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Handhelds Linux Business Hardware

OpenMoko In Stores On July 4 212

ruphus13 writes "July 4 will be day when OpenMoko's Neo FreeRunner will be available to US consumers. Being Open Source, it is modifiable down to the core. From the article: 'The FreeRunner is based on a GNU/Linux, and it will initially ship with basic software to make calls, send and receive SMS, and manage contacts. But the company is encouraging users to write and install their own applications. Software updates will add features to the phone over time, and the company said an August update will enable location-based services.'"
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OpenMoko In Stores On July 4

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  • Just to clarify (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kombipom ( 1274672 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @03:40AM (#24056049) Journal

    The 900 model isn't really sold out it's not arrived at the distributors yet so it's not currently available.

    Also the reason it uses GSM is that the team have tried as far as possible to use OPEN HARDWARE ie fully documented and not lumbered with proprietary closed-source drivers. GSM was the only option as all 3G hardware is completely closed.

    Also please everyone, don't start the "it's not as good as the iphone" flamewars. If you want an iphone you don't want this and if you want this you probably don't want an iphone.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @03:52AM (#24056127)

    What are you getting at? I can tell you're not trolling, but what do you mean?

    This isn't like Europe and developed parts of Asia, we've got relatively low population density and spend far less money on cell phones than typical customers in those areas. As a result the time tends to be longer.

    Of course we're also fans of bureaucracy and corporate malfeasance so it'll take even longer than it would in a sanely managed geographic region of similar specifications.

  • Re:What network? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ookabooka ( 731013 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @03:55AM (#24056141)
    Uh, I would imagine any that support GSM/SIM. My cell phone company has no clue what phone I am using on their network (HTC Hermes) and it works just fine.
  • by Mark Trade ( 172948 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @04:07AM (#24056213)

    Point is, this isn't an internet tablet. It's a phone. GSM is sufficient for this task.

  • by iLogiK ( 878892 ) <adrian&adrianmester,com> on Friday July 04, 2008 @04:51AM (#24056419) Homepage
    The thing is...when I first heard about the OpenMoko project, I loved the idea, I thought it was great, I couldn't wait for it to be released. But it took them so damn long, that by the time it get's released, you've got a better iPhone (not much better, but I'd still rather have it than the Freerunner), and you've got Android which should be out this year. Also the specs for OpenMoko which looked really good 2 years ago aren't so hot right now. I for one am sticking with my Nokia E51 for know, and will probably get an Android phone when they're released. Sorry, OpenMoko, you're just too late for the party.
  • Re:Camera (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shani ( 1674 ) <> on Friday July 04, 2008 @06:28AM (#24056937) Homepage

    Indeed, that was the missing feature that made me decide to go with the iPhone, even though the closed nature of the iPhone makes me grumpy.

  • by belgian_embedded_ ( 1319675 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @06:35AM (#24056977)
    OpenMoko uses OpenEmbedded for setting up the toolchain/filesystem... You can use OE to build the entire enviroment without much effort [we all know what that meens in embedded :-) ].
    OpenMoko Wiki []
    OpenEmbedded []
  • by KlaymenDK ( 713149 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @07:48AM (#24057355) Journal

    Yes, I too really, *really* wanted a Freerunner. But, now that it's here, it seems not quite as great as the iPhone, as far as I understand it the software is hardly stable as a basic cell phone (let alone as a useful pda).

    I'm actually cancelling my group sales preorder because I prefer to use my ancient PalmT3 plus separate crummy old Nokia that can't even talk to my pda.

    Lesson? Design your software around a virtual platform, then put together the hardware as late as possible. Maybe. I don't know.

  • by whtvr ( 1213658 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @08:18AM (#24057511)
    You missed the point Jellybob. I take pictures like twice a year. Do you really think it would be a good choice for me to buy a full blown digital camera and carry it around just to take pictures twice a year? On my mobile I have a decent (for my needs) 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus - it's by no means perfect but it's good enough if I want to take a quick shot of something and share it with my friends and I don't need a 40 megapixel SLR to do that.

    And as much as I am opposed to "taking pictures with a phone" idea (sounds a little like printing using toaster) it's just pure convenience - I have a phone, I make phone calls, send messages and every once in a while it can also be my PIM/video and audio player or a digital camera (it also opens pdf, doc and xls files).

    It's far from fetish IMNSHO.
  • by yada21 ( 1042762 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @09:38AM (#24058105)

    GSM is really only of use for making calls.

    Who'd want to use a phone for that!

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:24AM (#24058459)

    Also the reason it uses GSM is that the team have tried as far as possible to use OPEN HARDWARE ie fully documented and not lumbered with proprietary closed-source drivers.

    Too bad they did a shit job [].

    • The CPU docs are available only after registering and "qualifying". They've (possibly illegally) hosted a copy of the PDF publicly.
    • The modem has proprietary extensions, and they illegally posted a leaked NDA-only doc with the proprietary stuff documented. Posting the NDA-only doc means they'll have a tough time convincing anyone their driver isn't tainted.
    • The WiFi chipset (Atheros) has no documentation available.
    • The graphics chipset is NDA-docs only.
    • The LCD has no documentation available.

    Now. What was that about this being an "open" cell phone design?

    I think it's a great idea, but the current revision sucks. They have little software available for it, it's a huge pricetag, and for chrissakes, it's not even EDGE- only basic GPRS, which means you'll get at most about 10KB/sec line-speed.

  • Re:Woops, My Bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LarsG ( 31008 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @12:03PM (#24059441) Journal

    I agree. In terms of hardware (and especially on the cellular data side) this isn't anything to get excited about.

    On the other hand, this handset's market segment is the "Linux in your pocket" people. Which meant that when they picked the components, the important question was "is this chip supported by Linux" and not "does this chip support the latest technology".

    I'm kinda surprised myself that they couldn't find a GSM module that supports at least EDGE. But if the alternative was a binary blob driver (or more likely, unavailable or only-nda-available AT command set documentation, errata etc) well... :-/

    Also remember that OpenMoko has a lot of rough edges still. The basic stuff is said to be working, but it is certainly not suitable for Aunt Tilly. The main market for this device is people who absolutely want true open Linux on their phone and who are willing to contribute (writing software, bug reports, porting, testing, etc) to make that happen. So, hardware ain't hot but it is as open as they could find; and except for camera it has all the hardware components needed (bt, cellular data, usb, wifi, etc) to enable people to test and develop the software needed for a fully featured handset.

  • by jadavis ( 473492 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @12:13PM (#24059521)

    Unless I'm mistaken, it's more free than any other phone out there. We can't compare this to an ideal, we have to compare it to alternatives, and decide where to vote with our dollars.

    Even my Debian desktop is not entirely free. I use a proprietary nvidia driver, and I use the flash player.

    Someone invested a lot of money -- and might see much of it lost -- trying to make this phone. The revenue they generate indicates the demand, and will be the primary deciding factor for future investment.

    There are pretty serious privacy concerns with cell phones -- arguably more serious than with desktop computers.

    Right now it would be convenient for the police to mandate various kinds of back doors so that they can spy on you. I don't know whether this is true or not, but they may already be able to turn on your phone remotely, so that they can track you. They need the cooperation of the phone companies, but they already have companies like ATT under their thumbs ("do what we say, or we'll investigate you for anti-trust violations").

    So, even though this phone doesn't really compete on technical merits, and isn't as free as we would like, it's still worth considering.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @02:31PM (#24060671)
    ssh client without jailbreaking. open moko wins.
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Erikderzweite ( 1146485 ) on Friday July 04, 2008 @02:45PM (#24060807)
    No contract, no unlocking or jailbreak needed, lower overall cost, much more flexible.

    Last but not least - Freedom.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats