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Linux is one of several Unix like implementations.


[edit] Overview

Linux features a customizable kernel and generally uses GNU commands and shells. For eBook readers and PDA's it can be cut down to a very small footprint to allow it to run on smaller low power devices.

As with all operating systems Linux provides a framework for applications to use. It is the application that actually provides the eBook reader functionality. There are several applications available for Linux systems depending on the desired eBook format. The application must be compiled for the particular Linux implementation hardware that you are interested in so not all Linux applications are available for all hardware configurations.

There are several specialized versions of Linux some of the variations are described below if they are applicable to mobile devices. There are versions of Linux for both ARM and X86 processors.

Linux was begun August 25, 1991 by Linus Torvalds who posted his famous message announcing the project, claiming that Linux was "just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu." However, Linux has surpassed GNU which now uses Linux as its kernel. The popularity of Linux is largely due to its modularity and the fact that it is not a commercial product.

[edit] User Front End

Linux, like Unix, is a base OS that has a basic kernel which is consists of a set of system calls to and from a User Interface and manages the work being done by the computer. However, the user only really sees the User Interface which can vary the look and feel depending on the implementation. It can be a command line using a shell but is more likely to be a Graphical User Interface (GUI). Some GUI user interface packages include:

  • Gnome a Desktop package from Gnome
  • Qtopia an API for custom versions of embedded Linux from Trolltech
  • X window system from MIT (also used in regular Unix/Linux):
    • Stripped down implementation (e.g. in Nokia 770)
    • nanoX small X implementation (e.g. in HanLin eBook).
    • GPE: for PDA and Palmtop use.
  • Also KDE, LXDE and Xfce

Many eBook Readers use an embedded version of Linux but have their own user interface (typically a menu interface) as they basically boot direct into the application.

[edit] Linux variants

[edit] Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a community developed, Linux-based operating system that is perfect for laptops, desktops and servers. It contains all the applications you need - a web browser, presentation, document and spreadsheet software, instant messaging and much more. A special Mobile version exists for MID devices. See

On June 24, 2008 Ubuntu Linux released the first developer's version of its new Ubuntu Mobile Internet Device (MID) Edition 8.04 operating system, which is aimed at device manufacturers that build Internet-ready handheld devices based on Intel Corp.'s Atom processors.

Based on Ubuntu's Desktop Edition operating system, the MID Edition 8.04 was developed by the Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded community, in cooperation with the Intel community, according to Ubuntu.

[edit] Ubuntu Touch

Ubuntu Touch is a mobile version of the Ubuntu operating system, designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. [1] Unstable ISO Images are available via

[edit] Red Hat

Red Hat is a commercially supported variant for enterprise users.

[edit] Fedora

Fedora is a Linux-based operating system that showcases the latest in free and open source software. Fedora is always free for anyone to use, modify, and distribute. It is built by people across the globe who work together as a community. It is backed by Red Hat.

[edit] Linpus LINUX Lite

Linpus Linux Lite is the latest OS development for low-cost PCs like UMPC, OLPC, Classmate PC, MID and other consumer mobile devices. This new version of Linpus Linux distribution is designed to run smoothly and reliably on a lower-end hardware with processing power as low as 500 MHz, 128MB of DRAM and 512MB of storage space. With Linpus Linux Lite, you can surf the web, edit documents and photos, read e-book and email, play the music and games, enjoy the GPS navigation and VoIP service, etc.

[edit] Palm webOS

Palm webOS is a mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel with proprietary components developed by Palm including a touchscreen interface.

[edit] Android

Android is a mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel. It allows developers to write managed code in the Java language, controlling the device via Google-developed Java libraries.

[edit] Debian

Debian is a totally free operating system. Currently this is Linux or FreeBSD based but other bases are being worked on most notably GNU/Hurd is available for download. A large portion of the basic tools are GNU based. Debian comes with over 37500 packages (precompiled software that is bundled up in a nice format for easy installation on your machine).

[edit] Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a very small hardware module that uses a version of Linux downloadable from their web site. These downloads are installed on an SD card which is then inserted into the hardware. They have several images depending on the needs of the user.

[edit] Chrome OS

Chrome OS is a cloud based operating system. The heart of this OS is the Chrome browser. Chromebook uses this OS.

[edit] Embedded systems

Most eBook readers use an embedded Linux system. The largest companies in this business are Wind River and MontaVista. MontaVista is the one used on the Sony Reader.

JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) tools can be used to debug the embedded Linux kernel.

[edit] For more information

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