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Ask Slashdot: Which OS For an Embedded Display Unit? 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-little-help-please dept.
First time accepted submitter spouse writes "We are a small Software Design team of 8 developers, working with home brewed Linux to make our ARM7, ARM9 and Intel based embedded products work. Now we want to develop our first 7 inch touch screen tablet-like device serving as control panel for a set of our 'black box' devices. We see Android as a possible choice due to the tablet like character of our applications. We will need App management and the GUI elements. We do not need all the apps out there in the store, we do not need any telephone/sms/email/webbrowser support. Will we end with modifying Android just as much as our own Linux derivate to make things work? Does it make sense to build the hardware of the touch panel based on google reference design to minimize the effort? Are there any experiences out there? Who has done that before and what are the experiences of that? How hard is it to make a product really work with Android? What is the right choice here? Shall we try?"
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Ask Slashdot: Which OS For an Embedded Display Unit?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Check out Angstrom.

    • by joaommp (685612)

      Or Mulk.

      • by Gib7 (2445652)
        Mulk? The web downloader, like cURL or wget? If you mean something else, would you mind providing a URL?
        • by joaommp (685612)

          I would but just realized the website has been taken offline for being under remodelling. Bad timing. It's a Linux system builder. Recent stuff, still very fresh and the most significant application so far has been on gambling machines.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think a lot of people here don't do embedded development, but see the linux tag and immediately spout "Android". Look at Angstrom. The learning curve is really steep, but I'm told it pays off. Also look at what people are using on the Beagleboard. Speaking of which, you might want to base your device off of that.

      But, it may also be much cheaper to just go with an existing tablet and write a C&C app for those - you only need to write 3 - iPad, Android, and WebOS (if you care) to cover 99% of users.

      • by umghhh (965931)
        I do not think the company in question actually seeks to produce stuff for mobile devices you refer to. This may be an option worth considering as they can connect to almost anything but it would also bring additional considerations for instance about security etc. and this may not be preferred.
      • by miknix (1047580)

        At expense of being modded down, I suggest Gentoo Linux.

        Gentoo Linux is actually a meta-distribution, which means that you can use Gentoo to create your personalized Gentoo-based distribution. The package manager (portage), which builds packages from source, can compile the package to the same (as the host/running arch) or any other architecture transparently, while tracking dependencies and anything else you would expect from a modern package manager. We can argue that it provides more or less the same fe

  • Do you and your developers feel comfortable with Java? If not, don't go there. Also this sounds like a control application... it seems like Android is too much for that.
    • Agreed. Perhaps embedded linux or something of that ilk.
    • Are there really developers who don't feel comfortable with Java? I can understand not understanding every dark corner of the language, but not feeling comfortable with the basics? It's not that hard, is it? Once you understand object oriented programming principles and C-like syntax?
      • by squizzar (1031726)

        If you're developing a control application then something that disappears off looking for garbage every once in a while might be a bad thing. Obviously this is not hard real-time, but even if it's a soft real-time application the GC might be a bit much.

  • Seeing as how you won't ever be upgrading the software on your devices, Android seems perfect. You guys will fit right in!
  • But why...? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @07:10PM (#37768830)

    ... the hell would you invest engineering resources in building a "tablet like" device that's going to be a proprietary frontend for wherever your real magic is taking place? Android is a great choice, given your requirements list, but for God's sake call one of the 5,000,000 companies in China that make tablets from $50 to $300 and ask them to ship you a crateful. Go to CES next year and walk the small booths - you will not be able to walk under the weight of business cards from companies like this. FCC approvals, full BSPs done for you already, available ex stock FOB Shenzen.

    • Re:But why...? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jonsmirl (114798) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @07:18PM (#37768904) Homepage

      Yes, yes, yes! You would be foolish to rebuild the hardware.
      Here are 47,826 vendors in China willing to sell you Android tablets.
      http://www.dhgate.com/wholesale/search.do?act=search&searchkey=android&catalog=#search [dhgate.com]

      You can buy 7in Android tablets shipped to your door for $60.

