Writing my own Free Plain Phone sw distro for GTA02

Philip Rhoades phil at pricom.com.au
Thu Sep 22 10:30:35 CEST 2011


On 2011-09-20 12:27, msokolov at ivan.Harhan.ORG wrote:
> Hello again,
> Thanks to everyone who has responded to my introductory post with
> helpful tips and suggestions!
> Radek Polak <psonek2 at seznam.cz> wrote:
>> As for good power management - it's given by HW design and linux 
>> kernel.
>> You can't affect very much from userspace.
> But doesn't the userspace need to tell the kernel when some things
> should be powered up or down?  Things like the LCD, the backlight, 
> the
> audio codec...
>> You can get 4-5 days on one battery charge,
>> if the phone is in suspend (PMU+RAM+modem is on, rest if off).
> That's very good to hear!  I was a little afraid of the FreeRunner 
> being
> a charge 2-3 times a day type of deal: that's what some sources were
> suggesting.  Glad to hear that the original Om developers did a good 
> job
> building the HW such that it *can* provide "normal phone" battery 
> life,
> assuming that of course the software does its part properly as well 
> and
> does not needlessly waste power.
>> Btw why X11 for such project? Wouldnt be framebuffer enough?
> I've been thinking about going the X11 route for two reasons:
> * My personal programming comfort zone: I've written X11 apps using 
> just
>   libX11, and I'm comfortable with it.  If I want to put a piece of 
> text
>   on the screen, I can just ask X11 to do it for me, exactly the same
>   way as how I do it on the 1980s UNIX workstations which stay back 
> in
>   my office while I roam around with my FR. :-)  If I went the 
> directfb
>   route, I would have to learn how to use some text/font rendering
>   library outside of X11.  Yes, my project is all about learning, but
>   I'm interested in more focused learning: I want to learn how to 
> make
>   my phone place and answer voice calls, not how to use whatever is 
> the
>   "modern Linux" world's preferred text/font rendering library du 
> jour.
> * X11's client/server architecture is generally viewed as a nuisance 
> in
>   the embedded world, but it might actually help me split my UI code
>   into more manageable pieces.  I tentatively plan on having a main 
> UI
>   daemon, but some pieces could be split off into separate programs.
>   For example, upon getting an incoming call (MT = Mobile Terminated 
> in
>   GSM-speak), I could make my gsmd fork/exec off an mtcall process; 
> the
>   mtcall binary would then connect to the X11 server and display a
>   window showing the number and/or contact name of whoever is 
> calling.
> All of the above are just my tentative thoughts, I may well end up
> choosing a different approach when I actually get into it.  I have a
> strong dislike for abstract-ware, so I need to hold the hardware in 
> my
> hand before my brain can really kick into gear and decide how I 
> should
> write the software for it.
> I am still waiting for my GTA02 to arrive, and until I get it I am
> limited to fairly idle speculation. :-(
> Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli <GNUtoo at no-log.org> wrote:
>> feature phone is also non-derogatory and means exacty the same thing
> I don't think it means the same thing though: as I understand it, 
> people
> generally use the term "feature" in "feature phone" to refer to
> non-basic-telephony features: camera, mobile web browser, integration
> with AIM/Yahoo/Facebook/whatever, all that stuff I hate with a 
> passion.
> A phone that does voice calls, SMS, and absolutely positively nothing
> else would not be a "feature phone" to most people, it would be a
> featureless phone.  That is what I am after, and that is what I call 
> a
> Plain Phone.
> Actually, I need to clarify a little: I'm not against the 
> non-telephony
> features per se, I just consider them much less important.  I can see
> how *some* non-telephony features, such as GPS+openstreetmaps for
> navigation in a car when I get lost, would be a useful thing to have 
> on
> the phone even for me.  *After* I put together my "featureless" Free
> Plain Phone distro, I may well become interested in making an 
> extended
> version of it with some non-telephony features added.  But not 
> before:
> I want a really good Plain Phone first.
> Part of it is just natural resistance: if someone were to constantly
> keep forcing some particular type of food down your throat, you'd
> naturally develop a hatred for it pretty quickly, even if it's 
> something
> you would find tasty under different circumstances.  That's how it is
> for me with "smart" and "features" phones.
> For many years now I have become disgusted with the kind of phones 
> that
> are made, sold and bought by the mainstream society nowadays.  And it
> isn't even the phones themselves, it's where the makers, promoters 
> and
> ultimately buyers/users of these phones put their emphasis.  Over the
> past many years now, every time I've been compelled into shopping for 
> a
> new phone (be it a change of carrier, or old phone broke, or 
> whatever),
> I've been bombarded by disgust: the phone salespeople keep focusing
> their sales pitches on non-telephony features.  It seems to me that 
> the
> phone industry and its user community have become so obsessed with 
> their
> phones doing everything but basic telephony functions, that perhaps 
> if
> someone came out with a new cool smartphone that browses the web, 
> goes
> to Facebook, does GPS, displays TV and movies, plays MP3s but can't
> make a simple voice call, most users would likely never even notice 
> the
> last minor omission.
> The non-telephony features occupy such a prominent role in the minds 
> of
> the designers of today's phones, in their UI design, in their 
> manuals,
> in their marketing and in the minds of the intended users, that the
> basic Plain Phone features are some little "ugly duckling" tucked 
> away
> in the corner.  *That* is what I am rebelling against, and that is 
> why
> I want a Free Plain Phone distro that would make a phone do voice 
> calls,
> SMS, and absolutely positively nothing else: it is my form of 
> expressing
> protest against today's dominant smart/feature phone mentality.
>> learn about osmcombb,
> Googled for it, found the site, read the basics - wow, that is very,
> very cool!  Awesome in fact!  Definitely something to keep an eye on.
>> however it's not a drop-in replacement as it lacks:
>> *an AT command interpreter part(however they have an abandoned nuttx
>> port)
> Yes, it clearly is nowhere near ready for production use yet.  But 
> it's
> still something very much worth keeping an eye on.
>> *any kind of certification needed for connecting to carrier networks
> How would they enforce that?  Just transmit a valid-looking IMEI and
> they would never know the difference, right?
>> still that's not so bad, the GSM modem doesn't control the CODEC(the
>> "sound card") nor the GPS.
> Yes, having no GPS in the Calypso is a very very good thing.  I have 
> a
> big problem with RRLP.  Of course it is still possible for Calypso to
> implement E-OTD - does anyone know if Om's Calypso FW does or not?
> If it does, replacing it with a future usable version of OsmocomBB
> would be a good project.  But that's for the future.
>> battery charging is done in the kernel.
> Including the intelligent logic to tell the PMIC how much current it
> should draw from USB VBUS?
> That's all from me for now, gotta wait for the GTA02 hardware unit to
> arrive...

I agree with a lot of what you said above!  I think another reason to 
think about a "plain" phone is that it then should be able to be used 
easily with shell scripts to act as a SMS server ie the phone is 
connected to a Linux server - either via the USB cable or wifi and 
emails that come in via the server can be processed and sent to the 
phone which could then do some minimal processing and send the result 
out as a text message.  I know that Radek is working on something that 
might allow this in the future but a "plain" phone might be a better 


Philip Rhoades

GPO Box 3411
Sydney NSW	2001
E-mail:  phil at pricom.com.au

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