Mini-review of my ExoPC running Ubuntu

Intel is missing the mobile boat: its Atom architecture is losing the battle against the ARM-based competitors and they’ve started spreading FUD. They’re bashing Windows on ARM with compatibility issues but, as Ars says, they’re missing the point.

Intel is right that legacy software runs on its x86 chips. The Exopc Slate that Intel gave me is nothing but a PC. The thing has even has a fan, and the infamous black screen BIOS peeks when you turn it on! I soon realized that Meego is not ready for prime time, so being the Slate a PC, I was able to install Ubuntu easily: as Intel says, its Atom chips run ‘legacy’ applications. What Intel forgot to mention is that legacy applications have little practical use. Ubuntu is a desktop system and on a keyboard-less PC it becomes basically unusable. Intel is spreading FUD when they say that support for legacy applications on small, portable devices is valuable.

The first thing to do after putting Ubuntu on the tablet is to setup the virtual keyboard. I tried Florence but it’s buggy and in my experience it locked the screen (or crashed the touchpad driver –I didn’t investigate) too often so I removed it. I configured Onboard, the default onscreen keyboard to stay always on top and appear when entering passwords. The second thing to do is to remap the ‘Home’ key to actually go home instead of launching Banshee. Multitouch doesn’t work, neither does the automatic rotation of the screen. If you have an ExoPC and want to know more read here, here and here (read the comments too).

I can do some web browsing with Firefox after installing the Touch-n-Grab extension. And I can do some reading of PDF with Evince. That’s it for me. Email is impossible with Evolution: the scrolling widgets are too thin to scroll the list of email and writing anything with the virtual keyboard requires painful accommodation and resizing of the windows poking the screen with your finger. Changing from Unity to ‘Classic’ doesn’t change anything.

GN/Linux software runs on the Exopc Slate but that’s pretty much it: it runs but you can tell it’s not made for it.

All my hope of finding good use for piattola2 (named after the original piattola that my friend used a long time ago, I think it had a Transmeta processor) now rest in Meego 1.2, due next week or a decent port of x86 Android. See you at the Meego conference.

 

Intel desperate to further Meego

I spent a few hours listening to Intel’s presentation about Meego and the new app store (another) from Intel. AppUp, the name of the store, is just another store. The only new thing that I remember is that AppUp allows to integrate other stores into this store… For example, if you published an app on AppUp, this will also appear on BestBuy’s app store. Not sure what to make of that: as with many other features of the afternoon, I and others in the audience were not impressed.

Intel will review and validate every app submitted in the store and, contrary to Apple’s total opacity, they have published the validation guidelines. The validation process will take ‘at most’ 7 business days and every updated version of the app will have to go through the validation process again. The developers in the room didn’t like that: it’s a huge problem because if your release has a bug, it may take over a week to send a fix to your users.

Admittedly, this validation process is a hard nut to crack but one would expect that a new app store would at least try. I would suggest Intel to give up the subjective control on the ‘objectionable content’ and relegate porn material in a section of the store behind an additional credit card. I would make this section graphically anonymous and before anybody can access it, they have to enter a credit card number, all the time. Developers that publish bad content out of the porn-wall are permanently banned. Fool proof? No, but neither is the existing system with Apple constantly under fire for its decisions to pass or block apps.

My advice: put automatic checks in place for malware and trust your developers until they screw it up. You can also imagine a crowdsourced moderation system after the publication of the app. A model based on trust may not work but at least it would give Inte’s AppUp a differentiating factor compared to the leading stores.

By the way, if you are developing a sync application, port it to Meego and enter the contest for Best App to Stay in Sync at Intel AppUp(SM) developer program.

Newlyweds: Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin

This is good news for mobile free software (or open source, as you wish to call it): Maemo and Moblin joined forces today.  I had lots of expectations for Maemo, but so far Nokia hasn’t pushed it enough. This merge of the two project may give it a new life.  Now the issue is only to have more mobile devices and phones out there that use this platform, without getting tempted with proprietarization (like evil Motorola is doing –hint: don’t buy a Milestone).

MeeGo combines Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo projects at the Linux Foundation to create one open source uber-platform for the next generation of computing devices: tablets, pocketable computers, netbooks, automotive IVI and more.

Why should you pay attention to this announcement? With MeeGo you have the world’s largest chip manufacturer and the world’s largest mobile handset manufacturer joining forces to create an incredible opportunity for developers who want to reach millions of users with innovative technology.

via Bringing the Magic to Linux with MeeGo | Linux.com.