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Motorola's Linux Phones Frustrate Developers

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the play-nice-with-the-penguin dept.

Software 143

n8willis writes "Three years after Motorola first announced it was migrating its smart phones to Linux -- and a dozen models later -- there are still virtually no third-party applications for them, much less open source ones. Symbian and Microsoft both give away free SDKs to all willing developers, but Motorola seems to be putting up hurdles instead. An article on NewsForge asks why is this the case?" NewsForge is a Slashdot sister site.

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Well... (1)

msh104 (620136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663520)

It might be because most people that put linux on small things are people that want to show people that they can do l33t things and are not interested in writing serieus apps. but why doesn't motorola port some linux apps themselves? it shouldn't be to hard for them, and there are plenty of them.

Re:Well... (1)

nursegirl (914509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663566)

That answer would make sense if TFA didn't say that Motorola has been putting up roadblocks for potential developers, and stating that they wanted all development to be done via the Java Virtual Machine instead of on the embedded linux platform.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663644)

Have you seen the Computer Science curriculum at most universities lately? They teach everyone on or in windows. I'd like to meet the purchase manager who picks out these computer labs. It's a vicious cycle of entry level idiots who work at companies like Motorola. They only know how to program C++ in windows and probably don't even know what a /dev/hda is.

Re:Well... (1, Offtopic)

PlayCleverFully (947815) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663735)

I believe this is a very valuable point.

There is a student in my Advanced Placement Computer Science class that had never seen or ran linux before.

We convinced our teacher that we HAVE to install Ubuntu so that everyone in his intro computer classes had a chance to mess around with and at least be familiar with it. This student had no idea how to use linux, even less the command prompt. Such things that I take for granted like Ctrl-C to stop programs, and ls/dir to list directories. The fact that he can go through programming classes without even knowing these is beyond me, but we have been using Windows since whenever it came out. The students that have not went home and messed with linux/cmd-prompt themselves have no idea on what they are missing out. I personally run Linux because it better suits me.

Unfortunately, the #1 choice is Windows, not because it is better, but because Linux is always considered with servers, hacking, or techie-guru stuff.

I installed Mandrake on my grandmother's computer and she uses it FINE. No complaints from her, other than that she likes it.

Obviously there needs to be choices, I am still waiting to be able to buy a Dell computer w/o Windows pre-installed.

I do not want there to be a linux movement, if somebody prefers Windows, let them use it, but come on, atleast give the opensource/free software a chance.

Are there any school systems that use just windows?

My school is 100% windows (well 99.9%, -.1 for the machine we set up), even the Video Editing room can not use Macs because of a deal with Microsoft & Dell.

parent is off-topic, but.... (0, Offtopic)

Brunellus (875635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663834)

...I'll bite anyway. Most US school systems seem to be all-windows now. Macs used to be a significant minority here, but they were simply priced out of market, I think

When I was at elementary school (Fairfax Co, VA, ca 1990...yay, that made me sound young!) things were a little more heterogeneous: there were maybe a dozen IBM-compatible PCs running MS-DOS, another dozen old microcomputers (can't remember if they were commodore or atari). Many classrooms, though, had Apple IIgs computers.

The fact that high school kids have never seen a command prompt is not surprising at all. Consider this: most sixth-graders in America today have never known another operating system other than Windows, and may have never known an operating system earlier than Windows 95.

Don't forget... (1)

Corngood (736783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664247)

They are also missing out on the joys of rewinding cassette tapes, dialing rotary phones, and hand cranking their car.

Re:Don't forget... (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14665186)

dude, half the fun of cassettes was playing them backwards...

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664036)

Want to know the truth? 95+% of the people in high schools have no need for anything but windows, if they ever go to work it will be on windows computers. Teaching them to use linux when in the vast, vast majority of cases they will need to relearn windows is silly.

My high school was a mix of windows (95/98 at the time) and a linux cluster I think, backend was linux. They had a few macs left around but those were being removed with time, and they did put linux computers in the library at some point (I think it had to do with them assuming people don't know linux well enough to install games on it and mess with it in general). Not a bad setup, well except for the whole "I've cracked half of the passwd file and have the principal's password" thing (they never did plug all the holes to getting that file).

My college has windows and macs in the dorm clusters, again that is what the students want to use. The main clusters are mostly linux/unix/solaris. Department clusters seem to be a mix of linux/solaris/unix and windows.

I installed Mandrake on my grandmother's computer and she uses it FINE. No complaints from her, other than that she likes it.

And all she does is go to a few web sites and check some email, heck all she probably does is send/check email.

My friend tried to install kubuntu a few weeks ago, after 12 hours he got it working as he wanted. He still couldn't get media heavy websites to work correctly. I estimate he's so far spent a good 30 hours trying to get it to work and it still works worse than windows for him.

I am still waiting to be able to buy a Dell computer w/o Windows pre-installed.

You can, and were able to for a while now.

Re:Well... (1)

mikey1134 (628079) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664180)

I hear you there. I go to an unnamed school in north east Ohio, and the only systems there that have ever run anything non-windows are the derelect systems pieced together for a "special topics" course on linux. I suppose i shouldn't complain(at least theyhad a course dealing with linux), but the majority of the computer tech students (including those that took the course) have little idea about linux, the command line, or anything but what they find in windows explorer.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663801)

Much less /dev/da0s1a

Re:Well... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663740)

I think the explanation lies in the Fifteenth Sphere, near the Raalm of Unmitigated Hardware Fuckups. Here we have such extraordinary achievements of universal engineering as the Penis-Destroying Metal Zipper, NVidia cards and Cher's music career.

It is very clear that Motorola is run by people who like to fuck dogs. Well, we shouldn't be surprised, as Donald Trump and Jan Michael Vincent frequently go there for homosexual trystes in raspberry dacharies.

Opera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663775)

http://my.opera.com/community/blog/show.dml/121778 [opera.com]

Read it and shake your head, in a desperate, sombre way.

Re:Opera (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663821)

It's nice that they give the severely mentally retarded a chance to model, at least.

Re:Opera (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663946)

Too pussy to answer yourself [slashdot.org] for making dumb statements about European people?

Convenience (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664138)

I don't write apps to show off, I write them to make life convenient for me. Of course, in that case I don't sell them either, though I do often enough post code online.

Re:Well... (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664293)

Or maybe it's because people make assumptions and dont read the Article to find out it's because Motorola intentionally is hampering development.

Amazing things can be done with this phone. IF motorola released a tiny bit of onfo for the one interface they are keeping secret.

They want you to do the java route and hide behind the lie that the mobile phone companies worry about security while Symbian and Microsoft encourage development for their platforms.

Re:Well... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14666011)

There are several reasons why Motorola might not want people inside these linux phones. For example:
1.DRM. Allowing people inside could allow access to the secret key of the phone that is used to decrypt protected content.
2.Featureset. Motorola might want to sell a phone with in it. This camera & chip might be physically capable of recording video but Motorola might decide to disable the feature on a particular phone for whatever reason (which might include wanting to sell a higher end phone with video enabled)
3.Carriers. For example, Verizon might want Motorola to disable the abillity to access camera pictures except by sending them in an (expensive for the customer) MMS (either to another phone or to the verizon PIX system). If you can get into the phone, you can access the camera pictures.
4.Radio, phone functionality and FCC. There may be things that it is possible to do through linux that would have a negative impact on the phone/network/radio functionality of the phone or that could risk the FCC certification of the phone.
and 5.Viruses and the like. Motorola might be worried that allowing linux apps on the phone might cause problems when people who dont know what they are doing put stuff on the phone that e.g. sends the contents of their phonebook to some scam site.

Open up the phone platforms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663569)

Damn some companies are so stupid at times! Open up your phones for FREE to developers and hobbiests and become the defacto standard like the PC. DUH!!!!

Not only developers frustrated (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663570)

Those Linux phones would frustrate me too. Having to pipe AT commands directly from the command line to get them to dial, or use apt-get to manage contact details is fairly tedious.

Re:Not only developers frustrated (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664077)

That's not so bad. But trying to do emacs with T9 text entry is the stuff of HP Lovecraft stories.

Re:Not only developers frustrated (1)

ThomS (866280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664449)

Haha I wish. apt-get install hot-girls

Re:Not only developers frustrated (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14665206)

s\girls\grits\
;-)

Re:Not only developers frustrated (1)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 8 years ago | (#14666265)

use apt-get to manage contact details is fairly tedious

The Debian Troll's Best [slashdot.org] would disagree with you.

Motorola (1, Insightful)

Shaman (1148) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663573)

Motorola has its head squarely up its ass when it comes to community and its customers. They are a lumbering elephant of a company stuck in 1980s mentality.

We're Moto (0)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663576)

We don't have to make sense - or even seem like an American company, anymore. Why are you bothering us?

Shouldn't you be out hassling Goldstar or Nokia somwhere, kid?

Second post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663578)

Bwahaha!

Re:Second post (1)

Xeleema (453073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664755)

Wow. "You Fail it" doesn't even begin to cover just how bad you failed it.
What happened, you typed it out, went for a soda, and came back to submit?
Daym.

Also a problem of availability (3, Insightful)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663585)

I think one problem might be availability. Here in Europe, we CAN get exotic GSM phones, but you have to go to a specialty dealer. If you just walk into a mainstream electronics and home appliance shop or a cell phone booth you can't find any linux phones.

The specialty dealers take a large profit off the phones since they don't sell that many of them. So nobody has one, you never hear about one so you never know you might actually want one.

This, I think, is really too bad.

not surprised (4, Insightful)

Keropipi (937851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663593)

Motorola's UI department is seriously THE WORST in the industry. Having owned numerous Motorola phones I really think they need to stop hiring artists to design their phones and employ some UI engineers.

Re:not surprised (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663727)

I have owned several as well, and have to agree that they do lack in UI design. I don't understand why, since you could simply copy a Nokia or a Samsung UI and make some minor changes.

Having said that, the UI in my RAZR is much better than anything they used to have and is almost up to par. I only wish they would offer more advanced controls and customization.

Re:not surprised (1)

Keropipi (937851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663792)

While I have not owned a RAZR every other Motorola I've owned crashed at random times. The V600 I owned could only store 30 SMS msgs which was infuriating!

Re:not surprised (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664050)

"The V600 I owned could only store 30 SMS msgs which was infuriating!"

This also true with RAZR, though I haven't had any crashes. I think this is not really a UI or GUI issue so much as just being kinda stoopid.

But I like other aspects of the RAZR, just beautiful hardware, gotta love that thin metal case. Wish more phones were made with such fine quality exterriors.

Re:not surprised (1)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663777)

Agreed... actually, I don't think they have a single artist amongst them. I have the E398 [mobileburn.com] and while by and large I'm happy with it, especially after downloading tools to allow me to unload and upload anything I want onto it (including removing the ridiculously crap games that came with it and put on some proper ones)... its interface is indeed horrible.

I don't think artists had anything to do with it... Sony Ericson, now they have interfaces that are attractive, obvious and easy to use... this thing has one of the most ugly, slow and counter productive interfaces I've come across in a phone.

Yes it has a lot of features, and at a price that was supurb when I got it, but man... next time I think I'm heading over to the SE side!

Re:not surprised (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663850)

Um... speaking as a former user of Nokia (total crap) and Goldstar (total crap), my move to Moto has been excellent. The UI is aesthetically flawless and intuitive. So intuitive that I don't even need to know what I want to do with the phone to do it. I just open it and things happen. It's the most uer friendly phone I've ever encountered. Take voice recognition for example.

The common assumption: You speak the name or number and the phone dials the right place

The cold hard reality: You have to first manually enter the number into the system and then you have to give it three voice samples and hope you don't have a cold when you ask it to call "home" and it calls "Joan"

The Moto reality: You just say the name or number and it dials the right place every time

Sorry Moto wins hands down. And it looks so incredibly stylish compared to everything else. I love how it coordinates with all my outfits and looks right when I'm holding it near my flowing brown mane as the wind blows and I ash my cigarette into a nearby receptacle (OK street urchin's pocket). If only the real world could be designed by Moto. Just imagine how beautiful everything would look!

Re:not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663994)

I believe you forgot the tags at the beginning and end of your post there chief.

Fire the engineers and marketroids. (3, Interesting)

Brunellus (875635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664076)

you have obviously not had the misfortune of having to use Sony/Ericsson's phones, ever.

I have a T610. It's an OK phone, I guess, but there are a number of irritating quirks about it. For instance--there is no easily-discoverable sequence to the "received calls" list. Apparently, some genius thought that linear time is not relevant when considering whose calls you might have just missed. Unfortunately, since I don't live in an experimental piece of modernist fictional literature, I am left wondering who the hell called me and when.

My general complaint with mobile phones is that they have suffered from two great evils: feature bloat and a fetish for miniaturization. My phone is tremendously useful on paper, but the complexity of its operation (for everything but regular phone calls) mean most of those features are essentially useles. Add this to the fact that its tiny size makes controlling it needlessly difficult.

I blame the engineers who put the thing together. I also blame the marketing departments, who have compelled their engineers to fight a generally useless "button race," in the futile hope of being the most "full-featured" phone on the market.

One thing I'll say about Nokia: they've been very good at UI. I might buy one of their phones, next.

Re:Fire the engineers and marketroids. (1)

Keropipi (937851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664132)

I actually have owned A SE T610 and currently own a SE710A There is a UI hack(for the t610) that you can implement that will list the calls in chronnlogic order. It can be found on howardforums.com Motorola's have the irritating side buttons and I hate that you can have the phone vibrate and ring at the same time. (V600) The side buttons are also annoying on the v600 as they beep everytime you touch them My v600 would also crash randomly while wirting sms's or making calls

Re:not surprised (2, Interesting)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664217)

"Motorola's UI department is seriously THE WORST in the industry. Having owned numerous Motorola phones I really think they need to stop hiring artists to design their phones and employ some UI engineers."

Here's an example of Motorola UI foolishiness:

If you leave a voice mail on my phone, two dialogs come up. The first says that I have a voicemail waiting. The one following it says "You missed a call from this number: ###-###-####" The first dialog has a 'call voicemail' button. If you press that and retrieve your messages, then hang up, the second dialog is still sitting there waiting for your input. Every five minutes *BEEEEP*. This is irritating. It's even more irritating if you want to see who called before bothering with the voice mail. In that situation, you have to manually dial your #, etc.

So here's my question: Do the new trendy phones like the RAZR suffer from this sort of BS, or did they actually do it right? I've seen plenty of ppl with these phones, but I haven't heard any complaints yet. I'm curious if this is because the problems magically went away or if it's because nobody wants to complain about a phone they spent so much money on.

Re:not surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664556)

the RAZRv2 shows the "you missed a call" first

Re:not surprised (2, Interesting)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664769)

Also, it seems they create software that their hardware isn't comfortable running. Example, E398. The "mp3 phone". Play an mp3 on it - see it grind to a hault due to a lack of processing power. Hell, it can't even run the UI without encountering slow-down, what chance did the mp3 player have?

Re:not surprised (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664453)

If they have such bad UI...why did you keep on buying them?

Re:not surprised (1)

BigCheese (47608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664462)

The other things I dislike about them is the that dang 2 pronged power plug. After you've used it for a couple of months you need to wiggle it just so to get a connection.

Re:not surprised (1)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664705)

Agreed. Only ever used Nokia until my latest, Moto E398, and compared to the standard Nokia power adapter, the Moto stinks to high hell. So much so, that the 'wiggling' in the end broke the middle connection on the bottom of the phone, rendering it useless (Unchargeable). The guy who thought "Ah ha, two lil plastic prongs, and a small spring button on the adapter will last every-other-day charges for a pro-longed period of time" needs taking out and shooting.

How is this unusual? (5, Informative)

lifeisgreat (947143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663609)

Knowledge-hoarding and incompetence from a big company? It's likely the move to Linux was made to either save money or as retribution from a manager/VP that was displeased with the previous supplier.

Motorola's customers are NOT we end-users, but the phone companies that buy the phones and get people to sign up to contracts with them. Unless it's those companies kicking up a fuss, Motorola probably couldn't care less. Why should they? Motorola never sold a phone to an individual buyer, only to companies looking for features like locking the phone into a specific network.

Re:How is this unusual? (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14666149)

Wait what?

I'm not the end user?

If that's true then I could bypass the GPL by selling people PCs using cell-phone company like contracts. Loophole!

Unless of course you're wrong. I am the end user. And the GPL does not fail to apply to me just because I'm buying it from Cingular instead of directly from Motorola. When I get a contract, I pay for the phone either through the duration of the contract or contract + whatever extra.

Huh? (1)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14666318)

"Motorola's customers are NOT we end-users"

Sorry, but I have to call BS on this. The RAZR is a hot seller because we end-users choose it, not because the cell phone companies picked it. You could make the case that both of us are customers, but if all us start to buy an iPhone from A-mobile, the others Cell companies will come rushing over to get the same thing. The Cell companies are the middle man, as far as the phone is concerned.

Moto's problem is disconnection from the real customer. They talk first hand to the cell companies, but we spend the money. We ARE the customers, but Moto is disconnected from us by middlemen.

This is because consumers are not the customer (5, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663623)

The real customer is Verizon, or Voda, or whomever the cell provider is. And the providers want to sell the crap they make, not good and free alternatives.

Re:This is because consumers are not the customer (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663714)

Yup and in addition...

The big question is, what does Motorola gain by obstructing willing developers from bringing software to their platform?

Well, it keeps the development in the hands of the mobile phone companies using the phone who then will charge their customers to download songs, applications, etc. If they phone is wide open and anyone can develop for it why would anyone pay $2.50/song, $5 to $10/application, etc?

Exactly, they wouldn't and that's why phones with great development environments (like the T-mobile Sidekick) are dead in the water.

Re:This is because consumers are not the customer (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664550)

"If they phone is wide open and anyone can develop for it why would anyone pay $2.50/song, $5 to $10/application, etc?"

That's true, as far as it goes, but consider an alternative approach: Why not give up a little on the apps and services side of the thing, and make buckets of money by selling gazillions of the devices because people can do more with your phone?

I suspect if they did a proper business case, they'd find, much as Apple has with the iPod, that it's not necessary to sell every little thing that can go onto the device. Just one or two really good ones.

Re:This is because consumers are not the customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14666822)

Because the people who make the money on downloads are not the same as the one who make the money on phones. The carriers are the ones who make the money on the content, moto on the phones. If moto makes open phones the carriers won't buy them. The carriers don't benefit by having lots of moto phones sold. They benefit by having lots of premium services.

Re:This is because consumers are not the customer (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664757)

And you wonder why the Europeans and asias have bletooth ad more advaced phones than here in the us?

I would't be surprissed if the telecom moopolies are the cause of this. Like yo said they wat to sell apps through their service and make moey off it Free software and inovation gets in the way of profits.

Verizon would live drmed phoes that can only run software they approve.. oh wait they already do that?

Re:This is because consumers are not the customer (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664146)

And that right there's my problem with convergence. The phone companies monkey with the platform so they can sell you bells and whistles.

Anyone ever use/own a motorola phone? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663639)

Anyone who has ever owned or used a motorola phone, has to know that their software is horrible. I think this is a good situation where it may help to actually replace their entire software development team with people who are competent? Or else I (and many like me) will never consider buying a motorola.

Re:Anyone ever use/own a motorola phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664746)

Not really, my ancient no-frills motorola phone has an adequate interface, and INCREDIBLY long battery life compared to today's nonsense. It even works perfectly fine with the antenna ripped out.

I'll buy motorola... well, old used ones :)

Odd (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14665287)

I love mine. Easy to use. Good battery life. IIRC, it is a 730 (or a 715). But good phone.

In a word (5, Insightful)

Jordan Catalano (915885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663643)

The big question is, what does Motorola gain by obstructing willing developers from bringing software to their platform?

Control.

Mo-h-ammed comments? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663646)

Why have slashdot _removed_ all comments about the mo-h-ammed cartoons from all of slashdot? It's politics, god damn it! *angry*

Initial QC is Motorola's biggest flaw (3, Interesting)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663664)

The RAZR and its ilk are standing on the shoulders of marginal work (like the v600)...Motorola tends to make the first few iterations, then bugfix, then make a good stable product. It's entirely possible that the Linux models aren't ready for primetime yet. (This is based on my experience with four v600's, a MPx220, and a RAZR.)

Re:Initial QC is Motorola's biggest flaw (1)

WoodieR (860635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663998)

what exactly is the razr like? any good? looks nice, but is it actually a decent phone, particularly for signal in out of the way areas? I spend a lot of time off the beaten path, and signal is quite important ... as well as features, surely it is a camera phone, and vid phone, as well as all the latest internet bells and whistles ...? thx

Re:Initial QC is Motorola's biggest flaw (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664025)

Better than the v600 by a good margin. Bout the same as a Nokia 6820 I had at the time. It's a quadband phone, so it'll get whatever GPRS reception is available. It's short of memory, but the V3(i?) has a slot for miniSD. It's got a flat crummy addressbook.

