Questions about the usability of GTA02

Tschaka Stuff4tschaka at
Mon Feb 2 09:36:57 CET 2009

Rask Ingemann Lambertsen wrote:
> On Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 06:11:58AM -0800, Tschaka wrote:
>> So, again somebody is asking a question about usabilty. Please don't get
>> me
>> wrong, i actually browsed the mailing lists and wikis, but still there
>> are
>> some unsure things, and i'd like to have a bit more of a summarization.
>> I'm interested in buying an openmoko Neo Freerunner,
>    Why? What is it that you expect the Neo Freerunner to do that the other
> handheld devices out there won't? You will have noticed that pretty much
> all
> the unhappy users are those expecting the Neo Freerunner to be just
> another
> well polished smartphone. If you buy a Neo Freerunner, do it for the right
> reasons so you avoid disappointment.
>    For example, the reasons _I_ bought a Freerunner instead of one of the
> competing devices:
> 1) I can install and use the programs _I_ want, even if nobody else sees
> the
>    point. Example: For trainspotting, I want a database with freight train
>    timetables and a front end so I can look up train passage times when at
> a
>    station.
> 2) A screen big enough to do 1). 480x640 is better than most handhelds.
> 3) A GNU/Linux environment like on my desktop system, which means I can
>    basicly do the same things on the go as I do at home.
> 4) Enough RAM to do 1) and 3). Most such devices have less than 128 MB.
> 5) An external USB port! Combined with 3), the possibilities are nearly
>    endless. Just look at all the USB devices out there, ready to plug in. 
>    E.g. even though the Neo doesn't have a built in 3G modem, a USB one
> can
>    be added. The Freerunner also connects fine to a USB cable modem, just
>    'ifup eth1' and off you go.
> 6) Schematics. It brings me the sort of excitement and enthusiasm I
>    experienced back in around 1990 when I bought an Amiga 500 and found
> the
>    schematics in the back of the manual. I did some hardware upgrades to
> my
>    Amiga 500 and I'll likely be doing a few to my Freerunner as well.
>    See also: The hardware list.
> 7) Generally, if there's something I'm not happy with on the Freerunner,
>    I'll have a much better chance of being able to change it to my liking.
> 8) I will eventually need a replacement for my more than 5 years old
> Samsung
>    phone. It's not just that the battery has aged noticably, the Samsung
>    also has a number of silly misfeatures such as refusing to adjust
>    speaker volume while in soundless mode, no way to use sound recordings
> as
>    ringtones and no way of entering '+' in a phone number. See also 7).
>    Neither the Android Dev Phone 1/T-Mobile G1, the iPhone or the Nokia
> N810
> live up to all of the above points. I have not carefully checked if one of
> the many HTC devices would suit me better.
>> 1st) Battery Power
>> sometimes i'm at university from 9am to 10pm 6 days a week. I'm often
>> browsing mobile news pages with my phone when going to university, or
>> having
>> a chat (XMPP of course!), approx 40 minutes a day. In the meantime i'm
>> listening to music. 
>> I got no actual watch, so my phone is my watch, means i often activate
>> the
>> background light to get to know the time. 
>> I'm sending like 1-5 messages a day, having a phone call now and then.
>> Now and then i would like to access the web via wifi.
>> So, since i'm not able to plug the phone to a power source at university,
>> would i be able to run it the whole day, without getting out of battery
>> power after 10 hours? 
>    The following is with the Debian distribution (with ancient 2.6.24
> kernel), xscreensaver not installed and GSM off:
> Suspended: 20 % battery charge remaining after 3 days.
> If sitting idle (not suspended) with the screen blanked: 20 hours[1]. But
> 7 hours drain 38 % of capacity, which gives about 18.5 hours instaed.
> If sitting idle (not suspended) with full backlight on: 5.5 hours[1].
> Playing music[2] using mikmod with the screen blanked: 7.5 hours[1].
> Playing music[2] using alsaplayer with the screen blanked: 6 hours[1].
> Playing music[2] using alsaplayer with full backlight on: 3.5 hours[1].
> Shooting video[3] with full backlight on: Well under 3 hours. ;-)
>    Some distributions automatically suspend after a while, others don't.
> Some distributions don't unblank the screen while locked, so you can e.g.
> put it in a pocket while playing music without wasting battery power on
> backlight. ISTR this works fine in OM2008.9, but it doesn't in Debian. :-(
>    There's a nasty power management bug somewhere which means that if
> you've
> had GSM on and turn it off, power consumption increases a lot:
> I suppose it won't affect you when using the Neo as a phone.
>    So in short, I think you should be able to use the Neo for 13 hours on
> battery power with the usage pattern you described, just as long as you
> keep
> an eye on the backlight and suspend the Neo during lectures.
> [1] Estimated using
> /sys/devices/platform/bq27000-battery.0/power_supply/bat/time_to_empty_now,
> which doesn't seem to take into account the increase in battery current as
> battery voltage decreases. So the estimate is too high.
> [2] mod.super-baz from
> [3] See thread at
>> And, will there be a (software) fix (soon) for the issue, that the
>> battery
>> gets uncharged, even if plugged in, as soon as the battery is fully
>> charged?
>> (i got no problem charging the phone every night, but when it's fully
>> charged at 2am, it would have been running 7 hours on battery power by my
>> arrival at university, so the battery would be low sooner)
>    The hardware will resume charging when the battery voltage drops to
> 96%,
> but capacity might have dropped "too much" when that happens. A patch was
> posted to instead resume charging from software after 15 minutes:
> (I think that patch needs an on/off switch, as otherwise, the Neo will no
> longer resume charging when suspended or turned off.)
>    IIRC, the parts that take power directly from the battery are GSM, the
> audio amplifier and the vibrator motor.
> -- 
> Rask Ingemann Lambertsen
> Danish law requires addresses in e-mail to be logged and stored for a year
> _______________________________________________
> Openmoko community mailing list
> community at

