Monday, September 25, 2006

Sirius Stiletto Runs Linux and Open Source Software

September 25th, 2006

As reported by Satellite Radio TechWorld back on Sept 19th, the Stiletto received a grant from the FCC. Along with the grant, a copy of a manual was released. In many cases, manuals on the FCC site are mockups or drafts. It appears the Sirius Stiletto manual is a finished product, if not very close to it.

One of the things that caught our eye is the EULA section in the Stiletto manual. As many people that use computers know, a EULA is software license agreement between the users of a product and the producers of the product. These are usually common for software products, such as Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and even Open Source products such as Linux. Open Source software allows the ability for the public to make modifications to the programming (to add features, fix bugs, etc.) as well as provide those modifications for a future revision of the software.

Linux, and many open source products, use a license known as the GPL. The GPL has a specific clause that modification to a GPL licensed product requires release of the modified product in source form (see: The Copyleft). This means that the actual programming code needs to be made available publically (along with any modifications made).

The EULA for the Stiletto (which is HERE on pages 30-38, better known as 70-77 in the regular paper manual) specifically talks about certain open source software packages (in Section 12). It states that Third-Party products such as Busybox, BZIP2, cURL, ezXML, FreeType, Linux, LibPNG, OpenSSL, Pnet, Resample, SNDLib, uClibc, wpa_supplicant, zlib, uisp, YAFFS, and rrload are used in the product.

Sirius and Zing are NOT required to give the code for the technologies that protect the music content (such as songs you saved, bought, the coding for the satellite signal, etc.). They are also not required to give anything they created without the aid of Open Source software.

So it Runs Linux, Who Cares?

Not too long ago, Linksys (a producer of Home Networking hardware) produced several router products that ran Linux. Online Communities and Homebrew Software Groups paved the way to maximize the potential of these devices. Because of these initatives, Linksys sold more devices and people were able to do everything from opening a hotspot at their business, to including their neighbors into their home network. People were able to add and request features that they wanted.

Since the Stiletto is also apparently running Linux, there is a potential for the same development situation to happen. People could potentially have the ability to evolve their own plug-ins and add-ons to the device. It could help Sirius sell units, but it could also create a community and an interest in maximizing the potential of the device. Perhaps the Stiletto could offer support for different music formats, such as Ogg Vorbis, or even find some way to play stored video on the screen. Perhaps there will be a way to add menu functions, small games, remote control the Stiletto via WiFi, etc.

The Stiletto is due any day now. If people start poking around and find anything interesting, we'll be sure to report on it here.

9/25/2006 12:01:00 AM

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