Re:Initial QC is Motorola's biggest flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664292)

i've had the fortune of buying the new v3i, and i got say its simply great, after a year and half with my v3 (i've never had a phone that long before)

but its not a complete happy picture... the ui still sux, and still a few quirks... but the style and size... simply marveouls...

give these companies 5-10 years and we'll finally get something that finally works... i mean it took tv-manufacturers what.. 40 years to get where they are now?

Re:Initial QC is Motorola's biggest flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14666096)

The first RAZR we sold came back a week later. The screen cracked when the guy sat down on it. Not a surprise. We had a pool going to see how long it would be before someone cracked one of these flimsy phones. This guy was the first, but has definitely not been the last.

Who ever though it would be native apps? (4, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663689)

I though it was blindingly obvious at the announcement that Mototola only saw Linux as a free os to run a Java VM on, if they had a hardware chip they could run the VM on Linux would be in the bin for the next product release.

Re:Who ever though it would be native apps? (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 8 years ago | (#14665496)

Huh? ARM Jazelle chips can run Java natively, though the VM is still present to provide GC and such. But it doesn't matter if your chip can run Java just fine, you still need an OS and it might as well be Linux. IIRC their actual OS is called JUIX and is mostly written in pure Java, with Linux providing task switching and core memory management etc.

GNU/Hurd Motorola phone? (2, Funny)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663838)

...the cell phone of the future! The anti-DRM gpl'd software runs all music through a filter, transforming great hits like Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" to a scratchy likeness of "Another One bites the Dust" by Queen...

Re:GNU/Hurd Motorola phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664791)

Stairway to Heaven blows.

Queen > Zeppelin.

Re:GNU/Hurd Motorola phone? (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14665324)

oops. You missed a symbol.
Queen <> Zeppelin
There. I fixed it for you.

The reason... (5, Insightful)

maxx_730 (909644) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663899)

Well as i said on Osnews already, i'm one of the moderators/editor from motorolafans.com, and have been since the beginning, and it's true that motorola hasn't been exactly helpfull with getting the sourcecode and they still owe us the bootloader code, too. The reason that they are so unhelpful is ofcourse really obvious. Who are their customers? The big telco companies. Where do big telco companies make their money from? From their customers calling with their phones. If you start giving out the kernel source and encourage hacking on these phones (with sdio hardware and a mini usb host controller), the users will be voiping in no time, which would piss of their customers, the telco's.

No mention of Linux on their website (2, Interesting)

LinuxDon (925232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663919)

I have taken a look on their website, and there is nothing about a Linux phone.
The phone specs are not at all detailed, they focus too much on design.
Who would want a phone that looks like a rock?
And the whole HelloMoto thing is just weird. Maybe it works for Japan, but not for the rest of the world.

Above stuff has at least kept me away from motorola.
Sony Ericsson does a lot better on the presentation area.
Motorola should promote the tech side of the phone more.
If I'd known about a Linux phone with decent features and specs I'd have bought it.

Re:No mention of Linux on their website (2, Informative)

katsujin (952739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664912)

Motorola lists as Linux phones the E895 (clamshell to be released 4th quarter 2005 - where is it?), the A910 (the E895 with WiFi radio for UMA access to cellular network - to be released 1st quarter 2006) and no less than the ROKR E2 (also to be released 1st quarter 2006). You may have to hunt for the news releases.

This is simple (5, Insightful)

finkployd (12902) | more than 8 years ago | (#14663948)

Verizon, Cingular, etc. : "Hello Moto, we make a significant amount of money charging total idiots for the right to license crappy ring tones, useless apps, games, and backgrounds. If you release a phone to our customers that allows them to install their own apps, music, and images we will stop buying your phones. Speaking of which, make sure we can lock out DUN and OBEX on your new line of bluetooth phones."

Motorola: "Yes sir, sorry sir."

Re:This is simple (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664186)

BINGO!

It is not in Motorola's best interest to allow open development and they know it- because that is what their buyers (the phone service companies) tell them. They probably love the low cost and flexibility of Linux but really are not all that interested in seeing much development outside of what THEY want.

Funny how altruistic and "open" a company seems at first, until they realize they might lose control of their "baby".

Now contrast this with the Nokia 770 and you can see that Nokia has a different beast alltogether. How will this affect future Nokia phone development? Hard to say. But if you ask me, they are using the 770 as a big testbed for a total Linux switch-over. Can they then fend off the phone service companies? Again, hard to say...

Re:This is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664538)

>>>Funny how altruistic and "open" a company seems at first, until they realize they might lose control of their "baby".
>>>Now contrast this with the Nokia 770 and you can see that Nokia has a different beast alltogether. How will this affect future Nokia phone development? Hard to say. But if you ask me, they are using the 770 as a big testbed for a total Linux switch-over. Can they then fend off the phone service companies? Again, hard to say...

Funny how altruistic and open a company seems at first, until wide-eyed slashdot/linux fans realize that they have just been bamboozled by yet another open-sourced hype.

Nokia 770 --- is NOT a cell phone. It is yet another PR hype that wide-eyed linux fans believe as true.