Hi Rask, thanks for your answer, especially the part with the battery

i think i didnt express myself well enough there. i'm not expecting a well
polished phone. i'd rather buy an openmoko for its openness and incredible
range of possibilities (due running linux). As i said, my main concerns are
battery power and acceptably reliable phone functions, which are for sure
software issues and will be fixed hopefully soonish. But, on the hardware
side, there still is the buzz, which can't be easily fixed through software. 

Thanks to Wolfgang for giving a short and nice view, of what the future may
bring. i enjoyed reading it and it made me a bit more wanting to have a
gta02 soon instead of a gta03 :)

Thanks to arne for answering fast and making me a bit more willing to get up
one hour earlier to have my phone fully charged when leaving the house. 
ps: ya i got an alarm clock, i rather meant that there are power strips,
which will turn on at a certain time. i could configure those to start
charging my phone at 6 am, but actually i'm not willing to :)

thanks to michael and hendrik for giving me some user reports and references
on battery life. it's nice to know the "FR" can make it to 3 days, although
on low usage. 

and especially thanks to sarton, who was not only telling me to get this
phone or not, but also gave a somewhat realistic opinion on some doubts and
things that won't work up to now or for rather unadvanced users. 
You somehow made me not wanting the FR as my first phone, but as a second
phone + testing plattform with which i could have fun, as long as this isn't
my only phone in certain circumstances.

Relating to this thread [1] the buzz fix will be applied in A7, which will
hit the shops pretty soon. 
I think you guys didn't totally convince me that the FR would be my first
phone of choice at the moment, but you dispelled my major doubts about
battery power and software usage. 
Now, as the buzz seems fixed, i think i will get this phone in march or
something. I'm having a second sim card i'm hardly using in an old 6230 at
the moment(maybe also its battery could be of use :) ), with which i will
use the freerunner as a second phone for now, until the sim card gets
deactivated (decembre 2009). Until then i hopefully will get used to it, and
the phone will get used to me. I expect the software to become better until
then, phone functions as well. 
i guess it will help me creating tracks for osm, listening to music on the
go, reading some news in university and last but not least diving deeper
into linux in general. 

you guys made me like the community already 2 months before i'll actually
get the phone and i hopefully will have a lot of fun with my FR and with
you, the community. 
Maybe i could also help the community a bit through bug reporting or even
some translations hehe (since i'm not into coding at all :) )


PS: thanks to sean and the team to keep things running, having YOUR own way.
keep it up!

best regards and many thanks, tschaka
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