Practical Technology

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New Linux-powered Kindle on its way


The Kindle, Amazon’s Linux-powered electronic paper book will have at least one new version out for the 2008 holiday season.

The new Kindle, however, may be marketed more for college students returning to school in January rather than for finding a place under the Christmas tree. According to a report by Andreas James, Amazon will be marketing the revised “e-book reader to college students.”

The plan seems to be to release the Kindle in conjunction with college textbook publishers. This way, the textbook publishers can sell more affordable e-textbooks, cutting out the used textbook vendors, and Amazon can move more Kindles.

The second generation Kindle is expected to have both an improved user-interface and a larger screen. While I don’t have any details on what will be running under the hood, it’s reasonable to assume that it will include an advance on the current edition’s Linux 2.6.10 kernel. While Amazon hasn’t released any technical details about the Kindle, I do know that it most likely runs the Access Linux Platform ( That’s because Kindle’s browser interface is Access’ lightweight NetFront browser.

So, the next generation Kindle will probably be running the 2.6.14 kernel. In addition, it should include GTK+ graphical library. The Kindle could be re-engineered to make it a multimedia platform by the use of Gstreamer. However, Amazon, according to James, has zero interest in pursuing such a course. The next Kindle will continue to be the leading eBook device, not a potential rival to Apple’s iPod Touch.

One other thing that may come to past, would-be Kindle buyers hope, is for Kindle 2.0’s price to drop. Today, a Kindle costs $359, although there are deals that will drop its price to $259. Of course, given that the average cost of college textbooks per year is now estimated to be from $700 to $1,100 annually, even a full-price Kindle, combined with less expensive e-textbooks, might prove to be an attractive option for cash-strapped college students and their parents.