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I use Debian on my Freerunner. Following is a description of my setup, and of how well (or not) things are working with that setup.

Main points

Debian installed (again) on 10th December (2009, following major filesystem corruption of my previous Debian install).

matchbox window manager and keyboard. I'm kind of missing the E17 keyboard, but not as much as I expected to. The matchbox keyboard seems more usable than you'd think, given its size.

trayer, openmoko-panel-plugin and auxlaunch. Here's my .xsession:

trayer --edge top --height 60 &
openmoko-panel-plugin &
zhone &
rm -f .auxlaunchpid
auxlaunch -dms &
exec matchbox-window-manager -use_titlebar no -use_cursor no

Some screenshots to show how it looks... I think the plainness of the top panel goes well with the sharp angles of Gtk+ apps.

cellwriter is fun to have around. Once it has been started for the first time (which you can do from auxlaunch), it adds an icon to the top panel, and then you can click that to make cellwriter appear and disappear. So there is no need to decide whether to replace matchbox-keyboard with cellwriter in the openmoko-panel-plugin config; it's easy to have both. I made the following changes to the default config.

  • Grid: 10 by 4 calls. Otherwise, when training, you can't get to some of the characters.
  • Keyboard: 480 pixels wide. Obviously.
  • Enable extended input events. Otherwise just doesn't work as an input method.
  • Window docking: Bottom. Otherwise completely covers the app that you're trying to type into!

Working and Not Working

SMS mostly OK.

  • Sometimes fails to send an outbound message, and then the message sits forever (until deleted) in zhone as "unsent".
  • zhone's design of immediately showing you a received message doesn't completely work in practice, because it makes it easy to miss when there are other new messages.

Phone calls mostly OK.

  • I haven't touched the GSM ALSA state file, and I haven't had any complaints.
  • Ring tone is too quiet; I never hear it.

Wifi seems OK. I'm using the basic Debian approach with configuration in /etc/network/interfaces:

iface eth0 inet manual
       wpa-driver wext
       wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
iface default inet dhcp

and in /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant_conf:


Then when I need wifi, I

  • use openmoko-panel-plugin's Wifi icon to power up the radio
  • do "ifup eth0" and "dhclient eth0" in a terminal.

That all works, but

  • it would be nicer if the "ifup eth0" could be made to happen automatically when the Wifi radio is powered up
  • I'm sure I shouldn't have to do the "dhclient eth0" step explicitly; so something must be wrong in my configuration there
  • I don't understand why the Freerunner apparently wants "wpa-conf" in /etc/network/interfaces, whereas my other Debian systems have "wpa-roam".

(I previously tried wicd and wifi-radar, but they both seem to be very good at hanging the system and/or eating loads of CPU; and I don't see any great need for them.)

GPRS seems unreliable, and this appears to be a regression from my previous Debian installation - perhaps something to do with the new GSM muxer? In my previous installation, I used the "PDP toggle" function in John Sullivan's fso.el, and GPRS stayed up for several hours after that. In this installation I use openmoko-panel-plugin's GSM icon to enable GPRS, and it only stayed up for a few minutes. I'm sure the dbus activation calls are the same, so I would guess that this is something to do with the GSM infrastructure, and possibly a bad interaction with the #1024 recamping problem (which my phone definitely suffers from).


auxlaunch should also support killing an existing window - for apps like TangoGPS which don't have a quit button anywhere. I wonder if anyone already has a patch for that?

Why doesn't the current app resize itself when cellwriter pops up, in the same way they all do when matchbox-keyboard pops up?

Why does say that the default kernel is 2.6.29, when I apparently have 2.6.28 (and didn't do anything special to get this):

debian-gta02:~# uname -a
Linux debian-gta02 2.6.28-20090105.git69b2aa26 #1 PREEMPT Tue Mar 3 20:22:28 UTC 2009 armv4tl GNU/Linux

Why does say that using a 2.6.28 kernel "makes the rest of the phone broken"? (Most things seem to be working for me with a 2.6.28 kernel.)

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