Community update

Minh Ha Duong haduong at
Mon Jan 12 15:36:50 CET 2009


This is the nineth Community Updates, January 12th issue.

For the new year we interviewed Sean on everything that matters for the 
community: sales in 2008 were around the low five digits, om-locations is 
what remains of an ambitious mesh network project, and the most surprising 
development to him was the explosion of distributions. Back on the mailing 
lists, activity was rater slow during the first week of the year, but got 
more intense than ever after the holidays. Illume's keyboard received lots of 
localisations. reached a critical mass of packages. SHR and FSO are 
counting down toward their next milestone, while coding continues for kernel, 
drivers, Android and the like. It looks like the switch to 2.6.28 is going to 
happen soonish, before the switch to the Paroli phone stack.

The newsletter is also available with links at

    * 1 Distributions
    * 2 New applications
    * 3 Ports and updates
    * 4 Community
    * 5 Hardware and drivers
    * 6 Tips and tricks

1. Distributions

    * SHR: According to Julien's latest on the SHR project blog, the baby is 
expected really soon now.
    * Marek announced the new organisation of package and images repositories.
    * Android: The latest compatible kernel has wifi and bluetooth working 
now. Suspend and reboot are still broken.
    * FSO MS5 should branch out for really soon now (the roadmap says release 
January 31st, but they want a longer stabilization period this time). It will 
be the first milestone that will have support not only for GTA01 and 02, but 
also for the Motorola EZX A780. meeting minutes.
    * Hackable:1 buildbot is up and running. Images are generated every 
morning around 4:00. Happy testing !
    * User:Bytestore has updated assemblage 2008.12 from Russian community, 
work with gprs, headphone jack plug, ru keyboard and many other things were 
updated (download rootfs, see screenshots) 

2. New applications

    * LED clock When an Openmoko is sitting unused at night, turn it into an 
alarm clock with large 7-segment digits on a black background in landscape 
    * GPRSsettings is a GUI script designed to change apn, login, dialnumber.
    * Samuel's script for a toggle wifi icon.
    * ylock 0.1 Python screen lock and low battery monits.
    * AppManager 1.0.1 Zenity package manager.
    * Mirko announced that pre-alpha Paroli was now packaged in testing. 
Development moved to their own domain: paroli-project hosts trac, git, blog 
and documentation.
    * Kurt's Gwaterpas allows to use the Freerunner as a leveling tool.
    * There are now 75 packages at Novelties include osmupdater 
(updates OSM maps directory), sortdesk (sorts the desk), MokoCard (flashcards 
learning aid), sms-sentry (query the unit's location by SMS, handy if it was 
just stolen), pyring (a key ring), EFpLayer (mplayer GUI), playstankontakarta 
(an icon displaying remaining credit with POLISH PLAY pre-paid phone 
provider), various illume keyboards and more. It was mentioned unofficially 
that Openmoko's community repository is going to be dismantled. 

3. Ports and updates

    * Lots of Navit activity. Distributions are kindly suggested to package 
the sample map separately from the main binary to conserve space.
    * The opkg package manager development moved from OM svn to Google code. 
The recommended stable version is r172, there is a significant data 
structures+algorithm refactorization going on.
    * Version 2.4 of orrery is now available. It has a new schematic Solar 
System View page, showing the position of the planets and our moon in their 
orbits, a new moon calendar, and a less ugly icon.
    * The ZOMG! package manager is now available on, and now allows 
to add/remove/edit repositories (i.e. feeds).
    * Angus updated to work with FSO. With this script, the 
FreeRunner works as a bluetooth GPS.
    * Marco shared his success in compiling the latest E17 svn on 2008.12. 
There was trouble on SHR with the Elementary widget set, tough. 

4. Community

    * Sean's new year interview
    * Rakshat Hooja's company IDA Systems will be at Mumbai's TechFest. There 
are gifts waiting for the first 10 FreeRunner owners to show up at their 
    * The Future of location services thread started as an attempt to clarify 
the GPS drivers tangle, and then turned to using GSM celltowers and wifi 
access points location information. Dima signalled that there are several 
free databases of GSM tower locations, and that his gta02 Perl script to 
query OpenCellID for the approximate tower location, and then initialize the 
AGPS with this data works great. There is a database of Wifi access points at
    * Two new mailing lists were announced. One to discuss testing of all 
Openmoko Products. The other to discuss administration. 
While we are at it, here are the number of subscriptions as of 07/01/2009 
according to Werner: hardware 670, kernel 692, support 1016, devel 1262, 
community 2323, announce 11258.
    * The Department CSIE of National Chung Cheng University launched dozens 
of projects this week. 

5. Hardware and drivers

    * Werner announced he made an debug board that fits inside the case. 
Schematics contributed as a community member, not as an Openmoko employee.
    * Filter AUX key bouncing patches.
    * There is a thread about the touchscreen driver on the devel list, how it 
should be split between kernelspace and userspace, and how to contribute it 
upstream to the Linux kernel. I find the mix of high-level technical 
arguments with social and emotional considerations fascinating.
    * It is a pleasure to say that the Community localized the Illume keyboard 
to at least nine different languages. This does not only involves layout and 
icon, but also building up a dictionary (the keyboard emits key symbols when 
in "terminal" mode, but uses predictive dictionary lookups when in "strings" 
mode.) The frontier: asian languages input.
    * The Freeunner is also a target platform for many innovative new input 
    * Carl proposed a simple in-car mount: stick a piece of velcro on the 
dashboard, strap the FreeRunner onto it through the hole, flipping the 
display with xrandr -o 2. Add a standard USB car charger, you are all set.
    * GSM firmware updater and hardware buzzfix program: not released yet, 
still working on it.
    * Video driver code was ported from kdrive to xorg architecture, Graeme is 
now in debugging mode. Andreas, Chris and Tom are also working on it.
    * Miguel's video showcases that the Arduino, a popular open-source 
electronic prototyping platform, complements well the FreeRunner when it 
comes to reading sensors and controlling actuators.
    * Qi supports the zImage kernel format. 

6. Tips and tricks

    * Booting 2008.12 from a microsd fails with "Only GTA01 hardware supported 
by ASoc driver" ? Option "ro" on the kernel commandline is fatal for startup 
of 2008.12. Check your U-Boot env if you're using that for "ro", or try 
adding rw to /boot/append-GTA02 if you are on SD Card and Qi.
    * tangogps 0.9.2 and 0.9.3 have an issue converting between coordinate 
formats in the western or southern hemispheres. If you use the DD.dd format 
it should display the correct value.
    * Current FSO should support both the 2.6.24 and 2.6.28 kernels. The patch 
to use old FSO with new kernel is here.
    * Howto get the wrench and QWERTY buttons in 2008.12 with the ASU theme.
    * Chris Samuel offers a noise reduction+echo suppression patch and binary 
for QtE 4.4.2. 


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