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Palm Foleo to use Wind River Linux

Aug 7, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Palm's Linux-based Foleo “mobile companion” — expected to ship “this summer,” according to Palm — will utilize Wind River's embedded Linux distribution and tools, Wind River has announced. Wind River will also offer professional services and customer support to the Palm developer community.

(Click for larger view of the Foleo's 18mm pitch (ISO standard “fullsize”) keyboard)

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The Foleo could be a significant win for Wind River's tools division, considering Palm's ambitions of establishing large third-party and open source software development ecosystems around the Foleo. Wind River said it will provide the “standard development and deployment environment” for the Foleo, which Palm expects to become its top-selling product, out-shipping Treo smartphones and Pilot PDAs.


Palm Foleo, Nokia N800, and Treo 680
(Click to enlarge)

The Foleo sports a “fullsize” keyboard with an 18mm key pitch, as specified in ISO standards. Navigation is done via a TrackPoint nub in the keyboard, while a roller wheel below the keyboard offers fast scrolling. The device's bright 10.2-inch color screen has a resolution of 1024×600, while its video out port runs at 1024×768 (SXGA) resolution, to accommodate standard projectors during PowerPoint presentations. Palm has not stipulated the amounts of flash and RAM in the final Foleo design; however, some reports have speculated it will have 256MB of RAM. User storage will be expandable via a CompactFlash slot beneath the battery, as well as via a removable SD card. I/O includes USB, Bluetooth, and Wifi.


Google on Foleo's full-screen Opera browser
(Click to enlarge)

Although it looks like a small laptop, the 2.4-pound Foleo is based on an embedded architecture — possibly Freescale's ARM11-based i.MX31, although Palm still will not say for sure. Despite its laptop-like look, the Foleo will feature appliance-like performance traits, such as instant on/off, and an “apps” key used to toggle between various instant-on applications that only run in full-screen mode. The embedded architecture and agressive power management result in real-world battery life of five hours, with screen brightness at 60 percent and WiFi on the whole time, Palm has claimed.


The Foleo's menu serves up instant-on apps
(Click to enlarge)


Palm's application menu — actual screenshot captured with the Foleo's “Alt-F3” screenshot shortcut
(Click to enlarge)

Adam Moises, senior manager of developer relations, confirmed that whenever the Foleo does arrive, it will be accompanied by a complete SDK (software development kit). Although optimized for Wind River Linux, the SDK may be usable without Wind River's tools — at least by veteran developers.

On August 6 in San Francisco — a day before the LinuxWorld tradeshow began — Palm hosted a “sync-up” event with members of its third-party developer ecosystem. After signing an NDA and attending a three-hour lecture, participants received Foleo devices in retail packaging, along with Foleo SDKs in bike messenger bags emblazoned with “Wind River Linux.”


Palm Foleo and Wind River messenger bags
(Click to enlarge)

Wind River said that over the coming months, it will work with Palm to port the Foleo's software stack to Wind River's Platform for Consumer Devices, Linux Edition. Thus, although apparently not actually developed using Wind River Linux, the Foleo could be Wind River's biggest design win yet in the consumer electronics space. The company's other recent wins include a phone reference design with mobile processor marketshare leader Texas Instruments (TI), and a design wins in market for prototype automotive driver-assist technologies.

Mark Bercow, senior VP of business development at Palm, stated, “By building the Foleo on an open Linux-based platform and publishing the tools developers need, Palm hopes to establish a vibrant developer community.”

Palm has not yet committed to a release date for the Foleo, beyond “this summer.” However, the Foleo is apparently now shipping to third-party developers who are willing to sign an NDA.

Further details on the Foleo, including its embedded hardware and software, appear in our earlier coverage.

Henry Kingman


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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