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blosxom


Contact/Impressum

       
Wed, 08 Nov 2006
My no longer secret project: OpenMoko Linux GSM phone

Yesterday, it was finally revealed on what kind of secret project I was working for the last four months: A quite unique, really free and open Linux GSM (smart-)phone produced by the Taiwan-based manufacturer FIC

In this project I'm responsible for the system-level software design and implementation. This means: Kernel, drivers, GSM communication infrastructure, etc.

So why is this project so exciting? Because it's [yet another] Linux phone? No. It's because this is the first time (to the best of my knowledge), that a vendor is

  • involving (hiring) prominent community members to do the actual architecture design and implementation
  • planning to completely open up their Linux distribution for any contributed development, e.g. use a package manager that can access arbitrary package feeds
  • trying very hard to make sure almost everything will be Free Software, from drivers up to the UI applications
  • actively providing documentation and interfaces for third party development on any level of the system, from debug interface, boot loader, kernel, middleware through the UI applications
  • using X11 to allow users to run any existing X11 Linux application (within resource constraints)

So basically, from a Free Software community level, this is exactly the kind of phone you want to get involved with, and play with. Yes, it's not the perfect phone. It runs a proprietary GSM stack on a separate processor. There are some minor, self-contained proprietary bits on the back end side in userspace. But well, it's probably the best you can do as a first shot of a new generation of devices, and without too much existing market power to put on upstream vendors.

[ /linux | permanent link ]

OpenMoko / FIC Neo1973 GPL clarification

Since there have been some misinterpretations / rumors in the press about the amount of Free Software in the OpenMoko / Neo1973 product, I felt obliged to release a couple of further details on the GPL situation.

First of all, I'm surprised that somebody would think that I would engage in a project that would use something like binary-only drivers. I don't think that's ever going to happen ;)

Anyway, looking at the current development version, there is not a single in-kernel piece of software that is not GPL licensed. No proprietary drivers, no proprietary flash file systems, nothing.

In userspace, there only one single component that is not going to be under a Free Software License: It's our GPS daemon. The reason for this is, that the specific high-sensitivity assisted GPS that we wanted is only available in something like a "soft modem GPS", e.g. one that does most of the GPS signal processing in software.

Oh, and yes, the bootloader is u-boot (as the frequent reader of this blog might have guessed). So that is GPL licensed, too.

[ /linux/openmoko | permanent link ]