Frequently Asked Questions... with answers included!
Q: What is Openmoko? What is the Neo 1973? What is the Neo Freerunner?
A: Openmoko is a software platform and the world's first completely open mobile phone software stack. It is based on Linux and allows users and enthusiasts great freedom to customise their phone.
- The Neo 1973 is the first fully supported Openmoko phone.
- The FIC Neo FreeRunner is the second Openmoko phone and is now available for sale!
Q: I'm a ____ expert, can I join/help Openmoko?
We would love to hear from you.
- If you are interested in joining Openmoko as a software developer, please visit http://www.openmoko.com/contact-index.html and send us an e-mail.
- Or register some your project at http://projects.openmoko.org/
Q: When and where can I buy a Neo 1973?
A: The OpenMoko Neo 1973 is now sold out (11 Feb 2008). You should get the better Neo FreeRunner instead!
Q: Where can I buy a Neo FreeRunner?
Q: What are the new features that the Neo FreeRunner has?
It retains many good features from the Neo 1973 such as the very high resolution touch screen and integrated GPS unit.
It adds the following features
- WiFi - 802.11 b/g - for high speed internet
- Faster processor operating at 400Mhz (up from 266Mhz) - for faster operation
- * SMedia Glamo3362 Graphics Accelerator - for improved graphical performance
- 2 3D Accelerometers - the phone applications will know which way the phone is oriented
- 256MB Flash - larger memory to run bigger applications
- LED's illuminating the 2 external buttons on the phone
Q: How much?
A: If you buy directly from the Openmoko webshop you will pay $399 for the Neo FreeRunner, $99 for the debug board on www.openmoko.com.
Q: What can I do with the Neo1973?
A: For long answer see Developer preview
A: The Neo1973 is a Phase 1 phone and aimed at software developers only. It is not suitable for end users, it will have basic functionality as a touchscreen phone. Little else will work, software development will continue till mass market release. Here are one developer's thoughts about the possibilities 
Those interested should:
- Know that there will be a device with faster cpu, gsm system etc in the spring of 2008.
- Have fun hacking devices.
- Be able to find their way through prototype software and hardware without much documentation.
- Share the dream of a device powered by free software.
- Not expect a consumer-level device.
- Come up with new ideas for exploring the age of mobile computing.
- Have $300.
Ideally they also:
- Can spot bugs and submit patches.
- Love to cooperate with a community improving the software.
Q: What can I do with the Neo Freerunner?
A: The Neo Freerunner is the first phase 2 (mass release) phone from the Openmoko project and is designed for everyday use by end users and continued software development and improvements by the Openmoko team and the Openmoko community.
A: The question is almost what can you NOT do with this phone - eventually there will be a huge range of free software applications allowing both end users and developers to get much more out of this phone than a standard "locked" mobile phone using features like the integrated GPS, bluetooth, wifi and accelerometers.
Q: Do I need the Neo 1973 Advanced (or in due course the Neo Freerunner Advanced)?
End users or power users should buy the "base" unit.
Software developers may wish to buy the "advanced" model.
With Neo 1973 Base or Neo Freerunner Base you can do:
- Kernel development.
- Application development.
- Updating u-boot (equivalent to PC BIOS) using a tested image.
- Replace a non-booting kernel and/or rootfs using Dfu-util.
With Neo 1973 Advanced or Neo Freerunner Advanced you can additionally do:
- U-boot development.
- Use the kernel console.
- Unbrick your device if you flash a wrong or non-working u-boot image.
- See Shipment 1 FAQ.
- See openmoko.com
Q: What does the Neo 1973 look like?
Q: What does the Neo FreeRunner look like?
- It uses the same case and dimensions as the Neo1973 (as announced at CES Jan08)
Q: What else do I need to know?
- Both Neo 1973 and Neo Freerunner are tri-band GSM phones.
- The Neo Freerunner is expected to be offered in an 850/1800/1900MHz version for North America and an 900/1800/1900MHz version for the rest of the world.
- The Neo1973 is an 900/1800/1900Mhz version only and may not work well in some rural parts of North America.
