Open Source Hitting Hardware

There was a time when open source and consumer devices were something you never saw. Linux sat quietly in the corner, not bothering Apple and Microsoft.

There were projects that failed to breach the market, and ones that never even made it to market.

The silence of consumer hardware running free software was shattered with Android coming onto the scene. Android is still going very strong, albeit some losses on the patent front.

But Android is a rather empty victory. Android did not set out to be the open source platform we all wanted. Your freedom is limited by the availability of roms and your willingness to root your device. It is a much more modern Linux. It is much more consumer focused and less idealistic. I would never argue against this move. It has been pretty successful after all.


Along came a Mozilla.

 Looking at Mozilla's boot 2 gecko it offers a much more free and open vision of free software on consumer devices. Mozilla is after all anon profit. Would I buy a phone with an html interface I could customise at will? Will I ask more stupid rhetorical questions where the answer is obviously yes?

There is a serious problem with the appstore model that current mobile devices are following. At some point app stores will start to canibilize each other and some app stores will have more apps than others. The app store with the most apps by far has no idea that it is in fact an app store. It's called the web. Mozilla will hopefully pull this thing off right and show us that truly open standard technology can work.

Not to mention that this makes OEM product differentiation easier, all you need is a web developer/designer and you're good to go. No more mucking about with super specialized skills in special runtimes and languages. You KNOW WHO I AM TALKING ABOUT.

Make/Play/Live, Spark Vivaldi and KDE

Another device that caught my eye is the Vivaldi tablet from the folks who brought you KDE. KDE runs as a super modular piece of software that is capable of running on desktops, phones and tablets. This makes the platform quite attractive. QML which is a nerdy javascripty markup language is also attractive to designers and developers alike. It seems that this tablet has a place in the market for nerds.

There are some questions on whether it will succeed. The interface looks a little uninspiring and grey to me, but maybe that is just a preference thing. The fact remains that this is a project to keep an eye out for.

Ill just have some Raspberry Pi for now

The Raspberry Pi is proving that low cost non-profit computing can be successful. The demand is overwhelming. I am still waiting to even be notified that I can actually order mine. It will be difficult to compete with a non-profit organisation, and in a way its a little wrong. What if there were more businesses that ran with a non-profit goal. We will see.

Free open devices and software might become more prevalent in the coming years. There is definitely an exciting trend developing where open source software is reacting more quickly to market changes, such as netbooks, tablets and smartphones. It just takes that little bit of extra effort to be on top when the next major computing change hits.