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Linux Business Handhelds Intel Hardware

Intel's Linux-Powered Mobile Internet Device 87

An anonymous reader writes "Intel is set to launch an ultra-mobile PC dubbed Mobile Internet Device or MID which will run on Linux. The PDA-sized devices will target 'consumers and prosumers' instead of mobile professionals. From the story: 'MID tablets will run a simplified finger-friendly user interface optimized for the small screens, based on the Gnome desktop but with an Intel-developed master user interface layer to serve as an equivalent to the desktop. Developers will next month see the first MID-specific OS -- a tweak of China's RedFlag Linux known as RedFlag MIDINUX -- while the IDF schedule itself includes a stream of ultra mobile sessions including one on Designing for Linux-based mobile Internet devices.'"
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Intel's Linux-Powered Mobile Internet Device

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  • Linux? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:47AM (#18765889) Homepage Journal
    Linux powered? What happenned to Microsoft's origami [].

    HAHAHAHAHA! I guess intel saw how craptacular MS's other embedded devices were (think mobile phones) and decided to go their own way....

    Oh - and what you all came to the comments to get (wtf link to a zdnet blog anyway?) a link to a gallery of pics []. It looks surprisingly nice.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What happenned to Microsoft's origami.

      Origami was an interesting idea that was waaaaay too expensive.

      Look at Nokia's N800 [] for an Origami-like device at a much better price point. Fewer features, better price and it looks like it's selling ok.

      If Intel can come out with their "Mobile Internet Device" for around $400 or less, they might have something.
    • I guess hell has frozen over. Mao is ice-skating.
  • VoIP Phone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:51AM (#18765919) Homepage Journal
    If it doesn't have the horsepower, bandwidth, battery life and mic/speaker (Bluetooth) to function as a VoIP terminal, then no one will want to learn any new skills to use it, or carry around something that smartphones already beat. But if it does, then the entry of Intel into both the PDA and Linux markets, even just as a reference platform, will be very welcome. Even if it just gives Intel the feedback it needs to better tailor components for other vendors into those markets.
    • Sure, to be a success in the market it needs some of the stuff you write about.

      But success or not if it looks like the picture I'll buy several. Especially if it can command USB peripherals.

      • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:29AM (#18767127) Homepage Journal
        It's true: having a USB master in a small, mobile device running Linux is valuable. Even Treos are themselves USB slaves, so they can't use USB peripherals. I looked for years for a USB hub with a master controller, which never arrived. If I want my Pilot to use a cheap USB webcam, I'm SOL. But one of these could do the trick. If only it would cost $100 - maybe in 5 years this original model will.
        • by zerkon ( 838861 )
          Nokia 770 can be placed into USB host mode if you know how, but it costs a bit more than $100 :-) maybe now that the 880s or whatever they're calling it are out the price will come down a little
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 )
      It all depends on price.

      A product's potential to become revolutionary, evolutionary or extinct cannot be separated from its price.

      The Newton, while arguably too big, was certainly too expensive to take the world by storm. The Palm was much less ambitious but priced right. Two way pagers were popular for a long time because their cheapness relative to mobile phones created an application niche for them. Now that the scale of mobile phone adoption has tilted the table in that direction, people are more lik
      • by amper ( 33785 ) *
        or because BlueTooth is so squirrely for ordinary people to deal with

        I don't know about you, but my experience with Bluetooth is that is squirrely for *anyone* do deal with. I've got a Samsung SPH-m610, a MacBook, and a Nokia 770, and Bluetooth is pathetic on all three of these units. I've even tried the MacBook with both Mac OS X and Windows, and it makes little difference. Bluetooth, in my experience, has been craptacular.

        Every time I try to pair from the MacBook to the phone under Mac OS X, it crashes th
        • by amper ( 33785 ) *
          I forgot to mention that I also have a Samsung WEP200 headset. The headset is the only device I have that seems to work correctly. It pairs with the phone and my MacBook with no problems, and the pairing is retained through power cycles.
    • >If it doesn't have the horsepower

      TFA says it's going to have dual core CPUs at 600-800 MHz. Sounds good enough to me, and with modern processes those CPUs should use very little power.
  • by pzs ( 857406 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:54AM (#18765935)
    What about those psycho people who spend all their lives getting Linux installed on their XBox/router/phone/wrist-watch? It's bit dull if it already runs Linux.

    Maybe they'll try and install Windows on it instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    anyone who's just as tired as I am of "words" like 'prosumer', please tag this article marketingspeech.
  • by Jaffa ( 7714 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:56AM (#18765953) Homepage
    It's also using the Hildon GTK+-based libraries for a user interface which form the most user-visible part of Maemo [] - the Linux base which Nokia is using in their 770 and N800 Internet Tablets. Those have the advantage of using ARM processors, rather than chunky x86 ones meaning standby/resume is not something you need as the power consumption is that much lower. Interesting times.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tincho_uy ( 566438 )
      Yes, but the Nokia tablets don't offer HSDPA, or any other GSM conectivity option, for that matter. It'll be interesting to see what one can do with this little device...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Torbjörn ( 1956 )
        Why would you want built in GSM/HSPDA?

        Presumably you will have your cellphone with you anyway and its connection can be used via bluetooth.

        Some advantages of not having a HSPDA radio in the tablet:
        * The cellphone allready have the account for the connection so you will not need another for the tablet.
        * Battery life of the tablet will not be drained by the connection.
        * Cost and size can be kept down
        * The tablet does not need to be as extensively certified as a GSM/HSPDA phone.

        The only downside is that Blueto
        • by fm6 ( 162816 )
          All very logical. And I personally have always disliked the idea of making the cell phone into a universal information appliance. But the sad fact is that few consumers (and prosumers? do prosuming prosumers boost the epromany?) will consider putting a second electronic widget in their pocket. I myself have 3 (PDA, phone, MP3 player; and I'm thinking of getting a separate mini-digicam, 'cause the phone cams suck), but people like me are not a target demo for anything.
          • by Torbjörn ( 1956 )
            Normally I would agree with you.
            I'm all for combining as much as possible into the phone.

            But in this case we are talking about something that by necessity is too large for carrying arround every day in your pocket. What makes these things better than a smartphone is the big screen and until someone actually makes the rollable screens we have been tempted with by scifi movies for decades now, the device can't be smaller than the screen.

            I look forward to the day when I can combine that feature in the phone to
  • Interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:56AM (#18765959)
    I wonder how locked-down the device will be? Since it's using Linux, I hope they'd be smart enough to only lock it down enough that the non-tech consumers don't hurt themselves. I'd love to have a version of Ubuntu on it, instead of the Midinux that they've developed.

    Truly, though, as long as I can write my own programs for it, I'd run whatever linux variant that I had to.

    A 6" screen and dual-core 800Mhz? Very nice.

    The bad part? "next year's release of the products." NOW. WANT NOW.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by chrism238 ( 657741 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @09:24AM (#18766197)
      Ubuntu for you - why? Wy would you prefer a Linux distribution currently targetted for desktop and laptop machines over one specifically targetted for the small form-factor and low-power consumption marketplace? Some biases, or comfort zones, need to be overcome when changing technologies.
    • Some how I think its fairly unlikely that this is a vanilla PC platform running a standard set of hardware for which Ubuntu has all of the device drivers available. The finger interface for instance is liable to be fairly specific.

      This truly is the proof however that the Slashdot crowd will never be truly happy. No more is it "I'll just rip OSX/Windows/etc and replace it with Linux"... no the Slashdot folks aren't even happy when it is ALREADY RUNNING LINUX, they want their own favourite distro. I can al
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Aladrin ( 926209 )
        Um, yeah, actually, I -would- want to make sure the latest Ubuntu would run. Imagine that.

        And why would it not have the drivers? If Midinux has the drivers, there's nothing stopping Ubuntu/Gentoo/DSL/etc from having them also.

        Truth be told, it's not Ubuntu that I want, but Kubuntu. I like a lot of the stuff that KDE has like KIO slaves, and I like the attitude of the Ubuntu distro people. They have a tendency to run their distro like I'd want if I were there, and I tend to stick to it.

        It's not 'the Slas
      • by cp.tar ( 871488 )

        No more is it "I'll just rip OSX/Windows/etc and replace it with Linux"... no the Slashdot folks aren't even happy when it is ALREADY RUNNING LINUX, they want their own favourite distro.

        And what's wrong with that?

        The mere possibility of changing the distro for whichever reason is one of the points of the whole thing.

        Linux users often are tinkerers... at least the /. crowd. And we don't like things that are locked down.

        And don't worry: even if it ran my favourite distro (i.e. Gentoo), I'd still want to t

  • is this Maemo? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OlivierB ( 709839 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:58AM (#18765973)
    All these screenshots look strikenly similar to those from the Nokia N800 built with the Maemo platform.
    I hope maemo catches up and that they get some more developpers working on that framewaork
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:58AM (#18765977) Homepage
    This thing seems to be simply an intel iteration of the 770. I love mine and with the right apps is very finger navigable.

