The major difference between the two programs you didn’t previously know about…
During the summer 2001, me and my wife toured Vietnam and we had a great time. For that occasion I set up a little online diary that would allow us to post entries while on the road, to allow our families and friends back home to be able to keep up with what we were doing.
Fast forward to present day: the diary “submit new entry” form is still left on my site, and while it no longer works (it hasn’t worked for many years) – it is still one of the most visited pages on my site! It seems the automated spam bots find it and submit crap to it… the crap doesn’t end up anywhere to be seen nor is it even stored on the server, but it clearly identifies evil machines! Isn’t that a honeypot as good as any?!
So far during September 2007, no less than 309 unique IP addresses have issued a POST on that page..
Obviously the CHDK guys have working code for Canon‘s (and other’s) Digic II powered cameras, and reading their wiki they use plain arm-elf for the job and… yeah so does Rockbox and… yeah, well it certainly at least opens a possibility for a Rockbox branch for these toys!
Of course there would be porting involved and I don’t know how these cameras have on the audio front, but those are all just details…
Wherever there are mailing lists, some people eventually bring up the suggestion to move to or to at least offer a web forum alternative as well.
As a subscriber to over 100 mailing lists, receiving several thousands of emails every day I’m a violent opponent of web forums. Why? I’ll entertain you by stating a few reasons for my opinion on this:
By reading thousands of mails per day, I’ve worked out a system on how to deal with them all. Like I filter them in 20+ inboxes on arrival and I read them in a prioritized order and I mark interesting mails as “important” to deal with them later in case I don’t have time at the moment to reply or catch all details.
Several of my inboxes are automatically (renamed and) archived every month to make them not grow inconveniently large.
So please, don’t start more forums. Use mailing lists. Oh, and don’t top-post and/or full-quote on those lists…
The initial way of installing Rockbox on the Sansa e200R series seriously scare away lots of people, and some of those who have attempted to perform the install really should better have been scared, judging from their desperate cries for help in the forum etc.
Another downside of the initial procedure was that it required the user to download a binary-patched version of the original bootloader, a bootloader that is the property of SanDisk that we have no rights to redistribute – especially not a modified one.
The current work-in-progress method is to build an installer program that can be uploaded to the player and then it does the necessary patching live in the target, removing the need to download anything that isn’t clearly a product of the Rockbox project.
We still lack a working way for this on Windows though, so the current plan is to initially provide a live CD with Linux and the e200R installer on for the Windows crowd, but we’ll see how things evolve…
I’ve been involved in the Rockbox project since before it was named Rockbox and in fact long before the first code as written. I’ve contributed to it pretty much over the years and I have a fair insight in how most of the ports have been made and what efforts that are behind them. Today, Rockbox runs on around 25 different digital music players.
The first ports of Rockbox was (in retrospect) rather easy since we took it to architectures what were made with circuits and chips for which we could find documentation online.
Recently, music players as well as other consumer electronics are being made using products and circuits from companies that blatantly refuse to hand out documentation. Companies such as PortalPlayer (now Nvidia), Austrian Micro Systems, Samsung, ALI, NEC, Broadcom, Telechip, Texas Instruments, Sigmatel (to name a few) all make interesting and fun hardware but…
Let’s say I am looking into alternatives when creating new hardware. I want to build something new and cool. Something not done before, that would be portable and feature sound and an LCD and whatnot. I see what cool manufacturers there are out there and I can read their propaganda on their fancy web sites. So, I want to compare company A’s fancy chip with company B’s. I contact them in order to get to know as much as possible to be able to compare these beauties.
No, you cannot get any docs. We will not tell you how our products are used until you sign up for a huge contract. These companies don’t only require NDAs to be signed and similar, they simply won’t let you get the docs no matter what if you’re a small player and are just interested in comparing and evaluating products.
I’ve contacted several companies with this purpose in mind. I work with embedded products for companies doing products using such chips, so I would assume I should be the kind of person these companies would respond to with an open mind and a will to sell me their stuff. But they clearly hate customers.
This problem is of course also tightly related with the eternal discussion of manufacturers not wanting to hand out docs to hardware they sell for PCs, such as graphic cards (AMD/ATI, Nvidia, etc) and network cards (Broadcom, etc). These companies usually hide behind a blurry statement about protecting their intellectual property and being afraid of ending up in the hands of the competition but that always and unconditionally end up with the arguments:
I sometimes wonder if the chip manufacturers do this on demand from their bigger customers, the consumer electronics companies, to help them keep things hidden so that we – the general public – will have a harder time to modify and/or reverse engineer their products, which may lead to additional support issues for them.
We see this development of secret-docs going in the wrong direction. Samsung used to publish a lot of docs for their ARM-core based microcontrollers, but they no longer do so. Marvell bought the Xscale family from Intel and recently they took away all the public docs for them…
Luckily, not everything is darkness. There are occasional bright spots, as the other day when AMD announced their intention of bringing their open source ATI drivers up to speed with what could be expected of them..
So what is there to do about this? What can we “little people” do to change these big evil corporations? There’s really only one way: put the money where the docs is! Buy stuff from the good companies. Recommend your clients to release docs openly. Recommend your clients to buy hardware (parts) from companies that host their documentation publicly.
Far too often we end up behind a proxy that limits our network access in one or more ways. There are however clever ways that in most cases allow us to work around the nuisances the proxies impose, and I’ve written down my “guide” on how to do it here!
This is a procedure I’ve used myself many times and I’ve ended up explaining it to others several times as well so I felt it was about time I wrote it down.
I’ve tried to catch most quirks and be detailed and accurate, but please point out if you find any errors or mistakes in there. I hope to be able to perhaps add more specific config examples and command lines as well to make it even easier to follow.
For an easy reference, I’ll just link to ifixit.com‘s dissections of the ipod classic and nano 3rd gen. Those chips look very similar to the ones we saw in the nano 2nd gen and I dare to bet that the firmware files of these new ipods are as encrypted as the 2nd nano was… 🙁
As a side-note, I noticed the 3rd gen nano at least still features 32MB RAM.
Clearly the major electronic device companies are starting to really like full-screen touch displays for their phones and media devices, and we see them coming from all directions now:
Apple’s iPhone, and its sibling the recently announced ipod Touch, the Nokia concept phone, LD prada, HTC touch, Creative Zen “touch” and I bet we’ll soon see more from other manufacturers following. Like Samsung, Philips, Sony Ericsson and the likes…
During August 2007, 71164 Rockbox zip files were downloaded from build.rockbox.org. All existing 25 different packages were downloaded and the download counters were distributed like this:
(Model, number of downloads, share of the total number of downloads)
Do note that #4 on the list is the bigger sized version of the #1 on the list, so taken all ipod video together they account for 35.8% of all downloads!
Also, consider that this list does not include any downloads done from the download.rockbox.org servers (that host the daily and archived builds), nor do we keep track of any svn update traffic etc.
Portalplayer targets are #1 to #4, more than 60% of the downloads…
The downloads split on main architecture: