[sf-lug] Neo Freerunner (was: Android / T-Mobile G1)
rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Dec 10 14:42:18 PST 2008
> One nice thing about the Neo Freerunner (etc.) is that you know it's
> absolutely not. One strategy is thus to wait until either Android or
> one of the more-conventional Linux loads for it is reasonably mature,
> and then use that.
Well, FWIW, as of yesterday, I own an Openmoko Neo Freerunner aka First
International Computer (FIC) model GTA02 / GSM 850 smartphone, with
the default Linux/Qtopia load, release "Om 2007.2". I bought it from
local distributor PariSoMa on Howard nr. 10th St., the San Francisco
office of French firm faberNovel, Inc. PariSoMa is where SF OpenMoko
User Group has been meeting (and will next meet in January).
Speaking in general terms, the Neo Freerunner is a triband GSM
850/1800/1900MHz (but not 900MHz, which is available in a "GSM 900"
variant, mostly for Europe) smartphone, is considered a "2.5G" (i.e.,
not 3G = 3rd generation like newer iPhones) smartphone, and doesn't do
EDGE GSM networking. (EDGE is a 3G extension to GSM to improve data
rates.) It has a touchscreen, 400MHz ARM CPU, 2D & 3D graphics, 128MB
RAM, 256 MB flash, a microSD slot, 802.11 b/g WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, USB
1.1, two 3-axis motion sensors, and internal Assisted GPS.
"2.5G" is a marketing term meaning "cellular wireless that does
circuit-switched operation, and does a packet-switched domain, but lacks
3G radio-protocol enhancements to more efficiently use spectrum."
For better or worse, this eminently hackable device can already run, in
addition to the provided Linux/Qtopia build, about a half-dozen other,
diverse Linux-oriented graphical environments -- including a port of
Google's Android. The Qtopia load is the most reliable, and has an Om 2008.8
current release and Om 2008.9 update.
Activation was like this: Go to my cellular provider's office, have
them initialise a SIM chip for my telephone number, slip it in the
One good information site about Openmoko: http://wiki.openmoko.org/
The wiki summarises the state of the Qtopia-based software for everyday use:
As the hacker's dream toy: it is fully functional. As a GSM phone:
some people have been using it to receive and place phone calls and SMS
for months, but with currently shipping software the battery life is
only one day. As a GPS device: critical bugs have been ironed out and
there is nice software to know where you are, using OpenStreetMap. As an
alarm clock, media player, Internet browser, game console, e-mail reader,
and contacts manager: software is not stable yet.
Knowing that the software load's not yet optimised for battery drain, I
got a spare battery. ;-> (The battery's compatible with a common model
used in Nokia 'phones.)
 FIC manufactures it for Openmoko, Inc. Both are Taiwanese
 Qtopia is the Qt graphics widget set (used in KDE), packaged for
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