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Ask Slashdot: An Open Handheld Terminal For Retail Stores?

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the give-in-to-hegemony dept.

Businesses 114

Evil Al writes "From the ubiquitous Verifone card terminals to the fancy Apple Store terminals, point-of-sale devices are everywhere. But does anyone know of an open terminal (with printer + Wi-Fi), preferably running Linux, that we can use to run a custom application for retail, made by a reputable manufacturer?"

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114 comments

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Frist psot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729052)

Fried pasta?

Re:Frist psot (1)

Roachie (2180772) | about 3 years ago | (#36729424)

Dr. House?

Jesus Christ on a Whole Wheat Cracker... (-1, Troll)

Fortunato_NC (736786) | about 3 years ago | (#36729080)

Is this really that hard? [justfuckinggoogleit.com]

Re:Jesus Christ on a Whole Wheat Cracker... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729144)

Your link for him to just google it has it's own issues:

"403. That’s an error.
Your client does not have permission to get URL /custom?query=linux+point+of+sale&sa=Search&client=pub-5834014132134539&forid=1&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&cof=GALT%3A%23008000%3BGL%3A1%3BDIV%3A%23336699%3BVLC%3A663399%3BAH%3Acenter%3BBGC%3AFFFFFF%3BLBGC%3A336699%3BALC%3A0000FF%3BLC%3A0000FF%3BT%3A000000%3BGFNT%3A0000FF%3BGIMP%3A0000FF%3BFORID%3A1%3B&hl=en from this server. (Client IP address: 174.55.251.81)

We apologize for your inconvenience, but this request could not be processed.
Please click here to continue your search on Google.
That’s all we know." :)

I did some googling on this.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729324)

And, OP, didn't find much. By the way, justfuckingcheckyourlinks, please.

I can't believe that somebody had the gall to mod you up for calling out an Ask Slashdot question that is entirely valid.

Re:I did some googling on this.. (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 3 years ago | (#36731960)

I googled for "Linux POS" and got this

http://ritchan.dasaku.net/computers/why-linux-is-a-piece-of-shit [dasaku.net]

You see, compiling the Linux kernel was harder than I thought. Well, not harder than I thought ... it just suddenly didn't want to cooperate after my hundred times compiling the kernel. For Linux in VMWare, I had to rummage around for ages until I finally figured out that I had to include Fusion MPT, whatever the hell that was. Funny how when I searched for Symbios 53c1030 it didn't show up, although when I went to Fusion MPT there it was, staring at me happily in the face, along with its brothers the 53c1020, 53c1010, and who knows what not (Hint: It's not funny at all). And get this ... when I tried to mount the iso images using the loopback, and with EFS compiled as a module and loaded, the fucking VFAT driver comes up and tries to make sense of the filesystem on the iso images. That's right, the EFS module didn't even do its fucking job, which was the whole fucking point of recompiling the kernel in the first fucking place. Worse of all, why the hell was the VFAT driver coming up? What the fuck? Don't try to be a hero, you just got yourself nuked, shitface.

So I tried going into my secret hideout - the LUKS encrypted supersecret Linux partition on my hard drive (not so secret if you just fdisk it). One thing led to another, and soon I was struggling furiously with this shitty program called mkinitrd (no doubt written by a monkey who was too busy jacking off to pay any attention to coding), which insists on making a gzipped ext2 filesystem image with your modules in it, instead of making a gzipped cpio archive, which the kernel uses. WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF PACKING MY KERNEL MODULES IN A FORMAT THAT THE KERNEL DOES NOT, REPEAT, DOES NOT, RECOGNIZE? The whole debacle wasted another 3 hours of my life, and I was still nowhere closer to getting IRIX 6.5 on my Indy.

And suddenly, up comes my shitty ext3 filesystem telling it can no longer find a superblock on so and so partition.

Fuck you, Linux.

Hope it is helpful to people considering Linux in a non hobby environment. Particularly "Don't try to be a hero, you just got yourself nuked, shitface." You can probably make yourself a macro in Emacs's Xrwqpxzzkpltk blogging module (don't use the 1.0.4pre version it's got a bug that posts all the images in ~/porn/ to your blog, stay on 1.0.1) so you don't need to type it out each time you use it and just type Esc Esc Ctrl Shift Alt S DTBAHYJGYN,S Ctrl F Esc AcpiPowerButton K.

Hell yeah! Now you're cooking with an open flame.

Re:Jesus Christ on a Whole Wheat Cracker... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729326)

That's a pretty looking IP address you have there....

