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Canadian Firms Get Behind OpenMoko/FreeRunner 140

Posted by timothy
from the watching-the-tail-lights dept.
mario writes "Now that the OpenMoko platform has stabilized enough to provide the OM2008 image (supporting the three major toolkits), things are starting to heat up. Linuxdevices is reporting on the start of a port of Devicescape's connect application. Koolu (another Canadian company) is also doing development for its W.E. phone (a branded FreeRunner). Which leads me to ask: Where are the American companies?"
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Canadian Firms Get Behind OpenMoko/FreeRunner

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  • by dattaway (3088) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @03:34PM (#24728603) Homepage Journal

    Investing their money in Washington crafting laws and developing new business models.

  • Boring (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 24, 2008 @03:35PM (#24728623)
    Can we talk about the iPhone 3G instead?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ted Rogers is that you?

      • Yes, it is. And if you call me now, I'll bump your data plan from $25 for 5MB per month, to $30 for 6GB per month. You'll be so glad for the bump in flat rate data that you'll forget to ask me how on earth it makes sense, or how I got away with it for so long.
  • Hmm, from what I've noticed, most cell phone companies are not based in the US. Europe and Asia constitute most of them.

    Anyyway, I'm really excited about this as much as I'm frustrated about the number of SDKs to pick up, Symbian, Windows Mobile, now iPhone SDK.. Google's Android and then this!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I'm frustrated about the number of SDKs to pick up, Symbian, Windows Mobile, now iPhone SDK.. Google's Android and then this!

      It should be noted that this has been around longer than the iPhone/SDK as well as Google Android. The OpenMoko project was announced [openmoko.org] January 20th, 2007.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BlackCreek (1004083)
        Who cares about the announcement date?

        GNU Hurd was announced years before Linux, and look how far that project got.

        In computing what counts is shipping / release date.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by tuaris (955470)

          In computing what counts is shipping / release date.

          Exactly, take Duke Nukem Forever for example.

  • by impaledsunset (1337701) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @03:37PM (#24728641)
    OpenMoko is a very ambitious project, and, in my humble opinion, very important. But the quality of the result from the development of the software stack has been mediocre. I still have my hopes set that it will lift off, but it's still nowhere. Qtopia rocks, and it's free software, it's working, and it's cool, but the OpenMoko distributions aren't there yet, and I have the feeling that the effort is not focused. The old distro was cool, but it was abondoned. ASU is far from being usable (it is not even developer-friendly, not talking about user-friendly). FSO is still not mature. Now, this sets my hopes up. One commercial venture is interested in improving the phone. That for me means that one of the most important goals of the whole project has been achieved. Whatever the quality of the software stack is, we will have our free (as in speech) phone.
    • by gumpish (682245) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @03:51PM (#24728805) Journal

      No camera.

      • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @04:04PM (#24728927) Journal

        I consider that a plus. If I want to take pictures of something, I'm gonna bring a good camera with me.

        • by Joe Tie. (567096) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @05:06PM (#24729589)
          I'd rather have a good camera with me as well. However, 90% of the time that I want to take a picture of something it's unplanned. And there's no way I'm carrying yet another gadget around with me all the time. In those cases, low quality is better than nothing at all.
          • by perlchild (582235)

            Can openmoko support both models of phone, one with a cam, the other without?
            Most likely

            Will both models be offered
            Unlikely, business decision will likely nix one

            Your need of having the cam with you will most likely overrule the desire of those that want a cheaper phone that does whatever it does, 100%.

            It's regrettable, and I'm already offtopic anyways, since the choice you're not being offered has nothing to do with openmoko.

            • by Znork (31774)

              Your need of having the cam with you will most likely overrule the desire of those that want a cheaper phone

              But will it overrule the desire of those that want a smaller phone, or one with a larger battery, or one with a cleaner design?

          • by zsau (266209)

            Heh, well, for me none is better than the highest quality. Or anything in between. I have no particular need for a camera and no particular desire to pay for one (be it in $, g or mL) I won't use.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by miro f (944325)

              ... no particular desire to pay for one (be it in $, g or mL)...

              you can pay for phones with blood now?

              • by zsau (266209)

                What!? I was thinking more along the lines of millilitres measure volume i.e. three-dimensional space. Having a camera in my phone makes my phone just that much larger. Really going straight from mL -> blood is just weird and confusing. If you were here in person and realised I was making a joke I would question your sanity.

