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KDE Handhelds Linux Technology

Details Emerge About Spark Linux-Based Tablet 188

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
MojoKid writes "There's a new tablet in town called the Spark. The Linux-driven tablet, based on the Zenithink C71 and KDE was unveiled by developer Aaron Seigo recently. The tablet will be available for pre-order this week and will start shipping worldwide in May. In terms of specifications, the 7-inch (800x480) multi-touch slate will run a 1GHz AMLogic ARM processor and Mali-400 GPU, sport 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (with a microSD slot for expandability), 802/11b/g WiFi, a pair of USB ports, a front-facing 1.3MP webcam, and an audio jack. The UI of choice is Plasma Active and there will apparently be a content store where developers can peddle their wares and users can snag software."
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Details Emerge About Spark Linux-Based Tablet

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  • by emurphy42 (631808) on Monday February 06, 2012 @06:31AM (#38940213) Homepage
    From TFA:

    Seigo also noted that the tablet will indeed blend, although that would void the warranty.

    • by symbolset (646467) * on Monday February 06, 2012 @07:20AM (#38940359) Journal
      If somebody comes out with an Android tablet that will blend and not void the warranty, I'm buying it. I have small kids.
    • Have a tablet running Android 2.3 (version 4 isn't available for it yet, still waiting)

      Need to know what's the difference between a tablet running Linux and Android ?

      Will Android apps work in the Linux tablets, and vice versa?

      • by MrHanky (141717) on Monday February 06, 2012 @08:16AM (#38940547) Homepage Journal

        Are you sure that four digit UID really is yours?

      • by chrb (1083577) on Monday February 06, 2012 @08:22AM (#38940575)
        Android and traditional "Linux" are not quite the same thing. Imagine taking a generic Linux distribution like Ubuntu, cutting it to the bare minimum, replacing xorg and the desktop with an app launcher, add a web browser and media player, add a Java runtime environment like the JRE linked to an online app market, and then you have something that resembles Android. Command line Linux apps will run on Android, but you will usually have to recompile them if nobody else has (you can cheat though, and say, run Debian in a chroot). Linux graphical apps (X) will not run on Android (you can hypothetically run them through VNC, but it's not great). Apps written for other graphical backends like OpenGL and SDL should work on Android once you get them to compile. Android apps will not run on Linux because there is no Android runtime environment for Linux. At some point I expect we'll see an open source "Android player", but nobody has done it yet (I recall Canonical working on it at one point, but I haven't heard anything about that for a while).
        • by nadaou (535365)

          > Android apps will not run on Linux because there is no Android
          > runtime environment for Linux.At some point I expect we'll see
          > an open source "Android player", but nobody has done it yet

          seeing how simple it is to set up the Android qemu/kvm based SDK in a virtual machine on Linux, I don't know if that itch is really very scratchy.

          > Command line Linux apps will run on Android, but you will
          > usually have to recompile them if nobody else has (you can
          > cheat though, and say, run Debian in a

          • by jbolden (176878)

            The virtual environment works well for developers. If Android apps become something that people want to use on their desktop then the virtual machine solution doesn't work.

            Apple is confronting this now with a wealth of iOS applications that are very popular and that people would like to run on their macs.

          • by chrb (1083577) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:23AM (#38941353)

            seeing how simple it is to set up the Android qemu/kvm based SDK in a virtual machine on Linux, I don't know if that itch is really very scratchy.

            BlueStacks [bluestacks.com] got over $10m funding, so some people think it's a good idea. It should be really easy to do, too - all the source required is open and already runs on Linux/Android, it just needs porting to Linux/desktop.

            please tell us more about this debian chroot solution.

            http://www.mayrhofer.eu.org/debian-on-android [eu.org] http://www.saurik.com/id/10 [saurik.com]

            • by afidel (530433)
              Is BlueStacks running QEMU or does it only work for the small percentage of apps not using the native SDK?
        • Android apps will not run on Linux because there is no Android runtime environment for Linux.

          Yet. :)

          There's a project called IcedRobot [icedrobot.org] implementing Android compatibility atop the Java SE. Early days but eventually Android applications should run on any platform that runs Java.

          The lead, a Red Hat employee, has some clout in the OpenJDK world but progress is slow given the developers volunteer their time.

      • by Tarlus (1000874)

        I'll do something crazy and be a constructive Slashdotter. Whether or not parent is trolling, at least other readers can glean some information. Hopefully I'm not completely full of shit...

        "Android" is just the name of an operating system that employs the Linux kernel, the same as "Ubuntu" or "Slackware." Also like Ubuntu, it is financially supported and actively developed by a parent company. It is unique in its ground-up adaptation and optimization for battery-powered mobile architectures, as well as its

      • by unixisc (2429386)
        The question I have is - does Plasma Active ride on Linux/BSD + X/Wayland? Or does it just run on Linux/BSD? Very specifically, does it run on just the Linux/BSD kernel, but avoid the userland altogether? It would seem to me that on top of the kernel, having QT and Plasma Active would be adequate.
  • '....... where users can SNAG software ......' really. this wordage makes it sound as if the store will operate as charity and not with profit oriented sales. makes it sound as if we arent going to pay anything.

    'oh, we can just SNAG software eh ?' ..........

    why not directly use 'buy'.

    • He probably meant "snarf", but "buy" does explain it better.
    • I would know. In this case "snag" means to acquire through purchase or through gift - to achieve ownership without theft.
    • "Snag" is merely slang for "get", "obtain", "acquire", "take", etc. I agree it doesn't sound very professional, but it in no way implies stealing AFAIK.

      E.g. (from my misspent youth ca. 1980) Dude, I've got major cottonmouth--let's roll by Mickey-Dee's and snag a milkshake.

      No connotation of stealing. Perhaps you're thinking of "boost"?

      • "No connotation of stealing. Perhaps you're thinking of "boost"?"

        Nope. Boost [boost.org] is free! No need to steal it.

      • by Skapare (16644)

        "Snag" also means you're stuck with it until you make a significant effort to get rid of it. Other possible words include "Snarf" (get it quickly) and "Snatch" (get it with the impression you are stealing it or getting it for your girlfriend). But I do like "boost" in this case.

    • by shiftless (410350)

      really. this wordage makes it sound as if the store will operate as charity and not with profit oriented sales.

      Exactly. It's a psychological trick which is a standard piece of the Marketing tool bag.

    • The price of the tablet itself is what holds me back. $265 USD seems pricey with a 1 ghz CPU, only 500 meg of ram, and only 4 Gb of internal storage and no keyboard. That's ten bucks more than an Acer Aspire One that has almost twice the CPU speed, twice the memory, and sixty two times the drive space. Oh, and the Acer has one more USB port, a network port, a monitor port, and not only audio output like the tablet but input as well. What makes the touchscreen so damned expensive? This thing should be at lea

  • And I thought Unity was the way to go for tablets... I don't know what to think anymore ;-)

    • by Skapare (16644)

      It's Linux. Exercise your OS-bildskilz (or just wait for others to do it for you and steal theirs). Just replace what bits you don't want with what you do want. I might get one of these and put Armed-Slack on it with Xfce. Or I might not just to tick you off.

  • Rise of Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Monday February 06, 2012 @06:42AM (#38940239) Journal

    I am interested in this tablet, not because it is best / most up to date, but it pushes Linux. What I mean is, it's not relying on a locked down version that the likes of Google pretend is Linux. It's not just a question of free as in no cost OS, but freedom to do what you like... which is not the same as installing re-engineered OS versions but might brick your device as that's how the hardware was designed.

    To that end, I'd love to see a 100% Linux phone, nothing relying on Google with it's bits locked down or tracking

    • Re:Rise of Linux (Score:5, Informative)

      by loufoque (1400831) on Monday February 06, 2012 @06:53AM (#38940257)

      Try the Linux phones Nokia made before being bought by Microsoft.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Those phones dont have a future, so by buying them you only subsidize Nokias future Windows phones. You need to put your money somwhere where it benefits the Linux ecosystem in the long run.

        • Re:Rise of Linux (Score:5, Informative)

          by MrHanky (141717) on Monday February 06, 2012 @08:23AM (#38940577) Homepage Journal

          Untrue. Nokia still develops Qt for use with future phones, both Symbian (which is being phased out in a few years) and cheaper 'feature phones' targetting what Nokia calls 'the next billion' internet users. Nokia has stated the Swipe UI of the N9 is going to live on, and obviously not in Windows phones.

    • Nokia N9 (Score:4, Informative)

      by srussia (884021) on Monday February 06, 2012 @06:56AM (#38940267)

      To that end, I'd love to see a 100% Linux phone, nothing relying on Google with it's bits locked down or tracking

      MeeGo Harmattan close enough for you?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm glad someone mentioned Nokia N9 here. In fact, as soon as I can afford to spend the money, I will buy one. I hope to accomplish two things with this purchase:

        • - I will own a phone with a free/open and modern OS (or at least less controlled then the competition)
        • - I will contribute a tiny little bit to changing Nokia's mind about abandoning Meego
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      try openmoko.

      or if you want something actually useful - which has other users as well - buy a N9.

      tizens philosophy of webapps hints at aims for manufacturers to ship pretty tightly locked versions of it, so you might just as well get a N9 now and enjoy it.

      • by Microlith (54737)

        Tizen is not exclusively web apps. EFL is available for native development, so there's no reason to believe it will be impossible to do more. At this point it's just a wait and see.

    • When I first heard about this tablet I was a bit disappointed especially with the price being so much more than the android version.

      I am getting a bit more interested mainly because Linux has pretty good support for usb peripherals, where android is pretty much mass storage and hid devices only. Cups should be available which will mean you can print without going through Google.

      Ok the chrome browser has a server component which lets you share your printer so for example I could take a photo on my android ph

      • by chrb (1083577)
        The price does sound a little high, but (assuming the Spark is completely open source) it will hopefully open up a whole new market of cheap clone devices.

        the tablet (about $265 USD) will be available for pre-order this week and will start shipping worldwide in May. In terms of specifications, the 7-inch (800x480) multi-touch tablet will run a 1GHz AMLogic ARM processor and Mali-400 GPU and sport 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (with a microSD slot for expandability), 802/11b/g WiFi, a pair of USB ports, a front-facing 1.3MP webcam, and an audio jack.

        The Ainol Novo 7 Paladin has similar hardware specs and been spotted as low as $80, it would be a good candidate for a Linux/Plasma port:

        Ingenic JZ4770 Xburst, 1GHz; Vivante GC860 GPU, 8GB Flash, 512MB RAM, Screen Size 7 inch 800X480 supports 1080P HD Video

        • You can buy the exact same tablet today - it's just a rebadged Zenithink C71 - for $120 to $130. In other words, it's a real piece of crap, totally obsolete, and will never see the light of day, because as word gets out that , people will drop it like a hot potato. [youtube.com]

          Go to 2:06 of the video and try to make yourself believe that's a 7" diagonal screen. Steve Jobs and his RDF might have been able to make you a believer, but this guy is no Steve Jobs.

          Also notice how the buttons on the top bar are so small t

          • Indeed, I just purchased one cheap Android tablet for 80â and the specs are only marginally inferior. (less CPU and half RAM, same resistive type of screen). I didn't realize how limited the Spark is until I had a similar tablet in hand. It's a failure waiting to happen. (if not a failure already) ...I mean, totally not buying this for $250+. ~$100 would be a more realistic price. Just the resistive screen is enough of a turnoff, and to make things worse you can find decent Android tablets with good to

    • I'm tempted to twist a line from "Finding Nemo" here: Just keep waiting, just keep waiting...

      I've got a lot of wants too on my list. But until they let me back into the labs where we invent this shit I gotta take what's on the retail counter.

    • by chrb (1083577)

      The Nexus phones aren't locked down. The source is available for the kernel and libraries etc. the only thing you don't get the source for is the Google apps. There are replacements for some e.g. Opera for web browser, various email clients. I don't think there's a replacement for YouTube yet though, though mplayer has been ported now, so it shouldn't be long before we see packaged mplayer frontend apps appearing.

      If you're talking about the architecture as a whole, it sometimes does "feel" less accessible

    • by DrXym (126579)
      "100% Linux" is a meaningless term. Perhaps you mean 100% LGPL/GPL. I'm not sure how such a device would be guaranteed to be free of a backend like Google or tracking.

      Also, you can fetch and build Android yourself. Nothing to stop you forking it and stripping out anything you disagree with. A vanilla Android doesn't include any of the "premium" Google apps anyway so the tracking is minimal unless you count the default homepage of the browser and a few other vestigial traces. It would be easy enough to for

    • Sharp Netwalker ran Ubuntu: http://www.sharp.co.jp/netwalker/pct1/ [sharp.co.jp]
      It's also got basicaly the exact same specs as this but in a smaller form factor and comes with standard Gnome 2

    • by Skapare (16644)

      We don't need hardware that pushes Linux. We just need open documented hardware that doesn't impede end users from installing whatever they want on their own hardware. The penguin will come, followed by a red demon.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I'd love to have one because it's Linux, but especially because it's not tied to a phone company. But there are a couple of things that keep me from buying it.

      1. It's way overpriced (I discussed this at length in another comment)

      2. Seven inch screen? Way too small. Make it ten inches, about the size of a hardcover book. A friend brought his iPad 4 to the bar the other day, that thing's about the ideal size. My notebook has a ten inch screen, and it's about right for me. I don't see the sense of lugging arou

  • Multi-touch? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder what framework it will use for multi-touch and how well the installed applications are optimized for touch input. Actually, (formerly) Nokia's QT was starting to get good touch support, might be a reason why they went with KDE?

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      Does X11 even have multi-touch support?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah it does. Since like 2008?

