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Trolltech Woos Developers with 'Open' Linux Phone 213

Posted by Zonk
from the toys-for-penguins dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Trolltech, best known for its Qt graphics framework and toolkit that form the basis of KDE, will ship the Greenphone, an open Linux-based phone in September. The working GSM/GPRS mobile phone features a user-modifiable Linux OS, and is meant to jumpstart a third-party native application ecosystem for Linux-based mobile phones. Users will be able to re-flash the phone with modified Linux-based firmware, via a mini-USB port. The device is based on an unspecified Linux kernel along with Trolltech's Qtopia Phone Edition (QPE) application framework and mobile phone stack. Gosh, this has gotta be the perfect phone for KDE lovers!"
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Trolltech Woos Developers with 'Open' Linux Phone

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  • Skype (Score:3, Funny)

    by tsa (15680) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:07AM (#15910294) Homepage
    Cool! Can it run Skype [skype.net]?
    • Re:Skype (Score:3, Funny)

      by shreevatsa (845645)
      Maybe it can't run Skype, but it will have the cool "voice chat" [uncyclopedia.org] feature!
  • Sounds like a nifty gadget. I want one, really. I'll take a dozen if they'll work with my provider. I break phones on a regular basis :(

    Problem is, I just don't see these taking off. The big boys (Cingular/Verizon/Sprint) aren't going to want something like this on their lineup. What they'll see when they look at it is a massive increase in support calls as people flash their phones with something they downloaded of the interweb only to find out it's essentially spyware for a phone. The ability to flash a c
    • Problem is, I just don't see these taking off. The big boys (Cingular/Verizon/Sprint) aren't going to want something like this

      Of course it's destined for failure. Linux can't compare to the big boys! It's tooo complicated! Who's side are you on anyways? :-P
    • Problem is, I just don't see these taking off. [...] If these phones make it to market

      If they make it to market, then a mistake was made... these are for developers, not the market. These are a reference model for QPE (Qtopia Phone Edition).

      --
      Evan

    • by tsa (15680) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:12AM (#15910330) Homepage
      The mobile phone market in Europe is completely different from that in the US. Here it will have a chance. The subscriptions here are very much independant of the type of phone you use.
    • hey man. don't knock the printer thing. i cant select the correct printer ever. there are 10 in the office and the one i print to is always broke, jammed, or out of ink. why cant programs query the printer before they print. so the user can get their document faster. it would also be nice to know things like eta to finished printed document so if two printers have 20 pages printing and 1 pritns 4 pages a min and the other 6 pages a min i can get my document faster.
    • If this phone went mass market, 99% of the people wouldn't even know what flash means, let alone try to reflash it. How many Grandma's out there reformat their PC and reinstall their OS?

      It's also easy to disavow support if the software is modified, as in 'sure you can modify and reprogram this phone. your warranty and support is then null and void.' In other words, 'do this at your own risk'.

      There are other reasons it might not make it, but yours isn't one of them.
      • Well, it's not intended for the mass market -- it's a reference implementation of the standard, a developer tool for testing. Somewhere out there you can buy Wii development hardware with flashable memory and all sorts of debuggers and such wired into it. I don't think that's comparable to what the Wii will be when it is released.

        Presumably the actual mass market release will not have as malleable a system and be locked to a provider, etc. This, the phone intended for developers, isn't.

        --
        Evan

      • If this phone went mass market, 99% of the people wouldn't even know what flash means, let alone try to reflash it. How many Grandma's out there reformat their PC and reinstall their OS?
        But what's going to happen when enthusiasts get hold of it? They'll start developing cool, open source applications for the benefit of the masses.
        • But what's going to happen when enthusiasts get hold of it? They'll start developing cool, open source applications for the benefit of the masses.

          Which will then never work on the crippled, vendor-locked models that are actually produced for mass consumption. Lovely.

          Where's that guy with the "I have seen the future, and it is inconvenient" sig when you need him?
      • My phone, from O2, can be reflashed. I have reflashed it, with updates supplied by O2. Modded ROM images from other sources are available, but I haven't tried them.
    • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@RASPworf.net minus berry> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:40AM (#15910526)
      Or are you one of those "backwards" users stuck using CDMA and thus (in North America and most other CDMA-using places (except Korea)) locked by phone and provider?

      One of GSM's major features (and less so in Korea) is that your subscriber info is stored in a tiny chip. That chip came on a credit card sized piece of plastic a la a "smart card" (if you've used GSM phones in the 90's, you'd know that there were phones that accepted the entire card as is). That chip enables you to take it out of your current GSM phone, buy a new phone (unlocked or same carrier), stick the chip in the new phone, and voila, you have a new phone, with your existing subscription info!

      And look, you can get those 10 phones for $1 contract deals and use those chips in different phones than what was provided (depending on the provider, this route may be more economical than just buying the activation kit).

      This is one reason why I went GSM looking for a new phone - so I can use it with my phone, but then stick it in a PC card modem when I wanted to use it with my computer. One subscription. Two devices. Only one can be used at a time, of course, but I have the freedom to change phones willy-nilly, or in this case, surf the web using the modem's faster GPRS modem. (The provider can tell, since the IMEI number changes, but there's little they can do).

      Korea is special for CDMA because they force CDMA providers to do the same thing ("RUIM" cards) but in North America, most CDMA phones are locked and activated by carrier. But from what I can tell, Cingular and T-Mobile both provide GSM service, and thus would work just fine.

      All you have to do is make sure the phone supports the frequencies of your local area. "Quadband" phones (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz) work pretty much anywhere. Triband phones are often 900, 1800 and 1900 and work in most places in North America (850 being the old AMPS frequency, and isn't in widespread use where a Triband phone will leave you stuck vs. a quadband phone).
      • Or are you one of those "backwards" users stuck using CDMA and thus (in North America and most other CDMA-using places (except Korea)) locked by phone and provider?

        The way CDMA is marketed in the U.S. may be "backwards" from a consumer choice perspective, but technology-wise, CDMA has a much better story for data services - 1xEV-DO, implemented by Verizon and others, can give DSL-like speeds, up to 700kbps, whereas GSM's GPRS and EDGE systems are still closer to dialup modem speeds, maxing out in practic

        • 1xEV-DO, implemented by Verizon and others, can give DSL-like speeds, up to 700kbps, whereas GSM's GPRS and EDGE systems are still closer to dialup modem speeds, maxing out in practice under 200kbps. So for data, GSM is backwards right now.

          Modern GSM 'phones also support UMTS [wikipedia.org], also known as 3GSM, which supports 1920Kb/s data transfer rates. When I use my (GSM/UMTS) mobile for Internet access, the bottleneck is the Bluetooth connection between the 'phone and the computer, which tops out at about 50KB/s.

          • Right, but UMTS is a replacement for GSM, based on W-CDMA. GSM is not only backwards, it's obsolete. Phones that support UMTS are dual-mode phones.

            As for the "for mobile use, 50KB/s is more than adequate", don't be silly. For you, maybe. Plenty of other people have a need for higher bandwidth. The Bluetooth connection is only an issue if you're connecting a computer, and your phone doesn't support something faster like wifi.
      • I stuck my SIM card in a Verizon phone once. It didn't work. GSM phones have to be unlocked before they'll work on any service but the provider that originally sold it.
      • Korea is special for CDMA because they force CDMA providers to do the same thing ("RUIM" cards) but in North America, most CDMA phones are locked and activated by carrier. But from what I can tell, Cingular and T-Mobile both provide GSM service, and thus would work just fine.

        Most GSM phones in the US are locked. I know a guy who had an overseas phone that he brought back to the states. A Cell phone salesman flat refused to believe that it was possible for him to swap SIM cards and have it work. My friend

    • I doubt it will show up in any provider's package offerings, so it won't go mass market that way. But it could go mass-market perfectly well as a device that users just buy and use with service bought separately. I mean, lots of people bought PDAs for a while, and lots of people buy mp3 players, and neither of these get packages offerings from anybody.

      If the device comes with a CD of the original firmware, a bootloader that can't be modified and can reflash the firmware regardless of what you do to the devi
    • Problem is, I just don't see these taking off. The big boys (Cingular/Verizon/Sprint) aren't going to want something like this on their lineup

      Maybe they will sell it in Europe, where the phone-market is less retarded than it is in USA? In Finland (for example), the operators have zero say as to what phone the customer uses. The customer buys a phone, and he subscribes to the cellphone-service separately. The user can change operators at will (and keep his number AND the phone, since it is, after all, his ph

      • I've got an unlocked phone I picked up off eBay some time ago. I can switch services just by changing out SIM cards, and our numbers are portable now, thanks to Congress (though I believe there is a fee attached).

        These days, most malls I've seen have booths selling unlocked GSM phones. So it's not as hard as you might think to do exactly what you're talking about...though walking into a Cingular store and asking for a plan without a phone might earn you some confused stares.
    • The phone itself is not destined to become a great success, but QTopia sees the various projects people are making in order to make an open source or free phone. They want to provide an attractive alternative to the phone companies should such open source projects gain a critical mass.

      If a good platform is developed that is very modular and very compact (ie, add what hardware features you want, leave out what you don't) then one could make a good, marketable phone that has a slighter wider appeal than j
    • I don't think the intention is to have Average Joe/Joan flashing their phone with new kernels or apps. From what I see of what this is, it's a way for Trolltech to try and get some more apps and maybe some fixes to the phone stack they provide FROM DEVELOPERS. And if someone comes up with a multiplayer volleyball game which sucks up airtime/minutes/data then the carriers will be all over this as their profits go up.

      I also think that this is more like a tech demo / dev kit than something to expect to see at
    • Dude, it is for developers, not end users.
    • The real reason US phone companies dont want users to have it is because US phone companies like locked phones not open phones. People pay tons of money to get an unlock phone because when you buy your phone through Cingular, Verizon, or Sprint they disable some features and disable a way to upgrade the phone. I know with Verizon if you want to do anything with a phone you have to buy a cable and software(win only) and even thats limited(last I check my phone model the only way Verizon let you get pictures
  • Wait, wait... How will the manufacturer get ridiculous fees for one of a kind chargers if it just uses a USB connection? If it's just a linux build, won't it make it easier for games & applications to be made? We would theoretically only have to buy games once, even if we reflash the rom. Quarter VGA touch screen? Now won't that make things easier?

    It is based on a dual-core Marvell (formerly Intel) XScale processor clocked at 312MHz. It has 64MB of RAM, and 128MB of flash, expandable through a mini

    • Cell phone companies don't need to cooperate, this phone is being released as part of a development kit (look, it's even under the developer's section of /.). You buy it then put your sim card in. It'll probably cost a lot of money because of the lack of a network provider to pay for most of it.
    • Now hold on a second. This means, if it works right you could use your cell phone to make voip calls via your home wifi connection
      Sadly the article is mistaken. There is no wifi [qtdeveloper.net] in the greenphone.
      • Oh well... at least Spectec (and others) make a MiniSD Wifi card.
    • Wait, wait... How will the manufacturer get ridiculous fees for one of a kind chargers if it just uses a USB connection?

      FYI, the Motorola RAZR (a really common phone) charges using a USB (mini-B) port. Of course, a charger comes with the phone anyway...

      As for the rest of what you said about lock-in to the service provider (as opposed to the hardware manufacturer), I completely agree. It'll never take off in the US because of that, unfortunately.

      • FYI, the Motorola RAZR (a really common phone) charges using a USB (mini-B) port. Of course, a charger comes with the phone anyway...

        Yeah, and it comes with the cable - which, without motorola mobile phone tools, will do you little good. Well, you can use other software (bitpim, for example, even though it says it's only for cdma phones) but nothing is close to as good as the real thing.

        You could also download the driver and use it for a fax, I guess :)

    • it is quad band and based on this: http://www.broadcom.com/products/Cellular/HSDPA-WC DMA-EDGE-GPRS-GSM-Baseband-Processors/BCM2121 [broadcom.com] the processor is the same as the treo 650 but unlike the treo, it's got wifi. 312 mhz sounds a little underpowered for encrypted voip but it's probably doable.
    • The way cell phone sales go currently is that just about nobody actually goes out and buys a cell phone. What people do is get a package deal on a cell phone plus service, where there's not much up-front cost, and they make up the cost of the device from the price of the service (which is spread out over time). In this case, chances are that the providers won't carry these, so customers would have to actually buy an expensive phone themselves, with a high up-front cost and probably no discount on service.