Re:Jesus Christ on a Whole Wheat Cracker... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729666)

I don't think you read the whole post regarding open handheld terminals. While I'm happy you've never had to work a retail job, there's a bit of a difference between what the OP is asking for and a standard-sized register.

Re:Jesus Christ on a Whole Wheat Cracker... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36731652)

Is it really that hard to:

1) actually read the question at hand to find out what the submitter is really looking for
2) post links that actually work
3) not be a complete fucking douchebag

this is not the POS terminal you are looking for.. (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 3 years ago | (#36729082)

you know, some things just don't exist yet. like fusion power, warp drive, and cold fusion.

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#36729306)

Well, score 1 out of 3. Fusion power and cold fusion both exist, just on scales too small to be practical (so far).

It would be nice if I could say the same about warp drives... :o)

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#36729322)

Correction: "... too small and unreliable..."

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729374)

Well, fusion power doesn't exist at all, since we can't power anything with fusion yet.

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729448)

Well, fusion power doesn't exist at all, since we can't power anything with fusion yet.

Except when we use solar.

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#36729700)

So you have some alternative theory as to why stars shine, then...

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#36729796)

Haha. Well, that may be reliable... but I guess I meant controllable.

Cold fusion in cells like the one used by Pons and Fleishman has been observed many times now over the last 20 years. But never (AFAIK) in a way that was predictable or controllable. Almost as though there is some unknown variable. But until we are able to predict when it will happen and how much, it isn't of much use to anybody.

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36730766)

Many recent experiments by other scientists in the field have shown that cold fusion can be controlled and predicted quite effectively

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#36731038)

"Many recent experiments by other scientists in the field have shown that cold fusion can be controlled and predicted quite effectively"

If you have any links to such I would be very interested in seeing them.

Really cold fusion (1)

jamesc (37895) | about 3 years ago | (#36731418)

"Many recent experiments by other scientists in the field have shown that cold fusion can be controlled and predicted quite effectively"

If you have any links to such I would be very interested in seeing them.

As would I, so long as the are links to reproducible experiments, not just irreproducible anecdotes and oddities.

However, don't forget the real cold fusion: muon-catalyzed fusion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon-catalyzed_fusion [wikipedia.org] It works best when truly cold -- like the temperature of liquid hydrogen. ;-)

Too bad that the energy cost to make the muons is much greater than that from the fusion....

Re:Really cold fusion (1)

Cyberax (705495) | about 3 years ago | (#36732626)

Muon-catalyzed fusion might eventually be viable. It turns out, that bound muons are more stable and can catalyze more fusions.

Even plain muon-catalyzed fusion is just in one order of magnitude from being energy-positive.

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (1)

Annirak (181684) | about 3 years ago | (#36734108)

Specifically cold fusion. Google Rossi and the e-cat. He says there will be a test installation done in October. It's hard to say for sure, but the guy has over $500,000 of his own money sunk into it and isn't interested in investors, so there's no obvious financial gain to be had from lying to us. His patent application was denied from the Italian patent system because he can't explain how it works.

Re:this is not the POS terminal you are looking fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36733312)

Square (https://squareup.com) makes one for Android powered devices, I know of a photographer that uses this to accept payment when he's out on gigs.

iPod touch + sled? (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 3 years ago | (#36729084)

But does anyone know of an open terminal (with printer + Wi-Fi), preferably running Linux, that we can use to run a custom application for retail, made by a reputable manufacturer?

Just curious but why does the operating system underneath it all matter? It seems the application is key and you can open source that regardless of the platform it is running on. Why not an iPod touch + card reading sled + open source app, an app that you distribute internally as an enterprise app so it doesn't need the Apple approval process that a regular app would need?

Re:iPod touch + sled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729214)

https://squareup.com/ [squareup.com]

Re:iPod touch + sled? (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | about 3 years ago | (#36729776)

Good evening sir, if you would just swipe your card I'll have you out of here in a jiffy: The mobile POS device being a conglomeration of ipod, linksys router (dd-wrt, for extended range to reach that one corner in the back), card reader, 6 volt lantern batteries, paper clips, assorted wires in various colors, exposed circuit boards and electronics to convert serial to USB or whatever, all of this strapped together on a piece of chip-board with duct tape and thick rubber bands - Although it would look pretty cool, I'm not sure that I'd be comfortable contemplating weather the whole set up is PCI-DSS compliant :-)

Re:iPod touch + sled? (-1, Troll)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 3 years ago | (#36730000)

Just curious but why does the operating system underneath it all matter?

