Product Picks for December 2006

Enter a whole, new world, literally, and enjoy a cornucopia of open source devices.

Mobile Penguins

Linux has crept into every imaginable computing device, and mobile phones are no exception. Now Trolltech, creators of the Qtopia mobile development platform, have upped the ante by releasing the Greenphone ( a completely programmable, open source cell phone phone.

The Greenphone is a GSM/GPRS capable mobile that allows to reflash the device’s memory, adding anything you see fit! It ships with the 2.4.19 kernel, has an Intel Xscale processor, 64 MB ofR AM, 128 MB of flash, Bluetooth, and a touch-screen, QVGA display.

Trolltech’s $700 dollar development kit gives you the power to build a phone just the way you like it. What a novel concept!

The Start of Virtual Worlds

Like many a geek, I was enthralled by Neal Stephenson’s concept of the Metaverse in “Snow Crash”. The popularity of Second Life and World of Warcraft is just a precursor of things to come.

A new open source “environment,” the Croquet Project ( looks like an awesome step into the virtual future we’ve all dreamt of. How to describe Croquet? It’s a 3D user interface library and peer-to-peer network with a goal of building the next generation operating system for communication and collaboration. In other words, a virtual world.

Building something like the Metaverse requires a radical rethinking of traditional development and UI tools. The Croquet team, recognizing this, decided to start from scratch and open source the entire thing. An amazing and evolutionary leap in our concept of computing and networks, the Croquet project is one to remember.

Miniature Firewalls

Surely every system administrator can attest to the nightmare of securing laptops. Between glitchy firewall software, end users changing settings, and threats galore, it’s a daunting task. Yoggie Security Systems ( has an intriguing new solution: the Gatekeeper, a tiny, in-line firewall device running Linux.

Made possible by both shrinking single-board computers and the power of Linux, Gatekeeper has two network interfaces that filter all traffic flowing into and out of a machine. Capabilities include stateful packet inspection, a VPN client, intrusion detection, and Web and email proxies. Back at the office, administrators can monitor each Gatekeeper in the wild using the Security Manager appliance.

For about $200 a device, Yoggie offers a simple solution to a difficult problem. As more workers untether and move to virtual offices, the Gatekeeper could grow into a very successful product line.

Hack your Media Center

Ever since Tivo launched a revolution with their unique device years ago, end-users have clamored for more control over their entertainment experience. Unfortunately, with a dizzying number of hardware devices, ever-growing Web options, and broadband everywhere, most consumer electronics manufacturers are just plain lost.

Luckily, Neuros ( was listening. The company built a Linux-powered media center with expansion and customization in mind, then turned it over to the users. The result is the awesome Neros OSD that ties everything together.

Limited only by your imagination, the OSD can become an” iPod,” TV, camera, PCs, Flickr, YouTube, PSP, and the list goes on. Opening such device like this was a brilliant move by Neuros, since the development community will surely produce a number of unique applications.

As Neuros’s tagline reads, “Free your media.”

Send product announcements and news to Matthew Tanase at class="emailaddress">[email protected].

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