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Openmoko Phone Not Dead After All

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the tut-mir-leid dept.

Cellphones 101

In response to the report I posted a few days ago that the Openmoko FreeRunner phone had been discontinued, Pat Meier-Johnson writes on behalf of Openmoko to say that this isn't so. "Some bloggers have been misinterpreting a presentation by Openmoko CEO, Sean Moss-Pultz last week in Switzerland to think that the company is getting out of the phone business. That's not true. In fact, the Openmoko FreeRunner (their current model) is alive and well. (Also in Switzerland, Sean announced another project — not a phone — that they are calling 'Project B.' No details yet.) The next version of the phone, codenamed GTA03, has been suspended and there were some associated layoffs, but the GTA03 was in constant flux as a design. So the company is being prudent and focusing on the FreeRunner which has lots of open source community and most recently, embedded developer support." Glad to hear this, because the FreeRunner is an interesting phone.

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101 comments

Huh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27526385)

What?

This is TIMOTHY's way of saying, "I SUCK PENIS!" (1)

KDAWSON sucks (1165799) | about 5 years ago | (#27526889)

Timothy is KDAWSON's 9-year-old pedobuddy apprentice. It's like KDAWSON trying to teach a retard how to click "accept" to a story submission on Slashdot. Or maybe it's not just like...

timothy, your thoughts?

Last post! (-1, Offtopic)

iminplaya (723125) | about 5 years ago | (#27526387)

You've been a wonderful crowd. Thanks

Re:Last post! (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | about 5 years ago | (#27529495)

You've been a wonderful crowd. Thanks

Modded down by someone not knowing what 'Last post' is meant in this context: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Post [wikipedia.org] . This IS the final round in this open-hardware-source battle, for now. The public just isn't ready for it, yet.

Re:Last post! (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#27530081)

The public just isn't ready for it, yet.

The public will never be ready for a phone that doesn't make phone calls properly. If instead of working on various UI toolkits and abandoning them they focused on making the phone work maybe they could sell a few more.

Re:Last post! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#27540791)

The public will never be ready for a phone that doesn't make phone calls properly.

Really? What about the NGage?

Er, on second thoughts, maybe you have a point...

Re:Last post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27543839)

But FreeRunner IS making phone calls properly. It works for me. Really.

David versus Goliath (1)

linhares (1241614) | about 5 years ago | (#27526405)

It may not be dead, but it faces a huge battle against Google and others. And this is not literature.

Re:David versus Goliath (3, Interesting)

linhares (1241614) | about 5 years ago | (#27526517)

EVEN BEFORE CUPCAKE:

OPENMOKO

Google PageRank: 7

Google BackLinks: 526

Live Search BackLinks: 6

Technorati Links: 1,230

Compare that to http://code.google.com/android [google.com]

Google PageRank: 8

Google BackLinks: 1,880

Live Search BackLinks: 164

Technorati Links: 7,980

And... the google site has been replaced by http://developer.android.com/ [android.com], which will soon capture the original's statistics, and then some.

Re:David versus Goliath (3, Interesting)

Cyclops (1852) | about 5 years ago | (#27528771)

So your point is that a very popular non Free Software phone, backed by Google and major phone makers has more fame? You just won the Sherlock Holmes award!
BTW, OpenMoko is the first Free Software Android Phone....

Re:David versus Goliath (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27536005)

Openmoko doesn't have a homepage, just a very chaotic and insidery collection of wiki pages and mailing lists. That's one of the reasons for its failure. Of course the bigger reason is that the FreeRunner isn't a functioning phone under any of the existing operating systems.

Re:David versus Goliath (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 5 years ago | (#27527429)

You mean it's not bad literature, in which the good guys always win. David may have killed Goliath, and gone on to become King of Israel, but he still came to a tragic end. The brave Open Source geeks who took on the establishment and were defeated in the end fits in fine with this tradition.

Re:David versus Goliath (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#27529939)

David may have killed Goliath, and gone on to become King of Israel, but he still came to a tragic end.

David was a pretty bad guy, and it would have been tragic if he had lived forever.

But does it make calls yet? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 5 years ago | (#27526447)

Dude, seriously. I'm not trying to troll here. Can I get some honest first-hand accounts of its actual phone, SMS and voicemail capability/reliability from any AT&T customers using this thing in the greater Los Angeles Area? Any luck with actual 3g network access would be nice to hear about as well.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1)

greenguy (162630) | about 5 years ago | (#27526561)

And what else can I do with it? I can't find a software listing anywhere.

And don't tell me I should just write my own.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 5 years ago | (#27526629)

One of the more exciting things I heard about this phone was that the Debian ARM port installs and runs nicely on it, which does make it a nifty hand-held but not necessarily an actual phone.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#27526651)

And don't tell me I should just write my own.

Sure, why not? I am sure the greenguy can think of something useful and profitable to do with software which would never see the light of day on an iphone.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (2, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 5 years ago | (#27526755)

The real question, at the moment, is whether it's also something that would never see the light of day on android.

Otherwise, well, Android seems to be here, now, cheaper and better in every way except openness. And honestly, forcing everything to be written for a VM has advantages -- Openmoko is likely to be bound to ARM for some time, even if something better were to come along.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | about 5 years ago | (#27527249)

I can't recall where I heard it or if it was true, but I did hear of some success on getting Android to run on the Freerunner. I could be absolutely mistaken as I'm going based on a vague memory and have no articles to back me up, though it would be interesting if it were true. Hell, if it was, I'd definitely take my openmoko out of the drawer to see the light of day again. It was an OK phone, but a pain in the ass to get operational. I was hoping it'd be a bit more stable with the release, but I was wrong. It wasn't anywhere near useful enough as a phone when it was released. Around now, it may be possible to carry around, but the battery life was terrible at the time, so who knows.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1)

sveinungkv (793083) | about 5 years ago | (#27534311)

I can't recall where I heard it or if it was true, but I did hear of some success on getting Android to run on the Freerunner.

It's true [openmoko.org].

Re:But does it make calls yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27536799)

Koolu = Android on the FreeRunner [koolu.com]
a developer's blog [blogspot.com]
I haven't tried it yet, but to quote that blog,

we can call the android beta3 release not yet fully functional ready, but maybe the next release will contain a working messaging system. And from that moment, We could say the Android has the same working features as the other FreeRunner distributions.

Which would still not make it a usable phone, but there's hope.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1, Redundant)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 5 years ago | (#27527369)

For me the question is how 'locked down' Android is.

Google is touting it as an open-source platform. However, as we saw last week about tethering, Google and device makers may be beholden to the interests of service providers.

I am not interested in an Android Market, to rival the iPhone. Google is barely less 'inherently evil' than Apple. :)

The best chance of an open software platform for a phone is for manufacturers to all jump on the Android bandwagon but allow 'unlocked' phones to be bought in stores as with traditional GSM phones. Then if the hardware specs are well known and documented, we Slashdot readers can reflash the phone with our embedded *bsd/Linux distro of choice. If Android truly is open source, one should be able to load Dalvik in userspace.

The issue with Openmoko is that it's selling you a device from a niche manufacturer which could go out of business at any moment. Instead, let Google define a standardised hardware platform and cross our fingers the software is fully user replaceable! Whether manufacturers allow this...

Re:But does it make calls yet? (4, Informative)

Mr2001 (90979) | about 5 years ago | (#27527535)

Google is touting it as an open-source platform. However, as we saw last week about tethering, Google and device makers may be beholden to the interests of service providers.

The platform is still open source, and although Google has unfortunately pulled apps from the Android Market (as seen by T-Mobile users, at least), you can still download and run them, because unlike the iPhone, Android doesn't force you to get all your software from a central repository.

Android is in the same situation relative to phone manufacturers that Linux is relative to TiVo. You can recompile the open source code that TiVo is based on, but you can't install it on your DVR without significant hacking. Just because Linux is open source doesn't mean everyone who sells you Linux-based hardware has to give you the ability to install your own distro, because Linux isn't GPLv3 (and neither is Android).

This isn't Google's fault any more than the TiVo situation is Linus's fault. Blame the manufacturers and carriers who insist on locking down their hardware. Nothing is stopping other manufacturers or carriers from selling hardware that isn't locked down; let them know you're willing to pay for it.

The best chance of an open software platform for a phone is for manufacturers to all jump on the Android bandwagon but allow 'unlocked' phones to be bought in stores as with traditional GSM phones.

"Unlocked" in that case would have to mean more than it does with traditional GSM phones. You can use an unlocked phone on any carrier, but that doesn't mean you can flash whatever firmware you want.

By the way, if you want an Android phone that you can flash with whatever firmware you want, you can buy one today. It's called the ADP1, and you can get it for $400 after signing up as an Android developer ($25).

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1, Interesting)

irockash (1265506) | about 5 years ago | (#27528191)

The best chance of an open software platform for a phone is for manufacturers to all jump on the Android bandwagon but allow 'unlocked' phones to be bought in stores as with traditional GSM phones.

"Unlocked" in that case would have to mean more than it does with traditional GSM phones. You can use an unlocked phone on any carrier, but that doesn't mean you can flash whatever firmware you want.

This probably isn't exactly what you want, but check out XDA-Developers [xda-developers.com]. Limited to HTC phones, but firmware from carriers and the manufacturer. Sure you're mostly limited to Windows Mobile, but they've had luck getting Android and Debian working on some models.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27528217)

...and you can't turn those on without a gmail account, either.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27528627)

Luckily, they stopped requiring DNA samples, credit card numbers, and employment history for Gmail accounts this morning. You can now get one just by clicking a button on a web site.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27530771)

They can have all the DNA, credit numbers, and other personally identifying information. They can't have my usage data. Period.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 years ago | (#27532939)

Fortunately, they don't care about your usage data. They care about usage data of sane people that they can make accurate predictions for.

Unless you pay for everything with cash, you're already supplying several other companies with more usage data than you are supplying to Google.

Use checks? Money orders? Credit/Debit cards? You think those aren't just as useful for usage data? Pretty much any sort of payment system other than cash is useful for tracking you. They track you anyway via google analytics on various sites that google doesn't even own. You can disable scripting, loading of third party cookies and scripts, you name it, but Google is still going to get your usage data from all the companies like mine who upload server logs to google so they can be processed and make our analytics data more accurate because of people who block this sort of thing.

The idea that you are anonymous on the Internet is a joke. The Internet simply doesn't work in an anonymous way. It make take some effort to go through all the data and make correlations and you can do some things to obfuscate it and make it a lot harder (Such as TOR routers with NO logging), but you aren't anonymous in the least. In the end, every connection on the Internet uses IP, and using IP requires that both ends know exactly who they are talking to on the other end via the address.

When you do something in public, you're an idiot if you think your anonymous.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (0, Flamebait)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#27528323)

This isn't Google's fault any more than the TiVo situation is Linus's fault.

Linus could use GPLv3 in linux. Google could use the GNU userland in android. Neither is these things is happening because tivoisation is good for earnings, even though it is bad for freedom.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 years ago | (#27533055)

Yes, restricting peoples ability to use software is a great thing for freedom.

GPL fanboys are so absolutely fucking retarded.

First off, I have no problem with people using GPL. I have a problem with people ranting about how GPL is about freedom.

For something that is about freedom, it sure as hell has a lot of fucking restrictions. To me restrictions are the opposite of freedom. Every change to GPL adds more restrictions in the name of freedom. You have to be an idiot to believe that shit.

Now, if you want to use GPLv3 to intentionally block it from being used by a company, thats fine, thats your business and more power to you for doing so. I have no problem with it until you start talking about how you support OSS or freedom to do what you want with the software.

If you want TRUE software freedom, you use public domain. Period.

But VERY VERY few people want true freedom, and THATS OKAY! The idea that everything can be completely free and unrestricted is just silly in and of itself.

I prefer the BSD license. It balances what I want out of OSS software. It also is not FREE, it most certainly has a cost. The cost for using my BSD software is that you have to leave my name in the credits. Now, pretty much no one thinks my software is worth that cost :) but thats okay too, one day maybe I'll make something that is.

If you prefer the GPL license because it accomplishes what you want, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the restrictions it contains, just don't sit around proclaiming how free it is, it has more restrictions in it than half the commercial software we licenses at the company I work for.

More importantly in your case, don't sit around an d talk about how something that isn't licensed the way YOU think it should be is bad for freedom, you sound like George Bush.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (2, Informative)

stupkid (16083) | about 5 years ago | (#27527275)

If you are looking for an idea of the apps people have written:

Openmoko Software Repo [opkg.org]

This is outside of whatever software your distro includes (Debian, SHR, OM2008.12, Qtopia, etc.).

Re:But does it make calls yet? (2, Interesting)

Running Pinata (1166015) | about 5 years ago | (#27527113)

http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Distributions#Hardware_Support [openmoko.org] has pretty current info. From my experience: Using At&t atm. Distros: Om: Usable, no bluetooth gui. FSO: Usable, no bluetooth gui. Androd: Panicking cupcake. Usable, somewhat. Phone goes to sleep after receiving a call. FDOM: based off of Om 09. Still has suspend issues that was resolved in the Om 12. QTExtended Improved: Trying this one out this week, so no clues. Well for voicemail I get a text message with "50". For SMS I haven't tried since it costs me to send messages.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1)

irockash (1265506) | about 5 years ago | (#27528215)

For incoming SMS you could try one of their quick options for checking minutes or balance (*MIN# or *BAL# and send). For out going, spend the damn 20 cents and wish a distant cousin happy birthday.

Re:But does it make calls yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27527735)

Sure it make calls but you might want to look into that 3G piece.

Man that's funny can you say 3G again

hahaha

Re:But does it make calls yet? (1)

Znork (31774) | about 5 years ago | (#27529711)

Yes, actually, it does make calls. But with your following questions it sounds like you're interested in using it as an actual everyday phone.

It's not.

It's possible to get it somewhat functional as such, but you'd probably be sacrificing most of the reasons to actually get one to get the stability, reliability and battery time needed to use it as a basic, main, phone.

You'll be much more satisfied if you regard it as a small form factor embedded Linux development platform with GSM capablities. Want to get in to actual cell phone development? Experiment with hand held applications? Got a great idea and would like to start up a company producing gadgets but need a cheap way to see if it flies first? Want to experiment with miniature touch-screen UI's to see what works?

Then it might be the thing you're looking for. I certainly love mine. But don't get it if a phone is all you're looking for.

And The Bearded GNU Freaks Rejoiced! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27526459)

This is heart warming news. The niche Bearded GNU Freak demographic will continue to have a phone made just for their kooky ideology and something to feel untarnished by Teh Evil Proprietary software while they sit around in their parents basements chatting with each other about what the first thing they are going to run when the GNU Hurd OS finally gets released.

Re:And The Bearded GNU Freaks Rejoiced! (1)

jra (5600) | about 5 years ago | (#27526721)

May every device you touch which runs Linux -- which may be more than you think -- all drop dead on you on the same day.

In other news: any chance at all they're ever going to think ahead to include a PTT button on the case design?

Interesting? (3, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | about 5 years ago | (#27526463)

Considering the chaos in the software end, the only really interesting aspect of it was that you could get a debug board that plugged right into the thing. Other than that the only notable aspect was the fact that the schematics and mechanical designs were open, which is nice but largely only interesting to other corporations with the resources to spin and assemble PCBs.

Maybe if the company had better direction, they would have been able to forge ahead to the GTA03 instead of it constantly wobbling. With focus they could have pushed the software stack to stability and usability, as well as solve the power management issues and gotten an actual 3G radio into the thing. Instead they've shrunk and moved on to some unnamed project.

Sad, but not suprising. Glad I kept my $400.

Re:Interesting? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 5 years ago | (#27526493)

FYI the web page says they dropped the price to $299.

Re:Interesting? (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 5 years ago | (#27526505)

With the release of the Freerunner they separated the debug board out from the phone, and priced it at $100, and I wouldn't buy a device like this without that board.

Re:Interesting? (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | about 5 years ago | (#27527225)

The Freerunner never came with the board and the board always cost $99. I was one of the early purchasers, so I'm aware of what it came with (I purchased it almost immediately when it released). If you purchased the developer's kit before the full release, that came with the board, but that was also more expensive to begin with anyway. So the price drop is in fact a price drop, its not that they're cutting out anything. So you're getting the same thing, just cheaper now.

To be clear, when I purchased it, it was $399 and that did *not* include the debug board.

Re:Interesting? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#27529445)

Yup, I'd have been interested in one that supported UMTS, although now the networks are replacing UMTS with HSPA, so maybe not. Here's a hint for anyone else thinking of creating a Free Software phone:

Don't aim for the US market

The mobile phone market in the USA is incredibly hostile to device manufacturers. The standards are fragmented, and if you build a phone for the US then it will either seem horrendously outdated or simply not work in the rest of the world (i.e. where the majority of Free Software developers are). Apple and Google can pull it off because they can get the networks onboard. You can't.

Re:Interesting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27536083)

Other than that the only notable aspect was the fact that the schematics and mechanical designs were open

Yes, it's a real tragedy.
FreeRunner: "I'm free! Everybody copy me!"
Phone manufacturers: "Why copy something that doesn't work?"

Missing Kool Factor and Advertising $$$ (1)

edivad (1186799) | about 5 years ago | (#27526491)

Unfortunately, OpenMoko missed the support of a company like Apple or Google behind. Able to sprinkle the necessary kool factor, and the $$$ necessary in marketing the product. I believe there is space for a Truly Open (open as in Open Source, and as in Freedom from XYZ Application Store constraints/rules) mobile platform, possibly based on Linux and QTe.
And no, for the record, both iPhone and Android (and even less Symbian) are not truly open as by the definition above.

Re:Missing Kool Factor and Advertising $$$ (1)

linhares (1241614) | about 5 years ago | (#27526641)

And no, for the record, both iPhone and Android (and even less Symbian) are not truly open as by the definition above.

What do you mean the iPhone is open (in any aspect)?

Re:Missing Kool Factor and Advertising $$$ (2, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 5 years ago | (#27526697)

I think the only open aspect of the iPhone is an API for developers to produce apps on that platform.

Re:Missing Kool Factor and Advertising $$$ (2, Interesting)

rampant mac (561036) | about 5 years ago | (#27527395)

"I think the only open aspect of the iPhone is an API for developers to produce apps on that platform."

And look how badly that has affected them. 30 million devices (iPhone & iPod Touch). Over 500 million downloads from the app store?

How does OpenMoko compete? What's their app store strategy? Is there a strategy? At the moment, it looks like Apple is on the verge of running away with the handheld market. What is OpenMoko doing about it?

These are the questions I wonder about. More so, than, *if* API is free or not...

It boils down to: Can I make money on this handset?

Re:Missing Kool Factor and Advertising $$$ (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | about 5 years ago | (#27527167)

It uses Darwin, an open-source kernel, and the GNU toolchain is rattling around in there somewhere as well.

Re:Missing Kool Factor and Advertising $$$ (2, Funny)

byolinux (535260) | about 5 years ago | (#27527729)

Please point me to where I can download the source code to the iPhone kernel.

Interesting (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 5 years ago | (#27526507)

Glad to hear this, because the FreeRunner is an interesting phone.

"Interesting" in what way? Beyond the obvious fact that it's hackable. Or have "interesting" and "hackable" become synonyms?

Re:Interesting (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27526777)

"Interesting" in the sense that it's a phone that can neither make nor receive phone calls reliably. That a company would try and sell something like that is pretty "interesting", for certain values of "interesting".

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27527329)

A hackable phone is interesting, but an interesting phone is not necessarily hackable. So they are not synonyms.

SCO (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | about 5 years ago | (#27526687)

SCO claims to not be dead too.

So did Infineon (behind the Phantom console).

I'm sure we could all come up with a ton of other examples.

Dead (1)

kommers (1049870) | about 5 years ago | (#27529443)

So does Steve Jobs too! And SUN Microsystems. And United States of America. And as you said, there's a ton of examples. Now what was your point again? Everything that claims it's not dead is? Or isn't?

Project B (1)

d474 (695126) | about 5 years ago | (#27526733)

aka Plan-B

Sounds like plan A didn't go so well.

Re:Project B (1)

kommers (1049870) | about 5 years ago | (#27529457)

Yes. And that's exactly what they said: The GTA03 project (their intended/announced next phone, aka plan A) is canned, They're doing a not-a-phone-device instead.

Re:Project B (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27536231)

Wait for Plan Nine

Interesting idea.... (2, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 5 years ago | (#27526893)

I like the idea but everything I have read about the product says it is a lousy phone. And if it can't do that basic function well it doesn't matter what other neat things it can do, whether it is open software, open hardware, whatever. A phone that sucks is no sale.

Re:Interesting idea.... (1)

shank001 (1352821) | about 5 years ago | (#27527583)

I like the idea but everything I have read about the product says it is a lousy phone. And if it can't do that basic function well it doesn't matter what other neat things it can do, whether it is open software, open hardware, whatever. A phone that sucks is no sale.

Well the point is that this phone is a developer version. It was never meant to be used by your six-pack-joe. The phone does have great hardware (GSM (2G only), GPS, Bluetooth, Wifi, et al). The problem is the software stack. And this is where free software developers kick-in. The OM2008.12 distribution is good enough that makes the FreeRunner a basic phone. SHR is another distribution that's looking good. Andriod port for FR looks more and more promising by each passing week. Then there is the paroli begin developed by OM, that's written in python and I hear it's looking good too. Just give it some more time, and the software stack will start looking kick-ass!

