Openmoko on Design

ian douglas ian.douglas at
Tue Jul 29 02:14:39 CEST 2008

ezuall wrote:
> Potential, that is the first word that comes to mind when I think about and
> play with my freerunner.  I spent months absolutely obsessively waiting for
> the release, but when I first received it I was afraid.

I agree, there's unlimited potential.

To be honest, I was all hyped about the Freerunner, even throughout the
beta testing period before they became available for purchase, and
gladly took the risk of making a purchase for the Los Angeles group buy.

I should admit though, that despite my zeal, I'm still quite confused
myself on the whole ASU/FSO/Qtopia/2007.2 framework splits, as Jay
Vaughan has pointed out a few times.

To some degree, Sean's Email helped ease my confusion -- I see Openmoko
like Linux Torvalds (which Michele brought up) -- Openmoko has an idea
of where they want to get the phone to a basic "usable" state and to
where we community hacker/members can start adding on top of it and
making the device a household name. Openmoko has their tool of choice,
but don't care what other people develop for the phone, I'm sure the
same way Linux Torvalds probably doesn't care whether an end user
utilizes GNOME vs KDE.

And while Openmoko is working on their own framework, I have to agree
with many other voices: knowing which platform to develop for, as a
developer myself, is confusing. I don't like the thought of having to
write multiple versions of an application that caters to GTK and Qt
separately, although I recall that the FSO framework is trying to bridge
that gap. But I also don't want to have to market my application as
"only works on 2007.2/FSO because I use GTK" because that's the route I
chose to build my app.

I guess I personally envisioned the Neo1973 (GTA01) as the base model
for developers and that the Freerunner was going to have a smoother
transition into the mainstream. I agree with Sean (and several others)
that the Freerunner gets them a step closer, but Openmoko still relies
heavily on the feedback (and *participation*) of the community.

As far as "design" goes, I understood Sean's Email to say that they
don't care how we build what we build on the phone, and that even the
design of the phone (ie: case) is open to us on all levels to make it
whatever we want it to be. They're going to focus on their own framework
and hardware issues, and let us do what we do best as a community.

I still hold to a quote from Andy Powell on the community list, which
emphasizes that we all need to pitch in where we can. I agree, not all
of us have super-godlike programming skillz, and not all of us are
fluent in several languages to write the wiki, but we can ALL chip in
here and there if we're on the same page:

"If everyone put as much effort into development as they do into
bitching and whining this phone would be able to cure cancer by now."
- Andy Powell, May 6, 2008

Personally, I signed up to help manage the wiki to make it a better
source of information. I haven't got the time to invest into
kernel-level development or any hard-core programming, but I *do* have
time to review a wiki page or two every single day, and will do what I
can. If everybody had the same level of cooperation, this project would
be radically different.

At the same time, there are always going to be groups of people who are
more likely to be vocal than helpful, that's why someone coined the
phrase about how "10% of the people do 90% of the work". We will
*always* have to deal with the same questions on the mailing list over
and over and have to watch for, and manage, duplicate content on the
wiki because someone doesn't know how to use a search function. That's a
given. Instead of being harsh on these people and speaking negatively,
here's a thought: be helpful. We're only going to alienate people if we
tell people their thoughts are nonsense/worthless and "RTFM n00b".

I feel that Sean has just given us (or perhaps just reiterated what
should have already been known), as a community, the means to empower
ourselves to help on *everything* about the Openmoko project as a whole.
We wanted an open platform, and it's been given to us. We're *all* part
of that design.

Just my $0.02...


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