Not logged in
Log in now
Create an account
Subscribe to LWN
LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 23, 2013
An "enum" for Python 3
An unexpected perf feature
LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 16, 2013
A look at the PyPy 2.0 release
MeeGo becomes Tizen - maybe
Posted Oct 6, 2011 3:27 UTC (Thu) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
If I were an engineer trying to build an embedded system around an Intel Atom, I would either go with Linux from scratch, or start from a well-known and well-understood distribution like Debian or Red Hat. I wouldn't bother to train everyone on the team on something completely new, which does pretty much the same thing as the old software did.
If the point is to sell into the phone and tablet space, then I don't see how Tizen can compete with Android and the other contenders. I'm curious if anyone has a different point of view, but from where I stand, I can't possibly see how they could succeed. It kind of pains me to say this because I know there are a lot of good engineers on the project, but that is how it looks to me right now.
Posted Oct 6, 2011 16:19 UTC (Thu) by ay (guest, #79347)
Meanwhile in MeeGo land they're trying to create an embedded distribution with the software stacks needed to do devices (ex: BT as a device, SoC support, touch screens, etc). This isn't supported well in "desktop Linux" anyway, they're competing with WinCE variants and Android and the like. The Linux distribution companies are no use here (especially not Canonical), this is work that consulting companies or device makers typically do. They were (are?) targeting POS, in-vehicle, and mobile devices.
In the end this absolutely can be done, I've seen companies do it successfully internally (at least for their own families of devices), it's just that no one has produced a quality usable and well-accepted "industry standard" stack that easily competes with Android, CE, etc. yet and Intel and friends seem to schizophrenic to pull it off.
Posted Oct 6, 2011 21:46 UTC (Thu) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
But I absolutely don't buy the idea that Debian or Red Hat is not a reasonable starting point for an embedded distribution. I guess part of the reason I feel that way is because in the past, I've worked at two different companies that have done exactly that. One company used Red Hat 9 as the starting point for their embedded distro; the other used Debian.
It would be nice to see touch-screen support and bluetooth-as-a-device support in mainline Linux, but that hardly justifies a completely new distribution. I guess getting X to work with touch screens was always going to be fugly, but Tizen uses X anyway, so they have to solve that problem anyway.
Posted Oct 7, 2011 17:28 UTC (Fri) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639)
The issue is planning, development and execution for your product lifecycle.
Just picking up an existing mature distribution release and forking components at need in your own little sandbox does not necessarily give you the end product you want, nor a sustainable long term path for your software development that suits your customer needs. Because while you were sitting there in your little bubble focusing on the needs of your embedded device for the 6-months, 1-year, 2-year it took you to get from prototype to production, the entire software stack that you initially leveraged as drastically changed and your modifications don't necessarily apply cleanly any more.
What now? Has your business model planned correctly for the cost of ongoing distribution maintenance needs like security patching beyond that initial development requirement needed to fork the mature distro?
Instead of of just basing your custom embedded work on a mature stack, how do you drive your custom work into the development of the mature stack to be a part of the ongoing maintenance of that stack and still move at the pace your business model requires?
That's the question that has really yet to be answered in the linux distribution world and that is exactly why we are seeing hardware oriented people trying to maintain weirdly constructed derivative forks of more mature distributions.
The general purpose community linux distribution model does not know how to interface with the business needs of hardware production lifecycles for device manufacturers and the device manufacturers are loath to have frank and open discussion about the problem as that discussion is tied up with business interest and what it would take to make something like Debian a better fit for their needs. It is a very difficult conversation to even start.
And to fill the gap what we are seeing are industry initiatives where peer "businesses" try to get together and align their needs and collaborate in new project structures that are perhaps vendor nuetral (for participating vendors). It's not clear how well this works in practic or what the best practices really are here. The Linux Foundation working groups are examples of this. So is Linaro, which by all accounts seems to functioning better with regard to moving ARM hardware enablement forward (primarily funded to a large extend by the ARM chip manufacturers themselves in a consortium basis I believe.)
Posted Oct 8, 2011 17:30 UTC (Sat) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
Posted Oct 12, 2011 14:23 UTC (Wed) by davidarusling (subscriber, #80637)
Posted Oct 7, 2011 17:03 UTC (Fri) by kiko (subscriber, #69905)
"Something very special" might include a unique way of setting goals and measuring results, or maybe setting up a joint office and relocating everybody, or coming up with a new, groundbreaking continuous integration system, or hiring the most stellar open source team in existence and giving them good leadership. Probably all of the above and more.
It just seems that the decision-makers at the companies involved didn't really want to try something different.
Posted Oct 12, 2011 5:29 UTC (Wed) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
It sounds to me like what happened here was just scope creep and its close cousins, wheel reinvention and empire building. This is similar to the One Laptop per Child project, where all they had to really do was do board bring-up on an ARM, and then spend some time polishing it to give a good user experience. But that wasn't sexy enough, so they decided it would be more fun to rewrite the whole stack, including the entire window manager, all of the applications, and large parts of the system daemons. Of course, with all this wheel reinvention going on, there was no time to polish anything, and the system shipped with a lot of known bugs and limitations. Later some hobbyists unlocked the hardware and put Ubuntu on it one weekend, resulting in a laptop that was much, much more functional.
Posted Oct 12, 2011 17:18 UTC (Wed) by vonbrand (subscriber, #4458)
Much, much more fuctional for whom?
Posted Oct 12, 2011 23:44 UTC (Wed) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
the software shipped with the OLPC was so limited and buggy that it didn't work very well for anyone, including children.
Posted Oct 13, 2011 22:12 UTC (Thu) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
Posted Oct 13, 2011 23:25 UTC (Thu) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
they allowed Microsoft to pay them to make windows able to run on the laptop (and the same work helped make it easier to run a standard linux distro on the laptop), but that is not nearly the same thing.
Posted Oct 15, 2011 20:02 UTC (Sat) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
I just think it's sad that OLPC didn't really take advantage of one of the main strengths of open source software-- the ability to build off of an existing codebase. Also, some of the comments Negroponte made about "open source fundamentalism" rubbed me the wrong way.
Posted Oct 15, 2011 21:29 UTC (Sat) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
I am also very disappointed with what OLPC did in terms of 'not invented here' and their choice of software to ship, but there's enough misinformation floating around about them having switched to windows that I make it a point to correct that when I see it posted in new comments
Posted Oct 16, 2011 7:54 UTC (Sun) by anselm (subscriber, #2796)
They did for the most part build on an existing code base Linux. The new UI on top was one of the more interesting research aspects of the project. The OLPC project tried to produce a system that would be useful to school kids, who would likely have been as unhappy with the then-current incarnations of GNOME or KDE as they would have been with Windows.
Copyright © 2013, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds