FBReader software and the Cybook Gen3 and Sony PRS 505 E Ink readers are among the porting priorities of three student volunteers, chosen for the independent OpenInkpot project under the Google Summer of Code.
OpenInkpot is creating a “free and open-source Linux distribution” for E Ink machines. Among other things, OpeInkpot is aiming for dual-boot capabilities in time, so you can either enjoy the new programs or fire up the readering software the manufacturer supplied.
Open Inkpot’s ports of the summer: An ePub angle and more
The three coders are:
- Alexander Egorov—porting FBReader for OpenInkpot linux. Significantly, FBReader can display nonencrypted ePub, among other formats. Now if only the major publishers will back off from DRM in a major way to enable FBReader fans and others to enjoy best-sellers in ePub, perhaps with social DRM embedded.
- Ondřej Herman—porting the OpenInkpot’s Linux to the Cybook Gen3.
- Wenjie Zhang 张文杰—porting the operating system to the Sony PRS-505.
The V3 can already run FBReader. But it’s good to see other machines potentially capable, via the ports to OpenInkpot.
You don’t have to be a hacker to be cheering on OpenInkpot, which I hope will try hard to make its work accessible to civilians who are willing to experiment.
As an owner of the Sony PRS-505, I can say Sony’s software is a bit of a disappointment. I can’t even bold DRMed text to compensate for the less-than-ideal contrast between text and background on the E Ink display. With FBReader, by contrast, that’s a snap. As for the Cybook, I love the bolding option, but the machine for now does not handle large collections of books as gracefully as the Sony does. With OpenInkpot-endabled software as an alternative for users, perhaps the vendors will be faster to address deficiencies like the ones I’ve mentioned.
And for vendors
Meanwhile, if vendors are sufficiently smart and flexible, they just might be open minded about OpenInkpot since some of its ideas can be picked up for use in company-supplied software.
The negative for vendors is that freeware could speed up the coming of the $99 E Ink Reader—which already may be closer than some people think anyway.
But then again, if savvy companies pick up the best wrinkles from the freeware and add their own wrinkes, they can still earn a profit—just so they understand that the days of the $300-$400 reader are numbered.
Other ways for vendors to profit
When can be done to integrate the cellphone and e-book features, as some have suggested?
The most radical and logical step of all
Also, how about the most radical and logical step of all in many cases—working closely with Open Inkpot to create the best-possible operating system for the E Ink reader industry, while playing the openness angle to the hilt?
Are any well-known vendors out there with the guts to do this?
If the usual suspects don’t act, then I wouldn’t be surprised if makers of commodity E Ink readers, especially on the Chinese mainland, arranged on their own for this to happen.