Because iOS will rob you of your freedoms in ways that Bill Gates never imagined. I assume you mean "free software", as in freedom, when you say "open source". Unless of course, you don't care about freedom. There's no such thing as free software on iOS. It's incompatible with Job's EULA. I recommend getting a real OS. Free software, something less likely to screw you: in this case, Android.

Re:iPod touch + sled? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 3 years ago | (#36730236)

Just curious but why does the operating system underneath it all matter?

Because iOS will rob you of your freedoms in ways that Bill Gates never imagined. I assume you mean "free software", as in freedom, when you say "open source". Unless of course, you don't care about freedom. There's no such thing as free software on iOS. It's incompatible with Job's EULA. I recommend getting a real OS. Free software, something less likely to screw you: in this case, Android.

Perhaps you should have read just a little bit further and learned: "an app that you distribute internally as an enterprise app doesn't need the Apple approval process that a regular app would need".

Also iOS can support open source, even for a regular app. The developer is free to give their source code to users. Users may need to register in order to load their build onto their device but that was their choice when the selected iOS as their platform. And if they prefer Android they can port the app to Android. You are being a bit of a drama queen with your hysteria.

Re:iPod touch + sled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36730554)

Yup. How many iOS apps have been forcibly deleted from users devices by Apple? Oh, that's right, none. And how many Android apps have been forcibly deleted from users devices by Google? Uh, yeah.....

Steve Jobs may be a controlling SOB, but the Antichrist he is not.

Re:iPod touch + sled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36730986)

you realize that's impossible without jailbreaking right?

Re:iPod touch + sled? (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 3 years ago | (#36731654)

What's impossible? I've installed apps (well, one app that I wanted) from source on my non-jailbroken iPad.

Re:iPod touch + sled? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 3 years ago | (#36735384)

you realize that's impossible without jailbreaking right?

You are mistaken:

Enterprise app: "an app that you distribute internally as an enterprise app doesn't need the Apple approval process that a regular app would need"
Regular app: "Users may need to register in order to load their build onto their device but that was their choice when the selected iOS as their platform"

Re:iPod touch + sled? (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 3 years ago | (#36732336)

but why?

Re:iPod touch + sled? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 3 years ago | (#36735266)

but why?

Note iPod touch not iPhone, phone's are a needless expense given that all that is needed is wifi. So Android phones seem to be overkill too. Pads may be too large. So what other proven comparable devices/solutions are there? I think proven device/solution is the most important point.

Re:iPod touch + sled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36731726)

Easy. Apple's products have the shortest life expectancy. Microsoft's next. And free software... ooh man do they last forever. If I bought a computer in 1993 and it ran free software it would still be working today. There is no way you'd be able to load the latest version of MS Windows onto a 1993 computer. Second if you get hardware not dependent on non-free drivers/firmware you don't have to worry about if the next OS version with have drivers and firmware support. Third. There is no need to port the software when Apple discontinues iOS or Microsoft discontinues its latest version. I was using the same stuff in 1993 that I am now. We might have newer technologies available with GNU/Linux than 1993. But the old stuff still works.

Re:iPod touch + sled? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 3 years ago | (#36735492)

Easy. Apple's products have the shortest life expectancy.

That is a straw man. Also misinformed, I can build and run software on a first generation iPhone and iPod touch.

And free software... ooh man do they last forever.

That is a red herring. Free software runs just fine on iOS devices. Developers are fee to give away their source code to users. However the most relevant point is that an enterprise app like the one being discussed does not have to go through the approval process required by regular apps that are distributed via Apple App Store. An enterprise app can be distributed by the company to its internal users directly.

There is no need to port the software when Apple discontinues iOS ...

You have just lost all credibility.

Why the restrictions on being open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729088)

Stuff that actually matters rarely comes out first or is even remotely available in 'open source' circles. Innovation rarely happens in such circles, just reinventing of the wheel.

Re:Why the restrictions on being open? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729540)

Stuff that actually matters rarely comes out first or is even remotely available in 'open source' circles

Yeah, nobody would ever think to use one of those stupid web browser thingies since Mosaic gave their source code out to whoever wanted it. Not that there's anything important to look at on those toy webservers like CERN httpd, and if any of it was important, it certainly wasn't written in perl or php.

But hey, you've got a point, sendmail was opensource and pretty much all my email is spam.

suse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729090)

http://www.novell.com/products/linuxpointofservice/

PCI (5, Insightful)

atfrase (879806) | about 3 years ago | (#36729092)

If you intend to process credit card payments through your custom application on the point-of-sale device, you'll likely fall under the purview of the Payment Card Industry's Payment Application Data Security Standard (PCI PA-DSS) [pcisecuritystandards.org] , which may require a source code audit and limit what you can have the software do. That may be no problem for you depending on your resources and intended use of your software, but it's worth keeping in mind.

Re:PCI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729218)

POS terminals also can't allow for any sort of modifications. They will usually have light detectors and spring loaded buttons inside the case to destroy their flash if the case is opened. This is to prevent people creating something that looks like a normal terminal externally but contains a card skimmer internally.

Re:PCI (4, Informative)

hibiki_r (649814) | about 3 years ago | (#36729238)

For all but the largest operations though, you need no code audits or anything of the sort: Even a chain with a couple dozen stores won't even be asked to do more than fill a questionnaire claiming to follow PCI standards, which as far as software go, aren't all that difficult to follow, especially if you leave most of the credit card handling to a third party, so you aren't stuck having to deal with securing encryption keys.

Re:PCI (1)

isopropanol (1936936) | about 3 years ago | (#36729508)

In particular the vx810 Duet is a pin-pad that has it's own printer and ethernet (sadly not wireless), and can talk via an rs-232 in "semi-integrated" mode whereby only the transaction amounts and transaction numbers etc flow to the POS, everything secret (pin, debit card number, etc) is handled by the terminal.

That seems awfully stupid to me.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729264)

In my opinion, if there is a FOSS POS application or system out there, one would hope it has appropriate interfaces to payment gateways, which is a much better idea than dealing directly with payment card companies.

Re:PCI (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729288)

Just because you're PCI compliant, doesn't mean you are until there is a breach and it is shown that you were indeed compliant...i.e., Visa wins. The best bet is to offload that risk to a processor as much as humanly possible.

Also, wifi + credit cards = lame. Really, really lame. Please don't do that...also, ipsec is nice when you can get it. SSL is not the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Linpads (1)

pbjones (315127) | about 3 years ago | (#36729098)

Without the printer option, I would guess that there are a number of Linux driven pads around, then use a central networked printer.

Where did he say handheld? (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#36729106)

In the summary I see

But does anyone know of an open terminal (with printer + Wi-Fi), preferably running Linux, that we can use to run a custom application for retail, made by a reputable manufacturer?

But no mention of it needing to be handheld. Sure, a handheld POS is nifty and all, but it does make it that much more complicated. Really if someone is just establishing a retail setup a POS in a static location would be more reliable and less expensive, which are both positive traits in the chaos of a start-up.

Re:Where did he say handheld? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 3 years ago | (#36729156)

Uh.... in the title?

Ask Slashdot: An Open Handheld Terminal For Retail Stores?

Sure, whether or not a handheld solution is necessary is debatable, but the poster did ask for advice on handheld units.

Re:Where did he say handheld? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#36729184)

Uh.... in the title?

I saw that, but I'm wondering why it is in the title and not the summary. The text from the submitter is short enough that he easily could have said "handheld" if that is what he wanted, but he never did. Which leaves me wondering why it is in the subject line but not in the text.

Of course, we all know that slashdot editors are perfect and never make a mistake, ever, anywhere...

Re:Where did he say handheld? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729380)

It's also the name of the submission, dillweed, which is what the submitter titled it as. Seriously, numbnuts, are you illiterate or just intentionally retarded?

Re:Where did he say handheld? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 3 years ago | (#36729414)

Submission: An open handheld terminal for retail stores?

It comes directly from the submitter's title in which they asked the question.

NCR??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729108)

you could just contact a manufacturer like NCR and get a list of the POS devices they have......seriously there are people out there that will be more informed than the trolls that are likely to reply.

Well... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729162)

And you wonder why so many people don't take Linux seriously... Hint: it's zealots like you.

Check Diebold (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 years ago | (#36729196)

if their voting machines are anything to go by, they're open as in Goatse.

Fun with Retail Scanners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729266)

For those of you stuck with WinCE scanners, like Target employees, here's a fun project:

Jimmy-jam control-C in the CLI-looking scanning screen ( for backstocking, for example ). You may may to mash some keys blindly, like Y ( for yes, I want to quit this program ) in response to poorly displayed queries on the way out.

Eventually, you'll just be hanging out in WinCE. There's isn't a whole lot you can do here with your limited permissions, but there is one thing you can do...

