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Open Computing Solution -- OCS

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  • Open Computing Solution -- OCS

    I posted in different threads the basis for this idea, however, I'd like to pull those thoughts together here in one thread.

    From my short experience here at mp3car I have realized that this market is wide open and severely immature, scattered and under developed. Meaning, the roads are open and the lights are green.

    This goes for both hardware and software.

    As a few people here have noticed, the days of simple stereo head units and car navigation systems are numbered. This can be attributed to what many pioneers here have worked hard to achieve and the simple everyday tool we carry in our pockets, the cell phone.

    Many parties including mp3car have in many ways started in the right direction! bravo!!

    Being a hack programmer myself, I can understand the problem. Actually Netscape/Mozilla comes to mind too. This whole segment of car-puting is still itself wide open to attack that WILL come from the big boys. Much like how M$ was able to dominate Apple for almost 20 years.

    [let me ramble a bit more]
    Recently, Apple did the right thing. dump a stale system for a better visionary (I still wonder about BeOS). Netscape was different, Mozilla dumped a stable, dated system for 10 years of pain and hard work which still needs to work out more bugs and problems. (firefox is a cpu / memory hog on my system).

    Now, what I'm trying to get at is that the community needs to consolidate and get some project management into place. I realize that programmers are artist and like to work their own code and even like better to start from a fresh code base hoping to prevent problems that occur in current solutions. However this approach is time consuming and allows other teams to gain market share.

    Only being Open Source doesn't mean to be OPEN in the sense I'm thinking. You need to get people to develop and sell what you are making. Money can be made much the same way as Mozilla.

    Here is a simple example - Why don't car manufacturers agree on 1 color for each wire they use? Why not decide on 1 type of harness? Why not decide on 1 set of screws for the dash and the same for other parts of the car.

    People are just too busy creating their own private solutions that are great but adoption is low because everybody is trying to do their own thing.

    So, what I'd like to propose is a true "Open" Solution that is not just "Open" in the sense of open source.

    1.) build a foundation of members (who should include competitors)
    2.) decide on 1 OS -- some variation of *nix is probably better, Moblin/Android ???
    3.) set an outline of APIs and create a SDK
    4.) invite all competitors to join
    5.) be Apache, MIT or LGPL based
    6.) get hardware companies to build

    The core I'm tending to think should be very, very cell phone friendly. We have to face it that if you want to grab a large share of the market then you need to realize that you phone is going to be just as powerful as what you have in the dash. So why not start now?

    So, in a sense Android is compelling to use.

    Mobile computing is not just on the road ... it's going to mean from the john in the morning to your desk at work.

    Will this mean a fully cloud integration? Not, for another 10 + years, possibly never. People don't completely trust Goggle so why should they trust the cloud. Another problem is that people have private data ... And finally, the cloud is still not mature enough to support 100% coverage wherever you are. So, you still need to have "docking" ability with your own storage solution (home pc).

    Sorry, for rambling. I wrote this a bit late at night and the small text box size ... lolo, should print out and edit

  • #2
    I think Android would be a terrible platform to use in a CarPC environment. Take a look at the android-x86 project and give their distro a whirl on a notebook or something... it'd take entirely too much work to make it a functional CarPC OS.

    Try RevFE
    The best resurrected frontend I've ever used, period.

    I Wish I could ban people


    • #3
      On Android.... Android is great for super low power devices, such as a phone. There is simply no reason to use an OS which is built from the ground up centered around the fact that it is going to be used on low power devices, on a high power device like a carpc. You can get much more speed and functionality out of a full operating system slimmed down for the carpc.

      Also you'd have to write your own front end/system of applications for in-car use since the Android apps are centered around being used on a phone. They are NOT usable in a carpc where ease of use is a primary concern over functionality. You can't lean over the carpc screen to go through 10 screens to get to something like you can on a phone.

      Another problem you're going to run into, is getting anyone to agree to any sort of set of standards. OSDash is attempting to do this for web services integration, and we'll see how that goes... but as for anything commercial like hardware? Forget it. It's not good business for a hardware company to make their stuff compatible with other peoples stuff, cause then you'll just go buy the other persons stuff. Better to have everything proprietary, so you have to stick with one company for everything. Just look at modern car audio systems (like BMW/Jag systems)
      "stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
      My Shop


      • #4
        To be honest, I have never looked at Android. The idea of using that OS was just to have to the cross-over ability between phone and car.

