Tag Archives: N900

GNOME Foundation partners with Purism to support its efforts to build the Librem 5 smartphone

Post Syndicated from ris original https://lwn.net/Articles/734325/rss

Last week KDE announced that they were
working with Purism on the Librem 5 smartphone. The GNOME Foundation has
also provided
its endorsement and support
of Purism’s efforts to build the Librem 5.
As part of the collaboration, if the campaign is successful the GNOME Foundation plans to enhance GNOME shell and general performance of the system with Purism to enable features on the Librem 5.

Various GNOME technologies are used extensively in embedded devices today, and GNOME developers have experienced some of the challenges that face mobile computing specifically with the Nokia 770, N800 and N900, the One Laptop Per Child project’s XO laptop and FIC’s Neo1973 mobile phone.”

100 days of postmarketOS

Post Syndicated from corbet original https://lwn.net/Articles/732792/rss

The postmarketOS distribution looks
back at its first 100 days
. “One of our previously stated goals
is using the mainline Linux kernel on as many mobile devices as
possible. This is not as easy as it might sound, since many Linux-based
smartphones (Android) require binary drivers which depend on very specific
kernel versions. It’s a tremendous task to rewrite these drivers to work
with the current kernel APIs. Nevertheless, some people have been doing
that since long before postmarketOS existed. In the case of the Nokia N900
this has been going on for some number of years and almost all components
are now supported in the mainline kernel. This has allowed us to use the
mainline kernel as the default kernel for the N900, jumping from Maemo’s
2.6.x to mainline 4.12!

Bossa 2010/Manaus Slides

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/bossa2010.html

The slides for my talk about the audio infrastructure of Linux mobile
devices at BOSSA 2010 in Manaus/Brazil are now available
online
. They are terse (as usual), and the most interesting stuff is
probably in what I said, and not so much in what I wrote in those slides. But
nonetheless I believe this might still be quite interesting for attendees as
well as non-attendees.

The talk focuses on the audio architecture of the Nokia N900 and the Palm
Pre, and of course particularly their use of PulseAudio for all things audio. I analyzed
and compared their patch sets to figure out what their priorities are, what we
should move into PulseAudio mainline, and what should better be left in their
private patch sets.

Bossa 2010/Manaus Slides

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/bossa2010.html

The slides for my talk about the audio infrastructure of Linux mobile
devices at BOSSA 2010 in Manaus/Brazil are now available
online
. They are terse (as usual), and the most interesting stuff is
probably in what I said, and not so much in what I wrote in those slides. But
nonetheless I believe this might still be quite interesting for attendees as
well as non-attendees.

The talk focuses on the audio architecture of the Nokia N900 and the Palm
Pre, and of course particularly their use of PulseAudio for all things audio. I analyzed
and compared their patch sets to figure out what their priorities are, what we
should move into PulseAudio mainline, and what should better be left in their
private patch sets.

Musings on Software Freedom for Mobile Devices

Post Syndicated from Bradley M. Kuhn original http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2010/03/04/mobile.html

I started using GNU/Linux and Free Software in 1992. In those days,
while everything I needed for a working computer was generally available
in software freedom, there were many components and applications that
simply did not exist. For highly technical users who did not need many
peripherals, the Free Software community had reached a state of complete
software freedom. Yet, in 1992, everyone agreed there was still much work
to be done. Even today, we still strive for a desktop and server
operating system, with all relevant applications, that grants complete
software freedom.

Looked at broadly, mobile telephone systems are not all that different
from 1992-era GNU/Linux systems. The basics are currently available as
Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS). If you need only the bare
minimum of functionality, you can, by picking the right phone hardware,
run an almost completely FLOSS operating system and application set. Yet,
we have so far to go. This post discusses the current penetration of
FLOSS in mobile devices and offers a path forward for free software
advocates.

A Brief History

The mobile telephone market has never functioned like the traditional
computer market. Historically, the mobile user made arrangements with some
network carrier through a long-term contract. That carrier
“gave” the user a phone or discounted it as a loss-leader. Under
that system, few people take their phone hardware choice all that
seriously. Perhaps users pay a bit more for a slightly better phone, but
generally they nearly always pick among the limited choices provided by
the given carrier.

Meanwhile, Research in Motion was the first to provide
corporate-slave-oriented email-enabled devices. Indeed, with the very
recent focus on consumer-oriented devices like the iPhone, most users
forget that Apple is by far not the preferred fruit for the smart phone
user. Today, most people using a “smart phone” are using one
given to them by their employer to chain them to their office email 24/7.

Apple, excellent at manipulating users into paying more for a product
merely because it is shiny, also convinced everyone that now a phone
should be paid for separately, and contracts should go even longer. The
“race to mediocrity” of the phone market has ended. Phones
need real features to stand out. Phones, in fact, aren’t phones
anymore. They are small mobile computers that can also make phone calls.

If these small computers had been introduced in 1992, I suppose I’d be
left writing the Mobile GNU Manifesto, calling for developers
to start from scratch writing operating systems for these new computers,
so that all users could have software freedom. Fortunately, we have
instead been given a head start. Unlike in 1992, not every company in the
market today is completely against releasing Free Software. Specifically,
two companies have seen some value in releasing (some parts of) phone
operating systems as Free Software: Nokia and Google. However, the two
companies have done this for radically different reasons.

The Current State of Mobile Software Freedom
For its part, Nokia likely benefited greatly from the traditional
carrier system. Most of their phones were provided relatively cheaply with
contracts. Their interest in software freedom was limited and perhaps even
non-existent. Nokia sold new hardware every time a phone contract was
renewed, and the carrier paid the difference between the loss-leader price
and Nokia’s wholesale cost. The software on the devices was simple and
mostly internally developed. What incentive did Nokia have to release
software in software freedom? (Nokia realized too late this was the wrong
position, but more on that later.)

In parallel, Nokia had chased another market that I’ve never fully
understood: the tablet PC. Not big enough to be a real computer, but too
large to be a phone, these devices have been an idea looking for a user
base. Regardless of my personal views on these systems, though, GNU/Linux
remains the ideal system for these devices, and Nokia saw that. Nokia
built the Debian-ish Maemo system as a
tablet system, with no phone. However, I can count on one hand all the
people I’ve met who bothered with these devices; I just don’t think a
phone-less small computer is going to ever become the rage, even if Apple
dumps billions into marketing the iPad. (Anyone remember the Newton?)

I cannot explain, nor do I even understand, why Nokia took so long to
use Maemo as a platform for a tablet-like telephone. But, a few months
ago, they finally released
one. This N900 is among only a
few available phones that make any strides toward a fully free software
phone platform. Yet,
the list of
proprietary components required for operation
remains quite long. The
common joke is that you can’t even charge the battery on your N900 without
proprietary software.

While there are surely people inside Nokia who want more software
freedom on their devices, Nokia is fundamentally a hardware company
experimenting with software freedom in hopes that it will bolster hardware
sales. Convincing Nokia to shorten that proprietary list will prove
difficult, and the community based effort to replace that long list with
FLOSS (called Mer) faces many
challenges. (These challenges will likely increase with the recent Maemo
merger with Moblin to form MeeGo).

Fortunately, hardware companies are not the only entity interested in
phone operating systems. Google, ever-focused on routing human eyes to its
controlled advertising, realizes that even more eyes will be on mobile
computing platforms in the future. With this goal in mind, Google released
the Android/Linux system, now available on a variety of phones in varying
degrees of software freedom.

Google’s motives are completely different than Nokia’s. Technically,
Google has no hardware to sell. They do have a set of proprietary
applications that yield the “Google online experience” to
deliver Google’s advertising. From Google’s point of view, an
easy-to-adopt, licensing-unencumbered platform will broaden their
advertising market.

Thus, Android/Linux is a nearly fully non-copylefted phone operating
system platform where Linux is the only GPL licensed component essential
to Android’s operation. Ideally, Google wants to see Android adopted
broadly in both Free Software and mixed Free/proprietary deployments.
Google’s goals do not match that of the software freedom community, so in
some cases, a given Android/Linux device will give the user more software
freedom than the N900, but in many cases it will give much less.

