Selected questions to Sean

Minh Ha Duong haduong at
Sat Dec 20 22:43:53 CET 2008

Dear Sean,

  I received a great number of responses, most containing 3-10 questions. So I 
cheated a bit, and in this selection of 10 points most are actually multiple 

Q1. The end of the year is a time to look back on the year achievements.
So where does Openmoko stands now from a business point of view ?
Could you comment on sustainability, on sales numbers, on geographic markets
and customer categories ?

Q2. The god of January has two faces, one looking back and one looking 
forward, so...
Juergen, Eric in Japan and practically everybody else
want to know when will the GTA03 phone be released,
if it will have 3G/3.5G, a camera and the kitchen sink.
Can you tell us anything yet ? Where do you want Openmoko to be in December 
2009 ?

Q3. The mandatory dogfood question was submitted by Yorik Moko:
"Do you use the FreeRunner as your daily phone, which distro
and what is your favorite application ?"

Q4. Todd would like to know exactly what are your feelings about Android
and its impact on the OpenMoko OS.

Q5. Kosa and Marco wondered if you could say us something about the management 
that doesn't seem
to be loved by great hackers like Harald and Carsten. For example, what is 
your analysis of
the controversies that led Om2008 to ship with Qtopia's predictive keyboard.

Q6. There are many Openmoko communities in languages other than English now.
Swap38 asks how can they best contribute back to the project,
and if there are plans to organize the diversity around a common model,
as did for example. What is the status of the 
and localization effort ?

Q7. Let's be reflexive, kind of "we have to talk about our relationship, 
Tilman, supported by Michelle, wonders to which extend the community has met 
your expectations.
More precisely, could you name an area where it did not, perhaps
like an application that you would have expected be written already ?

Q8. On the other hand, Tim and others would like to know 
the most interesting or fun thing you have seen the Freerunner used for ?

Q9. And where do you think could any person do the most for the project right 
now? Think of if that person would be ideal and have all the skills needed.
And then, which skills are in most need right now and in the future?

Q10. To conclude, can we have a video of you in Openmoko T-shirt and geek-cap,
having a phone chat with star hackers, using Neo FreeRunners at both ends,
telling each other your favourite Freerunner joke ? Please ?

Thanks everybody for taking the time to ask these questions,
and thanks if advance for your replies,
Attached: All the questions received.
-------------- next part --------------
On Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 4:43 PM, Minh Ha Duong <haduong at> wrote:
> Dear friends,
>  Sean kindly agreed to be interviewed for the next edition of the Community
> Update newsletter. I invite every subscriber of this list to post the
> question or questions that s-he cares about most. No gloves. The general
> topic is "Openmoko, the community, past-present-future", but yours truly will
> select with undue care the 3-5 most interesting / provocative / popular /
> relevant / funny / whatever and forward them to Sean next Monday. You may
> send your questions in this mailing list thread or privately to me.
> Minh

(Cleaned of greetings, thanks, signatures etc...)

1. From: "Yorick Moko" <yorickmoko at>

* It's still more reliable and easy to use a 20EUR cellphone than use
the FR as a daily phone, more than six months after Openmoko said it
was mass market ready. I love the FR, but should we admit that some
things really went wrong? (for example working on a graphical
installer app before telephony worked fine, or when everyone was
craving for the qwerty button (I never heard even one user who said he
didn't want it) and nobody listened? Will things change?

*do you use the FR? As your daily phone? Why not? Which distro do you
prefer? Which app is your favorite?

*how many FR's haven been sold? (if possible some statistics with
regards to continents/countries)

* _guess_ the ETA of GTA03

* show us a funny pic of you in a openmoko t-shirt and geek-cap

2. From: Tim Dobson <lists at>

What phone is in your pocket right now?
What distro is it running? Why?
What do you use your phone for the most?
What distros have you tried?
What other portable consumer electronics do you use on a regular basis?
Who in the community, after yourself, deserves praise for their 
achievements which might otherwise go unnoticed?
What is the most pointless application on the Freerunner?
What is the most interesting thing you have seen the Freerunner used for?
Which is your favourite Freerunner joke?

3. From: Kosa <kosa at>

I first know from openmoko reading  Harald's Welte blog [1] two years ago, and
after some reading I thought Openmoko was a great project. Time past and
Harald quitted. He explain a llittle it about it in his blog but I was 
too in love with
the idea of a free and open phone/pda and I kept reading about it. Some time
later Openmoko hired the Rasterman and a little bit later he quitted too. Now it's
been a while since Michel Siloh doesn't write.

I know you don't need/have to explan that, and I'm not really sure if 
I'd like to know
what happened, but two of the best hackers are gone, and they could have 
help a lot more as full time OM developers.

4. From: Marco Trevisan <mail at>

Kosa wrote:
> I know you don't need/have to explan that, and I'm not really sure if
> I'd like to know
> what happened, but two of the best hackers are gone, and they could have
> help a lot more as full time OM developers.

I'm curious about this too... However I've read their explanations and I
figure that they say everything there.

