Hello everybody, and welcome to the Openmoko Community Newsletter, for the November 3th to November 16th timespan. During these two weeks, we had FSO milestone IV and a testing SHR image released. Openmoko pulled the download server offline due to an mp3 copyright issue, they are rebuilding everything without any questionable codecs. Werner announced a firmware update for the GSM chip that will allow 3G chips compatibility. And there is movement again towards a better driver for the glamo graphic chip.
FSO team released Milestone IV 'Homework', see the OpenmokoFramework/Status Update 5. To accomodate the forthcoming release of other FSO API consumers like paroli or the SHR phone stack, from now on three FSO-compliant images are built:
- fso-console-image: minimal system with frameworkd, no user interface manager.
- fso-illume-image: everything in console-image plus X-Window, plus Enlightenment plus Illume window manager.
- fso-image: everything in illume-image plus Zhone. Can be used for phone calls. Like previous milestones. But Zhone is going to be faded out.
Debian: Joachim announced that the preferred installer script is now the one in the git. The old URL does redirect to it. Thanks mostly to Luca “Gismo” Capello’s great work, recent improvements include:
- The use of the general auto-login script “nodm” instead of zhone-session. Session configuration can now be done by modifying /root/.xsession.
- Device independent frameworkd and accompanying configuration packages. If apt-get upgrade breaks your FreeRunner, try to run apt-get install fso-config-gta02.
- openmoko-panel-plugin installed by default (running in trayer), to provide keyboard toggle and device control.
- The use of the packaged kernel instead of wget/tar. To get this going, run apt-get install linux-image-2.6.24-openmoko-gta02
SHR is getting closer to a first milestone release. According to BillK and others who kindly tested the latest version, the ergonomy feels generally better than other distros. But its early days yet, if you need a phone use 2008.9. Julien Cassignol invites the braves out here to install a preview SHR-testing (wiki help) and join the Internet Relay Chat on #openmoko-cdevel on FreeNode.
On November 12th, http://downloads.openmoko.org/releases/ were taken offline due to the discovery of an MP3 licensing issue. Openmoko collaborates with the Software Freedom Law Center in New York on this kind of issues.
Aapo compiled a newer version of Numptyphysics package on Debian, which can be played landscaped, without keyboard and it uses same datafiles than any other numptyphysics-port is at: http://www.opkg.org/package_3.html.
Signal Applications To Any (Audio) Network, or, ehm, SATAN, was born... This is a tracker to create simple music, or just jam on the train, bus or café.
Debian users rejoice: openmoko-panel-plugin reaches 0.5. Show and modify you the state of the hardware in you FreeRunner(i.e. gsm, gps ...) with any gtk based windowmanager (i.e. xfce). (thread, download).
The thematic List of X applications pages are going away, we want to keep just one big directory style application linkfarm. The idea is that presenting applications in organized ways is better done by http://opkg.org . This directory already has 45 entries, please register and go populate it.
Infrastructure: X and OE
Reports from the optimization team have been landing weekly. They include patches to fix ticket 1884 ([suspend/resume] if press power batton right after suspend, the device won't wake up) and patches to improve the network registering time. The openmoko-mediaplayer2: dependency on pulseaudio was removed to use alsa instead. And various utilities should appear shortly in the distributions, including telnet, wget, tcptraceroute, wmiconfig, a bunch of X system fonts and more.
The lack of GLamo OpenGL is still a major dark hole on the FreeRunner's phone liberation front. Hacker culture factoid: did you know that as a software project X is older and about as large as the kernel with a penguin on it, but has an order of magnitude less contributors to it ?
Openmoko will share the glamo documentation with any serious programmer out there who wants to improve the glamo driver. Wolfgang wrote: If someone wants to seriously develop for the glamo, please get in touch with me and we will find a legally correct way to extend the smedia documentation to you. In fact we have done that in a few cases before already, but I'm not sure how much actual codes have come out of that. I think very little ;-) So we need some really serious coders that don't mind a tough challenge.
Following that call, several community members expressed interest, and Andy made a few suggestions. Work on 2D/3D acceleration should be coordinated with Graeme (XorA), who is updating the X.org version in OpenEmbeded to 7.4 (it now completely autodetects hardware on GTA02 with the Framebuffer driver). Over the next few weeks he will be working on Xglamo to bring it into the Xorg family of drivers (kdrive is an evolutionary deadend).
The kernel guys are working to switch from the stable to the stable-tracking branch. The rationale is that a newer 2.6.28 kernel should improve resume/suspend. And staying closer to upstream allows to spot problems early and one at a time, while branching every X months implies a great effort to jump the gap.
- NAND/ECC kernel issues are supposedly solved by this patch.
- Warnings from WLAN driver about "warn_on_slowpath" are gone.
- Page flipping support added to glamo (seem to be a framebuffer feature, necessary for Android).
- Accelerometers are working but the driver is still under discussion.
- Glamo GPIO is still not working on resume, leading to WSOD.
At the same time, openmoko's kernels and bootloaders are gearing up to support more devices beyond GTA01 and GTA02: GTA03 and another non-Openmoko ARM-based freephone, the E-TEN glofiish M800.
What is coming in the future:
- Improve WLAN latency: On the same wireless network on which the Neo has an average ping of 70+ms, with large excursions, where a laptop gets an average of 1.7ms and a maximum of about 5-6ms.
- The replacement of the Atheros SDIO stack underneath the WLAN driver with the Linux SDIO stack is planned but not scheduled.
- Jonas Bonn is working on Variable Clock Frequency and Power Saving.
- A /sys interface to disable the touchscreen
- Userspace breakage, especially in /sys, when the kernel jumps from 2.6.26 to 2.6.28.
Werner announced a coming upgrade to the Calypso GSM chip firmware (meanwhile, the wiki is your friend). The goal with the moko9 firmware is to fix ticket 666 and introduce a new command AT+CSIM. Than means 3G SIM cards should work. There will be a self-contained update image that can be copied to a uSD card, then booted from there leading to a simple GUI to kick off the upgrade. Release date given: 'soon'. Fixing registration bouncing is not scheduled for this update.
The GSM-noise buzz issue is a serious defect that make some phones practically unusable. Electrical engineering is black magick to me, but I get that Joerg and other OM hardware engineers have traced which circuit were interfering, and are experimenting hardware fixes. It is unclear how this applies to the A7 hardware revision which seems due soon. Problems with the poor low-frequency audio response with low-impedance headphones are still with us.