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Project To Build Dual-Booting Linux, Android Tablet For $100 114

SternisheFan sends this quote from Ars: "It likely won’t be as sleek or fast as a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10, but a new tablet running both Android and Linux is in the works for open source enthusiasts and lovers of low-budget devices. PengPod tablets, made by a company called Peacock Imports, will dual-boot Android 4.0 and a version of Linux with the KDE Plasma Active interface for touch screens. But in order to reserve a tablet for yourself, you'll have to contribute to the company's crowdfunding project on Indiegogo and hope enough money is raised to begin production. 'Our goal is to build a powerful, True Linux Tablet, one free of Google and Android's restrictions, at a reasonable price,' the PengPod IndieGogo page says. 'If you're a Linux fanatic you probably ended up getting an Android phone. Hey, it's Linux right? It'll be open, run all the programs I'm familiar with and let me hack around and have some fun right? Too often, this is not so. That is why we set out to find a way to run real Linux and all the software you really want.'"
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Project To Build Dual-Booting Linux, Android Tablet For $100

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  • by RandomFactor ( 22447 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @09:31AM (#41948957)

    One Linux Per Contributor?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    'Our goal is to build a powerful, True Linux Tablet, one free of Google and Android's restrictions, at a reasonable price,

    Yeah, that onerous Apache license that stop you from doing.. uh.. what exactly?

    Well, I mean at least hardware-wise they're free of the "restricted" $200 7" tablet that is instantly unlockable so you can put whatever you want on it, including Ubuntu []...

    Um, wat? How are Google's Nexus tablets "restricted"?

    The folks behind PengPod are off to a slow start, with $769...

    Wow, I could buy 7.69

  • by Ch_Omega ( 532549 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @09:37AM (#41948977) Journal
    For $100, i really hope its not based on the Maylong 150 []....
    • by drachensun ( 2766139 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @10:48AM (#41949313)

      For $100, i really hope its not based on the Maylong 150 []....

      Its not, the maylong had a via 8650 processor with no coprocessing and a 400 mhz main processor, overclocked to the 533, 600 or even 800 claimed by sellers. The PengPods all have A10 1-1.2 GHZ processors with a 4 core mali coprocessor and the cedarx video coprocessor. Typically the system gets unstable after 1.2 Ghz but it can be taken up to 1.5, we are hoping the improvements in the boot software will eventually make that possible. Note that not all the source is available for the video processors but there has been a lot of work to make the closed libraries work well. Full disclosure: Im part of the project.

      • I submitted this story in the hope that you guys might get some valueable advice and ideas of what can and what wont work. They're a pretty smart bunch here. Good luck to you guys. SF... :-)
  • Seriously?

    A fool and his money are soon parted. Sheesh.

  • Ummmmm.... what?

    Isn't that the whole point of Android? Free from restriction? Customizable? Hackable? Open?

    Just go get a Nexus tablet. I love mine.

  • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

    As a true Linux enthusiast I ended up with a Nokia N900, Please, anybody who has one and doesn't like it, offer to sell it soon. My understanding is the formerly great hardware manufacturer is facing severe financial hardship due to bad management decisions concerncing software. I've not seen anything even approaching it since it's introduction. I'd say less than a quarter even offer a hardware keyboard anymore.

    • by grumling ( 94709 )

      Exactly. Why not take all this effort to crowdsource when they could just throw their backing to Jolla's MeeGo project [] or Ubuntu tablet edition? I mean, more power to them, but I don't think re-inventing the wheel again is going to be all that productive.

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      As an n900 owner I couldn't agree more.

      The Maego family of GUI's are quite mature and far more standards compliant than Android, just imagine one could run Thunderbird on a Nexus 7!
      This is why I'm interested in an MS Surface tablet, running some form of KDE on it must be really nice.
      I have Kubuntu running on a 23" HP Touch and it works well, it's just a little clunky to use it as a tablet :)

      • Remember that all windows 8 ARM based devices are REQUIRED to lock the boot to signed binaries... on the X86 is "just" recommended.
        I dont know if the FSF/redhat/ubuntu boot loader can work on ARM (as usually the boot is limited by the cpu and firmware)... it might be a while until you can run other OS on MS surface.

    • The n900 was a fantastic device. Problem is not many people bought it or were interested in what it could do. It was basically an ultra-compact linux box with a great camera and screen that happened to make phone calls. It was a product for a niche market. MeeGo for the n9 and n950 made up for those shortcomings and was worlds better for a phone and the device got fantastic reviews but by that time it was too late to save Nokia.

      You best get used to it: if you want a table that runs linux proper, get you

  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @10:05AM (#41949083)

    Why dual boot when you can run both simultaneously since both run on the same Linux kernel? Kind of how Windows 8 runs both WinRT apps(for tablet use) and desktop apps simultaneously. Best of both worlds, use the Android apps when you want to use a tablet, and then switch to KDE apps for real work, all without messy rebooting.

    • Exactly. Anyone who says "both linux and android" has no clear idea of the concept.

      OSF zealots correcting things to "GNU/Linux" and "Android/Linux" arriving in 3.....2....1.....

    • by amorsen ( 7485 )

      Has there been any attempts at doing this? Adding the whole Android app ecosystem to more traditional Linux would be fantastic.

      You can run the SDK Android emulator, but that is not really a solution.

      • It would seem possible, technically.

        I remember an article a while back about bedrock linux, which was designed to make multiple distros run side by side on the same kernel.

        You can certainly run normal Linux in a chroot on Android. It would be much better the other way around where the computer is controlled by a proper OS but you can access android if you need.

  • Too Good To Be True. It used to be that an inventor gets a patent then approaches a company to market the product. When did it change to crowdfunding (whatever the hell that is - sounds like tincup begging to me) with a promise of no return beyond being first in line for a product that right now only exists as a sequence of numbers on a spinning disk? Excuse me if I come off as arrogantly skeptical, but that's what life has taught me - if you leave yourself open to be shat on, then you will be shat on.

    • by grumling ( 94709 )

      Crowdsourcing is the combination of your uncle borrowing money from your dad for his latest "hair-brained scheme" and a chain letter.

  • Came on, if you really want dual boot, let put it as option as much of OSes possible.
  • by p0p0 ( 1841106 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @10:17AM (#41949129)
    I have an Ainol (*snicker*) NOVO7 Elf II which I paid $120 for (on sale from $140, and free Fed-Ex 3 day shipping). It has 1GB DDR3 RAM, 16GB internal memory, G-Sensor, good display, 5-6 hour battery, and a Dual-Core 1.5GHz ARM processor.
    It runs Android 4.1 and I can run Ubunu 12.10 from the sdcard with almost everything except the touchscreen because of no drivers for that, or the Mali-400 GPU.

    What they seem to planning here doesn't seem to be all that impressive considering my chinese brand tablet can do all that. Truth be told it may not be open-source like they want, but the kernel sources for Ubuntu are obviously available, and the company has released the Android kernel they use.

    Ainol is also one of those companies that churn out tons of Android tablets, and they seem to be doing fine. A sub $100 tablet doesn't seem like such an achievement.

    Basically, I don't see what the appeal of this project is aside from mabe extended support, but even my device has a good community behind is releasing custom ROM's and constantly keeping it up-to-date and applying fixes from the hardware manufacturers.
    • Sounds interesting.

      Howabout some links?

    • I also have an Elf II (nice tablet for the $), but I think you hit on the major point. It can run Ubuntu 12.10 (great!) without the touchscreen (wtf). Having a device with well supported hardware would be very useful. Especially as the hardware gets older and moves from primary tablet to laying around and gathering dust. If we had full support for the hardware it opens up those older tablets to all kinds of interesting uses / repurposing.

      As it is we get stuff that may run linux in a half-assed

  • First a Tablet can be a "computer" but for most people it is a conduit to consuming stuff, preferably after having checked out their brain to the hat rack....

    Now when a Tablet is used as an "adjunct" computer, it does make sense to have an open source OS running on it.
    But the error in the pengPod strategy is that having the cheapest tablet possible actually is a guaranty of disappointment, I own a similarly priced 7ins Arnova tablet, it is "perfect" to look at a video on a long flight or train commute, it i

  • "Real" Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grumpy_old_grandpa ( 2634187 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @10:41AM (#41949281)
    Some people get very confused about the kernel vs. user space applications. RMS said it best:

    “Android is very different from the GNU/Linux operating system because it contains very little of GNU. Indeed, just about the only component in common between Android and GNU/Linux is Linux, the kernel. People who erroneously think “Linux” refers to the entire GNU/Linux combination get tied in knots by these facts, and make paradoxical statements such as “Android contains Linux, but it isn’t Linux”. If we avoid starting from the confusion, the situation is simple: Android contains Linux, but not GNU; thus, Android and GNU/Linux are mostly different.“
    • lol RMS is finally getting vindication for his GNU/Linux pedantism.
      • by Teun ( 17872 )
        So he wasn't so pedantic after all.
        • So he wasn't so pedantic after all.

          Yeah, RMS' problem isn't being wrong, he usually isn't wrong. His problem is that he's not very diplomatic when he's right.

      • lol RMS is finally getting vindication for his GNU/Linux pedantism.

        Sadly, this happens quite frequently.

        Firstly, RMS sounds like a paranoid nutbag consipacy theorist. Then, 10-15 years later, his predictions have the unfortunate tendency to come true.

        The sad fact is that RMSs paranoia is based very much in reality, and he seems to see bad things happening in the computer world well over a decade before they happen.

        Also the other thing to remember is that RMS didn't invent his philosophy in a vacuum. It all

  • So the project aims to create a tablet that will let you run Linux...or another, and more polished, version of Linux?

    If it's just about having a more free platform than Android, why bother taking up storage space by putting Android on there? Maybe I'm missing something, but this seems like a waste of time and money.

  • by slacka ( 713188 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @10:45AM (#41949301)

    I live in Shenzhen, and here in China you can pick up these Allwiner based tablets for about $100-$125 USD. My buddy couldn't resist a bargain and bought one a few weeks ago. I was surprised how well it worked out of the box. Decent performance browsing heavy pages, and the all the 3D games I could throw at it ran smoothly. That Allwiner blows the Rasberry’s CPU out of the water.

    Initially, I was tempted to get one. Then I started noticing the problems. The accelerometer hadn't been properly calibrated or mounted at the factory, meaning some racing games you have to hold the device at a 20 degree angle to drive straight. When the battery started getting low, I plugged it in to its proprietary charger only to find out the touch screen doesn't work when charging.

    Then about a week later my buddy said the screen popped out after he left it charging overnight. Turns out the battery had swollen up. All these issue point to shoddy cheap components and lack of testing and QC. With only $100 to spend, suggest a used Kindle or Nexus 7.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Gee why is this exactly the same post word for word as one in the ars technica article?

    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      Yeah, I bought a cheap non-name Chinese Android tablet too. There are small outfits importing them to the U.S. As in your case, the build quality sucked, Plus the screen wasn't a touch screen! (You had to use a stylus.) Many video apps didn't work, including Netflix. And the glass broke real easy.

      I think it's safe to say that $200 is the current lower bound for a 7" tablet that isn't crap.

      • Plus the screen wasn't a touch screen! (You had to use a stylus.)

        [citation needed]

        or rather, that seems exceptionally unlikely. Most likely is that it is a resistive touch screen which work as both a touch screen or with a stylus. Stylii are more common since you get precision input to make up for the lack of multi touch.

        If it's stylus *only* and really doesn't work with touch (I've had one of those) then it's probably Wacom based and they do all sorts of nice things like pressure and angle sensitivity.