      • Re:But why...? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Thursday October 20, 2011 @03:39AM (#37771514) Homepage

        We should have done that with out latest project, but instead went with a custom device running Windows Embedded Compact 7 (WinCE 7). Support is a joke, sound recording and GPIOs don't seem to work, Silverlight performance is pathetic and makes it utterly useless... We have reached the point where we are writing our own UI using OpenGL, even having to do our own gestures for the touch screen.

        We should have picked Android. You get a good UI library for free, which on its own is worth a lot.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          I don't think it's too late to switch. Cut your losses, dump what doesn't work (well), go with what has proper commercial support. Indeed off-the-shelf small tablets with a custom app may be just what you need, and probably will get you something working very fast.

          I've done some Android app development myself, without having written a single line of Java before so it was a bit steep a learning curve, but with all the support out there it's really a pleasure to develop for. UI design is easy, DB support is

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            We might give it a try. We use intrinsic Neon functions a lot but it seems like they are well supported on Android if you use C.

            • by wvmarle (1070040)

              Good luck! I have never gone that deep; just sticking to Java and the official API. Though C should be able to work, too.

              One issue that I ran into, at least for the smartphone Android versions prior to 3.0, is no USB host support. I'd like to use just that in my app but without rooting the phone it just doesn't work. Tablets with Android 3.0 should have this support built in - for a tablet it makes more sense anyway than for a phone to have USB host. This assuming you use USB for communication with your de

      • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Thursday October 20, 2011 @07:18AM (#37772526) Homepage

        how many of those 47,826 vendors ships source code? have you any fucking idea how hard it is to get these companies to fucking well understand the GPL, dickhead? i've been dealing with these companies for eighteen fucking months, and they just don't give a flying fuck. not to mention the simple fact that they themselves are supplied with GPL-violating binary-only distributions, they have absolutely no software expertise whatsoever; their ODM software suppliers can't keep hold of their own developers because the supply of software engineers in China is so in demand.

        it takes about three to four months of careful negotiation, with about a 1% hit rate (i.e. 99% of them don't understand english except phrases like "the money has been transferred" and "we want to order XX,XXX units", and those that do understand don't give a shit) we've found THREE suppliers who comprehend the GPL, and that was only after explaining it to them. of those two suppliers, one STILL doesn't give a shit, one of them was so terrified of the consequences that they terminated sales of the product, and the other one is, thank god, still in the running, is willing to work with us and we will supply their next software *for* them. ... but that was after 18 months to 2 years of searching. now, are you _seriously_ suggesting to these guys that they spend allll their time and money doing exactly the same thing? i think you'll find that they're better off actually designing their own hardware and writing their own software.

        anyway, to answer the actual question: use openembedded to custom-build an angstrom linux distro. it's been around for over 10 years, now, so is a pretty mature development platform, and has some superb recipes. ask on the openembedded lists or irc, be patient and you'll get the advice you seek.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Or you could post the name and contact of the one you're working with that understands the GPL and send the OP to them. That way they are rewarded for it.

    • As the kids say these days: "THIS". The temptation to reinvent the wheel when we are surrounded by wheels? I don't get it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Better yet, just write a damn Android app and either include or require that customers purchase an Android tablet. Android allows side-loading, so you don't even need to submit it to the marketplace. Why limit the functionality of your product to a single Android tablet when improved/cheaper tablets will be released in the future? Why think that you, an organization that obviously (since you asked) doesn't have experience developing a tablet, can do better than the large organizations that specialize in tab

      • This.

        You're a software design team...don't go into hardware. Leave hardware to the hardware guys...and do what you do best - design software. Considering the size of your team, trying to develop a hardware platform AND the software to go on top of it may be a bit out of your scope, whereas simply writing a side-loadable android app may be much more feasible.