        • by felix85 (987753) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @05:19PM (#24729731)
          Yeah and the cool thing about this phone is that it can act as a USB master so if you have a digital camera you can just plug it into the phone and upload your images without a computer.

          The Neo1973's mini-USB port can be configured to act as a usb host instead of a usb device. This opens up a range of possibilities, such as USB cameras and usb input devices.

          Thats for the Neo1973 but it should also be true for the FreeRunner.

    • by mhall119 (1035984) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @07:46PM (#24730949) Homepage Journal

      The first few releases of Linux sucked too. However, just like Linux, once people start using it for their own purposes, their improvements will make their way back for others to use.

      OpenMoko right now is mediocre. OpenMoko in 5 years, after several companies sell products based on it, and dozens of hackers make those devices do new and novel things, and OpenMoko will rock.

    • by Nursie (632944)

      What got my hopes upwas the announcement of official debian support.

      I'm sure that the openmoko guys are doing a great job, but they haven't produced anything stable and usable yet by all accounts.

      Suddenly, with debian support, you have a software distribution that supports, and makes available, pretty much all of the hardware. Plus it's debian, a big, stable software base with a lo of guys working on it. That's what'sgoing on my freerunner as soon as I get a moment.

    • by rakshat (950888)
      The the good think about Openmoko is that you can install Qtopia (also under GPL now) if you want to by a simple one line command. I use it in that configuration as my main phone. I can't think of any other phone where it is so easy to choose the environment you want. Rakshat Disclaimer : I sell the Freerunner in India so my comments may be biased.
  • American companies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by larry bagina (561269)
    well, Apple/ATT have the iPhone. Sprint, T Mobile, google, and others are more interested in Android.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      T-Mobile is a German company.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      probably because they can lock them down more...

  • Android (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I think the american companies have put their efforts behind Google...

    • The American companies are putting their efforts behind everyone. AT&T jumped on the Symbian bandwagon, which is quite a big deal. Motorola has also been on it for years. It's a pity their phones sucked.
      • by krakelohm (830589)
        You sure Motorola has been on the Symbian bandwagon, I thought they made their own junk and Nokia was the Symbian heavyweight.
  • Now that the OpenMoko platform has stabilized enough to provide the OM2008 image

    Except that 2008.08 doesn't actually work... it's pretty much alpha quality. (And yes there's workarounds but really... they called this a release?)

  • by Buran (150348) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @03:44PM (#24728727)

    The OpenMoko project has been around for a long time but it's been development only and unusable for the end user. US cellphone companies want to be able to sell something to end users now. They don't want an unfinished piece of junk that they don't know anything about -- they want their existing suppliers to give them USABLE phones.

    Once this thing becomes polished and usable, at least as polished and usable as cell phones get, then we might see some interest.

    • No we won't. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by StarKruzr (74642) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @04:17PM (#24729069) Journal

      American carriers are not only completely uninterested in a platform that gives the end-user complete control over their phone, but actively shunning it. Their business model is to sell slick-looking, crippled devices that push as much functionality through their networks as possible such that they can charge the end-user as much as they can for things that should be free. Verizon and the V710 debacle a few years ago come directly to mind (disabling OBEX, etc.).

      I'll be shocked if we ever see a viable OpenMoko device in the next ten years.

      • by Buran (150348)

        Do you mean period or from an existing carrier? If it's sold unlocked there's nothing the GSM carriers at least can do to block it from being used on their networks.

        • by StarKruzr (74642) on Monday August 25, 2008 @12:39AM (#24732885) Journal

          Carriers are exerting pressure on baseband manufacturers to ensure that they do not open specifications required to get open-source software to work with advanced basebands that work with EDGE, EvDO, or HS*PA. So all you get is plain GPRS and voice, on the one baseband that was available to be used with the FreeRunner.

          Don't expect this to change anytime soon. It won't. If necessary, the carriers will exert pressure on Congress to pass a law banning open source operating systems on cellular devices in the name of "security."

          • by Buran (150348)

            Then why is it you can buy unlocked phones right now that have 3G?

            • Those are still limited by their operating systems. What open Linux-based phones that have 3G exist?

              (Hint: There aren't any.)

              • by Buran (150348)

                What open Linux-based phones that are actually usable exist, period? I don't think there ARE any, and openmoko doesn't count as it's hardly exactly usable.

              • by denttford (579202) *
                Huh? [google.com] Am I missing something here?
          • by LarsG (31008)

            [Citation needed]

            I would guess that it is more an issue of baseband chip manufacturers not wanting to provide open documentation.

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @06:02PM (#24730121)

        American carriers are not only completely uninterested in a platform that gives the end-user complete control over their phone, but actively shunning it

        Android answers the description you provide, and there seem to be a number of carriers embracing it.

        They are driven to do so by the iPhone but that makes little difference in that things are moving that way, and carriers realize now that it will happen sooner rather than later.

        • An open-source OS does not mean the end-user can do what they want. It means the phone manufactures can do what they want.
          • An open-source OS does not mean the end-user can do what they want.

            Even with a closed source OS (iPhone) users can do as they like (Jailbreak).

            The ease of developing for an open source OS is even greater, since the official SDK grants you a view to the lowest levels of operation and makes it that much easier to change what you like.

            • by hitmark (640295)

              and have the apple staff refuse to look at the device because its jailbroken, what fun.

              thing is that the way android is designed, its much how osx is designed.

              sure you have a open source kernel and base libs, but everything else above that is at least somewhat proprietary.

              android has its own java variation for instance.

              • and have the apple staff refuse to look at the device because its jailbroken, what fun.

                It's called "restoring the device". Which is something you'd try to do first anyway, and you wouldn't take anything in for repair without backing it up, right?

                thing is that the way android is designed, its much how osx is designed.

                Not at all. Android has the entire system from the ground up exposed, while Apple is more careful to keep apps within a specific API that exposes some aspects of the system at all levels, but

  • by Anonymous Coward

    .. Canada was still in America.

  • by Sentry21 (8183) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @04:10PM (#24729001) Journal

    After looking at the Koolu.com website, I'd almost rather they not be referred to as Canadian... it makes us look bad...

    So some Canadian firms think that an open-source handset is going to be worthwhile. Great, good for them. The likelihood is that even if they do get anywhere with it, the majority of their clients are going to be in the US anyway. The average person in Canada doesn't know or care about open-source handsets, and isn't going to care enough to learn.

    It's kind of like RIM - they were the first to really get mobile, business e-mail out into the world, and now they're famous. Everyone who doesn't have an iPhone has a blackberry these days, and most of RIM's clients are in the US. Where were the American companies? What does it matter?

    In this era of free trade and globalization, there's hardly any distinction between American companies and Canadian companies. I work for a Canadian company which is owned by an American company which is run by the Canadian company. We're traded on an American stock exchange, we all work in Canada, and we just bought an American company made up almost entirely of Brits and Irish. So what does that make us?

    'Canadian company' these days only refers to locality - where people show up for work at every morning. Beyond that, it doesn't make a difference.

    • I work for a Canadian company which is owned by an American company which is run by the Canadian company. We're traded on an American stock exchange, we all work in Canada, and we just bought an American company made up almost entirely of Brits and Irish. So what does that make us?

      Subjects to the Queen?

    • by itsybitsy (149808)

      "The average person in Canada doesn't know or care about open-source handsets, and isn't going to care enough to learn."

      Ok, but I DO CARE!!! I just bought an Open Moko Phone during the recent iPhone controversy in Canada. I also just got an iPhone when it turned out that Fido would give it to me for FREE since I had enough Fido Dollars (whatever those are, didn't even know I had them) to pay for it fully and beyond. Ok, now the Open Moko is a brick just like my iPhone today (iPhone crashed, Open Moko has be

    • In this era of extranational interference, there's hardly any distinction between American companies and Canadian companies.

      Just follow the money up the top, ignoring the "holier-than-thou" shareholder class (voting, not mutual fund). You will find that they are Canadian with a desire to end-run business law.

      Where were the American companies? What does it matter?

      Quality and jurisdictional accountability, perhaps. Think of that next time when a knockoff product breaks too easily. Think of it when you get mindless tech support and shoddy code.

      It does make a difference.

    • The average person in Canada doesn't know or care about open-source handsets, and isn't going to care enough to learn.

      And the average person in the US does?

      - RG>

    • The average person in Canada doesn't know or care about open-source handsets, and isn't going to care enough to learn.