Re:Interesting idea.... (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 5 years ago | (#27530431)

Didn't they strictly speaking release Freerunner as a "product"?

Re:Interesting idea.... (1)

dakohli (1442929) | about 5 years ago | (#27540105)

As a matter of fact they did. However, now if you go to the getting started webpage, it welcomes you as an new owner of a development phone. I plunked down my cash and got one of the first batch of available phones. It did not work well at all. Its been over a year, and it still is not my primary phone. I have tried most of the distro's and Qtopia seemed to be the best. Android is ok, easy to install, however, the version Koolu put in really needs a keyboard. So, I will continue to watch the state, and hope, but until it is stable I will continue with my Nokia e71. Dave

Re:Interesting idea.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27527811)

You obviously enjoy your monthly plan. Go ahead bend over and keep taking it.

When you decide to get a phone that does what you want instead of what you provider wants go and buy a freerunner

Re:Interesting idea.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27528219)

And use it how without a Cell Phone company with a monthly plan?

Re:Interesting idea.... (1)

dakohli (1442929) | about 5 years ago | (#27540113)

Actually easy, just grab the cheapest phone on the shelf, get the cheapest plan for one year, and then modify it. I started with Rogers a couple of years ago, with a Motorola L6i, and now have a E71 that I bought full price. I found a data package 6G for cheap on a special. They will add anything in for you. Of course, you can always grab a cheap pay as you go, drop the sim into whatever phone you want and presto......unlocked gsm phones are the way to go.

Re:Interesting idea.... (2, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 5 years ago | (#27528917)

When you decide to get a phone that does what you want instead of what you provider wants go and buy a freerunner

No he's right. I used the FreeRunner for 5 months on a daily basis and it's a crappy phone. Damn cool handheld touch screen linux machine with WiFi, BlueTooth and GPS though.

Re:Interesting idea.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27528579)

I like the idea but everything I have read about the product says it is a lousy phone. And if it can't do that basic function well it doesn't matter what other neat things it can do, whether it is open software, open hardware, whatever. A phone that sucks is no sale.

The Freerunner's hardware *is* rather old, and there are some hardware design errors. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful machine. Its software is at a state now where it can be used as a daily phone (at least by me), and the battery life is much better than it was a few months ago. Its beautiful, full VGA display makes running desktop Unix applications quite feasible (I've ported several), and using it as an X11 server for remote linux machines is easy. It is not, and never will be, competitive with phones like the iPhone - it is in many ways the exact opposite of an iPhone. But even cell phone hardware that is several years old is very powerful. Openmoko puts up no barriers to you modifying the hardware or software any way you choose. Show me another phone for which the end user can buy a JTAG debugging board. Show me another phone which can run a full Debian distribution. Show me another phone for which the schematics have been released, and whose designers hang out on an IRC channel to help you modify the device. So what if it stinks at video playback? So what if you have to make a few hardware mods yourself to get it working optimally. There's nothing like this device on the market, and hardcore nerds will eventually come to value it. And I believe there are enough people in the world who will be excited by a linux box the size of a deck of cards, with GPS, GSM, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB and accelerometers run by open source software, to eventually make the product profitable.

Re:Interesting idea.... (2, Interesting)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 5 years ago | (#27530633)

I'm sorry. I like the idea of the phone as much as the next person. For a while, when I was in Iraq, I seriously considered getting one of the dev versions. How cool is a phone that I can analyze all the specs on, and run any OS I want, blah, blah, blah. In the end though calling a phone (and it is, by all claims from its manufacturer, a "phone", not a "portable device") that cannot reliably make or receive phone calls a "wonderful device" is just disingenuous. I might be "cool", or "interesting", or any of a dozen other adjective, but any device that cannot reliably perform its stated purpose is not "wonderful"

The fact that it performs well as a somewhat under-powered PDA doesn't change the fact that it was never able to do the primary thing that "phones" are supposed to do: make and receive calls. It seems to me (and maybe I'm just silly) that when designing a new Open Phone the checklist should have read:

1) Is able to actually call people
2) Is able to be called
3) Whatever other cool shit we'd like to be able to do
4) ...
5) Profit

I apologize for the overused meme, but in this case it's perfect. As evidenced from the vast numbers of shitty smart-phones out there that sold at least a decent number of units, people will buy a phone with a crappy UI, buggy software, and a crash prone OS. What they won't buy is a phone that can't (reliably) call people.

Re:Interesting idea.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27528853)

Right now neither software nor hardware is ready for daily use by normal people, but at least the community and heroic former openmoko developers can use the existing openmokos phones as a reference platform to finish the software. Then the hardware may or may be improved at a later state.

Damnit! (2, Insightful)

GF678 (1453005) | about 5 years ago | (#27526903)

It's annoying because the zealots will be happy that their "phone" (which isn't even a good phone to begin with) will still be around. We need an actual product that you won't be embarrassed showing to non-geek folk. Now all we'll get are smug idiots.

Re:Damnit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27528619)

It's annoying because the zealots will be happy that their "phone" (which isn't even a good phone to begin with) will still be around. We need an actual product that you won't be embarrassed showing to non-geek folk. Now all we'll get are smug idiots.

No, the market does not need another phone you won't be embarrassed to show non-geeks. If having a flashy phone is important to you, there are many available for you to choose from. What Openmoko provides is a phone that will completely baffle and amuse non-geeks, but which will allow some geeks to explore the new possibilities a mobile network provides.

Re:Damnit! (1)

Joe Snipe (224958) | about 5 years ago | (#27532115)

What they need to do is expand their view of "open." If they created a product that was completely modular, they would have a competitive product.

I'm talking completely. Don't need a keyboard? Swap it for a double length touchscreen. need battery life? Switch to a monochrome LCD. Add in 6 or so slots and call them something dumb like wedges. Then have a camera wedge and a wifi wedge fm/UHF radio wedge and a godknowswhatthehellyouwant wedge. swappable cell radios to work across multiple providers, etc etc etc.

If you are a hardware company you make your money on HARDWARE. It can only benefit them to have a large variety of add-ons. It also benefits the user as they can start with a barebones kit and purchase extras as they can afford to.

But what do I know, I am just a company drone without a high school degree.

Re:Damnit! (1)

TqUhpiQaw (859283) | about 5 years ago | (#27534275)

Interesting, that was my dream phone for the last five years, but never had the resources or the ample free time to actually do it.

As a Moko user for more than a year now, I can say this much about it: when I need nothing more than a phone, I use an old Samsung clamshell, but when I want a GPS navi or a portable WiFi sniffer or hadheld gaming platform or debugging tool or a water level... Let's just say it's a versatile little gadget.

And SHR unstable makes and takes calls just fine, along with SMS, contacts, call log (better than any I've seen on other phones, in fact). It's gotten to the point where I would dare to give it as an Easter present to my aunt Millie.

Re:Damnit! (2, Funny)

ksheff (2406) | about 5 years ago | (#27536923)

the Lego phone - it works great until you drop it and have to put it back together. :)

Re:Damnit! (1)

hitmark (640295) | about 5 years ago | (#27548759)

bug labs has a UMTS module in the works. the setup may be a brick, but it has the modularity that your requesting.

Embedded Developer? (1)

windsurfer619 (958212) | about 5 years ago | (#27526949)

...and most recently, embedded developer support.

In the current economic climate, I know downsizing is becoming common... but this is ridiculous!

mod 3own (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27527233)

be a lot slower go find something to download the server crashes *BSD has lost more is mired in an Save Linux from a This post brought maintained that too rules to follow Of programming Erosion of user notwithstanding, To survive at all Intentions and the deal with you the future of the from the FreeBSD prima donnas, and backward and said learn what mistakes the top. Or were, It's going, are tied up in by fundamental the NetBSD project, irc.secsup.org or and financial up today! If you Are a few good development models obsessed - give were taken over Said one FreeBSD IT. AITS MISSION IS

Cool! I'll still buy a neopwn, based on OpenMoko (2, Informative)

SpzToid (869795) | about 5 years ago | (#27528575)

http://www.neopwn.com/ [neopwn.com]

Neopwn runs on an optimized FULL custom Debian operating system that boots off of a microSD card with a custom Linux kernel, with a vast support range for module drivers, allowing the network security tester the ability to perform various network penetration auditing tasks that are normally carried out on a notebook or desktop workstation.

We offer complete hardware setups as well as a standalone customized operating system (with custom driver module and kernel support). We can also deliver custom features and support options upon request for hardware or software that isn't standard with our systems.

Just ugly (1)

nitrowing (887519) | about 5 years ago | (#27528723)

After owning a SE P800 & P900, I'm stuck with my SE P910. I want a phone/PDA that doesn't run ugly WinMo, does allow multiple SMS and MMS, no keyboard, allows spreadsheet/word processer editing and doesn't look like a lump of ugly plastic. I've tried the Blackberry Storm (locked to Vodafone with horrible, intrusive branding), the iPhone (no MMS or multiple SMS send), the Samsung Omnia (WinMo sucked). I'm curious to see how good the G2 is but initial reports are brilliant. The Freerunner looks plain awful and has issues with stability. Where is the modern P910?

Re:Just ugly (2, Interesting)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 5 years ago | (#27530733)

New iPhone OS will allow MMS (and copy/paste thank fricken' Gods) not sure about multiple SMS though. Which doesn't help you now of course, but they're saying June/July time frame which isn't to far in the future. I know you can display spreadsheet/word procession documents, but I've never had a great need or desire to edit them on my phone, so I can't speak to that.

Re:Just ugly (2, Interesting)

Vegeta99 (219501) | about 5 years ago | (#27532631)

Already using 3.0 Beta 2, MMS works fine, and sending multiple SMS messages has /always/ worked just fine. Bluetooth A2DP works too, FTW!

Re:Just ugly (2, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 years ago | (#27533253)

Multiple SMS was added after the initial release. I think it was during one of the last 1.x releases, but it most certainly didn't work out of the box.

A2DP is only supported in mono, which is lame as shit for a iPod.

I love my iPhone for what it is, but I have no delusions about it being more than it is, nor do I like the idea of anyone spreading false information because they just jumped on the bandwagon.

Re:Just ugly (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 5 years ago | (#27544765)

He's using the new Beta OS. A2DP is supposed to fully supported in that, which is what he's saying. And if Multiple SMS was added in a 1.x release than t0 most 3G owners it would in fact seem as though it "always" worked, since the 3Gs shipped with 2.0. Idon't think we was deliberately making crap up.

More Openmoko Information (3, Informative)

erko (806441) | about 5 years ago | (#27532419)

Interview with Steve Mosher from Openmoko about current state of things (7 minute video):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_d8Tsvj2TdQ [youtube.com]

Sean Moss-Pultz's presentation at openexpo (30 minute video):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFuwhPXYxxI&NR=1 [youtube.com]

Head FreeSmartPhone developer, Mickey Lauer's take on things.
http://www.vanille-media.de/site/index.php/2009/04/04/back-from-switzerland/ [vanille-media.de]

LinuxDevices article: Openmoko: Next-gen phone bites the dust, FreeRunner lives.
http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS8568412362.html [linuxdevices.com]

Hate to break it to you, but ... (2, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 years ago | (#27533355)

The project was dead before it started. The management of the project is horrible. The software is constantly attempting to copy someone else and doing it poorly.

This is pretty typical of an OSS project. Its not about innovation or breaking the mold, its about copying what someone else did and releasing the source in a sad attempt to reap the benefits of someone else's work without really contributing anything new. Very few OSS projects actually break out of this mold. Linus did it by accident, when he started it was nothing more than a copy of another Unix, that was the plan. Obviously that changed as Linux grew far beyond a 'copy' in the late 90s. But Linux is a shining start in OSS world and is very hard to duplicate, there simply aren't enough people that care about most OSS projects the way Linus and his original crew did to get it to the point that it had momentum.

I'm not saying thats always a bad thing, but lets not get delusional when talking about this device, it is in no way impressive unless you're comparing it to those fake phones you give little kids.

Works as a phone (1)

Yogiz (1123127) | about 5 years ago | (#27540249)

Just to throw my own experience into the mix. I use the Freerunner as my daily phone and it works well enough.

It takes some time to set up, that's true, but I'm quite happy with the latest SHR [openmoko.org] release and can finally make phone calls with good quality. There was a major mess before as most of the distros caused the other end of the phone call to hear a constant echo of their own voice. That is sorted out now and Freerunner works as an everyday phone for me, not to mention as a mobile web browser (Midori, dillo), a GPS unit (tangogps), an IM client with wifi (Pidgin) and (what I didn't think was possible in the beginning) as a decent music player using an A2DP headset (pythm). There is some sound criticism among the comments but most of it is just scaremongering - the Freerunner keeps evolving on just fine.

Certainly not a phone for the common Joe, but for a more computer-literate user it can be a more powerful tool then most closed phones on the market.

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