[OFF-TOPIC] Any advice about e-readers?

12 replies [Last post]
stefano
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Joined: 10/14/2011

So, I am looking for a nice e-reader[1] that is as free software
compatible as possible.

The Kindle is of course not an option, and I was looking at the Sony Reader.

Any advice?

Thanks,

--
Stefano

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-reader

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

OpenInkpot exists but it has the same problem where is uses the standard version of the kernel called Linux (not Linux-libre), etc.

To my knowledge there aren't any fully free distros for e-readers at this time so why not just use a computer running Trisquel? It could even be a laptop. The e-reader device is basically just a computer after all.

t3g
t3g
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Joined: 05/15/2011

Call me old fashioned, but I still like books. I like that I can buy with cash, buy used, and loan to a friend. I like that it doesn't require a battery charge and I like the smell. I know that if there is a societal collapse or need to sit on a book shelf for 100 years that they will be there.

Biggest of all, I like to take a break from staring at a computer screen with all the eye strain and glare.

lloydsmart

I am a member!

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Joined: 12/22/2012

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I'm interested in this too, but using a computer isn't an option, unless I can easily modify it to have an e-ink screen rather than an LCD. That, to me, is the main appeal of e-readers over tablets - avoidance of eye strain and glare.

I have to confess, I currently have an Amazon Swindle. I had no idea how terrible a thing this was until after I'd purchased it - so I'm interested in whether anyone has managed to mod one to run free software. I guess probably not (yet).

Since I've invested money in the Swindle, I'm not going to throw it away, or sell it on and inflict the restrictions on someone else, but as a compromise I have resolved not to buy e-books from Amazon, and not to use any that come with DRM.

- --UPDATE--
Having just written the above, before I submitted this commend I duckduckgo'd OpenInkpot. This looks promising! Shame about using non-libre linux but maybe this can be addressed by modding. Time to do some digging, methinks!
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lembas
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Joined: 05/13/2010

You've probably seen this listing, I find it useful https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/the-danger-of-ebooks.html

I wouldn't buy sony, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/sony_rootkit

Horgeon
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Joined: 03/29/2011

It is still better to use your Trisquel device, there is software dedicated to reduce eye strain in a LCD screen like gtk-redshift. You can also search for eye friendly color patterns in a search engine. Solarized palette is a popular one[1]. ePub supports color configuration (FBReader). Not sure about pdf.

[1] http://ethanschoonover.com/solarized

GustavoCM

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Joined: 11/20/2012

Brilliant; thanks for mentioning redshift!

lembas
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Joined: 05/13/2010

>ePub supports color configuration (FBReader). Not sure about pdf.

At least Okular is able to change the colors of pdfs, background and foreground. It's hands down the best pdf reader in my book otherwise too. Real fullscreen and scrolls like a dream. (If you do try it and have problems with audio afterwards, it could be the knotify daemon it loads when playing a sound interfering. You can make the knotify binary non-executable to prevent any such trouble.)

stefano
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Joined: 10/14/2011

Hi all,

thanks for your opinions. I see that we're going a bit off off-topic though.

If the e-reader is not 100% free software compatible, I anybody aware
of devices that at least (seem to) respect your privacy?

Best,

-- Stefano

Fernando_Negro
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Joined: 06/17/2012

(Not that much off-topic, in my opinion, since it also fits into the general Free Software-related discussions that usually take place in this forum. And this is a subject that also interests me, since I've also been looking for a portable media device, where I can install Free Software.)

Speaking about e-books readers themselves, and generally speaking...

E-books readers are nowadays (with the default WiFi connections they come with, and if you use the default OS, at least) among other things, spy machines that monitor your reading habits and that are used to make statistics of the general population's reading habits[1] (and therefore, just another way to contribute to the perceived surveillance[2], taking place everywhere) so, as a general rule, I wouldn't recommend its use, since I know of none (e-books reader, properly said) for which there exists a Free Software alternative that can be installed. (I think there are some in which the OS uses some code from Android, but, if I recall correctly, that is only part of the OS, with the rest being closed source...)

But, speaking about portable devices that can be used to read e-books and in which one can install Free Software...

You can always just buy a "Portable Media Player" (that is a "smartphone" without the phone part), like one of the recent Samsung Galaxy S WiFi models or the Creative ZEN Touch 2 (no publicity intended) that use the Android OS (and that are not that expensive and can also be used for other things). But, knowing how there are devices that use parallel circuits, that bypass the firmware or software installed, to spy on people[3], I personally don't trust small integrally-built devices that have microphones, video cameras, WiFi connections etc.)

And, speaking of devices that do not have components that can be used to spy on you...

I found out some interesting alternatives, among the so-called MP4 players, in which one can install an open source firmware called Rockbox[4] (that seems to be a fork of the iPodLinux project[5]) that can also be used as an e-books reader. But that, for the reading process itself, don't seem to be very practical, because of the space limitation of the small screens.

Take a look at the Text Viewer program of the mentioned "Free Firmware"(?) installed on an iPod[6] or on another device[7] that has the same screen resolution of a SanDisk Sansa Fuze+ player, and judge it for yourself.

1. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304870304577490950051438304.html
2. http://crunchbang.org/forums/viewtopic.php?pid=230234#p230234
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G1fNjK9SXg
4. http://www.rockbox.org/
5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPodLinux
6. http://download.rockbox.org/daily/manual/rockbox-ipodvideo/rockbox-buildch12.html#x15-26500012.3.13
7. http://download.rockbox.org/daily/manual/rockbox-gigabeats/rockbox-buildch12.html#x15-26100012.3.13

(Two notes: People who may want to respond to this message via the mailing-list, *please* do not include a quote of my e-mail address on a possible response. Also, the interface used on the web site to post comments doesn't show any more how to use code to make text in italic, include hyperlinks etc, so that's why I had to make this comment in plain text.)

Fernando_Negro
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Joined: 06/17/2012

Or...

(Because, in my case, I was looking for an MP4 player - that could play FLAC files, in which one could also play chess, and - that could easily fit into a pocket, I almost forgot...)

You can also buy one of those cheap (99€/$) 7 inch so-called "mini tablets", like a Yarvik model[1], that has a very slick Android interface or, perhaps better, a PengPod one[2], with a "Linux/Android dual boot" already pre-installed, if you trust the hardware manufacturer (since these models also have video cameras, WiFi connections, microphones).

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TfJMA6j510
2. http://www.pengpod.com/products/pengpod700

The question is: Can you trust the hardware manufacturer?

(Doesn't it, from its business practice of getting rich out of exploiting people in Third World countries, prove not to be an entity of high moral standards? I don't want to get into social/political/economical discussions in here. But, just look at the well-known case of the workers in Apple factories in China, for example. Is, for example, Apple a company driven by high moral standards? And, therefore, one that can be trusted?)

alucardx
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Joined: 02/29/2012

The Pengpod requires non-free software to operate parts of its hardware though. It's out of the question for me.

Daniel Molina
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Joined: 07/04/2009

So, I am looking for a nice e-reader[1] that is as free software
compatible as possible.

The Kindle is of course not an option, and I was looking at the Sony Reader.

Any advice?

Use Calibre for managing your ebooks and communicate with the device (maybe you have to use the last version if your device is not recognized)

It can also be helpful

https://www.fsf.org/blogs/licensing/interview-with-kovid-goyal-of-calibre