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Re: Debian Mobile -- Debian GNU/Linux for mobile devices

On 17/02/10 05:34 PM, Andreas Tille wrote:
I wonder whether we really need to "start" or whether we are able to
continue what just exist:  There is a Debian Eee PC project [1] which -
as far as I know - is not reduced to this specific hardware despite the
very specific name.

Actually, our project is limited to the Eee PC platform. We don't even support similar systems by the same vendor like the Eee Box. Although it might be possible to broaden the scope to encompass more hardware without killing the project, I have my doubts. We've managed to stay cohesive, productive and relevant for the past two years using this approach and I'd be reluctant to do anything to upset the balance.

I also have my doubts about whether or not we even have similar goals. The Debian Eee PC project has one purpose only, to ensure that Debian works well on this hardware. While other projects with an Eee focus want to write and support special applets to control the hardware or slap on a special UI, we're quietly working to ensure that the drivers work, are free, and any patches merged upstream to ensure that no matter how you make Debian *look* on an Eee, it will all just work.

While there may be a small amount of overlap, a portion of the user population who will find a "mobile OS" appealing, (and maybe my perception of how many people are interested in such a thing is skewed a bit because Debian simply doesn't offer anything like this at this time, driving people away from it and towards the alternatives,) I really can't see a whole lot in common between handheld device owners' needs and those of netbook owners.

In the end, a netbook is an inexpensive, smaller, but essentially -- a laptop, and that is not very different from a desktop system. That is, it's a general purpose system. It just also happens to be highly portable. People with netbooks do similar things on them that they would do on their desktop systems. They just do it on the go. They don't need a radically different UI to make that happen. Just using a familiar desktop or WM that they already use elsewhere and are comfortable with is usually the best approach.

When Asus entered the market with this system, they wanted it to look different, and they wanted to reach a different market. Thus, they introduced it with a UI with big, friendly buttons more reminiscent of a PDA or cell phone than a conventional desktop. That wasn't what caught my eye. What excited me about the Eee was that here, at last, was a general purpose system that met both my usability and portability needs at once, and at a decent price. Nothing more than that. I didn't share whatever the Asus execs' vision was for this. I get the sense that not many of the people who work with and enjoy the products of our project do either.

All of that being said, Debian Mobile sounds like a great idea, and I hope it is a resounding success. And if it happens to work well on an Eee, too, then super! It's always nice to have choices.


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