The OSWALD Project

Open source and education: a match made in computer heaven.
Why Linux?

On the software side, the choice of operating system was much clearer. Linux is a real operating system; it's not a toy. Students take it seriously and see the long-term benefits of learning Linux in depth. Students also benefit from joining Linux's rich open community, where newbies can find guidance and plenty of resources. From a development standpoint, Linux supports many types of software and devices, so it has simplified development. On the downside, little development has occurred on Linux for handheld devices, but this also means students still can make meaningful contributions with relatively modest effort.

Embracing Linux also differentiates the OSWALD from the many media player devices out here, like as the iPod Touch. Although many of these platforms offer a sleeker design and an attractive price point, development for these devices is difficult, as vendors either lock their platforms or apply stringent IP restrictions. In this consideration, the OSWALD has been designed with the flexibility needed to support a wide range of classes. Two USB ports were critical in meeting this design requirement. This component extends the platform in any number of directions, something that no current media player platform allows you to do. With Linux as a foundation, if someone has written a driver for it, the OSWALD can support it. This gives it great flexibility in terms of curriculum design. In freshman courses, students use the OSWALD to control small robots and sensors. In graphics classes, USB cameras enable simple image recognition, and the built-in networking allows students to design P2P protocols as part of their networking classes.