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What Timo Jyrinki talks about

Posts tagged with 'devices'

Timo Jyrinki

I recently obtained the newest Dell's Ubuntu developer offering, XPS 13 (2015, model 9343). I opted in for FullHD non-touch display, mostly because of better battery life, the actual no need for higher resolution, and matte screen which is great outside. Touch would have been "nice-to-have", but in my work I don't really need it.

The other specifications include i7-5600U CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD [edit: lshw], and of course Ubuntu 14.04 LTS pre-installed as OEM specific installation. It was not possible to directly order it from Dell site, as Finland is reportedly not online market for Dell... The wholesale company however managed to get two models on their lists and so it's now possible to order via retailers. [edit: here are some country specific direct web order links however US, DE, FR, SE, NL]

In this blog post I give a quick look on how I started up using it, and do a few observations on the pre-installed Ubuntu included. I personally was interested in using the pre-installed Ubuntu like a non-Debian/Ubuntu developer would use it, but Dell has also provided instructions for Ubuntu 15.04, Debian 7.0 and Debian 8.0 advanced users among else. Even if not using the pre-installed Ubuntu, the benefit from buying an Ubuntu laptop is obviously smaller cost and on the other hand contributing to free software (by paying for the hardware enablement engineering done by or purchased by Dell).


The Black Box. (and white cat)

Opened box.

First time lid opened, no dust here yet!
First time boot up, transitioning from the boot logo to a first time Ubuntu video.
A small clip from the end of the welcoming video.
First time setup. Language, Dell EULA, connecting to WiFi, location, keyboard, user+password.
Creating recovery media. I opted not to do this as I had happened to read that it's highly recommended to install upgrades first, including to this tool.
Finalizing setup.
Ready to log in!
It's alive!
Not so recent 14.04 LTS image... lots of updates.

Problems in the First Batch

Unfortunately the first batch of XPS 13:s with Ubuntu are going to ship with some problems. They're easy to fix if you know how to, but it's sad that they're there to begin with in the factory image. There is no knowledge when a fixed batch will start shipping - July maybe?

First of all, installing software upgrades stops. You need to run the following command via Dash → Terminal once: sudo apt-get install -f (it suggests upgrading libc-dev-bin, libc6-dbg, libc6-dev and udev). After that you can continue running Software Updater as usual, maybe rebooting in between.

Secondly, the fixed touchpad driver is included but not enabled by default. You need to enable the only non-enabled ”Additional Driver” as seen in the picture below or instructed in Youtube.

Dialog enabling the touchpad driver.

Clarification: you can safely ignore the two paragraphs below, they're just for advanced users like me who want to play with upgraded driver stacks.

Optionally, since I'm interested in the latest graphics drivers especially in case of a brand new hardware like Intel Broadwell, I upgraded my Ubuntu to use the 14.04.2 Hardware Enablement stack (matches 14.10 hardware support): sudo apt install --install-recommends libgles2-mesa-lts-utopic libglapi-mesa-lts-utopic linux-generic-lts-utopic xserver-xorg-lts-utopic libgl1-mesa-dri-lts-utopic libegl1-mesa-drivers-lts-utopic libgl1-mesa-glx-lts-utopic:i386

Even though it's much better than a normal Ubuntu 14.10 would be since many of the Dell fixes continue to be in use, some functionality might become worse compared to the pre-installed stack. The only thing I have noticed though is the internal microphone not working anymore out-of-the-box, requiring a kernel patch as mentioned in Dell's notes. This is not a surprise since the real eventual upstream support involves switching from HDA to I2S and during 14.10 kernel work that was not nearly done. If you're excited about new drivers, I'd recommend waiting until August when the 15.04 based 14.04.3 stack is available (same package names, but 'vivid' instead of 'utopic'). [edit: I couldn't resist myself when I saw linux-generic-lts-vivid (3.19 kernel) is already in the archives. 14.04.2 + that gives me working microphone again!]


Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is an extremely capable laptop + OS combination nearing perfection, but not quite there because of the software problems in the launch pre-install image. The laptop looks great, feels like a quality product should and is very compact for the screen size.

I've moved over all my work onto it and everything so far is working smoothly in my day-to-day tasks. I'm staying at Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and using my previous LXC configuration to run the latest Ubuntu and Debian development versions. I've also done some interesting changes already like LUKS In-Place Conversion, converting the pre-installed Ubuntu into whole disk encrypted one (not recommended for the faint hearted, GRUB reconfiguration is a bit of a pain).

I look happily forward to working a few productive years with this one!

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Timo Jyrinki

If you're running an Android device with GNU userland Linux in a chroot and need a full network access over USB cable (so that you can use your laptop/desktop machine's network connection from the device), here's a quick primer on how it can be set up.

When doing Openmoko hacking, one always first plugged in the USB cable and forwarded network, or like I did later forwarded network over Bluetooth. It was mostly because the WiFi was quite unstable with many of the kernels.

I recently found out myself using a chroot on a Nexus 4 without working WiFi, so instead of my usual WiFi usage I needed network over USB... trivial, of course, except that there's Android on the way and I'm a Android newbie. Thanks to ZDmitry on Freenode, I got the bits for the Android part so I got it working.

On device, have eg. data/ with the following contents.


ip addr add dev usb0
ip link set usb0 up
ip route delete default
ip route add default via;
setprop net.dns1
echo 'nameserver' >> $CHROOT/run/resolvconf/resolv.conf
On the host, execute the following:
adb shell setprop sys.usb.config rndis,adb
adb shell data/
sudo ifconfig usb0
sudo iptables -A POSTROUTING -t nat -j MASQUERADE -s
echo 1 | sudo tee /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
sudo iptables -P FORWARD ACCEPT
This works at least with Ubuntu saucy chroot. The main difference in some other distro might be whether the resolv.conf has moved to /run or not. You should be now all set up to browse / apt-get stuff from the device again.

Update: Clarified that this is to forward the desktop/laptop's network connection to the device so that network is accessible from the device over USB.
Update2, 09/2013: It's also possible to get working on the newer flipped images. Remove the "$CHROOT" from nameserver echoing and it should be fine. With small testing it got somehow reset after a while at which point another run of data/ on the device restored connection.

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Timo Jyrinki

I'd like to modify my discussion comment and earlier thoughts into a short blog post touching only some of the technical concerns voiced, and my opinion to those.

Claim (my version): Ubuntu/Canonical is going the "Google route" to become another Android, while Android has not benefited the Linux ecosystem in any way, forking everything

Firstly, Ubuntu is open to development and community for also mobile and tablet - Android has none of that, just code drops that get modded. (yes, some people have a problem with CLA like Canonical's or Qt's, I have no problem with those - let's keep that discussion elsewhere). Ubuntu contributes back to Debian and upstream projects like Qt - those upstream projects it's not upstream of itself. There are not too many free software mobile UIs for example. SHR has some E17 apps, Nemo Mobile a handful of Qt apps and so on.

Secondly, I disagree about Android - even in its current shape and after creating everything from scratch with mobile on mind, Android has done tremendous things for the free software community, kernel development, mobile device driver and making things like Replicant possible. If those aren't directly seen on the desktop side, that's because it's not the desktop and most free software desktop users don't use free software mobile products (usually at most a vendor provided Android).

I feel people get too attached to software projects or even the desktop in general. The money to pay desktop has traditionally largely come from the server. As a discussion-heating example Wayland has been a great promise for 5 years and continues to be, yet no products use it (software products like distributions or hardware+software products). That's not a problem per se for a great and ambitious project, but it means no interested party has taken it to create products. I was very excited about Gallium3D and Wayland in 2008, but somewhat optimistic in believing they would conquer the world in one or two years. In perspective, I've always seen the "version staring" a common habit in enthusiasts me included. I think it extents to "shiny development projects that should be taken into production use immediately".

The Nokia N9 triumphs all other 2011 mobile phones in general and even the current user interfaces like iOS, Android and Windows Phone in general usability ideas (if only it'd run Cortex-A15 instead of OMAP3..). It uses and Qt 4.7. Jolla's plans for their first phone at the end of this year? Qt 4.8, no Wayland. Like N9 which otherwise had unfortunate fate, I hope Jolla will sell millions of free software wielding products to the masses. The biggest problem with is, though, the drivers, generally zero support from vendors so hard to make products. Hooking into Android EGL drivers and building on top of that seems a good compromise at the moment. Note that from product creation point of view it's not the non-shininess of that IMHO is the blocker. Wayland and Mir may help on the driver side.

I want products!

I'd love to see more push to have actual products on the market, since otherwise we don't get free software to the masses. If Mir helps Ubuntu to do that in one year, fine (I don't know how it's going to be). Yes Mir is a new shiny project, but it's a very product/target oriented project one. If Android would be open as a project, it wouldn't hurt - other than feelings attached to the other projects especially by the core developers and fans of those - if it was the superior alternative from product creation perspective making all of, upstart, systemd, Wayland, Pulseaudio, D-Bus, glibc less interesting to product creators while even more interest would go to Android. It's not so now, Android is not an open project in any sense, even though still beneficial for free software. Ubuntu will keep using a lot more of the traditional stack anyway than Android (which also just got rid of BlueZ), but I have zero problem of changing any of the components if it's visioned to be required to get finished, ready to use products out. IMHO the key is to get products out, and I hope all the parties manage to do that.

Of the traditional GNU/Linux desktop distributions only Ubuntu seems to be adapting for the mobile in large steps at the moment. The other distributions in the mobile playing field are: (Android/)Replicant, Mer/Sailfish, Firefox OS, Tizen, added with OpenEmbedded based distributions like SHR. Have you used those on a daily basis on your devices? I believe you should. I think KDE will bring with its Plasma Active - currently focusing on building on top of Mer - mobile power to the traditional GNU/Linux distributions, but otherwise it's all up to the new players - and Ubuntu.

Like many know, I used Debian exclusively on my primary phone for ca. two years before switching mostly to N9. During all that time, I already pondered why people and distributions are so focused on x86 and desktop. And the reason is that that's what their history is, and I stared at the wrong place - desktop distributions. I dismissed Android and some of the small newcomers in the mobile distro playing field, but it seems that big changes are needed to not need completely new players. I think Ubuntu is on the completely right track to both benefit from the history and adapt for the future. I still hope more developers to Debian Mobile, though!! Debian should be the universal operating system after all.

Disclaimer: I'm an Ubuntu community person from 2004, Debian Developer since 2008 and a contractor for Canonical for ca. 1 year. My opinions haven't changed during the 1 year, but I've learned a lot more of how free software is loved at Canonical despite critics.

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Timo Jyrinki

UDS GTA04 Hacking

I'm sitting at the Bella Sky lobby bar while UDS people keep pouring in. I guess I have to start this UDS with some hacking (and a little beer)! I bootstrapped an Ubuntu armhf rootfs and coupled it with QtMoko's kernel already earlier after I received my GTA04 but it didn't boot right away so I had nothing to report. I wanted armhf so I chose QtMoko's 'experimental' Debian armhf rootfs + boot files as the reference to look at while working on the Ubuntu rootfs. I now went through again some of the configuration files, and voilà:

Now running apt-get install unity over SSH :) It will require OpenGL ES 2.0 hw acceleration to run, now that the support was integrated in Ubuntu 12.10. I will therefore need to tinker what kind of OMAP3 armhf binary blobs there are available, and what's again the situation with DDX driver as well. I always feel that the fun starts at this point for me, when I've the device booting and I can SSH in. That's why I'm happy the work from Golden Delicious GmbH and QtMoko helped me to get here...

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Timo Jyrinki

OpenPhoenux GTA04

Postman was on a kind mood yesterday. My OpenPhoenux GTA04 arrived! I had my newer Neo FreeRunner upgraded via the service from Golden Delicious.

First, something rare to behold in phones nowadays - Made in Bavaria:

As a sidenote, also rare now - my Nokia N9 is one of the last phones that had this:

It's sad that's now a thing of the past for both hardware assembly and software! But that's just a hint for new companies to step in.

But back to GTA04 - a quick boot to the pre-installed Debian w/ LXDE:

And then as a shortcut unpacked and booted into QtMoko (well, it's also Debian) instead to test that phone functionality also works - and it does:

Next up: brewing something of my own!

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Timo Jyrinki

Do you ever have those afternoons you get a ”great” idea and you've all the evening time for that task. The task is a relaxing one and won't need much attention, and you can watch a movie or something.  But then, it happens that the evening turns into night as you realize a couple of little details adding complexity to the idea, and the task turns out to be much more invasive to your evening than you thought?

In this example, I got the great idea to upgrade my Debian running NAS device (thanks Martin for everything!) to use ext4 instead of ext3. The kind of idea that takes a long time for relatively little practical benefit, but it just feels like a nice thing do when you've the extra amounts of nerd time available. It's basically just opening the NAS device up, mounting its hard disk to a laptop via external case, running the tune2fs and fsck then putting the disk back. It just takes a long time for the initial fsck (to make sure everything's intact) and then the required fsck run to get ext4 mountable.

Only in this situation, it would have been beneficial to have the ext4 support in the flashed initramfs before the migration. So... before the photo below, I've already:

  1. done the ext4 migration and fsck:s
  2. screwed the disk back to the NAS case, attached cables and found that it doesn't boot
  3. (on the laptop with the hard disk attached again tried manually unpacking initramfs and adding ext4 module... also had time to bind mount everything and chroot into the ARM system to run update-initramfs manually... also tried booting with those... until remembered the simple fact that the /boot partition is only for show and also the initramfs is loaded directly from flash)
  4. copied the main root filesystem content from the original disk to another external disk with ext3 partition
  5. attached the another disk (with same UUID:s) to the QNAP NAS device, booted, double-checked that I have now ext4 specified under /etc/initramfs-tools/modules, reconfigured the linux image that also regenerates initramfs and flashes it
And in the photo, what's happening is that:
  1. I've again the original disk reattached and system booted with the initramfs generated and flashed from the ext3 disk
  2. the NAS device is hanging in the air, cover open, from the closet where I've things stuffed in (normally secured with cable ties), and I need to support it with a knee or one hand since the 2TB disk is much heavier than the small SSD I used as the ext3 disk so the power cable and RJ-45 cable would have pretty heavy load
  3. Since I've only one hand in use and can't use a laptop, I'm logging in via my Nokia N9 and then reflashing the kernel + initramfs from this original disk, just to make sure everything is now alright and also after that flashing it still boots (it does!). Note that I feel like the setup is secure enough for non-interrupted flashing so that I can indeed support the NAS with a knee, use one hand to keep N9 and another hand to take a photo with a camera.

And so we have had a productive and educating afternoon/evening/night once again. Does this ever happen to you?

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Timo Jyrinki

A couple of photos from the Ubuntu release fest in Tampere yesterday.

People gathering up before presentations

Tieto's Markus Mannio

Again, continuing on how Ubuntu is used at Tieto

A cut to the end of presentations, Trine 2 game licenses from Frozenbyte being raffled. A great game available on Linux.

Tablets running KDE Plasma, and Ubuntu for Android being demoed.

Someone else probably has photos of my generic Ubuntu 12.04 LTS presentation (what's new, what's next), and likewise for the other presentations (Ubuntu for Android, uTouch) held. Those will be available as slides and videos later on, although do note the whole event was in the crypto-language called Finnish.

Thanks to the organizers, sponsors and everyone I met, it was a great event with nice little dinner and wine served at the end!

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Timo Jyrinki

Almost forgot to post this. My mobile phones running free software in photos. From left to right:

All of that software running on the devices is more or less free software, with Harmattan obviously being by far the least free, especially applications, but still better than any other on-the-shelf phone software *), and the others being 99% or "Ubuntu like" free ie. possibly with firmware and a few driver exceptions. N9 needs some bootloader work still before Nemo, Debian, Ubuntu etc. can be run there. I've collected a few things about N9 from this point of view at a wiki page.
*) Not sure about every Android phone, but Android is not openly developed anyway so it's hardly a similar free software project such as projects or Qt

I gave my N900 away now since obviously I cannot make full use of each one of these. I'm multi-SIMming my N9 and the GTA02a7 Neo FreeRunner for daily use, while the other FreeRunner and N950 are purely for tinkering related purposes. The development FreeRunner will get on upgrade to GTA04 once it's available, and then hopefully that can be made into a daily usable phone as well.

By the way, see you in FSCONS in Gothenburg next weekend. Even rms will be there, which is always interesting of course :)

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Timo Jyrinki

The MeeGo community is frustrated with the news of the MeeGo brand being abandoned. Some are understandably angry or otherwise not happy about how Linux Foundation, Intel handled the Tizen announcement and community in general - or more like how they didn't handle it at all. Last week Openmind 2011 happened to be arranged in Tampere on the very same day as Tizen announcement came alive. It was good in the way that it lead to the fact that Nomovok's CEO Pasi Nieminen was able to initiate the "Reigniting MeeGo" session not just by talking vague things about future, but actually about the process which led to Tizen and the unfortunately brief initial PR about it. Pasi is intense on emphasizing the quality and role of Qt in Tizen as well, even though officially Tizen is all about HTML5 and apparently from Samsung's part at least EFL is provided as a native toolkit. However, the promise of Tizen compared to MeeGo is reportedly that the toolkit is not specified in compliancy documents, so HTML5 with WAC is the main/only "3rd party apps" layer whereas others can be offered case-by-case. This means that unlike before, the underlying system can be built on top of practically any distribution (theoretically) and using whatever toolkits and other techniques wanted. Obviously the "Nordic System Integrators" are probably all very keen of using Qt to produce more of Nokia N9 quality user experiences in various products.

Taking the corporate hat off, I as a community member am also puzzled. The only reason I was not completely blown by the news was that I didn't yet manage to get involved in MeeGo community on a daily basis, since I'm involved with a dozen communities already. Instead I've been more like scratching the surface with MeeGo Network Finland meetings, IRC activity, OBS usage for building a few apps for MeeGo Harmattan and MeeGo proper etc. But I can somewhat understand how people like Jarkko Moilanen from meego-fi feel. They have given a _lot_ to the MeeGo community and brand, all taken away without hearing or pre-notice.

So where to now for MeeGo community? Tizen is one obvious choice. However, for all the talks that even I started this post with, Tizen is still vaporware today, and the dislike of how community is being treated might make it easy to consider other options. Also, if Tizen's reference implementation has lesser meaning, it might also mean less to actually be "in" the Tizen community than in MeeGo. I met Jos Poortvliet at Openmind, and he invited people to openSUSE. There is a lot of common ground with MeeGo and openSUSE - strong OBS usage, RPM packaging, community side focused on KDE and therefore Qt.

I would like to now point similarly to Debian! If one is tired about corporate interests and not listening to community, there is no match for Debian's 15+ years history, purely volunteer based, trust based organization, and first of all scope. While openSUSE has traditionally focused on desktop (even though like Jos pointed out they are open to all new contributions and projects), Debian has always had the "universal" scope, ie. no boundaries besides producing free software operating system for various purposes. There are over 10 architectures maintained at the moment, including the ARM (different ports for ARMv4 and hard-float ARMv7) and x86 from MeeGo world. There are even alternative kernels to Linux, mainly the GNU/kFreeBSD port. There are multiple relevant plans and projects like the Smartphones wiki area, most noticeably Debian on Neo FreeRunner. I have run Debian on my primary mobile phone for over 2.5 years, although now in the recent months I've had dual-SIM in my Nokia N950 as well (Debian not yet running on Nokia N950 or Nokia N9 - but it can and will be done!).

