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

Craig Woodward woody at rochester.rr.com
Sun Jan 18 11:06:38 CET 2009

---- Neil Benn <neil.benn at ziath.com> wrote: 
>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.

Yes Neil, it does NOW.  But 9 months ago when FIC originally started selling the FreeRunner, when *I* bought it, they clearly said on the order page that this was a "consumer ready device".  That's one of the main gripes a lot of us from the initial buy are having.  The GTA01 was always listed as a development device.  But when the GTA02 launched, FIC called it "consumer ready", and now many months later they're back peddling on that and re-branding it because they can't deliver what they sold.

To be clear, I'll say it again:  Nine months ago FIC called this "consumer ready", and the words "development kit" where nowhere on the order page.  No matter what they say NOW, 9 months ago when people bough the phone, they bought it under false pretenses.  And with *nobody* in the forums or groups owning one, there were no "whiners" saying there were issues. 

I know... I looked at the forums, and read the lists before shelling out several hundred dollars.  Everything looked like this was stable, that FIC was reputable, and the phone would be ready out of the box, or at least was close to it. In fact, some GTA01 users (like some recent 02 users here) said they were using the GTA01 as a phone, with the "matchbox" image (now known as OM).  The only indicator anything was wrong was rumblings that *maybe* there was an issue around battery life, due to lack of sleep mode.  I'd take that right now... I can buy more batteries.  I can't buy a working image that has stable GSM/SMS.

>I actually purchased it for a handheld device which can act as a USB host

And for that purpose, and many others, it's a GREAT device.  I've used mine as a GPS for several months via TangoGPS by pre-loading maps though USB to a uSD card.  With OM2008.12 I can now setup GPRS and download the maps on the fly (if I needed to... they're all on card now though).  As a PDA/GPS, this could be a great device.  But I really don't need a $400 PDA/GPS... I need a cell phone.

I'll report more on the other dirstros I've tried later, but so far nothing has been very solid in the GSM category.  GPS and USB seem to work on everything, which is great.  Bluetooth and Wifi either aren't available at all or only have limited use in most images.  And GSM/SMS service is really hit or miss, though ironically GPRS is pretty stable on OM. On some distros though you have to choose one or the other, since the mux package isn't available (or doesn't work) for all the images. :P

As for comments from others about "waiting for OM" to get the software together, that's what I'm worried about.  The GTA01 folks waited almost 2 years and now OM has dropped support for that device, so they're stuck with a puck.  OM has clearly said they will NOT be working on GTA01 and more, and there's not a stable image for it, probably never will be.  With GTA03 due out sometime this year, the clock starts ticking on the GTA02.  With the speed things are going, I'm not sure waiting is going to see a stable image for the GTA02 before OM decides to drop support.  And OM has NOT countered this argument, but in fact has confirmed that their current development is focusing on changes to support the GTA03 and "other compatible open source handsets".

I'm just not sure I'm willing to gamble several hundred dollars that anyone involved will do in the next year what was promised for the past two: release a stable working base image for a GTA device.  Especially when OM is proclaiming loudly that they're not FIC, FIC has downgraded the GTA02 from a "consumer ready phone" to a development platform, and both have completely abandoned the GTA01 crowd.

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