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The Rise of the Linux-Based Cellphone

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the doobie-doobie-dooo dept.

Communications 151

mrscotty99 writes with a link to a Linux.com article about the rising star that is the Linux-based cellphone. Author Murry Shohat argues that the transformation of the cell into a mini-PC this summer is a landmark opportunity for Linux. Apple's offering and Motorola's US launch of the RAZR2 V8 (a linux-based device) may be heralds of great things to come for a new OS frontier: "In the cell phone market, consumers will pay for content, and corporations need to deliver secure content to applications in the palm of employees' hands. These trends suggest products that are simultaneously more functional and less expensive than a Treo or BlackBerry and more secure than an iPhone. MontaVista Software claims to have deployed Mobilinux on more than 35 million mobile devices worldwide. CEO Tom Kelley says, 'Linux is growing rapidly on mobile devices because of its solid reliability, its great flexibility, and because it accelerates the development cycle.' Vendors using or contemplating the use of Linux for mobile devices unanimously point to the operating system's footprint, memory usage, and fast growing ecosystem of developers producing software for graphics, multimedia, connectivity, and security." Linux.com and Slashdot are both owned by SourceForge.

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The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola has. (5, Informative)

Alphager (957739) | about 7 years ago | (#20649119)

http://openmoko.com/ [openmoko.com]
- Touchscreen
- WLAN
- completely open
- A-GPS

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20649211)

When I look at that phone I understand how Apple fanboys must have felt when the iPhone came out. It's drool-worthy, I *want* one!

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (2, Funny)

Creepy (93888) | about 7 years ago | (#20652605)

bah - if it doesn't have a CLI [wikipedia.org] I can text in, it ain't Linux. ;)

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (1)

BlenderFX (954511) | about 7 years ago | (#20654513)

I *want* one!

https://direct.openmoko.com/ [openmoko.com] ?

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (1)

Rhaban (987410) | about 7 years ago | (#20649235)

And maybe this will not all be obsolete once it comes out. There has been great advance in openmoko development recently, but it is still far from being a finished product.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (1)

Rei (128717) | about 7 years ago | (#20657117)

There's little chance of the product being obsolete when it comes out because most components are upgradeable relatively easily. It's adding in new functionality that is challenging. For example, to get wifi in for the official release, they had to remove one of the speakers (it still supports stereo, but you'll have to use a headset for that). Space is at a premium in tiny devices like this. But there's nothing inherently problematic about substituting, say, a processor with a faster one.

Anyways, as someone who is eagerly awaiting the OpenMoko's release (I need a GPS; I need a replacement cell phone; why not get both at once, with a neat, open platform to boot?), I have been disappointed by the pushing back of the schedule, but I'm still optimistic that I'll at least be able to get one by Xmas.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (1)

Rei (128717) | about 7 years ago | (#20657197)

Er... the Neo1973's release :) Bleh. I shuold porff raed mroe.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (3, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | about 7 years ago | (#20649281)

Now imagine this:
1. use VoIP from the cellphone (duh!)
2. GPG-encrypt the data stream, without relying on AT&T's proprietary "encryption" which goes directly to whichever government asks for it
3. use the existing GPG web of trust for keys; generate a new key for the phone and sign it with your main key so if the phone is stolen you lose only the phone's secret key

The above makes you imprevious to plain main-in-the-middle snooping. What is left is information whom you talk to.

4. get an account at a company/group of volunteers who provide a number of servers; the more such independent group of this kind the better
5. have the phone connect only to the nearest server of your group; this is all the phone company can find out about you
6. once there, the server will peel the outer onion layer, connecting to the next hop
7. these servers will be usually already connected as conversations can be aggregated into a single connection; if not, random data can be sent through idle links to thwart traffic analysis
8. unless you're paranoid, the next hop will be your interlocutor's privacy company/group. 2 hops should be enough for most cases, but if you value privacy more than latency, toss in full onion routing.

While Tor is WAAAY too slow to allow for usable VoIP, having a network of servers connected with opaque noise-filled pipes should give you decent enough privacy with just two geographically close hops.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 years ago | (#20649349)

About ten years ago encryption was much more in vogue than it is now. The geeks who were the elite of the Internet even so late widely had PGP keys and sometimes went to key-signing events. Publishing on public applications of cryptography was vast: O'Reilly had a PGP guide and Bruce Schneier's great Applied Cryptography [amazon.com] appeared. PGPfone and Speakeasy promised to give us secure voice communication.

Now look at what has happened. Today's geeks rarely show interest in GPG, even when they rave about other free software achievements. Figures like Bruce Schneier chose to focus on other aspects of computer security, and O'Reilly doesn't publish anything to show your average computer-literate fellow how to secure his communications. PGPfone was never maintained, and nothing appears to have come to replace it, even in bold new apps like Ekiga. And the web of trust has stagnated because (reliable) key signings are rare.

Your idea of a GPG-capable phone is something I find cool, but sadly encryption no longer captivates people like it once did.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 7 years ago | (#20651479)

The downfall of PGP/GPG was when someone masquerading as Mickey Mouse got their key signed by one of the Linux kernel developers. This put Mickey 2 degrees of separation away from Linus, and a lot of other trusted members of the community (Zimmerman himself was not far removed), and cast doubt on the whole web of trust model vs the centralised certification authority of S/MIME and SSL. Perhaps if PGP had a way to revoke key signatures, it could have kept its reputation, but now it is mostly only useful within a closed community, or where specific keys are listed as trusted for a specific purpose (such as signing code releases).

OT: Why I don't use GPG signing more often (1)

KWTm (808824) | about 7 years ago | (#20654483)

I wanted to use GPG for signing everything, including Slashdot posts (my GPG key is in my journal), but I can't because the formatting will screw with the signature. In other words, my GPG signature would be for a certain line length, and if my text is reformatted with different spacing and line breaks, then the signature would be invalid.

What I'd love is a standard that strips all but alphanumeric characters (including no line breaks or whitespace) and then does a GPG signature on that. The signature would be preserved despite variations in formatting. It would be fairly simple to do, something along the lines of:
sed -e 's/[^A-Za-z0-9]//g' < plaintext.txt | gpg --clearsign to sign, and
sed -e 's/[^A-Za-z0-9]//g' < plaintext.txt | gpg --verify to verify.
(Not exactly, since this still preserves line breaks, but you get the idea.)

The problem is, everyone has to know to do that, so that it becomes a standard. I think this would make GPG more versatile and usable under more circumstances. Granted, it would not be perfectly unambiguous, as the following two lines have the same alphanum-only GPG signature:

"Bob," said Sue, "me and you are going to the greenhouse."
Bob said: "Sue me, and you are going to the 'green' house!"

Anyway, at the risk of being off-topic, I thought I'd offer my thoughts on one reason why encryption is not as ubiquitous as we hoped.

Re:OT: Why I don't use GPG signing more often (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 years ago | (#20654705)

Why in the world would you want to sign Slashdot posts? Signatures are good for proving in e.g. a financial transaction that there is no scamming going on. With Internet forums, there's always the chance you'd say something stupid that you would want to distance yourself from, and a GPG signature would only make that impossible.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20649697)

Tor is WAAAY too slow to allow for usable VoIP
How about Push-To-Talk (voice IM)? For usual conversations it is almost as good as the real thing, but I don't know real extent of Tor's slowness, perhaps it is prohibitive even for that. OTOH, large latency allows time to compress the recordings harder, so that they would spend smaller chunks of BW.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (1)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | about 7 years ago | (#20649863)

"While Tor is WAAAY too slow to allow for usable VoIP, having a network of servers connected with opaque noise-filled pipes should give you decent enough privacy with just two geographically close hops."

Especially if some of those hops are routed via bluetooth or WiFi rather than GPRS... (the call might just disappear into a mesh network, well away from telephone wiretaps)

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (1)

Down_in_the_Park (721993) | about 7 years ago | (#20649329)

or did I miss something on there website?

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20649407)

Probably talking about Bluetooth

"GPRS-capable quad-band GSM modem and local connectivity through Bluetooth and USB"

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 7 years ago | (#20649413)

The version to be released in October is supposed to have wireless networking.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 7 years ago | (#20650549)

Unofficially there are rumblings of a December/January release.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 7 years ago | (#20650663)

The version to be released in October is supposed to have wireless networking.

Unfortunately it looks like the schedule has slipped and general availability will be Christmas.

Personally, I'm holding out for a UMTS version, although they've given no indication when this is likely to happen. (I've had enough of the crappness of GPRS to last me a life time).

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20652541)

Oops! We meant Valentine's Day. I mean St. Patr...

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 7 years ago | (#20652941)

Personally, I'm holding out for whenever it can reliably make phone calls with a GUI (AFAIK, at the moment it can make one phone call per reboot cycle, from the command-line, because the software isn't finished yet).

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20656855)

"Personally, I'm holding out for whenever it can reliably make phone calls with a GUI"

So install QTopia on it...

Example review [openmoko.org]

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 7 years ago | (#20649433)

here it is [openmoko.org]

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer but has no wlan (2, Informative)

Down_in_the_Park (721993) | about 7 years ago | (#20649649)

thanks, so lets wait for the next version. Using a mobile phone for accessing the internet via UMTS is way too expensive.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (2)

st0nes (1120305) | about 7 years ago | (#20649579)

Very nice, but no camera, 2.5G. Surely they should launch with a 3G version since 3G has been standard for so long? Also price: $300 is a bit steep.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 7 years ago | (#20655899)

Freedom isn't always free... I'm considering getting one of these puppies. I just don't have a lot of time to devote to seriously developing for it, I'd just want to tinker with it more than anything.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#20649793)

I've been watching this for a while, and I almost bought a dev phone. But the extra features on the full retail one are much more interesting to me. I thought the target for the retail phone was October, but I see things like:

"We're almost for sure going to use their AR6K
chipset in our next product."

I hope that just means they haven't updated that portion of the site in a while, and not that they still have no clue what the hardware design is.

I see elsewhere that Oct and Nov are set for testing, and late December for shipping the final product.

What I truly hope to see, and I may have to do some coding myself to see it... Is Skype integrated into it well enough that if the wireless and the skype get a call at the same time, I can choose which one to answer. That sounds unlikely until you remember Grand Central, which I currently have calling both my Skype (on my n800) and my cell phone at the same time. This would truly make it the phone I want. The other features are all just icing.

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (4, Informative)

Gizmhail (821391) | about 7 years ago | (#20650213)

You might find useful information (concerning the first OpenMoko compatible phone) on this page : http://wiki.openmoko.org/index.php?title=Neo1973 [openmoko.org]
The end user version is the one named "Phase 2" (GTA02, "Mass Market").
Allong with hardware specs, you'll find there an estimated timeline :
        * Sep 20 - GTA02v3 design finalised.
        * Oct 20 - GTA02v3 design produced, and shipped to qualified developers.
        * Nov 20 - GTA02v3 design verified through testing by developers.
        * Dec 10 - GTA02v3 produced in moderate volume
        * Dec 20 - GTA02v3 goes on sale
        * Dec 25 - GTA02v3 arrives

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#20650259)

Yeah, I condensed that to "I see elsewhere that Oct and Nov are set for testing, and late December for shipping the final product."

Wake me up when openmoko supports CDMA networks. (2, Insightful)

melstav (174456) | about 7 years ago | (#20650753)

The Neo 1973 is GSM-only. OpenMoko doesn't have a phone that supports CDMA network providers, like Sprint. Nor do they have plans to in the foreseeable future.

By contrast, I am confident that Motorola WILL release a variant of their phone that works on Sprint's network.

Open source ideals are great and all, but if it doesn't meet my requirements (I'm not going to buy it.

And for the foreseeable future, "Does it work on Sprint's network?" is one of my requirements.

BUT.... (2, Funny)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | about 7 years ago | (#20651649)



Will it blend ?

You forgot one feature (1)

g4sy (694060) | about 7 years ago | (#20652609)

- GSM850 disabled for no apparent reason, making it a great paperweight or a doorstop for me.

Anyone want to buy a doorstop from me? Low price of $450

Re:The Neo 1973 is freer than anything motorola ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20654373)

actually, it is not completely open.
there is no source for the driver of the gprs module.
there is no source code for *any* gprs module...

4 choices (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 7 years ago | (#20649123)

You don't have that many OS choices when developing a cellphone.

Obviously, you can go with a market leader like Symbian and Nokia's S60 software stack to get something out the door in a hurry.

Alternatively, you can pay a bunch up front to get the hardware working with Linux, but the benefits are a royalty-free OS license.

You could always ask Microsoft for some help, but your fast time to market and full-featureset come at the price of outrageously powerful hardware requirements.

Finally, you can go with BREW, Qualcomm's stripped-down, barebones OS.

Each OS has its benefits and tradeoffs. Linux's benefits are code "ownership" and full source access, not to mention a well-known API and a large pool of developers. The major tradeoff that I've seen is the enormous latency in normal usage. A keypress takes a significantly longer time to process on a Linux phone than on, say, a BREW phone or an MS Smartphone.

There's a lot of growth to come in the cellphone market, so Symbian has a long fight against these up and comers. And there really isn't anywhere for anyone (excluding Symbian) to go but up.

Re:4 choices (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 7 years ago | (#20649277)

You don't have that many OS choices when developing a cellphone.
Does it really matter what OS a phone runs when, for the majority of people, they're going to be stuck using the shitty, feature stripped firmware the phone ships with?

Re:4 choices (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 7 years ago | (#20649287)

It matters if you're the one developing the phone.

Re:4 choices (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 years ago | (#20649387)

We here are hardly the majority of people. Isn't this a "News for nerds" site? The OS the phone ships with matters to many here because of Free Software ethics and hackability.

Re:4 choices (1)

rtyall (960518) | about 7 years ago | (#20649665)

Does it really matter what OS a phone runs when, for the majority of people, they're going to be stuck using the shitty, feature stripped firmware the phone ships with?

I'd say it does, I specifically bought my Motorola Rokr E6 [wikipedia.org] on the basis that it runs Linux. My naivety made me think that the homebrew scene would be rife with apps, but I was very wrong though. Thanks to Motorola's lack of documentation and slow uptake of the phone, mine remains pretty much standard.
Think I may go back to windows mobile after this phone, unless something decent, tried and tested comes out.

Re:4 choices (1)

LarsG (31008) | about 7 years ago | (#20649853)

for the majority of people /. is at least one sigma away from the majority. For many people here - programmers, tinkerers, general gadget geeks - the OS does matter because it determines to a large degree the openness and tinkerability of the device.

As for feature stripped firmware, that's mostly a problem with the carriers (and especially US carriers at that) acting like they have the right to decide how devices connecting to their network should behave. One way to stop that abuse is to make the phone OS modifiable.

Re:4 choices (2, Interesting)

smilindog2000 (907665) | about 7 years ago | (#20649307)

The real benefit of open-systems on a cell phone are far beyond the typically quoted "time-to-market" and "cost-of-ownership" stuff. My Motorola Razr is a fine phone, but nothing more. For anything other than making phone calls, it completely sucks. I can't even take and share pictures freely, and the charge for simple text messages is just stupid. I personally never intend to own another stupid Symbian based phone again.

In comparison, now that hackers have dissected it, the iPhone is a tiny laptop in my pocket, from which I can ssh into work to control servers, log into AIM, browse the full web, read e-books downloaded from gutenberg.org, or develop high-end applications such as P2P voice. A VNC viewer is also in development. Once again, it's taken Apple to show big-company-marketing where the market actually lies. It's all about the software, and the stupid cell-industry has always thought that they were smart enough to deliver it... wrong wrong wrong.