Re:This is simple (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14666502)

>Funny how altruistic and open a company seems at first, until wide-eyed slashdot/linux fans realize that they have just been bamboozled by yet another open-sourced hype.

>Nokia 770 --- is NOT a cell phone. It is yet another PR hype that wide-eyed linux fans believe as true.

Funny how I know exactly what one is, I own one, I love it, they have sold way beyond what Nokia thought would sell, there are lots of FOSS projects for it already, and it is neither hype nor fantasy.

Don't be so bitter- it is a great device... a little underpowered, but otherwise great!

Re:This is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14665796)

DUN . . . .
Have you tried dialing ##DIALUP ? That's worked on every motorola bluetooth phone I've run into.

Motorola drives me nuts (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14663962)

I was interested in writing a lightweight kernel to play with on the Motorola e815 and similar phones. Compiling binaries for the phone's cpu is no big deal, but the phone requires its kernel to be digitally signed.

If you replace the built in kernel with an unsigned one, it won't run. I swore my ass off when I learned that, although I wasn't surprised.

For anyone who claims there might be some FCC regulations that prevent this sort of experimentation, you won't produce interference accidentally with these phones. The radio interface is not complicated.

(And don't get me started with Verizon crippling the Motorola phones they sell. It's best to buy the phones independently from the service.)

I think the network service providers (Verizon et al.) should be banned from subsidizing phones, and be should be forced to allow the use of any phone compliant with the their networks' standards. There was an explosion in diversity of landline phones, and massive improvements in their capabilities and prices, when AT&T was similarly forced to untie the endpoint hardware from their network service. I want to see the same explosion occur in the wireless market.

Their goal is to lock you in to old rates for a year or two at a time, and thereby avoid the amazing price competition which occurred in wired network phone service. If buying the handsets is decoupled from subscribing to the network, they'll have no reasonable rational for forcing people to sign long-term contracts, and we'll see proper competition again. I'd be happy as hell to see that. I want phones that serve me, rather than the network service provider.

Re:Motorola drives me nuts (1)

evanspw (872471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664572)

I can't believe that situation (with providers locking in phones to their networks - you have to buy a phone from them to use on their network) still exist in the US. That's so 1997 as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Revolt! (Still, don't you still, in effect pay to receive calls, at least with some providers?)

-p

Re:Motorola drives me nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14666070)

I can't believe that situation (with providers locking in phones to their networks - you have to buy a phone from them to use on their network) still exist in the US. That's so 1997 as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Revolt!


Not many companies seem to lock the phones they sell. It looks like some do, but no phone I've ever bought through a service provider was ever locked, and unlocked phones are everywhere. I think market forces mostly stopped that game.

The bigger problem is that the service providers use the phones to lock you. (God, I've never gotten so close to a Soviet Russia joke before...) Since they've been so "kind" as to subsidize your phone, it's within reason for them to make you sign a one or two year contract when they do so.

In the end, they make more money then they would if you paid for the phone and service separately. It's a holdover from back when cellphones cost more than my car is currently worth, and they stick with it because it makes good business sense from their perspective.

We, however, are getting the shaft, and unfortunately some companies even force people to sign contracts when they don't buy a phone. I don't know if there's sufficient competetive pressure for the market to force a change, either.

Re:Motorola drives me nuts (1)

jaywee (542660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14666105)

Hmm... isn't this precisely the situation which GPL3 tries to prevent and Linus does not care about?

Do any service providers sell these? (2, Interesting)

un1xl0ser (575642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664060)

I'm in the US, but I haven't seen Verizon/Cingular/Nextel/Sprint or any company offer a Linux based phone. It is one thing to be able to pay a company a few hundered dollars and have them give you the phone. Buying it on eBay or from a third party and hoping that it works with your service is different.

As soon as I see Cingular with a Linux based phone, I will own^H^H^Hp4wNzz0r it.

Availability of Linux Smart Phones (1)

jonniesmokes (323978) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664136)

Both the A780 and the E680 are available for US networks, though most of their other models don't work inside the US's GSM frequencies and there's a real lack of linux CDMA phones. Both of these models are being hacked and there's a small community of users using these as routers. see http://www.dewmill.com/linuxphone.html [dewmill.com] for an example.

The dirth of linux smart phones has more to do with the weirdness of the US phone market. There are lots of cool linux phones (not just Motorola) that work outside the US on the standard GSM bands, but the popularity of CDMA and the unusual GSM bands make the worlwide phones not so usable here.

Both the a780 and the e680 have third party apps and are pretty damn cool. I think the poster just hasn't looked hard enough. That's a really old announcement of the a760 and I don't think its even for sale here in the US. Get with the program man!

Re:Availability of Linux Smart Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14665142)

>>>The dirth of linux smart phones has more to do with the weirdness of the US phone market.

It is the rest of the world that is weird.

American ADULTS buy smart phones and blackberry for a specific purpose --- corporate e-mail and corporate contacts/calender. We don't just buy smart phone for the cool factor or the geek factor.

Re:Availability of Linux Smart Phones (1)

FRiC (416091) | more than 8 years ago | (#14665604)

Maybe Newsforge is talking from a US or European viewpoint. The kernel sources for E680/A760 have been available for ages, and I've seen thousands of applications available for these platforms, but almost all of the apps are non-English.

This is a bit like the N-Gage, where it's being laughed at in many English speaking countries, but it's still selling like hot cakes in Asia.

