Linux Devices - Christmas Edition

It's less than 10 days from Christmas and many of you who despite the financial crisis might have been thinking on getting yourself or your loved ones a nifty little gadget for a present. Now, since we're all Linux lovers here and since our beloved Tux has undoubtedly enjoyed a great year, here's my top 10 wish list for all ye jolly readers.

Despite the fact that this is one of the least popular (among non Linux enthusiasts) in the list, I personally would like the Freerunner to keep this spot - the top. The reason is pretty simple: It's the most hackable device among the 10. The thought of being able to customize it, making it truly your own phone, just fascinates me. You may download the source code as well as other references and resources from their wiki site.

Here's more good news. The Freerunner can now run on the Android operating system. Yup, the same OS that runs on the G1. While the default OS is Openmoko Linux, other distributions can run on this phone as well. Some of them are Qt Extended, Gentoo, and Debian.

Here are some of the phone specs:
  • Size: 120.7 x 62 x 18.5 mm
  • Weight: 133 grams
  • Display: Touch screen; 2.8" VGA (480 x 640)
  • Memory: 128 MB SDRAM, 256 MB NAND Flash
  • Highlights: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, AGPS, GPRS, Bluetooth 2.0, 2 3D accelerometers for automatic screen orientation
If only I had the money, I'd definitely love to have the opportunity to tinker around with one.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon's hottest product is not a book. As of this writing, this revolutionary e-book reader has been sold out. Amazon promises new items to be available after December 24. For those who haven't read my Linux-powered ebooks post, I've provided a link at the bottom of this article if you'd like to read about it. The Kindle's actually one of those ebook readers that use e-paper technology on their screens. This type of screen allows users to enjoy the benefits of a paper-like display. That means, one that allows you to read the text even under glaring sunlight. And since it is not itself the main source of light, it is not so strenuous to the eyes, allowing for a longer comfortable read - just like an ordinary book.

Although there are other ebook readers that use the same technology, the Kindle's ability to download ebooks from Amazon through its own wireless delivery system without having to be brought within a hotspot has made it an overwhelming favorite. Just imagine being able to download your favourite magazine before it hits the newstands. How about downloading and reading the current bestseller while waiting for your flight?

If that isn't enough to kindle a burning desire, here are some features that might:
  • A 10.3 ounce lightweight that allows you to carry the whole library with you. In fact, it is lighter and thinner than the usual paperback.
  • An ergonomic design that gives it the feel of a book.
  • Search, compare, choose, and download ebooks from the online store.
  • A built-in dictionary with 250,000 entries in case your stumped on a word definition.
  • Extremely long battery life. Dig this: when offline, you may read from it for a week without charging.


Correct me if I am wrong, but I certainly believe that this would top the list for most of you, and rightfully so. What's not to love? With the backing of Google and an operating system, Android, that's steadily becoming popular among other cell phone makers (with Motorola leading the pack), the future's getting brighter for this touch-screen and QWERTY-keyboard enabled Linux phone.

Although it lags the iPhone (which has constantly been matched-up with it) in the sexy department, it's not behind in terms of features. Check out some of its specs:

  • Size: 117.7 x 55.7 x 17.1 mm
  • Weight: 158 grams
  • Display: Touch-sensitive 3.2" TFT-LCD HVGA (320 x 480)
  • Memory: 256 MB ROM 192 MB RAM
  • Highlights: 3.2 megapixel camera, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi
And features:
  • Real web browsing - Web browsing has never been as easy. It's as if you're working in front of your own PC
  • Easy access to Google apps - This is one of its main strengths. Google Maps, Gmail, Youtube, Google Calendar, and Google Talk are all available through one-touch access.
  • Network flexibility - With 3G, 2G, EDGE, and WiFi capabilities, the chances of staying connected is always high
  • Hackability - If you want to create your own apps, you may do so using the Java programming language. The SDK can be downloaded from here.


Tired of reading about Linux-powered phones? Don't worry, I assure you this will be the last in the list. I just couldn't leave this excellent camera phone out. No less than CNET agrees, having included it in its best of 2008 list (see previous article). Choosing the 3rd and last phone was not that easy for me. I believe the MOTOROKR E8 should have made it here as well but I didn't want you to have the impression that this is just a recycled version of my 8 of 2008's Latest Linux-Powered Mobile Phones post.

So what made me choose this over the E8? Both of them have their own strengths. The E8 rocks in the music department, while the ZN5 lords over among camera phones. It was basically a choice that revolved around what should be most appropriate for this season. Since you'd be spending a lot of time with your loved-ones, many of whom you haven't seen the entire year, I thought that maybe you'd prefer a phone that would capture those rare moments over one that would fill your ears with Christmas carols.