Q: What are the benefits of an "open" phone over a "closed" phone
A: In a conventional closed phone, the handset maker and the mobile network operator work together to provide a service to you that best suits their business model. The capabilities of a modern smartphone equipped with GPS, Wifi and bluetooth are amazing and the result is that many features are "locked down" because they do not suit the network operator. Up until now it has been difficult to buy a phone on which you have freedom to install sofware which is not controlled by the network operators - Openmoko changes that!
A: A list of examples of "closed" behaviour has been started here - Problems of typical "closed" phones
Q: Can the software do/connect to/...
A: Reviews of the latest "bleeding edge" daily builds of the OpenMoko software stack can be seen here
A: At the moment, the answer to many other questions is "no". The phone is at the moment a small linux box with a touchscreen, a working dialer and some prototype apps. Most do not function in any way that would be suitable for end-users. If you want to add a feature or application request, then look over the existing Applications and either add one, or add a feature request to the applications page.
What software is on the phone?
At the moment, almost no 'end-user' applications are present and working in a usable state. It is possible to make and receive calls in some software revisions, this frequently breaks though.
What software can be installed on the phone?
Q: Is there description and list of OpenMoko software?
Q: Is it completely free software/open source?
There are legal reasons why it is not possible to provide Open Source software for GPS and GSM modules.
Q: How do I install and manage software on OpenMoko?
Q: How can I compile programs for the Neo1973?
A: See Toolchain.
Q: Is there an emulator available for OpenMoko?
For a lot of testing and development work, you don't actually need emulation as you can run OpenMoko on a normal PC too. The emulators also aren't 100% accurate. That being said, there are several emulation options as described in the following.
- Ubuntu users can follow the instructions in Automatic_emulation_in_Ubuntu
- Users of other Linux distributions can try the following:
- "make qemu” will build qemu-neo1973, download the latest official openmoko images, flash the images into the virtual NAND flash, and run the emulator.
See Qemu for more advanced information on running OpenMoko in Qemu.
Another is Xoo. Koen says: "Xoo should be enough for most apps people will develop, since most don't need access to the gsm uart directly. If you're hardcore you could use qemu + xoo, but that still doesn't emulate all the hardware quirks (e.g. unaligned access)".
Update: Stefan Schmidt has resized the Neo1973 Mock-up and written a small description for xoo. In his words:
It's not really useable at all, as you need a really high screen resolution to fit the whole picture on your screen. And of course the dpi are wrong. Even no buttons because I can't remember where they are at the case.
Start with 'xoo --device /path/to/neo1973.xml'
Some more details here.
Or use Xephyr directly with locally compiled programs (e.g. matchbox svn + openmoko):
Xephyr -screen 480x640 -nolisten tcp -ac :1 & export DISPLAY=:1 export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib matchbox-window-manager -display $DISPLAY -use_titlebar no \ -use_super_modal yes -use_lowlight yes -use_dialog_mode static \ -use_cursor yes & matchbox-panel --geometry=480x44 --end-applets=clock & openmoko-footer & openmoko-taskmanager &
Q: Where can I find some type of tutorial for a 'Hello, world' on OpenMoko?
A: This should get you started:
Q: Can PalmOS apps applications be ported to run on OpenMoko?
A: Making legacy apps written for the "Garnet" OS (née "Palm OS") run on Linux is decidedly non-trivial.
PalmOS apps are in general very hard to simply 'port'. Particularly well-designed programs may make it possible.
The ACCESS Linux Platform will include Garnet on Host (GHost), a PalmOS emulator that will support M6800 (68k) and ARM PalmOS applications. This part (GarnetVM and the .prc loader) will however be closed-source and likely under a restrictive license (fact confirmed by ACCESS Co. employees), making it rather unusable. In addition GarnetVM depends on Hiker and other packages.
It is possible that POSE, an emulator that simulates a Palm device on a Linux host could be used to allow 68k based applications to run. This emulator has been around a long time; one expects that it will also run on OpenMoko, but this has to be considered a short-term bandaid rather than a long-term solution.
The soon-to-be-released Palm Foleo, which runs a Linux port developed by Palm Inc. independently of ALP, contains a PalmOS compatibility environment that runs PalmOS apps, supposedly all of them and supposedly seamlessly. Little is known about how it works but if it's not too kludgy it should run unmodified on any ARM linux. It is not known what license it will be distributed under.
Hopefully emulation will be necessary only for M68000 code (pre-PalmOS 5) while native ARM programs can run natively under Linux, provided a proper set of PalmOS libraries and a .prc executable loader.
Q: Does it have Java?
Project [Jalimo] is a project aiming to provide a Java stack on mobile devices. This project supports OpenMoko.
Q: What are the relevant X11 details?
A: See xdpyinfo output.
Q: Does OpenMoko run on any other hardware?
Q: Why do you not build on top of the Maemo platform instead?
While I can't speak for the OpenMoko team, it's worth noting that maemo is fixed resolution only. That will, I've heard, change in the future, but it hasn't yet. Maemo's current layout is also optimized for wide screens, not tall narrow ones. Most third party maemo applications that are out there will need to be modified to work at different sizes. Finally, a number of the software components of the Nokia 770 and N800 are not open source. --gopi
To add up on that, according to Nokia, Maemo is designed to bring the "Desktop" experience to an Internet Tablet. A lot of Desktop paradigms just won't work on a phone. However, we really share a lot of the base-technology (gtk, dbus, eds, gconf, to name a few) with Maemo, so we are definitely not a reinvent-the-wheel team.
Q: Will it be possible to use popular VoIP applications such as Skype on the Openmoko platform?
A: Answer for the Neo1973 - Perhaps. Hardware issues mean that it won't work well on the Neo1973. (the typical latency of GPRS is far too high). Also, Skype is a non-free software and binaries are not provided that would be suitable to run on a Neo. Skype's vendor could of course choose to provide binaries for Openmoko phones. However, this would not be desirable by Openmoko since it removes freedoms from the end-user.
A: Answer for the Neo FreeRunner. Since it has WiFi the FreeRunner should be a good platform for VOIP use.
In either case please check for softphone apps ported to the Openmoko distribution at the projects page. We need to focus efforts on free software. Not convincing non-free software companies to release binaries for our Neos.
Q: Same question for Instant Messaging applications such as MSN Messenger?
A: Very probably. MSN is closed source and will only run where Microsoft wants you to run it. But there are many Open Source IM clients, many of which have a plugin architecture and so support the use of more than one IM protocol, even simultaneously. One example is Pidgin, formerly called GAIM. GPRS does induce a certain amount of latency but that should not be a problem for simple, text-oriented chat between parties. And the GTA02's WiFi will make it even better.
Q: Is there description of Neo1973 Hardware ?
Q: Does it have a camera?
Q: Does it have Wifi?
Q: Does it have bluetooth?
A: Yes! Bluetooth 2.0.
Q: Does it come with a stylus?
A: Yes, but there's no holder for it on the phone.
The power button is a small circular button, just next to the USB connector. The Auxiliary button is a rectangular button on the top left of the edge of the phone. (on black phones it looks just like an IRDA port).
Q: How do I input text?
A: Use provided keyboard app.
A: Use Bluetooth keyboard.
A: For more methods and ideas see Wishlist:Text_Input.
Q: Can I record calls and/or play audio files in calls?
A: Yes, audio path from GSM to/from mic and speakers is completely controllable by user. For example recording calls (both sides) and implementing an Answering Machine is possible. Also using text->speech should be possible or modifying outgoing voice. Currently there is no software bundled in phone to do this. There are only 2 A/D inputs and three D/A outputs (one dedicated to the earpiece). This means that stereo audio playback cannot happen at the same time as the Answering Machine functionality, amongst other things. See the audio page. Neo1973 Audio Subsystem
Q: What is the battery life?
Q: What can I do with the USB port on the Neo1973?
A: Charge the phone, communicate with it over USB-serial, or USB-networking.
A: Plug external devices, such as wifi, cameras, or mass-storage devices in. The "Mass Market" version of the phone will have wifi integrated.
Q: What can't I do with the USB?
The only limitation on current hardware seems to be no usb 2.0 support, which means slower communication with 2.0 devices.
Q: Why is only USB 1.1 provided?
A: The processor has USB 1.1 built in. One with USB2 built in would have been more expensive.
Q: Can the Neo charge and use devices on a USB hub at the same time?
- When the Neo is connected to a device port on a USB hub, it will start charging. If the hub is a powered hub, then it will charge fast (3h), otherwise around 12h.