I think Apple and the new crop of Linux based phone vendors should deliver 8-16 gig high-end phones with dev-tools pre-installed. I should be able to open the box, log into wi-fi, and ssh into a bash shell. From there, I should be able to develop apps for the phone directly on the phone. The GPS and other devices should come with open-source drivers. From a hardware point of view, the iPhone is interesting, but not revolutionary. From a software point of view, it's a whole new game.

Re:4 choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20649373)

So what you're saying is 2007 is the year of Linux on the cell phone?

Re:4 choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20649385)

>> I personally never intend to own another stupid Symbian based phone again.

>> In comparison, now that hackers have dissected it, the iPhone is a tiny laptop in my pocket, from which I can ssh into work to control servers, log into AIM, browse the full web, read e-books downloaded from gutenberg.org, or develop high-end applications such as P2P voice. A VNC viewer is also in development.

All those apps are available for Symbian phones. I guess your RAZR phone is not a Symbian one and you're getting confused.

Re:4 choices (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | about 7 years ago | (#20649447)

I might be confused... does Symbian have an open-source toolchain I can use to freely write apps for my phone? That's the key distinction. I never want to own another closed phone again :-)

Re:4 choices (1)

Algorithmnast (1105517) | about 7 years ago | (#20649571)

As powerful as phones are getting, I should be able to run something like DSL [damnsmalllinux.org] on a phone soon. It would only require the phone to have 48M memory free for the OS.

And then I could get rid of my home machine and replace it with this [damnsmalllinux.org] - oh, and one of these [thinkgeek.com] .

I would finally buy a cell phone if I could have such a device... I'll wait to see if any "open" cell phone will give me that.

Re:4 choices (1)

delire (809063) | about 7 years ago | (#20649603)

How is Apple's iPhone 'open' exactly?

Re:4 choices (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20650047)

Why don't you download Symbian SDK? You will find that it is based on binutils, gcc for ARM and the IDE is based on Eclipse.

Motorola Razr is definitely not Symbian based. The only Motorola Symbian-based phones are A1000 and Motorizr Z8.

Re:4 choices (4, Insightful)

Propaganda13 (312548) | about 7 years ago | (#20649451)

You do know that Apple is entirely against everything you just said. Apple is part of the problem. Your post is like thanking Microsoft because the XBox was hacked to run Linux.

Now, the FIC NEO1973 will hopefully show the industry how it's done.

Re:4 choices (2, Informative)

Molt (116343) | about 7 years ago | (#20649631)

I've been doing all of those things, with the exception of the P2P voice development, on my HTC Universal (Orange M5000) [engadget.com] for nearly two years now- and that was by no means the first device which offered this kind of functionality.

Please, if you're going to credit anyone with opening up the true power of Smartphones don't make it Apple.. any openness of their device is purely accidental, not unlike the Sony PSP, and is likely to be reduced more and more as they patch. With regards to actually promoting external developers to get things done on their phones they're leagues behind their competition, which includes the Windows Mobile based phones, Symbian, Linux phones, and the Palm offerings. At least we can get specs, APIs, and documentation from these, even if the phones aren't viewed in the same 'manna from heaven' light as Apple's product.

Re:4 choices (2, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 7 years ago | (#20649811)

It's sad to say, but with respect to "openness" to developers, Windows Mobile is actually in the lead right now. (Except for possibly Symbian which I have ZERO experience with, but other posts indicate it is less free.)

iPhone - well, that is clearly a closed system. Any "openness" is a lucky hack.

BREW - ugh...

Linux-on-phone - You would expect it to be free, but with the exception of OpenMoko, it seems like Linux-on-phone tends to be "Tivoized". The quotes in the article summary imply that manufacturers love it because it makes it easier for them to lock down the phone. Their definition of "secure" is not the same as ours, theirs is in terms of DRM and locking down what the owner is allowed to do.

PalmOS is pretty open to developers but is basically dead at this point. (I'm a former Treo owner, now I have a WM5-based AT&T 8525 aka HTC Hermes/TyTn and love it)

Re:4 choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20653257)

iPhone - well, that is clearly a closed system. Any "openness" is a lucky hack.


Or a skilled hack.

Re:4 choices (2, Informative)

david.given (6740) | about 7 years ago | (#20649353)

Or there's Nucleus, VxWorks, QNX, one of the several proprietary phone OSs (you'll probably only pick one of these if you're part of the same group that owns the OS)... there are lots of RTOSs out there that are suitable for phones, especially the low-end phones that you wouldn't want to run a heavyweight OS on.

The thing I'm surprised about is that nobody (we hear about) seems to be using BSD. The BSDs are traditionally easier to port than Linux, and have a much friendlier license to commercial use; so why aren't the phone manufacturers using that?

Re:4 choices (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 7 years ago | (#20649597)

Can you get BSD drivers for or or whatever other hardware the phone has? Most likely its simply the case that linux has better support right now for the hardware todays phones actually have.
And it has commercial support from several vendors (MontaVista for example) for running on various ARM based CPUs and platforms including those used by the cellphone companies.

Re:4 choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20649747)

I see your Nucleus, VxWorks and QNX and raise for an eCOS, RTEMS and uClinux!

BSD based cell phone (1)

slashnot007 (576103) | about 7 years ago | (#20650439)

Are people excited about a Linux Cell phone or a Unix cell phone. If the latter why not a BSD based cell phone. Like say the Iphone.

Re:4 choices (2, Interesting)

GooberToo (74388) | about 7 years ago | (#20650641)

Each OS has its benefits and tradeoffs. Linux's benefits are code "ownership" and full source access, not to mention a well-known API and a large pool of developers.

