Community Updates/2008-10-19

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Hello everybody,

welcome to the unofficial Openmoko Community newsletter, October 4th to 19th issue The two big news are the launch of, an application directory, and Openmoko engineering team focusing back to the basics on Improving user experience.



Things were rather quiet on the distribution front. Rasterman's October 11th images (source) were put online. This is not really a distribution, but rather a demonstration that illume runs well and is so beautiful, for others distros to grab. We also saw daily SHR image builds online, no release yet but available for testing. And Qi, the next bootloader, recently got resume support.Testing shows that it is much faster than uboot indeed, but no release yet either.


Everybody applauded when Tobias announced , an online directory of applications (think Freshmeat, Tucows...). The database is community-driven, everybody can register and index applications. In the flow of community developed utilities, I noticed:

  • the initial release of OpenMooCow, a nice, funny and useless bovine noise simulator.
  • Optimizations on Rotate. This is an interesting example of competition and cooperation (community development, if you prefer), because there are many versions being developed in parallel, with ideas jumping across all the time.
  • The Gestures GSoC project developper managed to convince his academic instructors to let him code on the FreeRunner for his degree. Future developments coming at
  • Auxlaunch is a very simple, finger-friendly application launcher and window switcher for the Freerunner. It appears when the "AUX" button is pressed.

With respect to porting other applications to our favorite platform, I read that Intel's made powertop actually runs on the FreeRunner. This is an very handy utility that allows to measure and therefore optimize power usage. Also:

  • FBReader an e-book reader programme now available for Debian and 2008.8
  • Sander ported Pingus the free lemmings clone, for OE based distributions (it was already available on Debian).
  • In addition to minimo, openmoko-browser2, and midori, we saw a bunch of light and fast web browsers announced on the mailing list: Fennec), Dillo (ipk), NetSurf and links2. That makes about seven, working more or less well. Choice, choice, choice...
  • The same is happening for music players: pythm, openmoko-mediaplayer2, qtopia media player, deforaOS-player, qmmp, sonata, quasar. Thomas's K. also started a mediaplayer. So far I think that your best friend is mplayer from the command line interface (and on 2008.8, I think that mplayer is directly connected to OSS, so installing OSS compatibility packages probably helps. And removing pulseaudio also saves tons of CPU cycles)

Good fixes and discussed issues

Many good news:

  • There is a fix for ticket 2038 about Qtopia USSD requests, so that dialing "*123" or "#4" should work soon.
  • There is a fix for ticket 1024, the GSM keeps reregistering bug, a.k.a. bouncing Calypso issue. The workaround is to prevent the modem from entering deep sleep, and it has been commited to the QTopia images already.
  • Powersaving patches landed in stable-2.6.26 on October 8th. Note to application developpers: the best way to blank the screen to conserve power is the fbdev-ioctl method. I think that xset s 5 should do it. Thanks to the Harald and the Swisscom research project !
  • OM announced two hires: Ray Chao, to work full-time in Taipei on the infrastructure, and Christopher Hall, a very experienced software engineer.
  • Infrastructure-wise, unstable development of OM is moving back to OE.

Too many bugs remain, see Test reports for example. Most of the grief heard these days was about Digital Audio Playing and Wifi. I would like to make an unrequested announcement for the sake of the good vertical communication: Kernel currently has the APM power management interface still compiled in. This has been deprecated for years and is doomed to go away. Hopefully apm -s will still work for suspend, but userspace applications that still use the deprecated apm interface SHOULD take action, preferably sooner than later.


  • Openmoko's engineers reunited for a 3 weeks workshop in Taipei. They decided to focus back on the basics, that is to leave the Installer, Locations, Diversity and Settings applications alone for a while. This decision was very positively received by everybody. John Lee is assembling the engineering task force at OpenMoko for that. He started by initiating a thread to hear about what the community expects most urgently. As a result, his priorities are posted in the Improving user experience wiki page.
  • Compared to last month, the planet has really taken off. Several prolific authors are now regularly posting long, detailed analysis.
  • Risto wrote a wrap-up of the "Lost community" thread. Gratuitous praise to him: when someone makes a request on the mailing list, it is indeed a mark of good netizenship to summarize the answers on one's blog/wiki like he did. These discussions led to more discussions about what would be the job description of a community manager and decisions on lowering barriers to participation (i.e. access to write priviledges in code repositories) happened.
  • I did not see much innovations about cool hardware mods (feel free to add to this wiki page !), but an interesting stylus alternative was documented. It uses a guitar pick attached to the pouch lanyard.
  • More user groups meetings everywhere in the world.

Outside Openmoko

  • Linux 2.6.27 released.
  • Pulseaudio released version 0.9.13 with experimental support for Bluetooth devices.
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