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Handhelds Open Source Operating Systems Software Hardware

Rockbox Developers Talk Open Source Firmware 179

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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  • Erm, yes? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @07:01AM (#38863331) Homepage

    For sport. More rugged than any phone, long battery life, and disposable-y cheap if it gets smashed or wet.

    Also I have to display my lack of iDevices as an anti-fashion statement ;-)

  • Re:MP3 Players... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @07:04AM (#38863343) Journal

    Yep, even with SDCards, I don't think there are phones out there that can compete with some MP3 players in terms of storage.

    And, as the other poster said, you have issues of battery life as well.

  • by jginspace ( 678908 ) <> on Monday January 30, 2012 @07:43AM (#38863475) Homepage Journal

    ... or go the full hog, list the half dozen ...

    Replying to myself. The list is: Apple Archos iriver Toshiba

    Plus: Olympus Packard Bell Cowon SanDisk

    Plus unstable port for models from these manufacturers: MPIO, Philips, Samsung

  • Re:MP3 Players... (Score:4, Informative)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @07:53AM (#38863533)
    Android plays Vorbis. iPhone doesn't. Windows phones will play Vorbis when hell freezes over.

    Android codec support is actually quite impressive.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @09:07AM (#38863825) Journal

    Cowon has support it for a long time and I believe iRiver as well and I would be highly suprised if Archos doesn't either.

  • Re:OSS Rocks! (Score:5, Informative)

    by jeti ( 105266 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @09:14AM (#38863863) Homepage

    I once worked for a company like the one that provided your cheap mp3 player. There were several reasons for not being more open:
    1. The only legal music stores at that time insisted on DRM, which is largely incompatible with open source.
    2. Chip manufacturers only provide drivers in binary form. They also have extensive confidentiality agreements that made it impossible to release relevant code produced by us.
    3. Documenting and cleaning up code, reviewing licenses and releasing or integrating code is a considerable workload and has to be justifiable. I think people overestimate the resources that small companies can spend on firmware. The firmware for some of our products was implemented by three or four people.
    4. Our boss hated the idea that our competitors could get a leg up by using software that he paid for being developed.

  • Rockbox Rules (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 30, 2012 @10:22AM (#38864259)

    I'm an AC -- always have been, always will be -- so no one will see the comment, but I have to post anyway, just to give a big thanks to the Rockbox team.

    I have an old-ish Sansa (e200), and despite the fact that it's now "ancient technology," with Rockbox, a good sized microSD card (which, BTW, wouldn't be recognized on the original firmware), and replacing the battery once, it still shines. IMO it's as good as any new shiny bling, and I'll probably have it until I do something silly like dropping it into a toilet.

    Seriously, Rockbox is a great application. With the stock firmware I would have gotten rid of it several years ago, but with Rockbox there is no need.

    I don't want -- nor need -- a smartphone. What I need is a good MP3 player, and I use it every day.

    Thanks Rockbox!

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats