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

Paul Wouters paul at
Tue Jul 8 17:52:48 CEST 2008

> 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.

Even GPLv3 won't help you against motorola's dead man's switch. I tried
to convince RMS, but he was just too far gone in his own world to
understand why GPLv3 was not good enough, and could not ever, protect
against this.

Motorola phones have two parts, like openmoko. A baseband CPU, which
is restriced and handles all GSM protocol, and the OS CPU, which is
what you can tinker with all you want. Between the two CPU's is a virtual
serial line. 

Now imagine the OS being linux with no restrictions, fully GPLv3 compatible.
Now imagine one propretary binary running on that GPLv3 platform, which
sends a signature based on the OS/kernel contents to the baseband via serial.
If it is not a known good signature, the baseband CPU cuts power to the GPLv3
CPU after 60 seconds. No where here is there a license violation of GPLv3,
you are not restricted from modifying and using code, but in practise you
have been prevented to do so - in compliance with GPLv3 - since it is
the baseband CPU that takes the decision, and not any GPL code.

This is exactly what Motorola does. It is the "60 seconds" of working
phone with "openezx".

> 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. :|

I wonder what Nokia will do once they own all of their OS. They promised to
open it up, I wonder about the restrictions. 

I'm glad I purchased an openmoko though. I'm tired of fighting against
mobile phone vendors.


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