        Plus...you may not need all the apps out there in the store. You may not need email/browser support. But your customers might. And if they do
      • by larwe (858929)
        There can be reasons to spec in a specific piece of hardware - there are so many of these cheapo tablets that it's impossible to make a reasonable coverage level of "approved devices" and customers in some markets may demand either that you sell the hardware, or you tell them EXACTLY which brand and model to purchase. But as I said and you agreed, for the love of God don't build yet another reference design tablet.
    • by sstamps (39313)

      Perhaps they want a wheel that does something all the other wheels don't do.

      Besides, what's wrong with making your own wheels? What's wrong with making something somewhere else but China for a change?

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Because you want fluid controls?

      I actually developed an app for Android using the x86 version to get it going, bought an Archos tablet, and realized it was impossible to make the damn thing not laggy and unnatural feeling ... okay, shitty tablet/android combo I think ... so I just went shopping for tablets at local stores ... if you can show me an android tablet that doesn't feel laggier than WoW over a 2400 baud modem I'll consider what you're saying, but the reality of it is, Android fucking sucks for use

      • by Xenx (2211586)

        Because you want fluid controls?

        I actually developed an app for Android using the x86 version to get it going, bought an Archos tablet, and realized it was impossible to make the damn thing not laggy and unnatural feeling ... okay, shitty tablet/android combo I think ... so I just went shopping for tablets at local stores ... if you can show me an android tablet that doesn't feel laggier than WoW over a 2400 baud modem I'll consider what you're saying, but the reality of it is, Android fucking sucks for user interfaces on every table I've seen.

        So what did I do? Put a PC running Windows in my boat, cost was about the same as a decent tablet and my setup is ... far more robust.

        Android tablets suck, sorry to break the hearts of fanboys everywhere, but your suggestion is a non-starter for anyone who isn't just 'OMGZ IT RUNZ LINUX' and actually cares about how it works.

        I'll agree that you'll get more bang for your buck from a computer, over a tablet. That is, assuming your use case doesn't preclude an actual computer. As for the performance, you're either greatly exaggerating or you have no clue what you're talking about. I cannot speak for every model, but in general the honeycomb tablets run smoothly. I can't say I've never had a hiccup with the UI, but definitely not what I'd call sluggish.

      • by oakgrove (845019)
        Hey troll. Every salesperson we have in the field is equipped with an Acer A500 Android tablet running Homeycomb running our custom catalog and ordering software. Lag free. PLEASE stop trolling with you hate and bias. It is getting old.
    • by labnet (457441)

      The trouble with buying from a Chinese vendor, is you have no control over the quality.

      Our company has just tread a very similar path to yours, and this is our solution.

      We use an ARM9, in our case Freescale imx28x with 1G of RAM and ROM running linux with QT. QT is nice to deveop in, as you can prototype on most of the GUI on the PC before dealing with the hardware. We are not wedded to this combo, but having the ARM9 allows some flexability. Freescale have a 10 year no obsolecence policy on this family of

    • by daid303 (843777)

      Maybe they need something IP65? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code [wikipedia.org]
      Or something visible in direct sunlight?
      Or something that needs to be handled by many people without breaking?

      Sometimes the requirements are harsh environments. I can spot, in the corner of my eye, one very rigid, water tight, "visible in sunlight" "tablet", which is used in buses. I think just the screen costs more then your consumer grade stuff. Some thing are still made to last you know.

  • by snemiro (1775092) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @07:11PM (#37768848)
    If any commercial 7" tablet fits your needs, check some brands/models out there and create a custom version of Android + your app. If it doesn't (probably not rugged enough, or the touch screen not bulletproof....) get them, strip them and modify them. If you are planning to sell more than 100k units and you have enough $, get serious, contact a factory and ask for some redesign for you. In both cases, you can use a stripped android + your app. OR you can start with something like this: http://www.geek.com/articles/gadgets/get-your-own-open-source-touchscreen-device-for-69-2011023/ [geek.com]
    • If any commercial 7" tablet fits your needs, check some brands/models out there and create a custom version of Android + your app. If it doesn't (probably not rugged enough, or the touch screen not bulletproof....) get them, strip them and modify them. If you are planning to sell more than 100k units and you have enough $, get serious, contact a factory and ask for some redesign for you. In both cases, you can use a stripped android + your app. OR you can start with something like this: http://www.geek.com/articles/gadgets/get-your-own-open-source-touchscreen-device-for-69-2011023/ [geek.com]

      There are plenty of ruggedized, industrial PCs out there. This guy needs to spend a few minutes Googling this stuff. Forget Android: just run stock Debian or BSD on the thing and forget about it. Or even Windows Embedded, if you happen to swing that way (as Seinfeld said, "But there's nothing wrong with that!")

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      I'm sure there will be someone out there selling rugged versions of those 7" tablets too. Just like there are rugged versions of laptops in all sizes.

  • The latest trend is to use ANY OS but develop your actual apps with HTML5 et all. That way in the end you aren't tied to a specific OS and if you need to change later you can. All you would need is hardware drivers rather than a new software stack. There are many cross-platform touchscreen oriented web-frameworks you can use as well.
    • *I should correct this. You might still need a software stack, just not a new display layer. Plus you could scale to many screen sizes easily.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you have no intention of supporting Market apps then skip Android and go custom or use some other tailored OS. If you already have a customized Linux then leverage your existing knowledge and slap a micro version of X on it with a custom mouse driver for the touch interface.

    Consumer-focused, one-size-fits-all operating systems are terrible for control applications (timing problems, bulkware, etc) and don't really give you anything in return. It's a bit like handing your wallet to a hooker and watching

    • It's a bit like handing your wallet to a hooker and watching them walk away.

      No, it's more like having unprotected sex with that hooker and having to deal with all the fallout resulting from your initial bad decision.

      • It's a bit like handing your wallet to a hooker and watching them walk away.

        No, it's more like having unprotected sex with that hooker and having to deal with all the fallout resulting from your initial bad decision.

        Actually, it's like having repeated unprotected sex with that skanky chick down the street over a period of years, trying to keep it secret from your wife and kids, and having to deal with all the fallout.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          Consumer-focused, one-size-fits-all operating systems are terrible for control applications (timing problems, bulkware, etc) and don't really give you anything in return. It's a bit like handing your wallet to a hooker and watching them walk away.

          But if you only need a hundred units rather than 100,000, using a Consumer-focused, one-size-fits-all operating system on existing off-the-shelf software is more like paying the hooker on the corner $100 for a night of sex than in investing $10,000 custom molding a lifelike latex doll.

          The latex doll may meet your needs perfectly and may do exactly what you designed her to do, but if you get tired of her in a year, you need to spend another $10,000 designing a new one, whereas if you just used commonly avail

        • Wait, wait, wait, I don't understand all this "sex" business. Can you give me a car analogy?

  • by BenFranske (646563) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @07:15PM (#37768878) Homepage
    Having some experience in this area my suggestion is to use off the shelf hardware if you at all can. For most of these specific market "black box" control applications you'll never sell enough to bring the cost low enough to do a ground-up design at a reasonable price, plus it locks you in to the current state of capabilities. It will be much more cost effective to use existing Android tablets, write an app for them to do your control and talk back to your black box over a network (a private network if you must). This will allow you much more flexibility than linking the control interface directly with the black box. In the pro a/v and automation category where I do some of this work almost everything has gone this direction and it makes it much easier and faster to design/upgrade.
    • by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @07:35PM (#37769054) Journal

      Agreed. We did an in house design of one and just the engineering costs added about $500 to each unit when spread out over 30,000 units. We most likely will not sell that many but it's a goal and the figure used to do costing. We used our own in house code which is very mature. We're going with an already made and industry certified ( we need too many certs but this means we only have to pay to get it certified for shipboard use) Atom processor based touch screen which is larger, has more features and is about 10x faster than our in house design. Since there are at least 10 vendors of similar products we won't be locked into the architecture of the in house design, porting the firmware will not add to much cost and these are *less* money than our in house design if engineering costs for the final product are figured in.

