OpenMoko progress

I have had my Neo1973 for three months now and the software is finally getting usable. There were a lot of changes during August, the totally new theme and a lot of updates to the kernel and low level libraries. I had the first successful "out of the box" call with OpenMoko using a build from ScaredyCat in September 3:rd, but after that things started to go bad. The daemon handling communication to the GSM modem was more or less broken for a month and calling did not work out of the box for quite a while. That was if you even managed to get the rootfs built. WebKitGtk failed to build almost every time, and so did many other programs too.

This happened for many reasons, mostly because the understaffed development team had to focus on the hardware for GTA02 to iron out all serious bugs, and also because some of them finally had some well deserved vacation.

Despite these issues, the first batch of Neo1973's sold out quickly. A second batch was produced during late September and more people got their hands on the GTA01 phones in early October.

Trolltech also published an image for the Neo1973 and it worked really well. Even managed to use up the rest of my prepaid sim card calling friends.

Since then things have really sped up again. OpenMoko hired XorA to manage OpenMoko in OpenEmbedded and take care of build issues and bitbake recipies. This quickly made a big difference when it comes to getting the complete OpenMoko distro to build. Also, WebKitGtk now compiles more often than not and the default build has seen a several additions. It now includes the openmoko-browser2 based on WebKitGTK. The browser is a bit unstable still and the design is awful since only about 50% of the screen is used to display the actual web page you're browsing.

Also the media player has gotten a face lift and is becomming usable, with the exception that the mp3 decoding library is not yet optimized for the Neo. There's some usability issues still, like that the volume slider is difficult to control with your fingers only, and how you add files to the playlists.

The manufacturing of the second hardware revision of the Neo1973 is just about to start and hopefully all eager developers can get hold of a GTA02 before Christmas. If I didn't have a GTA01 already I would probably wait for the GTA02. The WiFi and faster processor would surely be nice to have. Of course bigger flash disk, the accelerometers and the graphics accelerator are nice too. In addition to that, the AGPS chip has changed to U-blox. (For a comparison of the two revisions of the phone, look here.)

Talking about that, I really hope that Broadcom will release an EABI driver for the Global Locate chip in the GTA01. Since Broadcom bought Global Locate it's been awfully quite about the GPS and even if you can get the old driver working in a chroot, it's a shame it takes so much effort. There's also no applications what so ever for using the GPS either. Not beyond a few shell scripts at least.

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