Author Topic: New Linux distribution for PDA and embedded device  (Read 9328 times)

amrein

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« on: April 03, 2004, 01:04:06 pm »
First I introduce myself, I\'m the one that had organized the first Zaurus SL-C750 and SL-C760 group buy when they were released in June. I don\'t know if this intervention will be a flop and it doesn\'t matter if so. Perhaps I can influence the way our Zaurus is evolving (its OS, base system, PIM and other software). In any case, what I\'m sure is that it could completely change the face of Linux on PDA. :wink:

:idea: We need a strong reversal in the present PDA Community way of working. What is missing for all Sharp Zaurus, iPaq, Yopy, and other device running Linux is a well thought and organized effort. The goal that could be common to all of us is to build the next generation powerful and complete operating system for our beloved device. You should certainly already know that there\'s a lot of software, build systems, operating systems, rom/kernel images, cross-compilers... out there. All those solutions are growing slowly and in many different projects (with one developer to five). It\'s now time to propose a solution that could resolve this. And to go quickly to something very useful for everyone, the fusion of pdaXrom or OE with Debian ARM distribution is needed.

What do I mean with fusion? Here is an explanation:

PdaXrom team for example has define an emerging operating system. They already has proved with cacko rom and pdaXrom that they know how to deal with user needs and communication with the community is done easily and in both way. What should the community do now? We need:
   * to completely fusion pdaXrom libraries with those of Debian.
   * to leave only useful tools from Debian and replace most of them with busybox (as it is already in pdaXrom).
   * to add all dependencies in the base system packages (.ipk) to replace Debian ones (so apt-get or ipkg won\'t try to install something else when an .ipk is available). To split them if necessary.
   * to finish the package manager ipkg so it becomes completely stable and could manage correctly .deb files without needing apt-get and other tools.
   * Tell to all user whinning for a package: \"it\'s in Debian repository. If you want something smaller, just build an ipk and upload the source and the binary in our incoming directory\".
   * It could also be interesting to take the control of http://www.emdebian.org so Debian could begin to have a real voice in embedded market (other than \'extract deb files and do it manually\').

The selected building system team will need to:
_ refuse to open CVS write access to the base system for anyone other than those whose have proved their value (contribution, submitted patches...).
_ do things like they think they should do it (like any PC distro today) and use and include software built by other people from the net (I mean include for example Portabase without having to manage the construction but only to verify its easy compilation).
_ They need only to work on the base system and not on the wall thing (that shouldn\'t prevent them from building good tools).
_ listen to users but with a very strong reflection because most of them are simple Trolls here.


There\'s also some work for own great sites ZaurusUserGroup.org and www.killefiz.de/zaurus/ :

_ list tasks that need works and ask for package maintainers like on Debian. I\'m talking about the wall purged application ipkg set and not the base system. (ZaurusUserGroup.org)
_manage the default applications construction (PIM, ...) in the present community.zaurus mirror. (ZaurusUserGroup.org)
Note: Those default applications need to be defined.
_ manage, if they want to and if it\'s possible, some more open source projects (separated from default one).
_ list all available software, have screenshots, ... (www.killefiz.de/zaurus/)
_ zaurus forum, zaurus faq (to revamp), ... (ZaurusUserGroup.org).


That\'s it! Someone agree or disagree?  ZaurusUserGroup.org or www.killefiz.de web master?

Please, OE or pdaXrom team members, don\'t reply at one. I\'m sure that you like what you have done so far (as most of us).

dhns

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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2004, 03:34:53 am »
Hi,
what I find a little confusing at the moment is that we have
* about 10 ROMs
* for 6 Zaurus models (+ YOPY + iPAQ + Royal + Chinese Linux PDAs + more to come)
* 2 different compiler versions (2.95.3 and later)
* and 4 different .ipk formats to choose from...
Variety to choose can be nice - but if things don\'t fit together in a toy kit, it gets moved into the corner

As a developer, I currently have to choose which Zaurus model and ROM I want to support for my customers.

