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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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  • OSS Rocks! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Digital Vomit ( 891734 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @07:01AM (#38863335) Homepage Journal

    A friend of mine has a cheap mp3 player that he bought a couple of years ago. He flashed it with Rockbox and has had his battery life more than quadrupled!

    I don't know why companies are so loathe to take advantage of free software like Rockbox and, instead, insist on writing their own, lousy firmware. There are people out there who will do it better, and for free!

    Just imagine how much better things could be if closed source software were outlawed...

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

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @07:10AM (#38863359) Journal

    My first comment was going to be "because nobody but a major geek wants an MP3 player with a UI that looks that bad."

    But I hadn't seen the UI in a few years. I looked on Google and found some screenshots. Damn it looks nice now.

    Anyway, there is still the answer that "the companies want to control it". With the flexibility available from Rockbox, it would be much harder to control the user environment, which would make end user support much more difficult.

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

    by pugugly ( 152978 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @07:33AM (#38863425)

    Poor, badly implemented playback with small storage and a lousy interface.
    Want Ogg? Flac? Decent Headphones? Good organization via tags?
    I would be a bit surprised if the iPhone didn't have quite a lot of that (Don't know, Don't much care). But your basic dumbphone doesn't.
    My MP3 player does very good on most of it - and with Rockbox installed has excellent results with all of it it plus the geek cred of playing Midi.

    Really, any good MP3 player ought to play Midi - {G}.


  • Re:Erm, yes? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @08:40AM (#38863695)

    Weight. Never overlook the ability of fat rich people to spend $500 on a set of carbon fiber bicycle handlebars that are 1.3 ounces lighter than stock carbon steel. Oh, I can listen to my workout tunes using something that weighs 4 ounces less than my hefty iphone, and it only costs $50? I'm so there.

    Size. At least for the gym bunny crowd (exhibitionist mostly young and good looking women who don't actually exercise, but like showing off the goods to the guys who like watching) on some of those more ridiculous tiny tight spandex outfits where do you put a giant iphone? Walk around with it in your hand the entire time? That was the strategy at the gym I used to go to, they'd spend the whole time walking around trying to look at the guys who were looking at them. Some tiny dedicated mp3 players are nearly small enough to be a barrett (no thats a M82A1 rifle) .. barret (no thats for idiots who can't spell Barrett) Oh f it I mean that thing that you women clip in your hair. Even for an old guy like me who thinks "long distance" snow shoeing is hard core, less weight to carry always equals better.

  • by rjforster ( 2130 ) on Monday January 30, 2012 @09:36AM (#38863969) Journal

    I had my iRiver H340 for less than 30 minutes before it ran rockbox. At the time of purchase it was, to my knowledge, the only way to get gapless playback and high capacity (40GB isn't enough now but it was the best you could get back in the day). I've tried it with a replacement SSD but while it works it is quite flaky and needs regular resets.

    It's a shame there are very few high capacity players on the market now, I would love to get a new device which supports:
    Lots of storage. Enough to encode all my CDs and a few 'try-before-you-buy' albums. Ahem.
    Bookmarking capabilities that work with all files (apparently ipods require you to define things as an audiobook before they support bookmarking)
    ogg support so I don't have to re-rip my CDs (I'd compromise on this if everything else was offered - it's only a few weeks of feeding CDs to the PC)
    No need to 'make my own playlists' or any other such carp unless I want to. Music already comes with pre-defined playlists: also known as albums.

    If this ever happens it will most likely run rockbox - I doubt the hardware manufacturers would do as good a job.

    To Linus and the rest of the rockbox devs. Seriously. Thank-you.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.