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Re: Debian GNU/Linux on tablet hardware

On Fri, 2011-10-28 at 14:37 +0000, Phil Endecott wrote:
> Rob van der Hoeven <robvanderhoeven <at> ziggo.nl> writes:
> > > > I think the hardware of this tablet can also be used as a server or
> > > > desktop computer. The tablet is mass produced and very cheap (i got mine
> > > > for 149 euro).
> > > For that price, to make a server, I would rather buy a loco board or any
> > > other development board
> > These boards are not mass produced which makes them relatively
> > expensive.
> The i.MX LOCO board, the OMAP panda board, and some of the others cost about the
> same as your tablet.

Panda board has very nice specs.

> > Hardware that is not mass produced has some other issues,
> > namely availability and vendor lock-in
> You think that your tablet is going to have better availability and less lock-in
> than a board from Freescale or TI?  That seems unlikely to me.  Look at the
> BeagleBoard; it would be hard to find any smartphone or tablet device that has
> been available for as long as that has.

The FreedomBox project is looking for very cheap hardware. This hardware
exists today, but it is used for running Android. It would be very nice
if we could liberate this hardware and use it for our own computing.

Beagle board and Panda board are very nice but i don't think they will
become cheap enough for the FreedomBox (one monopolistic manufacturer,
low volume - "only" 8900 Panda boards sold)

If the FreedomBox would use a popular SoC then the manufacturer of the
motherboard seems less important to me. All the major functionalities
for which drivers are needed are on one chip. We could simply switch to
an other board with the same SoC and still run our software (maybe with
some minor adjustments, please correct me if i am wrong...)  

> > I think it must be possible to buy an android motherboard for just a
> > fraction of the price that i paid for my tablet.
> Why do you think that?  I have personally never seen an "Android motherboard"
> offered for sale at all, let alone for a low price.

You find out the manufacturer of the motherboard inside a tablet. Then
you contact this manufacturer and say: Hi, i know you are making 10000
motherboards for Yarvik, if i were to order 1000 of these boards what
would the price be? I think the manufacturer will be happy with an extra
order. Mass produced boards are well tested (the manufacturer simply
can't afford mass problems) and cheap.

> > Why is relying on
> > hardware with a SoC such a bad idea? If the SoC is popular it will not
> > go out of production for a long time.
> No, that's not how it works.  Both popular and unpopular chips are replaced on a
> schedule that's determined by advances in manufacturing technology.  This also
> applies to the consumer products that are made from them: even if a device is
> popular, it will soon be replaced with something that is faster and cheaper.

Not quite true i think, especially for SoC. My FreedomBox has an Marvell
6281 (Kirkwood) SoC inside. This chip has been around for a long time.
You are right for non-SoC boards, they can more easily change for
example the graphics chip and spoil our fun.

Rob van der Hoeven.


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