      On
      • I believe this phone will fall into the SmartPhone category and not the DumbPhone category most people buy into. While not in the majority, many do purchase more feature capable phones for many hundreds of bills and then enable it on one carrier or another. And as many have said already, it's GSM enabled to moving the SIM card to it from the DumbPhone should be all that's required.

        It has potential IMO though I hope the USB interface is Host/Client enabled and not just a client port like the original Zaurus
    • This means, if it works right you could use your cell phone to make voip calls via your home wifi connection


      You can already do this today, with devices like the HTC Wizard (aka Cingular 8125, T-Mobile MDA). Of course, it's Windows Mobile 5, but I wouldn't mind seeing a Linux-based device doing the same thing...
    • This means, if it works right you could use your cell phone to make voip calls via your home wifi connection (or your neighbor's). I don't get it... This just makes sense. Why would the phone companies cooperate?

      A) So what? WiFi isn't quite as prevalent as EDGE. EDGE can definitely handle VoIP, and the phone providers get some money (usually not quite as much as airtime, but still) for an EDGE subscription.
      B) The T-Mobile SDA/MDA are quite capable of running Skype. The salesman told me so himself (well, whi
      • So what? WiFi isn't quite as prevalent as EDGE.

        Doesn't matter because WiFi is prevalent enough where most calls are made, as in

        In fact I never bothered with an EDGE subscription since I've got WiFi at home and on campus.

        Or "What was that click?" - "Oh, that was Asterisk [asterisk.org] switching us over to WiFi/VoIP, I'm in the office now so it's free".

  • Kphone (Score:5, Funny)

    by camcorder (759720) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:09AM (#15910304)
    Kphone is the name that KDE users will mostprobably call it, not Greenphone. Greenphone is GNOMEish.
  • by Denial93 (773403) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:10AM (#15910315)
    Keep adding to this.

    Automatic encryption of calls.
    Powerful scripting: at [date], call [number], playback [message1], record [message2]...
    Lots of games.
    It does run Linux!
  • It's not like the phone is environmentally friendly, but I guess they're trying to insinuate that it's good for the [software] environment.

    The irony would be if this phone were released in the US bound to a single carrier.

    -- n
  • by rkcallaghan (858110) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:14AM (#15910349)
    From TFA: The Greenphone appears to be a working GSM/GPRS mobile phone

    However, the important (and missing) bit of information here is, which carriers will let you use it? Around here (Arizona, USA) its all but impossible to get a carrier to take a phone you didn't purchase from them, even when it is locked up and in essence still 'owned' by them.

    Who's going to let me use a phone they not only aren't making a profit from, but don't control and can't use as a lock-in tool to increase the hassle factor of changing providers? No one, and this device, for as cool as it is, will be useless as a result.

    By all means though, if you can find evidence anywhere that any US carrier will accept this phone without 6 months of battle against staff trained to say it is "not compatable with our network"; I'd really love to be wrong.

    ~Rebecca
    • These are intended for the phone companies themselves. This is the development model to allow, say, Verizon to stamp their preferences and apps onto it. It is also for companies that develop cell phone applications. It's only available as part of the development kit... not for general use. That said, if you pop your SIM card in, it will likely work. Developer's reference models tend to be very non-carrier specific. Of course, you'll be gambling on that and also getting a phone that isn't intended for
    • ... that makes no sense. If they use GSM and are using SIM cards, they have no choice. You put the SIM into the phone and that's it. I've used countless unlocked phones with my cingular plan that I never purchased from them, and they were never aware I owned. I've also given old phones to my girlfriend many times, and she's done the same.
      • by hankwang (413283) *

        used countless unlocked phones with my cingular plan that I never purchased from them, and they were never aware I owned.

        Technically, GSM providers do know whether you use the original phone. Each handset has an identification number (the IMEI number [wikipedia.org]) that you usually can retrieve by punching in the code *#06#. The phone sends the IMEI number to the network whenever it is switched on. The provider can - in theory - use the IMEI information to block stolen phones or to ensure that SIMs are only used with th

    • You never tried hard enough... If you call up Cingular or Tmobile and tell them all the numbers they need off the phone they will activate it. I've bought several phones from straight from the manufacturer and done this with them. Key is to never tell them what they don't need/want to know.

