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Open Source Phone on the Way 66

Posted by Zonk
from the can-you-hear-me dept.
prostoalex writes "Dr. Dobb's Journal reports on GPE Palmtop Environment's aim to create a full stack of open source software for mobile phones. Mobile operator Orange and France Telecom are contributing to the project. The goal is to have a fully featured mobile handset with applications like instant messaging and email, with only a portion of the price."
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Open Source Phone on the Way

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  • "New" my foot. (Score:2, Informative)

    by utopianfiat (774016)
    closed, but open source. [trolltech.com]
    • sorry, meant "proprietary"
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by zanglang (917799)
        That's Trolltech's Greenphone, GPE is a different project:
         

        GPE is committed to the Open Source idea. All GPE core components are released under GNU licenses, applications using the GPL and shared libraries using the LGPL. Those allow for the most free usability of the GPE system.
        http://gpe.handhelds.org/ [handhelds.org]
        • And with GPL v2, which it obviously is since 3 isn't done yet, they can STILL lock you out of your own equipment...[0]

          A complete non-story.

          [0]I don't care about versions of GPL. I like the idea of a phone without the bullshit that my Sync has put me through.
    • by btarval (874919) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:21AM (#17961056)
      Well, honestly, every year (over the past couple of years at least) has seen several companies or groups claiming to be the first Open Source cell phone effort.

      The GPE project is no exception. They are predated by about a couple of years by OpenEZX [openezx.org]. It appears to have been around since 2005.

      GPE might be bringing more applications to the party. And more P.R.. But they just aren't the first.

      Oh, and this article is basically a dup of the previous announcement: http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/05/ 130208 [slashdot.org]. Granted, this is a reposting from Dr. Dobbs. But it's basically the same info.

      Last year, it was Trolltech. And as you note, it isn't fully open. Furthermore, it's closed in arguably the most critical fashion. Namely, the device driver. Unfortunately, Trolltech selected a Broadcom chip. And if you've ever worked with Broadcom, this is a very bad sign. Their software quality sucks big time. So there are probably buffer overflows and other problems in the driver which just won't ever get fixed.

      Then there have been the Java phones that have been touting BS about being an "Open Source" phone (one of them actually won an award a year ago as an "Open Source" phone at JavaOne). The only thing Open Source is the application layer, not the OS or the low level hardware. But again, each of them issues a Press Release proclaiming to be the first Open Source phone, and the media gobbles it up.

      I've forgotten the other claims. But every 6-12 months, there's yet another group and another announcement.

      So, yes, this is a lot of hoopla. And IMHO, it's a discredit to the GPE group to be making this noise. They should be honest if they want credibility.

      But IMHO, this is all yesterday's news. The most interesting thing currently going on is the Open Source Software and HARDWARE effort being done by The Homebrew Mobile Phone Club [slashdot.org]. The effort here is to release everything, including schematics, so that anyone can use COTS parts to build their own cellphone, from scratch.

      But regardless of who was first, it is very nice to see all of these efforts going into finally opening up the cell phone market. This is a far cry from where things were 5 years ago.

      • The most interesting thing currently going on is the Open Source Software and HARDWARE effort being done by The Homebrew Mobile Phone Club . The effort here is to release everything, including schematics, so that anyone can use COTS parts to build their own cellphone, from scratch.

        But in the mobile phone industry, isn't everything patented up so tight that by the time the patents expire, nobody is using the technology anymore? For example, all AMPS (analog) networks will have moved to D-AMPS ("TDMA"), and all IS-95 ("CDMA One") networks will have moved to IS-2000 ("CDMA2000"). And isn't adoption of new mobile phone hardware, at least in North America, dictated by how well the holders of exclusive FCC licenses can lock down its capabilities?

      • Homebrew link (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The link you gave for the Homebrew Mobile Phone Club is broken, but here's a working one [hbmobile.org].
      • by Lumpy (12016)
        so that anyone can use COTS parts to build their own cellphone, from scratch.

        You know that is an incredibly relative term. yes you can build a cellphone from scratch, problem is it's the same size as the motorola brick phone from 1987 and has a 20 minute battery life if you dont have the add on battery belt pack. Ad expierimenters we dont get access to the tools needed for the newest chips and board fabriaction. soldering a 144pin BGA chip at home is an incredible Pain in the ass and the manufactureres ar
      • by walter_f (889353) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:06AM (#17963100)
        http://www.openmoko.com/press/index.html [openmoko.com]
        http://www.openmoko.com/press/index.html#pictures [openmoko.com]

        which is a truly open platform based on all GPL'd software.

