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QuantumSTEP     Digital Tools for Independent People.
A Handheld OS by Golden Delicious Computers
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Universal package for
  • Asus eeePC
  • Debian Etch PC (x86 and mipsel)
  • Letux n30, Letux 380, Letux 400
  • Nokia 770, 800, 810
  • Openmoko Neo1973, Freerunner
  • Sharp Zaurus (Sharp ROM)
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Shown at SYSTEMS 2008
FlexiSheet added
Shown at LinuxTag 2008
CoreData added
SimpleWebKit became part of GNUstep
Shown at FOSDEM 2008
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Frequently Asked Questions

Why a new Operating System?

First of all, we love Apple, the Newton and the Macintosh - and now the iPhone.

But we have always waited for a real Mac in our pocket and followed curiously all announcements and rumors. But a real Tablet or Pocket-Mac did not yet come from Apple for understandable reasons. They have to focus on and push forward the iPod which now adds in phone functionality but is a closed platform.

So as we believe that there is nonetheless a large and growing market for mobile handheld devices that seamlessly integrate with the Macintosh platform (see http://www.quantum-step.com/download/reasons-why.pdf for our market view), we have started the QuantumSTEP project in 2003 and based it on mGStep and GNUstep. And we choose the Sharp Zaurus handhelds as the first platform to use a reliable operating system and superior hardware.

What is the vision behind QuantumSTEP?

We believe that an optimized handheld device (being a PDA or a Smartphone) for the Macintosh User:
  • provides a complete package that simply works out of the box
  • can be operated similar to a Macintosh - but must not neglect the differences of a handheld device (e.g. notepad metaphor vs. desktop metaphor)
  • comes with elegantly designed hardware (e.g. the Sharp Zaurus C series)
  • really simplifies useage of the device without compromises
  • is 100% compatible in data formats and applications to open standards
  • has a freely available Software Development Kit (SDK) using the Macintosh platform (Xcode)
As we know we are still away from this vision, we focus our efforts on user interface design, to be more compatible to the Cocoa API, to the file and file system formats and to provide wireless interfaces (e.g. for WLAN, GPRS and GPS cards).

What is different to other Handheld Operating Systems?

Well, there are many differences:
  • QuantumSTEP strives to resembles the operation and experience of an Apple Macintosh; not just being compatible through a sync software or installing special desktop software on the Macintosh,
  • it is based on reliable open-source technology (X11, Objective-C, GNUstep, Linux)
  • its applications have a very small footprint (typically some 8-32 kBytes) due to very powerful object oriented libraries,
  • it uses free development tools (gcc, Xcode),
  • it seamlessly inegrates e.g. WLAN, GPRS, GPS
  • it is a complete system including window management

What is your relation to Apple?

We are member of the Apple Developer Connection. Otherwise we are independent.

We do not want to affront Apple. Rather, we want to support the MacOS X platform to proliferate to handheld devices. This is done twofold: software developers can port their existing Cocoa software to QuantumSTEP to extend the useability and software development is done on Macintosh systems provided by Apple.

On which Devices does QuantumSTEP work?

Currently, we support the Sharp Zaurus models and the Letux Acer n30, have experimented with the Nokia N770.

Basically, we can port to any Linux based device.

Doesn't the Apple iPhone make QuantumSTEP obsolete?

Clearly no. While the iPhone appears also to be based on Cocoa and WebKit, it is reported that it will not be an open platform. And, although we like the design of the iPhone, the lack of a keyboard is a real hurdle for business users. If you ever have operated a Sharp Zaurus, you know the benefits of a keyboard in a miniaturized computer.

What is your relation to Device manufacturers?

We are independent. But we are open to go into partnerships with major PDA and Smartphone manufacturers as soon as QuantumSTEP got the required momentum for such a step.

What do I need to start software development?

Not much. A Mac with MacOS X 10.4, Xcode 2.x and IB, Apple X11, and our free Compiler. And a device to run QuantumSTEP on (to debug your applications).

Why don't you use or contribute to GNUstep?

First of all we are a proponent of GNUstep and really appreciate the achievements of this community. The reasons to base QuantumSTEP on mGStep and not the latest GNUstep releases are manifold.

One is technical. GNUstep assumes a lot of libraries (e.g. libxml2, libiconv) and we simply don't have the space on a handheld device to use them all. mGStep is a fork of GNUstep (forked approximately 1999) and already had this target in mind.

The other is that we have a slightly different objective (http://www.gnustep.org/information/mission.html) so we don't get everything from GNUstep what we want to have. QuantumSTEP focusses on bringing a complete (100%) Macintosh compatible system to selected Handhelds while GNUstep strives more for a GUI library to integrate into a Linux desktop and tools that fulfill the OpenSTEP specifications rather than 100% of the Macintosh de facto standard. This begins e.g. with the file layout (e.g. where user defaults and bundles are stored) and ends in the implementation of several special classes (e.g. NSMenuView, Preference Panes, NSMenuExtras, handwriting support etc.).

Then, GNUstep aims at integration into an existing desktop (using an existing Window Manager). QuantumSTEP is a complete system including its own window management functions and therefore does not need to take care of these developments.

And for contributing back to GNUstep, we do not (yet) have the ressources to do so. But as the mySTEP part (which is based on mGStep/GNUstep) is falling under the LGPL, everybody is free to take interesting parts or solutions and integrate them back to GNUstep.

How can I support the development of QuantumSTEP?

If you are a user, simply use QuantumSTEP DeveloperReleases or purchase commercial releases and tell your friends about it.

Then, you can become member (Membership) to participate in Beta-Tests and to get early information.

And, you can start to develop or port Cocoa applications.

Finally, we greatly appreciate Donations.

You can also contact us for Investments.

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