I'm not sure if you're including this in your ,"large pool of developers", comment but, these days making the phone developer accessible after sale is starting to garner a fair bit of interest. In this regard, Linux can't be touched.

The major tradeoff that I've seen is the enormous latency in normal usage. A keypress takes a sigificantly longer time to process on a Linux phone than on, say, a BREW phone or an MS Smartphone.

This has every indication of a poor implementation rather than than any OS specific issues. Seems many people coming from the Unix/Linux world don't seem to understand you have a new set of design challenges to address; rather they design Unix philosophy-style which is not a good match for something like a cellphone. As a result, people are building processes which abstract an API, which in turn has another process talking to the API process which in turn, may or may not talk directly to the hardware. On such low resource units like cellphones, this means a high latency design. So I argue this is a developer design issue and has nothing to do with Linux on cell phones.

As more developers understand the new platform requires a new design approach, things will continue to improve. I believe for now you're simply seeing the growing pains of a new found, widely available platform among a young developer base who don't know better.

Re:4 choices (2, Interesting)

GooberToo (74388) | about 7 years ago | (#20650707)

A keypress takes a significantly longer time to process on a Linux phone than on, say, a BREW phone or an MS Smartphone.

Sorry, I forgot to add this to my previous post. My Razor has one of the slowest interfaces I've ever seen on a phone, including phones I had five plus years ago. Button presses are often dropped. The user interface is horrible, kludgie, and beyond snail-slow. IIRC, my Razor is running Symbian. My point being, crappy user interfaces which create high latency key presses (or worst of all, dropped key presses which are common on my phone) is certainly not a Linux platform exclusive.

In other words, poor software design is a much larger issue for low latency than is the target platform. No matter what, you must have good developers for the platform or you'll wind up with a Razor.

Teh problem with Teh Lunix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20653737)

Teh problem with Teh Lunix is that, one the whole, Teh Lunix community can't figure out what it wants or where it is going. It's like... but in many ways worse, than the situation Palm was in.

Back in the day, Palm could have ruled the world had they continued their expansion into the small device market. But instead, they continued to ignore a broad section of the market which consumers were constantly demanding (having a PDA with an integrated phone)... and the only way Palm eventaully accomplished it wasn't through THEIR efforts... but by acquiring a competitor who had done all the heavy lifting for them.

Much like Teh Lunix. Teh problem is that, instead of moving into the small device space where they could EASILY dominate (entirely through a lack of viable competition), Teh Lunix community is instead tied up in Microsoft jealousy and wannabe-ism, and continuously banging their heads against a wall trying to hammer Teh Lunix into something which can compete with Windows... which it cannot.

Teh Lunix of today can't even accomplish things Windows was doing back in 1995! If they can't even compete with an operating system which is over ten years old... what makes anyone think they are going to magically get it together with another ten years? If they would stop chasing Microsoft's tail lights, they would instead see an entire world which could be theirs. And perhaps, by moving into that mobile devices space, they might even be positioned to be the OS of the future: now the death of the PC keeps being predicted, and proven wrong, but you never know. Perhaps one day, when computers are inside of everything, there will no longer be a need for a desktop computer.

So Teh Problem with Teh Lunix is that, ultimately and tragically, they keep doing what they are terrible at, and constantly ignore what they are good at.

Re:4 choices (1)

Lattitude (123015) | about 7 years ago | (#20656961)

Finally, you can go with BREW, Qualcomm's stripped-down, barebones OS.
BREW is most definitely NOT an OS. Rather, it's an API layer the OEM provides on top of the OS that allows limited access to certain data and functionality of the device. Closest relative might be Java, without the virtual machine - BREW is all native.

P2P Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20649125)

Time for P2P phones as well as all forms of bandwidth

iPhone Flop (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20649133)

Now that the iPhone has flopped in the marketplace and become a source of ridicule for people actually brave enough to walk around in public with one the cellphone biz really needs something new to look forward to. Just was watching Bill Maher making fun of the pathetic Apple fans crying over being made suckers for falling for Jobs' iPhone hype.

Linux becoming the defacto cellphone OS would be awesome. I deal with a lot of embedded media hardware vendors and Linux has become the default choice for everyone now. Just grab the latest source, strip out everything you don't need, add in whatever else you want and you are good to go. Everyone is on the same page. Tools and employee skill sets become a commodity. Less waste, more productivity.

While Linux based Cell Phones are great news... (1)

siDDis (961791) | about 7 years ago | (#20649171)

I find the hardware extremly expensive today, however this will hopefully change in a few years.

Apple's Offering? (3, Insightful)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | about 7 years ago | (#20649181)

Apple's offering AFAIK is a mobile version of OSX... what does that have to do with Linux?

By my accounts, Apple has been hostile to the open source community. They take and don't give back. Look at their track record with OSX and not setting up a source repository.

Making iPods intentionally not work with anything but iTunes (which was cracked only days later)? Creating iWork instead of helping the OS X version OpenOffice.org?

Apple would BE Microsoft, and Charman Jobs would be Gates, if they had the option.