What Debian may lack in both good and bad is corporate funding, if you don't count the still quite respectful contributions from Ubuntu to Debian (it's in Ubuntu's interests to contribute as much possible back to Debian, so that the delta remains small). For each and every aspect, it needs a volunteer - there are a thousand volunteer Debian Developers, and at least a double of that of people without the official DD status but who still maintain a package or two among the 25000+ packages in Debian. That means also that one my find it more lucrative to join a project that has paid people to do some of the "boring parts", more of fancy web tools, including for bug handling and build systems like the OBS (which I do love by the way). On the other hand, there is no other project in my opinion where what you do really matters as much.

To find out more about Debian from MeeGo perspective, please see the recent mailing list post Mobile UXes - From the DebConf11 BoF to the stars where I wrote most of the MeeGo (CE) part when I was asked to and known of my MeeGo involvement.

Last but not certainly least, there is the Mer project - originally "maemo reconstructed", ie. making Nokia's "not really distro" into a real distro by filling in the void places. Now it's obviously MeeGo reconstructed, and they aim to be the MeeGo they always wanted MeeGo to be! Read the post for details from Carsten Munk and other key Mer people. They share the love for Qt, and want the core to be as lean as possible. They also aim to incorporate the most community like aspect from MeeGo - MeeGo CE - as the reference vendor in Mer. They also aim to be Tizen compliant - and when Tizen comes alive, I wouldn't see why the Tizen reference implementation couldn't be used for saving resources. Maybe Nomovok and/or others could offer the Qt maintaining part.

So, it might be that Tizen itself is enough for most people's needs. The key point however in this post is not to fall in agony if one corporate based project takes big turns - it has happened before, it will happen in the future. There are always enough political and business reasons from some points of view to do Big Changes. But the wider community is out there, always, and it's bigger than you think. You should consider where you want to contribute by asking yourself why you are/were part of for example the MeeGo community. Aaron Seigo from KDE asked us all this question in the Openmind MeeGo Reignited session, and I think it's good to repeat.

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Timo Jyrinki

It was good that I didn't hold up my blog post in November until the videos from FSCONS 2010 (Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit) are out, but now they finally are:

Timo Jyrinki - Tuning an old but free phone (pt 1/2)
Timo Jyrinki - Tuning an old but free phone (pt 2/2)

Definitely see also all videos and since Vimeo doesn't work in Gnash, use a script to download.

ps. As a related item to the talk's future oriented aspects, while waiting for GTA04A3 boards to arrive, GTA04A2 has been patched to run Debian/LXDE.

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Timo Jyrinki

I'm participating in the MeeGo Summit FI that starts tomorrow, and I'm already in Tampere now, as you can see. The summit is at an interesting time, given that there is a huge amount of stuff happening around MeeGo while at the same time Nokia is balancing on what do both in the far future and what to do to ship the MeeGo device they've already promised. The summit is fully and overly booked for >300 attendees. There is also Finhack free software event happening alongside on Saturday at the same venue.

A view towards the venue(s), Finlayson area in Tampere.
The company I work for, Nomovok's CEO illustrated the MeeGo situation extraordinarily well a little less than two months ago. I think it's one of the best insights you can get from anywhere in public at the moment. Now things are starting to really heat up. Of course the Big thing is the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco in the end of May, but it takes nothing away from this being the major event both in the country formerly known as NokiaLandia, and also globally given the amount of MeeGo related talent here. Nomovok is teasing people with the SteelRat - a launchpad for MeeGo tablet creation and an UX, based on latest MeeGo Core - a beta of which will be available now in Tampere and first version in San Fransisco. Meanwhile we and others are investing in also the MeeGo IVI and MeeGo TV platforms, not forgetting about the handset industry that is more visible to many tech savvy consumers.

Pre-registration and building on-going.
At the same time there is a lot of exciting stuff going on in the Ubuntu project (Ubuntu 11.04 upcoming, I'm already using it and reporting bugs), together with Linaro and other ARM players. As a founder of Ubuntu Finland I'm always eager to see if I can work there also on work time, not only on free time. And regarding ARM, Nomovok is the key player in having ARM on MeeGo as well.

Then on the completely other end of spectrum, I'm eagerly waiting for the GTA04 project to have my Neo FreeRunner(s) bumped up to modern specs. At the end of the day I'm still using over 2,5 year old phone myself, since I want to run the software that is both free and completely selected (and if I want, done) by me. With GTA04, I could choose between MeeGo armv7hl port, Debian armhf port or Ubuntu as the base distribution to use my software.