If you want to know more about this phone, you may read about it in a previous post: 8 of 2008's...

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet
Missing Nokia? To be honest, I was hoping to include a Nokia phone among my 8 of 2008's... list. Unfortunately, no Nokia Linux-powered phone was anywhere in sight. That doesn't mean the world leader in mobility has totally snobbed Tux. In case you don't know, the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet runs on Maemo, an operating system based on Debian/GNU Linux.

The N810 is a handheld computer of sorts that focuses on an Internet experience that closely mimics that of a PC. Despite coming from the Finnish global leader of cell phones, there's nothing phone-ish about the N810.

There are however a lot in it that makes it ideal for browsing the Internet through the comfort of a handheld. Although smaller than a regular laptop, the designers made sure that the user wouldn't have to long for one. The screen is larger than most handheld devices at 4.1" when measured diagonally. Onscreen navigation can be done through a keyboard or the touch screen. And since it is equipped with an ambient light sensor plus a sunlight readable transreflective display, browsing can be done in almost any environment.

There are two main methods of connecting to the Internet: WiFi or through a mobile phone via Bluetooth. This might be one drawback, being dependent on other devices for a connection. However, once connected, it's all smooth surfing for this Web assistant.

Asus Eee PC S101

Netbooks - the big break for Tux. This is the first of the netbooks in this list - brace yourself for two more. Why so many? Well, since the introduction of the first Eee PC in 2007, the market has been flooded with netbooks. 2008 IMHO was practically the year of the netbooks. Subsequently, it also became the year that Linux broke into the world of the masses. When ASUS, who started it all, opted to pre-install a Linux-based OS on the first ever Eee PC to be released, the users had no choice but to adapt. And since they ended up adoring the Eee PC, they also came to discover what Linux was capable of doing.

This, more than anything else is the reason why I have three netbooks on this list. It is a tribute to what these half-baked laptops have done to and for the Linux community.

The PC S101 is one of the latest and undoubtedly the most stylish among the successful breed of ASUS Eee PC's. With a thickness of only 1.8 cm and a weight of 2.3 lbs it is easily one of the lightest and thinnest of all netbooks. It's not all small though. In fact, with a 10.2" screen, it has the largest displays among Eee PC's.

Memory is at a respectable 1GB, built-in storage is up to 64 GB while online storage is one of the largest at 30 GB.

If you're a stylish road warrior, you might want to check this out.

When the first few netbooks hit the market, what caught the buyer's attention were their pricetags. However, as more and more companies joined in the fray the battles shifted focus on quality and features. In some ways, that was good. Unfortunately, that came at a cost; and I mean literally. Prices began to escalate, sizes and certain specs began to increase, and the ideas that made them so popular all got lost in the commotion

It's a good thing that some companies have decided to come up with models that stuck to the basic concepts of a netbook - small, efficient, and affordable. Acer Aspire One is one of them.

The specs are not as attractive as the more powerful models but they just might be decent enough for you. How do the following specs sound?
  • Intel Atom processor N270
  • 802.11 g/b WiFi
  • 512 MB onboard SDRAM
  • 8.9" WSVGA, TFT LCD, 1024 x 600 resolution
  • 8 GB NAND Flash module
  • 120 GB HDD

The HP 2133 Mini-Note PC is one of the most rugged in the bunch, being equipped with a spill-resistant keyboard, scratch resistant screen and an accelerometer for added shock protection for the hard drive. This is one of the reasons I'm putting this netbook on this list. Since netbooks are ultra-portable, users would be tempted to take them anytime, anywhere. That's why they should be built to withstand the rigors of such tasks.

After the screen, the next reason why anyone would not want a netbook are its small keys, especially in the case of males. The 2133 Mini-Note has taken note of that and thus has greatly improved on that deficiency. The keys on its keyboards are said to be 92% of full-sized ones. That should be a great relief to our cramped up fingers.

It's powered by SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, so you can be sure of a cool interface that is packed with reliability. If you check out, you'll notice that openSUSE, its bleeding edge counterpart, is number two on that list. That means right now, there are a lot of people interested in this particular distro. More people means a larger community to turn to in case something goes wrong.

I know I promised you 10 but I'm still not sure what the remaining two should be. Besides I was hoping you'd help me out on this one. If you've got some Linux-powered gadgets on your mind, please feel free to share them with us. Just add a comment below.


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johnV said...

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