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Launch of OSS For Mobile Phones

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the fits-in-your-hand dept.

Operating Systems 75

Linux Mobile Phone Guy writes "Members of the open source GPE project (GPE Palmtop Environment) today announced a new offspring project to create a fully open source software stack for mobile phones, GPE Phone Edition. GPE Phone Edition is a fully open source project based on developments from the GPE project adding necessary components for mobile phone usage. Based on standards defined by the LiPS Forum a complete application software stack is built. The current implementation is based on code contributed to the LiPS Forum by Orange/France Telecom's research and development lab located in Beijing China in collaboration with GPE project members. The result is now an open sourced software stack which can handle a GSM compliant mobile modem for making voice calls, handling the SIM address book and sending and receiving SMS. Also some additional application exists e.g. for media playback, instant messaging and email. They have some screenshots there and even a downloadable VMware image using which you can try the whole thing in a virtual phone on your PC — if you connect a GSM Modem (like an existing phone) to /dev/GSM-Modem you should probably even be able to use the full phone functionality (access SIM card, send/receive SMS, make a call!)."

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I wonder (1)

Paolo DF (849424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888500)

I wonder if this is just going to be some "tech experiment" or maybe something that people will be actually able to use. In real life, I mean

Re:I wonder (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888806)

Not sure the phone networks will be so keen. It will allow you to defeat the DRM which stops you putting a game (etc) on your phone and then sharing it with your friends (currently it's not possible to get installed apps off your phone - at least, I've never managed it). The minute they look like losing money, this sort of phone will be blocked from the network.

There's also the unique number of each phone (not the sim card or the phone number, but the IMEI number which is what is used to block the use of lost/stolen phones). You cannot change that, legally, in many countries, just like you can't change the license plate of a car.

Re:I wonder (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889496)

They can probably replicate the number. I think I remember a ruling (by the Library of Congress?) recently that users can unlock their phones. You can already use an unlocked phone (with manufacturer's firmware) with phone companies, I imagine there are relatively few restrictions in that firmware.

Re:I wonder (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889884)

It's got nothing to do with unlocking the phone. You don't unlock a phone by changing the IMEI number. What happens when a phone gets stolen is the IMEI number gets added to a database which is checked whenever a call is made. If your phone's on the list it's not going to be allowed to make any calls to any network in the UK. (Most stolen phones get shipped off to Africa/Asia now, where phones are expensive but calls are cheap - the opposite to the UK, where phones are typically free).

Re:I wonder (0, Troll)

mikeisme77 (938209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893258)

This may get me buried as off topic, but I have karma to burn... For those interested in the iPhone (it is a cell phone, so it's somewhat related to the topic at hand...) [] is giving one away [] . All you have to do is join and then get another member to join (free registration and I have yet to get any spam) and you'll be entered to win. You do not have to, but it would be appreciated if you sign up for the site through this link [] so I can have an entry to win it. Plus this way if you end up winning, I win it as well (since they give the person who invited the person who won the prize the same prize). I just thought slashdotters would be interested in this give away and figured I would spread the word about it. Feel free to sign up through the normal site if you don't want to give me an entry--I'm mostly just spreading the word about the contest (although I would LOVE the additional entries... I understand if you don't want me to have them).

DRM nonsense (1)

skibaa (995295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889980)

The situation with phone DRM is terrible. Phone that we buy actually belongs to the operator. It betrades our interests for the operator profit. In addition to your example of applications copy protection, I can give few others.

For example, there is no justification for the price of an SMS. Data wise it's equal to less than a second of the conversation, yet it costs unproportionally more. Another one: the phone always tracks its Cell ID. But it's impossible to develop an application which will access this data for the benefit of the owner, for example reminds you something when you return home. This eItem&ida=154 [] should be possible on all phones. But not occasionally, it's impossible to read Cell ID in java. Another example can be the strange (but very useful for operators) difference in WAP and TCPIP price. Here in Israel, there is a GPRS plan which includes unlimited WAP and only 5MB of TCPIP traffic. It's because of the closed platform nobody can tunnel all traffic through the WAP. Imagine if ISP would set different prices for the web and for the email access.

I wish the best luck to any effort to stop this nonsense. Cellular operators should not make the most of their profit from giving us back what was possible from the beginning.

No wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17892858)

I wonder if this is just going to be some "tech experiment" or maybe something that people will be actually able to use. In real life, I mean
Looking at all things Lunix, I vote the latter. Sure, creating a REAL OS for phones is not only a great idea, but very much needed. However, like all things Lunix, it will get sidetracked from being anything useful once people start getting bored with the nuts-and-bolts of getting it completely functional, and start to focus their energies on writing another text editor.

Sadly, that's why FOSS always fails: there is no incentive to power through that last 5% which means really everything. If it's not fully functional, large corporations are going to ignore it- they have no patience to play with tech toys, unlike the lunix community, which exists solely to tinker with a tech toy and dream of the day it can accomplish more than Windows 95. Sadly, 1995 is getting farther and farther away every day, as are Microsoft's tail lights.

Re:I wonder (1)

mentem (1060302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17902712)

I have wrote about Open Source phone on my own blog [] . Soon this phone will be available for public and you you'll get OSS phone in real life

Which supported phones (1)

MarkVVV (740454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888502)

Is there a list yet

Re:Which supported phones (2, Informative)

mustafap (452510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888512)

Well, hopefully Openmoko [] if that ever appears.

Re:Which supported phones (4, Insightful)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888828)

I don't blame you for mincing words, but OpenMoko is an alternative software stack for mobile phones, similar to this one. You meant to mention the Neo1973, which is the phone that OpenMoko's initially going to run on.

Re:Which supported phones (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17891868)

yea, fair point. Thanks for the clarification.

Hoping to get ones of those, some day.

The trolltech greenphone might be an alternative, but it seems there are issues with the hardware that cause even trolltech to not advise it for general use.

I'm hoping the Neo1973 doesn't have similar problems, although I'm prepared to stomach a small reduction in battery life for the extra freedom.

Re:Which supported phones (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898966)

Yeah, the Greenphone isn't what you're looking for, it's mainly an SDK designed to help Qtopia proliferate. The Neo1973 IS what you're looking for, but they aren't going to start selling it through regular retail channels until this September, as of the last announcement. If you really, really want one, you should be able to get it direct from them on 11 March, if they don't change plans, but again, intended only for devs.

Re:Which supported phones (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888996)

Is that a question

DRM (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17888562)

So where is the DRM in this? All mobile phone stacks are rushing down the "Trusted Computing" (or ARM's TrustZone) route with locked down software and DRM built on top of that. So where in this stack is the rights management stuff (or the placeholder for it)... since all of this software will be digitally signed and locked so it cannot be modified or changed by users.

It uses GStreamer, and since Fluendo (a company that touts itself as a Free software company) is committed to bringing the wonderful ness of DRM and "trusted" packages to Gstreamer, GNOME and Linux in general. I assume it will be based on Sun's DReaM and Gstreamer DRM.

Comparable? What about the network? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17888570)

How does this compare? Page []

Also, what about the network? Seems to me that as long as the carriers don't open their network up it's going to be difficult. Adding a SIM chip might let one make calls, but it hardly strikes me as something where it's easy to push out new innnovative services. What does it matter if the software and hardware is completely open if the network isn't? Even "wired" broadband comes with enough pain as it is. It's as if the "Internet" is becoming more of an abstract idealistic medium with its own philosophy than an actual existing entity.

Regardless, here's hoping that the mobile world eventually becomes more open. What is the state of the art in "open, ubiquitous wireless broadband"?

The Tunxphone isn't (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17889426)

The Tuxphone uses a non-gpl'd stack. Portions of it are explicitly BSD-based. And there seems to be a distinct movement towards moving the O.S. to a BSD-based O.S. rather than Linux, using Smalltalk.

Now, why this is all labled under the term "Tuxphone" is beyond me. It's misleading at best. But it's probably still the most open effort around, as there simply is NO completely open solution here. There are lots and lots of companies which claim to offer an Open Source cellphone, but they all lie. When it gets right down to it, there's at least one part which is closed off and locked up. This includes Trolltech's Greenphone.

Note there are better replacement libraries for the Tuxphone, which are more robust, generalized and secure. Here's one: [] .

Regarding the Carriers, this entire project doesn't appear to deal with the protocol that goes out over the airwaves. That's still locked up. What this DOES deal with is standardizing the interface to the chips which DO handle the actual airwave protocol.

