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Open source MyLinux PLW project is scuttled

Oct 29, 2001 — by Rick Lehrbaum — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

The MyLinux Pocket Linux Workstation project has (at least temporarily) been canceled. The completely open source hardware/software project was sponsored by Arizona Cooperative Power LLC, and had reached the stage of accepting advanced purchase orders for beta versions of the device. Rob Wehrli, Director of Engineering of Arizona Cooperative Power LLC, offered the following explanation for why he is shutting down the project at this point . . .

    We're at least temporarily canceling or shelving the MyLinux PLW project due to lack of interest and acceptance in and by the Linux Community. With our “grass roots” effort, we needed at least 200 orders to proceed with a production run that doesn't even break even using what we believed would be a “Linux-friendly” COST + $20 model. Our development costs, not including labor, exceeded $160,000 USD in the past 10 months since formally announcing the PLW project December 11, 2000. At COST + $20, we needed to sell at least 8,000 units to break even with just the expenses of the project. We received only 10 orders in what I believe is a message from the Linux Community that clearly states that the product is neither viable nor desirable in what may be tougher economic times than when the project started.

    Many people from around the world contributed to help make the MyLinux PLW device spring up from concept to product. My team of core contributors added countless hours of relatively unrewarded effort to put together a hand-held Linux workstation with many exciting features indicated by Linux users as what they wanted in the device, for example, we added stereo audio in and out capability based on one person's request for stereo rather than monophonic audio capabilities. Our effort to address the needs of the Linux Community simply have met with poor acceptance at this time. We are planning to continue moving forward with our many other embedded Linux projects while possibly reviving MyLinux when economic conditions warrant it.

    I am a bit disappointed that we couldn't find at least 200 people in the entire base of Linux users who were both mentally and financially prepared to see this product become a shrink-wrapped reality. Strangely enough, we've had more offers from people who would rather see Windows CE running on it. When we started the MyLinux project, we thought that people would want a device designed for Linux from the ground up since they were converting Windows CE products, such as the iPaq, to run Linux. We focused on the needs of developers by adding a special developer debug port and an on-board JTAG interface for any level of development effort desired.

    Several people complained about the overall size of MyLinux compared with Palm and other hand-held devices, but many more responded positively to its size based on the extreme feature set offered by the entire package.

    The response to MyLinux was strong in terms of vocal support, but fell quite shorter than anticipated when it came down to putting money in front of the mouth. My intended goal and purpose for starting MyLinux was to give back something to the Linux Community. In my opinion it has been a complete failure. I may have been better off by donating the MyLinux development money to the GNU project. We never expected to make any money from building and selling the PLW, but we hoped that the Linux Community would have a device uniquely their own that would stand as an icon to other operating systems and commercial vendors that further positions Linux as the operating system of choice for all kinds of computing. asked Wehrli whether the project's results to this point (design, documentation, software, etc.) will be maintained online and openly available for the community to access as a basis for future projects and spinoffs, to which Wehrli replied: “I don't see any reason to completely fold any of it.”

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