    • We have a similar situation and what we did was create the control interface to our blackbox using HTML/Javascript and JQuery Mobile. The blackbox hosts a simple web server with a services API written in Perl. The control interface now can be loaded as a Chrome app on a desktop or laptop, packaged as an installable app for Android or iPad using PhoneGap, or function as a "web app" on pretty much any mobile device that is wifi capable. Granted our "blackbox" resides as part of a wireless hotspot running O

    • We have dozens of these projects at my company, and this is the simplest way. There are plenty of vendors in China that will give you a good deal on an ARM5/9/11 or Cortex touch device. You plunk Android on it and then build a native app, or as we often do, build on HTML5 app with a native middle-layer and JavaScript bridge. Pretty simple process. Main concern is the vendor, because build quality can vary widely from the Chinese fabrication plants.

      My company builds hardware like this as well, when it
  • Busybox-based linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Keep it small and simple so it boots fast. We use a bunch of them from board and chip
    vendors. The one from Atmel seems fine.

    • by cr0nj0b (20813)

      I will second both points of this. Using buildroot for multiple types of boards/chips. buildroot helps in creating a reproducible toolchain, kernel, apps, and filesystem images. You can add your own application (The main thing to run) as a custom package.
      http://buildroot.uclibc.org/ [uclibc.org]

      The Atmel at91sam9 series runs fine. Both in graphical and non-graphical environment. I use this for quick proto type testing/dev:
      http://www.mini-box.com/pico-SAM9G45-X [mini-box.com]
      (however, I add NAND Flash for os/apps)

      As others have stated,

  • by donstenk (74880)

    Is that not something QNX was supposed to be good at - except now it is a phone OS as well .....

    You are thinking of using a phone OS as control app platform, RIM will be using a RT control platform in a phone.

    Go figure.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I remember back in the 90's when Amiga Inc. was looking for a new core for their systems that never were to happen. They showed off a demo of qnx and it blew me away. It did things then that were unimaginable. I wonder what it's like now.

      • by Animats (122034)

        I wonder what it's like now.

        The original designer of QNX died, the company was sold twice (to Harmon, then RIM), the product went from closed source to open source to closed source to open source to closed source, and the real-time customer base was fed up.

        It's still an elegant microkernel.

  • fast, light tool kit [wikipedia.org]?

    If that's not suitable, try XForms [xforms-toolkit.org].

  • The economic reality dictates that you have Meego/Maemo/Tizen or Android as options at the moment. Qt or Android UI framework go well with touch, but Android might have a bigger community oriented at touch input devices.
  • by gmuslera (3436) *
    ...or Tizen were my first ideas. But maybe there are smaller alternatives if you plan to run only your frontend, some olf then not being even linux based (bsds, qnx, others?)
  • If you want Flash for any reason (think ads) then I consider the ARM/Linux combination to be a no go. X86/Linux works OK but the ARM/Linux combo isn't. Technically there's some support out there for it but in reality it's many versions behind, not optimised and in general it won't work well.

    Either avoid Adobe Flash (HTML 5 is better anyway imho) or avoid the ARM/Linux combo. This information is mainly relevant if you plan on serving up adds from a kiosk. Advertisers often expect you to support Flash.

  • That way you can use your existing toolkits and expertise. I think you will find that the jump to add touch functionality will be less than the jump to a different universe.

  • As others have said, Android sounds perfect for your requirements.

    I'd love to see an Android distro geared towards this kind of use. Like how CyanogenMod (and others) is a great Android distro for phones, a more bare bones distro without the phone, messaging, general bloat, etc, would be perfect for more bespoke applications like yours. I don't have the skills to start that kind of project but maybe you guys do?
    • As others have pointed out, with the current prices of Android tablets from China, you'd have to be insane to even think about trying to cobble together your own solution. If you really have to make it look custom, buy a crateload of $100 (retail-price) tablets, take them apart, and mount their innards in your own enclosure. I seriously doubt whether you could buy the LCDs *alone* for what you'd pay for the whole tablet, let alone the touchscreen and everything else.

