FR: Problems, problems: please help

Al Johnson openmoko at
Tue Mar 24 01:04:26 CET 2009

On Monday 23 March 2009, Toni Mueller wrote:
> Hi,
> about one or two weeks ago, I've purchased a new FR, but haven't gotten
> it to work as much as to be usable as a phone yet. The only application
> that seems to be reliable so far is "sudoku", which I don't need.

Few people can agree on what a 'usable phone' is, but some of us have found 
combinations that make the Freerunner usable for us. There are a _lot_ of 
options though, so some perseverance may be needed in finding the right 
combination. I hope you find something that works for you.

> The gory details:
> When the phone came, it appeared to be flashed with Om2008.8, from the
> looks of the screen (black background).
> Today, I tried to re-flash the device with Om2008.12 using dfu-util,
> and got messages like

Snip reasonable looking dfu-util output

> While flashing, the FR displayed appropriate message like "writing root
> file system" (or so).
> I didn't flash the u-boot, since it was said that that wasn't needed,
> except in very rare cases. The wiki is a bit unclear about that,
> however.

There were a few issues with uboot early on, but if yours shipped with 2008.8 
it probably has a fixed version. There may be an argument for updating to Qi, 
but you are probably better off sticking with uboot for the moment.

> After a reboot, nothing seemed to have changed. I still have a black
> background (I don't mind that, however).
> The next step was to set up the USB networking. After doing so, I
> collected some info from the system:
> Hardware        : GTA02
> Revision        : 0360
> Serial          : 0000000000000000
> (The device was "advertised" as being a GTA02v6, whatever that may mean.)

GTA02 is the Freerunner. v6 is the board revision, and the 0360 shows that it 
is v6 that you have. It includes a couple of relatively minor improvements 
over v5, and is AFAIK still the latest version shipping.

> In any case, I thought I'd try with 'opkg', eg. 'opkg update', and
> 'opkg upgrade'. I found no way to download upgrades for the system,
> and no way to upgrade to Om2008.12 this way.

This may be because of a networking problem, or the repositories may have 
moved. The URLs for the repositories can be found in files under /etc/opkg. I 
can't comment on the specifics for 2008.12 as I haven't used it.

> What's (not) working now:
>  * I can press buttons. Sometimes, the associated application starts
>    ("Settings": rarely, "Locations": 2/3 of the time).
>  * Handling is generally clumsy - the phone is _slow_.
>  * I can make and receive calls. I sound like I'm in an old oil can,
>    however.

More recent distros (should) have fixed the echo problem. 

>    I get no ring tone, and generally have a very low audio volume.

Low audio volume can be fixed by adjusting the mixer settings. I find manually 
adjusting the config files easiest, but there is also a GUI available. See:

>    Using the phone near a server (no problem for my old standard phone,
>    a 6230i) can safely be ruled out that way. It also only works when
>    I'm standing near a GSM station. At home, where my standard phone
>    gives me _all_ bars for GSM field strength, I get "no service"
>    instead of the field strength indicator (I'm using T-Mobile/D1,
>    in Germany). When I was able to inspect the settings, it said "Ring
>    and vibration".

This seems odd. My FR has similar sensitivity to my old k700. It might be 
worth checking the label under the battery to see you have the 
900/1800/1900MHz European version not the 850/1800/1900MHz US version.

>  * GPS does not work. So far, I _never_ got a GPS position, even not
>    with an external GPS antenna. The one time I was able to fire up
>    "Settings", and on every attempt to use "Locations", I said "yes"
>    to enabling GPS, to no avail.

I assume that's a 2008.12 bug. 

>  * Software upgrade(s) may or may not have succeeded - I can't really
>    tell at this point because proper documentation does not appear to
>    be available. At least, the image shown for 2008.12 is not what I
>    see on my phone, and no version number matches exactly what I have.
> FWIW, I expect to be able to use the device as a phone, a navigation
> system, a music player and voice recorder.

That should be possible. tangogps and navit provide mapping with raster and 
vector maps respectively. There are several music player apps, and 3 or so 
voice recorder apps in active development. Most of these will appear in the 
list at though there have been some problems with packages downloaded 
from there recently. 

> After investing some 20 hours or so, I'm now at a loss and don't know
> what else to try.

Try some of the other distros. You may find it easier to boot off SD rather 
than reflash every time, and you could even dual- or multi-boot. See:

See for an overview of what's 
available. Most of them are converging around the API.

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