community Digest, Vol 140, Issue 8

Jon 'maddog' Hall maddog at
Tue Jul 14 18:22:19 CEST 2009


Thank you for taking the time to write.  My answers are in-lined below.

> >> I am curious how many Freerunner that Koolu will buy from Openmoko?
> > I have no idea what this has to do with the conversation
> You are working with the company Koolu. This could be in conflict with
> the university project you mention
Yes, I am the CTO of Koolu.  Yes, Koolu has a commercial interest in the
FreeRunner phone.  I have been very up-front about that.

I am also one of the very first people who understood that the Linux
kernel, with the addition of other Free and Open Source Software, would
have a commercial value.  My involvement with Linux allowed Linus
Torvalds to create a 64-bit kernel eleven years before Microsoft had a
64-bit offering.  Did Digital Equipment sell a lot of Alpha systems with
Linux on it?  Yes.  Did the Free Software community benefit from that?
In my humble opinion, yes.

Later I headed up a vendor organization called "Linux International".
We formed certification groups, standards groups (The Linux Standard
Base, also known as "LSB" was started and funded by LI in the
beginning), and protected the Linux trademark so everyone could use it

I am not intending on "running" the Openmoko project.  Quite the
opposite.  I am happy to use my contacts to facilitate it, and will be
happy to act as an advisor, but I want the community to step up and run
it.  This will take quite a bit more work from the community to do this.

> (I personnaly do not believe in the sucess of it, I sold a lot GTA02
> to a lot universities all over Europe, they never come back with any
> further big interest).
Perhaps the lack of interest you saw was because the universities saw
this only as a platform for their own use, as opposed to helping with
the actual construction itself.

However, the University of Sao Paulo is an established university in
Brazil, and has started a program to do such projects as this.  They
have started a non-profit as I have mentioned that could help with legal
and technical issues.

As I said, Dr. Zuffo and I had been working on another project, and I
saw an opportunity for the University to supply some of the mechanisms
that Openmoko needs to continue as a community project.

> Besides, last year Koolu offered me 270 units Freerunner to buy, which
> they did not really had in stock. I made prepayment to their partner  
> Truebox and never received full refund from them until today.

I am the CTO of Koolu, and as such I do not deal in the day-to-day
ordering and sales of systems.  I have no idea about this order.  I have
just sent some email to our sales manager asking them to comment on

Likewise while Truebox is a partner of ours, they are their own company.
I am not sure what the issues are behind their order with you.

In any case, the issues you have with Truebox, Koolu or even me still do
not have any bearing on this potential partnership of the University and
the Openmoko project.

> I suggest you use your energy to solve MP3-patent licence issue, the  
> Openmoko sword of Damocles.

Thank you for your suggestion.  I am aware of the "mp3-patent" issues,
and I have been speaking out against software patents for 20 years at
this point.  The only reason why I have not been speaking out longer is
that software patents were not perceived as an issue before that.  I
have written articles about them, and talked to governments about the
evils of software patents.

I just returned from a conference of 4000 (mostly) high school and
college students in Colombia where I ran a contest requiring them to put
the output of their submissions in Ogg Theora format, licensed under
Creative Commons.  Most of them had never heard of "Creative Commons",
nor knew about the multi-media tools available in Free Software, nor
knew about the issues of mp3 and mp4 codecs until they started to work
on the contest.  Now they do.

I buy only players that play Ogg format.  All of my music (all 400+
properly purchased CDs) have been stored on my players in Ogg Vorbis

Unfortunately software patents are a fact of life in some jurisdictions.
As I am guilty of being a pragmatist, I pick the battles that I can win,
and compromise from time to time.

Koolu supports the use of open formats and open codecs.  But we also
recognize that there is inertia in the world, and in order to have a
useful phone we will need to support patent-bearing codecs.  As a
company we would hope to make this as painless as possible for all of
the software stacks, in every jurisdiction.

However, none of this has any real bearing on the university offer.

If you have some real issues, please let me know.

> Christoph
Warmest regards,


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