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Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the sad-news dept.

Handhelds 71

sfcrazy (1542989) writes "It's a sad day for free software as one of the most ambitious free software projects, Improv, is officially dead. Along with the board also dies the promising Vivaldi tablet [video intro]. The developers have sent out emails to the backers of the project that they are pulling plugs on these. The end of the Improv project also means a disappointing end to the KDE Tablet project, as Aaron Seigo was funding both projects out of his own pocket (almost exactly $200,000 spent)."

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71 comments

The reason for the death (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361091)

The cause for the death is not mentioned in the summary, so I'm adding it here. The article says that the reason for the project failing was that "there was simply not enough support to make the project work, despite having fully functional, production ready devices and a strong commitment to succeed".

Re:The reason for the death (2)

tomhath (637240) | about three weeks ago | (#47361227)

Looks like it was a pretty cool product, but it targeted a small and already crowded niche market with shoestring funding. So yea, cut their losses and move on to something else.

Re:The reason for the death (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about three weeks ago | (#47361269)

And yet, people still trot out OpenPandora from time to time. I guess Improv forgot their deal with the devil, or something...

Tablets are a useless fad device. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361673)

Lots of people have pointed out for years now that tablets are a pointless device.

People who buy iPads rarely do it because they have a use for such a device. They just want to be "trendy", and that involves spending hundreds of dollars on a device that has the right logo on it, but is otherwise of limited to no practical value for most people. Normal, sensible people just don't buy the tablets offered by other vendors.

Tablets give you the worst of all worlds. Their portability sucks compared to smartphones. Their functionality sucks compared to laptops. They're worse for consuming media than smartphones, laptops, desktops, TVs, personal music players and portable radios. The software tends to be awful, since it's often just scaled-up versions of smartphone apps.

It's good that this stupid project failed. It was obviously a waste of resources to begin with, just like every other tablet that's not being sold as a quasi-religious artifact. The sooner a pointless project is put down, the better.

Re:Tablets are a useless fad device. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361903)

Well, that's one opinion. My tablet's more portable than my laptop, runs for a longer time on battery, has a larger screen than my smartphone, and doesn't have to boot since I always keep it on. It performs the functions that I use most often on my laptop and smartphone in a fairly-comfortable form-factor, while being cheaper than either one (about half the price of my phone, and a fifth the price of my laptop).

Re:Tablets are a useless fad device. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361969)

Worse for media than phones? Now who is being religious?

Tablets fill a niche. A simple, always on device with better screen than a phone but not as cumbersome as a laptop. Phone screens are just too small for me to do much with them other than quick browsing. Perhaps you have no need for a device in between phone and laptop, but many folks do. Whether it's an ipad or android is irrelevant other that what software is available. I have both at my house and use em both for the same purposes (and thanks to cloud storage / online book stores my stuff is always synched up). I do find that the 7" size is more useful and quick for my taste, but the larger format (10") appeals more to the little ones for their videos.

As for why this was doomed. It's just not mass-market enough (meaning large, slick advertising campaigns and in-store displays at some chain store). Maybe it could have taken off if in the early days of tablets, but it's just too little, too late. Of the GNU/Linux bunch Ubuntu would have the best shot at producing a mass-market device due mainly to Shuttleworth's cash pile. I think it is a mistake to think of a tablet as anything other than a consumer electronics device. Sure, you can buy one of those bluetooth keyboards but then you really are setting yourself up for an inferior laptop.

Re:Tablets are a useless fad device. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47363011)

Translation "I can't afford iPad, so I will tell everyone how useless it is anyway".

Re:Tablets are a useless fad device. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47363541)

Eh. Good attempt. You had me going for a few lines.
Meh troll. 4/10. Would not copypasta.

You oversold it with the last line. Try again when you're older than 15.

Re:The reason for the death (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47362151)

Yeah, well, this is a PR exercise of publishing an official version :-) Truth is a bit/lot different, real problems were not these.

To little too late. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about three weeks ago | (#47361105)

GNU/Linux systems just can't seem to get a foothold in the consumer market.

Android/Linux does, iOS/BSD does, Microsoft even and hold on and get some share, mostly threw force of deep pockets.

I applaud the idea of trying to get a White box type of tablet. However form factor is a major concern, with tablets and mobile devices. Trying to make a White Box with many ports makes it heavier and bulkier.

Re:To little too late. (1)

tepples (727027) | about three weeks ago | (#47361215)

Then make a tablet with only USB host, USB device (separate to allow charging while acting as a host), audio, microSD, and Thunderbolt (which should cover everything else). Or is Thunderbolt too power-hungry for a tablet?

Re:To little too late. (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about three weeks ago | (#47361767)

>Then make a tablet with only USB host, USB device (separate to allow charging while acting as a host), audio, microSD, >and Thunderbolt (which should cover everything else). Or is Thunderbolt too power-hungry for a tablet?

Thunderbolt seems like overkill for a tablet, but a separate USB host socket in addition to the charging port is a great idea, and an SD slot is crucial in a tablet.

Re:To little too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47363561)

Thunderbolt = PCI express

PCI express isn't really a thing in most mobile SoCs, save perhaps some of Intel's Baytrail chips.

I have no idea if it's a power power hog or whatnot.

Re:To little too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47374813)

Chances are, whatever you're plugging into the TB port will likely need to be powered.

Re:To little too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47362241)

Yeah. I have that. Acer Iconia. Well no thunderbolt, but whatever.

Re:To little too late. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about three weeks ago | (#47361285)

Of course, that had nothing to do with anything.

These didn't even make it to market, due to lack luster funding and enthusiasim. Looks like aprox: $200,000 was spent. That's not nearly enought to get volumes of good parts. The proposed tablet was old when it was announced, as was the dev board.

Re:To little too late. (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about three weeks ago | (#47361387)

"GNU/Linux systems just can't seem to get a foothold in the consumer market."

Actually almost 100% of homes in the USA have GNU/Linux systems. Their TV, Their Bluray Players all run Linux. Tons of consumer devices run linux in homes.

Re:To little too late. (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about three weeks ago | (#47361685)

Linux is to Android what Linux is to TiVo, it was cheaper to snatch the kernel than write their own, the rest, including the idea of FOSS (look up on Ars the excellent article about Android going proprietary Google is pulling a EEE on Android) they didn't want.

So to make your sentence accurate it should read, Google does, Apple does, Microsoft does, which explains it all...money, money, and money. The public has shown repeatedly they don't give even a single fuck about walled gardens or openness, hence the runaway success of iPad, so if the ONLY feature you can tout over the other guy is "freedom"? You are fucking dead, or like OpenPandora on life support.

Re:To little too late. (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about three weeks ago | (#47366187)

...it was cheaper to snatch the kernel than write their own...

Never mind that attempting to write and use their own kernel would amount to suicide by stupidity.

Re:To little too late. (1)

atomicthumbs (824207) | about three weeks ago | (#47367063)

It seems to have worked out pretty well for that other big company that makes phones.

Re:To little too late. (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about three weeks ago | (#47374839)

Apple borrowed BSD for iOS, Microsoft borrowed Digital VMS for NT, Google borrowed Linux for Android, and Blackberry borrowed QNX for BBOS. Unless I missed some other big company, looks like no one really started from scratch.

KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (1, Offtopic)

Dimwit (36756) | about three weeks ago | (#47361181)

KDE, Canonical, and GNOME have all made this huge push into stupid design decisions lately. Canonical with Ubuntu Phone/Tablet and Mir, GNOME with GNOME 3 and treating the desktop like a tablet, Mozilla with FirefoxOS, and KDE with this sort of stuff.

You know what I want out of an open source desktop? A DESKTOP! Seriously. I need a good desktop environment for my COMPUTER where I do actual work. I can't write code on a tablet. I can't write papers on a tablet. I can't do serious design work (anywhere, because I'm not a designer, but specifically also not on a tablet).

If I want to use a tablet, I want to use it to play games and watch movies, and Ubuntu/KDE/GNOME tablets aren't going to have Civilization Revolution, Ticket to Ride, Netflix, or Amazon Instant Video any time soon, so any tablet running those operating systems is going to be just a really crippled computer and a useless tablet.

Re:KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361295)

KDE does give you a desktop! And thanks to plasma, other options, but no one took your precious desktop.

Re:KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47362023)

KDE gives us a desktop! Yes! But it also gives us nepomuk, baloo, akonadi, virtuoso... KDE has so much useless bloat on it.

Re:KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (2)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about three weeks ago | (#47362321)

Nonsense. No one forces you to use the multimedia applications if you dont want to. I do want to be able to watch a video on KDE, and actually have something where you can do things with multimedia. I don't see how this in any way affects your ability to do whatever you do. The comment made was about the desktop metaphor being abandoned by Unity etc. Multimedia applications work well with a desktop based UI are not opposed to it. KDE does still provide a desktop metaphor. If you don't like the high level of functionality in KDE, you can feel free to use FVWM.