        • by fm6 ( 162816 )

          Can't give you a citation. I don't recall the tech, but the digitizer always misread finger touches. Worked fine with a stylus. And no, it was not a Wacom digitizer. I know those (used to have Motion Computing tablet), and besides which they add too much cost to be used with a cheap tablet..

        • by slacka ( 713188 )

          Plus the screen wasn't a touch screen! .

          Sounds like his was an older and even Cheaper model. My 10" screen did not require a stylus and was definitely a capacitive touch screen. Besides being low resolution, something like 1024x800, the main issue I had with the screen was related to the poor quality of the charger. According to these guys:
          It's a big problem with counterfeit and low quality chargers

  • EOMA-68 or go home. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In a couple years, when I get tired of whatever low-end SoC they can get in their $100 tablet, there'll be a couple new generation of SoCs, and either a low-end from the newest generation or a mid-range from the older generation will easily double the performance for the same price.

    If the tablet uses EOMA-68 CPU cards, I'll just be able to buy a new CPU card and upgrade the tablet. And then I can put the old CPU card in something else (maybe a plugserver or such). If not, I'll have to buy a whole new tablet

    • There's been talk of that EOMA thing at least since the Raspberry Pi was announced, and it was presented as an alternative to it. Now the Raspberry Pi has gone and sold more than half a million units and there's still no sign of EOMA ever coming out.

    • One of the things that caused the Easter Island civilisation to collapse is because they had some new standard for Moai where you could just put on a new top bit instead of buying a whole new Moai every two years.

      The result? Cannibalism, civilisation collapse and the eventual extinction of humans on the island.

      This proves that you should chuck out your old laptops, phones and tablets every two years and buy a new ones. Unless you want to be EATEN ALIVE by a STARVING, ZOMBIE LIKE MOB.

  • There was literally just a story [] on why we wouldn't be seeing this type of thing... I'm all for this, but I can see this getting sued into oblivion :(
  • by paugq ( 443696 ) <[gro.reuaple] [ta] [seliuqgp]> on Sunday November 11, 2012 @02:32PM (#41950789) Homepage

    Trying to port Linux to Android tablets is a dead end. They will get Mer, OpenWrt, etc running on ONE tablet a year. If at all.

    The alternative is to consider Android as a different Unix platform, with its limitations, and port KDE, Gnome, etc to Android. More details here: []

    That path would reach potentially every Android tablet (and phone!). Easy? No. Doable? Sure thing.

    • Mod Parent Up!

      The idea is so brilliant and so obvious almost everyone missed it.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        For some reason it's taking ages to get a full version of X on the platform.
        • by paugq ( 443696 )

          Any desktop environment (KDE, Gnome, LXDE, etc) ported to Android should not use X but whatever Android uses to replace X (android.view [])

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            You've missed the point. If it has X a pile of existing apps can be easily ported and a device that's entire purpose is to be on a network can use the ability of X to do network graphics. There's only so much you can do with a web front end to a remote host, while there's a lot more you can do if your phones screen acts as if it is on the remote host.
            • by paugq ( 443696 )

              I seriously doubt I've missed the point, given that I was the one who proposed this "port the desktop environment to Android" idea.

              KDE is ported to X11 (Linux/BSD/Solaris/etc), Windows (GDI+), Mac (Cocoa), OS/2 (PM), BeOS, etc. Porting to one more graphics layer (Android.View) is not a problem, especially since Qt provides the Qt Platform Abstraction (QPA, formerly known as LightHouse) and we have Qt for Android (AKA Necessitas).

              Gnome, XFCE, etc should become more graphics-layer agnostic and do the same as

              • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                You have missed it :( The networking ability has serious potential on a device that is designed to always be on a network. If it can run happily on a Kindle (which it does) then far more capable hardware can run it.
  • OK, they're not using Kickstarter. But the fact remains that the crowdfunding mechanism is a stupid way to buy stuff. If you think the project is unbearably kewl, by all means donate some money. But if you think "buy it in advance so we can get the money to develop it" is a reasonable way to buy stuff, I have a Nigerian prince who wants to talk to you.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin