Six New Mobile Devices Running Open Source

Looking for more Linux and open source apps in your life? Then pick up your phone. Check out the newest smartphones and netbooks announced just last week that the discerning penguin will be craving before the year is out.

Last week the Wireless Association’s yearly technology extravaganza, CTIA, took place in Las Vegas where the top gadget manufacturers shared their latest and greatest in mobility wares.

While the recently anointed poster child for open mobile devices, Google Android, was practically nowhere to be found on the show floor, the event did feature wall-to-wall exhibits from over 1200 companies. And, here and there, you could find pockets of either devices running open source apps or Linux environments or vendors courting open souce developers. Let’s look at some of the gadget highlights:

Palm Pre

Palm Pre created a lot of third-party software buzz as well as quite a bit of excitement with their legacy emulator. Some of the software demonstrated included Fandango movie time and ticket app, SprintTV, and Google Maps. Pandora Internet radio application is a boon for any music lover. A quick launcher resides in every Pre screen to bring up the tiny player without interrupting your current task. Another, Nascar, pulls in highlights of the Nascar season such as videos, driver profiles and standings, and more.

Perhaps the most interesting for owners of older Palms running expensive software is the Garnet OS to webOS emulation software. The emulator runs as a separate application and allows drag-and-drop installation/use. Palm considers this a key element in allowing users to easily upgrade to the newer snazzier Pre.

The Palm Pre, announced earlier this year at CES, features a Linux-based webOS, 3.1-inch multitouch screen with 320×480 resolution and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It comes equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 8 gigabytes of storage, and a 3-megapixel camera.

Palm Pre

Wistron Pursebook

Wistron showed off their proof-of-concept Pursebook running the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. This cute little netbook runs a handsomely customized version of Linux from ThunderSoft with software for office tasks, communications, and Web enjoyment.

Yes, that paragraph did just contain the terms “Pursebook,” “Snapdragon,” and “Thundersoft.” You’re welcome.

Observers state the keyboard was of the first-generation instead of the chiclet type keyboard used in some newer netbook models, but overall the device was easy to use. Others stated it has sufficient power, fairly nice graphics, and an 8-hour battery-life. Prices are expected to start at 299 USD and should be available sometime later in the year.

Wistron Pursebook


NVIDIA was on hand to demonstrate their all-in-one Tegra chip for mobile devices. Tegra, an ARM-based component, will be capable of 1080p video output and displays up to 1680 x 1050. It will also be able to support IDE hard disks.

NVIDIA used an HP Mini 1000 case fitted with their computer-on-a-chip system to demonstrate Tegra’s potential. Their prototype ran Windows CE, but NVIDIA has also developed their own interface that has been described as something in between Android and Mac OS X in appearance. Tegra can also support Android and Windows Mobile, and while there was no mention of Linux specifically, a spokesman said that Tegra technology is very flexible and can easily be used with other platforms as well. NVIDIA hopes to bring the new chipset to market sometime this year at a price conducive to $99 devices.


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