EvilDragon keeps us updated. Here are more progress news about the soon to be Pandora release:


Chinese New Year holidays are over – work has begun at the factory!

We are in daily contact with them, so here is a brief roadmap of what should happen when:

At the moment, the machines are maintained, cleaned and prepared to go into normal production run again. Production will start during the next days, probably on Monday. Then lots of Pandora cases should be spit out each day πŸ™‚

While they do this, we try to make them another Silkscreen sample and send us a picture of it (not the whole sample) within this week. If it’s fine, we’ll use the silkscreen – if not, we’ll just go with plain cases, to not waste anymore time.

As for the OS, the devs are really working hard on it right now (despite not having time, as they have so much things to do in real life).

It will surely not be the most polished OS ever released yet, but if you want a polished OS, go get an Apple (and miss all the fun we’ll all have by enhancing the Pandora OS together!)

So, what can you expect, what will not work, where are tweaks needed?

What does work:

The desktop fully works. It’s like a normal PC desktop. You have your file manager, your windows, your apps, etc.
PND system is working. You can simply copy games onto your SD Card, put it into your Pandora – and PLAY!
Apps: Installed apps do work fine so far. That includes Midori, Abiword, Orage, Pidgin, XChat, etc.
Audio Playing: XMMS working fine.
Movie Playing: Working… but has some issues (see below)
USB Devices: You can connect USB Sticks, harddisks, mice, keyboard, etc. Normal things run out of the box.
TV Out: The TV Out cable works fine, SVHS only for the moment though (see below)
Power Saving Mode: Yep, it’s included and does work. At the moment, it should last for about 50 hours, not too long, but there might be a lot more components which could be switched off to save more power. Good enough to leave your Pandora lying around for a few hours without having to reboot it.
LED Warning (Blinking) on low battery with automatic shutdown when the battery status becomes critical.
Keyboard, us nub as mouse, touchscreen, everything working.

What issues are there?

The biggest issue: WiFi is still work in progress. The driver works, without using SDIO it was slow, DJWillis is working on it, but it’s time consuming. It MIGHT be ready when the Pandora ships, but it might be WiFi will still take a bit longer. Maybe some devs want to help out here once they get a Pandora in their hands πŸ™‚
There’s no software audio mixer yet. This means you can only use the volume wheel. No big deal if you’re just listening to music or playing games, but multiple sounds at once will not work yet. Also, the equalizer isn’t yet working.
Some apps have to be optimized for the small screen: Fullscreen apps like Midori, Abiword, etc. do look fine. Some stuff however (XFCE4 Settings, etc.) are using windows bigger than 800×480. They are completely usable, but you have to move the windows around to access all buttons.
Movieplayer: While basic movie playing works, it does not use any hardware accelerations yet. DVD Quality xvid videos do play fine, but H264 is too much without hardware acceleration. Also, in windowed mode the videos are playing before the menus. Watching movies in fullscreen mode works nicely. Things should be way better when hardware support is included πŸ™‚
There is a lot to tweak and optimize here and there. Bootup speed can be increased, more themes (fingerfriendly ones?) could be created, some minor issues like the normal logout of Ubuntu-Netbook-Launcher doesn’t work (you need to use a menu entry), etc. Nothing serious that makes the unit not usable, but there are a lot of things that can be improved within the next months!

So, except for WiFi, all things do work well so far but can be optimized a lot.

Please don’t expect to have perfectly working games and emulators on day 1 – adopting to a new system will take some time and except for some core OS developers, nobody has a Pandora yet. Once delivered, games should start to pop up and become optimized pretty fast!

Some of that stuff might be fixed until first release – let’s hope for WiFi! πŸ™‚

Another quick note on updating the system:

When things work fine, we’re going to setup our own repository server for firmware updates. You can then easily do a system update with the Pandora. The packages we use will be tested so that they shouldn’t break anything πŸ™‚
In the beginning, the updates will be full flash updates, until the basic system will be completely stable. Then we’ll setup the repository server (which basically means: when WiFi is working).

Everyone who wants to help us can do so. There will be a bugtracker for reporting any issues. The complete system is already available via GIT to all devs, so patches and bugfixes can basically be sent to us by everyone πŸ™‚

The first few months with the new OS will be pretty exciting! I’ve seen how well our handful of devs have been able to get the system working so well, it will fly away when a lot more devs are helping out!