      Once you've got the tablet running Androi

  • Why not give it bluetooth or wifi and then write an Android app to allow any android tablet/phone to control your "black boxes"?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Some people are sort of touching on this, but why bother? What's keeping you from making an Android application that does this, then charge for that, let the users pick their own tablet, maybe recommend a tablet that you could sell to them.

    If you sell tablets with the app preinstalled, you can market it as "It controls all this, AND PLAYS ANGRY BIRDS!!!!"

    Even if you go the route of making a custom android for your custom tablet, you still have to make an app to run on it. Why not skip the tablet R&D and

  • Cross Linux From Scratch: http://trac.cross-lfs.org/ [cross-lfs.org]
    Whenyou are done with the basics you can put whatever you want on top of it.

  • Being an engineer I definitely know the drive to want to do it yourself all the time. But when it comes to business, RESIST THE URGE! Just because you can doesn't mean it is a good business decision. Also, your architecture seems dated and not really future proof. Why not make your black boxes IP enabled? Create a standard IP API to control your black boxes and then just network everything. Then you create a web app to control your black boxes. You will be able to control your black boxes from your p
  • ...but on the hardware side I'd definitely go with the reference design, especially if your quantities aren't huge. In today's world hardware requirements change rapidly, and so does the availability of silicon. A chip that's just-past-bleeding-edge today may be obsolete, or at least hard to get, in a year or two - then you're looking at a re-design. Whereas if you're on the reference design path and a key piece of silicon becomes scarce, you have a bigger, faster, more experienced, better funded team worki

  • Write control application in html. Let clients use whatever they like. "Certify" androing browser/ipad/firefox/ie and you are golden.

  • Unless you want to do it all over in the near future, you need a long-term stable OS. That rules android right out, as it still is more of a tech-demo than an OS. It definitely is a work-in progress. Best guess: Use Debian stable, x.org, a long-term stable window-manager like fvwm and make sure there are open-source drivers for the graphics.

    As for language, I would recommend doing most of it in a scripting language like Python and embed any low-level stuff with C. I cannot recommend Java for anything. It is

    • by monoqlith (610041)

      That rules android right out, as it still is more of a tech-demo than an OS

      Huh? Android is the OS of 56% of all smartphones in use by consumers in the world. How is that a "tech-demo?" It still has a few bugs but otherwise it is a remarkably stable and competitive Linux-based OS.

      • by gweihir (88907)

        I know what it is. The problem is that for stability you need more than that. And no, Android is not really "Linux based", it is "linux-kernel based". The kernel is just one part of the whole and it is not the issue here. For reliability you need stability and that means gradual improvements for at least 10 years. Android cannot offer that as it is still changing too fast. It is also unclear how much long-term support or ubgradeability individual versions have.

        I like Linux and I have some server installatio

    • ... but hardly any good ones as the good coders use other languages.

      The rest of your post looks much less convincing by ending it liek this ;D

      A good coder codes in the languge that fits to the problem, and usually works in an environment where choices are limited. Most Java coders I meet are good coders. They use Java because the customere needs it. Most "better" languages run on the JVM anyway and are integrated into Java anyway. And no: I don't consider C++ a better language ... even good coders write to

  • What's the best platform for my project that Tivo-izes Linux?

    • What's the best platform for my project that Tivo-izes Linux?

      Right, anyone who makes money with Linux is evil. He should use Windows Mobile instead, right, because there is no chance of his publishing his changes and others using them on similar hardware? Hint: the GPL ensures that the changes will be public and he's going to be using COTS hardware.

  • by Kagetsuki (1620613) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @09:40PM (#37769916)

    I always used Debian for ARM, but a lot of people liked Angstrom. This was before the whole "tablet" and "multi-touch" craze started. The thing is now that all these tablets are available and so cheap I'd question why you wouldn't just modify a tablet?

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @10:21PM (#37770118) Journal
    I don't know why you are asking this on Slashdot, given that you could have assigned any of your developers to look into the topic for a day and come up with a better answer (since he will understand your requirements).

    As far as my experience with embedded goes, yes, Android is a fairly easy system to work with. Might not be as stable as MicroC/OS or some other real-time system, but it is easy to work with. But once again, it depends a LOT on the details of your project.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Because here at ./ if you ask us a question, there will be a thousand different answers, each increasing the complexity of any solution another thousand fold. And, on top of that, you'll be feeding the trolls, and giving mirrors to the narcissists. Dont do that. Instead, you already sound reasonably intelligent, you can come up with a descent answer without all the self esteem bashing they like to do here.

  • I have worked on an embedded kiosk with NFC+3G for cash card transactions and all these Chinese tablets are an absolute NO - NO. We tried 20 models and there are too many problems making the $100 price tags totally irrelevant. We finally found a great product from Genesi (genesi-usa.com) called Efika smartbook ($200) and smart top ($100). You'll get surprisingly good quality, great engineering design and pretty good software software. It runs Ubuntu Arm customized a little but you can run Fedora Arm etc. H
  • Read the other Android article published today [slashdot.org] and go for something open source instead. Maemo [maemo.org], Moblin, Meego, Tizen [tizen.org], Mer [merproject.org] or just plain Debian.
  • Make your black box join a wifi network or blutooth.

    Then make apps for Android and iPhone that can control your device.
    That way the customers can choose which device they want to control your device with.

    As a default device you can tape som generic Android tablet to your device.

    Same idea as http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/en/ [parrot.com]

    Of course I realize that your application is probably much more serious than a flying toy, but the basic idea is good for many applications.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not surprised no one has mentioned Microsoft's embedded OS. They provide both WInXP Embedded, WinCE 6 and now WEC7 which is the sequel to WinCE6. The advantage of XP Embedded is that it is like having an XP system where you configured what will and will not go into the OS ahead of time. If you're developing Windows-based solutions, this is handy. However, the price is very hefty on it per unit, which is why many vendors go WinCE 6 or WEC7. With those two you get a much less feature filled OS, lighter we

  • I have debian with e17 using the illume theme running on the notion ink adam tablet and I'm really impressed how well it works.

    The packages in debian unstable are new enough for a proper installation of e17 and bootstrapping debian for armel is also piece of cake using multistrap.

    maybe worth looking into it.

  • You can't go wrong with OpenEmbedded. BitBake recipes are ideal. It doesn't really sound like you need something as full-blown as Android, but I may be wrong. You say you need app management-- it would be nice to have some more details here, e.g. will the end-user be installing and removing apps on his or her own? I ask because it sounds like it's the only feature specific to Android you would actually use. I bet maintaining a BitBake repo would work just as well in your situation, but I'm just guessing. I
  • http://www.rapidrollout.com/ [rapidrollout.com]

    From their website: "You’re a developer. You know applications. Building apps is what you do. But when you need to turn your app into an appliance, you come see us. That’s what we do. Using Workbench, our easy-to-use online configuration and build system, you can be ready to deploy in under an hour, completely free. ... Our open-source software platform is a great fit for all kinds of devices: digital signage, kiosks, point-of-sale/point-of-service devices; So let u

  • NetBSD is a great embedded OS. In fact, many of the above suggestions include code from the NetBSD project.
    "Of course it runs NetBSD!"

    -d

  • A great thanks to all posters on slashdot. This was a blow of answers that you gave me, many different aspects popped up, even some that were not on our list yet. Gives us different opinions to think about. We will certainly consider your input, and I am sure we are closer to a decision now than before reading the answers.
  • I started a project that seeks to do something similar. My application is home automation. I'm using an inexpensive android tablet connected directly to an arduino (no ADK needed) to control a light switch and sense the environment. More info here: http://code.google.com/p/the-ultimate-light-switch/ [google.com]

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

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