      • by DrXym (126579)
        QT doesn't need to run on X11 thankfully. So it's more a question of whether QT supports multitouch. X11 is such a dinosaur laden down with stuff that most desktops work around or abstract away (e.g. with QT/GTK, Cairo, Freetype etc.) that even desktop distributions are looking forward to the day it can be dumped.
        • by Microlith (54737)

          It doesn't, but running a Qt exclusive framebuffer will break compatibility with other toolkits.

          We're stuck with X11 until Wayland gets off the ground.

  • Preorder... (Score:5, Informative)

    by psergiu (67614) on Monday February 06, 2012 @06:53AM (#38940259)

    This "preorder" business sounds fishy.

    Anyone remembers the "CherryPal Africa" $99 laptops ? I preordered two. And almost 3 months after the date they were supposed to be shipping i got the money back by filling a complaint with my bank. Some of the people who preordered used Western Union or simmilar money transfer services and they never got their money back OR the laptop.

    Be carefull if preordering vapourware from unknown companies.

    • Re:Preorder... (Score:5, Informative)

      by MtHuurne (602934) on Monday February 06, 2012 @10:30AM (#38941423) Homepage

      There is always some risk in preorders, but I think this one is relatively safe:

      • Aaron Seigo is a long time high profile KDE developer and he was president of their foundation for two years.
      • The hardware already exists: they're re-using an Android tablet.
      • The software already exists: you can already download images of Mer with Plasma Active. It's a work in progress, but it's not vapourware.
  • by mrt_2394871 (1174545) on Monday February 06, 2012 @06:56AM (#38940275)
    even for someone who wants a full Linux stack, is: 'Can I play Angry Birds on it?'
  • by axedog (991609) on Monday February 06, 2012 @06:58AM (#38940281)
    2012 - year of the linux tablet!
  • Where the Tablet edition of KDE does not pop up the keyboard for Chrome or Firefox text input boxes?

  • They're doomed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TuringTest (533084) on Monday February 06, 2012 @07:16AM (#38940351) Journal

    "The vision of Plasma Active is to create an innovative and fresh data-centric UI which is not concerned with applications but rather offers a user oriented interface with logically combined items through activities, which reflect the workflow and usage of the device by the user".

    Didn't understand a word? Me neither. And this is from a commercial company [basyskom.com] trying to sell the thing. No more luck with the promotional video [basyskom.com], which only shows some loading times for some unexplained tasks for which the benefit is not clear.

    Until they hire some marketing people able to explain why consumers should buy the thing, and some UX people making the users feel at home when using it, nobody -not even geeks- will want to buy one.

    • "The vision of Plasma Active is to create an innovative and fresh data-centric UI which is not concerned with applications but rather offers a user oriented interface with logically combined items through activities, which reflect the workflow and usage of the device by the user".

      Didn't understand a word?

      Oh, I understood it perfectly. Allow me to interpret: We've not got a single blessed clue about this Plasma doohickus--hell, we've not even seen the thing--and the hardware has no standout features, which is why we're not actually telling you about them. And we're just generally full of crap, in any case.

      Google Translate really needs to add Marketing BS to their supported languages. :)

    • by shiftless (410350)

      Until they hire some marketing people able to explain why consumers should buy the thing, and some UX people making the users feel at home when using it, nobody -not even geeks- will want to buy one.

      You're right that he needs to hire a good marketing person, but the device does have value as it stands. I'd love to have one for personal use. It's Linux based; I don't care about the interface, that can be changed.

      I can definitely see where some businesses might like to purchase something like this for use in

      • You're right that he needs to hire a good marketing person, but the device does have value as it stands. I'd love to have one for personal use. It's Linux based; I don't care about the interface, that can be changed.

        When people in the target audience are already considering a change in the interface, which is the single major sale point, I am reassured: this is doomed!

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday February 06, 2012 @08:01AM (#38940487) Homepage

    I hate to sound like someone else when I say "developers, developers, developers" but if this thing shipped with Angry Birds on it, people would buy it and keep using it. Combine that with some really good navigation, and that would keep people from playing with it and dropping it in a drawer later.

  • Can it run Flash in a browser?

  • ...but does it run Gentoo?
  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday February 06, 2012 @01:12PM (#38943385) Homepage Journal

    I've tried to run recent versions of Linux on comparably powered and configured Intel hardware.

    The experience SUCKS. You can't play video without it going choppy (especially not full-screen Flash videos or YouTube content.) The UI takes a quarter to half second to respond if you've got anything USEFUL running on the system. You can hear the hard drive grinding away as the system swaps and thrashes trying to do anything with a mere 512MB of RAM to play with.

    Piece of crap, in my books, and late to market. You can already buy more powerful tablets that have better brand recognition and market share.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Piece of crap, in my books, and late to market. You can already buy more powerful tablets that have better brand recognition and market share.

      But can I get one with the software I want on it? No. They all run Android or iOS. And more than a few of them come locked down from the start.

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