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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Simputer, why not free hardware too?

This note to the GNU/Linux-driven Simputer mailing list comes from Bazil and from Victor Rocha who makes a series of key points.

He says that currently it is not possible to download hardware specs from the Simputer site. The ".tar.gz" file is not available, he notes.

Says Victor Rocha:
"I guess a wider spread of the specs, in a true "open-source" spirit, would encourage design-houses and contract-manufacturers around the world to join the Simputer effort, to some day achieve the intended 'critical mass'.

I am particularly interested in studying the simputer as a basis for low-cost industrial PLCs, for use in developing countries like Brazil, where the cost of industrial automation is still prohibitive for small
manufacturers.


Chris Glur earlier wrote reminded all about the issue of licences and the 'open hardware Simputer'. Glur said he had confirmed by newsgroups traffic [arm & embedded etc],
that there are an increasing number of people who would like to do some arm hardware hacking/experimentation.

Said Glur: "Apparently there are several boards available for this, but many would prefer to pay more and start from a running system. Like in the old-days when you wanted to develop/investigate some new pc-based hardware
device, you would do so on your standard pc. With all the advantages of the running/proven system available for conventient I/O."

"So also a version of the simputer: open box, with convenient external PSU connector[s] and 'extendable facilities' would be of great value to many and involve negligible additional development cost to the Simputer marketers," the earlier poster wrote.

And:
Or do the existing I/O connectors suffice? Apparently not, if the developer wanted to eventually develop his own arm-based product, he wouldn't be comfortable with a 'black-box' simputer, because the conceptual distance to his intended product would be too great.

For example, my prefered OS/lang is ETH-S3/Oberon and there's apparently an arm port, which I'd like to investigate. The handheld Sharp Zaurus started collecting a number of open-software contributions [these things take a few years to evolve] but now it's out of production. I still maintain that Simputer's failure to reach critical mass is caused by the Indian society/tradition failure to understand the dynamics of free/open contributor=based software or applications.

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