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Openmoko's Open Source Phone Goes Mass-Market 247

Posted by timothy
from the long-may-it-wave dept.
nerdyH writes "Openmoko has begun shipping its Linux-based, open source Neo Freerunner phone to five newly announced distributors, in Germany, France, and India, says the company. The Neo Freerunner features an open hardware design, and a Linux-based operating system that users are free to modify. The project originally hoped to produce a mass-market offering last October. The $400 Freerunner will remain available direct, online, too. A 2.5G GPRS/GSM phone like the original iPhone, it boasts a 500MHz processor, WiFi, 3D accelerometers, a 4.3-inch VGA touchscreen, Bluetooth, and built-in GPS."
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Openmoko's Open Source Phone Goes Mass-Market

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  • Some corrections (Score:4, Informative)

    by comm2k (961394) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @01:13PM (#23938183)

    it boasts a 500MHz processor, WiFi, 3D accelerometers, a 4.3-inch VGA touchscreen, Bluetooth, and built-in GPS."
    But will run @ 400 MHz. 2.8 inch VGA touchscreen.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by holdenkarau (1130485) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @01:23PM (#23938299) Homepage

    So blatantly I have no real need for a phone, why do they all have to be so gaddamn expensive?
    Its non-carrier subsidized and not produced at the same volumes as some other phones, hence it is a bit more expensive.

    I can't afford much more than £5 a month for calls, will the open-ness and WIFI-ness of this phone allow me to say, use my internet (which I already pay for) to make phonecalls? (for free)
    Yes you can use VoIP if you so desire. If you only have £5 though, your money might be better spent on other things.

    What's with the 2.5G? Did n't the Iphone get absolutely slammed for the lack of it, something that British (european) users apparently Have To Have? Given that this is a french phone and not a US thing, surely it would come with the usual standards.
    Its not french, its from a company called FIC [fic.com.tw] which is in Taiwan. As far as I understand 3G is expensive. You might want to check out this thread on the openmoko mailing list for a bit more of the background [openmoko.org].

    Also, can I ssh into my computer and restart my webserver, motherfucker??? :)
    Yes you can.
  • Re:2.5G (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rei (128717) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @01:33PM (#23938489) Homepage

    To do a side-by-side rundown with the iPhone (correct me if I get anything wrong):

    Category: Neo FreeRunner / iPhone

    Price: $400 / $200-$400 plus specific service requirements
    Screen res: 640x480 / 480x320
    Screen size: 4.3" / 3.5"
    CPU: Samsung S3C2442 500MHz / 620 MHz ARM 1176, underclocked to 412 MHz
    GPU: SMedia 3362-based 3D graphics acceleration / PowerVR MBX 3D
    Ram: 128MB / 128MB
    Onboard flash: 256MB / 4, 8, or 16GB
    Card support: MicroSD (64MB to 8GB) / None
    Bluetooth: 2.0 / 2.0
    Wifi: 802.11b/g / 80211b/g
    USB: 1.x / 1.x
    Camera: None / 2.0 megapixel
    GPS: AGPS / None
    3D accelerometers: 2x / 1x
    Touch: Single / Multi
    Cellular: 2.5G tri-band / 2G quad band (just this month, now 3G)
    Freedom: Open / Closed

    Looks like a fair competitor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @01:34PM (#23938499)

    Its a phone. Yah, lots of new wiz bang features
    Actually not, despite the vga screen (?) most has been done before - even the combination of components is nothing special. What is special is that this thing will be hackable to unlimited degrees. This is not another embedded linux toy, where you have to sue the maker to get the sources and even then it wont help much as important stuff to get it onto said toy are missing or whatever. These people want you to customize and hack and contribute to the software stack running on it.

    If I wait a year, I'll get the equavalent of this model for free with a new service contract.
    That would be cool, but I doubt it. I think even Android devices wont be that open.
  • Re:2.5G (Score:4, Informative)

    by svnt (697929) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @01:41PM (#23938605)

    The FreeRunner screen is actually a 2.8" VGA (640x480)[1]. It has got some serious DPI.

    [1] http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/GTA02 [openmoko.org]

  • Re:2.5G (Score:5, Informative)

    by g4b (956118) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @01:41PM (#23938615) Homepage
    What I personally like about Moko is:
      * they do a lot of legal pioneering, in name of open source (imagine how long it takes to get contracts to little things like sim-cards)
      * they take it seriously
      * the Moko can act as USB Master. well. I can plug my phone into the moko and download its files. who can do that!?!?
  • Re:2.5G (Score:4, Informative)

    by bigtomrodney (993427) * on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @01:45PM (#23938681)
    Actually GPRS is a 2.5G technology [wikipedia.org] too. 2G was the introduction of digital networks [wikipedia.org], GSM for most of us.

