This page is a draft.

The nokia n800 internet tablet is a curious little device. I bought one from play.com last christmas for half price (still available). What is compelling about it (for me) is it runs a debian-based Linux distribution. So under the custom UI-hood, it's a portable UNIX box.

Suitability of the device

The n800 has been designed to be an "internet tablet". It's a portable web browser, skype client, mail client, etc. I'm interested in using it for many other things: as an electronic organiser, a music device, maybe a routefinder for the car; for reading ebooks... basically, for any task that you would buy a similarly-sized touch screen gadget. Unfortunately in most of these areas it falls short. However, since it is a (mostly) open platform, things might get better.

as a PDA

as an ipod-like thing

See media player.

as a book reader

  • fbreader highly thought of

I've read one book (Cory Doctorow's "Eastern Standard Tribe") in it's entirety on the device, using fbreader. It took a bit of getting used to. On my first 30 minutes of trying, the machine hard locked and reset twice. This may have been a transient environmental bug, or a problem with fbreader, but it hasn't happened since.

as an an "Internet tablet"

  • excels

laggy at times. How I wish we had flashblock. investigate http://browser-extras.garage.maemo.org/news/7/

as a note-taker / planner

as a musical instrument

hacking

backups

  • trying to get rsync on it
  • also, bacula possibly?

I've had a few issue where rsync would just stall on the second invocation. I need to investigate further.

networking

Bluetooth

because it does not support VPN (below), I attempt bluetooth at work. See bluetooth.

VPN
  • need PPTP for work
  • building kernel modules for n800: http://www.koltsoff.com/pub/hello-n800/

complaints

robustness

The software is not very robust. I just logged into my tablet which felt a bit sluggish:

2136 user SW 63488 946 28.2 49.9 maemo-launcher

looking at sub-processes of 2136 and I see osso_rss_feed_reader, which I closed days ago. This is a fairly common situation, with a variety of software programs, both official and otherwise.

dns

For some reason, the n800 refuses to search my local domain. I think it's because it uses a local dns resolver, perhaps some caching thing.

internal/external speakers

The n800 switches between internal and external speakers depending on the presence of headphones. However, there is a significant delay in switching over, meaning if you plug in headphones, you still get a few seconds of audio on the external speakers.

This behaviour is hardly useful anyway. You may be plugging headphones in soley to provide the aerial for the FM tuner. You rarely want your music to blare out of the external speakers when you accidentally tug the headphones out.

other stuff worth checking out

non-nokia firmwares

I think a 100% F/OSS firmware is needed for security you can trust, and the ability to fix all of the annoying bugs. Some ground work:

There's also the ubuntu mobile project, https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MobileAndEmbedded, and some instructions at http://blog.omma.net/?p=8.


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