Freerunner's Future

Ben Wong at
Sat Jun 6 08:07:50 CEST 2009

> My biggest disappointment has been the fact that my Openmoko Freerunner
> (which I've had since helping form the Austin buying group) is still
> not _nearly_ as reliable as any cheap simple handset I can get for 10%
> of the cost.

Not to disagree, I'd like to share that in the short time I've been
using my Freerunner as my only phone it has been much, MUCH, more
reliable than my previous "smart" phone.  I had a Samsung SPH-N400
which, besides having some incredibly brain dead bugs, which I could
go on for hours about, had terrible problems with non-reentrant code.
That is, when two events would happen nearly simultaneously, say
answering the phone and unplugging it from the power, it would often
crash.  I even managed to get it to crash by simply pressing the same
button too rapidly.  I got very practiced at removing and replacing
the battery quickly.  Now mind you, the N400 is a phone that was
offered by a major carrier (Sprint) in the US and was supposedly fully
supported.  I exchanged the N400 several times and also had them try
flashing different firmware on it.  It didn't help, it simply shifted
the bugs around.

> The Freerunner had (has?) great potential, but we
> couldn't realize that potential without basic reliable functionality.
> If the concerted efforts of many talented (in some cases even paid)
> engineers couldn't achieve that basic milestone, it seems unlikely
> that it will be achieved by a loosely-organized group of unpaid (and
> demoralized) volunteers.

The present tense is correct, the Freerunner *has* great potential.
It is still the only device even close to being a _Free_ phone, and it
will reach that in time.  As for what can be achieved by a
loosely-organized group of unpaid volunteers... well, do you really
need me to list all the Open Source success stories which started with
even less than we have?

I believe the Freerunner will be a success story.  The freeing of the
cell phone is a revolution on the order of the personal computer
revolution.  The only question is, Will the Freerunner be more like
the MITS Altair 8800, which led by inspiration or will it be like the
IBM PC, whose framework was widely copied to become a de facto

--Ben Wong

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