[Sugar-devel] The ARM is near

Benjamin M. Schwartz bmschwar at fas.harvard.edu
Thu Aug 27 15:48:14 EDT 2009

Sharp PC-Z1:

Nokia N900:

A new wave of devices is approaching.  They have touchscreens, but they
also have qwerty keyboards.  They have long battery life, and built-in
wireless networking.  They are lightweight, and sized well for children.
They use Cortex A8 processors based on a core licensed from ARM.  They are
designed to allow the user to replace the operating system as she chooses,
but they only support one kernel: Linux.

In my view, these devices are a natural target for Sugar, despite lacking
full-size keyboards ideal for programming.  They are ready for us.  In
fact, the PC-Z1 ships with Ubuntu preinstalled.

Unfortunately, we are not ready for them.  Specifically, we have two major
issues to solve:

1. Many Activities contain Fedora 9 x86-32 binary code, and just won't run
on other platforms.  We need to reach a consensus on a multiplatform
standard for Activities, and then implement it.  The options for such a
standard are obvious enough.  The hard part is to choose the right one,
implement it, and make it stick.

2. We have not done the work needed to make our interface work well on a
touch-screen, with or without a stylus.  As touch-screens become more
common, we risk being left behind.

If you have the hardware to test these features, and the interest to make
them happen, I urge you to take a lead.  Solving these problems is an
important contribution that you can make.

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