Newbie: Converting a brick to a phone

Roland Whitehead roland at
Mon Dec 8 17:23:03 CET 2008

I, like a great many others I suspect, have a NeoFreerunner doing its  
best impression of a brick on the shelf because I just don't have the  
time to get it to the point where it works as a phone before I start  
doing what I got it for - developing additional software. Monitoring  
these lists and the wiki periodically produces an impetus for dusting  
it off and giving it another go (like this past week-end's claim that  
WSOD was gone) before reality sinks home and either the Neo white  
screens or my trusty Mac grey screens.

Yes there are many different distributions out there but what is very  
clearly missing are simple, obvious instructions on how to go from a  
brick to a working device - just a machine that will turn on and off,  
will ring, answer and make calls, not hang and not have buzzing when  
on a call. After that, the user should be left to get on with it but  
I've completely failed to get to that stage despite trying 4 different  
distributions. I'm really talking basic here - if you have a machine  
that works for you, what Bootloader, Kernel and RootFS are you using  
and where did you get them from? What were the core applications that  
you loaded to make it work, where did you get them from and which  
versions? What were the modifications that you made to various  
settings files. If you have a working machine, could you blat it and  
rebuild it to get to the same position as you are in now? If so, would  
you document your process and share it with us? I don't really care  
which distribution at the moment - I just want one that could claim to  
work that I can then start developing with. I've got my Python books  
out ready...

I have searched high and low through the wiki and list archives for  
over a month with no joy. If I've missed something blindingly obvious  
then perhaps you'd point me in the right direction. I guess the issue  
is that I'm neither a hardware hacker nor a kernel hacker but an  
application hacker - I'm certainly not an "end user" in the normal  
mobile phone sense but I still can't get anywhere.

The temptation is just to say "oh well, I'll just leave it and go and  
play with Android or get an iPhone" but that is not what I got onto  
this for...

QURU Ltd, London
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