    Edge is technically faster than 2.5G.
  • Re:2.5G (Score:5, Informative)

    by ady1 (873490) * on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @01:58PM (#23938903)

    >>Bluetooth: 2.0 / 2.0

    Just to clarify that it means nothing to have a bluetooth 2.0 in iphone as it doesn't support any useful profile except mono handsfree.

    I would define it as:

    Bluetooth: 2.0 / 2.0 Crippled Edition

  • by ady1 (873490) * on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:07PM (#23939051)

    here are teh REAL specs from openmoko's website:

            * 2.8" VGA TFT color display
            * Touchscreen, usable with stylus or fingers
            * 266MHz Samsung System on a Chip (SOC)
            * USB 1.1, switchable between Client and Host (unpowered)
            * Integrated AGPS
            * 2.5G GSM â" tri band (900/1800/1900), voice, CSD, GPRS
            * Bluetooth 2.0
            * Micro SD slot
            * High Quality audio codec

    Note that it has a USB 1.1 (slower transfers) and is triband (no 850 for north america)

    Also the article points to a meaningless page with no real info. Here is the actual page for openmoko.

    And the official site still says that its not released. The whole submission looks trollish to me.

    http://www.openmoko.com/products-neo-base-00-stdkit.html [openmoko.com]

    Detailed hardware specs:
    http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Neo1973_Hardware [openmoko.org]

  • Re:2.5G (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:08PM (#23939053)

    micro sd can go up to 16GB, I've seen 12GB cards, and heard rumors that sandisk has 16GB cards out, but haven't actually seen them.

  • Re:Some Experience (Score:4, Informative)

    by berating (1314335) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:16PM (#23939209)
    As I already have a Freerunner, here are my experiences:
    • old TI GSM modem, recamping once a minute(!) to the mobile station, eating battery like crazy and very unreliable. A TI engineer asked me if they (openmoko) got the chips for free, as they are so ancient - no EDGE, GPRS w/ 2KB/s. Openmoko is likely the last buyer.
    • audio quailty on the headphone is lousy due to a hardware bug - as mp3 player useless
    • headphone only mono. i.e. only one side works
    • headphone unusable for making phone calls due to EM-interferences
    • no bluetooth headset support
    • no bluetooth keyboard support (dropped since last version)
    • graphics sluggish and even slower than Neo 1973 despite 2D accel chip
    • GPS has >10 minutes TTFF - yes, in 2008 where every cheapo GPS gets a fix in 45secs
    • developer community alienated by Lauer & Co. GNOME knew why they kicked Rasterman out.
    • so called ASU software is pre-alpha and reinventing the wheel once again
    Unless your company pays for it, don't buy it.
  • by ZonkerWilliam (953437) * on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:21PM (#23939269) Journal
    Thats the old Neo1973 stats the next iteration is the GTA02. Check here for more Freerunner goodness! [openmoko.org]
  • In Canada, though... (Score:3, Informative)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:26PM (#23939347)

    I wouldn't be surprised if it was illegal under that new legislation the current crop of fascists wants to enact. This thing sounds like it was made for card-swapping and flexibility.

  • by tcdk (173945) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:27PM (#23939357) Homepage Journal

    Close, but those are the specs for the Neo1973, the free runner specs are here:

    http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Neo_FreeRunner [openmoko.org]

    (added wifi and faster cpu)

    Further details here:

    http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Neo_FreeRunner_GTA02_Hardware [openmoko.org]

    I agree - the submission is bad... there's no mentioning of the phone being for sale on http://openmoko.com/ [openmoko.com] - just a "coming soon" note.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bert64 (520050) <(bert) (at) (slashdot.firenzee.com)> on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:27PM (#23939359) Homepage

    You don't actually need cellphone service to make emergency calls...
    You can typically make such calls just from a handset without even a simcard, it will pick up the first available network, and the networks should all route emergency calls for free.

  • Re:'Merica (Score:3, Informative)

    by kdean06 (1050592) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:34PM (#23939467) Homepage
    Right now, Openmoko is shipping devices to the Eu resellers. By the time the resellers get the devices, the American shipping hub in Fremont, CA should be stocked. You'll then be able to buy the Freerunner from direct.openmoko.com. There's no official date, but so far it's looking like the first week of July.
  • Re:2.5G (Score:3, Informative)

    by teh kurisu (701097) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:34PM (#23939475) Homepage

    Well the iPhone 3G is thicker than the old one, though rounded at the back. And there were no improvements to the camera, which is something a lot of people were asking for (autofocus takes up space, for example).

