Openmoko Community newsletter, October 4th to 19th

Denis Johnson denis.johnson at
Mon Oct 20 11:01:51 CEST 2008

Excellent summary, many hours saved. Much appreciated, please keep it up.

Cheers Denis

On Mon, Oct 20, 2008 at 4:53 PM, Minh Ha Duong <haduong at> wrote:
> Hello everybody,
> welcome to the unofficial Openmoko Community newsletter, October 4th to 19th
> issue. The two big news are the launch of, an application directory,
> and Openmoko engineering team focusing back to the basics on Improving user
> experience.
> Contents
>    * 1 Images
>    * 2 Applications
>    * 3 Good fixes and discussed issues
>    * 4 Community
>    * 5 Outside Openmoko
> Images
> Things were rather quiet on the distribution front. Rasterman's October 11th
> images (source) were put online. This is not really a distribution, but
> rather a demonstration that illume runs well and is so beautiful, for others
> distros to grab. We also saw daily SHR image builds online, no release yet
> but available for testing. And Qi, the next bootloader, recently got resume
> support.Testing shows that it is much faster than uboot indeed, but no
> release yet either.
> Applications
> Everybody applauded when Tobias announced , an online
> directory of applications (think Freshmeat, Tucows...). The database is
> community-driven, everybody can register and index applications. In the flow
> of community developped utilities, I noticed:
>    * the initial release of OpenMooCow, a nice, funny and useless bovine
> noise simulator.
>    * Optimizations on Rotate. This is an interesting example of competition
> and cooperation (community development, if you prefer), because there are
> many versions being developed in parallel, with ideas jumping across all the
> time.
>    * The Gestures GSoC project developper managed to convince his academic
> instructors to let him code on the FreeRunner for his degree. Future
> developments coming at
>    * Auxlaunch is a very simple, finger-friendly application launcher and
> window switcher for the Freerunner. It appears when the "AUX" button is
> pressed.
> With respect to porting other applications to our favorite platform, I read
> that Intel's made powertop actually runs on the FreeRunner. This is an very
> handy utility that allows to measure and therefore optimize power usage.
> Also:
>    * FBReader an e-book reader programme now available for Debian and 2008.8
>    * Sander ported Pingus the free lemmings clone, for OE based distributions
> (it was already available on Debian).
>    * In addition to minimo, openmoko-browser2, and midori, we saw a bunch of
> light and fast web browsers announced on the mailing list: Fennec), Dillo
> (ipk), NetSurf and links2. That makes about seven, working more or less well.
> Choice, choice, choice...
>    * The same is happening for music players: pythm, openmoko-mediaplayer2,
> qtopia media player, deforaOS-player, qmmp, sonata, quasar. Thomas's K. also
> started a mediaplayer. So far I think that your best friend is mplayer from
> the command line interface (and on 2008.8, I think that mplayer is directly
> connected to OSS, so installing OSS compatibility packages probably help. And
> removing pulseaudio also saves tons of CPU cycles)
> Good fixes and discussed issues
> Many good news:
>    * There is a fix for ticket 2038 about Qtopia USSD requests, so that
> dialing "*123" or "#4" should work soon.
>    * There is a fix for ticket 1024, the GSM keeps reregistering bug, a.k.a.
> bouncing Calypso issue. The workaround is to prevent the modem from entering
> deep sleep, and it has been commited to the QTopia images already.
>    * Powersaving patches landed in stable-2.6.26 on October 8th. Note to
> application developpers: the best way to blank the screen to conserve power
> is the fbdev-ioctl method. I think that xset s 5 should do it. Thanks to the
> Harald and the Swisscom research project !
>    * OM announced two hires: Ray Chao, to work full-time in Taipei on the
> infrastructure, and Christopher Hall, a very experienced software engineer.
>    * Infrastructure-wise, unstable development of OM is moving back to OE.
> Too many bugs remain, see Test reports for example. Most of the grief heard
> these days was about Digital Audio Playing and Wifi. I would like to make an
> unrequested announcement for the sake of the good vertical communication:
> Kernels currently has the APM power management interface is still compiled
> in. This has been deprecated for years and is doomed to go away. Hopefully
> apm -s will still work for suspend, but userspace applications that still use
> the deprecated apm interface SHOULD take action, preferably sooner than
> later.
> Community
>    * Openmoko's engineers reunited for a 3 weeks workshop in Taipei. They
> decided to focus back on the basics, that is to leave the Installer,
> Locations, Diversity and Settings applications alone for a while. This
> decision was very positively received by everybody. John Lee is assembling
> the engineering task force at OpenMoko for that. He started by initiating a
> thread to hear about what the community expects most urgently. As a result,
> his priorities are posted in the Improving user experience wiki page.
>    * Compared to last month, the planet has really taken off. Several
> prolific authors are now regularly posting long, detailed analysis.
>    * Risto wrote a wrap-up of the "Lost community" thread. Gratuitous praise
> to him: when someone makes a request on the mailing list, it is indeed a mark
> of good netizenship to summarize the answers on one's blog/wiki like he did.
> These discussions led to more discussions about what would be the job
> description of a community manager and decisions on lowering barriers to
> participation (i.e. access to write priviledges in code repositories)
> happened.
>    * I did not see much innovations about cool hardware mods (feel free to
> add to this wiki page !), but an interesting stylus alternative was
> documented. It uses a guitar pick attached to the pouch lanyard.
>    * More user groups meetings everywhere in the world.
> Outside Openmoko
>    * Linux 2.6.27 released.
>    * Pulseaudio released version 0.9.13 with experimental support for
> Bluetooth devices.
> Friendly yours,
> Minh
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