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Photos: Top 10 pieces of Linux kit

From robots to ice cream machines...
By Jo Best, Contributor on
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1 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

From robots to ice cream machines...

Running Linux on Microsoft hardware has been the ultimate prize for open source fans and a wiki for the Linux Xbox has been created to port Linux onto Redmond's Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles.

If you fancy Linuxing up your console but don't fancy doing the techie graft, then those involved with the project will install Linux on your Xbox memory unit. They take no cash payments for their troubles - but they will accept gifts of chocolate.

A variety of distros can now run on the system including Debian, Mandrake and Suse and has its own set of games - including a Tux vs Clippy battle to the death, reportedly.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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2 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

It's not just Microsoft that's in the sights of the Linux hobbyists. A similar project has been set up to open source Apple's iconic iPod.

If you fancy replacing the Apple logo on your iPod with Tux the Penguin's fizog, you can learn more at the iPodLinux wiki. However, only users of older models of iPods can put on their Tux, although techies are working on more recent models at the moment.

And if you're wondering quite why you'd want to put Linux on your MP3 player, it's worth noting that changing to an open source operating system means you can play the game Doom on your iPod as a result.

Photo credit: Apple

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3 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

Linux has also long been a force in mobiles, with a number of manufacturers, big and small alike, producing smart phones based on an open source OS.

For those who see mobiles as more of a hobby than a communications device, two manufacturers have also set about making phones that developers can adapt and amend themselves by running them on a completely open OS.

Both the Greenphone, shown here, by Trolltech and the Neo 1973, which runs on the Open MoKo platform, are the two Linux phones that are crying out to be hacked.

Photo credit: Trolltech

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4 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

Linux of course is not just for phones. Motorola, which has committed to running 50 per cent of its phones on Linux also has an interest in open source for its set top boxes.

The device manufacturer recently acquired a set-top box company, Kreatel, which runs its hardware on Linux.

The IPTV devices, such as the VIP 900 shown here, which now bear the Motorola marque are all open source.

Photo credit: Motorola

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5 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

Free as in speech or free as in beer? While 'free' may be the ethos behind Linux some hardware and software makers have already been turning to Linux to take money from punters - by powering cash machines.

IBM uses Linux for its SurePOS terminals, shown here, and major retailers including Matalan have adopted open source for their tills.

Linux now has around nine per cent of the US POS market, according to retail IT analysts IHL Consulting Group.

Photo credit: IBM

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6 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

IBM has already introduced Linux into another new environment - the watch.

This timepiece was shown off at the Cebit tradeshow some years ago and was never intended for production but it was intended to show off just what the open source operating system could do.

While the watch might win points for novelty value, it certainly won't win points for battery life - it can only run for two hours before it needs charging - or for style.

Photo credit: IBM

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7 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

Linux is also there for the fun things in life. US ice cream seller MooBella has developed a vending machine for cones which runs on Red Hat.

Using a touchscreen interface, the machine can rustle up any combination from 12 fresh flavours, freeze them on demand, and then add your choice of toppings to boot.

The cheeky blend of tech and ice cream will automatically update product choices displayed on the touchscreen - and do some remote order management should any flavour run out. Unfortunately, ice cream 2.0 is only available in the US at the moment.

Photo credit: MooBella

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8 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

Linux-based robots have been around for years, from the scarily humanoid to the more practical.

The Wakamaru robot, shown here, from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is a device designed for home use and, according to the company, can recognise different family members and maintain eye contact with them using the camera in its head and then discuss "appropriate topics".

It's also able to wake you up in the morning, inform you of your schedule and also alert you if there's an intruder in your house.

Photo credit: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

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9 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

Linux goes from in car devices to simply in-car. Stanley, the car built by US' Stanford University to race in the Darpa Grand Challenge from LA to Las Vegas, had its computing power provided by Linux variants.

The Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) race is a test of endurance for driverless cars. Stanley, a souped-up Volkswagen Toureg, won the race in 2005, scooping the $2m prize money.

The competition is organised by Darpa - the US government's military research arm - to investigate driverless car tech, which it hopes to one day use on the battlefield. Linux is usually well represented in the race, which first started in 2004.

Photo credit: Stefanie Olsen, CNET News.com

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10 of 10 Jo Best/ZDNET

Despite what silicon.com's CIO Jury might say, the Linux desktop is making its mark, at least in developing economies.

The $100 laptop, the first of which have just come off the production line, runs on a Linux operating system from Red Hat and is designed to give developing countries a cheap piece of internet ready kit.

But it's not all altruism driving Linux PCs. French supermarket chain Carrefour launched cheap Linux desktops in 2004 while this year has seen the launch of a Dick Tracy style wrist-worn PC by Eurotech.

Photo credit: One Laptop Per Child

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