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Getting Started with your Neo FreeRunner
I just received my Neo FreeRunner. Where should I start?
I have a problem or a question. Where should I go?
First place to check is this FAQ.
Next, try a larger Google search.
Provide detailed information about what you are trying to find out, and use the Subject line to summarize your question. More tips to asking effective questions can be found []
If your question requires confidentiality, you are welcome to contact Michael Shiloh directly.
You might also look for local Openmoko users to find some local support. A few minutes with a live person might solve a simple misunderstanding that would take hours to understand via email. (If a local club doesn't exist, this might be the perfect opportunity to start one!)
I'd like to develop a custom product or application based on Openmoko and/or the Neo FreeRunner. How should I proceed?
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com
Where are the latest downloads?
What is Openmoko?
Openmoko is two things:
Openmoko is a Linux distribution designed for open mobile computing platforms, such as, but not limited to, cellphones.
Openmoko is the company behind the Openmoko Linux distribution. Openmoko also manufactures mobile computing platforms, such as the Neo FreeRunner.
What is the purpose of this project?
By providing a completely open source Linux distribution, and by opening the schematics and CAD files, Openmoko's goal is to nurture explosive innovation (such as occurred with the Personal Computer) in the field of connected mobile computing, cellphones, and ubiquitous computing.
How do I join the Openmoko project?
Join one or more of the mailing lists. A great place to start is the community list.
Browse the wiki, and help improve it.
Start or join an [Openmoko project].
Start or join a local group near you.
I'm not a programmer, but I have other skills. Can I still be of use?
Absolutely. If you're a visual artist, you can help us with icons and other visuals. Musicians can help contribute ringtones and other sounds. Marketing? Sales? Information visualization? Join the community mailing lists, introduce yourself, and you'll soon find a place to put your skills to good use.
Neo FreeRunner - Introductory/Overview/Conceptual Information
What is the Neo FreeRunner?
The Neo FreeRunner is an open cellphone designed for the Openmoko Linux distribution. By open we mean that (a) all chips have been chosen to allow their drivers to be completely open sourced and (b) the schematics and the plastic (CAD) files are available as well.
For more details, see Neo FreeRunner specifications
What can I do with the Neo FreeRunner?
The Neo FreeRunner is designed for everyday use by end users and for continued software development and improvements by the Openmoko team and the Openmoko community.
The Openmoko software is not yet ready for everyday use.
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.
What are the LEDs on the Neo FreeRunner for?
There are two buttons on the Neo FreeRunner: One just below the USB socket, and one on the other side, near the top. Both buttons are clear, and both have LEDs behind them.
All buttons and LEDs are software-controlled; that is, their behavior depends on what the installed software implements.
See here for more details, along with some programs which implement a variety of behaviors.
What are the benefits of an "open" phone over a "closed" phone?
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 yet unfortunately inaccessible: 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 list of examples of "closed" behaviour has been started here - Problems of typical "closed" phones
What can we expect in future Neos?
Please join one of the mailing lists to follow and participate in this discussion.
Purchasing / Shipping / Versions
Where can I buy the Neo FreeRunner? How much?
On what bands does the Neo FreeRunner operate? Will it work in my area?
- The Neo FreeRunner is a tri-band GSM phone. It is available in a 850/1800/1900MHz version for North America and a 900/1800/1900MHz version for the rest of the world.
Do I need the debug board?
With the Neo FreeRunner and NO debug board you can do:
- Kernel development
- Application development
- U-boot updates(equivalent to PC BIOS). Neo 1973 users should only use a tested image to avoid the possibility of bricking the Neo 1973. Neo FreeRunner users do not have this concern, as a bad u-boot can always be updated using the failsafe u-boot in NOR flash
- Kernel and/or rootfs updates using Dfu-util.
With a debug board you can additionally do:
- Use JTAG to debug u-boot, device drivers, or the kernel
- Use the kernel console
- Neo 1973 users can unbrick their device if they flash a wrong or non-working u-boot image.
- Neo FreeRunner users can update u-boot in NOR flash
In summary, it is rare for a Neo FreeRunner user to require a debug board.
To emphasize, the debug board is not required in order to develop applications, system software, or even kernel or device drivers. The debug board is not required in order to gain access to the source code or the development tools.
How do I find out what version of hardware I have?
- cat /proc/cpuinfo
Search for the line that says "Revision". There will be 4 digits, of the form "0350". The '5' in this example indicates hardware revision 5.
Neo FreeRunner Known Issues
Software issues, distribution-wise
Issues relating to software are in the "known issues" section for each distribution. Navigate there via the distributions page - Distributions.
Firmware and hardware issues
Issues relating to firmware and hardware are in Neo FreeRunner Hardware Issues.
Note that some issues might involve a combination of hardware and software.
Selected, commonly-encountered issues
Some selected known issues that are commonly encountered and reported on mailing lists are described below.
My FreeRunner won't register with my cellphone network. What should I do?
Please see some SIMs don't work.
SIM compatibility: It looks like my SIM card is not working; how do I run diagnostics?
Here is how to check: follow Manually_using_GSM until you get an OK prompt.
I read somewhere that a GSM firmware update is available to fix this problem
The GSM firmware update is applicable only to the Neo 1973. Any fixes in the update are already implemented in the GSM firmware in the Neo FreeRunner.
Why won't the FreeRunner boot even with the charger connected?
Flashing (dfu-util) -- dfu-util does not find the phone.
In brief, you need to boot the phone into the NAND or NOR u-boot menu before dfu-util will be able to connect. dfu-util uses the USB DFU (Universal Serial Bus Device Firmware Upgrade) protocol, which is only available at the u-boot menu, and not Ethernet over USB, which is what is available when the phone has booted fully.
Tip: If you're just trying out different distributions, you don't need to flash them with dfu-util; you can try out new distributions by putting them on the microSD card and booting from the card instead. If you'd like to do this instead of flashing, see Booting from SD.
To get the u-boot menu:
- Press and hold the AUX button
- Press the Power button until the phone powers on and displays the boot menu
- Release both buttons
- Press and release AUX to move the lightbar, so that the menu will not time out and boot the phone).
Also see the wiki pages/sections:
Why do I experience poor audio quality or buzzing noises during calls?
Suspend/resume may corrupt SD card's partition table
How do I boot into U-boot? How do I select NAND or NOR FLASH?
Battery and Battery Charging
What is the expected battery life?
See Neo FreeRunner (GTA02) Battery#Notes_about_expected_battery_life and more battery information in Neo_FreeRunner_(GTA02)_Battery
How do I enable fast charge mode for anything but the official mains charger?
Can the Neo FreeRunner charge when turned off? When suspended?
The Neo FreeRunner can not charge when turned off.
The Neo FreeRunner can charge when suspended.
Can the Neo charge and use devices on a USB hub at the same time?
What kind of wireless connectivity does the FreeRunner have?
The FreeRunner has the following connectivity options:
- Tri-band GSM (850/1800/1900 MHz in North America, and 900/1800/1900 MHz, commonly referred to as "European tri-band", for other parts of the world). For a list of compatible service providers, see Neo1973 compatible cellphone providers.
- GPRS Class12/CS4 2.5G (Not EDGE)
- Bluetooth 2.0 EDR
- WiFi: Atheros AR6K in GTA02. (No 3G in year 2007 models)
The following pages contain very useful information:
How do I get the WLAN (802.11, Wi-Fi, wireless network) working?
How do I get the GPS working?
See GTA02 GPS
It takes a long time (10min+) before the FreeRunner gets the first GPS data/readings
See GPS Problems.
How do I get Bluetooth working manually?
How do I use an external Bluetooth keyboard with the FreeRunner ?
(It is mentioned as being a bit funky, but preliminary documentation can be found here)
Can I bridge to an Ethernet (wired or unwired) network via a suitable Bluetooth enabled router?
How do I connect a USB memory-stick etc?
This requires an adapter Mini-B 5-pole => Type A jack or an adapter jack => jack. See USB host for more information.
Once I have such an adapter, can I use it to connect 2 Neos to each other?
This question is equivalent to How to connect two [Unix/Linux] computers via USB cable and what sort of special cable is needed? -> http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/linux-general-1/connecting-two-computers-with-a-usb-cable-data-cable-411073
It should work if one Neo is set to Host mode and the other one set to Device mode. One Neo could give power to the USB-port it the other Neo's battery is low. (I have to verify this)
How do I use an external USB keyboard with the FreeRunner ?
Run: echo "host" > /sys/devices/platform/s3c2410-ohci/usb_mode echo "1" > /sys/devices/platform/neo1973-pm-host.0/hostmode
These commands will put the FreeRunner into powered USB host mode. After this, just plug in the keyboard and it'll work. Personally, I've made a .desktop file to switch into and out of host mode.
To switch back to unpowered device mode just run:
echo "device" > /sys/devices/platform/s3c2410-ohci/usb_mode echo "0" > /sys/devices/platform/neo1973-pm-host.0/hostmode
Finally you will need a USB Type A Female to Female adapter. For more details see here
The above does not work with QtExtended on mwester's kernel, it gives an invalid argument on the first command.