    If they hit the $199 pricepoint they will be a success. If they aim for the current pricing of the new N800 they will lose big time.

    • by ceeam ( 39911 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @09:26AM (#18766225)
      $199 would definitely be nice but MP3 players are more expensive than that. And this thing is so much more than an MP3 player. I doubt anything below $350-400. But yes, I agree - full-blown but inexpensive PDAs are way overdue (and these things are basically PDAs, of course).
      • ... and these things are basically PDAs...

        I'm not so sure I agree. Look at how the Nokia N800 is being marketed. It's being marketed as a portable internet device.

        That said, there are developers out there putting out things like GPE for PIM functionality, which is good. It's nice to see developers write software otherwise not found, but I would look at it more as something made for a primary purpose, much like the Archos PMPs... there are other apps you can load on the devices, but their primary u

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
      As I have previously paid $400 for a PDA that has a 3.8" screen and not nearly as much hardware behind it, I don't have any problem spending $400 for this device... Or even $600 or $800, if it's amazing enough.

      I'd been considering the ModBook (Apple-based, third party tablet pc) at $2800, but I just don't have enough use for it. This would do most of what I'd want the ModBook to do, and at quite a lot lower price.

      Nokia's stuff is interesting, but at only 320Mhz, it doesn't do what I want and isn't enough
  • by zanderredux ( 564003 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @08:59AM (#18765981)
    "finger-friendly"... heheheh... uh.. heheheheheheheh!
  • So, it seems to be competing in the iPhone space. Except it isn't a phone. And in the "entertainment" category, it can't connect to the most popular music site. It's got "web-based office applications", but consumers don't care about that. Which consumer is supposed to want this device?
    • I've been looking for something of this nature for wardriving. I can't tell just from the article whether or not it has everything I want, or if the price is low enough, but I think it's worth looking at.
    • So, it seems to be competing in the iPhone space. Except it isn't a phone. And in the "entertainment" category, it can't connect to the most popular music site. It's got "web-based office applications", but consumers don't care about that. Which consumer is supposed to want this device?

      Someone like me, who finds a laptop too cumbersome to carry around on a regular basis and wants available wireless internet access where available. If a device can mix together multimedia/internet capabilities that takes c

    • >So, it seems to be competing in the iPhone space. Except it isn't a phone.

      How hard will it be for Intel to integrate a GSM or WiMax transceiver and an antenna, assuming it has a speaker and microphone already?
      Maybe it's a good idea to demonstrate usability as a PDA first and put in the phone later. The other way around often hasn't worked well.
  • Alternative (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ilovegeorgebush ( 923173 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @09:13AM (#18766109) Homepage
    Personally, I will be purchasing the Neo-1973 [] mobile device that is currently in development. It will be built on the new OpenMoko [] open-source platform and is scheduled to hit the market in September this year.
    • I really like the look of the Neo 1973, but the fact it doesn't have Wifi is a dealbreaker for me, and i'd guess for a lot of the enthusiast market they are after.
  • My Son has a PSP and it is really nice. But I would not dream of buying one for myself due to its closed nature. But a Linux device to carry around, to avoid lugging the laptop is a great concept. Playing games, reading books, and viewing media. Reading cooking recipes in the kitchen etc. There are so many uses for a device like that.

    I want one ... if the price is right.
  • But what is a Prosumer?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @09:41AM (#18766395)
      But what is a Prosumer?

      What you get when you cross a consumer with a prositute.

      You see prosumer is the code word for consumers who're are whores for new & expensive products. It's a polite way of saying 'stupid early adopter'.
    • by ribuck ( 943217 )
      A prosumer is someone prepared to pay big money for well-specified equipment. A prosumer camera, for example, will have more pixels and more features but will also cost disproportionately more.
    • think a Professional with out a job or a Consumer that could be a Professional (marketings worst nightmare)
  • Here is my list of features:

    • SSL-capable IMAP and SMTP client;
    • SSH-client

    Ability to play audio and video is optional — as is the ability to make phone calls. If they figure out, how to make reasonably fast IP-over-cellular, I'll buy it — and for a good price (not that of a phone/player, but for that of a laptop)...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by iperkins ( 974060 )
      A port of rdesktop or some flavor of VNC would be incredibly useful as well. SSH is a must.
    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      You want to use this thing to access a command line???!!! Boy, are you not in their target demo!
  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by MatrixCubed ( 583402 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @09:33AM (#18766307) Homepage
    Yeah, but will it run Lin... eh nevermind.
  • This sounds like butter to me, especially since most manufacturers are running away very fast from the PDA market and just building stupid smartphones and crippled pieces of garbage instead of real PDA's. Dell quit making the x50v and x51v, HP/Compaq are producing nothing but crap QVGA "media companions," and nobody else makes a decent PDA that doesn't have a damn cell phone built into it. But first we have to see if this gizmo ever makes it to market.
  • It can not succeed as "just another tech-toy" it has to meet a need. That is where the linked articl was very thin. Will it replace my Pocket PC and is it better? Just running Linux is not enough.
  • Curved white and red plastic? Why can't they release a sleek looking metallic or carbon fiber one?
    • because they're saving that for the 'premium edition' - intel won't have ventured too far from microsoft's marketing approach yet.
      the 'ultimate edition' will have a case made from some expensive, flashy, but heavy (and soft) metal, such as gold. probably monogrammed with that horrible louis vitton thing, too. ick. plastic may look crap, but it's easily customisable.
  • I think we're finally getting closer to what I have been wanting all along: A PDA-like device with a decent screen. I'm a long-time proponent of PDA's, having owned numerous models since the Pilot 1000 over a decade ago, and the one thing that has annoyed me about the latest offerings is the limited screen size. The form factors are slick and usable, specifically noting the old Palm Vx, the Palm Z22, and the Palm TX, but they all share one thing in common: The screen displays only a small fraction of a "reg
    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      My dream device is one that uses a thin rugged design, has LONG battery life, provides effective finger or stylus input, has a screen that is readable in bright sunlight, provides a large enough screen to provide really productive information access, and is small enough to fit in a typical cargo-pants pocket.
      Here you go [].
      • by jbarr ( 2233 )
        The Sony Reader's form factor is pretty much what I'm looking for, but if I read the specs correctly, it only does "reading"--no PIM functions, no wireless, etc. And the UI appears to be controlled with the buttons only--no stylus or fingertip "on-screen" interaction.

        Pull all THOSE features together in the Sony form factor, and I'd buy it.
        • by fm6 ( 162816 )
          PIM functions? You didn't mention PIM functions!

          Yeah, I know, it's sort of implicit. But I couldn't resist...
    • by $1uck ( 710826 )
      How about a DS lite? with an r4ds card or something similar? Two screens, wifi, nice touch interface. If you could get a gps device to plug into the gba slot it would be really nice.
  • Did anyone find any hint why they, over all, chose RedFlag Linux to derivate their Software from?
    • by sofar ( 317980 )
      I can only assume that they chose this since it will be pre-announced at the IDF in china, as the story said.

      It's far more likely that for a US version they will try to get something redhattish, suseish or possibly ubuntuish instead. (oh wait, redflag is redhattish..)
  • Nokia N800 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GayBliss ( 544986 )
    I love my Nokia N800, and I really think there is going to be a huge market for these types of devices. Especially if WiMAX [] ever takes off. I think typical cell phones are worthless for general internet usage, but the Nokia N800 is very usable for normal web pages. I can watch videos from YouTube on it (although not quite flawlessly, it needs just a bit more speed), and use all my favorite websites quite well. I can ssh into my home machine and with VNC I get my entire desktop from my Linux box right o
  • I for one (Score:2, Funny)

    by vorlich ( 972710 )
    would like to welcome our new, improved, prosumer-friendly, linux-powered, intel-device sort-of-pda-thingy, finger-friendly overlords.
  • or, will it be like the TiVo, and prevent the end user from replacing the kernel?

    If you can recompile and replace all the important parts of the OS (kernel, X, Gnome, touchscreen drivers...), then it's a viable competitor to the FIC Neo in my book. Otherwise, I'm worried the phone companies will get their hands on this thing and cripple it. :(

    Also, why is some of the bundled software proprietary? That's so 1999...

    Still, if it lets you install your own C software, it's a huge step forward. I'll be payin
    • by sofar ( 317980 )
      first, I doubt that they will prevent you from loading your own kernel. Intel isn't TiVo you know.


      > Also, why is some of the bundled software proprietary? That's so 1999...

      what's wrong with that? closed source software is an excellent way to get a platform started and make it economically viable for the future (look at the IBM PC ;)).

      almost all of the software I've seen in the demo's are open source or replaceable by better open source software. You can choose now to use the closed source app or wh
      • by hedora ( 864583 )
        Including closed source software on a Linux device is dangerous.

        If the device is unusable without the proprietary software, then it's difficult or expensive to customize. You lose the benefits of open source software, and scare off developers. Customization is the main competitive advantage Linux devices have over other products. It's always a shame when device manufacturers don't get that, and try to control the software stack or lock down the hardware.

        It's one thing if they ship it with a binary-only f

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