The HTC
Dream
is the only Android/Linux device I know of where a careful
examination of the necessary proprietary components have been
analyzed. Obviously, the “Google experience” applications are
proprietary. There also
are about
20 hardware interface libraries
that do not have source code available
in a public repository. However, when lined up against the N900 with
Maemo, Android on the HTC Dream can be used as an operational mobile
telephone and 3G Internet device using only three proprietary components:
a proprietary GSM firmware, proprietary Wifi firmware, and two audio
interface libraries. Further proprietary components are needed if you
want a working accelerometer, camera, and video codecs as their hardware
interface libraries are all proprietary.

Based on this analysis, it appears that the HTC Dream currently gives
the most software freedom among Android/Linux deployments. It is unlikely
that Google wants anything besides their applications to be proprietary.
While Google has been unresponsive when asked why these hardware interface
libraries are proprietary, it is likely that HTC, the hardware maker with
whom Google contracted, insisted that these components remain proprietary,
and perhaps
fear patent
suits like the one filed this week
are to blame here. Meanwhile,
while no detailed analysis of
the Nexus One is yet available,
it’s likely similar to the HTC Dream.

Other Android/Linux devices are now available, such as those from
Motorola and Samsung. There appears to have been no detailed analysis done
yet on the relative proprietary/freeness ratio of these Android
deployments. One can surmise that since these devices are from
traditionally proprietary hardware makers, it is unlikely that these
platforms are freer than those available from Google, whose maximal
interest in a freely available operating system is clear and in contrast
to the traditional desires of hardware makers.

Whether the software is from a hardware-maker desperately trying a new
hardware sales strategy, or an advertising salesman who wants some
influence over an operating system choice to improve ad delivery, the
software freedom community cannot assume that the stewards of these
codebases have the interests of the user community at heart. Indeed, the
interests between these disparate groups will only occasionally be
aligned. Community-oriented forks, as has begun in the Maemo community
with Mer, must also begin in the Android/Linux space too. We are slowly
trying with
the Replicant
project
, founded by myself and my colleague Aaron Williamson.

A healthy community-oriented phone operating system project will
ultimately be an essential component to software freedom on these devices.
For example, consider the fate of the Mer project now that Nokia has
announced the merger of Maemo with Moblin. Mer does seek to cherry-pick
from various small device systems, but its focus was to create a freer
Maemo that worked on more devices. Mer now must choose between following
the Maemo in the merge with Moblin, or becoming a true fork. Ideally, the
right outcome for software freedom is a community-led effort, but there
may not be enough community interest, time and commitment to shepherd a
fork while Intel and Nokia push forward on a corporate-controlled
codebase. Further, Moblin will likely push the MeeGo project toward more
of a tablet-PC operating system than a smart phone.

A community-oriented Android/Linux fork has more hope. Google has
little to lose by encouraging and even assisting with such forks; such
effort would actually be wholly consistent with Google’s goals for wider
adoption of platforms that allow deployment of Google’s proprietary
applications. I expect that operating system
software-freedom-motivated efforts will be met with more support from
Google than from Nokia and/or Intel.

However, any operating system, even a mobile device one, needs many
applications to be useful. Google experience applications for
Android/Linux are merely the beginning of the plethora of proprietary
applications that will ultimately be available for MeeGo and Android/Linux
platforms. For FLOSS developers who don’t have a talent for low-level
device libraries and operating system software, these applications
represent a straightforward contribution towards mobile software
freedom. (Obviously, though, if one does have talent for low-level
programming, replacing the proprietary .so’s on Android/Linux would be the
optimal contribution.)

Indeed, on this point, we can take a page from Free Software history.
From the early 1990s onward, fully free GNU/Linux systems succeeded as
viable desktop and server systems because disparate groups of developers
focused simultaneously on both operating systems and application software.
We need that simultaneous diversity of improvement to actually compete
with the fully proprietary alternatives, and to ensure that the
“mostly FLOSS” systems of today are not the “barely
FLOSS” systems of tomorrow.

