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Old 01-21-2012, 06:23 PM   #16
PaulS
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A little tangential to the topic of multitasking: It's a very open platform so I hope a community will form around it like with pocketbook or irex so whatever features people want they might implement and share with others.

As for multitasking itself I don't think there's anything stopping you from doing it other then interface issues. There's no hardware limit to that other than memory (and 256 MB is a lot) and even that can be obviated with a swap partition. I run a virtual machine at work so I can use my favourite linux programs. I allocate 128 MB of memory to it. It runs a modern stock kernel and a bare bones debian (squeeze) installation. I mostly use it to read email and edit files but I can comfortably run a web browser inside it as well. I also use get_iplayer to download BBC radio programmes and a media player to listen to them, and sometimes I transcode a programme into mp3 for the journey home so my mp3 player can read it. All that in 128 MB of RAM. Presumably the linux install on onyx is a custom, lean, stripped down version so 256 MB of ram is plenty.

Having said all that I personally see no need to switch between two reader instances.

Last edited by PaulS; 01-21-2012 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 01-21-2012, 07:05 PM   #17
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I would actually welcome not having multitasking because that will be feeding my ADD...already aggravated by my working on computers for most of the day.
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:14 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Marrko View Post
Tales about IT 20 years ago are a bit off topic, don't you think so?

Coming back to the present state of affairs, you need to realise that ereader hardware architecture is a) underpowered in many ways because of two requirements - battery must last weeks, not hours; b) thickness and weight of the system must be very small. Which in turns means that the heat emission from mainboard must be almost null. Hence computational power is limited.

Last but not least, core function of reading (reading app at the high level and driving e-ink screen on the low level) is computationally very much resource consuming. Keep in mind that this function must deliver reasonably short wait times while redrawing pages, even if processor is operating only at 800 Mhz max.
None of that has the slightest bearing on the feasibility of switching between two open books. The current crop of ereaders have plenty of resources to do just that without overheating or running the battery down.

The "Tales about IT 20 years ago" was an illustration that much more demanding tasks were performed with much less capable hardware 20 years ago. Size, power, and heat are constraints, but they come nowhere close to preventing switching between books on the current crop of readers.
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Old 01-22-2012, 03:34 PM   #19
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I think that you are somehow going in circle - stating not fact but what you believe to become a fact when (if) Onyx will implement such a feature. You believe that it can be done, will be done and when done, will perform reasonably fast and good, without any negative side effect for overall performance of the Boox ereader.

To bring this issue to a close I can only offer to you a few closing remarks:

1. We will see if, when, what and how will be implemented by Onyx under the header of "multitasking".

2. True multitasking is not about freezing one process and then going to another one (whic h sems to be implemented in PocketBook), but to be run two processes at the same time. A very telling story here, whether this is esy or not to be implemented in a constrained device, has already been written by Apple - it is Iphone case.

3. Even when we limit the true multitasking to "ability of switching from one book to another", maybe it is not quite a piece of cake in case of constrained device. Otherwise Onyx could implement that "gadget" in M92, for obvious benefit of being competitive against PocketBook.
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Old 01-22-2012, 06:04 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by jian1 View Post
for them, multitasking on M9x means 1G ram with 2ghz CPU...
Maybe they missunderstood multitasking to mean running two tasks at the same time, rather than quick switching between them, what we are postulating here.

Anyhow, there is a problem, Onyx keeps firmware uniform among devices and the M92 is the only reader to have 256MB of RAM. The rest has 128MB and multitasking there could be indeed problematic. And writing not so trivial code for just one device (so far) could be a waster of limited resources.

One possible way out would to limit the 128MB devices to just keeping max one task in memory while the other is running.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:26 PM   #21
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Come on, even iRex devices had multitasking since 2008 or earlier. I am sure hardware supports it.
and the folks that started Onyx worked at iRex
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:36 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by kamizase View Post
Maybe they missunderstood multitasking to mean running two tasks at the same time, rather than quick switching between them, what we are postulating here.

Anyhow, there is a problem, Onyx keeps firmware uniform among devices and the M92 is the only reader to have 256MB of RAM. The rest has 128MB and multitasking there could be indeed problematic. And writing not so trivial code for just one device (so far) could be a waster of limited resources.

One possible way out would to limit the 128MB devices to just keeping max one task in memory while the other is running.
From a computer scientist background myself, Multitasking means switching between any N threads/processes. Unless you've got multicore CPU, there's NO way on earth running two process at the same time! The CPU switches process fast enough to make you *think* it's running concurrently. Since ebook doesn't necessarily to switch processes that often, we can simply assume a simple sleep&wake scheduling method can do the trick, but heck, Onyx engineers can't even write a proper C program, do you expect them able to write a scheduler?

Switching process is very costly in terms of memory consumption, especially by Onyx's bad engineering skills. The mem register tables must all be marked and stored, all stacks, heaps must all be saved as well, and If you've got 10 books openning, each as a seperate process, the space required to store can be tricky, and I doubt Onyx can develop an efficient algorithm that utilize 128mb mem to do so... I have no doubt that other company could do it, but for Onyx.. Nope, zero possibility.

I'd rather think of one program concurrently open different documents, buffering a few pages in memory and that allows fast switching between books also eliminating the needs of multitasking..and I bet other ebook reader company utilize this approach rather than *multitasking* which isn't very efficient on embedded system... maybe I could be wrong, but my instinct tells me so.
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:45 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by jian1 View Post
I'd rather think of one program concurrently open different documents, buffering a few pages in memory and that allows fast switching between books also eliminating the needs of multitasking..and I bet other ebook reader company utilize this approach rather than *multitasking* which isn't very efficient on embedded system... maybe I could be wrong, but my instinct tells me so.
Right - may they should start applying their skills and program the HOME-button to actually do what ist is supposed to do: get you to the homescreen.
That alone would save a lot of time.
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:48 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by jian1 View Post
Switching process is very costly in terms of memory consumption, especially by Onyx's bad engineering skills. The mem register tables must all be marked and stored, all stacks, heaps must all be saved as well, and If you've got 10 books openning, each as a seperate process, the space required to store can be tricky, and I doubt Onyx can develop an efficient algorithm that utilize 128mb mem to do so... I have no doubt that other company could do it, but for Onyx.. Nope, zero possibility.
Hello jian1. I think you should consider that the software in the in the Onyx ereaders is actually the linux embedded system from Freescale with a custom interface based on Qt. The low level stuff is already using multitasking, so there is no need for Onyx to implement anything, it can already run different programs at the same time. The GUI is single "window" oriented and that makes sense for an ebook reader, IMHO, but that is just a GUI design choice.
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Old 01-23-2012, 08:47 AM   #25
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Hello jian1. I think you should consider that the software in the in the Onyx ereaders is actually the linux embedded system from Freescale with a custom interface based on Qt. The low level stuff is already using multitasking, so there is no need for Onyx to implement anything, it can already run different programs at the same time. The GUI is single "window" oriented and that makes sense for an ebook reader, IMHO, but that is just a GUI design choice.
Okay, here is something for you:


THIS IS THE OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM ONYX(as quoted by Booxtor):

01-10-2012, 07:57 AM
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...=164162&page=2


Reading here some posts and thoughts I have made some suggestions for new functionality in M92 on Onyx engineers and got some answers(in blue):

1. Multitasking - means opening more than one
ebook/application/browser and quick switching between them ---

We plan to do it, but need some time.

=============================================

Good to have some people in the forum who know the software better than the developers - and even tell us what users don't need ...
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:06 AM   #26
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Beryll Snyder, what do you mean, what developers do not know that FDD does?
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Old 01-23-2012, 11:17 AM   #27
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Beryll Snyder, what do you mean, what developers do not know that FDD does?
Do you know what irony is?
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Old 01-23-2012, 01:10 PM   #28
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I just wasn't sure if your irony is suitable here, that's why I asked. Although Onyx developers do not need to invent the wheel and to implement multitasking in the linux. They still need some time to support the multitasking in the gui. Your quotation of onyx developers doesn't contradict to FDD's message.
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:50 PM   #29
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This thread has gone all kinds of silly. Multitasking is already in, it's running linux ffs, they don't need to write their own scheduler. What they probably mean by "supporting multitasking" is allowing you to launch and switch between programs using their interface.
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Old 01-24-2012, 03:01 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by PaulS View Post
This thread has gone all kinds of silly. Multitasking is already in, it's running linux ffs, they don't need to write their own scheduler. What they probably mean by "supporting multitasking" is allowing you to launch and switch between programs using their interface.
I like the "silly" - now are getting into semantics:

"allowing you to launch and switch between programs using their interface"
- that is exactly what people expect. If I use the device, I want to use their interface - what else?
I am not interested in what is built into Linux if I can't use it or I don't notice it.
This is not a Linux-nerd discussion, this is about using software concerning the reading experience on an e-reader ...
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