Experiences with GTA02 and OM2008.12 (was part of the "Brick" thread)

Neil Benn neil.benn at ziath.com
Sat Jan 17 19:18:23 CET 2009


         Hmm, to be fair the webpage itself says that the FreeRunner is only
for power users and developers and is not ready for the general consumer.  I
actually purchased it for a handheld device which can act as a USB host and
runs linux (I installed debian on it).  So far I am happy that I can install
debian, boot the FreeRunner from a uSD card and apt-get packages for
development work.  That said - I would not use it as my main mobile phone
until I can get a shrink wrapped OpenMoko platform because my phone is too
important to mess with and the website says that it is not a 'consumer ready
device'.  Same would go for my car tbh.

  Having said all that, when Debian is installed on the OpenMoko is pretty
solid for me - never crashes but then again I don't have many apps installed
on it.  Also, I'm loving the open source hardware as well - gonna make a new
case for it.

  At the end of the day, if I had bought an iPhone and it did what you are
saying I would be picketing my locla Apple store - I expect Nokia/Apple/etc
to just shrink wrap me something that I can use immediatly.  So the the
OpenMoko developers, thanks I've been looking for a device like the
FreeRunner for a good nubmer of years and you've helped me out a great deal.



2009/1/17 Craig Woodward <woody at rochester.rr.com>

> First off, I want to thank Tom for the blog pages he has setup.  They're a
> great reference for setting up the OM base software, and really should be
> put on the main Wiki release pages somewhere.   I'd say the out-of-box
> functionality of most of the OM releases is highly enhanced if you follow
> the directions he's posted.
> ---- Tom Yates <madhatter at teaparty.net> wrote:
> >On Wed, 7 Jan 2009, Craig Woodward wrote:
> >> And core functionality on ALL Neos, like making and receiving calls and
> >> SMS, is still unreliable.
> >
> >i'm sorry, but i think that's unfair; my GTA02A6 has been my main phone
> >since i bought it at the end of august 2008.  you may never have been able
> >to make things work for you, but it's wrong to say that core functionality
> >on all neos is unreliable; it's fine on mine.
> Really?  Your main phone?  On my Neo, applying the same patches you note on
> your blog, core functionality is NOT reliable.  I write device drivers,
> firmware, SDKs, and applications for a living, so it's not like this is new
> stuff for me.  Try as I may, I can't get this phone to be a phone.  And
> really, I shouldn't have to patch and tweak an image from my phone's
> manufacture to get base functionality, like making and receiving calls
> reliably.
> To be fair before giving up on it, I tried loading up 2008.12 last weekend.
>  This weekend I plan on trying the latest of a couple other releases, like
> SHR and Android.  I even used your blog (which is really a great setup walk
> though) and a couple other references to get things up and running quickly.
>  At first I was very hopeful and inspired by the improvements I saw since
> the last OM release I tried (which was admittedly 2008.8).
> In particular I found that some of the interface was more polished. GRPS
> setup and usage was MUCH more solid than in the past.  In fact, GPRS is now
> probably the most stable sub system I've used on the FreeRunner.  Even
> suspend seemed to be working with test calls I did from my office phone
> early on.  I did find some annoying bugs in interface still: email not
> working, SMS not using contact info, etc.  But I figured those are
> user-space problems, which can be fixed later.  Polish wasn't my main
> concern... base functionality was my focus.
> The first night the phone ran over night and didn't crash, which was great.
> I used GPS & Wifi in the morning, and it worked well.  Finally, I tried
> making a call and it crashed, lost network, and refused to get signal again.
>  After a reboot it registered fine, and my outbound call went well. I hoped
> it was a glitch from being on almost 12 hours, and went in to work.
> At work, I got a call but was not able to answer it.  The answer button on
> the screen would highlight, but the phone just keep ringing.  A reboot and a
> call back worked.  An hour later I got a call and was able to answer, but
> the person on the other end couldn't hear me.  A reboot again fixed it.
>  Later that day the phone rang half a ring, and went right to the dialog
> that tells me I'd missed the call.  The caller later told me it rang several
> more times than usual before going to voice mail.   Repeat for the next day
> or so...
> Of about 15 calls I know about over the two days I was using my Neo, 9
> answered as expected.  Only one outbound call had an issue out of about 8.
> Not a very good rate for a phone.
> Near the end of day one, it dawned on me that I *never* got notification
> that I had waiting voice mail, which comes as a text message from my
> provider.  In fact, I discovered (over several reboots) that I'd missed most
> inbound text messages.  And despite my phone saying text messages were being
> sent, only 14 of about 26 actually made it to the carrier, based on reports
> from friends AND my carrier's ticker on my account web page.  Through
> testing I found this was regardless of if suspend and/or GRPS was on or off.
>  SMS loss appears to have happened more often when GRPS was enabled, but I
> lost calls and SMS even after I turned both off and rebooted.
> The window manager crashed every few calls and required rebooting at least
> a few times a day.  I had one occasion where the phone exited suspend mode,
> rang, and then rebooted (which is when I disabled suspend all together).
>  Over all, I found it so frustrating that on a few occasions I pulled my sim
> and hopped back on to my 6230.
> What finally drove me back to the 6230 was when I saw additional texts on
> my 6230 that the Neo never reported, sent hours or the day before in some
> cases.  Switching back to the Neo, those texts *never* showed up, as if they
> didn't exist.  This despite the fact that my Nokia got them as part of the
> SMS backlog from my provider (which included the SMS the Neo did receive).
> I don't know about you, but I call most of the above a lack of core
> functionality.
> Admittedly, some of that may be user-side stuff, since for some it's hard
> to tell where the fault lies without major debugging.  But the phone
> rebooting after ringing; that's pretty clearly a driver level issue.  The
> sound going south after a couple calls, again sounds like a driver issue,
> especially when a reboot fixes it.  GSM stops getting signal randomly, but
