Reason for GPS problems found!

Yair Mahalalel yair at
Wed Jul 16 07:42:44 CEST 2008

Hello Openmoko community,

I'm a recent lurker on this list, attracted by the wonderful spirit
surrounding Openmoko. Coming from a free software background (and yeah,
zealotry too) I never had much patience for the closed and crippled
nature of mobile phones and when pressured into carrying one, bore it as
a necessary evil. The 1973 was the first time I ever saw a phone I
actually wanted to have; I lusted over it for months, a wicked little
platform I can use and abuse to my heart's content, and didn't try to
get one just because I knew I couldn't afford the time to hack it good
and proper like I should. But the FreeRunner is a final confirmation
that this is no mirage, and the 25th will be the long awaited piggy
smashing day. This world is going somewhere fast, and for this ride I'll
get myself a front row seat.

But there is something on this subthread that bothers me considerably.
Beyond the many things, both fine and nasty, that have been said about
Openmoko's failure to discover the bug during development and
manufacture, and the way in which they're handling the situation now,
there hasn't been a single voice addressing the community's shared
responsibility for having such a bug appear and traced only after
the final product has been shipped.

If freedom is a basic tenet of this platform and not some random boon to
help developers, and if these early units were sent out to create a
community that shares in the unfolding of the system, then testing the
units, finding the bug and tracing its origins, even if not fixing it
outright, should have been in part the community's duty.

A hardware manufacturer is responsible of course for the extensive in
house testing and quality assurance that make sure that clearly
non-functioning units will never be shipped out, but these are complex
systems that require testing in the field - alpha testing, beta testing
- the work and price one has to pay for having the cool toys first. And
it doesn't really matter who's got an early version and who didn't and
who's system had the bug. As a community, if this project is in some
sense ours, if we can really justify our pride in declaring that these
phones we buy are ours in a way that no person who ever bought a phone
can say it's his, then this sharing should go both ways - this failure
is also ours.

And as far as failures go, it's not a big one - just a bug, there will
be others, but in the way the discussion polarized immediately between
those who thought that Openmoko did right by them and those who cried it
did them wrong, lies the implicit assumption that in truth we are
nothing but passive customers being handled by forces beyond our
control. Fans perhaps, or critics, or whatnot, but outsiders - if
freedom has responsibility as its price, we would like our money back.

As I said, I'm very new here, and surely the intricacies of Openmoko's
duality in developing both the software and the not completely open
hardware are not completely clear to me. But the knee jerk response,
especially in this broken thread, took me completely by surprise - if
this is just a swell software development environment, and all the talk
of open hardware ends when it contains a bug, what do we lack in
Android's VM?

Cheers, and please reply -
I want to understand,


On Tue, Jul 15, 2008 at 05:40:04PM -0500, Robert Horton wrote:
> Joerg is right. Most of the comments, especially lately are a bit over the
> line. I understood where people were coming from a few days ago when the
> only response I saw regarding the GPS was the PDF showing good results
> implying that the problem was not duplicated by the people who need to see
> it. Today, however, with the root cause found and Joerg's many emails
> everyone should just wait for the solution.
> I didn't get in on the 1973, but bought the FR based on the many good things
> I saw with the openness of the hardware, software, and company. I bought the
> FR knowing that when you adopt anything in the early stages you may have to
> ride a few uncomfortable waves. Based on what I've seen, I have confidence
> that they will solve this problem and many others. 
> Just think, Microsoft's Xbox 360 had a pretty bad HW issue with its heatsink
> and early adopters of that gaming system had lots of issues. Stuff happens.
> Joerg and all at Openmoko, thanks for working on this and don't let the
> negative comments get to you...most of us silently applaud your work. 
> -Robert
> -----Original Message-----
> From: community-bounces at
> [mailto:community-bounces at] On Behalf Of Joerg Reisenweber
> Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 5:03 PM
> To: community at
> Cc: Jay Vaughan; Jonathan Spooner
> Subject: Re: Reason for GPS problems found!
> Am Di  15. Juli 2008 schrieb Jay Vaughan:
> > > You ever bought a piece of HW you were guaranteed there is
> > > *definitively* no
> > > hardware bug in it? None, or you get a billion$?
> > > c'mon!
> > >
> > 
> > Ever heard of Consumers rights?  Lemon Laws?  You can't sell hardware 
> > that you know has bugs in it, legally, in many places around the world.
> Ever thought about I might feel personally offended by you publically
> assuming I sell hw I *know* or even have suspect there is a HW-bug in it.
> Ever heard of laws about this? 
> > 
> > 
> > >> Perhaps those complaining are those who can least afford to blow 
> > >> $399.
> > > That's why I say I don't like those people.
> > 
> > They are your customers.  This is an open source project, people have 
> > a chance to communicate.
> And I have this chance too. I just say "I don't like those people..."
> I'm not obliged to like them.
> > 
> > > They never noticed the bug, and
> > > when we are about to discuss it and to offer a solution they start 
> > > whining. "OOOh, the BAD bug. If only I never had bought..."
> > > Instead of plain asking what we're going to do to MAKE EVERYBODY 
> > > HAPPY again.
> > > (what we are already about to do!)
> > 
> > 
> > Sure will be nice when its done, but for now, we do need to keep 
> > talking about the issue, and the point needs to be made that this *is* 
> > a serious issue for many people, if it doesn't get resolved in a 
> > fashion that makes sense.  I'm already miffed about the Glamo/SD issue
> > - for me, Glamo was one of the great things about Freerunner on 
> > 'paper', and now its not so useful after all.  I would be really 
> > turned off if the same thing happened to GPS.
> > 
> > So, yes, please tune us into the fix when you've got one.  But in the 
> > meantime, no need to get upset because your customers are 
> > communicating with each other..
> Did you consider the public image that's being created by a statement like
> "Ah well, this seems not to work. So the brick is useless for me. Damn the
> day I bought it"
> This statement is offending and deprecating on all the people that are
> actually about to fix the issue that's so bitterly complained about. And
> it's an implicit lie as there's no problem we resigned on to solve it and
> put the device to use for the complaining customer.
> But honestly, I don't like to continue this debate, and I actually don't
> have the time to.
> Have some bugs to fix, U know ;-) Appreciate our efforts or not.
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