Free phone: smart or not?
Spacefalcon the Outlaw
falcon at ivan.Harhan.ORG
Mon Mar 16 21:32:01 UTC 2015
Matthias Apitz <guru at unixarea.de> wrote:
> I do not exactly know what a 'smartphone' is.
Harald Welte gave a clear technical definition in one of his
presentations: a smartphone is a phone that has two separate
processors for the application and baseband functions. It's a clear
technical definition independent of any marketing terms, and by this
definition all GTA0x devices are smartphones.
> I use the FR because it is a Linux 'server' in pocket size, I can do
> with it what I want and I can phone or send SMS with it. And I have
> OpenStreet maps on it, after some time the FR knows where I am with
OK, so you *are* using smartphone functions which are beyond the
capabilities of the much simpler dumbphone hardware/software
architecture and thus require the much more complex hw/sw architecture
of a smartphone.
> I accept that the FR is not fully 'free' due to some low level
> binary blobs,
If you flash the leo2moko GSM firmware I produced a year and a half
ago, your FR won't have any opaque blobs at all - at least as far as
GSM goes; I know nothing about GPS or WiFi or BT. Well, OK, leo2moko
fw includes some binary libs in its build, but:
(1) These "blobs" are "translucent" in a way in that we can see exactly
what is in them, thanks to them being linkable objects with full
symbolic information, and
(2) We know there is another TI firmware source version which is full
source and which can be used to replace these binary parts - and a
port of that full-source version to the Freerunner's modem will
happen some day as a side fallout from my project seeking to run
the same on dumbphone hardware.
> I only see dying my FR: sometimes it does not receive SM, soemtimes it
> does not wakeup from suspend (both are SHR bugs, I think, but nobody
> fixes them);
The software architecture of a smartphone is much, much more complex
than that of a dumbphone. If you want the additional capabilities
which a dumbphone can't have, you have to pay for the extra complexity
- and if you also want this much-more-complex device to be reliable
for everyday use as a phone, you have to pay even more...
> and someday something of the hardware will break for ever... and
> then, what I should do?
To all those for whom the FR hardware is the best thing there is and
the best there can ever be - how much money do you have, or how much
would extending the life of your FRs be worth to you? It would
certainly be possible to restart production of new FRs that are
verbatim-identical to the Openmoko-made ones - but it would be very,
I was given an estimate of 16 kUSD to reverse-engineer a sacrificial
GTA02 PCB all the way to a set of gerber files that can then be used
to produce new PCBs that are identical in form, fit and function. Or
a slightly lower price tag of 5.5 kUSD to get aligned, calibrated,
high-resolution images of all copper layers, both outer and inner. I
plan on paying for the "cheaper" option some time in mid to late 2016,
unless we get lucky and someone manages to dig up a surviving copy of
Om's original PCB layout files. (I was told the files exist on a
defect HDD - ouch.)
But the 5.5 kUSD option which I'm prepared to pay for will only be
sufficient for my needs in the FreeCalypso project, and not for making
new verbatim clones of the Freerunner. If someone wants the latter,
we would need the 16 kUSD option - and I am *not* covering that one
with my own personal funds.
Then add the cost of procuring all of components used by Openmoko to
produce a new GTA02. All chips and other components in the Calypso
modem block are no problem, I already got all of them - but I dunno
about all of the chips in the application processor subsystem. If
someone wishes to build new GTA02s that are strictly identical to
Openmoko-made ones, so they can run all of the software without any
changes, the infamous Glamo would have to be a part of it too. Anyone
feel like scavenging the surplus markets for those cursed Glamo chips
in order to build new FRs?
Then throw in the cost of hiring some LCD manufacturer to design and
build a new LCD module that matches Om's in form, fit and function - I
would expect a mid-6-digit USD amount at least. And the cost of new
injection moulds for the plastics to make new cases identical to Om's,
and so on.
> I love my FR, even if it looks like a brick (which it is not) and I love
> this FR project for having something else in my hands, something which
> all the stupid folks do not have while they say about their phone
> "it does not import me when it is spying me and phoning home"
You are comparing the FR to the store-bought "mainstream" crap that
the masses use, and that is not an interesting comparison at all. You
are NOT comparing the FR to the hypothetical Free Dumb Phone, which is
what I asked in my original post.
> ... stupid people will use smartphones, I will not
Well, whether you like it or not, you ARE using a smartphone, in the
strictest technical sense of that term.
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