        The first hardware using OpenMoko, the Neo1973 Smartphone by Taiwan's FIC, will be available to the public soon.

        http://planet.openmoko.org/ [openmoko.org]

        Walter.
    • by oohshiny (998054)
      GPE is not from Troll Tech.

      Furthermore, Troll Tech's mobile products cost money for phone makers, and furthermore exclude non-Troll Tech GUIs from the platform.

      Troll Tech has had its chance at the mobile market and they blew it. It's time for a better open source attempt.
  • by KrackHouse (628313) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @01:03AM (#17960066) Homepage
    In five years when the hardware costs 38cents for these there is no doubt that vendors will avoid paying a hefty fee for the software or they won't be able to compete. I just hope Google gets around to building free wireless internet. Kids will not know what a phone is in 10 years.
    • by edwardpickman (965122) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @01:51AM (#17960372)
      Kids will not know what a phone is in 10 years.

      That's just silly. Kids still know what a vinyl record and 8 track tapes are....Second thought strike that.

    • |In five years when the hardware costs 38cents for these there is no doubt that vendors will avoid paying a hefty fee for the |software or they won't be able to compete. I just hope Google gets around to building free wireless internet. Kids will not know |what a phone is in 10 years.

      10 years ago, when my (now teenage) daughter was attending kindergarten, she came home very excited about
      the new technology she had seen at school. These CDs that were much larger than ordinary CDs
  • by camperdave (969942) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @01:09AM (#17960110) Journal
    Call me old fashioned, but when I read the title Open Source Phone on the Way, I immediately thought of one of these [slashdot.org] and thought, "What's to open source? There are plans all over the internet already."
  • Interesting thought (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raul654 (453029) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @01:13AM (#17960138) Homepage
    I'm curious - would it be possible to tweak something like this to do end-to-end encryption? (To make sure certain government agencies with three letter acronyms aren't listening in). Something like fast symmetric key encryption, using Diffie-Hellman key exchange?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ArcherB (796902) *
      I'm curious - would it be possible to tweak something like this to do end-to-end encryption? (To make sure certain government agencies with three letter acronyms aren't listening in). Something like fast symmetric key encryption, using Diffie-Hellman key exchange?

      Yeah, I'm sure the NSA has nothing better to do but listen to your phone calls.

      Seriously, I had no idea that half the population works for the NSA. They must because it would literally take half (or more) of the population to watch the other half.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I'm pretty sure I can monitor more than one person at a time.
      • by networkBoy (774728) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @01:43AM (#17960332) Homepage Journal
        No, the NSA'a computers monitor the communications, the people monitor the computers, which have a list of keywords likely weighted. once a conversation gets too "heavy" a human monitor gets involved.
        Um... at least that's how I'd do it.
        -nB
      • No not everyone (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Weezul (52464)
        But I'm a really interesting person!

        i.e. who just happens to run a company competing with some company in some powerful senators state.
        • by ArcherB (796902) *

          i.e. who just happens to run a company competing with some company in some powerful senators state.


          You have no need to worry. The NSA is not run by the Senate or part of the Congressional branch at all. :-)

    • If you were using VoIP or some other packet data voice service, then yes (given the right software). If you were communicating using GSM or WCDMA, then no.

      You can use software to encrypt your conversations sent over packet data networks (in any of the various ways that this is achieved), but you cannot encrypt in hardware any conversations communicated according to the GSM/WCDMA standard. Encryption to protect from eavesdroppers who are labelled with three letter acronyms simply doesn't exist within the
      • by jrumney (197329)

        You can use software to encrypt your conversations sent over packet data networks (in any of the various ways that this is achieved), but you cannot encrypt in hardware any conversations communicated according to the GSM/WCDMA standard.

        Why not? Its uses the same speech codecs as commonly used in VoIP (EFR, AMR, AMR-WB), all you need to do is encrypt the data between speech encoding and sending the encoded data over the network. The only real difference between packet networks and cellular is that the tr

    • You can use mikey, RFC3830, implemented by minisip (www.minisip.org)
    • by vhogemann (797994)
      This depends on how the voice signal is processed at the stations. Remember that your conversation has at least one intermediary, in the case that the both persons are in the same cell.

      So, if the station processes your voice data-stream to further increase it's compression, you won't be able to apply any crypto to it.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @01:15AM (#17960156) Homepage
    ...check the dupe. [slashdot.org]
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Saturday February 10, 2007 @01:21AM (#17960202) Journal
    Good, because I'm running out of things to run Linux on around here!
  • iPhone (Score:2, Interesting)

    by adambha (1048538)
    With a nice piece of hardware like the iPhone this project could be 'toyed' with in many ways. Then again, it may not matter. [roughlydrafted.com]

    And let's not forget that an open source project many not be the first choice for a top-dollar piece of hardware.
    • American views on the goodness of the iPhone aside, if it is using anything even remotely like BB5 on Nokia, then you'll forever be at the whim of Apple for certificate signing. Nothing *useful* will run without a nod from the man.
  • by straponego (521991) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @02:16AM (#17960474)
    I'm going to take the rare step of admitting that I could be wrong on a lot of this. People who know more about these issues are invited to correct me.