BTW I'm totally agreeing that great hackers like Harald and Carsten (two
of the best ones working respectively in low-level and GUI things)
should have kept in the conditions to rest.

Maybe Sean could say us something about the management that doesn't seem
to be loved by our hackers...

PS: Ah, why design team is so important to decide about keeping an
un-wanted keyboard like the Qtopia predictive in Om2008?!?

4. From: Benoit FREMON <bfremon at>

1) Is a redesign of the Neo is envisionned ? I (and quite a few people I think)
find the current shape of the device quite ugly...

2) Is the inclusion of an altimeter is foreseable in a future form
(hardware based) ? I'm a fan of backcountry skiing, and this could be quite useful.

5. From: Francesco Caenazzo <canefranz at>

I write many times to Sean  before buing the Gta02 and also after have buied it...
the only thing I wanna know  is why Om2008.8 / .9 / .x are always afected
 by bugs  malfunctions  not ready to use applications 
I mean:
I'll download the kernel and rootfs  I'll flash it into the phone  I'll
 boot it up  and I don have application=3B the hardware is well known (GSM
GPS WIFI BLUETOOTH ACCELS) but the application pre installed are only for
GSM (Contacts  Dialer  Messages) for an end user
(ok I'm in the middle between tester and end user  more
close to the last one) will be good to find all ready to use  for example
TangoGPS for GPS system  mofi for wifi connection  something to rotate
the screen with accels  and something to send/receive files by BT... all
in grafical mode  nothing to be setted-up with terminal  I think if all
 the comunity will be pointed in one direction (ok for free software  free
hardware  free everything) the Om system will grow better in less time.
 (this is my personal opinion... and I know also that you cannot "put in
chains" the comunity...)

my question is: is possible to guide the comunity  the devs  the user
 trough fixed goals in order to improve the growth of OM system?

6. From: Juergen Schinker <ba1020 at>

which distro allows me to actually place a call?
why don't you develop a laptop with the same ideology as with
the freerunner (i would preorder)?

will GTA03 have 3G?

can you make a short video where you place a call from a freerunner
and call Harald(Welte) the Rasterman and Mickey?
(and they are answering with a FR!)

7. From: Eric Shepferd <shepherdem at>

I would like to know if us folks in Japan are ever going to be able to use  
these as a real cellphone vice only a wifi phone.

We in Japan have only 3G networks.  I am curious when the elusive 3G
model will be available.  I know there was a problem with the module
manufacturer before, but I haven't heard much since then.

8. From: Todd Barnard <ronin691 at>

Asking Sean exactly what his feeling are about Android
and its impact on the OpenMoko OS.

It seems that Android has leap frogged up,
over and ahead of OpenMoko leaving it in its dust.
Did this happen because it took so long for OpenMoko to materialize.
Did OpenMoko's dependency on hardware slow it down, killing all its momentum?
Has Sean considered abandoning the software side of things and
just adopt Android as the Free Runners' OS?

9. From: "Er Lern Loh" <erlern at>

Seeing the success of Android and it's increasing adoption by the larger
community, when will Openmoko handsets that are ready for end-consumers
begin to be developed? Will the next Openmoko handset design (the one that
will be designed for end-users in mind) be more impressive than the current
Freerunner? What new features can we expect for 'that' design (e.g.

10. From: Timo Niedermeyer <timo.niedermeyer at>

When do you expect the next hardware update of the Freerunner - would it be
wise to join the Freerunner World right now or would you advise to wait
for just two further months for a major hardware update 

Or alternatively, where could I find this answer  :-)

11. From: "James Zaki" <james.zaki at>

Openmoko achieves ideals many people believe in. But when will ideals be
popular hence/or financially sustainable? When will Openmoko be able to
compete equally against the likes of Nokia or even Apple for the mobile
device market?

12. From: "Christopher Friedt" <chrisfriedt at>

Now that OpenMoko has become slightly more established, with a growing
user and developer base, there are inevitably more responsibilities.
Specifically, please outline OpenMoko's strategy to ensure future
hardware revisions of the Neo are both reasonably priced, to benefit
the end-user, but also free from non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), to
benefit the developer community. Is there any compromise between
price, modernity, and openness? What are hardware vendors' reactions
to the success of the OpenMoko project and to what end are they
planning to participate in the community development process?

PS: Can you give any hints as to when we can expect the next hardware
revision to be in production? Will there be a trade-up program?

13. From: "Alexandre Enkerli" <enkerli at>

"By building a community, does OpenMoko run the risk of alienating new users?"

14. From: "Giorgio Ippoliti" <gioippo at>

Bisogna rendere il WIFI piu stabile.

15. From: Faiyaz Ahmed <faiyaza at CS.Princeton.EDU>

The viability of a technology is dependent on it's market penetration.

Do you know how many Neos, Freerunners, etc. are in circulation?

Other than the Neo and it's line of phones, do you know of any other 
manufacturers running or plan to run the OpenMoko stack?