GSM chips offer an interface which is just like a modem. ATDT..., but taken well beyond what Hayes originally intended. Yet it still works. So this effort doesn't seem to be dealing with the airwave protocols at all.

Or, in short, no, you won't be able to hack the cellphone network.

Regarding DRM, that remains to be seen. It's unlikely that any DRM will be put in for GSM. GSM is a well-defined international standard that anyone can use. But for non-GSM networks, forget it. There's not a chance in the world that the Carriers will open up their non-GSM networks. They like it locked down, and strongly so. Otherwise, they can reem you for all the rediculous charges on your cellphone.

Or, in otherwords, it's not your phone. It's theirs.

Re:The Tunxphone isn't (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#17891146)

Another effort that is "open" is the OpenEZX project for motorola EZX phones.
Basicly the EZX phones contain a "baseband" processor and chipset and software that is a modified version of the hardware/software running on normal non EZX phones like the RAZR etc and then another more powerful CPU (Intel XSCALE I think) that runs the linux kernel and a bunch of userland stuff which communicates to the baseband side by sending AT commands to the BP side and getting responses back.

Motorola have released the source code to the kernel and several userspace opensource apps such as glibc, ash and many others.
The "open" part is the OpenEZX project who have taken the motorola provided kernel sources and can in fact send AT commands to the baseband processor and get responses back. Work continues on improving the kernel (including getting the port to kernel 2.6 from the stock motorola 2.4 functioning better) as well as producing userland applications to handle phone functions (for example, writing or adapting some kind of daemon to replace the existing motorola closed source tapisrv daemon and handle AT command communications with the baseband processor.

It is also possible to write your own applications and run them alongside the motorola software stack (either in JAVA with the motorola SDK or in whatever you can compile with a suitable arm-linux cross compiler).

Its not truly "open" (all the stuff on the baseband side is completely closed and protected by the same code signing stuff motorola use on their non linux phones for one thing plus the only documentation is what can be learned from the published kernel and app source) but right now, its the best choice for someone wanting an "open" phone that is actually a usable mobile phone as opposed to some expensive "development tool" aimed at people wanting to do mobile development that is totally useless as an actual phone. (or, like the trolltech phone, isn't as open as the manufacturer would have you believe).

Re:Comparable? What about the network? (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889528)

What are you talking about? If the phone implements the same protocols and transmission schemes that the telco is using, then where is the issue? The networks are not closed in the sense that each one speaks some unique proprietry language. Geek up on the acronyms and you'll have a better insight. Phone companies can only offer services that are already embedded into the phone - or could be with addtional software or firmware updates. Telco's don't make the handsets, they aren't even pushing for better tech, they want to stagnate innovation, it helps their bottom lines. Most GSM phones already have a bunch of features that the carriers are not set up for.

How does this differ from Greenphone? (5, Informative)

kalpaha (667921) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888574)

Greenphone [] from Trolltech already has a development device available, although it is a bit pricey for common usage ($695 USD). Does anyone have any information about the differences in the project?

Re:How does this differ from Greenphone? (2, Informative)

RossyB (28685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889052)

GPE is based on GTK+. The Green Phone is qtopia, obviously.

Re:How does this differ from Greenphone? (1)

G-Licious! (822746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889226)

And then there's OpenMoko [] .

How many open stacks do we need?

Re:How does this differ from Greenphone? (2, Funny)

losinggeneration (797436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889522)

Three: Gtk, Qt, Misc Other

Looking Forward to the Day (2)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888580)

I'm looking forward to the day that I can buy a phone and install an open source OS on it, customize everything to be just the way I want it, etc. This projects brings that day one step closer. Congratulations, and good luck!

Re:Looking Forward to the Day (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888790)

openmoko already claims to do this. Product should be released real soon now.

Re:Looking Forward to the Day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17895070)

Openmoko isn't all GPL'd. GPE is, and has a long history of supporting the GPL.

Coming Soon (4, Funny)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888602)

Coming soon: software to turn a bunch of mobile phones into a Beowulf cluster.

Re:Coming Soon (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888642)

You joke, but there is more to this than you think. With data and voice converging along with ever increasing smaller and more powerful chips, projects like SETI and other distributed computing initiatives will be VERY interested in those unused CPU cycles. An open platform makes it much more possible for them to use. Of course, this will drain battery power faster, but I'd volunteer my battery power if it meant I had to plug in my phone every night instead of every other night.

Re:Coming Soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17888810)

Coming soon: rootkit to turn all those Windows phones out there into Beowulf clients at your control.

CAPTCHA: eunuch. Hmmm, like a Linux without actual phone hardware "underneath"?

Spare of the Batteries! (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893712)

Coming soon: software to turn a bunch of mobile phones into a Beowulf cluster.

Ah, hell, my poor little Treo 650 can't even manage to run all day on a single battery with its dumb little single-threaded OS checking my e-mail and you want it to start folding proteins? The poor dear would burn itself to a crisp in 23 minutes.

Virtual Phone (5, Insightful)

mgiuca (1040724) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888622)

Being able to run a virtual phone on a PC is what entices me. It means anyone can sit at home and play around, write software, etc, even without owning a phone. While this is all "for fun", by the time these phones become cheap and accessible there will be a mass of kids who already have the expertise to use and program these devices.

I'll definately check this out on my PC.

Nothing new. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888734)

A clunky suite of software to emulate a phone, fax, and answering machine through a voice modem came with my first Pentium computer in 1995. It used the mic and speakers, and was surprisingly good for what it was. I think it stored messages in the cranky old .voc format, and of course each fax received was a huge TIFF.

Re:Nothing new. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888824)

And upon rereading that I realize what you were really talking about. Please pardon my boneheadedness. Effing Monday mornings..

Re:Nothing new. (3, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888840)

I think you totally missed the point here. While the ability to use the virtual phone while it's hooked a real phone is neat, but real benefit comes from being able to create and test phone applications with real connectivity, and without taking a chance on destroying a real phone.

I must say, though, the idea of hooking asterisk to a real cellphone for calls like this is intriguing already.

Also, for those looking for a mirror, These finally loaded: [] []

Re:Nothing new. (1)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17891142)

That already exists on several platforms. The only ones I'm familiar with myself are the Windows Mobile ones, where the dev studio can emulate all of the target phones. You can just fire up the emulator and play about with the OS.

Also, an OSS OS already exists here, Linux was ported to the platform several years ago. It's still a work-in-progress and the user interface is as bad as you'd expect it to be for a project of this maturity. Unfortunately, IMHO the most important thing on a portable device is the UI.

Must be missing something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17888676)

... Didn't we already have a fully open source development stack for cell phones in QPE [] ? I might be reading it wrong, but the summary makes it sound like they think it's something new?

Re:Must be missing something... (2)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888802)

Good point, but I believe the QPE is dual licensed and cannot be used commercially under the GPL, as it uses the QT. This is a fairly major handicap.

A GPL-only framework would be much more palatable to phone makers as it would allow them to use it in their commercial products without fees. If they have to pay to use it, they'll probably just continue developing their own solutions as they have in the past. I know I would.

I'm generally against GPL, but in this instance, I think it's a good idea. Phone companies have already shown how selfish they are, even when it's to their own detriment. Forcing them to share their source will be a good thing for them and us both.

Re:Must be missing something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17888946)

>Forcing them to share their source

You mean enticing them via market forces don't you?

Re:Must be missing something... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889072)

No, that failed. See my comment about 'their own good'. I mean forcing, as that's what the GPL does.

Oh, they'll still be able to create proprietary apps just like the linux kernel allows you to. But they won't be able to take community code and modify it without returning it to the community.

They'll probably find some other way to subvert the system, of course. I've already thought of an obvious one as it is. *cough*tivo*cough*

Re:Must be missing something... (1)

LordMaxxon (898539) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889392)

Good point, but I believe the QPE is dual licensed and cannot be used commercially under the GPL, as it uses the QT. This is a fairly major handicap.

Isn't QT4 GPL?

Re:Must be missing something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17889574)

QT is licensed under the GPL (the full GPL) and their own commercial license. This means, among other things, that as a library, QT is very restrictive unless you pay A LOT of money to TrollTech. It's a problem that is strangling KDE and has done for a long time.

Building on GTK+ (which uses the LGPL) offers much more flexibility.

Re:Must be missing something... (1)

sveinungkv (793083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897692)

Nowdays, QT is licensed under the GPL. Plain old GPL. Commercial use is allowed. However, all software that links to GPL code (QT) must itself be GPL like for all other GPL licensed software. If you do not wish to release your own software under the GPL and still link to QT, you can buy QT under the other license. So the other license adds an option for you. It does not remove one.

