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Toward a freer Android
Posted Oct 6, 2009 20:31 UTC (Tue) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
Since both projects are belong to part of the Gnome Mobile initiative it would be nice when we will be able to just run Gnome Debian or Fedora on a handset without loss of functionality.
It should be possible to do that now with a large loss of ease-of-use, but retain most of the phone functionality and such things.
Posted Oct 7, 2009 8:48 UTC (Wed) by xav (guest, #18536)
I also long for the day we can get rid of proprietary low-level components without any loss of functionality.
Posted Oct 7, 2009 15:05 UTC (Wed) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
The nice thing about the N900 is that its pretty much open phone. There are
proprietary bits, to be sure, but it is going to take much less effort to
deal with those then what it will take with the average android phone. The
most important bits, except the bootloader (I presume) and the GSM stuff
are going to be open source. The other things should be easy to take care
And I am not saying "android" as a OS.. I mean a practical phone that you
purchase. Most of those are going to be locked down quite a bit were the
average user is going to have to jump through big hoops just to get
software installed on it from sources other then the approved app store.
And they will have every number of proprietary bits that the N900 has, and
If somebody releases a phone to the public that is Android and is open then
I would love to hear about it... I am not looking forward to spending the
600 dollars to get my hands on a N900, but like Google was trying to
explain to people about the first android phones is that while the OS
platform is theirs the phones are not and they have little control over the
Posted Oct 7, 2009 15:09 UTC (Wed) by xav (guest, #18536)
And for the $600 ... consider yourself lucky. Where I live it costs 650, which is more like $1000 nowadays.
Posted Oct 8, 2009 3:50 UTC (Thu) by daniels (subscriber, #16193)
Posted Oct 6, 2009 21:22 UTC (Tue) by job (guest, #670)
Posted Oct 6, 2009 22:23 UTC (Tue) by fyodor (guest, #3481)
If freedom is your concern then you don't need to 'unlock' or 'jailbreak' Maemo 5. From installing an application to getting root access, it's you who decide. We trust you, and at the end it's your device. Nokia also trusts the open source community in general and the Maemo community particularly helping in getting casual users through the experience path. The N900 might just be a new and successful entry point for a new wave of open source users and developers.
Also, Jonathan is planning to get one, so I'm looking forward too a not-so-grumpy-editor review coming up.
Google claimed Android was going to be a very open Linux phone, but I'm just not impressed by their follow through :(. I'm hoping the n900 can be the open source answer to the iPhone. My Nmap Security Scanner is already available for its predecessor, the n810, and it should work just as well on the n900. No jailbreaking or root hacking necessary.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to checking the Amazon page every day for a pre-order shipment date. It is supposed to happen this month! Also, I recently found an extremely detailed review of the n900.
Posted Oct 7, 2009 1:06 UTC (Wed) by nbd (subscriber, #14393)
Posted Oct 7, 2009 2:17 UTC (Wed) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
the power management stuff may be needed (depending on exactly what it does)
most of the stuff on that list is pure userspace code, most of which has free equivalents.
and I don't see any hint that you couldn't run that stuff on your own system image.
it's not perfect, but it seems at least as good as the Android "we will let you get a phone that's unlocked, but then we won't let you get apps for it" approach.
Posted Oct 7, 2009 2:27 UTC (Wed) by nbd (subscriber, #14393)
Posted Oct 7, 2009 5:53 UTC (Wed) by tajyrink (subscriber, #2750)
In my mind I also prefer N900 simply because its developers did not decide to throw everything on top of Linux kernel away, and have greatly contributed to GStreamer, D-Bus, now Qt, etc. over the years. Android seems more like Symbian in the sense that it was (or is) vaporware and then BOOM, there is a code drop of open source code but no open source community. I simply don't like all these proprietary vendors doing code-drops and then claiming they are open source right away - there's much more to open source than the code, and it takes years to build that.
/me uses Neo FreeRunner until there is some other phone fully usable with Debian, so therefore I'm interested if it takes a year or two for eg. N900 to be fully usable with Debian.
