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Amazon launches Linux-based eBook reader

Nov 21, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Amazon's “Kindle” electronic book reader runs an operating system based on Linux 2.6.10, according to reports. The device boasts a claimed 30 hours of battery life, thanks in part to a power-saving E-ink EPD (electro-phlorescent, or “electronic paper” display) and “fpow” power-saving infrastructure, early reports suggest.

Amazon Kindle

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The Amazon Kindle is a lightweight electronic book reader that connects to Amazon's electronic bookstore via a built-in EVDO cellular data modem. Newly available for the 2007 holiday season, it costs $400. It is claimed to avail readers of some 88,000 titles, including “100 out of 112 current New York Times Bestsellers.” The device can hold about 400 books at once.

The Kindle's most notable feature is its EPD display from MIT-affiliated start-up E-Ink. Electronic paper offers a bright, high-contrast, thin, lightweight display technology that remains legible under “any lighting condition” — much like newsprint. Once an image has been “printed,” no power is needed to hold it, reducing energy requirements by 99 percent compared to LCDs, E-Ink claims.

E Ink's electronic paper is somewhat like a miniaturized Etch-a-Sketch based on electricity, instead of magnetism
(Click for details)

Other interesting technology in the Kindle has been discovered by renowned Linux kernel hacker Robert Love, who writes in part in his blog, “Most notable is a power-saving infrastructure named fpow, which provides device-level power management and aggressive system suspend functionality that is responsible for the device's excellent battery life.”

Love goes on to note that the Kindle is based on an Intel/Marvel PXA250 processor. It was apparently codenamed “Fiona” during development, and produced by “Lab126,” a skunk-works team at Amazon tasked with producing “easy-to-use, highly integrated consumer products.”

E-Ink's Linux SDK
(Click for details)

More details about the Kindle can be found on Amazon's site, here. Love's blog post about the device can be found here. More about E-Ink's Linux development kit (pictured at right) can be found in our earlier coverage, here.

Another device using E-Ink technology is Motorola's MotoFone F3 voice-phone for developing nations. Other electronic book readers with EPD displays and Linux-based embedded operating systems include Bookeen's Cybook, eRead's Star eBook STK-101 and iRex's Iliad, designed for use by Chinese schoolchildren.

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