Weekly Engineering News 31/2008

Wolfgang Spraul wolfgang at openmoko.com
Sun Aug 3 21:36:24 CEST 2008

I will attempt to write a weekly email about what is going on in  
engineering at Openmoko, software and hardware.

Joerg was in Taipei last week (and still is) and worked very hard on  
increasing the quality of our upcoming schematics release, as well as  
on improving GTA02 audio quality. Even though he did a lot of tests,  
right now he cannot reproduce any audio problems with our latest  
generation A6 devices. So we have to see what comes from the factory  
next and then test again to see whether any 'buzzing noise' issues are  

Mickey's framework team published their next status report (http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/devel/2008-July/000452.html 
), and I think overall the framework is making great progress. John  
joined the team part-time.
Also, I'm very happy that Stefan decided to come back to Openmoko and  
join the framework team as well, working from Braunschweig, Germany  
together with Daniel and Jan.

Currently our Taipei-based engineers are divided into software and  
hardware side. We decided to setup an independent 'lab' (no name yet,  
HTC has one called MagicLab), where hardware and software engineers  
work together to scout new chips for FOSS compatibility, build  
hardware prototypes with new chips, write GPL device drivers for those  
chips, etc. Also to do extensive testing and research in support of  
product groups. Maybe Shawn Lin (hardware) and Matt Hsu (software)  
will start this lab initially.

As a first job for the new lab, maybe we will take a look at Marvell  
CPUs (310) and Marvell Wi-Fi chips. Marvell came a long way recently  
in opening up documentation and maybe we can one day do a phone design  
around their chips. Anyway it needs investigation by someone :-)

After more than 6 weeks in Taipei, and tirelessly working on Qtopia  
bugs, Holger left Taipei and returned to Berlin Tuesday night. Holger  
- thank you so much for your fantastic work on Qtopia. Once the dust  
settles, I'm sure people will appreciate the Qtopia telephony apps,  
and it will give us all the time we need to develop our own telephony  
applications based on Mickey's framework. Sean, Marek, Will and me  
drove Holger to the airport, and since we were kind of late, we didn't  
fill up gas while in Taipei. Holger - you don't know this yet, but on  
the way back we almost ran out of gas! We desperately drove around the  
dark Taiwan countryside looking for a gas station. At first Will still  
tried to use his Neo to find a nearby gas station, but somehow he  
quickly came up with more practical ideas such as turning off air-con  
to save gas, etc. :-) After 30 minutes or so of Sean making ever more  
desperate turns left and right, we finally made it! So we had some  
fun... And we hope Holger will be back soon.

We decided to release our latest software stack as Om 2008.8,  
following in the footsteps of Mickeys 2007.1 and 2007.2 releases last  
year. This will include the Qtopia telephony applications by default,  
but we are working on making it easy to switch back to the GTK+  
telephony apps, including gsmd, through the Installer. In fact going  
forward, our buildhost daily builds will probably just produce a  
rootfs with _only_ Installer and Settings application installed, no  
telephony apps at all. Neither the GTK+ apps nor the Qtopia apps. Once  
the Installer and Settings apps work really well, it should be fairly  
easy to connect to Wi-Fi and install whatever packages one wants. This  
is the direction we want to take the daily builds to. From the factory  
we will ship with a set of applications determined by marketing,  
different for each product release. In the long run, we can imagine  
that people can upload/order their own image when ordering a Neo, but  
our factory and logistics are not able to do this yet, it will be a  
long-term goal.

More next week, Best Regards,

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