What I also would help IMHO is an improved version of Killefiz which adds some more VersionTracker features (although we should not imitate all the banners etc.). The ZSI2 development seems to mirror killefiz but there are some flaws in the interface (e.g. sort alphabetically and there is no scrollbar to go down). And throwing in some SourceForge/FreshMeat would make it the second (the first is ZUG!) central resource for LinuxPDA development.

-- hns
SL5500G, C860, C3100, WLAN, RTM8000, Powerbook G4, and others...
http://www.handheld-linux.com
http://www.quantum-step.com

dz

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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2004, 06:44:37 am »
I\'d be willing to help code a brand new killefiz with their webmaster.  I\'ve done websites for almost 10 years.  Pick a language and I can do it; his choice.

Something with a Freshmeat type of interface I think would be nice.  Since DevNet is down, I think we should maybe put together a full site just for programming on the Zaurus.
http://www.dangerz.net
c860 : Cacko
The greatest experience we can have is the mysterious.
- Albert Einstein

lardman

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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2004, 08:06:56 am »
@dhns:

Quote
* and 4 different .ipk formats to choose from...

I\'ve only seen two myself, though I suppose the requirement in later versions of ipkg (OZ of late for example) to use the \'arch\' line may be what you\'re talking about. IMO this should default to arm or warn you and ask if it can\'t find \'arch\'.

Again we go back to the discussion we had on the devnet about people naming their ipk files better to allow end users to work out what\'s inside without having to install it (e.g. originally it was a question of OZ or sharp ROM, but now we have to take into account which version of GCC, which version of libc, etc.).

Quote
* about 10 ROMs

There are really only 4 ROMs though -
OZ mk.I (GCC 2.95: v<=3.3.5 for collie)
OZ mk.II (GCC 3.x: v>=3.3.6 for collie, all versions - I think - for other machines)
ROMs based on the old Sharp ROMs (crow, etc.)
ROMs based on the new Sharp ROMs (proto\'s, etc.)

and in truth the base system on the two Sharp ROMs is pretty much the same anyway (afaicr).

This is just Qtopia style ROMs, if we include non-qtopia/opie ROMs then there\'s also pdaXrom, debian and GPE (but they are different enough to not be confusing IMO).

@dz:

I think that revamping the killefiz site would be good - have more info about which ROMs certain programs will and won\'t run on, etc., but this is better discussed as I don\'t really know what I\'m talking about (though it would be nice if people could post tips about how to get programs running on ROMs other than those for which they have been designed for - I for one don\'t have half a dozen Zs on which to install every possible ROM to test compatibility - nor could I be bothered even if I did).


Si
C750 OZ3.5.4 (GPE, 2.6.x kernel)
SL5500 OZ3.5.4 (Opie)
Nokia 770
Serial GPS, WCF-12, Socket Ethernet & BT, Ratoc USB
WinXP, Mandriva

dhns

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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2004, 09:38:17 am »
Quote
Quote
* and 4 different .ipk formats to choose from...
Quote
* about 10 ROMs
Well, my way of counting what I have seen:
* ipks made with tar and ar -] 2 variants
* ipks gzipped or not gzipped -] 2 variants
The strangest thing I have seen yet was an .ipk made with \'ar\' having the component file names debian-binary/ control.tar.gz/ data.tar.gz/ I was not able to extract anything on a Zaurus (which does not come with ar) or a MacOS X machine (until I used an editor to replace the / by a blank in the raw file). The Sharp ROM just understands the ccombination tar&gz.

For the ROMs I counted (well, not only restricted on Zaurus models):
* Sharp ROMs 1.x
* Sharp ROMs 2.x
* Sharp ROMs 3.x (e.g. differing in the PIM)
* OZ versions
* pdaXROM
* Cacko
* theKompany
* Familiar for iPAQ, Dell, ...
* YOPY
* Unitech
* the newly announced Royal LineaLX
* others (China, India, ...)

All are basically Linux but one can\'t assume any tool, library, device driver, compiler etc. to be in any two sytems available at the same location or version. That is something I would expect a common distribution, bundling all these activities could take care of. This would greatly enlarge the user base for us developers. Therefore I like this idea.

-- hns
SL5500G, C860, C3100, WLAN, RTM8000, Powerbook G4, and others...
http://www.handheld-linux.com
http://www.quantum-step.com

amrein

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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2004, 09:53:26 am »
All those incompatibilities, the need for an open source drived base system and the need for user/developper friendly applications for everyday use is the heart of the message. Debian has got the arm package repository, all needed tools for cross compilation and is completely driven by the open source community.

Could we begin the discussion about it? Dhns has the same feeling. Dz has showed us what we should all do: be ready to get involved. :!:
What say you? The debate is as important as the goal to reach. There\'s a lot of people that think a lot here but there\'s only two reactions?

w14

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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2004, 11:26:43 am »
Isn\'t this what MickeyL has been asking for for months?

Seems to me that Sharp has no further interest in the original ideals behind the Zaurus. They aren\'t interested in this community.

So OZ/OE is the best option. Its already there and mature ... or are we all going to procrastinate ourselves to death discussing the million ways we *could* do things?

Lycoris has realised this. We should build on that momentum.

Mike.
sl-c3100
pdaxrom 1.1.0 beta1

sashz

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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2004, 11:46:12 am »
latest pdaxrom builder have support for RiscStation and x86 target too.
Soon i will add support for Acorn RiscPC (Arm7/SA) computers and LH79520 embedded sharp boards too. For xscale devices we already have own feed.

amrein

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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2004, 02:09:45 pm »
Hi sashz.

Could OE and pdaXrom work for the same goal?  OE (correct me if I\'m wrong) is mainly a build system and pdaXrom an OS + cross toolchains.
Does the build system of pdaXrom conflict with OE?

The pdaXrom used builder is working and is available in a raw form If I\'m not mistaken here: http://www.pengutronix.de/software/ptxdist_en.html.

All concerns: can the Debian fusion be though? Can OE has a place in this construction? Are you agree with the way of managing a new (more open) Linux distribution for PDA and hanbedded device in general? What could be added and what could be improved in the rough outline wrote on top of this thread?

ScottYelich

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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2004, 02:21:09 pm »
am: I agree ...

dz: I\'d be willing to host that site, too.

I have a site with plenty of room, ram, bandwidth and disk space -- all it needs is projects/webmaster, etc.

but I agree, 100%, all the fragmentation/divergence is not helping one bit.

Scott

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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2004, 03:16:37 pm »
I disagree, I have had this arguement with amrein before about what the Z is, handheld computer or PDA.  I think it unwise to put everyone in the same category, I know other Z users in the real world who like them because they are excellent handheld workstations, not a PDA.

No more than two weeks ago, I advocated convergence but now I don\'t.  A Linux PDA on the market (and I mean that in the true sense of the term PDA) has no hope in hell of ever suceeding, Palm and Microsoft would obliterate it, that\'s why Sharp don\'t go head-to-head against the others, no point.

I\'ve only used OZ once on a 5500, I found the stable build to be very unstable and I just did not like it, but it could be developed further (as Lycoris is doing) to produce that kind of PDA platform the original poster wants.

But for heavens sake, we need some separation, for the different goals and desires that people have.  I don\'t want a locked down PDA OS on my Z, no point, I could have just bought a Palm or PPC.

Cacko should get a makeover and integrate Qtopia and X together for those who want the most flexibility, make it more like Debian in philosophy, it\'s in so few hands, I don\'t feel comfortable making the switch from Qtopia.

Convergence means a consensus must be achieved, not possible, and to force the issue would just destroy this community from the inside out.

[span style=\'font-size:14pt;line-height:100%\']I used to have a Helio, which was destroyed by the community whinging and pulling in different directions long before Vtech pulled the plug on them.[/span]
Left Linux and Linux PDAs... sorry, got boring.  Switched to Mac.

sashz

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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2004, 03:18:16 pm »
Quote
Hi sashz.

Could OE and pdaXrom work for the same goal?  OE (correct me if I\'m wrong) is mainly a build system and pdaXrom an OS + cross toolchains.
Does the build system of pdaXrom conflict with OE?

The pdaXrom used builder is working and is available in a raw form If I\'m not mistaken here: http://www.pengutronix.de/software/ptxdist_en.html.

All concerns: can the Debian fusion be though? Can OE has a place in this construction? Are you agree with the way of managing a new (more open) Linux distribution for PDA and hanbedded device in general? What could be added and what could be improved in the rough outline wrote on top of this thread?

well, pdaXrom based on PTXDist and have scripts which unlike OE.
Why i cant move pdaXrom to OE base? Easy - because that not ready, and if ill learn OE, rewrite all scripts from pdaXrom and debug new system that will take much time, i havent time because need working system for embedded project now, and pdaXrom have big progress in this way
for debian/familiar packages compatibity need add only list of preinstalled libs/apps, becaue builder produce core ROM as monolitic.

lardman

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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2004, 05:41:42 am »
@dhns:

Quote
Well, my way of counting what I have seen:
* ipks made with tar and ar -] 2 variants
* ipks gzipped or not gzipped -] 2 variants
The strangest thing I have seen yet was an .ipk made with \'ar\' having the component file names debian-binary/ control.tar.gz/ data.tar.gz/ I was not able to extract anything on a Zaurus (which does not come with ar) or a MacOS X machine (until I used an editor to replace the / by a blank in the raw file). The Sharp ROM just understands the ccombination tar&gz.  

I see. I presume some of this is caused by various browsers either gunzip\'ing or adding a tar extension.

An ipk file is either:
1. A tar.gz file containing 3 files - debian-binary, control.tar.gz & data.tar.gz
2. An ar file containing 3 files - debian-binary, control.tar.gz & data.tar.gz

As you say the Sharp ROMs only accept type 1., OZ will accept both (the ar type is more space and time efficient BTW).

I don\'t know about your funnily named internal files.

Quote
For the ROMs I counted (well, not only restricted on Zaurus models):
* Sharp ROMs 1.x
* Sharp ROMs 2.x
* Sharp ROMs 3.x (e.g. differing in the PIM)
* OZ versions
* pdaXROM
* Cacko
* theKompany
* Familiar for iPAQ, Dell, ...
* YOPY
* Unitech
* the newly announced Royal LineaLX
* others (China, India, ...)

All are basically Linux but one can\'t assume any tool, library, device driver, compiler etc. to be in any two sytems available at the same location or version. That is something I would expect a common distribution, bundling all these activities could take care of. This would greatly enlarge the user base for us developers. Therefore I like this idea.

True, it\'s difficult, but the underlying systems (libs and base tools) are omstly the same for a number of these ROMs.

e.g.

Sharp ROMs 1.x (whether for the 5000d or the 5600/Cxxx), Sharp ROMs 2.x, Sharp ROMs 3.x, theKompany, Cacko, all have the same basic libs (not necessarily the same Qtopia ones mind you).

For the others I agree, they are different, however for familiar and OZ (and pdaXrom) this is not an issue as it\'s easy enough to upgrade libs if need be (libncurses for example).

The larger issue as I said before is the verison of libc - familiar and later versions of OZ have moved to v2.3 while everyone else is still stuck in 2.2 land. And to some extent the version of GCC which is used to compile the distribution & apps - there are the obvious issues with name mangling on shared C++ libs.


Si
C750 OZ3.5.4 (GPE, 2.6.x kernel)
SL5500 OZ3.5.4 (Opie)
Nokia 770
Serial GPS, WCF-12, Socket Ethernet & BT, Ratoc USB
WinXP, Mandriva

amrein

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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2004, 06:26:47 am »
Here is an extract of a conversation on #arm-debian IRC. I have only one question: am I crazy asking for this group work? Is the Debian people contaminated by something?


Quote
<cam|cam> Hi everyone
<cam|cam> On which device are you running Debian-ARM at present (I mean your device)?
<Chocky> http://www.chocky.org/linux/systems.html
<cam|cam> thanks. I have followed your link (reading .
<cam|cam> There\'s emdebian.org. There\'s intimate.familiar.org. Any other project for Debian ARM (clean-up version) for PDA and embedded device that I missed?
 pb_ (~pb@2002:3e03:42cc:1:20b:6aff:fe19:f290) has joined channel #debian-arm
<Chocky> there\'s handhelds.org
<Chocky> and
<Chocky> http://www.pocketworkstation.org/
<cam|cam> Ho yes. I forgot PocketWorkstation.
<cam|cam> So there\'s no project (other than familiar and emdebian) that want to provide a Debian shrinked official version with ipkg and deb support?
<cam|cam> I just ask to be sure that I won\'t lost my time.
<Chocky> what do you want to do?
<cam|cam> A very light version of Debian + ipkg modification to completely replace package tools + ipk packages to replace debian ones (ipk=deb but shrinked) + a package builder tool
<pb_> I\'m not sure I understand \"ipkg modification to completely replace package tools\".
<cam|cam> ipkg remplacement = Something that could be as powerfull as apt-get+rpm+dpkg
<cam|cam>
<Chocky> I\'m not sure what facilities aren\'t already provided by ipkg
<Chocky> +that you think you need
<cam|cam> ipkg is buggy and just install/remove package.
<Chocky> sounds like an old version
<pb_> cam|cam: eh, so fix the bugs.
<cam|cam> (it is just part of the plan... if I still found bugs in it)
<cam|cam> pb_: sqlite should be the light database manager of the new ipkg + other functionnalities
<Chocky> any kind of SQL implementation sounds awfully heavy handed for a package manager
<cam|cam> A software with a lot of bugs is a software that is not easy enough (in its source) to let people like me work on it
<pb_> so, what you\'re saying is that you are only prepared to debug software if it doesn\'t already have bugs?
<cam|cam> sqlite library is 200 ko
<cam|cam> pb_: yes  ;D
 JimButton (lukas@pm478-03.dialip.mich.net) has joined channel #debian-arm
<pb_> sigh
<cam|cam> pb_: do ipkg tools have a kind of easy way of building package? I mean something like : \'ikg --rebuild xxx.src.ipk\'
<cam|cam> pb_: I was thinking of completely revamp ipkg because Harlekin said that we should
<Chocky> this sounds like an ill-considered and ill-defined mission
<pb_> cam|cam: well, let Max waste his own time.  I don\'t think there is any benefit at all in throwing out ipkg altogether just because he doesn\'t like it.
<Chocky> A lot of thought has already gone into ipkg and friends
<Chocky> There will always be someone who doesn\'t like a given bit of s/w
<Chocky> sigh
<Chocky> I wonder if the compiler version change is stopping the serial port working
<cam|cam> At present, software installation + uninstallation can be done with ipkg (ipk as deb). I didn\'t found any way to manage easily the software construction
<cam|cam> And there\'s always someone on the mailing-list complaining about ipkg bugs
<pb_> Yeah; ipkg and dpkg don\'t really have any direct equivalent to .src.rpm.
<pb_> cam|cam: well, yes, but there is always someone on the mailing list complaining about kernel bugs as well, and we are not proposing to throw away the kernel.
<pb_> The way to get these things fixed is to file coherent bug reports in bugzilla.
<cam|cam> In fact... yes... it could be good to throw away the kernel too.
<cam|cam> What I mean is that the 2.6.4 is interesting as it include all ARM patches and
<cam|cam> is waiting for specific familiar patches (and other drivers)
<Chocky> familiar is user land, why would it have kernel patches?
<pb_> I think he means iPAQ-specific patches.
<Chocky> guess so
<cam|cam> What I mean with patches is \'sending 2.6.4 kernel drivers to www.arm.linux.org\' so he could include them in 2.6.5
<pb_> Right.  Unfortunately it\'s not quite that easy, because most of the necessary drivers just don\'t exist for 2.6.4 yet.
<cam|cam> Do you know if this is planned?
<pb_> If you build a 2.6 kernel for ipaq, even from handhelds.org CVS, it will be missing an awful lot of features compared to 2.4.
<cam|cam> (yes
<pb_> Yes, but as ever it\'s a matter of time.  Maybe you would like to help.
<cam|cam> Yes too.
<cam|cam> Certainly for iPaq 3870, Yopy, and Zaurus SL-C760.
<Chocky> pb: have you had any problems with GCC 3.3 miscompiling kernels?
<cam|cam> I\'m reading a book about kernel developpement
<Chocky> problem with such books is that they tend to be out of date very quickly indeed
<pb_> Chocky: nope, certainly not recently.
<cam|cam> Chocky: yes. It\'s about 2.4 kernels (and some part on 2.5 )
<BlindMan> re
<cam|cam> So simply using ipkg and building an easy way to compile all familiar applications could fill my needs in your opinion?
<pb_> hi blindman
<Chocky> we don\'t know what your needs are
<pb_> cam|cam: yes, and openembedded might fulfil the building part of your needs.
<cam|cam> Needl definitively to browse their source.
<cam|cam> Chocky: Debian light but complete compatibility + easy package/build/repository management with 2 tools (ipkg, ipkg-build) + PIM
<cam|cam> Read here to read the full story:
<cam|cam> http://www.zaurususergroup.com/index.php?n...3040&highlight=
<Chocky> yes, yes
<Chocky> it\'s all very well saying \"we should all focus in the same direction\"
<Chocky> but eveyone has different ideas on what that directin is, and how it should be done
<BlindMan> *gaehn*
<Chocky> the point of emdebian is to leverage the existing Debian stuff, but make it smaller.  That\'s largely a social engineering excercise, not a technical problem
<BlindMan> oops
 Signoff: pb_ (\"Client exiting\")
 Chocky wonders how pdaxrom is relevant to RiscPCs
<cam|cam> As soon as all packages are there, that you could build your own rom and that there\'s no cut in freedom to use one package or the other (as long as dependancies are met) I don\'t see where is the problem.
<Chocky> the problem here is that I don\'t see any kind of cohesive focus.
<cam|cam> And if someone want to use something else, there\'s no problem.
<cam|cam> If I build a dependancy list and all distribution use it, the goal to have interoperability is winned
<cam|cam> s/winned/reached/
<Chocky> I\'m really not sure where this is going.  There\'s already plenty of interoperability
<cam|cam> (I forgot about the toolchains version and libraries)
<cam|cam> What is good is to know that your software will always work whatever distro you want to install
<cam|cam> (and without recompilation)
<cam|cam> (or static build)
<Chocky> toolchains are mostly a distinct issue from Debian issues
<cam|cam> I was thinking about Debian just because it\'s a complete user drived distribution
 Chocky tires of this. is there a point you wanted to make?
<cam|cam> Redhat Netwinder could also fill the gap
<Chocky> that makes no sense
<Chocky> RedHat ARM is a desktop distribtuion, and has nothing like the support or packges or up to dateness of Debian ARM
<cam|cam> Do you understand now why I prefer Debian?
 Chocky didn\'t need to understand it
<Chocky> I just don\'t know what you\'re trying to achieve with this dicussion
<cam|cam> Just to say that I\'m asking for something that should see the light. Ok. Acknoledgment
<Chocky> whose light would it be?
<cam|cam> Linux on all PDA. Any user using it. Full Debian package paradize.
<Chocky> as I said, this conversation is going nowhere.  you\'ll understand if I don\'t reply any further
<cam|cam> Easyness, powerful tools, open source,
<cam|cam> Ok. I\'m understanding.
<Chocky> I don\'t think you are

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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2004, 09:10:22 am »
Quote
Here is an extract of a conversation on #arm-debian IRC. I have only one question: am I crazy asking for this group work? Is the Debian people contaminated by something?  

Basicly, yes you are crazy, because this is what the community wants. Maybe this makes sense to you but not to me or obviously a few others. I like to have several options to chose from that vary greatly in form and function, thats what makes the Z appeal to me. If I get bored with one or the other has a app that I want to use I\'m free to switch.

If you want a static consistent platform to develope with go to Palm or Pocket PC.