Linux Gadgets

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Linux gadgets. What’s not to like? vanRijn likes the Palm Pre, or would like it if it was available already. Like him, I spent a long time on Palm Pilot syncing and the enthusiasm for the whole platform just petered out. Handheld device syncing never really took off like one might hope it would, even with OpenSync and other bits and pieces. Perhaps the Pre will turn things around for Palm, and I hope at the same time that they put a little more support into Linux (or Free Software Desktop) syncing this time around.

Me, I think my main desktop sync desire right now is my Nokia 6300 phone. Or it would be, if I cared about syncing my phone book with the desktop at all anymore.

I spotted another searching-for-Linux-gadgets kind of post; is it really so hard to find neat gadgets running a Free Software operating system now? I’ve got three on my desk right now I could enthuse about (a Conceptronic NAS, a Freecom MusicPal and a modded Linksys 54GL) but, truth be told, none of those three are the kind of shiny gadget you’d use in a business setting. They’re boxy and utilitarian even when they’re shiny (this picture has a nice collection of devices, not all of which are Linuxy).

What does make my heart beat faster (and then my brain kicks in, saying that I don’t have time to look in another direction at all) is something like this ARM board. As far as the BeagleBoard goes, I have the baseball cap but no hardware. There are a dozen cool things you could do with these, but after that putting it into a shiny box for consumer use is a big step. Marvell’s SheevaPlug has made the step to stodgy white plastic (but then again, it’s supposed to be a wall wart).

Finally, Aaron writes about gadget integration with the desktop. The relevant part is a bit hidden, so I’ll quote it here:

The project is building a proof of concept device using an Arduino processor with a Bluetooth board attached. When you approach with a Plasma device (well, pending Rob’s GSoC project on Remote Plasmoids) we’ll see that there’s something available via Bluetooth. Plasma will poke the device such that it spits out a Javascript Plasmoid that will then appear ready for action. Walk away and the Bluetooth connection goes away and so does the widget.

It’s not that far from carrying your applications in your pocket and BT’ing them onto the desktop. You can almost see a set of Lego blocks like that carrying around your personal computing environment. It reminds me of a device I saw a few years back which had a full Linux system on a USB stick which would export a display via VNC, so you could plug it in, VNC to the stick and continue working there. I wonder what became of that? In any case, I think there’s enough niftiness out there, just waiting for use.

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