Posted Oct 7, 2009 10:43 UTC (Wed) by fb (subscriber, #53265)
> One interesting difference is that N900 is the main product, while Android Developer Phone is just that, a side product. In general one cannot select any Android phone from the market because of the limitations, instead having to trust there will be sensible... no, even cool dev phones from Google.
I think you nailed it here. Nokia produces both the software, and the hardware of the N900. Google only does the software. So the ADP, *promoted* by Google and actually produced by HTC, have this aspect of "secondary" product to it (and it sucks).
The G1/ADP hardware has now the advantage that so many people bought it, that it is very well supported by the community. So the "side product" issue was mitigated, but it is uncertain how we are going to have well supported recovery images when the Android FOSS-fans user base becomes fragmented into many different handsets. Nokia could win big time here.
I am curious about how well integrated and easy to use will be the N900. My wife has a Nokia smartphone, and I find it *very* poorly executed in some places. Nokia didn't even release this new Maemo, and (if I got it right) its API is already marked as deprecated.
Also, there is at least one company advertising another Free Android phone: http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2009/10/03/geeksphone-one-i... but most likely Nokia hardware would be better built. But in any case, we *may* have other devices will be released with root access, and decent support.
Posted Oct 7, 2009 18:25 UTC (Wed) by brouhaha (guest, #1698)
Sorry, but no.
Posted Oct 7, 2009 18:33 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
Google doesn't manufacture the hardware, but Google did most of
the hardware engineering that went into the G1 and ADP1.
They provided this as a reference platform to HTC. So Google was
much more "in control" of the hardware than you might think.
Not even close. HTC designed and provided the hardware. Sure, Google
supplied requirements, but details were left to HTC - result is usual HTC
crazyness (instal of 2.5mm jack and mini-USB or even normal 3.5mm jackand
min-USB there are this strange combination favored by HTC).
Posted Oct 7, 2009 18:44 UTC (Wed) by brouhaha (guest, #1698)
Posted Oct 8, 2009 1:25 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
Sure, HTC changed the audio jack, but the reference hardware
platform was designed by Android before Google bought them, much less
before HTC got their hands on it.
You are correct,of course. Google guys have developed initial
version of the device. This is how it looked like. Find
ten differences between Google's creation and G1...
Even the mechanical design was done by Android, as one can see
by the patent on the slide mechanism. Certainly HTC made some minor
changes, but it was not fundamentally hardware designed by
Hard to believe if you compare Google's creation and HTC's one. The only
common thing they have is hardware keyboard! It was probably hard
requirement at that stage so HTC was forced to design a slider. But other
stuff... there huge number of differences between engineering prototype and
Posted Oct 8, 2009 1:42 UTC (Thu) by brouhaha (guest, #1698)
This is not photo.
Posted Oct 8, 2009 16:22 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
I can't find any photos of it, which isn't too surprising since
Android was still in "stealth mode" at the time.
You can't find any photos if it because they don't exist. What I showed
above is not even photo - it's default skin from the very first public
release of Android SDK! Why it looks like that? Well - it's the render of
actual developer device. Hundred of these or so were produced at the end
2006 (not 2007, but 2006!), but even if HTC produced them (and they
even beed spotted in the wild eventually) HTC
hated them. And so HTC developed Dream (aka G1) - with Google's guys help,
of course, but it's not Google creation.
Later Android SDK stopped using this skin and switched to G1-like
skin. Why? Google finally got sizable number of new HTC-developed devices
and dropped support for it's own development platform and form-factor.
First prototypes were ready by the middle of 2007, but developers got
sizable number of them closer to the end of 2007. Public, of course, got
them in 2008. That's the story and please don't try to rewrite it. If you
are correct and initial creation was like Dream and later ones were like
aforementioned developer platform,then how come we never got anything like
the development platform? Why it was used by default in the very first
release of the SDK and not in the later ones? Why all photos of the "later
design" (by your interpretation) are shown with early versions of Android
(ribbon-like interface was in the first release of SDK and in the first
presentation video) and never with modern UI design? Facts just don't add
up to your crazy story, sorry.
Posted Oct 8, 2009 3:52 UTC (Thu) by daniels (subscriber, #16193)
Posted Oct 8, 2009 12:07 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
Posted Oct 8, 2009 12:48 UTC (Thu) by xav (guest, #18536)
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