The Nexus One Phone-Top

Sven Killig has a sense of where computing is headed: Powerful computers are everywhere, including in your pocket. And he has the skills to push things ahead, to show us glimpses of what’s coming.

Last year, he demoed turning your router into a full-fledged computer.

This year, it’s the Google Nexus One phone as a full computer — with attached external keyboard, mouse, display, and more.

The Nexus One demo is using the udlfb Linux kernel module to talk with the DisplayLink device, and it will work with any DisplayLink device, including Plugable’s.

Note the version of udlfb in the 2.6.34 staging tree unfortunately didn’t work for Sven. So he’s now using the latest udlfb from, which will likely get merged in for kernel 2.6.36.

Also, he used a dual headed cable to get enough power. A powered hub or a docking station/terminal like the UD-160-A won’t need that — it supplies its own power from AC – all the hardware needed is in the one package.

It’s exciting to have all this open source work come together in interesting demos like this.

There was a question recently why udlfb doesn’t use the same compression technique as the Windows drivers. Among other reasons, one is that the RL compression used by udlfb scales down to devices like the ones Sven has been working on — it’s as light as possible on CPU load, while getting decent compression.

Stepping back, it’s clear Apple (and now Microsoft) are making a mistake by limiting the hardware ecosystem around their devices. Android and the other Linux variants have an opportunity here — and considering the Apple juggernaut, they definitely need every advantage.

Sven’s demos show how powerful these scenarios can be. The hardware is ready. Devices like Plugable’s are designed with these scenarios in mind. Now we need to get the software refined and included in standard distributions, so normal consumers can take advantage of all the possibilities and benefits here.