- If you plug the Neo into the host port of a USB hub you can use devices on that hub but the Neo will not charge. (Some/many USB hubs will not accept an unpowered host as valid, hence the need for the below cable.)
- This is because the host socket on USB hubs is not powered.
FIC product development is looking into providing something that conveniently solves this problem.
The USB port on the Neo is not a properly compliant USB host port, all USB host ports must provide 5V - though powered devices or hubs may not draw any current from this, they may refuse to work. (The Belkin Tetrahub is an example of a hub that will not work.)
One solution is a three headed cable.
One end plugs into the Neo. One end plugs into a device port of a powered hub, or the Neo charger. One end plugs into the host port of a hub.
The Charger/USB device plug only has +5V and 0V connected in the simple cable, which are connected to the other ends.
For a more complex cable, when the host socket is not plugged in, the cable acts as a simple USB cable.
Q: What are the details of the USB port on the Neo1973? How does it compare to USB On-The-Go?
A: The Neo1973 will have mini-USB-B, and will be able to function as either a host or a device. It will NOT be USB On-The-Go. OTG is a complex specification, and it comprises way more than just a AB socket, but also electrical and software components which cannot be provide by the S3C2410.
You will need a special Mini-B to regular-B cable (note that this won't actually comply with the USB standard: a compliant cable has to have an A or Mini-A plug on one end, and B or Mini-B on the other).
Q: Are there any LEDs on the Neo 1973?
A: The Neo1973 P1/P2 will have no LEDs besides the screen backlight.
Q: Will a JTAG port be made available?
A: Included with purchase of The "Hacker's Lunchbox" (Advanced version).
There are exposed I2C, SPI and debug board connectors inside case in all versions and Debug Board v2 (JTAG and serial console) in Advanced version. Connecting Neo1973 with Debug Board v2 explains how to connect it to the phone.
Q: Will the JTAG interface that comes with GTA01 be compatible with GTA02?
Q: What can we expect in future versions?
A: A faster CPU, faster GSM (EDGE?) perhaps even powered USB port, USB2, wifi, and camera. No details have been released yet. More details of hardware upgrades should be available sometime in May. There will also be 5 more OpenMoko devices - some not phones in the traditional sense - announced by FIC in September.
Q: Are microSDHC-cards like this supported?
Q: What kind of connectivity?
A: Tri-band GSM (commonly known as "European tri-band", 900/1800/1900 MHz), GPRS Class12/CS4 2.5G (Not EDGE), Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, USB in all versions. WiFi: Atheros AR6K in GTA02. (No 3G in year 2007 models)
Q: Can I bridge to an Ethernet (wired or unwired) network via a suitable Bluetooth enabled router?
Q: What providers provide the GSM required for Neo1973?
Q: Will OpenMoko "Just Work" with Mac OS X?
A: There has been some discussion of this on the mailing list. There is motivation, and there are interested developers. Not being a Mac OS X user, I don't know enough to summarize the discussion to answer this question. Can someone please fill in?
A: For IP over USB cable connectivity, it is planned to improve/adapt the AJZaurusUSB driver, allowing ssh into the OpenMoko.
A: It is expected that (Bluetooth/UB) SyncML based interoperation for contacts and events can easily be achieved by a patch to the Apple iSync configuration tables.
A: There is an open source implementation of Cocoa (GNUstep) that aims to run MacOS X compatible applications (sort of PPC/x86/ARM universal binaries) on OpenMoko devices: mySTEP.
Q: On the lists on lists.openmoko.org, should replies be added above or below the original text?
A: Please reply UNDER post.
Q: How can I find out if a question or topic has already been discussed on the mailing lists?
A: By searching the mailing list archives. For example, using Google searches:
For example, to search for accelerometer:
If you only want to read the "official" mails from FIC people or from OpenMoko people:
site:openmoko.org text "at fic.com.tw" site:openmoko.org text "at openmoko.org"
For example to search for "release date" from FIC people:
site:openmoko.org "release date" "at fic.com.tw"
Q: how many dead pixels may the LCM have before calling it defect?
A: the answer for the display used in GTA01 and GTA02 is '2'
The Neo1973 was last available in Febuary 2008. See [Ne
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