OpenMoko is the only 100% F/OSS-based Linux smartphone project

Robert Schuster theBohemian at
Tue Jul 8 14:38:20 CEST 2008

yesterday I read an article in the German computer magazine c't that
gives an overview over the projects dealing with Linux-based
smartphones. As you might know besides OpenMoko there is the LiMo
Foundation (lots of companies), Open Handset Alliance (Google, Android)
and the LiPs Forum.

As it turns out none (!) of those competing projects is going to provide
you (the device owner) with the freedom to tinker with the device, use
it for every mean, install your own kernel, access the hardware directly
and so on. I find this a shocking fact.

A short summary.

LIMO: Produces 'common' stuff that can be used only if you are a member
of the LIMO foundation. Membership fees are in the ten thousands a year.
Besides that there will be non-common code which you have to license
from another member. So you have non-free stuff and even more non-free
stuff ... :$

OHA: The stack produced by this group shields you from the actual
hardware. If you want to write a program for Android it must be Java at
the source level (will be compiled into something different than Java
bytecode) using proprietary APIs (no SWT/AWT/java-gnome/qtjambi).
Low-level plumbing (kernel + device drivers) must be done by the OHA
members themselves.

LIPS: Became part of LIMO[0]. End of story.

At LinuxTag 2008 I learned that Motorola is giving you the kernel
sources but are using signed kernels and the bootloader to prevent you
from putting your own kernel on the device. I expect that phones
provided by LIMO and OHA will have the same 'feature'. Unfortunately its
the linux kernel's GPLv2 which has no clause against such misuse.

So even if soon Linux-based smartphones from LIMO and OHA will appear
soon. All with great hardware, fancy graphics and whatnot they managed
to rip all the fun and freedom out of it. :|


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