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Android Hardware Linux

PengPod Crowdfunding a Tablet Made With OS-Switching In Mind 93

PengPod is running a crowdfunder to create a GNU Linux/Android tablet, the PengPod 1040. This is their second such product; the first was mentioned on Slashdot last year. PengPod has pledged to make all source and tools used to build the images available, so users can build their own OS top to bottom to guarantee that it's free of NSA tracking. The PengPod has previously found some success as a low-cost touch platform for industrial/commercial control systems and is partnered with ViewTouch, the original inventors of the graphical POS to offer PengPod1040s as restaurant register systems. The feature that the developers seem keenest to emphasize is that the PengPod is built to run conventional desktop Linux distros without special hacking required; Android is the default OS, but it's been tested with several others (including Ubuntu Touch) listed on their Indiegogo page.
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PengPod Crowdfunding a Tablet Made With OS-Switching In Mind

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2013 @06:43PM (#45096955)

    The project doesn't make any mention of the NSA. That's timmy inserting irrelevant editorial.

  • by drachensun ( 2766139 ) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @07:25PM (#45097243)
    I'm part of the PengPod project, I thought I should come to Timothy's defense. We throw the no NSA thing around in the marketing because we directly share, or use common open source distributions that share, all the source in the machine. For the bootloader, u-boot, kernel up to the user space. We share all the Apache licensed parts as well. In this way, you can review and audit all the code, unlike with many Android devices where their Android modifications are hidden. Of course, as the above points out we cannot actually audit the entire existing code base. Also we don't have source for the 3D acceleration libraries but they aren't required for any uses. Since we provide all the tools to create your own images, the device can be flashed without those.
  • by viewtouch ( 1479 ) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @08:41PM (#45097695) Homepage Journal

    The normal minimum price for a ViewTouch point of sale system is about $3,000 plus $1,000 a year for unlimited support, training and other services. The offer of ViewTouch on the new PengPod cuts $2,500 from that price and $600 a year for support, training and other services.

  • PengPod Owner (Score:4, Informative)

    by Stardo ( 465325 ) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @08:52PM (#45097733) Homepage

    I own the PengPod 700 and I contributed to this project for the 1040 for an upgrade. Here are some comments I have:

    First, the PengPod 700 is great for what I need it for - which is mainly a mobile tablet that boots Linux for taking notes in Vim. I would do the same with a Rapsberry Pi, some USB display, and a battery, but it is all there in one package with the PengPod 700. It fits just fine in a case with a mobile keyboard. Some downsides to the original design: low processor speed + RAM - starting Firefox takes some time, but it still works. I feel like USB in Linux without autologin is a single point of failure - and it has been reported that the connector does suffer. It also doesn't have access to the backlight PWM/GPIO out of the box - so no brightness control, which directly affects battery life, which isn't that great. For what I use it for (taking notes at meetings or on the go), the issues aren't too bad. At $100ish for a Linux tablet, you can't go wrong if you set your expectations right.

    Now, I want the 1040 because the specs are amazing for that pricepoint, especially with Linux. I would up my usage of it to playing some light games, spreadsheet, general web browsing - it would really be something that I wouldn't feel bad using from the couch or pulling out at a conference. I still would prefer multiple USB ports, but most tablets don't even have one.

    I really wanted an Ubuntu Edge, but didn't really need to replace my current smartphone and honestly I could see myself using the 1040 a lot more. I probably still won't be doing heavy development on it or running WINE (both due to ARM), but I can't really find much that is cheaper from a mobile perspective with the full package running Linux.

  • by drachensun ( 2766139 ) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @11:44PM (#45098445)
    I'll respond to this in two parts, first about the old devices. We sold a lot more than 100 in the 6 months or so they were generally available, so it wasn't 1 order and done. We were told we would have some notice when they were going away so we would have a chance to 'stock up' based on our estimated sales volume. That didn't happen and in fact our last regular order was cancelled and refunded after being delayed several weeks. We had some alternate choices but everyone was switching to a new touch screen control and nand chip but no one had working source for them. We didn't see enough demand to justify reverse engineering the drivers. These things happen at small volume and we no longer using the original supplier.

    Second, about the 1040. We have to order these in larger lots, so the good news is we will generally have a larger supply for fewer surprises. Also at this volume they are being manufactured, PCB and all in custom runs. So as long as the A31 is available, we can have them made, assuming their is demand. A finally because our new supplier actually creates and shares the source improvements needed to run the device, even if small changes come as peripheral chips reach EOL, we will have their source for the new parts directly from our supplier.

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.