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Lenovo IdeaPad 3 - Windows and Linux experience a week later

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Gadgets

Here we are. My initial satisfaction with the laptop's default offering has gone down some. I am quite disappointed with how Microsoft chooses to promote Windows 10. Yes, it rules the desktop market, so it can do pretty much what it pleases, but this is a long game. And in the long game, they are not winning themselves any loyalty. If Linux ever achieves functionality parity, off I go. The same goes for Lenovo. I don't mind a vendor offering its tools and solutions. That's fine. But if I choose to have those tools removed, then there are no two ways about it. I'm most likely not going to buy any Lenovo machine again, because I don't appreciate being treated like a potato.

In this regard, Linux does a much friendlier job - to be let down by random erraticism. I'm talking about the sound config I had to handle, plus the VLC quirk. And let's not forget Secure Boot - even though it does not affect my two installed distros at the moment. Hardware wise, the keyboard quirks are quite annoying, and the screen can do only so much. Other than that, the laptop is robust and neat, fast, and the CPU fans don't rev too much. The battery life is pretty good, but I need more data to verify if the original numbers hold true.

Well, there you go. This is my satisfaction report a week into the laptop's usage. I am certain there will be more lovely surprises, twists and turns along the way, but then, part of the experience is figuring out issues early. This way, if and when I deploy software in my production setup, I will have all the right workarounds in place, and my seven-digit IQ will not be affected. Stay tuned for more good stuff. See ya.

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Crowdfunding Astro Slide 5G smartphone ships in June, has a physical keyboard, and promises Linux support

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Gadgets

The Astro Slide is a 5G smartphone with a 6.5 inch display and a physical keyboard that slides out from behind the screen, allowing you to use the phone like a tiny laptop computer. It will ship with Android, but the plan is to also make GNU/Linux distributions including Debian and Ubuntu Touch available for download.

First announced by Planet Computers in March, 2020, the phone went up for pre-order through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $1.6 million in hopes of shipping the Astro Slide to customers by March, 2021.

Now the makers of the phone are providing an update – because of pandemic-related delays it will likely ship in June instead. And the specs have changed (the phone has more RAM than initially planned, but a less powerful processor and smaller battery).

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Open Hardware: Librem 5 Update and SQFMI

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Hardware
Gadgets
  • Librem 5 Update: Shipping Estimates and CPU Supply Chain

    It’s been a busy holiday and New Year’s season at Purism as we continue to ship out Librem 5s to backers each week. We know for those who haven’t received their Librem 5 yet, what they most want to know is when their Librem 5 will arrive. In summary, we will be providing shipping estimates within the next week to the backers within the original crowdfunding campaign (orders through October 2017), but not all backers yet, based on our confidence in the estimates. The rest of this post will explain what is going into our shipping estimates, and why we can’t yet provide shipping estimates to every backer.

  • Purism and Linux 5.9 and Linux 5.10

    Following up on our report for Linux 5.8 this summarizes the progress on mainline support for the Librem 5 phone and its development kit during the 5.9 and 5.10 development cycles.

    Librem 5 updates

    One of the most notable additions is a first devicetree description for the phone. This is important to have upstream since it describes how the hardware is wired up. Without that, it’s impossible to boot a mainline kernel. We added descriptions for the various phone revisions themselves (up to the Dogwood board) and also for the MIPI DSI controller of the imx8mq SoC. From this point on, we’ll incrementally add the missing pieces, for example from the display stack, just like we’ve done for the devkit back in Linux 5.2.

  • Hack together your own e-paper smartwatch with this $50 open-source kit

    The battery life SQFMI estimates depends on your use case — it says if you’re just keeping time you should get five to seven days, but if you’re fetching data frequently you may only see two to three. Its open-source nature, however, means that you could always fit a larger battery into it, or try and make some software optimizations if there are features you’re willing to cut.

The Pyra Handheld Linux PC is Shipping

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Gaming
Gadgets

The Dragonbox Pyra is finally shipping! This small handheld Linux PC (that can be used for just about anything, including gaming) has been in the works for 7 years or more. It was designed to be the successor of the Open Pandora (an excellent device that predates smartphones) which led to numerous innovations in the ARM space (the creator of Box86, for example, comes from the Open Pandora community).

The DragonBox Pyra has had a difficult development process, with numerous hardware (and mold) related issues during its design. It was kind of supposed to be ready to come out a few years ago, but every time you’d think “hey, it’s just 2 months away now!” it would be delayed again and again – for yet completely valid reasons. Why do I say valid reasons? Well, EvilDragon (Michael Mozrek) who leads the project, is a very transparent kind of guy and details every issue and every potential solution along the way with the community. It’s probably one of the most open projects in that sense – nothing was ever hidden from the public.

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Can a Linux phone replace my iPhone or Android device?

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

At the same time, there a growing number of Linux distributions designed to run on smartphones. There are currently at least 17 different software releases available for the PinePhone, for example. Some of these operating systems are designed for a specific device (like the PinePhone), while others, like Ubuntu Touch or postmarketOS can also replace Android on many existing smartphones from Samsung, Motorola, OnePlus, Xiaomi, FairPhone, and others.

But as of mid-January, 2021 most Linux distributions for smartphones are very much a work in progress. Some features may not work. You may not be able to run the apps you’re used to using with other operating systems. And some of the best phones designed to run Linux are very much aimed at open source enthusiasts rather than the general public.

The rapid progress of Linux smartphone software development has been fascinating to watch, and Linux phones can be a lot of fun to tinker with, which is why I started this website to focus on this new and exciting space in the smartphone market.

But should you buy a Linux phone to replace your iPhone or Android phone? Maybe. But for most people, the answer is probably not. Or at least not yet.

