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The Love Bug

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GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initiative [May. 10th, 2007|09:47 pm]
The Love Bug
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The GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initiative is working towards the use of GNOME components on mobile and embedded devices. They reckon they'll be in a position to start rolling out a version of the platform by October 2007[1].

I would seriously love to own a mobile device that ran on a GNOME platform! It would make interaction with my laptop so much better!

1 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6634195.stm

[User Picture]From: brainlag
2007-05-10 10:24 pm (UTC)
Eww! X+Gnome is completely unsuited to mobile devices! Symbian's nasty enough, but at least it's been developed from the ground up as an embedded platform

If people bothered to make decent interfaces from scratch or from suitable roots instead of regurgitating existing OSs maybe we'd be seeing useful stuff in mobile apps, like decent battery life and responsiveness.

And heck if they put a Linux kernel under it instead of something stable, it'll be a barrel of laughs. Or kernel panics and reboots half way through a phone call...
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[User Picture]From: thelovebug
2007-05-11 05:43 am (UTC)
Point well taken about re-using OSes for mobile use, I'm going through that at the moment with Windows Mobile. However, it is my belief that the infrastructure that makes up GNU/Linux on larger scale devices is portable and modular enough to cope with being place on mobile and embedded devices without the bloat of taking an existing OS and just stripping it down... like Windows Mobile!

I'm not sure I agree with your comment about the Linux kernel being unstable though... I've been using Linux/X/Gnome for 6 months now (I know that's nothing compared to a lot of people) and the only issues I've encountered have been related to shoddy application programming or me not having the correct packages installed, and not the underlying components.

I'm guessing you would use BSD as a basis for a project such as this?
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[User Picture]From: brainlag
2007-05-11 09:46 am (UTC)
The Linux kernel is HUGE, even with just the bare minimum configured in it., and X11 is an antiquated platform barely suitable for desktops in this day and age. Again, X11 is HUGE!

With embedded devices, you need small. Tiny even. One way of looking at it is that the more code there is, the more battery you need to power the extra RAM/flash, the more battery you need to power the CPU to execute all that code, and of course the slower and less responsive it will be.

Out of all the Open Source platforms, NetBSD is the most suited to running in an embedded environment (heck they even had it running on a toaster 5 or so years ago!) but it doesn't suit devices such as phones where you really need a proper low latency real-time operating system (RTOS) like QNX or Symbian. Linux's real-time adaptation just doesn't cut the mustard when compared to say QNX in the real-world (despite what all the Linux zealots will say). Just look at the iPhone. The Mach kernel and MacOS is great on the desktop but god it makes a terrible os for a phone!

I'm actually working on an embedded project at the moment - a replacement trip computer for my car. I've looked at possibilities such as NetBSD or Linux (you can get embedded microcontrolers actually designed to run Linux!) but power consumption and cost are far too great. I've got an ARM processor on order and I'm writing all the code myself to keep it fast, reliable, cheap and low power

As for Linux reliability, I've been using it for around 10 years now and reliability has gone right downhill over the last 5. I work in an environment with hundreds of Linux maxhines and generally see a couple of paniced boxes a day. Worse yet sometimes Linux doesn't even detect a critical condition within the kernel and can simply freeze making diagnosis near impossible.
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