Re:KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47363427)

First, it's not about multimedia. It's about over engineered stuff that still doesn't work reliably after more than six years of development.

You do have your hand forced here.

Mail: I used Kmail from 2000ish-2008. It was awesome. I haven't even been able to launch it for 6 years. Why? Need akonadi running. I never got past the "akonadi is broken" dialog. Not once in six years.
SOLUTION: read and write to a text-based file, like the old days. Or use a db library. There are many solid libraries to choose from.

Activities: the shining star of the "KDE4 Desktop Metaphor" - the associated icons rely on having nepomuk running. Noone is going to have so many icons on their desktop that they need a db to store them all. It's silly. I have now dumped it all, and just use a plain desktop with links. Which is a massive timesaver, as I'm not constantly trying to figure out why the associated icons are not present in the current session. Or why the wrong icons are showing, or why the icon I just associated isn't showing. Now when I log in/out, everything is there, as I left it.
SOLUTION: read from and write to the same goddamn text file that has *all the other activity info* in it.

Search: I went back to using locate:/ or KFind. Now I don't have a 6gig db file sitting in my /home/.kde/wherever, waiting to be corrupted and needing a rebuild. I haven't noticed any difference in functionality anywhere else on the system. Apart from no disk-grinding moments at inappropriate times, and locate:/ doesn't have to scan and try to read an unreadable db file. Much faster.

"...if you don't like...high level functionality...use FVWM..." I read that as "suck it or fuck off". BAH! ENOUGH! This is the attitude that drove people away from GNOME.

Re:KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (1)

Etzos (3726819) | about three weeks ago | (#47364179)

KDE gives us a desktop! Yes! But it also gives us nepomuk, baloo, akonadi, virtuoso... KDE has so much useless bloat on it.

Baloo has replaced both nepomuk and virtuoso and is far more slim (both code-wise, memory-wise, and CPU usage-wise). And really it's one of the nicest things to have around if you just want to find something fast. Calling something like that (which is providing a feature which every other major desktop has) bloat seems like a bit of a stretch.

Akonadi isn't really bloat either. It's required to have a truly semantic desktop. Now, that may not be for everyone, but it helps provide a smoother experience for PIM stuffs. Albeit, it has had a fairly rough time. The bugs with Akonadi can be particularly annoying to end-users. (Anecdote warning!) I haven't had any problems with Akonadi in a long time. Of course, I did also switch the database engine to PostgreSQL, I have no idea if that made any kind of difference.

I've also heard bloat complaints about Phonon, and I agree with them to a degree. Phonon seems like it's overkill since, for the most part, most audio is already sent through multiple abstraction layers before it's consumed by an application. However, during the time Phonon was created there was really no clear way to know which abstractions would win out (and even now gstreamer and vlc both provide about the same feature set) so having a way to build an application without having to worry about that kind of detail made sense (and still does make some sense).

Re:KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about three weeks ago | (#47366685)

KDE gives us a desktop! Yes! But it also gives us nepomuk, baloo, akonadi, virtuoso... KDE has so much useless bloat on it.

No, you are wrong... these things are not useless, they are worse than useless. Each of these fails harder than any stupid kde design mistake has ever failed before. Speaking as a KDE user.

Re:KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about three weeks ago | (#47366677)

They took my email program.

It's just shitty hipster designers at work again. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361603)

Those projects you mention, and even companies like Microsoft (see Windows 8) and Google (see the recent Google Maps redesign), have been invaded by hipster designers.

The thing to remember about hipsters is that they're highly self-focused. Their life revolves around their taste for stupid fashion, their taste for shitty but expensive food and drinks, their taste for useless gadgetry, and their own pleasure. They don't give a fuck about anyone else or anything else. They don't give a fuck if the software UI design that they think looks "pretty" doesn't actually work for you, or renders unusable the software that you need to use to get real work done.

They live in a world that's about consuming shitty mass media on shitty devices with the correct fruit-shaped logo on them. That's as far as computing goes for them. If your needs don't match theirs, then they don't give a flying fuck, even when it's their job to make software that works well for others. They will even try to make existing, unrelated software conform to their shitty idea of what computing is.

They're a disease upon the computing industry. And all of the evidence points to them being horrible UI and user experience designers. Every existing product they've touched has turned to utter shit, including Firefox, GNOME, Google Maps and even Windows. If these kind of people start working on your software project, they will manage to destroy it. The best thing to do is to keep them away to being with, or totally isolate them if they do start to infect a given project. They bring nothing but disaster and harm with them. Oh, and shitty, shitty software UIs.

Re:KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about three weeks ago | (#47361667)

The Free Software world has tried [and failed] time, and time again to produce a decent mobile interface. For its day, GPE was not too horrible, but it was nothing but a copy of other GUIs.

Android has the first new GUI in ages worth a crap. And it's got plenty of faults.

Everybody wants to be as cool as android. Keep trying, I guess.

Re:KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (2)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about three weeks ago | (#47361721)

Use Mate Desktop or Cinnamon Desktop they both have been aiming for a sane attractive traditional desktop environment ever since Gnome went nuts. Then there is e17, lxde, just open your repository there are far more that i cant remember the names of.

Needs Windows 8.1 (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361189)

I was interested until I found out it ran Linux / KDE. Any chance if getting Microsoft Windows on this thing?

Re:Needs Windows 8.1 (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about three weeks ago | (#47365245)

Strange, I was thinking of buying an MS Surface Pro 3 and putting KDE on it!

Would it kill you to hint at what Improv is (was)? (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about three weeks ago | (#47361231)

It's a sad day for free software as one of the most ambitious free software projects, Improv, is officially dead.

How is an "open hardware development board" (how hard would it have been to weave that into the summary, by the way?) a "free software project"?

Re:Would it kill you to hint at what Improv is (wa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361315)

If only there was some way to get more information, perhaps with a sort of "link" of some kind to a more detailed description.

Re:Would it kill you to hint at what Improv is (wa (3, Informative)

lkcl (517947) | about three weeks ago | (#47362691)

If only there was some way to get more information, perhaps with a sort of "link" of some kind to a more detailed description.

here is the [old] specification of the [revision 1] CPU Card:
http://rhombus-tech.net/allwin... [rhombus-tech.net]

the current revision 2 which i am looking for factories to produce (RFQs sent out already) we will try with 2gb of RAM. this is just a component change not a layout change so chances of success are high.

here is the [old] specification of the Micro-Engineering Board:
http://rhombus-tech.net/commun... [rhombus-tech.net]

that was our "minimal test rig" which helped verify the interfaces on the first CPU Cards (and will help verify the next ones as well, with no further financial outlay needed. ever. ok, that would be true if i hadn't taken the opportunity to change the spec before we go properly live with it!! you only get one shot at designing a decade-long standard.... i'd rather get it right)

this will be the basis of the planned crowd-funding campaign: it's more of a micro-desktop PC:
http://rhombus-tech.net/commun... [rhombus-tech.net]

the micro-desktop chassis is very basic: VGA, 2x USB, Ethernet, Power In (5.5 to 21V DC). all the other interfaces are on the CPU Card (USB-OTG, Micro-HDMI, Micro-SD). however unlike the Micro-Engineering Board, the power is done with a view to the average end-user (as is the VGA connector which means 2 independent screens, straight out the box).

does that help answer the question?

Re:Would it kill you to hint at what Improv is (wa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47367615)

Most of the functionality of Improv is available in an existing 30-euro board [olimex.com] , with the only major exception being form factor and the ability to plug into a baseboard for memory expansion.

Since that product is open source hardware, extending its design with a DDR3 memory connector could serve as a useful stop-gap. At heart, it's exactly what you were aiming for in specs, but in the "wrong" form factor. Given the price, it's hard to complain.

Re:Would it kill you to hint at what Improv is (wa (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about three weeks ago | (#47366991)

If only Slashdot would act like a real news source, and subtly provide just the barest of information rather than leaving the reader less well informed than before.

Hardware is hard (4, Informative)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about three weeks ago | (#47361241)

Hardware is hard. Good hardware is harder.

Re:Hardware is hard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361303)

Read "hard" as "Expensive as Hell"

Re:Hardware is hard (4, Interesting)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about three weeks ago | (#47361435)

Read "hard" as "Expensive as Hell"

That is part of it yes. It requires a wide range of differently experienced people: low level software, high level software, circuit design, assembly, layout, component sourcing, factory liasion, DFt, Manufacturing etc.