      John
      • I've used a new, non-locked phone with TMobile just by dropping my SIM card into it. They don't do any validation (apparently) based on the IMEI/handset number. So you can buy a European "retail box" cellphone off of eBay for instance, and use it with your cellular GSM plan here in the US just fine. I know several people that are doing this, because they are on special "promotional" plans and if they got a subsidized upgrade through the cell company, would have to give up their rate plan and recontract.

        The
    • I use T-Mobile. When I got my Nokia E70, which Nokia doesn't sell in the USA, I just popped the SIM card out of the cheapo little phone I got when I signed on with them and popped it into the E70. That works just fine. In fact, when I called and asked them to make some changes in my service, I told the support lady I'd upgraded to an E70 and she told me exactly what I had to do to set up the data service and other stuff. She didn't seem at all put off that I was using a European phone (In fact she sounded r
    • by schlick (73861)
      not really, I have a T-mobile pre-paid account, and I can put my SIM in any unlocked GSM phone and it works, and there is no contract. I'm currently using it in a phone I bought when I was living uin the Czech Republic (where pre-paid is much more common and you can buy more minutes at most ATMs).

      Of course the pre-paid minutes are a little more expensive, but I prefer the freedom and lack of a monthkly bill. I pay $100.00 for 1000 minutes every 4 months or so. which is cheaper than any contract I could g
  • Does anyone get it? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRunningBoard (727291) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:21AM (#15910390)
    All the comments about carriers not supporting it, or not feeling like they will start selling seems to be missing the point. The phone's primary purpose is to be sold as a development environment, along with Qtopia a license to spur development of 3rdbased party applications to run on Linux mobile devices. Trolltech does not appear to have any desire to partner wtih Verizon, or Sprint or anyone to sell this to consumers. Maybe I am wrong, but this is how I read it. It is called the Greenphone because that fits nice wtih Trolltech's marketed image they have been building over recent years.
  • by IEEEmember (610961) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @11:28AM (#15910435) Journal
    The phone will not be available standalone, but rather as part of a development kit. The kit will be offered under separate licensing terms to open source developers, educational institutions, "major" software vendors, and to "phone designers and manufacturers," Trolltech says.
    Comment: No carrier is going to stock this phone.
    Answer: This phone isn't intended for commercial use. It sales will be limited. It is intended to allow developers to create content so that when real phone manufacturers consider QPE there is a suite of software to make it competitive.

    Comment: Carriers won't allow this phone on their network.
    Answer: It is a GSM phone. If it is certified, it will work on GSM networks.

    Comment: Users will screw up their phone reflashing it.
    Answer: It isn't intended for the average Joe cell phone user, it is intended for developers.

    Comment: "Jack of all trades" ...
    Answer: For a development platform having all the functionality you may need to test against is critical. Actual real world usefulness, not so much. This phone could be considered as a piece of test equipment, the fact that it looks like a phone is probably just to spur innovation.
  • Except for the components that interface with the baseband processor, everything in Qtopia Phone Edition necessary to develop applications is available under an open source license
    I'm a little worried about that "except"; does this mean they're using a kernel with proprietary drivers?
  • by geekoid (135745)
    Can you GNU me now?
  • by jtwronski (465067) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @12:10PM (#15910751)
    Ok, I want one. I don't care if its meant for the "masses" or not.

    Trolltech is making a smart move here. Once these phones are sold out, and nerds everywhere are hacking on it, they'll have a ton of good software to choose from when they start pushing their stack onto the major carriers.

    Here's what I want:

    1. Apt. I want to fire up a telephone version of synaptic (on my phone and/or my computer) and have debian style repositories to pick and choose from for software.

    2. Real calendar/todo/whatever syncing with Evolution/Kontact. My current Sony/Ericsson Z520a can do this pretty well over bluetooth with multisync, but its not perfect, and the native PIM software on the phone blows goats.

    3. Nethack. Had to say it :)

    4. SSH - no nerd is complete with a ssh terminal in front of them at any time. Sadly, that includes me.

    5. A stable API for companies like Opera, Yahoo, AOL, etc. to port their software to.

    6. Push style email would be nice, but then Trolltech would get sued, a la RIM.
  • According to Trolltech's site, this phone uses the BCM2121 chip, which doesn't seem to support EDGE, limiting its users to significantly slower plain GPRS.

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