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Handhelds Open Source Operating Systems Software Hardware

Rockbox Developers Talk Open Source Firmware 179

Posted by timothy
from the be-thankful-for-their-hobby dept.
angry tapir writes "I recently caught up with some of the key developers of Rockbox: An open source firmware replacement for the stock firmware shipped on MP3 players. The project, which has been active for over a decade, currently supports products from more than half a dozen manufacturers, including Apple, Arhcos, iRiver and Toshiba. It involves extensive reverse engineering to figure out how the devices' stock firmwares operate, as well as the challenge of developing for greatly varied targets. You can read the interview here (or the full Q&As with the project's founder and some of the developers involved in it)."
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Rockbox Developers Talk Open Source Firmware

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  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Monday January 30, 2012 @05:58AM (#38863321) Homepage

    "Over time it's only grown to be even more challenging as over the years the companies involved have gotten more and more 'secret'. In the beginning you could actually read markers on chips in the devices and then search for the chips online and find data sheets for them that told us how to program them."

    i've done reverse-engineering, and yes it is exciting, but it doesn't really get results: it's damn hard work, and for what? you're always behind the times - never innovating, always riding on the coat-tails of companies who, as linus notes on page 2 of the interview, end up making hardware design mistakes, and you invested _how_ much time in order to find that out?

    so we set up http://rhombus-tech.net/ [rhombus-tech.net] as an initiative to create open hardware that is actually desirable as mass-volume products, with free software developers being actively engaged and consulted on the hardware _and_ software development at every step of the way.

    there are several such initiatives that could really do with working together - the most recent one is the plasma "spark" tablet - except that there, unfortunately, they appear to have picked a tablet from a company that is known to be willfully committing GPL violations (zenithink). not too many people spotted that one, in amongst the otherwise-exciting news reports, whoops.

  • by Jojoba86 (1496883) on Monday January 30, 2012 @06:25AM (#38863407)
    Why mod this up? It is an uniformed post from someone trying to push their own project. If the parent read TFA then they would have realized that Rockbox has got results from the initial days of when it was on the Archos Jukebox players, and for most players is ahead of the proprietary firmware (especially for those who are fans of open standards such as ogg). Rockbox is sufficiently mature that support for it is a factor when I'm looking at mp3 players.
  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Monday January 30, 2012 @06:50AM (#38863511) Homepage

    "from someone trying to push their own project. "

    it's not "my" project. as a software engineer who knows the value of "egoless programming", which specifically trains people to avoid the use of personal pronouns, i cannot let this one go. allow me to make a correction for you:

    "...from someone letting people know that there exists *a* project, which is community-based, that is actually set up as a Community Interest Company (google it)..."

  • Re:MP3 Players... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcreus (2547928) on Monday January 30, 2012 @08:05AM (#38863815)
    I got a MP3 player from about 4 years ago, from the prehistory. The battery life is amazing, probably 20 times greater than those "smart"phones. I use it every they, and I have to charge it every month or so (and the battery charges really really fast). Yet it plays music, and smoothly. I don't give a damm about other features.
  • Re:OSS Rocks! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday January 30, 2012 @10:08AM (#38864775) Journal

    The market isn't limited to "no name" and "Apple". MS, Sony and Creative are in there, at least. Although, Sony fits your no-name description to a T. Cowon, also a fairly unknown name, also has made good players in the past. Some people get these Non-apple players, believe it or not, because they have features that the apple player lacks.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.

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