community Digest, Vol 204, Issue 8

Gennady Kupava gb at
Wed Oct 6 21:59:47 CEST 2010

Hey, Paul, disagree with your idea about impossibility of commercial
success of opensource device.

Declaimer: all things below is just my opinion, which is formed mostly
by reading community ml from time to time in past. It would be
interesting to read where and why i am wrong. :)

В Срд, 06/10/2010 в 22:31 +0400, Paul Fertser пишет:
> openmoko at (Christoph Pulster) writes:
> > an intelligent marketing idea. My idea on the later is, to point the
> > finger in the Apple direction and naming the evil by name.

It already has at least 1 good idea, no other smartphones have - OS and
hardware separation.

> On a related note, i think there's no commercial future with such a
> device.

> Openmoko proved that. 

Sorry, but openmoko proved only that it is really possible to make open

> Too few interested people, really too few. 

Now imagine, linus tovalds wrote linux initially... alone. yeah. it
wrote it while big DOSes, Solarises, BSDs, MacOSes, mimixes,  already
existed and were fully functional. Yeah, OS he did lack of all features,
had no chances to compete with that big giants, it were complete crap.
Were this 'too much people'?

> Despite Freerunner still being the only one. 

Bwware, big portion of critics below: 

Why freerunner commercially failed (is it truth at all btw?), my

1. People got scarified with tons of grave software bugs (WSOD,
partition table corruption, sd card speed, graphical subsystem speed,
overall FR speed, events/0, debug kernel, that just _i_ know). All this
were fixable, What would happen if all this were fixed in a week after
FR release?

2. People scarified by core openmoko's own _developers_ who declare
various subsystems are 'outdated' (CPU) or 'wrong' (glamo), and did nice
PR. And all this were not really true. HW is good enought to do many

3. Community managment may be much better. I am usure if openmoko had
dedicated guy to spend all time managing community. I saw some mails
from people who offer help, unanswered. Yes, may be some offers were
funny, may be 50% of that people will do nothing, but other 50% may
easily build excellent community and greatly help project. I guess this
is main cause of 'few people'.

4. Team were too small to handle such huge innovative project as
freerunner (completely new software stack, adapt linux from almost 0 to
be usable on such multifunctional device) from almost 0 to commercial
success in reasonable time. One man did qt/x11. Other man did whole
kernel and bootloader. One more man did testing. Yeahhh. One more whole
graphical subsystem.

5. Tons of hardware bugs on initial release. And knowing that all them
were fixed... just proves that it were possible to fix that faster, with
bigger team.

6. Openmoko's team fixed problems is complete weird way. They did one
interface, found it has some problems and instead of fixing problems
they used qt interface, then instead of fixing problems of qt they
switched to fso&e17, which i bet, still has problems on it's own.
Instead of careful calculation why their device is slow and how fast it
should be, then solved boot speed problem with disabling logs. Instead
of fixing grave issues they draw fancy boot pictures. Instead of fixing
u-boot Qi were implemented. (just things _i_ noticed)

7. Raster need special mentioning. Being smart and very professional
man, he thought only about his own project, refusing to optimize latest
interface for FR, injecting myths about hw slowness (320x200, 16 bit
graphics, glamo bus speed, etc) and injecting that myths in _smart way_.
This scarified poor community even more.

All this bad PR were magnified greatly by openess of project
(_magnified_), open ML, open communications.

So, as you can see, not much in this list is related to word 'open' or
open source at all. And problems with community size are not related to
word 'open', i can say all this sounds more as problem of small team
attempting to do huge thing in commercial way.

And, as a conclusion - as it's possible to evade most of problems in
list, and do not create others: all depends on people who making
project, and bit of luck, and i think, it's perfectly possible to do
nice opensource device.

One may disagree and say that direct communication between developers
and customers created varous problems like (2) (man say something in
public, then should stand to death on his position), but this is only
small part of question and depends on personalities.

This mail look like hardcore rant to openmoko and FR, but in fact i
think that people did great job - now several opensource stacks exist
and very open phone exist, and community exist. This is great and very
hacky :)

> I'd tend to agree
> with Raster who says "Let's get an open enough consumer device that
> can be sold to the masses and hack on it".

Keyword is 'sold to masses'. All other words are not important, you may
rephrase Raster's idea "Let's do ... device that can be sold to the
masses ... ". I bet such device will make Raster happy :)


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