Re:Apple's Offering? (2, Insightful)

smilindog2000 (907665) | about 7 years ago | (#20649423)

Jobs may be an a-hole, but he's damned smart. OS-X (on Macs and iPhones) is just open enough to allow hackers freedom to innovate, while just closed enough for Jobs to charge whatever he wants for the OS, while controlling the QA for average users ("It just works - TM" to quote another /.-er). Jobs absolutely wants to be Gates, and he's using open-source as leverage against Microsoft, for his own benefit rather than for open-source developers. It's never been said that Jobs is just trying to make the world a better place. Fortunately, that's just a side effect.

Re:Apple's Offering? (2, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 7 years ago | (#20649431)

It was a hash not encryption. Get over it. It's more than likely for data integrity than "ZOMG WE R GONIN TO BREAK LINUX".

Re:Apple's Offering? (1)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | about 7 years ago | (#20651039)

From Apple Cuts Off Linux iPod Users [slashdot.org] : "This appears to be protection against 3rd party applications writing out their own databases."

Why wasn't the hash used on the old iPods sufficient? And if it was just to ensure integrity of files stored on the iPod, why not just go ahead and publish how the hash is computed, instead of the community having to reverse engineer it?

Re:Apple's Offering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20651999)

1) You're quoting a slashdot article as 'the truth.' That's just Will Fisher's opinion.
2) Was there a hash on the old iPods? Everything I've read seems to indicate no, there wasn't.
3) Most everything I've seen from Steve/Apple is Apple's core market comes first. Integrity and 100% working of iPods comes before making Linux users happy. Sorry, you aren't the majority and you don't make Apple the big bucks. Apple/Steve (DAAP being the exception) doesn't make things impossible but makes things 'hard' enough for most novices. The iPhone took what, 3 months? I'm sure if Stevo wanted to he could have spent twice as much energy on encrypting stuff and less on making it just work. How long did an xBox softmod take, I don't think it was 2 months. How long did the Zune take?
4) You don't think maybe the RIAA wanted you linux thieves off of the iPod? I'm sure there are plenty of internal conversations that you and the rest of the community don't listen to. Apple got a big "It breaks linux support" news article. RIAA pats Steve on the back. It takes the community a day to crack it. It couldn't have been that hard if it took a day.

What!?! (1)

JRGhaddar (448765) | about 7 years ago | (#20649521)

Hmm well you are right about wanting to be successful, and not wanting others to mess up what you have done. That part is true. But to say

By my accounts, Apple has been hostile to the open source community.

Is a way overblown assumption of Apple's view on the open source community.
Apple's Open Source Page [apple.com]

Re:Apple's Offering? (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 7 years ago | (#20650053)

Yeah because iWork and OpenOffice are more or less the same thing, or not.

OpenOffice tries to be Office, and word suck.

iWork is similair applications but in a new fresh way, how dare you compare Pages with OO writer?

Just stay with your openoffice in whatever os ..

Re:Apple's Offering? (1)

monktus (742861) | about 7 years ago | (#20655061)

Remember that iWork is the successor to Apple's "Office" - AppleWorks, née ClarisWorks, née AppleWorks. While iWork is very different, given Apple's 20-odd years of development of something that's not an Office clone, it makes sense for them to go their own way rather than fork OoO.OooO, or however the hell you abbreviate it.

Re:Apple's Offering? (2)

phooka.de (302970) | about 7 years ago | (#20650357)

By my accounts, Apple has been hostile to the open source community. They take and don't give back. Look at their track record with OSX and not setting up a source repository.

Darwin is Open Source. WebKit has been a great contribution. But they never give back. Get your facts straight first, then think, then post.

Re:Apple's Offering? (1)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | about 7 years ago | (#20650779)

Darwin was an open source project, that never gained traction or support from Apple. From Wikipedia: "OpenDarwin was a community-led operating system based on the Darwin platform, founded in April 2002 by the Internet Software Consortium and Apple. In July 2006, the OpenDarwin Core Team and Administrators announced that all development on OpenDarwin would cease, citing concerns over lack of interest from the community."

See also Open-source Darwin? Not yet [macnn.com] . My favorite part: "Apple is stonewalling open-source developers despite the company's recent release of much of the Mac OS X Tiger kernel source code"

WebKit was KHTML, but modified so extensively by Apple it basically turned into a fork. Only recently have attmepts been made to merge them back together. Instead of working on KHTML, Apple chose to grab it, mangle it, and throw it in Safari

The unforking of KDE's KHTML and Webkit [arstechnica.com]

Please get your facts straight, sir. I bought a G-4 in 2000 (before you could buy a G-4 with OS X preinstalled) and got an OS X t-shirt with it. I thought it was the dawn of a new day at Apple when OS X was released. I was wrong.

Re:Apple's Offering? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20652267)

Darwin was an open source project, that never gained traction or support from Apple. From Wikipedia: "OpenDarwin was a community-led operating system based on the Darwin platform, founded in April 2002 by the Internet Software Consortium and Apple. In July 2006, the OpenDarwin Core Team and Administrators announced that all development on OpenDarwin would cease, citing concerns over lack of interest from the community."


Lack of interest from the community So apple has their own repositories. Releases stuff. People decide to fork it, community doesn't support it and that's Apple's fault?

WebKit was KHTML, but modified so extensively by Apple it basically turned into a fork. Only recently have attmepts been made to merge them back together. Instead of working on KHTML, Apple chose to grab it, mangle it, and throw it in Safari


Did they break any laws? Did they break any licenses? Next up:
  1. X.org grabs XFree86 code, mangles it and throws it in their product.
  2. DD-WRT grabs Linksys code, mangles it and releases it as their own.

