Alternatives to FR

Timo Jyrinki timo.jyrinki at
Sat Jan 9 08:00:57 CET 2010

2010/1/9 Warren Baird <wjbaird at>:
>> having a free distribution running with all features enabled. But it's
> Depends a bit on how you define 'free'...   I interact with a phone mostly
> as a user, and possibly as a app developer - so for me if I can run free
> software on it, and I can develop free software for it using free tools,
> it's 'free enough'...

I understand. I meant "free distribution" as a whole, most preferably
Debian without any binary blobs. But, as you define, N900 is
definitely the way to go, not a bad choice by any means and allows to
continue working on the free software ecosystem... and there is even
the possibility of running truly free distributions some day on it. It
might easily take the lifecycle of N900 anyway before something like
FreeRunner again appears.

I'm also recommending N900 to any "normal" person as well.

> I've been using my FR for 1.5 years, as my primary phone for a lot of that
> time(on QtEI and the more recently shr-u), and I must admit I'm getting more
> and more frustrated with it - between the regular crashes and hangs, the
> incredibly slow performance (so slow that I still occasionally miss a call
> because I can't unlock the phone in time to answer it), the horrible GPRS
> performance, and the various idiosyncracies (like the  recent 'feature' to
> progressively dim the screen while I'm trying to use it, inability to
> connect to wifi much of the time, etc.)...

> There have been improvements, but it's been very slow, and IMO we're still a
> *long* way from having a phone with even a half-decent user experience...
> and there is nothing we can do can fix issues like the poor glamo bandwidth,
> and the crappy GPRS performance.

Well first the glamo bandwidth I think just doubled some time ago in
andy-tracking thanks to Thomas White ;) Slow still, and in practice
the benefit is not double, but still nice. Together with the another
30-50% speedup all in all regarding these disabling of debug features
in kernel, I really feel FreeRunner is a lot more usable
performance-wise now than it was ca. 2 months ago. What's incredible
of course that it took so long time to notice those two things. This
is truly a project of obstacles...

But the GPRS is crappy. It works fine (=slow) if I use it on Neo, or
if I browse via Bluetooth from computer with images disabled in
browser, but otherwise it's easy to hang it with multiple connections.
Some people rumor the newest muxers are able to do something about it,
but I'm not sure if they have stress-tested it or only used it on
FreeRunner itself. And anyway - 3G would be nice of course. But I'd
take reliable GPRS gladly as well.

> When I'm out of the house and need to look
> something up on the web, I borrow my wife's Iphone - I can look up what I
> need before the FR's browser finishes launching, let alone loading the
> google homepage...

I'm using woosh quite successfully for quick web browsing nowadays.
And I just checked that with the new debug-disabled-kernel (see
another thread) Midori isn't too bad either starting up. Of course
it's not iphone or other smartphone-like, but usable.

> Unfortunately, I've been actively looking for a device lately to replace my
> FR - I'm just too fed up with it.

Even though I'm defending FreeRunner, I completely understand you! I
hate these problems myself as well, even though it's also rewarding to
have many of those actually fixed in the long run. Coupled with the
fact that I'm not willing to go for a less free phone (at least
software-wise) yet, I'm staying with FreeRunner. But it is _very_ easy
to understand that people are fed up, even despite the whatever slow
progress has been made.

> And to be blunt, I don't give a damn if the battery loading software isn't
> open...

I could also live with otherwise free Debian if the battery loading
software isn't eg. incompatible with some libraries or something, but
completely self-sustaining. But I think it will be possible to replace
it with a free software alternative, according to some estimates.

Good tinkering with N900!


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