OpenMoko Freerunner first impressions
Posted by Jim Morris on Fri Jul 11 13:53:11 -0700 2008
OK so I just got my shiny new OpenMoko Freerunner GTA02.
This is an Open source GSM cell phone, running Linux and OpenMoko S/W stack.
This phone is really a developer release although it implies on the website it is usable for the masses.
We will see...
Turning it on you see all this Linux boot up tiny tiny text scroll by, ya the average Joe blo is going to love that ;)
So I followed the startup guide and plugged in the usb cable to my Ubuntu desktop. (If you don't have Linux think again, maybe that $400's can go towards a tank of gas).
I followed the usb networking guide, and ssh'd into the phone, and Holy Crap! it just worked!
First off it doesn't come with much, It can make a phone call, but no other apps seem to be loaded.
Oh one gripe is there is nowhere to stow a stylus, it comes with a huge pen/laser pointer/stylus, but who is going to keep that in their pocket, and those with fat fingers are going to have a hard time doing anything.
I actually had to RTFM to figure out how to close an application! BTW this guide seems to be pretty good. (You click the power button to close an app! it really needs a close button somewhere where people expect one).
After loading most of the needed apps via the opkg app, which is slow via USB 1.1 (whats up with that guys? its 2008! USB 2 is REQUIRED) I found that most of them are pretty much unusable. The default 2007.2 UI is unintuitive, and most of the necessary apps simply don't work well. Adding a contact is virtually impossible, try setting the phone number to home instead of work for instance.
The web browser works but you can't input anything into forms, so don't try logging into gmail.
The calendar makes no sense whatsoever.
OK so I am being harsh here, but the damn thing costs $400! and they imply your average user could use it as a phone, so lets get over that issue, and take it that this is a work in progress, very early stages, and open source. It needs a good UI guide, come on we may not have a super UI design guy, but copy the iphone or any other phone on the market to get a clue how to make an intuitive UI. I am not a UI guy, but even I can see this needs some work. BTW I do like the way the scrolling works, that is very cool, you flick up or down and it scrolls with some friction looks great, and works even better.
The platform itself has plenty of potential, built in GPS (which doesn't work without an external antenna), accelerometers, which no one has figured out how to use yet. A really nice VGA display, although its invisible in bright sunlight, wifi which I was totally unable to get to connect to a WPA/PSK station, and bluetooth, with no S/W support for headsets.
Once all these issues are resolved I think it would make a great primary handset.
I'll do my part and write something for it and release it as open source, but I'm disappointed I can't use this as a phone yet.
I'll continue to RTFM if I can find one that describes the current UI (the WIKI describes an obsolete UI). Maybe some of my issues are simply not knowing how to use the UI, but that is a bad sign as I am a developer and can use most UI's without RTFM'ing.
I still think this is a great (if expensive) toy for now, especially for us Linux Geeks, and one day it may actually be a great phone too.
UPDATE I got GPRS working, followed the instructions on the WIKI, it is manual but it works. My tmobile chatscript is...
# File: /etc/ppp/chatscripts/tmobile TIMEOUT 20 ABORT BUSY ABORT "NO ANSWER" ABORT "NO DIALTONE" ABORT VOICE ABORT ERROR ABORT RINGING SAY 'Starting GPRS connect script\n' "" +++ OK ATZ OK ATE1 OK AT+CFUN=1 OK AT+COPS SAY 'Setting APN\n' OK AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","wap.voicestream.com" ABORT 'NO CARRIER' SAY 'Dialing...\n' OK ATD*99***1# CONNECT /n/d
and the script
# File: /etc/ppp/peers/tmobile # /dev/ttySAC0 115200 crtscts lock hide-password defaultroute # set the default route usepeerdns holdoff 3 ipcp-accept-local lcp-echo-failure 12 lcp-echo-interval 3 noauth noipdefault novj novjccomp replacedefaultroute persist debug connect "/usr/sbin/chat -v -f /etc/ppp/chatscripts/tmobile" disconnect "/usr/sbin/chat -v -f /etc/ppp/chatscripts/tmobile-disconnect"
and a script to run it all...
/etc/init.d/gsmd stop echo "1" > /sys/bus/platform/devices/neo1973-pm-gsm.0/power_on chown uucp.uucp /dev/ttySAC0 stty -F /dev/ttySAC0 crtscts pppd call tmobile
I did get a fix with the GPS using the internal antenna, however it takes some concerted effort, see this page for hints. NOTE without the sd card I get a fix within 1 minute.
UPDATE Got WIFI and WPA/PSK working, again there are two sets of instructions on the WIKI, the first set doesn't work for me, however the second set does... adding
iface eth0 inet dhcp wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
to /etc/network/interfaces and then do ifdown usb0 and ifup eth0 of
course you need to setup
appropriately. However when I ssh into the phone via the wifi after
disconnecting the USB, it looses its connection regularly and usually
within a few minutes. Not sure why that is, my WIFI is generally very
stable with my laptop. I wonder if the bluetooth is interfering with
Finally I would like to say that I love the idea of an open spurce cell phone. I can see that these issues will probably get fixed pretty quickly as it is open source and there are thousands of eyes on the code, and if there is something you don't like you can fix it. Lets see you do that on your I-Phone ;)