• Project iX: GNU/Linux on iDevice

    In the recent weeks, ModMyi has had the opportunity to showcase the iDroid Project in an exclusive interview with the project manager Nick Pack. The article detailed progress of the port to the 3GS and A4 platforms and gave an up to date view of how the team is doing. It also served as a general status update in regards to the completion of the project. iDroid Project's goal is to port Android to the iPhone and other iOS-based devices. as well as to make it easily accessible to the general public. Currently the iDroid Android distribution is available for iDevices up to and including the iPhone 3G, but as mentioned above, development is ongoing to expand the functionality to current and future generations of iOS-devices.

    Although not extremely expansive, the iDroid Project does encourage and help other similar projects by current members of the team or other individuals in the same field. One significant project, Project iX, means to port a full fledged GNU/Linux distribution to iDevices. A direct sister project of the iDroid Project, it is somewhat of a more recent project and is just starting to pick up progress.

    I recently had the opportunity to speak to Chris Spehn, one of the leading members on the Project iX team, and ask him a few questions about what Project iX is and what their goals are. Chris was gracious enough to allow me an interview with him. The following are excerpts from our conversation:

    JOSH: How long has Project iX been around?
    CHRIS: The project was started in July 2010 by a member from the iDroid community named James Stubbs. Although, an iPhone hacker by the name of iKex ran Debian on the iPhone 2G before that.

    JOSH: When did you first join the project?
    CHRIS: I came onto the project at some point in July. I can't remember the exact date. James had been working on it by himself for several weeks before I joined. Actually, if I remember correctly, James started working on it in June but the project didn't get started until July.

    JOSH: So, can you explain a little about what Project iX is; what are the goals of it and how has progress has faired?
    CHRIS: Project iX aims to provide an X11 based GNU/Linux distribution for Apple's iDevices. Basically, it's an alternative to the iDroid project. Progress was pretty slow at first, but we have come a long way since then. The project has its ups and downs just like any other project. Progress was really slow when James left for the British army.

    JOSH: You mentioned that Project iX is a sister project of the iDroid Project; is there a lot of collaboration that goes on between the two?
    CHRIS: Absolutely, I constantly rely on the iDroid developer's work. iX wouldn't be possible without them. When I get stuck on a problem, iDroid is there to help me.

    JOSH: How many members currently comprise Project iX; are most of the current members "founding members" or have you had people cycle in and out?
    CHRIS: Honestly, most of the founding members have moved onto other projects. For example, lilstevie is now running Linux natively on the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Galaxy S. He started a new project called Galaxy Linux. lilstevie does still idle the iX IRC channel though. James has been in the British army since last September. A few people have come onto the project and helped for awhile, but most people end up leaving. I have been the only one working on iX for at least 6 months. With that being said, I do still consider lilstevie to be apart of iX. He does help me from time to time and I help him with his new project.

    JOSH: Since you're working on this project vigorously, what type of coding experience do you have? How'd you initially learn how to code?
    CHRIS: I'm honestly not that big of a coder. The language I know the best is Java because that's what my university teaches and how I learned to code. I did some batch and bash scripting before that though. I do dabble a little bit in ruby and perl, but I mostly modify existing code. It's rare that I actually write something from scratch. The only part of iX that has required a decent amount of code is the baseband which doesn't work yet.

    JOSH: So for those of us interested in learning more about Project iX, what are some links/websites/documents that we can read or see to get more knowledge about it?
    CHRIS: Honestly, iX is very poorly documented and that's something I'm working on. Since it's really only me working on the project consistently, it's hard to keep up on everything. The best references are the following:


    The website was originally www.ixproject.org, but our original project sponsor didn't keep the web sever up to date. It ended up getting hacked and he disappeared off the face of the planet. I lost all the blog posts James wrote when that happened.

    JOSH: And one last question; what would be the best way to help support the team over at iDroid and Project iX?
    CHRIS: Well, if you want to contribute to iDroid there are a variety of ways. Right now they really need developers with reverse engineering skills to write open source drivers for Apple's devices. This will help with porting OpeniBoot, the bootloader, to the newer devices available. They're currently porting OpeniBoot to the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM and CDMA), iPad 1G, IPT 2G, ATV 2G, and the IPT 4G. iDroid and iX won't run on these devices until the ports are complete. As far as contributing to iX goes, it really doesn't require that many skills. If you're very familiar with Linux then you can probably contribute. Right now I need help with porting the baseband as well as fixing miscellaneous bugs.

    On top of this, Chris was willing to record a MMi exclusive demo video of how the iX software works on iDevices along with his official tester Parker Reed:

    After completing this video, Chris made a comment about the hardware mapping on the device:

    Just for clarification, the hardware buttons on the iDevice are mapped within the software and work well. For example, the volume buttons on the device work manage the volume within the Linux software. The Power Button is mapped to power options (Reboot/Shutdown) but I'm currently working on mapping it to the lockscreen. And the Home Button closes applications.
    For more information, check out the links listed above in the interview and follow Project iX on Twitter. And a great thanks to Parker Reed for demoing the software on the video. He is available on Twitter also. Also, Chris did a presentation for two university events about Project iX. The presentation is here.

    You can also hop on IRC and speak with Chris and other developers about the iX project via this info:

    Server: irc.freenode.net
    Channel: #iX

    Source(s): Chris Spehn, Project iX, Project iX - Twitter, Parker Reed, Chris Spehn - Presentation
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Project iX: GNU/Linux on iDevice started by Joshua Tucker View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. zoso10's Avatar
      zoso10 -
      As a frequent user of Linux I'm very excited for this. I thought a GNU/Linux type distro on an iDevice would be so productive for me. It would also allow a lot of flexibility and freedom for users, which people (including me) always complain about with iOS. I am really looking forward to this.
    1. ismoothproject's Avatar
      ismoothproject -
      iPod Touch 4G????
    1. steelersfan32's Avatar
      steelersfan32 -
      Do want! I can't wait for this.
  • Connect With Us

  • Twitter Box

  • Facebook