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Comments on: ALP Component Released to Open Source Community

PalmSource today announced it is releasing its recently created software library known as libsqlfs, under a Lesser General Public License (LGPL). Created as part of the ACCESS Linux Platform (ALP), the libsqlfs library is an add-on to the popular SQLite package. The libsqlfs software library was designed to provide a more flexible and convenient way to implement an Open Mobile Alliance-Device Management (OMA-DM) compliant registry.
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Marty, you're the Linux FS man...

cervezas @ 8/15/2006 2:01:59 PM # Q
Care to comment on the idea of implementing a POSIX-style file system on top of a SQLite database, Marty? I never thought about the value of being able to do file system operations with support for concurrency and transactions, but it seems to make sense in a circumstance where a resource could potentially be getting modified by a user process and a remote device management process at the same time.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
www.pikesoft.com/blog
RE: Marty, you're the Linux FS man...
PenguinPowered @ 8/15/2006 9:31:34 PM # Q
Care to comment on the idea of implementing a POSIX-style file system on top of a SQLite database, Marty?

Not exactly "lite". PSRC needed some way to provide PDB-like support, and I suppose this will do that.

I never thought about the value of being able to do file system operations with support for concurrency and transactions, but it seems to make sense in a circumstance where a resource could potentially be getting modified by a user process and a remote device management process at the same time.

yeah. Hans Reiser thinks Reiser FS is the way to do that, but it strikes me as a pretty large junk of code for an embedded processor.

May You Live in Interesting Times

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What did ACCESS show at LinuxWorld

Surur @ 8/18/2006 2:25:13 AM # Q
Where is ALP? Why are there no stories about this. I expected the site would be flooded by pictures and descriptions by now. Whats up? Did they cancel or something?

Surur

They said I only argued for the sake of arguing, but after an hour I convinced them they were wrong...
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RE: What did ACCESS show at LinuxWorld
cervezas @ 8/18/2006 8:30:08 AM # Q
They showed a *lot* but they were very tight about pictures. I've got a few articles on the way, including an interesting interview with Dr. Tomihisa Kamada, the co-founder and CTO of ACCESS.

Briefly, ALP is looking pretty darned good. Naturally, it's still under development but PalmSource says they're on schedule for the promised end of year release to licensees and I have no doubt from what I saw. They had several of the Haier N60 handsets used in Barcelona on the expo floor running ALP and were drawing good crowds. The MAX framework is in place now, sporting a nice-looking themable launcher this time, and there were early versions of several ROM apps that are written against the new API--along with Palm OS and GTK apps. While everything is still in flux ("pre-alpha" was the term I heard used) I think Palm OS folks will be pleased that ALP isn't a radical departure from the Palm OS GUI at all--updated, of course, but I get the feeling that ACCESS is making a real effort to deliver something that strikes people as the successor to Palm OS. All the Palm applications I saw tested at the Compatibility Station (including my own) ran well in GHost with no modifications. And the developer tools seemed pretty complete and solid for the couple of hours I spent working with them. I've got a couple of pictures I captured of ALP running on the PalmSource-provided Linux laptop I worked with during the developer sessions, so stay tuned.

Back to writing my articles, now! :-)



David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: What did ACCESS show at LinuxWorld
Foo Fighter @ 8/18/2006 1:02:47 PM # Q
I'd be very interested in seeing just how "Palm-like" this UI really is, as Access has said publically they had little interest in retaining the Palm UI. Your words don't exactly breath comfort either. This isn't the same mockup UI they showed off a year ago, is it?

And what exactly do you mean by pre-alpha? That makes very little sense given their RTM timeframe. How can ALP be in a pre-alpha state if it is to ship by years end?

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RE: What did ACCESS show at LinuxWorld
cervezas @ 8/18/2006 1:48:59 PM # Q
Foo Fighter wrote:
I'd be very interested in seeing just how "Palm-like" this UI really is, as Access has said publically they had little interest in retaining the Palm UI. Your words don't exactly breath comfort either. This isn't the same mockup UI they showed off a year ago, is it?

Definitely not. Not the same as they showed at 3GSM in February either. And ACCESS never that I'm aware of said that they had "little interest in retaining the Palm UI." Show me a link.

I don't want to spoil too much before the article is published, but my reaction to the user interface was that so far it is more like Cobalt and less like Rome than I expected. (Granted, we never actually saw the Rome interface, but the words that were used to describe it gave me the impression that there would be more of a departure.) Consider that Palm and PalmSource have already done a lot to make the Palm OS navigable without a touchscreen, so PalmSource is using that work as a departure point that gets them pretty far along the road to working on non-touchscreen devices.

One thing I'll say is different: don't expect the launcher and applications to have a plain white background or flat grey-white or pale blue buttons like in the past. The whole UI is skinnable with scalable vector graphics now and the operators will surely put their mark on it to differentiate their handsets. I imagine there will be an active marketplace for third party ALP skins if the network operators will allow it.

And what exactly do you mean by pre-alpha? That makes very little sense given their RTM timeframe. How can ALP be in a pre-alpha state if it is to ship by years end?M.

The term "pre-alpha" was used by one of the engineers in the course of an informal conversation. In context I took it to refer to the fact that we still have, for example, some ROM applications missing--at least in the demo handsets. Among the native MAX apps I saw were Contacts, Calendar, a music player, the browser, and a glimpse of the new sync system, but they weren't showing (or I didn't notice) native versions of the Phone application, email client, To Do, Notes/Memos, messaging or a camera app. There were a lot of features and whole applications that I had no time or opportunity to evaluate. If you think about it, it would take quite a while to figure out how complete a Palm OS device was, and when you've got a crowd of people waiting their turn it's pretty hard to make a realistic assessment. Of the things I could see were missing, though, none of them were things that couldn't easily be completed with the time and resources they've got.


David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: What did ACCESS show at LinuxWorld
Foo Fighter @ 8/18/2006 4:27:26 PM # Q
>> "Definitely not. Not the same as they showed at 3GSM in February either. And ACCESS never that I'm aware of said that they had "little interest in retaining the Palm UI." Show me a link."

Yes they have. I have read numerous references in news blurbs where an Access spokesperson has stated that Access did not plan to retain the Palm interface for ALP. Just do some googling (I shouldn't use that term anymore or Google might sue me) and you'll probably dig up quite a few postings. But here is one such link recall reading a few months ago....

http://www.computingunplugged.com/issues/issue200603/00001734001.html

And even at the outset of the acquisition Access made it pretty clear they intended to redefine the OS as a smartphone platform with a UI designed for that form factor. They see the current PalmOS UI as poorly suited for smartphones. That shouldn't be revelation to you.

>> "PalmSource is using that work as a departure point that gets them pretty far along the road to working on non-touchscreen devices."

That's interesting, and unsettling. Between that observation and evidence that Microsoft's future WM will be optimized for touchscreen-less devices, makes me wonder if perhaps touchscreens will eventually disappear from mobile devices.

>> "One thing I'll say is different: don't expect the launcher and applications to have a plain white background or flat grey-white or pale blue buttons like in the past. The whole UI is skinnable with scalable vector graphics now and the operators will surely put their mark on it to differentiate their handsets. I imagine there will be an active marketplace for third party ALP skins if the network operators will allow it."

Vector graphics? Is the entire UI vector based as well? If so, this sounds very similar to Apple's Quartz layer in OSX, where the entire UI is vector based on PDF. Very promising, especially skinnability aspects.

Did you actually get a chance to use the device in hand, or was it simply demoed to you by a rep? I'm interested in the performance aspects. Every iteration of some form of Linux I encountered on a mobile device as painfully sluggish.

This great news so far though. I look forward to reading your article. But I'd kill to see what ALP looks like in the flesh.



-------------------------------
PocketFactory, www.pocketfactory.com
Elitist Snob, www.elitistsnob.com

RE: What did ACCESS show at LinuxWorld
hkklife @ 8/18/2006 5:00:38 PM # Q
Any idea if ALP is going to retain any Graffiti type stroke-based character input functionality or is it going to be entirely keyboard & 5-way nav based?

I honestly think the Q and the newer phone-style BlackBerries are the harginger of the future of mobile "smartphone" devices...slim, light on the features, and devoid of a touchscreen.

I think touchscreens are "so 1990s" in the eyes of many--they are fragile (relatively), prone to digitizer drift, and cost more to implement than a regular LCD. The stylus silo also takes up valuable room inside the casing that could be used for...something else.

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RE: What did ACCESS show at LinuxWorld
cervezas @ 8/18/2006 5:54:56 PM # Q
Yes, I got hands on time with an ALP phone and a development board. And quite a bit of hands on with the emulator running on a laptop.

I probably wouldn't disagree with Maureen O'Connell's statement that the "look and feel" has changed, and maybe if colors and shapes are all people mean when they talk about the "Palm UI" then I should be careful in saying that what I saw wasn't a radical departure. Anyway, you'll be able to read my description shortly and look at a couple of screenshots.

The details about how the theming works weren't something we had time to go into, but I was told the themes use SVGs and they seemed to alter pretty much every UI element. For example, we took an ugly stock GTK application, added a single line of code to a manifest file, rebuilt, and observed how the system changed the whole look and feel to be consistent with the ROM applications. I was told that for performance and memory reasons it was likely that licensees would choose to pre-render the vector graphics, which I took to mean that the dynamic "scalable" aspect that Mac OSX users love might not be available in a stock handset. Guessing that will be a limitation that third party developers will experiment with removing right away!

Just want to emphasize, though, that there is a reason they don't want pictures right now. That's because they expect things to change and they don't want a repeat of what happened when they demoed an early very raw version in February: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comments/8399/#119295


David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: What did ACCESS show at LinuxWorld
Gekko @ 8/18/2006 9:04:45 PM # Q

This is a marathon race and WINMOB is about to cross the finish line and ALPO is still sitting on the couch eating potato chips.



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