Careful readers have likely noticed that I have ignored Nokia’s other
release, the Symbian> codebase. Every time I write or speak about the
issues of software freedom in mobile devices, I’m chastised for leaving it
out of the story. My answer is always simple: when a FLOSS version of
Symbian can be compiled from source code, using a FLOSS compiler or SDK,
and that binary can be installed onto an actual working mobile phone
device, then (and only then) will I believe that the Symbian source
release has value beyond historical interest. We have to get honest as a
community about the future of Symbian: it’s a ten-year-old proprietary
codebase designed for devices of that era that doesn’t bootstrap with any
compilers our community uses regularly. Unless there’s a radical change
to these facts, the code belongs in a museum, not running on a phone.

Also, lest my own community of hard-core FLOSS advocates flame me, I
must also mention
the Neo FreeRunner
device
and the
OpenMoko project.
This was a noble experiment: a freely specified hardware platform running
100% FLOSS. I used an OpenMoko FreeRunner myself, hoping that it would be
the mobile phone our community could rally around. I do think the device
and its (various) software stack(s) have a future as an experimental,
hobbyist device. But, just as GNU/Linux needed to focus on x86 hardware
to succeed, so must software freedom efforts in mobile systems focus on
mass-market, widely used, and widely available hardware.

Jailbreaking and the Self-Installed System

When some of us at my day-job office decided to move as close to a
software freedom phone platform as we could, we picked Android/Linux and
the HTC Dream. However, we carefully considered the idea of permission to
run one’s own software on the device. In the desktop and server system
market, this is not a concern, but on mobile systems, it is a central
question.

The holdover of those carrier-controlled agreements for phone
acquisition is the demand that devices be locked down. Devices are locked
down first to a single carrier’s network, so that devices cannot (legally)
be resold as phones ready for any network. Second, carriers believe that
they must fear the FCC if device operating systems can be reinstalled.

On the first point, Google is our best ally in this
regard. The
HTC Dream developer models, called the Android Dev Phone 1 (aka ADP1)
,
while somewhat more expensive than T-Mobile branded G1s, permit the user
to install any operating system on the phone, and the purchase agreement
extract no promises from the purchaser regarding what software runs on the
device. Google has no interest in locking you to a single carrier, but
only to a single Google experience application vendor. Offering a user
“carrier freedom of choice”, while tying those users tighter
to Google applications, is probably a central part of their marketing
plans.

The second point — fear of an FCC crack down when mobile users
have software freedom — is beyond the scope of this
article. However, what Atheros has done with their Wifi devices shows that
software freedom and FCC compliance can co-exist. Furthermore, the
central piece of FCC’s concern — the GSM chipset and firmware
— runs on a separate processor in modern mobile devices. This is a
software freedom battle for another day, but it shows that the FCC can be
pacified in the meantime by keeping the GSM device a black box to the Free
Software running on the primary processor of the device.
Conclusion

Seeking software freedom on mobile devices will remain a complicated
endeavor for some time. Our community should utilize the FLOSS releases
from companies, but should not forget that, until viable community forks
exist, software freedom on these devices exists at the whim of these
companies. A traditional “get some volunteers together and write
some code” approach can achieve great advancement toward
community-oriented FLOSS systems on mobile devices. Developers could
initially focus on applications for the existing “mostly
FLOSS” platforms of MeeGo and Android/Linux. The challenging and
more urgent work is to replace lower-level proprietary components on these
systems with FLOSS alternatives, but admittedly needs special programming
skills that aren’t easy to find.

(This blog post first appeared
as an
article
in
the March
2010 issue
of the Canadian online
journal, The Open Source Business Resource
.)

Conferences

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/lpc-bluez-maemo-2009.html

Last week I’ve been at the Linux Plumbers Conference in
Portland. Like last year it kicked ass and proved again being one of the most
relevant Linux developer conferences (if not the most relevant one). I
ran the Audio MC at the conference which was very well attended. The slides
for our four talks in the
track are available online
. (My own slides are probably a bit too terse
for most readers, the interesting stuff was in the talking, not the
reading…) Personally, for me the most interesting part was to see to which
degree Nokia actually adopted PulseAudio
in the N900. While I was aware that Nokia was using it, I wasn’t aware that
their use is as comprehensive as it turned out it is. And the industry
support from other companies is really impressive too. After the main track we
had a BoF session, which notes I’ll post a bit later. Many thanks to Paul,
Jyri, Pierre for their great talks. Unfortunately, Palm, the only manufacturer
who is actually already shipping a phone with PulseAudio didn’t send anyone to
the conference who wanted to talk about that. Let’s hope they’ll eventually
learn that just throwing code over the wall is not how Open Source works.
Maybe they’ll send someone to next year’s LPC in Boston, where I hope to be
able to do the Audio MC again.