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by memojuez (910304) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:37PM (#23939535)

    Interestingly my first post is marked as troll?

    I'd hazard a guess that the last line made a moderator's panties tighten up in a wad. It did sort of darken the the whole tone of the comment.

  • Re:2.5G (Score:3, Informative)

    by ohcrapitssteve (1185821) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:45PM (#23939607) Homepage
    The iPhone 3G has A-GPS, or assisted GPS. It is a real, honest-to-God GPS receiver, but queries a database of known wifi hotspots and their locations in the event GPS lock can't be obtained.

    Your iPod Touch does the latter already. It does not find you via the approximated location of your IP address.
  • by mrslacker (1122161) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @02:50PM (#23939709)

    Apart from the corrections everyone's made, the FreeRunner will allegedly go on sale July 4th (we'll see) and yes, I'm getting one. I don't have a phone now, because I despise the lock in and ridiculous pricing of US carriers/plans. Of course, I still need to get a plan of some kind, so that'll be the $100 PAYG T-Mobile, which at 1000 minutes, might even last me all year.

    There's a 10 pack group buy, which is 10% discount and includes some extras. If you add tax and shipping that comes to about $400 even each:

    http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/GroupSales [openmoko.org]

    Clearly this phone is evolutionary rather than revolutionary and it's obviously not for everyone, but it's a good step. That it's a portable Linux device with GSM and WiFi, for my own needs, however is a compelling reason to get it.

  • Re:2.5G (Score:3, Informative)

    by flosofl (626809) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:13PM (#23940125) Homepage
    "...the iPhone 3G uses "simulated" GPS by triangulating it's position based on local towers or access points."

    No, that's how the iPhone currently works (it uses Skyhook's services IIRC). The 3G coming in July is a real GPS which falls back to the other method if it can't lock onto a GPS signal.
  • Re:Some Experience (Score:5, Informative)

    by wurp (51446) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:28PM (#23940389) Homepage

    You seem to have some misunderstandings about the expected state of the software, and you're conflating software & hardware issues.

    • I know internal tests have indicated a week of battery life is possible when the Freerunner is suspended.
    • I'm pretty sure you're using a Nokia compatible headset instead of the Motorola compatible one that the FR plug actually matches.
    • See previous - you do only get one audio channel on a Nokia compatible headset if you use it in a Motorola compatible plug. They *did* remove one external speaker in the switch from the developer's Neo to the Freerunner, but the headset is stereo.
    • See previous.
    • The software support for bluetooth headsets is not there yet, but it is well known that the software is nowhere near complete.
    • The neo supports *full* bluetooth. The software platform you're running may not have bt keyboard support, but I know e.g. the GTK software stack supports it.
    • There are known graphics issues, which will probably only allow video playback of mpeg4 format in 320x200 at reasonable (20+) framerates. I haven't heard of general issues with normal GUI use.
    • That GPS fix time was an issue early on, and still isn't as good as it could be, but I thought the production Freerunners had < 1 minute TTFF if you're stationary & outdoors...
    • I chat with Mickey Laurer and Raster (and other OpenMoko developers) fairly often on freenode #openmoko, and I have yet to hear anyone issue anything other than the normal low-grade grousing that you'll hear about anyone.
    • The ASU is currently a piece of crap, and is mostly reinventing the wheel from the mostly working GTK release. Don't use it; use Qtopia for now.

    The software is absolutely not ready for production, and no one is saying it is. I do think the new architecture at freesmartphone.org is going in the right direction, and it sounds as if it already supports stable calling.

  • Re:2.5G (Score:4, Informative)

    by andyfrommk (1021405) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:41PM (#23940639) Homepage

    To do a side-by-side rundown with the iPhone
    Go here [openmoko.org]
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Informative)

    by Znork (31774) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @04:10PM (#23940989)

    Didn't the Iphone get absolutely slammed for the lack of it

    Sure, but the IPhone is a highly hyped product, so it has to be appropriately buzzword compliant. Any poor IPhone user would get the lack pointed out to them; instant put-down for the device-chic.

    The OpenMoko is a different field entirely. For most prospective users there simply is no feature that carries a higher importance than freedom, nor are there many alternatives with that essential feature. I have no interest in the iPhone with or without 3g; it's even more locked than many other phones.

    And no, for the more pragmatic crowd, 3g isnt something you really have to have on your phone (especially not if you have wifi). 3g is more useful as a modem for a small computer like the eee; it's nice to have when you have the UI to fully utilize more bandwidth intensive applications.

    Also, can I ssh into my computer and restart my webserver,

    The more interesting question is, can you ssh into your phone and restart the webserver you're running there?

  • Re:Neo 1973 (Score:4, Informative)

    by BlackCreek (1004083) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @04:41PM (#23941387)
    It is still in coming soon status at http://openmoko.com/ [openmoko.com]
  • by umStefa (583709) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @05:02PM (#23941669) Homepage

    Everybody see's it as an iPhone clone because it has a touch screen, accelerometers, etc.

    The reality is this phone is aimed at a completely different market than the iPhone. This phone is aimed at those who value open source software / hardware, whereas the iPhone is aimed at the 'Cool' sector.

    I am going to be getting one later in the year when my current 3-year contract runs out. I am tired of locked phones with disabled features for the benefit of the phone company. To me the ability to control my own phone is more important than having a few extra bells and whistles like the iphone.

  • Re:2.5G (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rei (128717) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @06:21PM (#23942667) Homepage

    That contradicts the linked article. Not saying that one is right, just that there seems to be some dispute. The wiki also says 400MHz, while this says 500MHz.

  • by Diederik (264074) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @06:21PM (#23942679)
    No it will not unless Google will recompile most code, because Android requires a ARMv5 cpu and this release is ARMv4. It would have been nice if they designed it with a Android upgrade in mind and designed the Freerunner with a ARMv5 chip.
    http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Neo_FreeRunner_GTA02_Hardware [openmoko.org]
    http://benno.id.au/blog/2007/11/21/android-neo1973 [benno.id.au]
  • Re:USB Power (Score:3, Informative)

    by mmontour (2208) <mail@mmontour.net> on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @07:34PM (#23943495)

    Would be better if it could be charged via USB.
    The Freerunner does charge via USB.
  • Re:Some Experience (Score:5, Informative)

    by raster (13531) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @07:41PM (#23943563) Homepage

    "developer community alienated by Lauer & Co. GNOME knew why they kicked Rasterman out."

    WTF? One thing to say here. No one kicked me out of GNOME - get your history right. Do your research. You demonstrate some serious ignorance here. I chose to not contribute anymore due to GNOME going one way, and me going another. I had plans for E and they had plans for GNOME as of course "GNOME needs no window manager. it can work with all of them!". Check your history mate.

    Thanks for registering your account now for some trolling fun.

  • by wurp (51446) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:46AM (#23950975) Homepage

    It's interesting that my *point* was that the software is unfinished, and known to be unfinished, and your response was to point out to me where the software doesn't support the *hardware* you're claiming the Freerunner doesn't have.

    The hardware is there. The software to support that hardware is unfinished. If you're testing things using the ASU, you're crazy.

    BTW, I'v owned a Neo1973 (the dev release predecessor to the Freerunner) for about six months, so I'm not talking totally out of my ass here. I have not done any testing with Freerunner, all I'm going on there is what I see in the mailing lists & chat room.

    Honestly, I'm somewhat disenchanted with OpenMoko right now. Ceasing support for the GTK platform to work on ASU was a phenomenally bad idea. However, the fso release sounds very promising. The project is very young, and already provides stable calls with suspend/resume on call.

    Regarding the headset, it sounds as if you got a bad one. I would report it and ask for a replacement.

    I'm pretty sure I would have heard about that battery issue. I have heard the opposite of what you're claiming, though - reports were that the Freerunner in suspend mode (which WILL wake on calls; it's really like what a normal cell phone does after X minutes of inactivity) lived for > 24 hours, and looked like it would work for a week based on battery levels.

    GPS has been an issue, and honestly I've heard reports both ways - people saying they get the behavior you got, and others saying they get a fix in 2 minutes (which is still crappy) when they're standing still outside. AGPS will improve those fix times.

    Honestly, all this sounds like you just want to bitch. Anyone who had enough info to know where to purchase one of these should have known that the SOFTWARE IS NOT READY. I have never seen you or your complaints in irc or on the mailing list, so I can only speculate that you have no interest in solving problems, just bitching about them.

  • by default luser (529332) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @01:43PM (#23953533) Journal

    What you're thinking of was SD. It was limited to 2GB by FAT16. ,a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital_card#SDHC">SDHC could support up to 2TB using FAT32, but it is artifically limited to 32GB.

    Windows puts an arbitrary limit on FAT32 volume size creation of 32GB, but it will happily read any sized FAT32 partition, all the way up to 2TB.

    I have a feeling the SDHC folks decided to not exceed 32GB so people wouldn't call and complain when trying to format their new SDHC cards directly in a computer. It's unfortunate that Microsoft pulled this bullshit, because otherwise we wouldn't need yet another format upgrade in the next few years.

    I'm actually curious about what format the next version of SD will use. Will it be exFAT (vista and xp)? Will it be ext2 (has a windows driver)?

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