Free phone: smart or not?
Spacefalcon the Outlaw
falcon at ivan.Harhan.ORG
Mon Mar 16 19:31:52 UTC 2015
guru at unixarea.de wrote:
> I'm using since 2008 the FR as my one and only cellphone. This is not
> lying, it is just a fact. And I do not know any other person from this
> list who is doing so.
Nick <openmoko-community at njw.me.uk> followed:
> I am too. The only thing that makes me tempted to switch phones is=20
> redphone or chatsecure, basically. The GTA02 sucks, in some ways,=20
> but I have no plans to buy a less free phone than it, so I'll stay=20
> where I am for now.
I am very glad to see a couple of people using their Freerunners and
not switching to anything less free. But I just can't help but wonder:
are you using your FR because it's free or because it's a smartphone?
In other words, if there were a phone just as free as the FR, i.e.,
full source code for everything (including the GSM radio interface)
without any binary blobs, full hardware schematics, free bootloader
w/o any locks etc, but a dumbphone instead of a smartphone - a small,
non-touch-sensitive LCD, a traditional numeric button pad for dialing
and T9 texting, a processor with just enough horsepower to make/receive
calls and send/receive SMS and not one iota more, and an OS-less
firmware architecture optimized specifically for those functions -
would you wish to use such a phone?
What I find almost tragic about the history of this community is that
someone effectively "jumped the gun" on evolution: produced a free
smartphone (Openmoko) without producing a free dumbphone first. Some
of us are life-long dumbphone users, but are very unhappy about the
fact that all existing dumbphones are 100% closed and proprietary,
with no ability for an end user to fix functional bugs herself or to
make her own changes to the user interface code in the firmware.
I currently use my Freerunner as a development platform and nothing
more: I use its modem block as a BUV (bring-up vehicle) to run my
experimental FreeCalypso firmware before porting the latter to
dumbphone hardware targets. But I don't use it as my personal phone
with an end user hat on. I don't do the latter because I have too
much intrinsic personal revulsion against the idea of using an entire
second processor running a full-blown GNU/Linux OS just to make a
phone call - when I know full well that this functionality has been
very successfully implemented on a tiny ARM7TDMI processor @ 52 MHz
with a total of 4 MiB of flash, 256 KiB of fast SRAM and 512 KiB of
slow SRAM (specific numbers from Mot C139) running a real-time
firmware environment without any full-blown OS.
So I wonder how other Freerunner users feel about this issue: do you
actually *like* the fact that it is a smartphone, or would you rather
use a dumbphone, but are using the FR and tolerating its smart aspects
because no free dumbphone currently exists?
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