GP2X - The open source handheld gaming system

Well, I’m on holidays right now but I still like to keep in touch with what’ s happening in the industry and still monitor a few Internet rag sites regularly, including my favorite, The Inquirer. Today, I saw in one of their Hardware Roundup postings a link to a review of the GP2X Personal Entertainment System which uses an ARM dual core processor that runs Linux. I’ve always been interested in game development, so finding a handheld gaming machine that ran Linux sent me off on a trail to find out more.

Well it turns out it’s made in Korea by Gamepark Holdings as a follow up to a previous edition handheld which was actually made by another company called Gamepark. Apparently the engineers didn’t like what the original company wanted to as a follow up so spun out and made an almost identical company to do it the way they wanted. Interesting inside story there, I’m sure.

Anyway, they advertise this machine as the “Open Source Gaming Device”, which I find pretty cool and again fits into the model I’ve seen over and over again with open source development. The company sells the device (and it’s pretty cheap at only about $200), and then fosters an open source community around writing software for it and manages an SDK of open source libraries to support them. They also use a number of the open source Linux apps to build up a suite of multi-media functions for video and audio for users to get started. I haven’t seen any analysis about how successful they’ve been but the community forums seem to be pretty active.

I was a bit disappointed, of course, when I saw that the SDK didn’t ship with Eclipse/CDT components, but I was happy to see someone in their community blogging about using the CDT in this environment. Of course, it’s a natural fit with CDT’s built-in support for gnu development, including cross-development for embedded operating systems such as Linux (and QNX Neutrino ;). I would be quite interested in helping anyone who would like to push to make the CDT a more formally “supported” development environment for this cool little box.