It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's A...Mouse?
If there's one complaint we in the Linux world hear more than anything, it's "My [whatever] doesn't work with Linux." The unfortunate truth is that, while their infrastructure is likely Linux powered, the majority of device manufacturers aren't thinking about the desktop version when designing their wares. When a manufacturer does think outside the box (the one on the shelf, with the $200 price tag), it's a great day for us all — when they make really cool devices, it's all the better.
What Hillcrest Labs announced yesterday is about more than just Linux compatibility. Hillcrest is the company behind Freespace, a "complete solution for the creation of in-air pointing and motion control devices for a broad range of applications including pointing remote controls, hybrid 2D/3D mice and motion-sensing game controllers." Companies can license Freespace to develop precision devices for all manner of tasks, from presentation pointers to medical monitoring gear.
That's all well and good, of course, until it comes time to use these super-cool Freespace-powered products. What happens when they're pointed at a Linux box — or any other consumer computer, for that matter.
That's exactly the question Hillcrest has been asking itself, and yesterday it formally announced the solution: libfreespace. As the name might suggest, libfreespace is a library that provides Freespace support and "enables rapid development of software applications for use with a wide range of Freespace devices." Hillcrest envisions libfreespace expanding Freespace "beyond TV remote controls, game controllers and PC accessories," to include among others, "smartphones, medical diagnostic devices, body-worn computers, virtual reality systems." Even better, libfreespace devices shouldn't suffer the "partial support" problem so many of us have encountered — the library includes support for "Linux, Mac OS X, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.0."
Of course, this shiny new library isn't of much use to the Open Source world if it comes with 101 proprietary strings attached and a hefty price tag. Hillcrest has handled that too — while the Freespace software that powers devices remains proprietary and must be licensed, libfreespace is available under the terms of the Lesser General Public License 2.1. That's good news for application developers, who can now add support for these next generation devices without the need for reverse-engineered drivers and the trial and error that comes with them. Given that Open Source development is the Ferrari to proprietary's Yugo — it's not just faster, it's better — it wouldn't surprise us to see Freespace devices working in Open Source applications long before the proprietary set have them out.
For device developers, the news is sweet, but not quite so free. Along with the official announcement of libfreespace — which has been in development for some time — Hillcrest has also announced the launch of the 3.1 version of their Freespace Reference Kit. The reference kit, which is not available under an Open Source license, provides device developers with the tools to review and build Freespace devices. The kit includes a number of essential features, including lower power and better customization, as well as a quarter-sized embedded sensor. According to Hillcrest, the kit is "the lowest-cost Freespace solution so far, with more features, lower power and a dramatically smaller form factor using the first commercially available in-plane sensing solution."
We look forward to seeing what the Open Source community will come up with to utilize Freespace-based devices. Whatever it may be, we know that it'll be innovative, enviable, and without question outside the box.
Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide