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Cellphones Communications Hardware Hacking Open Source Build

World's First Voice Call From a Free GSM Stack 83

Posted by timothy
from the but-it-takes-more-than-a-pdf-exploit dept.
zycx writes "As Dieter Spaar has pointed out in a mailing list post on the OsmocomBB developer list, he has managed to get a first alpha version of TCH (Traffic Channel) code released, supporting the FR and EFR GSM codecs. What this means, in human readable language: He can actually make voice calls from a mobile phone that runs the Free Software OsmocomBB GSM stack on its baseband processor. This is a major milestone in the history of the project."
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World's First Voice Call From a Free GSM Stack

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  • Congratulations! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @08:52AM (#33250402)

    Sounds like a pretty impressive feat. Shows that talented, dedicated individuals collaborating in a small group are still by far the most effective way to create software. All that "process" and "management" BS can do is decrease the performance of talented people. And with untalented ones, the final product will always suck, no matter what "process" or "management method" is used.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday August 14, 2010 @09:10AM (#33250472) Homepage Journal

    What this means is that it is now theoretically possible to have a phone with zero closed source code. So far all phones have had at least proprietary radio module code.

  • Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @10:26AM (#33250838) Homepage

    According to the all-knowing Wiki: "phase I of the GSM specifications were published in 1990"

    So, depending on your point of view:

    - it's taken 20 years to implement something that had a published standard and worldwide, cheap hardware examples used by millions of people every day.

    - the standards took 20 years for an outsider to be able to implement them independently.

    And we're still only talking alpha code with specialised hardware.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 14, 2010 @10:29AM (#33250856)

    ... perhaps the first patents expired.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @10:55AM (#33250978) Journal

    Actually, it's been done dozens of times before.

    By people who had proprietary knowledge enabling them to use the hardware properly, and hardware to do it on.

    The software is not that special, and the system isn't either.

    It's constructing the electronics that are capable of doing all the things needed to get the job done that slows you down.

    Big companies have $billions to invest in making complex micro-gadgets that they can sell for a $thousand each other big companies who can find millions of little people to rent them for a $hundred a month to send sexts and tweets. You expect things to get done in that business model.

    People with the word "free" in their corporate charter, not so much.

    Besides, there were other things we wanted to get done [gnu.org].

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday August 14, 2010 @02:26PM (#33252180) Homepage Journal

    If you start working on that phone now, you might even get a few months use out of it once you're finished. Don't expect too many GSM networks to still be around in a few years time.

    Keeping GSM turned on is the only way that can AT&T's Christo-inspired TV commercial can claim 97% coverage. There's no way that AT&T will have UMTS everywhere and that even the cheap GoPhone handsets will support UMTS by the time it deploys LTE.

  • Re:Well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @05:39PM (#33253246)

    One of the reasons it took 20 years is that for most of that time, you had to be (or pay) both a hardcore software dev guy and a hardcore RF guy to even think about trying. Now, GNU Radio and other low-cost SDR platforms have largely taken care of the RF side. That is something that will remain true no matter what kind of obscure protocols the carriers adopt for their next generation phones.

    Put another way, it's now just another software problem, and we all know how much that changes the development picture. Instead of 100 basement hackers around the world with the means to tackle problems like this, there are now 10,000,000.

  • by Thomas Shaddack (709926) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @10:28PM (#33254712)
    It's illegal only if you get caught. Which, if you don't cause significant billing or technical anomalies, is rather infinitesimally low chance. I'd say well-worth the risk.

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