Open Sourced Smartphones?

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Adam Preston
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Open Sourced Smartphones?

Postby Adam Preston » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:13 pm UTC

Not sure where this topic was supposed to go so I thought this would be a adequate area, anyways I was wondering whether there are any open sourced smartphones out in the preferably european markets, maybe even uk? Are there any out there that run on the Linux OS?
He who will not economize will have to agonize - Confucius

paramecium
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Re: Open Sourced Smartphones?

Postby paramecium » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:36 pm UTC

Does android not do it for you?

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UberNube
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Re: Open Sourced Smartphones?

Postby UberNube » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:25 pm UTC

I'm using a Nokia N900 in the UK with vodafone. It runs a modified version of debian linux (maemo 5), and has comparable hardware to other current-gen smartphones. I'm not entirely sure on the licensing, but I know that it's almost entirely freely licensed and there is an effort, as far as I'm aware, of trying to remove the last few modules which are still proprietary.

In general it's a very nice OS with a linuxy-feel, and I have very few complaints. I have heard of some devices being locked to a network, but mine wasn't and even if it was I could easily fix it by flashing the device with a publicly available 'clean' copy of the OS. It doesn't have as many apps as most smartphones, but those that are available are almost entirely open-source and free. The GPS is a bit temperamental though.

Development for it can be done in various languages, but the standard framework is either python or c++ with the Qt GUI toolkit.

A nice page giving more information on licensing is here: http://wiki.maemo.org/Documentation/Mae ... ore_Domain
Main site listing apps and other info: http://www.maemo.org


EDIT: I should mention that the built-in browser is derived from firefox, and if you prefer there is an official version of firefox mobile for it.

EDIT 2: Nokia are also due to release a new device, the N9, at some point in the near future which uses a new (but still linux-based) OS. You may want to investigate that.
Last edited by UberNube on Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:47 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Adam Preston
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Re: Open Sourced Smartphones?

Postby Adam Preston » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:22 pm UTC

UberNube you are now one of my favorite online amigos :D
He who will not economize will have to agonize - Confucius

kmatzen
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Re: Open Sourced Smartphones?

Postby kmatzen » Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:03 am UTC

I TA'd for a computer vision course last semester that used N900's for the final projects. A computational photography group at Stanford produced a nice API to have nice low-level control over the camera. Android and iPhone don't offer the functionality we required.

Unfortunately, the user experience is really iffy at best. It's one of those devices that suffers from "did that tap register?" syndrome. It vibrates a bit when you touch the screen, but the screen isn't extremely accurate and you still may wonder if you hit a button or not. If you decide to tap again, eventually a bunch of events will be unleashed at once when the proc is freed up.

The updater was also a major pain. Sometimes it would just fail and I'd have to ssh into the phone to get things working again.

The app store is sad. Just go to store.ovi.com, select N900, and see for yourself. It's not even a selling point. I don't see the incentive for app developers to even target this distribution channel, especially now that Nokia phones will run Windows Phone 7 instead for some of its phones. I had an n810 and one issue that still persists is that some people think that writing an app for a Linux phone means to take their favorite Linux desktop app and port the UI directly to the phone. Stuff ends up way too cramped and broken that way.

The hardware is now outdated compared to current generation Android phones and the iPhone 4.

If you want a Linux phone, buy a nice Android phone. The open-sourceness is somewhat bullshit given that the development happens in private, but the source is available after the fact for large portions so you can fool around with that if you want. It's just more pleasant to use.

I appreciate that we had these phones to use and the camera API to leverage the hardware, but honestly, it's just isn't a good smartphone.

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hotaru
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Re: Open Sourced Smartphones?

Postby hotaru » Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:54 pm UTC

kmatzen wrote:The open-sourceness is somewhat bullshit given that the development happens in private, but the source is available after the fact for large portions so you can fool around with that if you want.

umm, no it doesn't. sure, there's usually a bunch of proprietary crap bundled in with android when you get the phone, but it doesn't have to stay that way. the latest version of android released by my carrier for my phone was android 2.1, but i'm running 2.3.3 (cyanogenmod 7) on it now.

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kmatzen
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Re: Open Sourced Smartphones?

Postby kmatzen » Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:42 am UTC

hotaru wrote:
kmatzen wrote:The open-sourceness is somewhat bullshit given that the development happens in private, but the source is available after the fact for large portions so you can fool around with that if you want.

umm, no it doesn't. sure, there's usually a bunch of proprietary crap bundled in with android when you get the phone, but it doesn't have to stay that way. the latest version of android released by my carrier for my phone was android 2.1, but i'm running 2.3.3 (cyanogenmod 7) on it now.


I didn't mean to take a solid stance against it or anything. It's fine for what it is. Sorry if this bothered you. What I meant is that the official development happens in private so that the product can stay competitive. Honeycomb is available on a device, but the actual code is not publicly available for several months from now. I wasn't sure if this idea regarding private development was true or not so I confirmed it with some Android devs at Google. I've been going through android.git.kernel.org recently and master seems to really only contain bug fixes since Gingerbread. When I first used the Dev Phone 1, I was confused since I thought their open source repository was for community contribution to build the platform and to take suggestions for what people want Android to be, but it's really only to distribute the source after a hardware device has shipped and to allow community contributed bug fixes, it seems.

Edit: And the 'bullshit' comment wasn't meant to mean it was bad. That was rude of me to use that term. When I first started getting interested in Android, I was hoping their open-source style was more like Chromium. It's still open-source, but not in the same way.

mcvoid
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Re: Open Sourced Smartphones?

Postby mcvoid » Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:56 pm UTC

That seems like more of a cathedral vs. bazaar type thing rather than a measure of openness of the source, if you will. Remember that before Linux came along, most open source stuff was developed that way, and some orgs still do it that way, like id software and the java folks.

kmatzen
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Re: Open Sourced Smartphones?

Postby kmatzen » Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:07 pm UTC

mcvoid wrote:That seems like more of a cathedral vs. bazaar type thing rather than a measure of openness of the source, if you will. Remember that before Linux came along, most open source stuff was developed that way, and some orgs still do it that way, like id software and the java folks.


Right, and I don't want to say one way is wrong. I'm regretting that I put personal opinion in my earlier post.


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