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Timo Jyrinki

The 2008 product release, Openmoko Inc's – now in other business areas than mobile phones – Neo FreeRunner is finally starting to get a ”spiritual” successor, in form of the GTA04 project (not to forget about gta02-core project, either). Yes, the ”even schematics and cover CAD files are CC-BY-SA” free mobile phone is back... or at least if the German company Golden Delicious finishes what's it has been doing lately. Of course, the original FreeRunner is also still on sale as an improved version.

Since I have two FreeRunners, I look forward to replacing one of those with the new innards while keeping the other one as a daily phone while kernel and modem drivers get ready with the new platform. With a newer platform with ARMv7 instruction set, there would be easily also other ”traditional” distributions choices besides Debian to choose from, like Ubuntu or MeeGo. Both have oFono (+ telepathy etc.) packaged up, while Ubuntu also has a lot of the FreeSmartphone.Org (FSO) stack that has come to Ubuntu from Debian's pkg-fso team that I'm part of. Both software stacks are capable of getting updated with new modem drivers, although I think currently FSO has more daily / only phone users than oFono at this point of time still (I haven't yet heard of many Nokia N900 users using only free software distribution while using the phone functionality of such a distro as the one to count on).

So, a quote from today's Openmoko Community Updates:



GTA04 is a project by the long time distributor and hw developer, German company Golden Delicious. The name is loaned from Openmoko project because of the spiritual continuation - GTA01 was the codename for Neo1973, GTA02 was the Neo FreeRunner, and GTA03 was the canceled successor product. Besides offering improved versions of Neo FreeRunner (better battery life, better audio output), they've a complete replacement board planned to fit an existing Neo FreeRunner case and use the existing display.

The key details of GTA04 include among else:

  • OMAP3530 ARMv7 CPU
  • UMTS/3G (HSPA)
  • USB 2.0 OTG
  • WLAN, BT, FM transceiver
  • Barometric Altimeter, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope
  • Optionally camera

Find your GTA04 information at the following addresses:

Latest news:

Visit the FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium next weekend (5th/6th of February, 2011) to see GTA04 in action and discuss about it! See , ,


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Timo Jyrinki

Just a note that the slides are available (non-slideshare link) for my presentation ”Tuning an old but free phone” (description) that I held in the tremendously great event FSCONS 2010. It could be described as a smaller scale FOSDEM, but that would be actually down-playing it since the free software effects on society are something that I've actually never seen elsewhere on such a scale. My talk was among the purely technical ones, though.

I was planning to hold on with this blog post until the recorded videos arrive, but since it seems it might not be during this year I will just post this now that slides are available.

I've shared a few photos as well at Flickr...

Keynote: Karin Kosina, The Inanna Project. A tech + art workshop for female artists in Damascus, Syria. An experiment in art, technology, and the transformative power of Free Hardware and Software.

Erik de Bruijn, The Future of RepRap, a self-replicating open source 3D printer that fabricates arbitrary objects including parts of itself.

Social event at the Berg 211.

Malin Nilsson on Gender, class and global flows. Using free software to fuel a revolution in home based industrial work.

Keynote: Glyn Moody, Ethics of Intellectual Monopolies.

Keynote: Glyn Moody, Ethics of Intellectual Monopolies (audience).

A few summaries available on a Qaiku seminar channel.

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Timo Jyrinki

(many exciting news from this old project/community working on the "Free Your Phone" idea, so as an publisher of the update sharing via blog as well. FreeRunner still available at eg. and the improved "+" versions at, if an old/slow hardware is enough for you when you know you can tweak it to your liking)
Period 2010-09-01 to 2010-10-31


Debian GNU/Linux

Debian is a universal operating system used on many embedded devices, servers and home computers. Using Debian on the FreeRunner gives access to the huge army of software packaged in the Debian repositories, already compiled for the Neo's ARM(v4) processor. Moreover, one can build one's own source files for programs without having to learn the OpenEmbedded way. For an existing Debian/Ubuntu user, choosing Debian for Neo FreeRunner makes phone a very familiar, trustworthy and flexible place to hack in.

General news:

Codename: 'sid'

Hardware Works
Neo 1973 yes
FreeRunner yes
HTC-Dream yes
Other yes


New Applications

aTrack 0.8

APRS tracker and communicator for mobile devices. It turns your Neo into bidirectional APRS unit and besides others it allows you to track your position, do text messaging, object creation or display stations around.

Package: [1]
Tested on: SHR-Unstable

Application Updates

Gamerunner GnuBoy 0.8

A gameboy emulator which runs very nice, even with sound (sometimes it freezes, then you have to press the A button and everything is ok). You need the gamerunner distro or a gamepad to use it. Using frameskip to run smooth at 320*240 pixel. In second controll mode in gamerunner you can use savestates by pressing top right corne to save and left lower corner to load. Select is right lower corner.

Package: [nopacket no packet sorry]
Tested on: Gamerunner, QTMoko

FoxtrotGPS 1.0.0

FoxtrotGPS is an offshoot of Marcus Bauer's excellent Free & Open Source tangoGPS application, with a focus on cooperation and fostering community innovation. 1.0.0 announcement.

  • Gracefully recovering from gpsd shutting down
  • GPX routepoints support
  • Integration of distribution patches
  • Map tiles are displayed immediately after downloading
  • GeoRSS points can be imported as POIs (script)
  • Various other fixes and improvements
  • Since no feedback gotten from the sister project and some changes will not be imported, version number 1.0.0 was selected to show that there is divergence

Package: foxtrotgps
Tested on: Debian

General News

Most important and change making mails on the mailing lists, blogs etc.. Coolest hacks, screenshots, themes etc..


  • GPRS on FreeRunner is unstable? Too many connections hang the modem? Unfixable? NO MORE! Our magician lindi has conjured a tc (traffic control) command that makes the data flow more stable even under heavy load. Huge thanks! (use the lower one for faster operation)


Spin-off Hardware Projects

Event News

  • 2010-10-12 Next " / Openmoko Stammtisch" in Munich, Germany [2]
  • 2011-01-24 Mobile FOSS MiniConf at LCA2011 announced a call for papers that closes on Friday 22nd October 2010. So submit something about OpenMoko today!
  • 2011-02-05/06 FOSDEM 2011 calls for Main Speakers and Devrooms [3] that closes on Saturday 16th October 2010. So submit something about OpenMoko today!

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Timo Jyrinki

This entry includes a few photos of my Dell Latitude 2110 which shipped with Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix. Mostly it's however a critical view on the software shipped. Critical simply because I investigate it quite closely to see how it could be improved especially when sold to end users in non-English countries in the future. The device itself is great, as is the Ubuntu shipped with it. The laptop has the 1.83GHz Atom N470 which is quite nice together with its integrated and battery saving graphics. I also chose 1366x768 resolution for the screen and 16GB SSD for storage. But anyway, this is not a review of any sort.

Currently Dell Latitude 2110 netbook is the only laptop available with Ubuntu in the Dell Finland's web store. A few others have specifications that list Ubuntu as a choice, but in the actual customization view there is no Ubuntu to be selected. So this is the only one, and also only for corporate customers - the web site even says "big companies". In reality though this is reflected in one and only place - there is a mandatory "Company" field in the order form. However, not even the company ID ("Y-tunnus") is required. I did use a company name there, but I wonder if they would care if one would just put "-" or "Ubuntu Finland" or anything there...

Software Observations

I boot it up, and was greeted first with a Dell EULA. Next up was familiar (Ubuntu 9.10 era) Ubuntu logo, white on black. Some churning and a set up wizard was presented:

It worked nicely otherwise, but even though I selected Finnish as the language, it first suggested US keyboard by default. This is in contrast to what normal Ubuntu installer does - offers Finnish keyboard as well.

After that the Ubuntu Netbook interface appeared, and I checked around a bit. Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix shipped with Latitude 2110 seems quite default. No extra repositories. Extra software however is installed, noticed by simply looking through Ubuntu menus: they include Dell Recovery Media creation tool, Citrix Receiver and Vmware View Client.

Digging a bit deeper, I checked the package selection with Synaptic. The reason there are no extra repositories is that packages are installed without repositories. The following packages were "local or obsolete" after refreshing the normal Ubuntu repositories:

- alsa-driver-hda-intel-dkms (git.20100301)
- dell-recovery
- realtek-rts-pstor-card-driver-dkms
- vmware-view-client

UPDATE Sep 01, 2010: Added link to dell-recovery (in Ubuntu repositories) and especially the SD card reader (GPLv2). Patched ALSA shouldn't be needed for anything in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS anymore, and vmware-view-client is available elsewhere. The non-free stuff below are a) not that interesting and b) non-free, potentially non-distributable.

- ctxusb
- icaclient
- libmotif4
- libmrm4
- libuil4
- libxm4

The great thing is that seemingly most of the customization is indeed done via packages. Great job with both that and correctly separating archive entries depending on whether the software is free or not. The packages themselves are located in the recovery partition of the hard drive.

Some more package observations:
- adobe-flashplugin is installed by default from Canonical partner repository (and the repository is enabled by default)
- besides it, no extra non-free software is installed, that is nothing from multiverse and only bcmwl-kernel-source from restricted
- also, nothing from universe

Language Problems

I didn't expect a fully Finnish laptop since the language of Ubuntu couldn't be selected when customizing the order, and I didn't get one. It's clear there is no effort yet put to actual localized offerings, but still it was possible to choose (any) language with the first boot of Latitude 2110.

Language problems are quite ok at this point since the device is not being sold as a localized home user product yet. Nevertheless, it's good to list issues that need to be fixed before localized devices can be sold. At least in Finnish, dunno how's the state of for example Inspiron 10 devices shipped in Germany and elsewhere to also end users via web.

