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Linux on Zune soon?

Bring on the Linux-on-Zune how-tos!

By Phil Hochmuth, Network World
November 27, 2006 09:08 AM ET

And now for a completely obvious idea: loading Linux onto Microsoft's new Zune digital music player.

According to reports from gadget-watchers, and a few who have physically ripped open the device, the Zune runs the Freescale i.MX31 multimedia processor - used widely in consumer electronics, such as smart phones and PDAs. This platform is already supported by the top embedded Linux operating system makers: Timesys's LinuxLink supports Freescale's i.MX31 chipset; Monta Vista software's Mobilinux embedded operating system also runs on the chip.

The Zune hardware comes with some interesting features such as a color screen, built-in Wi-Fi, a 30Gbyte hard drive. All of these should lure techie tinkers and embedded-Linux enthusiasts to give Linux-on-Zune a crack. What some are calling annoying holdbacks in the Zune software - such as DRM and the inability to purchase music wirelessly - could also be targets for a Linux hack "improvement."

A quick scan of the corners of the Internet where such projects are discussed resulted in a lack of activity on the idea. This is probably because the Zune is only now hitting stores, and most people shelling out around $300 for the player are unlikely to rip the thing open and install a hacked Linux operating system onto the gadget.

Just give it time. They’ve put Linux on almost everything: PCs, mainframes, iPods, wrist watches, PlayStation 3s, talking animatronic fish, Las Vegas slot machines and Mars-roving robots. Bring on the Linux-on-Zune how-tos!

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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