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Gadgets

MagicMirror: a versatile home information hub

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Gadgets

Back in 2014, a Raspberry Pi enthusiast by the name of Michael Teeuw shared his build of a "magic mirror" with the world in a six-part series. The system consisted of a Raspberry Pi and monitor running a web browser in kiosk mode, with a web server that provided a dashboard interface — all stored in a custom-built case with a one-way mirror. Since his post, others around the world have built these devices for their home (including myself), forming both a community and an interesting open-source project. The recent release of MagicMirror2 (MM2) version 2.12.0 gives us an opportunity to learn more about where the project started and where it is today.

The MM2 project provides the software to convert what would otherwise be a normal household mirror into a valuable source of information. This information could take the form of drive times, train schedules, daily news, server loads, sports scores, or even the feed from the doorbell when someone is at the door. With the right know-how, the surface can even become interactive through the use of hand gestures or as a touchscreen.

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Adventures of porting postmarketOS to the Librem 5

Filed under
OS
GNU
Linux
Gadgets

I’ve been longing to drop the shackles of Android ever since I made the decision to stop using my Nokia N900. Nokia had given up on Linux phones, and it was clear that there would be no further security patches for my favorite smartphone of all time. Shaking Google out of Android had been my mission for years, and I had resorted to running my own builds of “de-Googled” LineageOS. I was longing for something better. I was out of the country when I first read about postmarketOS (“pmOS”) in May 2017. postmarketOS is a Linux distribution based on Alpine Linux, that strives to provide a Linux distribution running the mainline Linux kernel, as a means to revive old smartphones long forgotten by their manufacturers. My beloved N900 was one device with (rough) support! I quickly jumped on eBay to order a second N900 to meet me at home when I arrived back, because obviously two are needed. Obviously… Thus began my relationship with postmarketOS, one that continues to this day.

Things were not all rosy though… After some time it became clear that the older N900 CPU wasn’t going to get any faster for running “modern” applications and that there would never be a free userspace graphics driver for its GPU, so I was quite excited when I first learned about the Librem 5. Sure, it didn’t have a physical slide-out keyboard, but the promise of a device from a company that would treat Linux support as a first-class citizen was too good to pass up. I promptly pre-ordered a developer kit (“devkit”) and phone, with the full intention of porting postmarketOS to the device and eventually using it full time to replace the heaping pile of Android in my pocket.

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Librem 5 on Privacy

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Gadgets

  • Tourists on Tech’s Toll Roads

    I had assumed the toll would be $1 or so–everything else up to that point had been relatively affordable in Cancun–but was shocked when I slowed down and discovered the toll was $10! This was about three times what the Golden Gate Bridge charged back then! I felt taken advantage of, yet once we got to the toll booth, there was no easy way to turn around or avoid it, so we just paid the fee and I blamed myself for being a dumb tourist who should have researched things better.

    We spent the day in Chichen Itza and on the way back I vowed I would not be taken advantage of again. This time we would take the indirect, free route through the jungle. I was so glad I made that choice as I passed through one village after another and saw local people living their lives. While it wasn’t as fast or smooth a road as the toll road, I felt like less of a tourist on a curated tour of someone else’s property and more like I was seeing what “real” Cancun was like.

  • GPS Tuning the Librem 5 Hardware

    Society is getting pretty used to the idea that the data and applications on phones are completely controlled by large corporations.

    Purism is working hard to change that with the Librem 5.

    Because of the market capitalization and duopoly control of the phone OS vendors, the hardware tool vendors use are trapped into one of those two OSes (Android or iOS).

    [...]

    The available GPS antenna tuning procedure is a GPS simulator, but the simulator requires feedback from the phone OS to help tune the antenna. If you are on Android the simulator vendor provides an apk that converts the NMEA to a format that the tools can use to do the tuning.

    So now we have a tool to do the tuning but no way to use it.

Huawei to shift phones to its own Harmony operating system from 2021

Filed under
OS
Gadgets

Huawei has announced plans to pre-install its own Harmony operating system on its smartphones from next year.