Two words: Customer Support (3, Insightful)

Xonstein (927931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664169)

They dont want native applications because they are more likely to brick the phone, causing warranty and customer support nightmare for carriers.

KDE dropping Kandy for "The Sync" didn't help (1)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664225)

Kandy, KDE's Phone Syncronization application, and KPilot, KDE's Palm Syncronization application, were scrapped in favor of another program called "The Sync". The only problem: "The Sync" doesn't exist yet. I could never get KPilot to sync with my PDA or Kandy to work with my Motorola phone. And I don't even want to us anything GNOME has to offer considering I use Kontact.
I can only assume that KDE is waiting on the Linux guys to find some way to get the Motorola's to sync.

Motorola phones suck ? (2, Informative)

dindi (78034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664340)

For me it is an easy answer: I try to be polite: I dislike Motorola phones, and I am not surprised if tech savvy people would not get them, and would not care if it is linux, symbian or ce.

I personally really do not care if my phone runs linux, and even if it did I would not waste the time to write some killer custom app just because I can ... Of course I am not saying that I would not write scripts or whatever needed to maintain my data.

Besides: a phone's life span is soo short (unlike those old times) that for the time you develop something (as a hobbiist) someone comes out with a phone with 3 times bigger display, zoom lens camera and whatever else unneeded crap and you can start patching ....

I mean do you need linux on your phone ? Do you have a Motorola phone? Even that there are development tools for your phone, did you write a CE/Linux/Java/Midp/whatever app for it?

OK, I am negative today

Do I have to reompile the kernal... (1)

Shakes268 (856460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664411)

everytime I enter a new number in the address book?

It's because (0)

netwiz (33291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664428)

Motorola generally doesn't have a single clue about what they're doing. They peaked in cell phones back in the 90's with the StarTAC, and haven't really done anything compelling since. The products suck, the support sucks, the tools suck, all the way around they have the most amazing feature-packed phones that deliver nothing less than total mediocrity. They throw away CPU time in favor of battery life, in such a way that it doesn't actually help. You know those ringtones they sell? Well, a frickin' 64kbps MP3 won't even play without constant stuttering and dropout, and this is on a V551. Sure, the RAZR will play just fine, but it's still a clunky, power-hungry monster. Don't even get me started on poor interface design. Mystery-meat navigation anyone? Screwball configuration options? How about bugs, that the cell carriers won't help to address? And incompatibility? Christ, it's a bluetooth phone, but I can't sync my contacts with it? I can read all the damned media on the phone all day long over the BT link, but, noooo, no contacts or anything actually useful. For that I gotta drop another fifty bucks for the PC connection kit (a cable, and poorly written Windows trashware that maybe will do what it purports) just to get my address book set up.

Screw Motorola. They deserve the bad press they get.

Re:It's because (1)

netwiz (33291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664694)

Okay, whatever. Mod me down. Motorola is a pain to deal with, and I'm venting. Fine. You may think I'm being overly critical, but all the way around, the results of people's experiences in dealing with them paints a pretty clear picture of a company floundering. They've been deliberately obtuse about product defects, don't communicate critical information to their developers (APIs, anyone?), and generally make things difficult for their customers. My point was that they've brought this on themselves, and eventually it will make them a bit player in all markets, not just mobile phones.

Re:It's because (1)

puto (533470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14666036)

Well grain of salt I work for Cingular. And own both phones in question.

V551 is a batter hog, I never used it to play mp3s other than the ringtones, and they tended to play fine. Mine kept crapping out on the charger port so finally the warranty department sent me a V3.

Great batter life, I charge it about every 5 days, sometimes six. Works well with all of my blue tooth headsets.

I did not want to like the V3 but mine has been a solid performer. The UI could use work, but the majority of the customers who escalate to my desk, tend to really like them as well.

You can also find Moto Tools for 19.99 on the web. Actually works well, I synch with it, change ringtones, all the bells and whistles. I use it over bluetooh on an XP box. Course you could be using a MAC.

I could agree with you on powerhungry but not the case. Unless you leave the BT on 24/7.

Puto

I call bullshit here. (4, Insightful)

ashridah (72567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664540)

I definently have to call bullshit, at least based on what's in the summary in this article.

The Motorola SDK for their mobile phones is available right now, both the linux and non-linux varieties of phones.

This article is discussing, of course, the availability of the linux source code itself, not the SDK. You do not need the linux source code in order to develop applications for their linux-based mobile phones, and to be perfectly honest, having to jump through hoops to get the kernel source really isn't that big a deal, since getting the SDK is as simple as signing up at www.motocoders.com

ash

Re:I call bullshit here. (4, Informative)

rar (110454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14665972)

The Motorola SDK for their mobile phones is available right now, both the linux and non-linux varieties of phones.

Having experience with one of the Motorola phones myself, I belive the article describes the current situation very accurately. As the article explains: the public SDK is only for java development. The intresting thing with having a Linux phone is to develop native applications. There is no public SDK from Motorola for native applications. That is the problem.

Linux phones that work in the US? (1)

X (1235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14665245)

Do any of these Linux phones work with the services in the US? I haven't seen any being offered by the carriers themselves.

