windows. Also, the emergence of Open Source generally has made software less dependent on one particular platform.

All in all I agree with you that the time is ripe for ARM to re-enter the general purpose market. But (for the time being?) only on the mobile end of the scale.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[4]: Compatibility
by torbenm on Thu 5th Mar 2009 08:38 in reply to "RE[3]: Compatibility"
torbenm Member since:
2007-04-23

[q]
Funnily enough, that would be a re-entry to that market. The A in ARM originally stood for Acorn, then a British producer of home-computers which was fairly successfull, especially in the UK. The original ARM processors were designed specifically for their computers.

The last more or less general purpose machines with ARMs in them were (iirc) the Acorn RISC PCs, which ran RISC OS. That one may have come up here on OS News once or twice ;)


ARM-based machines running RISC OS are still made, and the OS is still developed (albeit slowly). A port to Pandora is apparently underway. Porting RISC OS to the Touchbook would be neat.

I think that several factors contributed to ARM disappearing from the stage for general purpose computers at that time. To name 2 that in my opinion are very important: Microsoft was king at the time, and only x86 was really well supported by them. Secondly, there was a very capital intensive race on to produce the most computing power, at any cost.


ARM started out as being much faster than contemporary x86 processors, and it was only after ARM was spun off from Acorn that this ended. This was because the focus of ARM then became portable devices (starting with Apple's Newton).

All in all I agree with you that the time is ripe for ARM to re-enter the general purpose market. But (for the time being?) only on the mobile end of the scale.


The server market is getting more power conscious, so I also think ARM has a role here in the near future. We have already seen Marvell's Plug Computer, but more will come.

The desktop PC market seem to be mainly driven by either games or office applications. PC games are not likely to be ported to ARM (though they rely more on graphics cards than CPUs), but since Open Office is gaining in the office space, OO on ARM would be a viable option.

But the desktop home computer is more or less dead, except with power gamers.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: Compatibility
by yokem55 on Tue 3rd Mar 2009 22:54 in reply to "RE[2]: Compatibility"
yokem55 Member since:
2005-07-06

Actually compiling wouldn't be too bad so long as you have a cross-compiler set up on a faster x86 machine that the touch-book (or whatever ARM netbook out there) can send compile jobs to via distcc.

Reply Parent Score: 2