[kwlug-disc] Apple Rocks! No linux tablets?

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Fri Jul 16 07:26:19 EDT 2010

On Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 2:18 AM, Johnny Ferguson <hyperflexed at gmail.com>wrote:

> I think the big fallacy holding back linux from doing its thing is the
> belief that software is where the game is at. It's not. It's important, but
> the hardware that it runs on is equally (if not more) important.

The way I look at it, is that Apple's success is because of the entire
eco-system. They tightly control the hardware and operating system for all
their platforms. And they review apps that go on the App store for iPod and

All this has paid off for them, and ensured a unique experience and a
dedicated user base.

What I am saying is how I see things as they are, not as I wish them to be.

This is exactly why the open moko died. It was hideous, wasteful, clunky,
> and weak.

OpenMoko died because Android came out. It was game over at that point with
Google behind a Linux based platform for mobile phones. And yes, it was also

Think about why the Iridium satellite phone die: because mobile phones
became ubiquitous, and roaming works, so no one really wanted to pay for
getting calls in the middle of a desert or the ocean. But I digress.

Android has some momentum now, but is also fragmented. Different carriers
allow/disallow certain features and software on the handsets that they sell.
One example is a carrier that disables the Android Market on one of their
high end phones! Can you believe that?

When I see the iPad I see so much more than the software. It's the hardware
> in and outside the device. I think apple understands this, and that's why
> they've been tightening up restrictions on development. If they were to move
> in the opposite direction, they'd have to begin imposing an "apple tax" on
> their users much as microsoft has done for years with OEM licensing en masse
> as people began to realize that the device could do so much more.
> That might sound as though it contradicts my claim that software isn't the
> big picture, but if you think about it, not really. What I'm saying is that
> iPad is like the bread, and apple's os is just the butter. You can make
> better butter, but you always need the bread. If the bread sucks, the butter
> doesn't matter.

> So what does apple have that we don't? Control over hardware. Accordingly,
> less time developing for "edge case" hardware.

Actually, they control the entire ecosystem. You can't install anything on
the iPod and iPad unless you do that from iTunes, which they control.

Hardware alone does not do it. There has been tablets created over the year,
but none that had an entire ecosystem controlled by a single entity.

> as far as hardware on our side, the wheels are beginning to turn:
> http://www.openhardwaresummit.org/
> If I were to compare linux to apple, I'd say linux is like the heavy
> vehicle with the higher top speed, and apple is the lighter car with the
> faster acceleration. Things may look dim now, but in the end the more
> capable system will prevail. Apple is lean and focused, but it will never
> match the breadth, portability, and customization of linux.
> regardless of external opinions, I know what I like, I know what gets the
> job done, and I'll get an iPad when I see it as anything more than
> extraneous (mostly in light of the cost per unit satisfaction). If apple
> were to sell it purely as a hardware platform, I'd definitely reconsider.
> I want to see more of that in the future. The separation of hardware and
> software. To me it seems as obvious as the separation of church and state :P
> -Johnny
> ADDENDUM: I'm thinking linux tablets will be a no go for some time. At
> least until the point that open-source developers realize they can't be
> industrial designers as well. There needs to be a coalition between hardware
> and software people before we'll get the organized momentum that apple has.

Valid point here.

In addition to industrial design of the hardware, there is user interface,
there is standardization (look at the fragmentation of Gnome vs. KDE and how
this has split the market), there is marketing, there is the app store.

All this is not Linux developers only. It is companies too each with its own

As I said, Android is starting to get fragmented because monopolistic
carriers want to control their user base and deprive them of the benefits of
the openness of the platform (e.g. no android market).

Any time you have an industry consortium, you still see this infighting from
members. The Open Handset Alliance is one such consortium.

Apple, by tightly controlling the whole stack and not allowing clones avoids
all that, to their advantage and the advantage to their users. Not that I
agree that everything they are doing is good. Far form it.

And then you have a competing Linux for Mobile platform called MeeGo. More

> On 07/15/2010 08:52 PM, Insurance Squared Inc. wrote:
>> I just bought an  Apple Ipad, and my son put the Apple sticker on the
>> back bumper of his ATV. So I guess I'm kicked out of this group now too
>> (sigh. kicked out of ANOTHER group).
>> The Ipad is seriously cool, and has some stuff I love. There's a billion
>> apps. 1980's Galaga and Pac Man. I'd have bought it just for that.
>> Webmail that works way better than my blackberry. Point it at the sky
>> and it'll show you the star map directly in your line of sight behind
>> the ipad (this is seriously cool). And I've been trying to get the globe
>> and mail delivered in New hamburg for 5 years to no avail - now I get it
>> on my ipad every day with breakfast. I'm buying apps by the bucket. I
>> was a sceptic (I'm not an early adopter) but now I'm a fan.
>> But now I owe my soul to the company store - Steve Job's corporate
>> Itunes app store. $1.99 here, $4.99 there. (though in their defence,
>> they're doing a super job despite being entirely closed with no
>> competition).
>> Is there nothing out yet at this level of tablet computers for linux? I
>> know I read somewhere that there's some sort of tablet based linux OS
>> but nothing in common use? This technology seems perfect for linux.
>> Opensource apps, possibilty of OSS developers making some money, private
>> app stores competing for business, the fact that linux's front end is
>> discrete from the backend, so it should be relatively easy to get a
>> tablet version into production. It's screaming for an open platform.
>> Really - who the heck provides a computer with 32gigs, charges $800 for
>> it and won't even let you upgrade?
>> But nothing for linux? Anything coming down the pipes? Or is this still
>> a fizzle like it is for MS so far? Am I going to be able to make my next
>> tablet computer a linux machine that's as cool as my ipad?
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Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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