The unforking of KDE's KHTML and Webkit [arstechnica.com]

Please get your facts straight, sir. I bought a G-4 in 2000 (before you could buy a G-4 with OS X preinstalled) and got an OS X t-shirt with it. I thought it was the dawn of a new day at Apple when OS X was released. I was wrong.

iphone OS is open sourced (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 7 years ago | (#20650755)

Darwin is open source. And you are a troll.

Don't forget about Qtopia (4, Insightful)

rumith (983060) | about 7 years ago | (#20649213)

Personally I find this [trolltech.com] announcement much more interesting and relevant to the goal of getting Linux on the mobiles. In short: Trolltech has made available the telephony service, DRM and SaX available under GPLv2, thus making Qtopia Phone edition completely free. Besides, they have ported Qtopia to Neo 1973. This is most certainly very good news!

Other Linux Mobile Phone Manufacturers (3, Informative)

wehe (135130) | about 7 years ago | (#20649217)

Motorola is no the only manufacturer offering mobile phones with Linux operating system. Here is an overview of mobile phones with Linux pre-installed [tuxmobil.org] . The entries marked with an asterisk *) show around twenty manufacturers which offer Linux on mobile cellular phones.

This is the year of the Linux phone! (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 7 years ago | (#20649231)

Subject says it all.

I wonder how long it will take until Amiga Inc. revives the never released Amiga DE and decide that it's the shit for 2008s mobile phones! ..

Re:This is the year of the Linux phone! (1)

empaler (130732) | about 7 years ago | (#20649271)

How about "This is the year of the phone desktop"?

Just make your own, if you're nerd enough (2, Interesting)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 7 years ago | (#20649303)

Re:Just make your own, if you're nerd enough (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about 7 years ago | (#20654365)

I actually would, just to have a no-frills phone with Bluetooth connectivity, but it'd a) take bloody ages to read up on the subject matter to know what I'm actually doing there and b) be much more expensive than the "cheapest" Nokia with BT.

Perfect cliche (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | about 7 years ago | (#20649309)

I stopped reading the article when I got to the words 'perfect storm'.

I want to pay for content too!! (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 7 years ago | (#20649311)

> In the cell phone market, consumers will pay for content

Yeah, where's my Linux Phone, I got spare $ to burn on ringtones and wallpapers.

Re:I want to pay for content too!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20649405)

The cell phone operators better milk this market for all they can now because it's not going to last. People only fall for the download a ringtone or game and unknowningly sign up for a subscription crap once.

And besides if the Internet and broadband connections have taught us anything, it's that free and flat fee will eventually win, and the Compuserves and MSNs die. Better get used to hawking free content for advertising dollars just like the rest of the world.

I have a NEO1973 (OpenMoko) .. (5, Interesting)

torpor (458) | about 7 years ago | (#20649347)

.. and its a really, really great device even though the developer version is missing a few things (accelerometers, WLAN) .. there is really nothing quite so fun as being able to write software for your own cell phone, and do things that just wouldn't be possible elsewhere.

I'm looking forward, for example, to having my own answering service onboard with a user-selectable set of recordings to playback (IVR-style application), and some music-making apps are on the horizon as well ..

Lovely bit of gear; I will definitely upgrade to GTA02 when its available, too.

Re:I have a NEO1973 (OpenMoko) .. (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 7 years ago | (#20649473)

I will definitely upgrade to GTA02 when its available, too.

Yes that is the phone I want to get. But because I can't try it in the shop I have a question which you may be able to answer: can you carry the OpenMoko around in your pocket, or is it a belt pouch phone? I have seen the dimensions on the web site but it is not the same as holding one in your hand.

Re:I have a NEO1973 (OpenMoko) .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20656799)

its about the same size as a treo 650. There was a paper doll mockup of it on one of the sites, actual size, that you could make that would give you a very good idea of the size..

Re:I have a NEO1973 (OpenMoko) .. (2, Interesting)

Nexcis (962706) | about 7 years ago | (#20650887)

I too plan on getting the phone. Some ideas Ive had so far are coding user levels and a phone status. So say you set the phone to quiet mode. If a person with a level of friend calls then it will not ring. But say your mother calls it can either ring or vibrate. If you set the status to dead nothing gets through. Just some ideas.. I cant wait for this thing to come out. :)

Re:I have a NEO1973 (OpenMoko) .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20656831)

For some time now I have been thinking about some cool features I will code, should I ever get a Linux phone. For example I would make it vibrate the Caller ID in Morse code, so I could know who is calling without other people even realizing that my phone rings! For example, if I am waiting for a very important call and at the same time writing a test at class (I'm a student), I would have to choose: complete the test or go out and answer. Looking at the phone would look like cheating and thus is not an option. Of course, it could also enhance my cheating abilities...

Also I would like to customize the way the alarm-clock works. Some phones have it the way I want, but those phones also have a lot of stuff the way I don't want it.

The main benefit of having an open source OS on the phone is interchangeability of code. I pick different features and install them on my phone. If a particular feature does not exist, I write it!

Re:I have a NEO1973 (OpenMoko) .. (1)

Nexcis (962706) | about 7 years ago | (#20651131)

Ummmm, after thinking about what I wrote I didn't mean your mother in particular.

Meanwhile Palm... (1)

afc_wimbledon (1052878) | about 7 years ago | (#20649641)

...who arguably invented the smartphone, and announced they were moving to a Linux-based OS in 2005 (from memory) are now saying they won't get there for another 12-18 months - http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/sep/13/guardianweeklytechnologysection.it [guardian.co.uk] . A bit sad really. I blame Foleo.

Re:Meanwhile Palm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20654343)

The Foleo *was* a Linux-based OS. So even with all the effort spent on the Foleo, it wasn't completely wasted because now Palm has some experience working with Linux mobile devices. Not to say it wasn't a huge distraction though.

Geeks don't drive the market, consumers do... (1)

Bentov (993323) | about 7 years ago | (#20649827)

I can read all of the above posts as a geek and be pleased. While I like the idea of Neo1973, I will never own one, I personally don't have the time to write my own apps for a phone; but I do appreciate a device that is open enough to allow it. When I read all of the above posts as a consumer, I ask myself, "wtf do these geeks think? I just want to turn it on, go through my contacts and use the phone" The Neo has/will changed how 1M geeks view the cell phone, the iPhone has changed how tens of millions of people view the cell phone(obviously I'm guessing at the number of affected phone users). In 5 years, which will still be around and actually produced on a regular basis? The one that makes money, and it won't be the Neo. From the openmoko site "We will sell this device through multiple channels.Direct from openmoko.com, the price will be $450 for the Neo Base and $600 for Neo Advanced." This is in reference to the 2nd gen. A lot of people here tote openness like a badge, most don't write software, most will never recompile a kernel, most won't take the time to load linux on ipod, but most will take the time to try to tell us AAC is Apple's proprietary format(jeez, even wikipedia can get this one right), that DRM will someday cause the downfall of the modern world, and that trying to make money of something you created is way to the devil. I've got a novel idea, one of you with some connections get Mark Shuttlesworth to invest heavily in the openmoko/neo1973 projects. Convince him that he should take a massive loss and sell the phone for 50 USD. Then you would actually be doing something...soemthing that might actaully change things, until then, curl up with your blankie at night, think about little Suzie, that Tri-Delt that you eyeball in econ 101, and realize that no actually cares if they can program for their phone except you.

PDA (1)

Dan East (318230) | about 7 years ago | (#20649847)

I hope linux makes significant inroads, but I fear it will make as big of an impact in the cellular arena as it did in the PDA market.

Dan East

No desktop yet, but... (1)

kalakala (783483) | about 7 years ago | (#20649983)

It's surely the year of Linux on the Cellphone!!!

Is there.. (1)

footissimo (869107) | about 7 years ago | (#20650081)

..a txtspk version for the CLI?

Nokia N800 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20650171)

The only thing missing from my Nokia N800 [wikipedia.org] is the cell phone circuitry. So I browse the Internet through Bluetooth when I'm out of WiFi range.

*SMACKS FOREHEAD* (3, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | about 7 years ago | (#20650437)

Motorola's US launch of the RAZR2 V8

I could have had a V8!

Still not (yet) available in the US (1)

GnuPooh (696143) | about 7 years ago | (#20650747)

The Linux RAZR2 seems a bit overhyped, since the only major US carrier that will carry the Linux (V8) version will be T-mobile...and as of today that's still vaporware. It drives me crazy when all the Linux magazines talk about 5 years of Linux cell phone, since none of these have been available from a major US carrier. Yes, you could have ordered one from another country, got a sim card from AT&T or T-Mobile and gotten it to work, but that's quite different from being able to get it all set up, directly from the carrier.

Don't get me wrong, I'm the first one to be likely to drop my current carrier (Sprint) and go with T-Mobile just to run the RAZR2 V8, but it's painful to see the release date slip and slip. I called T-Mobile and the person I talked to wasn't sure if they were going to release it at all.

I would also be very interested in the OpenMoko phone, but it has to at least make basic phone calls reliably before I'm going to jump in. They say October...add some margin and I'm hoping to be able to get one (that will actually make phone calls) by early next year.

The combination of a big player like Motorola and completely open platform like OpenMoko is just great for Linux on cellphones, but neither is quite here....yet.

Re:Still not (yet) available in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20656441)

The Linux RAZR2 seems a bit overhyped, since the only major US carrier that will carry the Linux (V8) version will be T-mobile...and as of today that's still vaporware. It drives me crazy when all the Linux magazines talk about 5 years of Linux cell phone, since none of these have been available from a major US carrier. Yes, you could have ordered one from another country, got a sim card from AT&T or T-Mobile and gotten it to work, but that's quite different from being able to get it all set up, directly from the carrier.

Funny that this is my experience of the iPhone: Not released in my country (yet) so it is essentially (as you put it) vapourware, except to those willing to bring one back from the US. Tomayto Tomarto I suppose.

Whatever happened to 3G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20654589)

Openmoko looks interesting but it's still GSM.
Isn't GSM the standard that bursts occasionally at 2 watts (!!!) and is enough to interfere with phones and erase car keys? Who knows what it's doing to your nads if it can do all that?

Whatever happened to 3G and EVDO? My friend's pocket PC is a phone with EVDO, a QWERTY keyboard, and has been out for years. But it runs windows and I'd rather have Linux. ;-)

Story Title (1)

3choTh1s (972379) | about 7 years ago | (#20655229)

Shouldn't the story title be "The Year of Linux(Based Cellphones)." Just sayin
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