      Can't speak for Canadians myself, but I know a few non techy Apple fans that won't buy the iPhone because it is too locked down, they don't feel confident to crack it themselves and they are sick of otherwise good phones being rendered shitty by rude business practices. These are die hard Apple fans who don't know or care what open source is - computers work because plug them in and turn the

      • by Sentry21 (8183)

        The thing I find odd about these people who complain about things like the system being 'locked down' is that in my experience, the iPhone is, in practice, no more locked down than any other smartphone.

        You can't install homebrew apps on it, but then most people never do that anyway. You can't put another OS on it, but again, no one does that. You can only use it on AT&T - ok, I can respect that people have reasons not to be on AT&T.

        In comparison to other smartphones and PDAs I've used, the iPhone be

        • We're in a group that plays music and we often share files at rehearsal via bluetooth so we can get to know them. The one guy that has an iPhone is left out of that one. All the Nokias, Motorolas and Sony Ericssons are happy to exchange and play mp3s, iPhone isn't.

          Anything that is done over a network has to be done through Telstra and just about every application involves using the network. My current phone pretends to be a flash drive and lets me read/write whatever I want over usb. Would an iPhone? My cur

  • by NocturnHimtatagon (1116487) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @04:21PM (#24729105)

    This is mainly from the viewpoint of a graphics programmer (3d, gpu drivers, ...), so my comments will focus on that part. I know there are a lot good features on this devices.

    The Glamo chip can only use textures of 512 x 512 so it's impossible to use hw acceleration to decompress full screen video (unless you stretch the texture to the entire screen).

    The video bus bandwidth is 7m/s which gives a theoretical maximum of 12 fps without hw acceleration. That bus is also shared with the sd card reducing the bandwidth even further if you are accessing the sd card.

    SMedia refuses to give out the documentation of their gpu and only employees of OpenMoko have access to that documentation. Implementing 3D for the glamo is low priority. It's obvious it's low priority but it's a shame there's a gpu in there but you can't use it or even improve the driver.

  • as are Mexican and US citizens. No?
    • In the same way that french, english, italians etc... are Europeens.

      • In the same way that french, english, italians etc... are Europeens.

        Canadians (and Mexicans) are North Americans in the same way that that French, English, Italians, etc are Europeans. But Canadians are only Americans to the same extent that French, English, Italians, etc are Eurasians.
        I've decided that the next time someone from a European country smugly points out that I am an "American" because I'm from "the Americas" or "the American continent" (which assumes that I am obscenely geographically ignorant

  • I remember reading about the OpenMoko long before the iPhone, and the day the final spec where out I when and bought an Iphone why, no 3G or EDGE

    Apple leave 3G out of the first gen iPhone and they get crucified, but this phone has no 3G or EDGE and it is OK because it is open source? WTF!

    I would love an open phone. But you have to be the first one to the market with mobile's because of those 18 month contracts. Why do I have to wait two years for them to catch up with other company's who have stuff already

  • If AT&T and T-Mobile could legally and technically ban use of OpenMoko phones on their network, they would do it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      if they could legally ban unlocked phones on their network they would do it. In fact most of their retarded phone workers think this already when I call up for a new sim to add to my plan...

      ME: I need a sim to add to my contract.
      THEM: SIM why? has your old one stopped?
      ME: NO I'm adding a new line to my contract and I need a sim.
      THEM: Then you need a phone as well, we have several to choose from....
      ME: NO, I need the sim I already have a phone.
      THEM: You haveto have an AT&T phone to work on our network.

      • by xgr3gx (1068984)
        Jerkbags. I know they want to protect their business and everything, but come on...way to cripple innovation.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 25, 2008 @12:52AM (#24732943) Homepage

    At last, a phone from Linux fanatics! You can dial from the command line. [togaware.com] Just type:

    /etc/init.d/gsmd stop
    echo 0 > /sys/bus/platform/devices/gta01-pm-gsm.0/power_on
    echo 1 > /sys/bus/platform/devices/gta01-pm-gsm.0/power_on
    cu -l /dev/ttySAC0

    AT+CFUN=1
    AT+CPIN="<pin>"
    AT+COPS
    ATD<number>

    You are now connected. See how easy it is!

  • They're in Denver [firedoglake.com].

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