> is fine after a reboot... driver or firmware.  This is critical stuff that
> should have top priority, and clearly has not received it.
> Does FIC/OM do any testing?  Does anyone there run a release version of
> this software on a GTA as a daily phone?  Most of this isn't new for the
> GTA02.  In may cases the same problems (and the same hardware) exists in the
> GTA01.  And for each of these bugs I found a ticket languishing in the bug
> tracker, often many months old, with little or no pointers on a solution.
>  Many were still in the "new" state, or had comments saying it was fixed
> months ago in the developer trunk, which you'd think would mean it should be
> fixed in the release from last month.  Yet the bug still exists.
> > personally, i have a bunch of free-software-based devices
> > (OM phone, rockbox audio player, linux laptop) and i expect to have
> > to give them frequent attention
> Really?  Another place we diverge.  Stability is one of the reasons I prize
> linux based devices.  For me most just run, with little to no intervention
> required once they're setup properly.  I have several open-source devices
> that almost *never* need tweaking.  I have a Sansa w/ RockBox, and outside
> of it's setup and a couple small tweaks, it's been rock solid for nearly a
> year.  I have a linux based router that runs 24/7, and has only hung on me
> once since I've owned it.  I have a linux server that automates my house,
> provides SMB and printer services, records and plays back TV shows, controls
> my home lights, and feeds my pets via X10 devices.  The last time I even
> logged into it was 3 months ago to update the video codecs.  It has an
> uptime of over 3 years (thanks to the UPS), and probably won't be shutdown
> until I update the capture card to an HD tuner card later this year.  I've
> logged maybe 4 days of time on it in the 8 years since I set it up
> initially.
> >so do by all means say that the OM isn't what you were led to expect
> >[...]
> >but don't say that the OM cannot be made suitable for use as a production
> >phone, because some of us are using it just fine.
> I'm not upset that they didn't meet my expectations. I'm upset that they're
> not meeting the base line for the device.  Even you admit that to get your
> phone to work as a simple phone it's taken more than loading an image and
> turning it on.  With over a year of development, on hardware that's not
> changed much from the previous model, the software should be stable enough
> to work out of the box by now.  The fact that it wasn't stable when it was
> sold to customers as stable (for well above an equivalent developer kit OR
> new release GSM phone I might add), is wrong.  Yet alone to not have it
> working a year later.
> And I'm not saying OM won't make it to a "production level" phone at some
> point.  I just don't think that at the rate they're going that they'll get
> there before they've dropped support for the GTA02 (much like they've done
> for the GTA01).  And since they're the only group with official/financial
> support from FIC doing work for the GTA, that really bothers me.
> If OM stops supporting the GTA02, do you think ANYONE will pick it up?  If
> someone does, will they be able to talk the GSM modem manufacturer into
> releasing a firmware update if another bug is discovered, when OM/FIC had to
> pull teeth to get one?  OM is the only source in town, and regardless of how
> "open" the source for the GUI is, there are parts of the phone that are
> still closed and NOT documented to anyone but FIC/OM.  Who's going to
> support that when OM bows out, be it in a year when the GTA03 is out, or
> when some other shiny new toy gets their attention?
> Right now by definition the GTA is not a production level phone, despite
> FIC marketing it as such last year.  A production level phone doesn't
> require someone to spend hours tweaking a base release image to stabilize
> it.  I never had to tweak my production Nokia 6230 to enable GPRS.  I never
> had it say it delivered a text message and NOT actually send it, or
> completely lose inbound text messages. Never in the 15 years I've been using
> cell phones (over 5 models and 3 manufacturers) have I had one not respond
> to picking up a call while ringing.  I've also never had one not connect
>  half the voice stream when answering a call.  No production phone I've ever
> used has done any of these things, but my FreeRunner has done all that and
> more in the 48 hours I tried to use it as my main phone.  That's a lack of
> core functionality.
> I'm upset that they were advertised as being ready for regular use when
> clearly it's not ready for that. What upsets me most though is that a few
> people keep exclaiming "But it works for me!", as if that some how
> invalidates the fact that it doesn't work for the vast majority of Neo
> owners.  I understand having a positive attitude, and I try to do that.  But
> when I get burned by something, I tend to make noise.  And people saying
> "you should have known, despite all indications and promises to the
> contrary" doesn't change the fact that I (and many others) got burned.
> All said and done I'm seeing progress.  But I'm 9 months in now and still
> can't rely on my shiny new $400 phone to make and receive calls and texts
> like my 5 year old nokia can.  As much as I love my old Nokia, it's not able
> to keep up with the changes going on in world of data I live in.  You can
> only do so much with a 5 year old Java implementation on a sub-100Mhz CPU.
>  I'll need to replace it soon, and the Neo just doesn't look like it's going
> to be functional as a phone in time to replace it, if it gets there at all.
> Who's to say OM won't decide to change direction again, spurring off
> another base when they hit the same slope in FSO/SHR development that they
> did with the old OM2007 framework?  Meanwhile the technology is evolving,
> and newer phones with better features and near-open-source qualities are
> showing up now, with better cores, actual SDKs, and a working base image out
> of the box.
> I'm really hopeful that one of the images I'm going to try this weekend
> will just work and run and be happy.  But I've already warned my friends
> that it may take a couple calls to get a hold of me for the next few days,
> because I just don't think it's going to happen.  I hope I'm wrong, but with
> the past 9 months as my guide, I'm not optimistic.
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Neil Benn Msc
Ziath Ltd
Website - http://www.ziath.com
Blog - http://www.labauto-lounge.com

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