Number two problem regarding languages software was (number one being the wrong suggested keyboard) that full Finnish support was not offered to be installed (and it wasn't installed by default). Since the selection of language was possible during first run, suggesting download of or automatically downloading language support should be done. Normal Ubuntu does it also in Ubuntu 9.10 just nicely also in the cases that installation is done without Internet connection / full language support, so somehow Dell has unfortunately disabled that feature or not allowing it to run. The hook that checks the language support and shows a message is included in language-selector, the message itself in file /usr/share/language-support/incomplete-language-support-gnome.note.

I ran Language Selector manually, which fixed the problem and indeed works fine nowadays in Ubuntu. However, I also noticed that in Language Selector "For my menus and windows, use" had "English (United States)" selected, so only the second item had Finnish selected. It seems therefore that the setting up of the language during setup wizard doesn't do a complete job anyway for the new user created at least. Only after selecting it manually did the language tool correctly download and enable all the needed support for my language.

The Only Big Problem (...that was fixed)

Now for the only big WTF during my tinkering:

/etc/apt/apt.conf.d/00secure containing lines:

APT::Get::AllowUnauthenticated "true";
Aptitude::CmdLine::Ignore-Trust-Violations "true";

This simply leads to eg. synaptic package manager complaining about all upgrades being unauthenticated, and elsewhere possible well needed warnings are simply not shown. I have no idea what's the basis for shipping this kind of security hindering settings with the laptop.

UPDATE: This was later fixed in Ubuntu as a security issue, see CVE-2010-0834.

What Next

After these observations and being quite happy with a laptop that has Ubuntu straight out-of-the-box (which also saved 80€ of money + taxes compared to default OS), I created a recovery ISO image with Dell's tools and then I let Update Manager upgrade Ubuntu to 10.04.

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS was smooth enough already, but I also upgraded latest Intel graphics drivers from xorg-edgers. My only irritation is the Broadcom WLAN driver 'wl'. It works just fine in 10.04 LTS. The irritation is the amount of battery eating wakeups it generates even when there is no traffic going on. AFAIK it's a non-free driver from the vendor, and once again it's one of those that works in principle but is miles from being a well behaving kernel driver. It seems the free b43 driver does not support the BCM43224 chipset (14e4:4353) yet, so unfortunately I'm currently stuck with this driver. Luckily the laptop (and Ubuntu) is otherwise so great on using power, that I still get 5+ hours of battery usage at least (haven't measured much yet).

I'm very happy with what Dell is doing. I do hope the consumer sales would soar (and become available in Finland in the first place via the consumer retail channels there already exist). I also hope the language support bugs would be fixed - it's not tremendously hard, I could probably fix and test all the problems myself if I'd be given the task. Maybe the new Ubuntu 10.04 LTS offerings will already have some of it working better. All in all the Dell Latitude 2110 with Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix was a problem-free ride, and had I simply used it in English it would have worked out-of-the-box smooth as butter.

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Timo Jyrinki

Thanks to Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller's efforts, a new "A7+" version of the world's only 100% free software (and even free hardware design, leading to further community development) phone, Neo FreeRunner, is available for sale at for 299€! New in this hardware version is prolonged battery life, due to a fix applied to the famous "#1024" bug. Now you should have theoretically about 5 days time suspended, but that's of course only if you don't actually do anything with this phone-computer.

In other news, despite the fact or because Openmoko Inc. has ceased its development efforts for now at least, concentrating on the WikiReader to recover from the economic problems, community finally questioned the reasoning behind some of the Linux kernel debug configuration in the official Openmoko kernel branch. Results? Speedup of certain kernel operations in the range of 2x to 5x! In practice that means Neo isn't actually anymore the sluggish device you used to get to know with. Of course it's not top of the line by any means, but being the only Free phone available on the market still, more free than most full-size computers in fact, it's a quite nice improvement to eg. boot time, application start up time et cetera. I merely was a messenger of these news from the kernel mailing list to the community, but I also provided a readily compiled kernel which I use in Debian and which seems to works for others as well (until their distributions package it up).

Over 1,5 years after launch of the FreeRunner, and even more since the original Neo 1973, the software is getting better all the time. The pace is slow, as is the case with any free/open project with limited community-only resources, but the best thing is that it never has to stop. A lot of the middleware, applications and so on will make it to future phones as well. Things like Intone music player, TangoGPS and literki keyboard might be nice little finger-usable applications in the future as well.

So, if you can manage without 3G and want to still have an unique mobile computer experience with basic phone functionality, running for example Debian for the "familiar experience" if you use Debian or Ubuntu on your other computers, it's still not too late to catch it. It seems we're still a couple of years away from any next effort of such level of freedom. I'm making through it by having bought a 59€ 3G modem for the more serious data needs. I'm still also thinking about a privoxy setup on my home server that would clean up and compress pages even via Neo's GPRS connection.

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