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MOTODEV Studio for Linux: A brief review August 27, 2008

Posted by Florian in Devices, Linux, Source.
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Knowing several SDKs for mobile devices available in the market such as OpenMoko Freerunner, Nokia N810 and several other I decided to take a look at the new MOTODEV Studio for Linux by Motorola. They published the preview release 0.3 a short time ago. Its quite appealing to write applications for all the MOTOMAGX devies out there. But it turned out that it is not really easy and the fun seems to be limited even if the MOTODEV Studio itself looks and feels quite nice.

The MOTODEV Studio preview comes as a 381MB zip archive which contains install instructions (PDF) and an executable binary installer. Even if the website says that it requires RHEL4 it installed without trouble on my Ubunty 8.04 after switching from GCJ to a SUN JRE. It requires ~900MB of disk space (no 3GB like the website says). There is an installer for Windows as well, but trying this is a job for someone else ;-)

The Eclipse (they use 4.0.3) IDE’s developer perspective looks pretty good and is easy to use even for developers who are not used to Eclipse at all. Only the fact that it needs a big screen to become useful is a problem for the users of many laptop computers which do not offer a screen higher than ~800 pixels. Resolutions below 1280×1024 result in a very small editor window.

Developer Perspective

Note the documetation browser at the right side of the window. There is a lot of documentation included already and integrated into the Eclipse help mechanism.

The VMware set-up and creating a configuration for the device emulator is rather trivial with the step-by-step instructions. Make sure to have VMware player 2.0.4 installed – the website still has 2.0.3 as a requirement which did not work for me.

The device emulator starts a VMware instance booting into a Linux system. Once the emulator is running it opens a tab in the IDE with a virtual device. It somewhat reminds me to Xoo :-)

IDE with emulator

IDE with emulator

With a set of example applications included it is very easy to get an application started. Creating a new project you are offered five application skeletons to choose from which includes a GUI application that shows how to use the contact database API.

So far the whole SDK looks really promising and much more convenient for Linux developers than the Series60 SDKs. But currently there are some bad limitations:

  • No integration of real devices yet – no binaries for a real handset and no debugging on a device.
  • They say that current MOTOMAGX devices won’t be supported by the native SDK and support will be limited to the next generation of devices.
  • Even if Motorola call MOTOMAGX an ‘open’ platform its openness is very limited and does not really compare with an open platform open source developers would like to see. Environmets like OpenMoko or Maemo offer a way higher degree of freedom.
  • The developer community and therefore the number of applications available is quite likely to be small in near future – compared to established platforms at least.
  • Some strange limitations in the IDE like the fact that source files are only usable if they have the extension ‘.cpp’ might make it quite hard to port existing software.

All in all its a big step into the right direction, but there is atill a hell of a lot of work to do. I guess it would be a nice idea for some MOTODEV Studio developers to have a chat with us Maemo people at OSiM next month.

Have a nice time…

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OpenEmbedded Devices August 11, 2008

Posted by Florian in Devices, Linux, LinuxToGo, OpenEmbedded.
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One of the most frequently asked questions at the OpenEmbedded booth at LinuxTag was about the devices supported by OE. In fact this is not the most interesting question people could ask because adding a new device description to OE is really easy. What you need is a basic idea about your hardware platform and the sources of a Linux kernel for your device. (Yes so far its Linux only, but I do not see a real reason not to build other operating systems with OE. What you have to do is to set some basic information about your device such as architecture, device features and a provider for your kernel (which is described in an extra bb file).  An easy to read example how a device description can look like is h5000.conf (for the HP iPAQ h5000 series devices).

But for the people who want to take a look what is supported currently I have extracted (and edited) the description frome OEs machine configuration files. Since the OE web server including the wiki is down I published the list at LinuxToGo wiki.

Have a lot of fun…