Openmoko's downfall (was changing IMEI)

Michael Spacefalcon msokolov at ivan.Harhan.ORG
Fri Feb 21 10:36:59 CET 2014

Radek Polak <psonek2 at> wrote:

> But there are other points of view. E.g. some people expect the phone ring 
> when friends/wife/customer calls.

Yes, that's exactly what I seek out of my cellphone too.  And that is
why I require having the source for all sw/fw involved in this telephony
function, so when it breaks, I can debug and fix it myself, long after
the original manuf has gone bye-bye.

> I had many phones before and 2 phones after 
> (N900 and now Jolla). None of them had any problems with SMS and telephony. 

My experience is different.  Until about a year ago, my true & trusted
phone was Mot V66 (a flip phone which I first got in 2003 if my memory
serves me right).  It mostly worked, but every now and then I would
notice the coverage status LED flashing red instead of green - I would
then open the flip to see what's going on, and the display would read
"Unregistered SIM".  The only way to get it out of that wedged state
was to cycle the power; doing the latter would immediately show
perfectly good coverage with high signal strength - so it is obviously
a case of the fw getting stuck in some wedged state, rather than the
GSM network, although I reason that the triggering cause is likely
some network transient event.  This is on T-Mobile USA, Southern
California, 1900 MHz GSM band.

About a year ago I switched from this Mot V66 to the Calypso-based
Pirelli as my everyday personal phone.  Still running Pirelli's original
proprietary fw for now - getting FreeCalypso into a state where it can
drive a complete "dumbphone" rather than a mere modem is a big project
still in its infancy.  But it is still a freedom increment over the
Mot V66, as now I have a full understanding of the GSM chipset I am
using (the one in the V66 is something unknown to me), and because the
original proprietary fw is TI-based, there are plenty of things I can
poke at with my FC tools.

And guess what, Pirelli's proprietary fw exhibits the same strange
behavior with the phone inexplicably going out of service until
rebooted - but instead of "Unregistered SIM", the LCD simply reads
"GSM no service", just as if I went into a Faraday cage - except that
the GSM signal is perfectly fine, as the phone itself indicates when I
reboot it.  So it is the same case of the fw stuck in some wedged
state.  I don't know if the GTA02 modem running moko11 or leo2moko
suffers from the same bug or not - it manifests rarely enough that one
needs to be using the phone on an everyday basis to catch it.

> Openmoko is different - they never provided SW for reliable phone.
> [...]
> And even 5 years after there is no good kernel for Freerunner.

And why has no one in the community produced such a good kernel in all
these 5 years?  One probable reason is because the brightest and most
talented kernel hackers, those most qualified to produce such a kernel,
have left this "community" in frustration (moved on to other life
interests and pursuits) when no liberated/NDA-broken GSM fw appeared.

2013-10-13 04:08:54 CEST came a little too late, I'm afraid - by that
point all those "best and brightest" have already departed this
"community" for good, doing something else for fun in their lives.

> 2.6.29-rc seems 
> quite stable but the patch against mainline is horrible, besides it's power 
> management is worse then it could be. 2.6.39 has hardly nearly unreproducible 
> problem with resume.
> Now we have free firmware which is cool, but the usablity of the phone hasnt 
> changed much.

Hearing stories like this (both now and during the 2y I spent looking
for the TI fw deliverables) helped convince me that I would be better
off spending my time building a free "dumbphone" with no Linux at all,
rather than whipping GTA02 Linux AP software into shape so it could
function as a poor man's imitation of a dumbphone.

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller <hns at> wrote:

> I invite every =
> remaining Openmoko GTA01/02 owner to cannibalize their device for a =
> GTA04A5 motherboard.

There is a special place in Hell reserved for murderers of good free
hardware like you.

joerg Reisenweber <joerg at> wrote:

> A question to Michael S.: the heck which dang NDA are you talking about?

Whichever NDA it was/is that is cited by a bunch of Om wiki pages as
the reason for GSM modem fw not being free like the rest of the device.

> OM allowed all reasonable individuals access to all the docs and specs and
> schematics we ever had, on request

Many were probably too timid to ask, or saw no point in getting such
privileged access, reasoning "what good would it do for me to have
access to that shit under NDA if I can't freely share it with the
world and hire any programmer of my choice to troubleshoot odd issues
which I lack the skills to figure out myself"...

In any case, it's a solved problem now; the total collection of docs
plus 4 different source versions in my GSM mini-Wikileaks is probably
greater than what you ever had, so no more demands or threats from me. :)
But it's hard to refrain from stating my conviction that had Om (or
ex-Om people) done some things differently in the past in this regard,
all of us would have been in a much better situation now.

> But then, why don't you start a company in Russia?
> [...]
> Maybe China, with their copycat capitalism, is the best homebase for you?

No need to go to Russia or China, I can do it right here in the
USA-occupied territories.  Sure it's illegal, but meth, heroin and
other hard drugs are illegal here too, yet it doesn't prevent any of
my friends in that community from making and distributing these
alternative medicines.  If one can manufacture meth in a clandestine
production facility right here in the belly of the beast, why not
illegally-free GSM phones?


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