16. From: mike <wmichaeltrout at>

ok, with all the old smartphones going on sale unlocked for as low as $99-$149,
how soon can i buy a moko for $99 (i'd prolly take three)
btw, no, those are not subsidized prices... these are examples of
blackberries and treos that have recently been offered online by a
major us retailer (unlocked, so therefore not subsidized by any cell
service provider  ... they are prolly overstocks)

17. From: J.B. Nicholson-Owens Digital Citizen <mail at>

Is the FreeRunner an appropriate choice of cell phone for ordinary users 
who primarily want a reliable simple cell phone?

Do you know of a distribution of software for the FreeRunner that trades 
flashy features in favor of reliability?

18. From: Paul Wise <pabs3 at>

Is there a more diverse set of open devices in FIC/OpenMoko's future?
I'm thinking here of music players, ebook readers, netbooks, laptops,
desktops, servers. 

What is OpenMoko's ultimate vision of a mobile device in terms of
hardware, software and the evolution of these?

Does OpenMoko intend to incorporate any of the following hardware into
future (near or far) mobile products?

OLPC-inspired: daylight-readable screen, mesh wireless networking
Other: keyboard, infrared, pointer holder, 3G/LTE/WiMax, mini projector,
multiple externally-accessible microSD slots, removable camera,
software-defined radio, TV receiver, light sensor (for adjusting screen
brightness), USB 3 (inc wireless USB).

Currently mobiles lack the plugability people are used to from the PC
architecture. Does OpenMoko plan to work on expandability at all? I'm
thinking here of something similar to PCI cards (maybe microPCI) - being
able to remove/add capabilities rather than having to buy a whole new
phone whenever a model comes out with previously unavailable hardware.

Will OpenMoko/FIC join/use the and similar open hardware

Why did OpenMoko choose to create a new community rather than attach
itself an existing one such as OpenEmbedded or Debian?

19. From: Tilman Baumann <tilman at>

Name a application that you would have expected to be made by the the 
community first but not has been delivered yet?
(Something quirky but obvious or just in dire need)

Where do you think has the community let you down? Name a aerea where 
you would have expected more community thrust but has failed.

Where do you think could any person do the most for the project right 
now? Think of if that person would be ideal and have all the skills needed.
And then, which skills are in most need right now and in the future?

20. From: Michele Renda <michele.renda at>

+1 : The first interessant questions I read in this tread

21. From: "Garth" <sylvain.pare at>

Est ce qu'il y aurai en plan un quelconque rapprochement entre la distribution
officielle d'openmoko et la SHR ?tant donn?e qu'elles ont beaucoup
de points en commun?

22. From: "Waraqa" <linux.uae at>

1- When will we can get a completely free software, stable phone for
everyday use ?
2- What is your plans about localizing openmoko software ?

23. From: "Justyn Butler" <justynbutler+openmoko at>

I would be very interested in hearing where, in his list of Openmoko
priorities, Sean places getting 3G (and 3.5G) connectivity into the
Openmoko hardware.

I ask this especially in light of the increasing availability and
cheapness of 3.5G data plans in many parts of the world, and its
availability in certain other Linux phone devices (mentioning no

Does he think some people are making too big a deal out of it?

Does he think that the inclusion, or otherwise, of this more advanced
connectivity will affect sales of the next Openmoko device (GTA03)
much among geeks?

24. From: Johann SUHM (swap38)<swap38 at>

- Pourquoi des mailing-lists et pas de forums ?
- Quelle(s) direction(s) peut prendre la communaut? francophone pour 
aider au mieux le projet Openmoko ? Que peut-on attendre en retour ?
- Est-il envisag? de f?d?rer les diff?rentes communaut?s de langue 
(francophone, espagnole, italienne, etc ...) autour d'un mod?le commun 
comme l'a fait en son temps ?

- Pour leurs flottes de smartphones (ou PDA communicants) les 
entreprises ont parfois des interrogations face au manque d'ouverture 
des mod?les "pro" (blackberry, Nokia, Iphone ...). Sont-elles des cibles 
envisag?es ?
- Si la situation menait ? devoir choisir entre abandonner le 
d?veloppement hardware ou abandonner le d?veloppement software (au 
profit d'une autre distrib ?), comment se positionnerait Openmoko ?

- Est-ce que ma m?re pourra utiliser un Neo bient?t ?
- Quels sont les usages les plus "fun" que tu as rencontr? ?
- Peux-tu publier l'original de la photo "... nature is always smiling" 
pour mon fond d'?cran ?

- Certains op?rateurs internet subventionnent des t?l?phones 
wifi/SIP/GSM (Unik d'Orange, Twin de Neuf, le "Black" de Free). Pourquoi 
pas un accord Free / Openmoko pour la france ?
- Combien de neo freerunner ont ?t? vendus dans le monde ?
- Comment Openmoko compte r?gler le fix hardware des v5 et v6 vendus ?
- Tu viens nous voir quand en France ? j'offre la chartreuse ! :-) :
"I must never forget to pay attention to the small things...
...nature is always smiling."

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