Find the phazer sound, wherever it's hiding. It's a sound file... possibly in a folder for WinCE's crummy media player. Highlight it with yon stylus, and copy it. Now, find the the Beep-Bee-Doop sound file. That isn't its real name, but it's a real sound file, not some kind of built-in hardware warble. Change this files name, then paste in the phazer sound and name it to whatever the Beep-Bee-Doop was named.

Presto! You now have the coolest goddamn scanner in Target. Pew, pew, pew!

Check a retail Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729314)

http://www.motorola.com/Business/US-EN/Business+Product+and+Services/Mobile+Computers and their competitors. Like Dolphin.
Zerba and their competitors.

Why? (4, Insightful)

rabbit994 (686936) | about 3 years ago | (#36729336)

I'll ask the easy question.. WHY?

Seriously, when you business relies on a machine that must work or you are losing money, everyone wants someone to turn to when it doesn't work. That someone isn't a man page or IRC channel or mailing list or whatever support for $foo GPL program here. It's a computer, not a holy war. You press buttons and it does things. When you want a computer you control, you run linux, when you want a computer that grandma can use, you give her a Mac and when you want retail system that checks people out, you run whatever OS that your POS maker asks you to.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | about 3 years ago | (#36729452)

So he can create a credit card skimmer? That was my first thought anyway.

Re:Why? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 3 years ago | (#36731258)

Mine, too. My second thought was "good thing I use cash for everything but gasoline".

Re:Why? (1)

Evil Al (7496) | about 3 years ago | (#36731356)

:-) Close but no... this will not be for processing cards at all, but rather for issuing access codes for Wi-Fi. I didn't want to go into too much detail in the summary so as not to bore people; I can see why it sounds like it would be for card processing.

Re:Why? (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 3 years ago | (#36731874)

:-) Close but no... this will not be for processing cards at all, but rather for issuing access codes for Wi-Fi. I didn't want to go into too much detail in the summary so as not to bore people; I can see why it sounds like it would be for card processing.

Erm... Can we clarify exactly what it is you do want? Do you already have the application? Does your handheld terminal need to process cards? Read barcodes? Print things out with an inbuilt printer?

As it stands, the most obvious reading of the summary is card processing - which, as others have said, is going to give you so much trouble meeting PCI-DSS requirements that you'd be insane to even try.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36732136)

No, as I say in the comment you replied to, this will not process cards, so PCI compliance is not as issue. I don't even need a card reader.

I need Wi-Fi connectivity (to fetch data from a server); some user input buttons (actual buttons or touchscreen) and a printer.

The app exists as a web app at the moment so will need to be ported to whatever platform we choose, hence the sdk requirement.

There have been some interesting suggestions in the thread and two look quite promising.

Re:Why? (1)

jmuzz (1953550) | about 3 years ago | (#36729840)

I'll ask the easy question.. WHY?

Well such a POS terminal would be very handy for tax avoidance purposes, a few small changes and recompile so you can skim a percentage of sales off the top keeping them out of the tax records. Places like restaurants and cafes can get away with this sort of thing easily since it is very hard to audit waste vs sales, biggest risk is that the POS logs act as evidence of your false tax reporting.
New POS terminals log every transaction which goes through them, often with no way for the owner to clear the history (which is a security feature for the owners to stop staff skimming money off, but it also works for government audit). Being able to modify that history to your liking is very valuable.

Many shops keep their old worn out cash registers for this very reason, the old ones dont work as evidence against them, all the new ones do.

Re:Why? (1)

cshark (673578) | about 3 years ago | (#36729846)

The majority of retail systems I've seen over the years run some kind of Unix or Linux. Occasionally, you see one that runs windows with a pretty touch screen, but those are few and far between. First place I would look for this kind of thing would be Alibaba. If you can think of it, you can probably find it there. Even though the ads look like shit, most of the Gold Certified wholesalers are pretty good. And you can usually get a deal when ordering multiple units. If you can't find what you want in terms of quantities or freight on board pricing, post a buys ad and describe what you're looking for in very short sentences. Then, watch the oems and wholesalers from around the world scramble for your business. Free trade. It's a beautiful thing.

Re:Why? (1)

sheddd (592499) | about 3 years ago | (#36730242)

Perhaps to develop for it? If I were to do a POS system, I'd probably go iphone/ipad these days though.

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36730634)

Retail Management has been wanting a handheld register since I can't remember when. Their idea is that they can use this as a "line-buster." Well, most retailers use check lanes now, so they should just open a damned register. Self-checkout is handling a lot of the line busting. Handhelds has a certain "cool" factor that just isn't there today.

I worked for a retailer that tried to develop this on their own. It started out simple, ring a transaction. Then we had to figure out how to print a receipt. Then how to swipe credit cards. This was before you had the signature capture pads, so then we realized that each credit transaction had to have a signature receipt printed. Since the unit was hand-held, there was nowhere for the customer to sign. Then you had to figure out how to bag the customer's purchases. What was thought to be a relatively simple idea morphed into something that looked like RoboCop once we accounted for all the various customer service needs. It never panned out despite two or three efforts.

Nowadays, this should be simple especially since I recently read that retailers are considering email receipts to customers; no printers. Wi-fi, PCI compliance and other things aren't as big of an issue as people paint them. Encrypt. Encrypt. Encrypt. But you still have to deal with the checkout process of which POS is only a portion.

In a few years tablets will be as powerful as desktops and you can run the same POS application. In fact, I would be surprised if you couldn't do that today on an Android tablet.

Re:Why? (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 3 years ago | (#36731716)

Apple Stores will email your receipt, but I think they will also print it for you if you prefer. All their POS terminals are modified iPod Touches. The printer sits behind the Genius Bar (aka the service desk).

Re:Why? (1)

Malc (1751) | about 3 years ago | (#36732288)

Signature for a credit card transaction? How quaint. How many places are there left that are still behind the times and requiring that?

Re:Why? (1)

kiwimate (458274) | about 3 years ago | (#36731454)

It's a computer, not a holy war.

You must be new here...

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36731772)

In the same vein: It's a computer, not an appliance. If some detail of the sales process bugs you, and you either can program yourself or have people who can do it, you can easily change it... provided you have access to the source code.

Re:Why? (1)

canesfan (607211) | about 3 years ago | (#36735100)

Very well put. I used to work in support for a Restaurant POS company back in the mid 90's and the POS systems were sold as a complete package from the touchscreen terminals to the MS Windows workstation that was used to manage the app to change menus, set prices, update sales tax. The credit card black box ran DR-DOS and you connected via modem using PC-Anywhere to clear the credit card batches and sort out the other problems with credit cards. By and large the people who own and run a business for profit could care less what the system ran. Kind of like the vast majority of people could care less about the technology used in there car engines. As long as it was reliable and reasonably economical. Running any kind of business is hectic enough without having a come to Jesus moment about free and open source software.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36735802)

Sorry, but I wouldn't give anyone a Mac on principle.

Security Concerns? (1)

ForgedArtificer (1777038) | about 3 years ago | (#36729344)

Not sure I'd want my payment system running on WiFi... but I'm not an expert on how secure this would be.

Re:Security Concerns? (1)

nzac (1822298) | about 3 years ago | (#36729614)

If done properly its still far more secure than having your credit card in your wallet and typing in your pin in a remotely public environment.

I don’t know much but I don't think intercepting the packets is hard part for hacking a banking system to get money. Its not impossible to intercept data from copper wires and they have mobile efpos machines.

Re:Security Concerns? (1)

isopropanol (1936936) | about 3 years ago | (#36729634)

As secure as any other TLS connection with pre-signed certificates from a known signing authority on both ends.

Re:Security Concerns? (1)

MoralHazard (447833) | about 3 years ago | (#36734670)

I'm guess I'm pretty close to being an expert, on this--like much of Slashdot, I get paid to do this stuff.

If your payment system runs over WiFi, and if that WiFi link and your payment server/client apps also do not implement any extra security measures, then your security is screwed. Anybody with a laptop and some free software can sniff your traffic, insert extra packets, etc. God help you.

Luckily, most modern WiFi equipment supports the WPA2 standard for link-layer encryption and authentication. If you just enable WPA2 on your router and set a halfway decent password, nobody will be able to bother you. WPA2 is very, very secure (from a cryptanalysis perspective), as good as the best stuff that protects bank transactions, military secrets, etc.

Or, you might be able to encrypt the app traffic via SSL or a VPN, using app-level passwords for authentication. Depends on what the PoS terminal and server platforms support.

Either way, make sure you physically lock down both the terminals and the server. If anybody (e.g., rogue employee) can view a cleartext password or modify a security configuration from the PoS terminal UI, or if they can open the case and pull a hard drive, you lose. But this isn't a WiFi weakness--you have the same potential problem with wired networks, too.

Android tablets? (1)

trawg (308495) | about 3 years ago | (#36729482)

Without thinking about it too much - is there any reason you couldn't get some Android tablets and rig them up to do what you want?