Then you need to get them all to work together. And you have to pay them.

The component cost is irrelevant until you get into high volume manufacture.

Re:Hardware is hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47362875)

Aren't TI multi-core dsp+arm boards open? The GPU is not open but that is why you have the DSP for. As far as I remember you can progrm the DSP through RPMSG which is open source for Omap 4,5

Re:Hardware is hard (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about three weeks ago | (#47362917)

Does a "TI multi-core dsp+arm board" design your manufacturing process for you?

Re:Hardware is hard (2)

lkcl (517947) | about three weeks ago | (#47364551)

Read "hard" as "Expensive as Hell"

That is part of it yes. It requires a wide range of differently experienced people: low level software, high level software, circuit design, assembly, layout, component sourcing, factory liasion, DFt, Manufacturing etc.

Then you need to get them all to work together. And you have to pay them.

... ynow... one of the reasons i came up with the idea to design mass-volume hardware that would be eco and libre friendly was because, after having developed the experience to deal with both low-level software and high-level software, and having done some circuit design at both school and university, i figured that the rest should not be too hard to learn... or manage.

  you wanna know the absolute toughest part [apart from managing people?] it's the component sourcing. maan, is that tough. if you want a laugh [out of sheer horror, not because it was actually funny] look up the story on how long it took to find a decently-priced mid-mount micro HDMI type D [8 months].

  so anyway, i set out to find people with the prerequisite skills that i *didn't* have, offered them a chance to participate and profit. the list of people who have helped and then fallen by the wayside... i... well.... i want to succeed at this so that i can give them something in return for what they did.

Re:Hardware is hard (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about three weeks ago | (#47365157)

I agree. A lot of parts that people may think are easy to get are actually locked up in supplier agreements to mass manufacturers. If you want 3 million next year, thats ok. But 10 this week, no chance.

Re:Hardware is hard (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about three weeks ago | (#47366413)

Not to mention - did you design your product for your anticipated volumes?

If you plan to sell 10,000 of them, you need to THINK about 10,000 units. What parts to order, can you even get them in 10,000 quantities, and will you get the requisite support? I mean, if you're planning 10,000 units, you need to also make sure that the vendors are willing to support you by getting you the information you need.

A while back, in the Tegra 2 days, nVidia will NOT talk to anyone with less than 1M units. It doesn't matter that you can buy their dev kit, you can design your whole software and hardware around it, they just will not talk to you. These days it's easier since nVidia is now on the sidelines and no longer the #1 segment.

Even the big buys like Qualcomm and Freescale won't talk to little peoeple. Instead, they contract out small scale support to other companies (the company I work for does exactly that). But that company is a middleman and can often only release limited amount of information. E.g., we can design hardware using Qualcomm chips for small runs (because we aggregate small runs into bigger runs, so Qualcomm supports us as whole, while we're smaller and nimbler and can support the small runs much better), but we cannot release information (due to NDAs) to anyone else, nor can we release the source code beyond what we're allowed to. So if you have some super-duper design using a Qualcomm chip, well, you'll have to convince us to make it for you and take a cut of the profits (we aren't doing it for free) or we do some NRE for you.

In fact, if you want some Qualcomm chips, you can't buy them except through smaller companies like us and we're not allowed to sell you raw chips that aren't soldered to a board.

Re:Hardware is hard (1)

mossy the mole (1325127) | about three weeks ago | (#47361473)

Hardware is hard. Good hardware is harder.

Yeh, IMO were not going to see a really serious open hardware till some really nasty DRM/Trusted computing evil comes along and turns peoples minds to it.

Re:Hardware is hard (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about three weeks ago | (#47362199)

>till some really nasty DRM/Trusted computing evil

DRM is evil, but trusted computing is a tool. It is no more evil than the user.

"promising" (1)

hawk (1151) | about three weeks ago | (#47366207)

You keeep using that word . . . I do not think it means what you think it meanz . . .

hawk

Re:"promising" (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about three weeks ago | (#47370767)

>You keeep using that word . . . I do not think it means what you think it meanz . . .

No I didn't. The work "promising" didn't appear once.
You misspelled 'keep' and 'means'.

Idiot.

Re:"promising" (1)

hawk (1151) | about three weeks ago | (#47374147)

*whoosh*

cultural illiterate.

Re:"promising" (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about three weeks ago | (#47377133)

Yup. Whooshing hard today. I still have no clue. Do I need to get HBO to get the reference?

Re:"promising" (1)

hawk (1151) | about three weeks ago | (#47377251)

Try "Princess Bride"

Re:"promising" (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about three weeks ago | (#47377335)

So there's your problem. I've never seen it.

What was desirable about it? (1)

darylb (10898) | about three weeks ago | (#47361453)

Open hardware sounds cool, but as others have noted, good hardware design is both difficult and expensive. Considering how rapidly the components advance (CPU/SoC, I/O, displays, etc.), it would be hard for a small shop trying to live up to competing demands of "quick to market," "affordable to produce," "doable without a larger company's backing" to compete seriously against the likes of, say, Google's partners. Of note, even Google outsources the hardware.

But then there's the software. What does a "generic" Linux core with KDE offer that's a real improvement over the open source pieces of Android? Why not put a different UI (even KDE) onto Android? What am I missing here? Does anyone really want to reinvent the wheel of making a Linux kernel and its accessories meet the dual needs of good performance and economical power usage? Considering the variations already available for Android, what was the goal?

We're in a world where a first generation Nexus 7 tablet sells for $140 or less. At Walmart.

Re:What was desirable about it? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about three weeks ago | (#47361693)

For several of android tablets there are some working linux distributions (that may or not have working all hardware), even without counting ubuntu touch. But the point on that tablet was that it had open hardware too, ubuntu touch solves the drivers problem taking directly the manufacturer's android drivers, so closed hardware also leads to closed source running there too, with potential backdoors (like the ones found in samsung devices [replicant.us] ) builtin.

Re:What was desirable about it? (3, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | about three weeks ago | (#47362605)

Open hardware sounds cool, but as others have noted, good hardware design is both difficult and expensive. Considering how rapidly the components advance (CPU/SoC, I/O, displays, etc.),

aaaah gotcha! that's the _whole_ reason why i designed the long-term modular standards, so that products *can* be split around the arms race of CPU/SoC on the one hand and battery life / display etc. on the other.

and the factory that we are in touch with (the big one), they _love_ this concept, because the one thing that you might not be aware of is that even the big guys cannot react fast enough nowadays.

imagine what it would mean to them to be able to buy HUGE numbers of CPUs (and related components), drop them into a little module that they KNOW is going to work across every single product that conforms to the long-term standard. in 6 months time there will be a faster SoC, more memory, less power, but that's ok, because *right now* they can get better discounts on the SoC that's available *now*.

on the other side of the interface, imagine what it would mean to them that they could buy the exact same components for a base unit for well... three to five years (or until something better came along or some component went end-of-life)?

it took them a while, but they _loved_ the idea. the problem is: as a PRC State-Sponsored company they are *prohibited* from doing anything other than following the rules... i can't tell you what those rules are: they're confidential, but it meant that we had to find other... creative ways to get the designs made.

We're in a world where a first generation Nexus 7 tablet sells for $140 or less. At Walmart.

yeah. now that prices are dropping, just like the PC price wars, the profits are becoming so small that the manufacturers are getting alarmed (or just dropping out of the market entirely). those people are now looking for something else. they're willing to try something that might get them a profit. what should we tell them?

anyway: thank you for your post, darylb, it provides a very useful starting point for some of the key insights i want to get across to people.

Re:What was desirable about it? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about three weeks ago | (#47365543)

It was an opportunity to monetize KDE through hardware sales and Mr Seigo seems to have sunk his own savings into the venture.

Whether KDE has the resources to refocus on porting to existing devices such as Nexus, Galaxy Note and Surface Pro tablets remains to be seen.

Well, what do ya expect from the Eyeties? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47361611)

About all they've ever finished is a pizza.

moving forward: next crowdfunding launch (5, Informative)

lkcl (517947) | about three weeks ago | (#47362451)

short version: the plan is to carry on, using the lessons learned to
try again, with a crowd-funding campaign that is transparent. please
keep an eye on the mailing list, i will also post here on slashdot
when it begins.

http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipe... [phcomp.co.uk]

long version:

this has been a hugely ambitious venture, i think henrik's post explains much:
http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipe... [phcomp.co.uk]

the - extremely ambitious - goal set by me is to solve a huge range of
issues, the heart of which is to create environmentally-conscious
mass-volume appliances that software libre developers are *directly*
involved in at every step of the way.

so, not to be disparaging to any project past or future, but this isn't
"another beagleboard", or "another raspberry pi beater": it's a way to
help the average person *own* their computer appliances and save
money over the long term. software libre developers are invited
to help make that happen.

by "own" we mean "proper copyright compliance, no locked boot
loaders and a thriving software libre environment that they can
walk straight into to help them do what they want with *their*
device... if they want to".

the actual OS installed on the appliance will be one that is
relevant for that appliance, be it ChromeOS, Android, even
Windows or MacOSX. regardless of the pre-installed OS, the
products i am or will be involved in *will* be ones that Software
Libre Developers would be proud to own and would recommend
even to the average person.

by "saving money over the long term" we mean "the device is
split into two around a stable long-term standard
with a thriving second-hand market on each side, with new
CPU Cards coming along as well as new products as well.
buy one CPU Card and one product, it'll be a little bit more
expensive than a monolithic non-upgradeable product,
but buy two and you save 30% because you only need
one CPU Card. break the base unit and instead of the whole
product becoming land-fill you just have to replace the base,
you can transfer not just the applications and data but
the *entire computer*".

it was the environmental modular aspects as well as
the committment to free software *and* the desire to reach
mass-volume levels that attracted aaron to the Rhombus Tech
project.

perhaps unsurprisingly - and i take responsibility for this - the
details of the above did not translate well into the Improv
launch. the reason i can say that is because even henrik,
who has been helping out and a member of the arm netbooks
mailing list for quite some time, *still* has not fully grasped
the full impact of the technical details behind the standards

(hi henrik, how are ya, thank you very very much for helping
with the boot of the first A10 / A20 CPU card, your post on
the mailing list last week was very helpful because it shows
that i still have a long way to go to get the message across
in a short concise way).

the level of logical deduction, the details that need to be taken
into account, the number of processors whose full specifications
must be known in order to make a decent long-term stable
standard.... many people i know reading that sentence will think i
am some sort of self-promoting egotistical dick but i can tell you
right now you *don't* want to be holding in your head the
kinds of mind-numbing details needed to design a long-term
mass-volume computing standard. it's fun... but only in a
masochistic sort of way!

anyway. i did say long, so i have an excuse, but to get to the
point: now that the money is being returned, we can start again
with a new campaign - using a crowdfunding site that shows
numbers, and starts with a lower target (250) that offers more value
for that same amount of money to everyone involved as various
stretch goals (500, 1,000, 2500) are achieved. these will include
casework, FCC Certification, OS images prepared and, most
importantly as far as i am concerned, one of the stretch goals
i feel should be a substantial donation to the KDE Team in
recognition of the help - through some tough lessons if we are
honest - that they have given, as well as the financial outlay
that they've put forward because they believed in what we're
doing.

i'd like to hear people's thoughts and advice, here, because this
really is an exceptionally ambitious project that no commercial
company let alone a software-libre group would ever consider,
precisely because it requires a merging of *both* commercial
aspects *and* software libre principles and ethics. the
environmental angle and long-term financial savings are what
sells it to the end-users though.

Re:moving forward: next crowdfunding launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47362829)

I loved the idea of the detachable CPU card since I first stumbled across the standard. It seemed tlike an awesome revolutionary idea, that was probably too good to ever happen. So when I heard the Improv was actually being built I placed my order immediately - so that even if the idea didn't work out with the full healthy ecosystem I'd at least have a part of it.

I was sad to hear it admit defeat and and that I'd be getting my money back instead of an Improv. But your message here brings renewed hope that it will be attempted again. (Which would have been good to hear in the email, instead of just "sorry, it's over.")

I still think the idea is amazing and will be involved next time as well.

Re:moving forward: next crowdfunding launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47364181)

I was sad to hear it admit defeat and and that I'd be getting my money back instead of an Improv. But your message here brings renewed hope that it will be attempted again. (Which would have been good to hear in the email, instead of just "sorry, it's over.")

Not the same guys leading.

Collaborate with Olimex! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47367423)

Since Olimex produces a few of their OSHW products in a "SOM" form factor (separate CPU modules and baseboard) and the company has been extremely open and supportive of the OSHW community for a long time, wouldn't it be in both your interest and theirs to work together directly in developing an EOMA-68 system?

Their current A10-OLinuXino-LIME [olimex.com] and -4GB [olimex.com] products are selling like hotcakes and they hit the price point that you were aiming for. Although "hardware is hard" and requires juggling a lot of facts and figures as you explained, Olimex has the hardware skills and production systems to make interesting things happen fast, and they've demonstrated their juggling abilities repeatedly.

I think it would be very beneficial to the OSHW community if there were some direct collaboration with that company towards your very worthwhile project, and it's not out of line with what they already do.

Re:moving forward: next crowdfunding launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47373533)

tldr; you want to deliver a device that would more or less be the free-software world's answer to Apple/Android usability. And you don't have the resources or market to do it.

There was a lot of buzz around Bunnie's project to deliver a truly free-software laptop from the ground up, and the overwhelming support is very exciting. Still, look at the devices he offered at his crowdfunder:
https://www.crowdsupply.com/ko... [crowdsupply.com]

The only real laptop form-factor is a $5,000 novelty laptop made of wood. (I say novelty not because it isn't functional, but because it's more a work of art than anything that could serve as a model for production in numbers greater than ten.) I'm not dogging his wildly successful fundraiser. I'm saying there's a really good reason he employed those unusual designs in the other devices-- with nearly 3 times more money than his goal, even the molding for a hackable clamshell would have been prohibitively expensive. And that doesn't take into account things like Vivaldi's software integration for KDE plasma which is outside the scope of the Novena.

Moreover, if the Novena ships with all the specs and stretches it advertised in the crowdfunder then it is delivering real innovations like SDR, free-software 3d graphics acceleration and other goodies that are hard to get for the price. The final number in their crowdfunder is the testament to the market for that. What are the innovations of a Vivaldi tablet? If there are any (other than an attempt at Apple-type usability on a non-Apple/non-Android device), I don't know them. A non-android, underpowered tablet running an interfaced designed so that non-technical people who have never heard of free software can use it surely has miniscule demand.

Of course I hope I'm wrong, and I wish you luck on your reboot. If you're able to bring such a device to market I'll certainly buy one, just as I bought an x60 gluglug. (Which is running a very usable free-software OS, btw.) I love flashing my free software bios to gain > 2x battery life on an eight year-old refurbed machine. But I'm crazy like that, and I don't have nearly enough disposable income to build a business-plan around.

Huh? Lotus Improv on tablets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47362943)

I've never heard of this project, so no wonder it failed. They should have hired Danica Patrick or someone to promote it. Since it's dead, I'm not going to bother finding out what it was.

Vote with your wallet! (1)

Albert Astals Cid (3692545) | about three weeks ago | (#47363315)

Improv may be axed but other projects still need money, so if you like free software, donate! http://www.kde.org/fundraisers... [kde.org] https://www.kickstarter.com/pr... [kickstarter.com]

Re:Vote with your wallet! (1)

oever (233119) | about three weeks ago | (#47363493)

I hope this will get the same following as the fairphone did. That project was a good success and has built a user base to grow from. It's especially jarring to great projects like vivaldi fail when government regularly throw away hundreds of millions on failed ict projects.

Predicted and alternative offered (1)

paugq (443696) | about three weeks ago | (#47363425)

It's sad to hear this but it's exactly what I predicted 2 years ago. I even provided an alternative that would work: use an "Android Core" as the base operating system, instead of Mer Linux, then port KDE to this "Android Core":

http://www.elpauer.org/2012/09... [elpauer.org]

Interestingly, this is exactly what Digia did for Qt, with the Boot to Qt (AKA Qt Enterprise Embedded) solution, a while after I made my proposal.

Re:Predicted and alternative offered (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47366705)

The reason why this project failed is not because the software was not viable, it failed at the hardware production stage, mostly because of a lack of buyers, and it is the financial strain of two failed hardware attempts that brought down everything.

Frankly, as somebody who tried to buy an improv, I wouldn't have cared about yet another android based device: the ability to run a full GNU/Linux system was the main attractive, and I know that there is a niche for this, and it should be big enought to support an OpenPandora sized product run.

The viability of the software is proved by my current plan B: an oversized tablet/netbook convertible assembled from olimex parts, including a main board that uses the very same SoC that the Improv was supposed to come with. Building the case at home is giving some problems, and it's never going to look good, but the software just runs with no issues.

Frankly, I suspect that the reason this project failed has more to do with a lack of community building skills from some of the people involved, rather than the actual value of the idea, but this is getting into speculation area.

mod 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47363747)

of progrees. most. PLook at the clearly. There first avoid going you get distracted are almost outstrips said one FreeBSD problem; a few and, after initial at death's door theorists - handy, you are free
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