Weekly Engineering News 35/2008

Wolfgang Spraul wolfgang at openmoko.com
Wed Sep 3 21:18:29 CEST 2008

Hi everybody,
again with a little delay my update on some Openmoko Engineering news  
last week:

--- Patents
Recently one of our Electrical Engineers gave me two fully spelled out  
patent applications to sign. What to do with them? On one hand we want  
to attract and retain good engineers, and in electrical and mechanical  
engineering patents are an important 'currency' to demonstrate one's  
value. On the other hand many people in the FOSS community strongly  
dislike software patents, or even the whole patent system.
So we looked at some options:
Open Invention Network, http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/
Patent Commons Project, http://www.patent-commons.org/
Peer to Patent Project, http://www.peertopatent.org/ , http://dotank.nyls.edu/communitypatent/
Peer To Patent doesn't really solve our problem, and we found both OIN  
and Patent Commons not to be the best fit for Openmoko's culture. We  
will continue to watch what these projects are doing.

Then a better idea came up. We thought about contacting the highly  
respected Software Freedom Law Center (http:// 
www.softwarefreedom.org/) to work out a SFLC Patent License to raise  
the bar in how a socially responsible Free Software company like  
Openmoko deals with patents. The process will take quite some time,  
maybe 8-10 months, but we are very excited to work on this.

So for the two patents, I won't sign them, they go back to our parent  
company FIC and most likely they will file them under their name.  
Basically Openmoko donated them to FIC. Meanwhile we are working with  
the SFLC on a much better solution...

--- Tichy
Charlie (Guillaume Chereau) who works in our Taipei office has been  
working on a Python project called 'Tichy' for a few months now (http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Tichy 
). Recently we started thinking about our next major software moves  
after Om 2008.8 and as most people already know, it will be based  
around Python and Mickey's framework (http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/OpenmokoFramework 
So how does Tichy fit in?
Tichy basically is one process where multiple Python plugins can run  
inside. The Python interpreter will only be started once, and Tichy  
then schedules among the installed Python plugins. Right now it looks  
like Tichy will become our central 'hub' for Python plugins, we will  
boot right into Tichy.
Charlie needs to make a number of changes to Tichy because more people  
using it also means more constraints. First he finished the OE recipe  
and Tichy is now in our daily builds. Next he will move from SDL to  
Marek will port our Settings application (which is already written in  
Python), on top of Tichy as a plugin.
Mirko and Andreas are working on a new telephony plugin code-named  
'Paroli' (http://code.google.com/p/paroli/source/browse/#svn/trunk).  
Those telephony plugins will provide future phone call, SMS etc.  
functionality and will be using Mickey's framework, currently known to  
many people as FSO. If all goes well Tichy + Paroli + framework will  
replace Qtopia in the long run, or rather 'give us another telephony  
option in addition to Qtopia'. I hope we don't have another GTK+ vs.  
Qtopia flame war here. In the end this is all Free Software, and they  
happily compete with each other. We are very much looking forward to  
the new Qtopia 4.4 release, we hope to get more life into the original  
GTK+ telephony apps, etc.
But anyway, let it be said here - Tichy + Paroli + framework are  
Openmoko's new major telephony initiative, around Python and d-bus.

--- Builds
After Julian's announcement on August 14 (http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/community/2008-August/026491.html 
), he and Graeme finished the setup of our new build system last week (http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/devel/2008-August/001452.html 
Two main use cases:

1. end user
If you want to install stable software, and only get stable updates,  
the latest stable image (will overwrite all data on your phone) can be  
found at:
If you udate packages in this image, they will come from the stable  
repository at (updated daily from Holger's stable branch):
Holger (zecke) will continue to cherry-pick bug fixes with the right  
risk/reward ratio into his stable branch.

2. developer
If you want bleeding edge, we have created an image that only contains  
Settings appliation and Installer, nothing else. We call it 'base  
image'. You can find this base image, updated daily, at:
By default, this image will fetch updates packages from our 'testing'  
repository (http://downloads.openmoko.org/repository/testing/).
If you want even more fun, change the package repository to  
'unstable' (http://downloads.openmoko.org/repository/unstable/).

Once you have this base image, you can install the GTK+ telephony apps  
including gsmd, or Qtopia, or Mickey's framework.

Some of what I'm writing is not fully functioning yet. For example the  
last I heard about the base image was that it's buggy, the Installer  
and Settings applications don't work out of the box, there is more  
confusion about keyboard, etc.
But we are all focused on this now so I think after a little while it  
should work as advertised :-)

So much for this week, Thanks for helping Openmoko and Best Regards,

More information about the devel mailing list