The Chinese company said it would also offer the software to other manufacturers to use as an alternative to Android.

Huawei is currently the world's second bestselling handset-maker, after a brief time in the top spot.

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The Linux-Powered YARH.IO MKI Device

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Gadgets

  • Hackable Raspberry Pi handheld computer

    Yarh-io is a handheld Linux-based computer with keyboard, trackpad and 800×480-pixel display made with a Raspberry Pi 3B+, a custom 3D-printed case and many hours of love. 

    [...]

    The 3D printed case is in fact the most expensive component, by far, csoting more than $300. It can be reassembled in various modular ways for a fully industrial personal computing experience.

  • Meet YARH.IO MKI: A Hackable Raspberry Pi And Linux Powered Device

    Now, if you ever dream of having a fully-fledged working Raspberry Pi device, here comes the YARH.IO MKI project that aims to offer a fully hackable and customizable Raspberry Pi-based handheld device.

    [...]

    The 5-inch model has a 800×480 HDMI TFT LCD display with a lightweight mini wireless Bluetooth keyboard controller. As YARH.IO is a battery-powered device, it also comes with a single removable 5000mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery.

    Under the hood, the handheld device follows a unique modular design, where the main module includes a Raspberry Pi board, screen, power supply, battery, RTC, and GPIO connector with cables.

Serge Hallyn: sxmo on pinephone

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Gadgets

If you are looking for a new phone that either respects your privacy, leaves you in control, or just has a different form factor from the now ubiquitous 6″ slab, there are quite a few projects in various states of readiness...

[...]

So I’m back to running what I’ve had on it for a month or two – sxmo, the suckless mobile operating system. It’s an interesting, different take on> interacting with the phone, and I quite like it.

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A Free Software OS For The ReMarkable E-Paper Tablet

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Gadgets

[Davis Remmel] has been hard at work porting Parabola, a completely free and open source GNU/Linux distribution, to the reMarkable. Developers will appreciate the opportunity to audit and modify the OS, but even from an end-user perspective, Parabola greatly opens up what you can do on the device. Before you were limited to a tablet UI and a select number of applications, but with this replacement OS installed, you’ll have a full-blown Linux desktop to play with.

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PocketBook Color is a More Affordable 6-inch Color eReader

Filed under
Linux
Hardware
Gadgets

As we noted earlier this month the first color eReaders are coming to market, but the $299 price tag of Onyx Boox Poke2 Color eReader may have some people thinking twice before purchasing this type of device. The good news is there’s now a cheap alternative with PocketBook Color available on Newegg for $229 with the exact same E-ink Kaleido 4096-color display.

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Also: Testing Hercules OTT Realtek RTD1395 4K Android STB Development Board

Ubuntu Touch Working On Better PinePhone, PineTab Support

Filed under
Ubuntu
Gadgets

The UBports' Ubuntu Touch crew has been focusing a lot lately on improving their support for the popular, budget-friendly PineTab tablet and PinePhone smartphone. The next OTA release will bring more improvements for fans of these PINE Allwinner-powered devices.

The UBports team relayed a number of PINE improvements they have been working on including:

- Ubuntu Touch OTA-13 will bring working OpenGL rendering support on the PinePhone. At the moment Ubuntu Touch on this Allwinner budget smartphone is using software acceleration, which is brutal, but now will have a working OpenGL renderer with the next release.

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Direct: Ubuntu Touch Q&A 82

This smartphone has physical kill switches for its cameras, microphone, data, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Gadgets

A common complaint with modern smartphones is that they are black boxes. Android and iOS are complicated pieces of software, each with hundreds (if not thousands) of independent functions running in the background. Even when we explicitly turn off certain functions, our phones don't always do as they're told. That's part of what makes the PinePhone so alluring — it's one of the few mobile devices with hardware switches for common features, giving you full control over your smartphone.

The PinePhone is a smartphone developed by Pine64, a company that has been selling ARM-based products since 2015. The first fully-functional versions went on sale earlier this year after years of development, but Pine64 has also started selling Community Editions with various Linux distributions pre-installed. That's right, the PinePhone is built to run Linux.

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