Monday, November 19, 2007

Some recent FIC Neo 1973 experiences

I have been playing with my Neo 1973 phone for some time. I tested Qtopia and it looked nice and got phone calls working for the first time. However it's not designed mainly for Neo 1973 and the experience was not too nice. It lacks something.

Recently there was a new OpenMoko image released, and of course I had to flash it to my device. The look was upgraded and the phone calls was finally working! Had some bugs, but it was working. I was able to make and receive calls.

Also tried to compile my own test application, and had some success. I was able to get "Hello world" on the console. Waiting to get something more working, for example a GTK+ app would be nice to get running. But until that I keep on playing with this thing and will report as soon I get some results...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Got my FIC Neo1973

Today I finally got my FIC Neo1973, a OpenMoko based mobile phone. Man from the packet service called and woke me up telling that he'll bring the packet in five minutes. I was ready in a minute and counting seconds until the doorbell rang.

It was like a Christmas when I opened the package revealing it's contents:

The phone on the left, stylus package, battery, wires and all other stuff on the right side of the package.

Finally I took the phone on my hand:

Great. It's a little bit bigger than I thought. But it fits to my hand and isn't too heavy. There's a handy pouch included in which you can carry the stylus and Neo1973 with you without a fear to scratch the screen. Memory card slot is under SIM slot and both of them are under the battery so changing a memory card is not a easy task. Here's picture about the interiors:

The phone was shipped without rootfs installed, only uboot and kernel. As a first thing I flashed new kernel and newest devlopment rootfs. Got the device booting:

And here's finally the UI up and running:

First impressions is that the boot process takes quite a long time. It's not like forever, but have to be patient. The software is not quite ready yet and they have a lot to do, some apps simply does not work or works only partially. I faced also problems with GSM calls, the GSM just doesn't seem to work. Find out that this bug might cause the problems since doing things on the command line as they told in the comments made it power up the GSM and to make it able to call (with AT commands).

However I keep on testing the device and will definately report more impressions about the device and the software.

Friday, September 28, 2007

About Clutter

I've been playing around with Clutter lately and find it intresting project. So shortly it's a library to create fast, visually rich and animated graphical user interfaces. It uses OpenGL or OpenGL ES for rendering, but hides their complex API.

It uses GObject as base of it's classes and people who has been coding with GTK or glib are very home with Clutter. Additional libraries provides features like GStreamer playback support, Cairo rendering and embedding into GTK.

Building an simple application seems to be easy following the documentation. There seems to be lot of features, and basic operations works nicely. I made a test app utilizing clutter-gtk for GTK embedding, an it run smoothly on my desktop. However when I tried same application using OpenGL ES backend I faced problems. Clutter was missing XEMBED support for ES backed. I found this support in normal OpenGL version and find out making support for ES was quite easy job. I made a patch and posted it into Clutter's Bugzilla. Now I got a response and they seems to be excited about this patch.

It seems that Clutter is a nice project and the project team members are doign a good work. The library could be used more widely to make some nice, smooth UI's. However I'm not a graphic so didn't manage to create too smooth UI, but maybe somebody else success more better than me.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A word about Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded

The most popular Linux distribution (according on desktop, Ubuntu, is aiming on the embedded market. They aim their embedded distribution mainly on devices which are called "Internet tablets" or "mobile Internet devices".

Currently the target is on Intel platform called MID (Mobile Internet Device) and available devices such as Samsung Q1 Ultra, HTC Shift and Elektrobit EB MIMD. The distro will aim on Intel based system leaving for example ARM based devices like Nokia N800 out of the scope.

About the project itself. It tries to use existing software as it's base, but is not afraid to implement it's own applications when suitable one not available. It's intresting that the project took Hildon as it's UI framework. Hildon is originally developed by Nokia for it's maemo platform. However, Hildon is open source and such thing is possible to do and kind of open source spirit, and in the line with the policy to use existing components if availble.

They're targeting to release first version with Ubuntu 7.10, meaning very soon from now. As I see these Intel based devices are yet to come to the markets and we'll not see this in use in this year but in a year or two those devices with Ubuntu's embedded version might be a everyday. Only the time will show...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Poky Linux

Recently Opened Hand announced Poky Linux for embedded devices. Currently the system runs on various Sharp Zaurus devices and there is also experimental support for Nokia N800 and OpenMoko Neo1973 devices. I tried the Poky system on qemu and also installed it on my Nokia N800.

The system contains UI component called Sato, which is corresponding component to the Hildon widget set. The system is fully open, and contains currently basic applications such as web browser and video player, a PIM suite called pimlico and some games.

Here's a capture of Poky Linux running in qemu:

And the system running on Nokia N800:

Seems that network is not supported yet on N800 so I was not able to test the browser any better. But currently the Poky Linux seems a promising option.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lost in Berlin

On last week I was visiting Berlin. I took my Nokia N800 and a GPS receiver with me. I have installed Maemo Mapper on the device and loaded Berlin maps beforehand on it. Navigating was working nice, but I still had to buy a paper map. There's something that a digital map can't replace.