        Are you up on Moblin?


        • #5
          I agree on that manufacturers like to go proprietary, but that sounds like Apple. M$ was able to get installed on almost everything.

          I also agree on the agreement part!

          However, I am not really thinking of just re-writting a front-end. The idea is pull together everybody to pool everybody's efforts thus the idea of using a non-GPL license or using the commercial version LGPL. So, the hard part is to get multiple groups together behind one effort, like OpenOffice and Mozilla have been able to do.

          I can understand how Android is lacking, which is why I threw out Moblin too. (Backend technologies here.) Having a larger base will draw venture funding, resource grants, and other monetary assistance. People working out of their rooms is great but it's sad when their efforts don't get their due deserves!

          There are quite a few smart and creative people here at mp3car and I'd love to see their efforts be enjoyed by a larger crowd!


          • #6
            I may have missed a memo or something, but I thought the whole point of the open source movement was to provide low or no cost alternatives to proprietary applications. I am often amazed and impressed by the time, effort and quality of those results. But as far as I can tell, nobody is making any real money doing it.

            The economics of the carPC are simple and deadly. It is a tiny market, the knowledge level required to participate is far outside the consumer norm, and the cost of entry is prohibitive. 99% of the people that drive cars have no idea what any of this stuff is and don't care. They just what a device that does everything and works every single time they turn the car on. Anything else is unacceptable. Configuration should consist of choosing between on and off.

            As a hobby, or in some cases a holy quest, I thnk most of these open source projects are pretty cool. They very often lead to some truly innovative solutions to common problems. They are the true trailblazers. But its the guy that comes along afterwards and builds the road and puts up the toll booth that makes the money.

            CarPC hardware and software WILL get standardized, but it will be Intel and Microsoft that do it. There isn't anybody else with the necessary industry clout, financial strength and inclination to do it. And when they do it, it will be in an all-in-one box in the dash, not in a cell phone.

            But of course, I could be completely wrong.



            • #7
              I agree with you especially on the end consumer opinion !

              However, there are open source projects whose foundation gets by with funding, ie, Mozilla, OpenOffice, SugarCRM, etc ...
              Other projects make their money on custom development for customers.

              Problem is having the right angle and niche!
              What you all here found is that niche! Looking through old threads, I'm just amazed by what all you folks have done!

              I don't think M$ will compete yet. They are more of the buy you out or fund you so well that you are in bed with them.

              In regards to the last comment about not in a cell phone, I think the sheeva plug guys are on the right track. Or at least heading in a direction which the future is going to be on too.

              I personally would rather play the devils advocate and instigate you guys into building the foundation that will get funded or bought out rather than let M$ just walk in and buy centrafuse.

              I don't think the future is that far off since now most car makers are supporting the iphone/ipods and bluetooth. For better or worse the iphone generation have changed phones are car audio ... to some extent home audio too!


              • #8
                Originally posted by VegasGuy View Post
                The economics of the carPC are simple and deadly. It is a tiny market, the knowledge level required to participate is far outside the consumer norm, and the cost of entry is prohibitive. 99% of the people that drive cars have no idea what any of this stuff is and don't care. They just what a device that does everything and works every single time they turn the car on. Anything else is unacceptable. Configuration should consist of choosing between on and off.
                Boy, did you ever nail it! That's as succinct a summary of the issues as I've ever heard.

                @SapporoGuy - take a look at the Linux ICE project and nGhost. Both are open, Linux based, and fit many of the needs you articulate except for the 'wildly' popular one. If you wanted to help, what you could do is demystify the installation of Linux ICE by figuring out how to package it up so all you have to do is boot it from a USB stick or something like that.

                Malcom mentioned the OSDash project, which is currently moving from the idea stage to the launch stage. We'll see how that goes and we ought to be launching its own forum here in the next day or so. It is similar but not identical to what you're talking about.
                Originally posted by ghettocruzer
                I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
                Want to:
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                -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video


                • #9
                  the biggest issue that i have, as a hardware guy, is software-- give me any physical device, and i will figure out a way to modify it, install it and wire it up, but, give me software, i have no clue what i am doing, and because of that, linux, or other inegrated os's are a horrifying experience, because i have no clue how to even just install drivers(i know i need to log in as root, or super user in terminal, but that is about it)...

                  i think that to get the masses into carpc's, the installation would need to be extremely simplified from what it is. ie: to load the os/interface/drivers, use one disc, and it will automatically start to install when the system boots up. want to add music? just throw the disc/flash drive into the nearest slot, and a box will pop up asking if you want to add the music, or just play it...

                  i know that there is way more to this than what i make of it to program the sofware to do it, but the only way, IMO to get the masses interested in car computing is to take out the confusion of the software, and make the installation as mindless as possible to do.
                  My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                  "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

                  next project? subaru brz
                  carpc undecided


                  • #10
                    i've been thinking about this alot myself.

                    I've begun to realize that pretty much every FE is lacking something. I think RR is the most customizable, and is probably going to be the way I go, but it still has quite a few "locked in" choices, that I will need to undo to make it what I want. And i have to admit.. all of that undoing is really really daunting.

                    The front ends are in my opinion.. trying to be too much. Really when it comes down to it, a good FE is nothing more than a skinnable launcher. Once preferences on which media player, or which codecs or what have you start piling on top of that you start running into the issue of my way or the loooong hiway to your way.

                    I'd like to see a front end that once installed comes up to an options screen on first boot. this options screen is nothing more than an "app store" that allows you to add plugins for whatever it is your after. as the FE creator you of course could write these plugins, but the real point is choice + survivbility. my first major hurdle with riderunner was trying to figure out.. wtf is phoco.. well now phoco is deader than dead, and even looking for info on it leads you in huge circles. it wasn't until very recently i found out, development stopped, and the guy doesn't even want the code handed out.

                    if phoco was just a plugin, in an "app store" it would still be there, or it could be removed and i never would have even knew it existed.

                    So in short, i think my biggest realization is that there are alot of projects that started properly, but now we've got ALOT of cruft, and not alot of "publication" for these apps.

                    this would be a HUGE opportunity for mp3car to open up an app store, and offer up an sdk to access that store.. expand that to begin offering paid and free apps and you're looking at "the next big thing" and the big boys will start to stand up and take notice, and hopefully start buying up these projects and getting these talented folks some recognition and funding to drive the projects higher.

                    /noob rant
                    I'll do the bumbling, and i'll be the idiot.
                    if you've got a "stupid" question, search for some of mine!


                    • #11
                      What you describe in the OP resembles the GENIVI project a lot. I don't have a lot of incites into how they work, but pushing a standard set of hardware and software is their main goal.

                      I would love to see LinuxICE be chosen as a standard platform. This is really what I've been working for for years now. Sure, right now it runs nGhost, but there's no reason at all it can't run RevFE, OpenMobile, or even CF3 (which Flux is supposedly working on a Linux version). I've even been in talks with malcom about creating a spinoff that features RevFE as default instead of nGhost. LinuxICE is really IMHO (biased of course) the best solution out there right now for carPCs, it combines tech from all the opensource projects including moblin and maemo and bends them to fit the vehicly demands.

                      So fluxmedia, rr, etc, if you are listening and want to remain competitive in this space, the time to act is now. It's only a matter of time before Google, Nokia, MS, and maybe even Apple wake up and smell the Benjamins. Your days will be numbered if you think that writing a frontend that sits on top of windows is ever going to be able to compete with a complete platform which is, I promise, what the "big dogs" will be doing.
                      Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
                      Current author of Automotive Message Broker (AMB).
                      Works on Tizen IVI. Does not represent anyone or anything but himself.


                      • #12
                        Thanks to everybody who is participating in this thread!

                        BugByte and kev000 my carpc heros!
                        Ok, a little over dramatic but, honestly, I do respect what you 2 are doing!!
                        Actually the idea for this thread came from you guys!

                        soundman98 and chronoglass are right.

                        However, kev000, just getting people motivated to get going is not really going to make it. (errr, no pun intended)

                        What I'm trying to do here is create an alliance of some sort. All of you developers who have been pioneering this hobby really should be out their getting your credit. Because it really is due! However, at the moment because you are all splintered and work to achieve the same goals are going to loose ground to folks who have deeper pockets and more time.

                        IF my hardware skills were beyond installation or IF my programming ability was beyond just the web I swear I'd helping you guys, but my skills aren't. However, I'm willing to help in other ways.

                        I'm imagining a system like OSX. Simple to install, use and is good enough for the masses. However, since OSX is still BSD (*nix) you can still sit down and use the terminal just like the rest of the linux crowd. I would love to see Apple step up to the plate on this but ... I'm not too interested in seeing Jobso ruling it with an iron fist either ... (ps, I'm a mac fanboi)

                        The hardest part to an alliance will be willing to communicate and work as a group project. Also, possibly agreeing on dumping M$ as the main OS. And the last deal breaker will be coming up with applications that work in *nix.

                        So, what do guys say? Would you be up for alliance?


                        • #13
                          Sorry to "crash this party" but I think there are a few points that should be mentioned (and i didn't see 'em yet).

                          The idea that Microsoft or Google or the others will drop everything to invest in one of these front ends is fantasy at best. The same features are invented again and again with little forward progress in the last 3-5 years. Microsoft has Sync, Google has android, apple has the iPhone. All of these currently put to shame the feature set of any of the major FEs or FE Os's (just being realistic).

                          I'm a little short on time so im going with bullet form here:
                          • The majority of the CarPC community is windows based and quite content with their choice. While linux is picking up steam, it will be quite some time before users abandon the windows platform (they like their navigation, and other windows based software that does not run on linux)
                          • The CarPC hobby is not a high income market, while it is a niche market that may see some corporate involvement it is not even close to something any of the big guys will be bothered with
                          • A carPC has at least 5x the processing power of the best smart phones and yet uses almost none of it. Bluetooth support in the current FEs is laughable (no a2dp, avrcp, pbap, sync, etc.). Integration is terrible from even the basic architecture perspective (many FEs are just not designed for an integrated feel). Plugins tend to be a hacked together version of someone elses work or fall into legal grey-area. Navigation support being a great example of that, the only FE with integrated navigation is streetdeck the rest embed another application which leads to terrible integration if any (Yes I know nGhost has navit but its a long way from being something usable). Speech recognition (which could be the major selling point of a carPC) is an awful attempt to follow the big guys instead of actually innovating. On Linux, decent speech recognition just doesn't exist.
                          • The new major FEs currently under development all focus on different areas and aim to fulfill different goals. It's very unrealistic to think that such different design philosophy's will all come to some mutual agreement. A 5 second forum search should yield you dozens of conversations on this topic.
                          theres more but thats all I can think of at the moment
                          openMobile - An open source C# Front End (why choose openMobile?)
                          - Always Recruiting Developers -
                          Like what you see? Donations are always welcome


                          • #14
                            on the point that its a fantasy... not entirely true.
                            one example of a guy that created a simple plugin that got picked up by microsoft. (though i don't believe they bought the license for his software, just him)

                            Though sync is from all accounts really nice (what i wouldn't give to get my hands on a dump of that bugger!) I can't say i see any of the companies being above buying out software or devs that are in an emerging market.. and this most certianly is an emerging market. just as home media servers were a mere few years ago.

                            though even more likely is that the features created by these plugins and apps will be duplicated hopefully giving us what we have been trying to create in the first place.
                            I'll do the bumbling, and i'll be the idiot.
                            if you've got a "stupid" question, search for some of mine!


                            • #15
                              An emerging market?? Look at how old these forums are. Compare activity today to 3 years ago. I have info from a few different hardware distributors that say carPCs are actually starting to fade rather then grow. A nice sized chunk of the market is moving towards fully mobile solutions (aka smart phones) which accomplish quite a bit more without the cost or the hassle. Ignoring the huge shortcomings I pointed out will not make them go away. If carPCs are to thrive and again become the cutting edge products they once were, these holes need to be filled!!
                              openMobile - An open source C# Front End (why choose openMobile?)
                              - Always Recruiting Developers -
                              Like what you see? Donations are always welcome