Symbian SDK is *not* free! (2, Informative)

clockmaker (626182) | more than 8 years ago | (#14665638)

Having worked on a product for Symbian developers, I can assure you that the Symbian SDKs are not "given away". Symbian charged us to be "partners" with them. Then they charged for access to the SDK. Then they charged for access to the source. Then they charged for access to support. On and on. And the contracts were so constrictive that our legal department threw up their hands in despair. I believe they have every right to charge for their proprietary IP, but I want to make sure that the impression that they give "free" and "free" access to their SDK is eliminated!

Re:Symbian SDK is *not* free! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14666251)

Umm, at least Nokia's Symbian SDKs are free. Go to Forum Nokia and pick up whatever you need.

That won't get you Symbian source, but it will give you the ability to write apps.

There is a lot of room for improvement in SDKs (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14665778)

As someone who has done the embedded linux thing I've seen a couple of trends. First, you get a bunch of hard embedded guys who are used to controlling the hardware with an RTOS and they try to cram an app into a driver. It can work, it can even be "easy" but it's not really the linux way, it's not clean, you don't get a lot of advantages of having Linux in the first place.


The other one is shitty dev tools compared to some of the stuff you can do with other platforms. I'm a big fan of GCC and the linux tools, they aren't what's shitty. It's the whole process that ends up kind of shitty. Symbian is designed for phone apps, there is a defined way to cross compile and deploy apps, depending on what your app does you can probably prototype it and have something working pretty fast. In the Linux world, you either start completely from scratch and spend a lot of time building the environment and tool chains or you buy some half-assed product from one of the dozens of companies that do that for you and then once you see how shitty it is and how they really just packaged some free stuff you build your own anyways. I see tons of room for improvement in this space.


The other thing, again, it's not really bad, but Linux gives you a lot of rope, it is not that challenging to hang your self. Symbian and even Mobile Windows are fairly restrictive and provide a well documented set of services. Java is the closest thing on Linux to a highlevel set of standard APIs. Probably out in most real embedded situations just on virtues. That leaves linux with raw devices and programmers eager to make something work. I liken it to the perl philosophy, where the belief that more ways to do things is better; I think it means that a job is more likely to actually get done in reality but if there are 1 or 2 good ways to do something and 10 shitty ways it also increases that odds that the job will not be done in the best way.

A little bit of info (4, Informative)

jonwil (467024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14666200)

Most normal Motorola phones (like the E378i I have) use something called a Neptune as the main processor (its an ARM with a DSP inside I believe) with a custom motorola operating system (known as p2k in the moto modding community because of the p2k.sys driver used to access it).
The Motorola Linux phones use a platform called EZX. This consists of a Neptune processor like in a normal p2k phone with a (presumably different) version of the p2k operating system running on it to handle the network side (i.e. actually talking to the cell tower) and then an Intel ARM chip running a modified version of MontaVista Linux for the rest of the phone software.
They are using a modified version of the BLOB bootloader and a 2.4.x Kernel.
The userland is made up of various normal utillities (e.g. glibc, gnu fileutils etc) plus a (aparently hevily modified) version of qtEmbedded and a pile of motorola specific stuff.

Motorola HAVE released a kernel source tree for the EZX phones. And people have reported getting it to compile and run on their phones. Whether its complete, up-to-date or accurate I dont know.

Motorola are under no obligation to provide any SDK for these phones.
The only thing they need to do is to release the source code for any components under licences that require them to do so (e.g. BLOB, kernel, glibc etc). So far, other than the kernel release, they have not done so.
Several requests have been sent to motorola requesting the source code to those comonents but so far, no code has been forthcomming.

Motorola are under no obligations to share the source code, SDKs, docs, headers etc to the motorola specific stuff on the phone (unless its some how derived from GPL code that is). They are also not under any obligation to share any code to things like qtEmbedded (they probobly have a commercial licence from trolltech for that).

There are reports of a "leaked" SDK for EZX phones but I dont know much about it (using it would probobly be a violation of copyright anyway so its probobly best not to)

The most promising work is going on at www.openezx.org. People there are trying to make replacements for the motorola propriatory kernel modules and software bits as well as trying to reverse engineer the propriatory libraries motorola have used as well as trying to get motorola to release the code required under GPL (having the motorola version of BLOB in particular would be nice since it could lead to a better way to modify things on the phone without some of the hacks that are required now)

Thanks to the OpenEZX project for most of the information contained here.

because its a bitch developing on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14666570)

open source goop. no vast commercial tools or development platform, support that amounts to hours of wading through message boards and newgroups for tidbits of cryptic info.

Geez is this any mystery?

fail.Szors!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14666649)

[klerc4.or6]?

Motorola.. one step forward, two steps back... (1)

golemite (69787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14666728)

I was among those that bought one of the early Motorola Linux EZX phones.. the E680. It was a pretty cool device, with lots of features, and pretty decent speed. There was a growing user community [howardforums.com] based around it, who even went to some lengths to find the correct modem and bluetooth drivers to let us open a shell in the OS. It was unfortunate that Motorola never released a SDK for the Linux platform, as even a simple procedure such as changing the phone's icons took alot of hacking. Much of the early enthusiasm for the phone was lost when it was found that there wasnt much we could do could get apps to run on the platform (not sure if this is still true...). It would have been great to see the platform take off, but unfortunately Motorola decided to keep it closed. Since then, I've only used Microsoft Pocket PC based phones because its one of the few mobile platforms that meet most of my needs.
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