    This looks like a good thing, but I've noticed that there are several different similar efforts out there. There's Maemo for the Nokia tablets, OpenMoko for the Neo1973 (which is the closest I've seen to what I want in a phone), the Motorola Linux stuff, and this. I'm sure there will be some cross-pollination, but this seems like something that a consortium of phone makers or maybe Google could really push along quickly. How? Either by providing build servers which would build executables for the target environments, or providing emulators. Yeah, it's going to be hard to emulate the actual telecom functionality, but I think a majority of applications for these devices will not use those.

    The reason I mentioned Google is that I believe they're doing something similar already, though a quick search didn't turn up what I remembered. IBM, Intel, or OSDN might be other good candidates.

    Or are these different platforms using such different APIs for things like graphics toolkits that I'm smoking crack here?

    • by Zhooom (915086)

      People who know more about these issues are invited to correct me.
      You do realize that this is slashdot, right? People who know far less about these issues are going to correct you too.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by adfour (883631)
      Openmoko can be build on Openembedded, afaik, which can be run on your desktop-- be your own build server. Isn't that the whole idea?
  • iPhone? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by tedpearson (910434)
    Excellent! Now we just need an open source iPhone!
  • by gd23ka (324741) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @03:01AM (#17960714) Homepage
    Just because they're using open source code and even give you whatever
    source they have to give you, doesn't mean the device is "open" as in
    you can change any binaries or config settings, add or remove software
    etc. All the GPL forces them to do is to publish their source code
    modifications / additions where it applies. It doesn't force them to
    deliver the binaries on a device that allows modification of that code.
  • A phone ? No. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by edavid (1045092)
    For me IM, email, has nothing to do on a phone. I want a phone to make phone calls, that's all. This device will be at the same time too big for a phone annd too small for a device with hand entry and screen to read.
    the fact that it uses free software is irrelevant. But it is the big trend with some free software projects (gnome, GPE being some of them) to just copy, add no innovation but just say "hey we're free". A free copy of a bad idea will still be a bad idea.
  • No other device on earth cries out to let people imrpove the heck out of it like phones do.

    The only question I have is, would carriers really let a truly open source phone onto thier networks?

    I'm also wondering what relation this might have (if any) with that Linux Greenphone...
  • that would be interesting to build.

    and it would give current gsm hardware manufacturers an incentive to improve the security of their current implementations.

    willem
  • by Rav3L0rd (1062012)
    Opensource is about to kill many technologies in near future. Now why would you have real mobile phone a pay for calls, when most of your friends (in future) are having computer with this...
  • France Telecom has been branding its internet and mobile product with ORANGE since they bought this mobile carrier a few years ago. I'm glad they support OSS, but that doesn't look like them. France telecom has a king size record at screwing its own customers and doing whatever it takes to prevent competition on the ISP market. They got sued and had to pay huge fines. It's probably like in every other big company with smart, nice R&D people and evil marketing forces wasting everything.
    • Maybe they're starting to learn their lesson now that they have real competition. It seems like Free is gaining a lot of ground in France.
  • A device might well be developed. I fully expect it will get banned in the US -- the FCC will do so at the request of the Department of Homeland Security. DHS will be worried about unspecified "possible security exploits."

  • It'll take a bit of work to assemble everything relevant to cell phones, but we've got a tool that shows which patents are expired or abandoned. Here is a list of expired or abandoned cell phone patents [patentmonkey.com] we've got as a starter and will add to it as we go. Some aren't that great, think of it as a 'bargain bin'. :P I agree that cell phones have many possibilities and we should use the patent system as an advantage for this.
  • Launch of OSS For Mobile Phones [slashdot.org]

    The French money is new since this other post, but no great changes have happened with this project has changed since then. Hardware support includes a number of phones at this time, but none that I have or would prefer to buy and it seems some popular phones are out of reach.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I was going to post a joke about running Openoffice on my cellphone.

    Come to think, I'm running it on a Pentium 166Mhz with 128MB RAM (yes, I'm not joking). Upgrade? Hah! I'm on the government (not in the US). It's that machine or a pencil. And yes, we have money. We just aren't allowed to spend it. Next time you say who uses still this or that so old machine, remember there must be someone in a poor underfunded government dept. using a 486.

    Installing Linux is not an option, because there's a lot of in-house

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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