Another reason for taking the N800 with me was the WLAN connection. I succesfully connected to the hotel's WLAN. Also it was handy on the airport where I had to spend several hours. However the WLAN spots were not free so it cost some money but I can manage a few euro's cost.

I also finally ordered the Neo1973 (OpenMoko) device. I'll be waiting for it, and I will surely report first impressions on this blog. But until that I'm testing the development tools and tell more about them later...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

OpenMoko finally here

So they really got first developer versions of OpenMoko device Neo1973 for sale. I'm about to purchase one of these very soon.

After reading specs and documentation I found this device even more better. The developer version of Neo1973 will include:
  • Neo1973 (GTA01B_v4)
  • Battery
  • Stylus
  • Headset
  • AC Charger
  • Phone Pouch
  • Lanyard
  • SanDisk 512MB MicroSD Card
  • Mini USB Connectivity Cable
There's also available advanced package but I'm not currently intrested about it. But the final (sales) version of Neo1973 sounds even more better, it'll will have WiFi, Graphics accelerator and 2 accelometers. I think I must buy it as well when it will be available.

While waiting for the device I've been playing with OpenMoko system in QEMU. It seems quite slowish but can't yet say anything about the speed on the device. Here's a little video capture (sorry about the wrong aspect ratio):

So now waiting for getting the device on my hands to be able to tell more about it...

P.S. Nokia N800 got updated software and is running now Skype. Works fine but unfortunately it's closed software. However nice move...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

GPL version 3

Recently Free Software Foundation released the final GNU General Public License version 3. What that does really mean?

First of all many software says it uses version 2 or NEWER. The key word is the later one because user may choose which version to use. Is there going to be two branches of one software, one for version 2 and one for the 3rd one? Ok, that might be a problem. However there's still some software which insist to use version 2 only. On of these are the Linux kernel. It will be version 2 unless something else is decided...

Also version 3 defines that some vendors can't any more lock their devices to use only the official binary provided by them. Vendors must now allow customized code to be flashed or uploaded to the device and not to lock it on any way. Sounds fair.

Secondly software patents are not allowed. This prevents deals which Microsoft has made lately with some Linux providers. It will be interesting to see the real affect. For now on we must only speculate.

Generally the GPL version 3 is good thing, but people should take a little bit careful with it at first. The future will tell what comes.

P.S. First developer versions of OpenMoko based phone Neo1973 will be available since 9th of July. I'll be waiting for it...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Long time indeed

First I must apologize for not writing for a long time, but have been busy and doing everything more important. And it's been silent lately.

Fortunately now the phase 1 of OpenMoko based phone Neo1973 is near. It's means that some devices will be available for developers to order. I try to be one of those lycky ones, but let's see first how many of these devices they're able to get for sale. Hopefully enough.

Meanwhile I got Nokia N800 (for the discounted price, thanks goes for Nokia) and had some time to play with it. It's quite impressive and a real improvement from 770. Now there's enough memory and CPU seems fast enough. It makes a really good tool with GPS receiver and Maemo mapper. Used it a few times to navigate while being at a car. And the media player is also a good piece of software, for example I tried playing music over UPnP from a friend's Windows XP Media center edition and it did a nice job. But again I have had a very little time to play with it more and implementing my own stuff for it.

Hopefully I have more time in future to update this blog but until then it's a bye.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The new mobile devices

Recently Apple announced the brand new iPhone. It sounds good: music device, phone and internet in same package. But wait a minute, isn't it just another phone? It has only a nice user interface and there's a new way to control the phone. And one thing I miss: iPhone is just an ordinary GSM phone. I'd like to browse the internet with high speed 3G connection, but no. And why to integrate big music player on it? I have already iPod, and my current phone has 1 GB memory card, audio player and internet access, and it supports 3G. Listening music with phone is not anything new. So the iPhone is just about a new UI design and controls? The worst part is that Apple don't want 3rd party applications for it. Yes, I can't develop any applications on it, and no way to get my favourite applications on it. It just is not open.

But lets take a look for a open phone. There's an option called OpenMoko. It's quite open, it has finger controllable touch screen, it also includes stylus for more accurate control, and the user interface looks also nice. It's based on Linux and open source software. It includes the basic operations (call, send & receive message) and allows installation of 3rd party applications. The first model, Neo1973, has quite nice touch screen (2.8"), built-in GPS and USB. However it's still GSM phone, no 3G. But sounds very nice. Unfortunately there's very little information about the platform. Is it based on Qt or GTK+ or is there some other widget set in use? Sounds like it's Debian-based, the provided presentation used apt-get. The phone is about to be on sale soon. Then we'll know better. But at least I'm excited.

Also Nokia published new internet tablet, N800, which is follower for the 770 tablet. It has improvements such like more memory, better CPU and camera. Sounds nice. It has active developer community and provides maemo platform and SDK for developing applications for the tablets. It has intenet (video) calls via VOIP (Google Talk). However it has no GSM phone at all. You still have to carry around a ordinary phone, preferably with bluetooh and fast 3G. It's kind of benefit also. You can update your phone from GSM to 3G and the internet tablet has also the speed benefit. However, the N800 is a good improvement - and it's open, at least on some level.