Alternatives to FR

Wolfgang Spraul wolfgang at
Sat Jan 9 06:43:32 CET 2010


> I'd really hope for "FreeRunner with 3G and Glamo ripped off, possibly
> newer CPU" some day. For example some company joining gta02-core
> effort to semi-productize something new...

Yeah definitely.
There are a number of efforts going on to regroup, here's my perspective
on the lower layers (everything up to Linux kernel):

Just yesterday Harald announced a new GSM development board he will be working
on with some others:
I think this is a very promising project, like Harald says right now he can
only handle people with GSM experience and EE or DSP skills, but if you are one
of them, maybe get in touch with Harald.

gta02-core, which you already know, is mostly stuck right now waiting for
components from Openmoko. I also see it as a project to learn more about
the good and bad of KiCad.

Ben NanoNote - the project I currently work on, a very simple zero-RF pocket
computer, we are going in parallel with gta02-core in trying to verify a
design process around KiCad. I think it's important that we figure out a
complete design process using free tools.

USRP - well known for a while coming at the RF problem from the GNU Radio angle

Milkymist (, the "fastest open source system-on-chip capable
of running Linux". Somehow I'm dreaming but I think this may become the
basis for GPL'ed application processors in the future, and we can integrate
logic developed by USRP or Harald's new project.  The Milkymist SoC uses a
LatticeMico32 core, and can boot Linux today. Their latest move is the
Milkymist One development board

All of these projects are on the lower layers, however, and I doubt this will
lead to another free phone for another few years maybe. If anybody knows more
projects please holler. Also I do know that these things are not really
connected to each other, lots of disorder. But with some imagination you can
see how important pieces of the puzzle are contributed in various places...

For the upper layers, I agree with others that intermediate solutions are
phones like the Palm Pre or Nokia N900, which allow to continue development
of things like FSO or mobile apps while the lower layers are progressing.

No reason to be demotivated, I think! 2010 should be a fun year, and hopefully
the FreeRunner can continue to be a source of inspiration, more than
frustration :-)

On Fri, Jan 08, 2010 at 08:35:02PM +0200, Timo Jyrinki wrote:
> 2010/1/4 William Kenworthy <billk at>:
> > Nokia n900 - probably the best choice at this time.
> Probably, but to be more precise "not yet" instead of "at this time".
> It's the only one that seems to have realistic possibility of some day
> having a free distribution running with all features enabled. But it's
> not today, and it remains to be seen how active the community around
> it is.
> I'm personally thinking that in 1-2 years I could have a pure Debian
> (maybe custom kernel) running on N900, with everything except probably
> 3D working. That assumes some people will reverse-engineer the battery
> loading etc. whatever is needed.
> But until then there is simply no choice besides Neo FreeRunner,
> unless something new appears or community around Palm evolves to reach
> the level of free distribution hackers around Maemo and the modem
> stuff is reverse-engineered.
> And even with those, I would have to give up free hardware :S I'd
> really hope for "FreeRunner with 3G and Glamo ripped off, possibly
> newer CPU" some day. For example some company joining gta02-core
> effort to semi-productize something new...
> -Timo
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