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There’s a new Manjaro ARM Lomiri dev build for the PinePhone

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Gadgets

Manjaro is one of the most popular desktop Linux operating systems, and it’s increasingly becoming one of the most versatile GNU/Linux distributions for smartphones as well.

The PinePhone Manjaro Community Edition smartphone that shipped a few months ago came with Manjaro ARM software featuring the phosh user interface pre-installed. The PinePhone KDE Community Edition phone that will begin shipping this month comes with Manjaro featuring the KDE Plasma Mobile UI.

And the Manjaro ARM team is also developing a branch of the operating system featuring the Lomiri user interface borrowed from the UBPorts/Ubuntu Touch team. Now there’s a new developer build of Manjaro ARM with Lomiri available for testing.

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Open Hardware/Modding Leftovers

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Hardware
Gadgets

  • App Spotlight: Sound Recorder

    With the brunt of the setup automatically handled by PureOS, you can set up the basics from within the app menu.

  • Over:Board carrier board brings Raspberry Pi 4 to Mini-ITX form factor (Crowdfunding)

    While the Raspberry Pi 4 SBC is popular for its small form factor, affordable hardware, and good software support, the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 offers more flexibility and allows makers and companies to design their own hardware matching their requirements, while still leveraging the existing software support.

  • Industrial-grade 3D Vision Camera features Rockchip RK3399 SoC, Intel RealSense Technology

    The fanless camera also comes with a thread for tripod mounting. For some reason, the camera is said to be running the older Ubuntu 16.04 OS, and clients can view the video stream/access from Windows 10 or Ubuntu 16.04. But after asking a representative from Vecow, we were told “Everything can be done through the web browser”. So I suppose most desktop web browsers should work, and since the camera also supports RealSense SDK 2.0, it will be possible to design any custom applications for the target use case. The company also says the camera support edge computing, so that means on-camera AI inference, but since there’s no AI accelerator, that would be done by the Rockchip SoC’s CPU and/or GPU.

  • Maypole MicroSD card reader comes with ESP32 for WiFi, smart storage (Crowdfunding)

    Several years ago, we covered Zsun WiFi card reader a tiny USB card reader with WiFi and a battery that allowed users to access files via USB or WiFi from any device. People managed to hack the device and run OpenWrt on the little MicroSD card reader, but this required either to open the hardware and do some soldering, or use another method that could potentially brick the hardware, so not an ideal solution.

Linux phone news roundup (1-06-2020)

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Gadgets

While the PinePhone is designed to run free and open source operating systems like Manjaro, Ubuntu Touch, and postmarketOS, the phone does still use some proprietary firmware for components like the modem… but we’re one step closer to being able to replace that firmware with open source alternatives, because developers have managed to get the modem to run Linux kernel 5.10.

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Also: >Lilbits: Facebook smart glasses, GPD Win 3, and Linux smartphone news

Devices: Librem 5, SBCs, and Raspberry Pi 4 First Impressions

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Gadgets

     

  • Librem 5 App Showcase: Weather

    Weather apps are one of the few apps people use every day that needs a location to work, but weather apps on most smartphones are notorious for capturing and selling your location data.

    The Librem 5 is designed to protect your privacy, and include a privacy-respecting Weather app. When opened this retrieves weather data from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, and only them.

  • Ryzen V2000 based 5x5 and 4x4 SBCs target signage

    Sapphire announced a 5×5-inch “FS-FP6” Mini-STX board and a 4×4-inch “BP-FP6” NUC board featuring AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V2000. The SBCs support 4x and 2x simultaneous 4K displays, respectively.

    Sapphire Technology unveiled some SBCs based on AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V2000. No OS support was listed, but the FS-FP6 is based on Sapphire’s similarly Mini-STX (5×5-inch) form factor FS-FP5V, which runs Ubuntu 16.04 or Windows on the Ryzen Embedded V1000. The BP-FP6 is based on the 4×4-inch BP-FP5, which runs Linux or Windows on the V1000 or R1000. As seen in the joint spec list farther below, each board is slightly larger than its predecessor.

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  • Raspberry Pi 4 first impressions

    But today bought the official 5V @ 3A supply, so as to get up and running straight away. Surprised how small it is, wonder if it can really deliver 3A.

    This post is just a quick report on setting up the Pi. I thought that it would just be a few minutes, plug everything together and power-on, however, took a bit longer...

    [...]

    ...actually, filed it a bit more after taking that photo, almost halfway through. Also chamfered the front edge -- notice that the USB sockets have a little lip on top and bottom -- the top lips were able to sit just on the outside, however, the bottom lips needed the chamfer.

    Due to this messing around, cannot recommend this case. 

    Another thing that I did not like, and I know that this is just aesthetics, but didn't like the power plug for the fan sticking up out of the case. Just now reminded of my Hardkernel ARM board, that has dedicated socket for the fan power, and also mounting holes on the board for the fan, and spring-loaded screws to attach the fan -- so professional.

Dragonbox Pyra begins shipping to customers (open hardware handheld gaming PC)

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GNU
Linux
Gadgets

The DragonBox Pyra is a handheld computer with a 5 inch display, a TI OMAP 5 processor, a QWERTY keyboard and built-in game controllers. Designed to be a hackable, open hardware device, the little PC ships with Debian Linux but supports alternate operating systems, and you can use the Pyra as a general purpose computer or a portable gaming machine.

After years of development, the first DragonBox Pyra handheld computers are now being assembled and shipped to the first customers who placed pre-orders… although it might take a little while before all pre-orders are filled and the team behind the Pyra is ready to begin shipping units to customers who place new orders today.

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