The all-terrain, solar powered, Ubuntu Linux sport utility laptop!

Image Courtesy of Tree Hugger

Today in Open Source: An Ubuntu-based sport utility laptop. Plus: Open source satellites and voting machines!

An All-Terrain Sport Utility Linux Laptop

If you're one of those folks who loves the great outdoors, and who needs to take a laptop with you, then you'll dig the SOL from WeWi. SOL is a solar powered laptop that is built to withstand everything nature can throw at it.

The SOL ships with Ubuntu built-in, so you get all the benefits of the Ubuntu Software Center (thousands and thousands of free, open source applications available for download), and the ease of use of Ubuntu itself. Given Ubuntu's popularity and development resources, it was probably a good choice for the SOL.

The specs on the SOL are:

CPU: Intel Atom D2500 1.86 GHz Duo Core, Intel 945GSE + ICH7M

HDD: Seagate 2.5” SATA HDD 320GB

RAM: Kingston 2-4GB DDRIII SDRAM (Options Available)

Graphics: 1080p HD Vide, Built-In Intel GMA3600 Graphics

Battery Operating Time: 8 - 10 hours

Display: 13.3" LCD, WXGA, 1366 x 768

Camera: 3MP

Audio: Realtek ALC661 HD Audio, Built-in 2 Speakers | Internal mic + 1/8” input

3 USB2.0, Headphone jack, HDMI, LAN(10/100), Card reader (SD/MS/MMC)

Modem: 3G/4G World/multimode LTE

GPS: gpsOne Gen8A

WiFi: MIMO 802.11b/gn (2.4/5GHz)

Bluetooth: Integrated Digital Core BT4.0

More at Tree Hugger

Wow, I love the way this thing looks, to say nothing of the solar panels and general ruggedness. This is a laptop that was not made for sitting in a coffee shop or being toted back and forth the office. This sucker was made to penetrate deep into the wilderness, while still providing a good amount of computing power.

The SOL is probably going to cost around $350, or $400 for one that is waterproof.

Would you buy a SOL? If I was a great outdoorsman, I would. I can see this thing being extremely useful for anybody who has to go out into difficult terrain and conditions.

Open Source Satellites

Here's a great story for open source science nerds. Two mini-satellites were sent up to the International Space Station on August 3. The satellites are using the open source platform Arduino.

ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-X were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on 3 August aboard a Japanese resupply vehicle (which is also carrying fresh food, supplies and a talking humanoid robot).

Known as CubeSats, each mini satellite packs an array of devices – including cameras, spectrometers and a Geiger counter – into a cube just 10 centimetres to a side.

The satellites run Arduino, an open-source platform popular with hobbyists, which will let anyone write code for an app, game or research project that uses the on-board instruments. Projects that will run on the first two Ardusats are yet to be announced, but a list of ideas from the developers includes tracking meteorites and making a 3D model of Earth's magnetosphere.

More at New Scientist

I love the fact that this was partially funded via a Kickstarter campaign, and that it opens the door for anybody to run experiments using these satellites. It seems like a great way of involving regular people in space research and development.

CubeStats Open Source Satellites

Image Courtesy of New Scientist

Open Source Voting Machines

Wired has an interesting story about the development of Open Source voting machines. The project dubbed "Trust the Vote" has languished due to the IRS delays in processing the group's non-profit status application.

Boy, the IRS really does take its time with these kinds of things. It took six years for them to approve Trust the Vote's application, thus delaying the development of open source voting machines.

I'm sure there's a conspiracy theory here somewhere, no doubt we'll see it being touted by some folks in the comments.

Then the revolution stalled. The Open Source Digital Voting Foundation spent the next four years in a kind of government-induced limbo as the Internal Revenue Service delayed processing of its application for nonprofit status. That delay cost the operation an untold amount of grant and donation dollars, and though the project has produced some software, it still hasn’t begun work on important things like ballot-counting and tabulation devices and accessible voting machines.

More at Wired

What's your take on this? Are open source voting machines a good idea?

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