AML perhaps? (5, Informative)

CyberVenom (697959) | about 3 years ago | (#36729558)

AML makes Linux-powered portable handheld computers with Wi-Fi and barcode scanning capability, and they'll give you their source disk with your hardware if you ask, so you can modify it as much as you like if their standard suite of applications don't suit you. You would also need to add a printer like the Epson TM-T88 and an RS232 magstripe-reader like the Unitech MS-240. For the actual card clearing, you'd probably either tie this system into your existing POS mainframe (if you have one) or you'd tie it into an Internet-based POS solution like Authorize.net, or if you are feeling ambitious, you can integrate over SSL directly with a clearing network like TSYS (formerly VisaNet / VITAL). Of course, your biggest expenditure is probably going to be paying someone to write the software to tie all this together for you (unless you can pull it all off yourself, in which case hats off to you!)

http://www.amltd.com/product.asp?pid=m7220 [amltd.com]
http://pos.epson.com/products/prodsPMOP.htm [epson.com]
http://ute.com/products_info.php?pid=211 [ute.com]

P.S.
I have worked on the AML portable computers before. I have not specifically worked with the Epson printer or the Unitech magstripe reader, but both should work in conjunction with the AML unit's WiFi and serial capabilities respectively. You would probably need to custom-make a cable for the magstripe reader since the AML unit uses a non-standard RS232 connector (RJ45 if I recall correctly).

The answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729608)

The asker is probably looking for the Exadigm XD2000 [exadigm.com]

It is pretty much exactly the specs requested.

Re:The answer (1)

Evil Al (7496) | about 3 years ago | (#36731988)

It does seem to, thanks. I am awaiting SDK access to see what you can actually do on it.

Re:The answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36733036)

Exadigm is a piece of shit. Stick with VeriFone. Vx520 has Dial, Ethernet, and WiFi.
Vx670 is battery powered and uses Dial or CDMA/GPRS.

Re:The answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36735340)

I didn't say the Exadigm was the best terminal out there. I said it matched the specs requested (which the VeriFone terminals do not). BTW, the 520 does not have WiFi, the 670 does. For the environment the asker envisions, WiFi is the only suitable solution for wireless. CDMA and GPRS are just not reliable enough, not to mention the additional costs involved for the service.

What you are looking for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36729764)

Open source has not made it to the Banking industry as of yet- proprietary closed software is more secure in their minds. Anything you wrote would need to fall under the PCI/PCI-DSS or what ever acronym is important this week. The closet thing you can get is an Ingenico terminal. They have wireless terminals that are a bit large but very nice and Linux based. If your account is big enough or you got enough $$ they will program what you need. Here's the kicker...the terminal DOES NOT MATTER! You can use a cell phone w/swiper just as well with any sort of front end you want. What you need to look for is a Payment Gateway (USAePay, Rocketgate, whoever, there are tons). Wireless terminals all send their info over the internet through these gateways. Most of these gateways also have direct internet access as well. Make a program to take care of the front end you want. Then talk to your gateway, they all have sets of premade APIs ready for easy integration or you can have your programmer make one from scratch they give you the tools to develop one on your own.

Symbol (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 3 years ago | (#36729924)

Symbol is now part of Motorola: http://www.motorola.com/Business/US-EN/Business%20Product%20and%20Services/Bar%20Code%20Scanning/Scan-equipped%20Mobile%20Computers [motorola.com] . Fate worse than d

But, if you want open, SquareUp mentioned elsewhere looks to be the easiest approach- just plug it into the audio jack of any phone/tablet/whatever. Using a camera for barcode recognition is ok for very low volume transactions only though.

Burlington Coat Factory (1)

cesman (74566) | about 3 years ago | (#36730110)

I don't know who makes it but BCF uses Linux on their POS systems. ARTS (http://www.nrf-arts.org/) maybe of some help.

Retail Navigator (1)

cesman (74566) | about 3 years ago | (#36730120)

I use to do some consulting work with Retail Navigator (http://www.retailnavigator.com/) back in '00. They had a handheld sytsem running Linux. I don't know if they still do.

Senor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36730234)

senortech.com.au

Support ubuntu and red hat linux on some of their terminals at least.

For wifi and portability, try looking for a Senortech device called IsPAD 8 - not sure if that has linux support though.

Signed
A happy customer

Yay I Can Put On My Inventory Hat (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 3 years ago | (#36730360)

Back in the day we used to code inventory addons to add Intermec (http://www.intermec.com) hand-held laser barcode scanners to pre-existing mainframe inventory applications. Their kit ran MS DOS 5.0 (This was back in the 90s) and could be configured to run a terminal app to a UNIX box. They also had their own custom programming language that I vaguely remember sucked donkey balls.

These days my HTC phone costs substantially less than one of those things did, has better battery life, a bar code scanner library that works respectably well and can be programmed in Java. Oh, and a working wireless TCP/IP connection. Hmm. Which would I choose?

Get a Nook Touch. (1)

JeffElkins (977243) | about 3 years ago | (#36730372)

If I were looking, I'd look for something like this. Wifi for weeks per charge and very light. You could customize the hell out of this e-ink tablet.

found one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36730448)

This link:

http://www.viewtouch.com/index.html

they are all linux, all POS

including wifi tablets and PDA size devices

Sharp, Fujitsu.... (1)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | about 3 years ago | (#36730582)

A lot of really good companies make just that. Did you not bother to search?

ePoS terminals are clients (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 3 years ago | (#36730838)

It doesn't matter what they run. I helped develop an ePoS system for a public house running on LAMP, with the ePoS terminals bought on eBay running Damn Small Linux and various brand hand-held devices with wireless networking running WinMob, accessing different addresses for their respective interfaces. One of the only times I've done work in exchange for free beer! :D

Open-source linux POS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36730874)

I know open source linux POS (and use it):
SUNYARD
http://www.sydtech.com.cn/en/tech/download.asp [sydtech.com.cn]
www.sunyard.ru
It using reduced kernel 2.4.6 and You can upgrade it or make You own build

Your challenge is payment (1)

cheros (223479) | about 3 years ago | (#36730960)

Integration of payment facilities is what tends to break "my own POS" solutions. As soon as you touch a regular payment system you'll hit the circus surrounding PCI compliance, and that's a headache in itself.

There is something new on its way, but as first talks have only started this month I don't expect anything exciting to happen for at least another 3 months. It's probably going to be 2012 before this comes out proper..

Good luck!

Re:Your challenge is payment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36735526)

PCI compliance is enforced common-sense. That common-sense has to be enforced is a headache; common-sense, itself, is not.

Bah (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36731944)

I don't get why you don't just get a Vx680 or Vx820 that are coming out - you can run your own application layer on top of the software on it (making it as open as you need to be). Both PCI:DSS and PA:DSS will need to be adhered to to, of course.

Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36732274)

A motorola/Symbol MC75 coupled with a wifi-enabled Zebra MZ320 would do the work splendidly. the motorola mc74 sports windows mobile 6.5 wich is, well not super-easy-cocoa-to-write but customiseable enough and theyre not THAT expensive landing at about 1500-2000$ a piece, plus a dataplan if you think to use the 3g option. The printer sells for about 750-800$ but that should give you a complete functioning unit. do you plan to couple a credit card reader to it?

Computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36732306)

Whats wrong with the standard computer one that your local POS shop carries? Most of them run xp or older just build the os yourself....

A card card reader (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#36732424)

Does a card card reader read the same kind of card cards that go in an automated teller machine machine?

Archos 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36734078)

a company i used to work for used an Archos 9 tablet running Win7 Starter (though Ubuntu could work on there just the same). We had a Firefox-based POS system, had a USB mag-stripe reader, and used wifi (with a hidden SSID, MAC address filtering, and WPA2 to prevent anyone else from getting on the network). A networked printer took care of receipts.

a word of caution: one of the stores I set it up for managed to drop the tablet literally within 5 minutes of me finishing the set-up and shattered the glass, and we haven't been able to find replacement panels anywhere.

Aye (1)

viewtouch (1479) | about 3 years ago | (#36734290)

I have this. If anyone is interested, visit my web site (where you won't see any mention of this specific project yet but where anyone can see who I am and what I do) and find my contact information there. I have provided my POS help and source code to a few people over the years so that they can establish POS businesses in their locations. I would submit many of the details of new things going on to Slashdot but there's no guarantee it would be published so instead I'll make a whitepaper available to anyone who wants it and contacts me. I'm busy with creating a next generation POS which won't require any POS computer(s) in any retail location itself. What I currently have is not really simply a POS solution but actually more of a touchscreen development framework for displays of all sizes, from the smallest to the largest, which allows people to work collaboratively across the LAN & Internet. I've been at this for several decades now and have always believed that the future will be all about touch screens everywhere. I'm not a programmer myself so if there are any programmers who want to work with me then I invite them to get in touch. There are many people I am working with already but we always need people who want to also be involved in things touchscreen related.

--Gene Mosher

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