Re:Must be missing something... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898328)

Nope, sorry. Read that again... ndows []

If you are writing commercial/proprietary software, or if you plan to commercialize the software you are writing with Qt, you must use a commercial version of Qt.

'commercialize' Means "To apply methods of business to for profit." This means that if you intend to make money from the project, and you use Qt, you MUST license the commercial 'version' of Qt, even if you open source and GPL your code.

Re:Must be missing something... (1)

Perky_Goth (594327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17899868)

As if. If they distribute a version that has a GPL licence, both they and the developer have to abide by it, not any other thing.

quite significant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17888888)

This is a good step because now we (the global linux community) know how it (a GPS device) works in software,
before the user>UI>Kernel team couldnt fully interface with a phone as it was all closed source (so none of the many eyes/ideas philosophy which is what counts) all that was hidden away from a lot of people being non FOSS, plus moretime the cell developers dont get connected to the user in the same way as we do (the user/ui/linux community)
now with a standard protocol all open and visible in place, we will soon have full messaging/TCP anywhere in the world there is a cell signal, and these days thats pretty much anywhere, combine this with GPS and we are well on our way to having a intuitive reliable global communication device, web/internet/voice/video its all the same thing.


Mobile Windows Migration for All (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17888898)

Which Windows mobile phones are the easiest to install this stack, which have the most of their features supported by the OS for apps? That can then run (recompiled) existing Linux apps? Mapping a touchscreen, joystick or keypad combo to the mouse, full Bluetooth and other radio control for voice/SMS/MMS/data...

Not just because I want my phone to run the same apps on the same shared data as my desktop. But because the limited phone UI will force new paradigms in using these little mobile devices which will run on my desktop. Linux has been a reworking of Apple/Windows too long. Jumping ahead on the desktop, with an eye on Apple's parallel iPhone evolution, will not only speed development of simpler, more powerful "phones", but also rejuice the networked desktop that's stuck in the 1990s.

Which current, cheap phones are the best targets for trying this new environment?

GPE for all who want it. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17890132)

I'm not really sure what you are trying to say here but I can tell you a little about GPE. You demand:

... run (recompiled) existing Linux apps? Mapping a touchscreen, joystick or keypad combo to the mouse, full Bluetooth and other radio control for voice/SMS/MMS/data ...

and shall receive. GPE already runs recompiled applications with good mapping of input from all available buttons and the touch screen. Xstroke is on of the best graffiti handwriting recognitions I've ever used. The average distribution, like OpenZaurus, has a repository with many useful programs that work well. All the buttons work when it's useful and so on.

I want my phone to run the same apps on the same shared data as my desktop

That one is a little tricky still, but the applications all recognize normal formats like vcf. Projects like kandy are supposed to deal with that and will.

the limited phone UI will force new paradigms in using these little mobile devices which will run on my desktop. Linux has been a reworking of Apple/Windows too long. Jumping ahead on the desktop, with an eye on Apple's parallel iPhone evolution, will not only speed development of simpler, more powerful "phones", but also rejuice the networked desktop that's stuck in the 1990s.

Apparently you are not very familiar with GNU/Linux desktops, but that's beside the point. GPE does contain a collection of applications designed for PDA display constraints, but you should not confuse application and desktop design issues. X has proved itself admirably in GPE. Don't like your PDA's constraints? X forward the display to your laptop through secure shell to get both terminal and GUI interfaces complete with keyboard, mouse and screen real estate. On it's own GPE is somewhere between GNOME and Palm and is simple to understand and use. Work with Enlightenment as a Window manager promisses virtual desktops to help overcome small screen limitations and make multitasking easier. Right now, you can run Inkscape on GPE but you are better off using the simple GPE drawing tool.

GPE rocks because free software rocks.

Re:GPE for all who want it. (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17890344)

I know all that. I've run exclusively a GNU/Linux desktop (GNOME) for several years, switching from Windows over the course of a year, after a decade following switching from a Mac (I used to work for Apple), when I'd also designed Windows 3.0/3.1 desktop publishing apps.

What I'm talking about is mainly drivers for phone touchscreens and other HW. And specifically, which Windows phones are most completely supported by GPE now. I ran the Linux on some iPaqs without X (ethernet to stereo audio for MP3 streams) for a couple years until a year ago, and know that HW support is incomplete even on "PC replacements", not phones. Actually, I've found project support for $100 iPaqs (or others with ethernet/WiFi + decent/good stereo audio output + USB) to be increasingly disappointing.

As I said, I want a phone Linux that can run existing apps on my data (like rsyncing my .evolution storage files), and leverage the exploding phone SW development to reinvigorate desktop development.

So which Windows mobile phones are the most completely supported by the new GPE releases?

RMS will be happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17888970)

He refuses to own a cell phone until a completely Free (you know the drill) one is available

Re:RMS will be happy (0)

RossyB (28685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889076)

I wonder if he has the source for his television...

Re:RMS will be happy (0)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889092)

Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

Sometimes those battles are picked for reasons other than the ones stated, too. My first thought when I read this was, 'He just doesn't want a phone, and this is a good excuse.'

Re:RMS will be happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17889212)

Better question: does he have the 'source' for his hand or does he rub one off while cursing the maker for not giving him the DNA code?

similar projects (5, Informative)

g2ek (852570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889084)

The LiMo Foundation []
OpenMoko []
The GreenPhone []

GNU radio for the modem (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889124)

GNU radio should be able to be the modem, in software, given merely a transmitter/receiver/DAC/ADC setup.

How do you get a SIM card into a PC? :-) Maybe that too can be faked in software.

Re:GNU radio for the modem (1)

juergen (313397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889512)

USB connected smart card reader with a SIM adapter.

Re:GNU radio for the modem (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#17891230)

IANAL but I believe FCC rules would prohibit such a device, especially as it most likely could be changed quite easily to spy on all cellular communication instead of just listening to what it is supposed to.

Re:GNU radio for the modem (1)

makapuf (412290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893366)

except that GSM/3G communication are cyphered (though I dunno how crackable it is) ; however you could just be a jackass and spread noise around in the right frequency, so I assume it would effectively be prohibited.

vmware (3, Insightful)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17889922)

If anybody can actually find this mythical vmware image can you post a link please.

Re:vmware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898584)

I successfully got the VM from the page (go to comments and there it is...)

It boots fine on VM Workstation and you can access the phone. (This is on Windows XP Home SP2).


That's nice, but... (5, Insightful)

gidds (56397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17890190)

Who thinks that any service provider will allow an uncertified software stack onto any of their handsets, and/or onto their network?

This isn't like getting a PC onto the internet, where any software can be installed and anything that talks TCP/IP can connect. Like it or not (and I don't), many of the more recent phones, music players, etc. are not open platforms in that sense. And the service providers are more than a tad concerned about keeping control of what connects to their networks. (I don't know whether their worries are about a compromised device crashing the network, introducing some unreliability, or just bypassing one of their many ways to profit from every byte that gets transferred.)

Do we have any reason to think that this stack will be treated any differently?

Re:That's nice, but... (1)

fang2415 (987165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17890922)

Who thinks that any service provider will allow an uncertified software stack onto any of their handsets, and/or onto their network?

The Neo1973 [] , will be released with its own software, OpenMoko, but is designed to be completely open, so I assume you could strip OpenMoko off and put GPE/LiMO/Slackware/Whatever on there if you wanted to (well, maybe not Vista).

Also, as this comment [] points out, service providers can't control what people use to connect to their network -- if you've got a T-Mobile SIM card, you can pop it into any GSM phone and dial away.

Hopefully once the software is there, handset manufacturers will start realizing that this is a low-cost way to sell some powerful, hassle-free handsets and we'll start seeing more PC-style handsets on the market soon.

Re:That's nice, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17890976)

Most of these 'stacks' are application stacks with the actual protocol/modem part that controls the RF hardware locked away in a chip elsewhere. So in terms of breaking the network, the risk is very low, I'd liken it to the damage that someone could do with a PC connected to the Internet via dialup to a premium rate number. Also remember here that the network operator can disconnect you if they want (think of how pre-pay SIMs are managed, or the black lists for stolen phones that identify device IMEIs). A spam zombie PC connected to the Internet via flat rate broadband is probably much more harmful prospect, yet fixed line ISPs manage with this fine.

Therefore I think the problem is that the networks don't want competing services. The faster they get over this and realise that they are stifling innovation and usage of their connections the better.


cparker15 (779546) | more than 7 years ago | (#17891368)

Critics need to know these details, if they are true. If not, they need to refute them. Either way, this post was informative to me and would be to others if it weren't below most people's thresholds.


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17891598)

Yup - the pain of posting as an AC... still, since I work in the industry, it is probably for the best ;)

Re:That's nice, but... (1)

w4k (543607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17891094)

It is not a matter of service provider or operator, it's the law (often - not in every country). In many countries _type approval_ is required, if the device does not pass the type approval tests, it is illegal to sell or use it. A cell phone is really very different from a PC. System upgrade images made available by some phone manufacturer (Nokia, Sony Ericsson) do pass through type approval.

Re:That's nice, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17892430)

This isn't always true. Many high end phones have an apps processor dedicated to applications and UI with a separate modem processor. In some systems the interface between these can be as basic as a serial line with AT commands (yes, really). It is the modem part that requires rigorous Type Approval since that could easily degrade network performance by transmitting needlessly or out of spec.

Because of the type approval requirements of the the modem, it is often quite sealed and isolated from the apps processor. Changing the software stack on the apps processor should therefore not be a risk to operators, unless it is competition to their apps and services they fear...

Re:That's nice, but... (2, Informative)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 7 years ago | (#17892720)

You can run your own software on quite a few GSM phones, which typically don't have any memory protection in order to save on hardware costs. You can pretty much do anything with a Symbian based phone that you want and there haven't been any massive service outages yet.

The control issue is only about selling you extras. They want you to have to purchase $2 wallpapers, ringtones, etc. from the carrier.

Symbian Signed (1)

krischik (781389) | more than 7 years ago | (#17901314)

Maybe you want to have a look at Symbian Signed so see what kind of loops and hops you have to go thrue to run your own software on a smart phone.

It's the same for Windows Mobile and will be the same for the iPhone.

And, of course: a network provider can ban the use of specific API's and or unsigned software on subsidised/branded phones.


[1] Summary []

Homebrew mobile phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17891818)

There is also the Silicon Valley Homebrew Mobile Phone club at [] where the focus is to take the open phone concept all the way to open up the hardware. i.e. use only hardware components that have a spec that anyone can see. Many of the parts used in phones need a manufacturer NDA to get the spec, and this applies to some of the parts used in linux based phones. SVHMPC is using Gumstix CPU's which come with a Linux 2.6 kernel, and building up the software from there.

All well and good... (1)

sc0ob5 (836562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17899578)

But whats the point of this when you can't go gown to your local phone store and buy these things off the shelf. Now when I first heard that people were releasing devices that run Linux I was very, very interested in purchasing one or at least testing one out. Much to my surprise these devices were no where to be found. Not only are they not at the local phone store I have emailed countless people about getting a linux based phone and no one has even replied, are these phones vaporware or what? Does anyone have one? Also I only know of one of these phones that has 3G, now really in this day and age 3G just doesn't cut it and does anyone even want GSM phone? I'm surprised they aren't going directly to landfill. I know that I sure don't want a technology that is EXTREMELY out dated. Where are the "Open" HSDPA phones and even 3G phones?

Re:All well and good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900784)

To say "does anyone even want GSM phone" ignores all mobile phone sales data. In fact, according to a report around October 2006 by the analyst group TNS Global Technologies, globally 20% of the world's mobile phone users own a 3G phone. That means 80% of mobile phone sales are "only" GSM - and they aren't going straight to landfill. Also, the coverage is patchy for many 3G network providers around the world, making 3G phones great functionally, but useless practically in certain regions. Just because it is more technologically advanced, doesn't mean it is the most popular, nor does it mean they are useless.

Re:All well and good... (1)

sc0ob5 (836562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17901184)

OK well perhaps I have over genralised. Here in Australia the 3G network is already in place and has been for quite some time now and covers a large percentage of the country. If you buy just a GSM phone you are either an idiot or there is a must have feature on that phone (which isn't likely). "NextG" as it's called here is now availible and it covers 98% of the country now I don't know about you but if you have 3G/GSM and NextG/GSM why on earth would you want just a GSM phone when you could have a nice speed in certain areas and still have the coverage of GSM. The fact remains that it IS old technology and they should be developing phones that look towards the future rather than look back to GSM.
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