Azekeil (azekeil) wrote,
Azekeil
azekeil

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[geek] Full blown linux on a PDA sized computer.

The title says it all, really. I was up until nearly 1am playing with the device and installing new software.

In many ways the N800 is the best of all worlds, in my (probably not very humble) view.

First, you get a device that has all the hardware features you want:
  • 800x480x16bpp touchscreen
  • 330MHz ARM CPU optimised for multimedia (this means you can play fullscreen videos - I've not yet tried it with a DVD-resolution MPEG-2/4 AVI file yet) with 128MB RAM (generally goes further than 128MB on x86 might, depending on applications used) and 256MB built in flash for OS and application storage.
  • 2 SD card slots, one internal that can be used as swap, one external that can be removed while the device is on (SDHC support is not built in but there are already SDHC n800 kernel patches available).
  • stereo speakers, 3.5mm jack out, microphone, built-in webcam (um, 1.x MP medium/low quality), bluetooth, 802.11b/g, usb (not sure if this is just for flash upgrading yet), fm radio.
Second, and best of all, all this is operated by a full blown linux kernel (2.6.18), with GNU tools (admittedly usually the cut down busybox versions initially) based on debian. So you get all the benefits of open source Linux combined with the best (IMO) package management system (apt), with built in support for all the hardware already, and a set user interface developed specifically for the device - these last two points are my two main bugbears with linux on x86 and in general (although it's getting better all the time).

There is a development toolkit too - Free, of course - which allows you to emulate and develop for the platform from any linux system (although debian and ubuntu are recommended).

I installed an ssh daemon, mini webserver.. it already had perl on it (although a cut down version without (m)any modules - yet to be determined how useable it is in its current state).. many community-written/ported bits of software like improved browsers, a GPS/online map mashup, media streaming client (I've yet to install a server somewhere), GUI applets, etc.

I want to get a hard cover for it to protect the screen better, investigate route finding software that has its own maps and buy a foldaway bluetooth keyboard (although the two-level virtual keyboard for pointer and fingers respectively is actually pretty good), and also buy a charging tip converter so I can use any of the new-style nokia chargers with it.

One thing it doesn't have support for out of the box is CIFS(SMB) and NFS. This requires kernel modules that I can compile for it from the development kit. Unless I want to develop a whole new flash for the system (which I can't be arsed to do, plus I'd like to maintain compatibility with vendor-provided flash updates), I'll have to manually load the modules - but I can automate that to happen at startup; then I'll just need to get a decent file manager that will let me browse windows networks and I'll be set :)

The battery ran out at the end of last night after all my fiddling, game playing and updating - so about 6 hours of fairly intensive use.

I've installed and played Bomberman and lxDoom, too. Which was fun. :)
Tags: geek
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