Right now I am at the BlueZ Summit in Stuttgart. Among other things we have
been discussing how to improve Bluetooth Audio support in PulseAudio. I guess
one could say thet the Bluetooth support in PulseAudio is already one of its
highlights, in fact working better then the support on other OSes (yay, that’s
an area where Linux Audio really shines!). So up next is better support for
allowing PA to receive A2DP audio, i.e. making PA act as if it was a Headset or
your hifi. Use case: send music from from your mobile to your desktop’s hifi
speakers. (Actually this is already support in current BlueZ/PA versions, but
not easily accessible). Also Bluetooth headsets tend to support AC3 or MP3
decoding natively these days so we should support that in PA too. Codec
handling has been on the TODO list for PA for quite some time, for the SPDIF or
HDMI cases, and Bluetooth Audio is another reason why we really should have
that.

Next week I’ll be at the Maemo Summit in Amsterdam.
Nokia kindly invited me. Unfortunately I was a bit too late to get a proper
talk accepted. That said, I am sure if enough folks are interested we could do
a little ad-hoc BoF and find some place at the venue for it. If you have any
questions regarding PA just talk to me. The N900 uses PulseAudio for all things
audio so I am quite sure we’ll have a lot to talk about.

See you in Amsterdam!

One last thing: Check out Colin’s
work to improve integration of PulseAudio and KDE
!

Conferences

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/lpc-bluez-maemo-2009.html

Last week I’ve been at the Linux Plumbers Conference in
Portland. Like last year it kicked ass and proved again being one of the most
relevant Linux developer conferences (if not the most relevant one). I
ran the Audio MC at the conference which was very well attended. The slides
for our four talks in the
track are available online
. (My own slides are probably a bit too terse
for most readers, the interesting stuff was in the talking, not the
reading…) Personally, for me the most interesting part was to see to which
degree Nokia actually adopted PulseAudio
in the N900. While I was aware that Nokia was using it, I wasn’t aware that
their use is as comprehensive as it turned out it is. And the industry
support from other companies is really impressive too. After the main track we
had a BoF session, which notes I’ll post a bit later. Many thanks to Paul,
Jyri, Pierre for their great talks. Unfortunately, Palm, the only manufacturer
who is actually already shipping a phone with PulseAudio didn’t send anyone to
the conference who wanted to talk about that. Let’s hope they’ll eventually
learn that just throwing code over the wall is not how Open Source works.
Maybe they’ll send someone to next year’s LPC in Boston, where I hope to be
able to do the Audio MC again.

Right now I am at the BlueZ Summit in Stuttgart. Among other things we have
been discussing how to improve Bluetooth Audio support in PulseAudio. I guess
one could say thet the Bluetooth support in PulseAudio is already one of its
highlights, in fact working better then the support on other OSes (yay, that’s
an area where Linux Audio really shines!). So up next is better support for
allowing PA to receive A2DP audio, i.e. making PA act as if it was a Headset or
your hifi. Use case: send music from from your mobile to your desktop’s hifi
speakers. (Actually this is already support in current BlueZ/PA versions, but
not easily accessible). Also Bluetooth headsets tend to support AC3 or MP3
decoding natively these days so we should support that in PA too. Codec
handling has been on the TODO list for PA for quite some time, for the SPDIF or
HDMI cases, and Bluetooth Audio is another reason why we really should have
that.

Next week I’ll be at the Maemo Summit in Amsterdam.
Nokia kindly invited me. Unfortunately I was a bit too late to get a proper
talk accepted. That said, I am sure if enough folks are interested we could do
a little ad-hoc BoF and find some place at the venue for it. If you have any
questions regarding PA just talk to me. The N900 uses PulseAudio for all things
audio so I am quite sure we’ll have a lot to talk about.

See you in Amsterdam!

One last thing: Check out Colin’s
work to improve integration of PulseAudio and KDE
!