No, stable-tracking kernels give that error too but they still work. --Lindi
Can the phone play VGA video?
No, it can do about 20 fps QVGA with software, and something beetween QVGA and VGA playing MPEG-4 using hardware (at resonable fps). Scaling is also done with GPU hardware.
What microSDHC-cards are supported?
What is the best file system for microSDHC-cards?
Short answer: for OM it is ext3. Other options: ext2 and vfat. Don't use wear-aware file systems like jffs2 and ubifs.
For a longer explanation, see here.
What hardware signals are available?
To simplify extending the hardware, various signals of interest are brought out via the JTAG connector and can be easily accessed with the debug board:
(TBA: List of signals)
Some additional signals that did not fit on the JTAG connector are brought out to solder pads:
(TBA: List of signals)
Is the JTAG interface that comes with GTA01 compatible with GTA02?
Will Openmoko "Just Work" with Mac OS X?
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?
For IP over USB cable connectivity, it is planned to improve/adapt the AJZaurusUSB driver, allowing ssh into the Openmoko.
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.
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.
Why is resuming from suspend so slow
The suspend / resume speed is influenced by the kernel loglevel, i.e. how many messages are printed on the console during suspend / resume. The loglevel can be set using the kernel boot parameters. Setting 'loglevel=1' using the u-boot console for example improves resume speed drastically compared to 'loglevel=8'.
As an alternate to changing the kernel parameter from the boot loader, you can pass "-c 1" to klogd. You can add this parameter to /etc/default/klogd in debian, for example.
Is it completely free software/open source?
Yes. All software that runs on the main CPU and can be updated by the user is available in source.
Firmware in "black box" hardware modules that can not be modified by users is not available in source form. Effectively, these modules are "hardware only".
This allows, for example, that the driver for the GSM module be completely open sourced without violating any FCC rules.
Does Openmoko run on any other hardware?
Can Java applications from other mobile phones run on the FreeRunner?
I think a lot of work must still be done, but this wiki page has some information
What distributions are available for the Neo FreeRunner?
How do I find out what image versions are in use on the phone?
You can run the commands given below on the phone (in an SSH session from your host PC, or in the Terminal application on the phone itself)
|To find out||Run|
|Kernel version that is currently running||
|The version of the root filesystem that you are currently using||
|The versions of u-boot on the phone (The FreeRunner has one u-boot image in NOR memory, and one in NAND - see Booting the Neo FreeRunner for more information)||
grep Bootloader /dev/mtdblock0 (yields the NOR u-boot version)
grep Bootloader /dev/mtdblock1 (yields the NAND u-boot version)
Can the Neo FreeRunner dual boot? Multiple boot?
Since the Neo FreeRunner can boot from the micro SD card, you can install and boot from as many distributions as will fit on your card. See Booting from SD.
How do I install Debian on the Neo FreeRunner?
Are there any known issues with Debian on the Neo FreeRunner?
How do I replace the matchbox window manager with the xfce window manager?
Replace the matchbox-wm line in zhone-session with xfwm4 to start the xfce-wm.
Here's my (Fox Mulder) /usr/bin/zhone-session file which works with xfwm and matchbox keyboard popup:
#!/bin/sh #zhone & exec startxfce4 & matchbox-keyboard-toggle & #exec matchbox-window-manager -use_titlebar yes exec xfwm4
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?
Pretty much any that can be cross-compiled for the ARM architecture.
Will it be possible to use popular VoIP applications on the Openmoko platform?
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.
Will it be possible to use popular Instant Messaging applications ?
There 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.
Does it support Flash so can I watch YouTube?
You don't really need Flash to watch YouTube videos, for example, if you want to watch www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9QLdK6pFCI just install mplayer and use this command:
or use this small script with the video URL as the first parametre:
#!/bin/sh vid=`echo "$1" | sed 's/.*\?.*=\(.*\)/\1/'` mplayer http://ytpocket.com/getflv.php?id=$vid
If you don't want to tell ytpocket.com about every video you watch on debian you can also
sudo apt-get install youtube-dl mplayer `youtube-dl --get-url www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9QLdK6pFCI`
How do I install and manage software on Openmoko?
What about opkg?
What is the meaning of the error codes from ipkg?
Does opkg support packages autocompletion ?
It's possible now, see 0pkg : The opkg autocompletion
How can I compile programs for the Neo FreeRunner?
Is there an emulator available for Openmoko?
For a lot of testing and development work you can simply run Openmoko directly on your PC.
- 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.
Xoo. Koen says: "Xoo should be enough for most applications 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 usable 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 &
Where can I find some type of tutorial for a 'Hello, world' on Openmoko?
This should get you started:
Can PalmOS apps applications be ported to run on Openmoko?
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 M68000 (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.
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.
Does it support Java?
Project [Jalimo] is a project aiming to provide a Java stack on mobile devices. There is a port of Jalimo for Openmoko. The Debian distribution supports CacaoVM and JamVM through apt-get. See Java for more infos.
Does it support Ruby?
For Ruby 1.9, please refer to http://blog.sparkymat.net/2008/08/10/ruby-19-on-openmoko/
For Ruby 1.8.6, please refer to http://blog.wolfman.com/articles/2008/08/10/ruby-1-8-6-on-openmoko-freerunner
Does it support Python?
Yes, with some caveats. See Python for more information.
How do I dump details about X11 configuration and extensions?
Run the command xdpyinfo. Generally, you would do this via an SSH session to the phone, so you may need to first
and then run
For an example invocation, see xdpyinfo output.
|NOTE: Suggestion: this should be split off into a separate page, since many of the questions below aren't really overview-level but specialized; a question like "How do I customize a distribution?" could be added to the Software - Distributions part, linking to the new page. --eddsouza 07:35, 7 September 2008 (UTC)|
Compilation & packaging
What is the 'overlay' approach to bitbake development?
- You can create a local overlay for the bitbake build chain and develop in the overlay as described in Application Development Crash Course.
Are there any configuration files for Openmoko?
How can I port an application written with autotools to Openmoko?
After you source the Openmoko toolchain variables, the Openmoko processor compiler becomes the default compiler. You can compile any GNU - like project just typing ./configure --host i686 and then make - it will produce libraries and executables as expected. Just these executables will not run on your i686 host - they will run on Openmoko ARM processor. Use scp to upload the executables to your phone.
How can I add an application written with autotools to the openmoko tree?
How can I make changes in the openmoko applications?
How can I submit my changes?
Can I use the mokomakefile in the development process? How?
What's the way to include/exclude a newly added package to/from the final rootfs?
Where do the final ipk & binary files reside?
- ipk files are in
- binary images are in
How can I add an application to the applications list?
How can I assign an image to my new application to be seen in the applications list?
The Openmoko project tree contains the folder 'data' where you can put any 128*128 icon. You need to mention the icon in two places in this folder:
- Makefile.am must contain the line dist_appicon_DATA = <icon_name>.png
- The <application_name>.desktop file that must be in this folder should contain the Icon=<icon_name> (without file type).
On the lists on lists.openmoko.org, should replies be added above or below the original text?
Please reply UNDER post.
How can I find out if a question or topic has already been discussed on the mailing lists?
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"
how many dead pixels may the LCM have before calling it defect?
The answer for the display used in GTA01 and GTA02 is '2'
how many visits does this wiki have?
See this wiki's statistics page.
The Neo1973 was last available in Febuary 2008.
What are the hardware specifications of Neo 1973 ?
How do I input text?
Use provided keyboard app.
Use Bluetooth keyboard.
For more methods and ideas see Wishlist:Text_Input.
Can I record calls and/or play audio files in calls?
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.
Tom Hacohen has written a program called Call Recorder which allows both sides of a conversation to be saved to a .wav file.
Note that 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
What is the battery life?
What can I do with the USB port on the Neo?
Charge the phone, communicate with it over USB-serial, or USB-networking.
Plug external devices, such as wifi, cameras, or mass-storage devices.
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.
Why is only USB 1.1 provided?
The processor has USB 1.1 built in. One with USB2 built in would have been more expensive, and might not be open.
The FreeRunner has the same processor as the Neo1973.
What are the details of the USB port on the Neo? How does it compare to USB On-The-Go?
The Neo 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 an 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: Can the Neo charge and use devices on a USB hub at the same time?
It's entirely a cabling problem. The neo essentially has two ports in one - there is the mini-AB port, which is missing the 5V line, and the 5V charging line.
When the Neo is plugged into one of the the outputs of a USB hub, the 5V line is used to charge the battery. The 5V line is not otherwise used in the neo.
To use peripheral devices plugged into a hub, the Neo must be plugged into the input of a powered hub, that is capable of working without 5V input (the Belkin Tetrahub for example will not recognise a host without it).
To use peripheral devices and charge at the same time, you need to make up a special cable, that plugs into the output of a powered hub - to pick up the charge current, and into the input of a powered hub at the same time - to act as a USB host. These cables are wired together for 5V and 0V, but only the input cable has the data pins wired. In some cases (the belkin hub mentioned above) this will also allow the hub to recognise the neo as a host, when it would not before. In other cases - where the hub keeps the outputs unpowered until it senses a host - an external source of 5V would need to be plugged into the 'output' cable.