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Motorola's New Open Source Resource 76

illogict writes "Among with their new A1200 GNU/Linux-based mobile phone, Motorola unveiled yesterday its new community-based development platform, http://open source.motorola.com. It is primarily aimed at developers who are willing to contribute to Motorola's GNU/Linux-based mobile phones, either directly on firmware, or creating programs (native or Java) who are aimed to work on those phones. It currently features phone kernels, SD-TransFlash card reader drivers, Java MIDP3.0 draft. Such commitment on open source-development could be seen as a good step, and may show the way to other companies."
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Motorola's New Open Source Resource

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  • Amiga (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ithika ( 703697 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @05:23PM (#15345557) Homepage

    A mobile phone based on the A1200 [wikipedia.org]? With Motorola technology? Who would have guessed.

    • You can still get 68k family processors from Freescale Semiconductor (who split off from Motorola 2 years ago). www.freescale.com -> 32-bit Microcontrollers -> 68k/coldfire.

      There's no reason why a 68k couldn't be an application processor (rather than modem processor, in a dual-chip design) in a mobile phone. There's also no fundamental reason why AmigaOS couldn't be the GUI/AFX too. (The anciliary chips (SID? et al.) might be a problem, perhaps they could be emulated?)

      That's something I would certainl
  • by moore.dustin ( 942289 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @05:26PM (#15345578) Homepage
    I think it is a great move, but I just wonder how people who actually contribute will be treated by the company down the road. Often times, little or no credit is given to someone who makes a successful and meaningful contribution because they could easily just take the idea and release it as a feature on the next iteration of the phone. Either way it is a great move on the companies part - they can rest now and let other people come up with the next ideas that will sell the phones next iteration.
    • they can rest now and let other people come up with the next ideas that will sell the phones next iteration.

      If they do that, they'll fail. Open source really needs a community to work, ie: you've to give something. If they don't keep offering anything people will go elsewhere. They need to keep releasing new things and features to attract people. Then, other people will come and will start adding other things and helping in the development. But if they expect that people are going to do all the work for fre
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @06:46PM (#15346248)
      In the US, quite a few phone features are turned off because the carriers don't want them available. For example, some phones that are internally wifi capable have the wifi disabled to prevent them meing used as VoIP handsets, thus forcing people to use regular (billable) phone services instead.

      So if new apps start to threated revenue streams for the carriers you can expect them to be disbaled. Or, alternatively, you can expect the carriers to provide their own similar services. If you think about how MS destroyed 3rd party middleware developers you'll probably be on the right track.

  • My solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Council ( 514577 ) <rmunroe@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @05:26PM (#15345584) Homepage
    My open-source mobile phone development solution: Verizon Broadband, Ubuntu, VoIP, and an ultraportable Fujitsu Lifebook P1510. And with the number of unsecure networks around, I can probably drop the Verizon Broadband one of these days.

    Yeah, I may look silly with a laptop against my ear, but it's no sillier than a boombox back in the day. I hope it conveys similar street cred.
  • Phon-E Details. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Such commitment on open source-development could be seen as a good step, and may show the way to other companies.""

    Well that's all well and good, but how's the phone itself?
  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @05:27PM (#15345588) Homepage Journal
    The Motorola A1200 (MING) [motorola.com.hk] has only been released in the Asian market. So far, no US cell providers have deigned to carry it (although you can probably find someone to import it).


  • Nice, more software for Motorola phones which they don't have to pay for.
  • Apps are nice but I want the phone part to work first. No dropped calls, no wierd charging issues and for heavens sake clean up that godawful UI.
    • At least "that godawful UI" is easy to use, if slow and ugly. Sure, Nokias have an interface that runs about four times as fast, too bad it's about ten times harder to navigate. I found everything I was looking for on my V300 without a manual, and quickly too, but every time I pick up a Nokia I get pissed off at it because the interface is bullshit.

      And ANYTHING is better than the Sony phone I had back in the day...

      • At least "that godawful UI" is easy to use, if slow and ugly. Sure, Nokias have an interface that runs about four times as fast, too bad it's about ten times harder to navigate. I found everything I was looking for on my V300 without a manual, and quickly too

        Are you serious about this? I've owned several Motorola phones up until recently, from about 2000 to 2005, probably about 4 phones in all (mostly because I wanted GSM). They have all had bad interfaces IMO. As near as I can tell Mot had not changed

      • Somebody Mark the parent Funny because You have to be kidding. The nokia's have the most intutive interface out there. And they are fast. Less cluttered. I have a Nokia phone I own and a Motorola phone given to me by my employers. Using the Motorola is a nightmare compared to the Nokia.
        • They may be fast but the whole phone comes across like a kung-fu movie, something is definitely lost in translation. Based on the names of the options categories it's kind of nonsensical where options are hidden.
    • The first two aren't motorola's problem, I don't think. I've eben using Motorola phones since they came out with the V551 (a couple years ago), and the V551 and RAZR have both been very good, combined with Cingular coverage in Jersey. The phone I had before, a Nokia cheap POS, never had signal. I'd like to think your issues aren't because of Motorola, but rather the service provider. As for the UI....I've found no problem with it on either the RAZR or V551. The default skins were OK, and I could live with
      • I don't think it's the provider. I have too keep letting my wife borrow my N-Gage QD (sucky game machine, great phone) because her Moto just can't get a signal, or the stupid 2 pronged charger wiggled loose and now it has no charge.

        Now, I got a friend the newer Moto because it was the cheapest Bluetooth phone T-Mobile had. The BT was to save her having to mess around with the directory since her eyesight is not too good.
        Well, this one has a camera and one of those itty bitty SD cards. She wanted to get a co
    • and for heavens sake clean up that godawful UI.

      That's the whole point. If you don't like the UI YOU can fix it on YOUR phone. If you want you can contribute the fix the the world and other users can have it. It Moterola likes your fix they can include it in thier next relese. There is no need to submit your changes and hope they are accepted, yes that's nice as it lets others see your hard work but you can keep them all to yourself too and have a one of a kind phone too.

      No more complainning about

  • by i am kman ( 972584 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @05:29PM (#15345613)
    Hmmm, open source for a proprietary, niche HW platform. Sounds like they're too cheap to hire their own developers and are using the Open Source buzzward in hopes for some free SW development.

    So, there was some debate about whether you can package proprietary drivers with open source. So, can you package open source drivers with proprietary hardware?

    Open source generally implies users installing the OS on their own devices. I don't really see this happening on a large scale with Motorola since it'll come pre-bundled. So on has to wonder, what's the point of open sourcing stuff?
    • The point is that you get the freedom to do with your device whatever you like!

      It doesnt play ogg vorbis? write it yourself!
      It doenst sync with outlook? purchase the plugin from microsoft
      It contains a bug but motorola stopped support? hire someone to fix it!

      Its about FREEDOM but I guess people dont care about freedom anymore.
    • I don't understand exactly what this entails. If this means that I can write regular ol' Linux software in C that can run on the phone (and communicate with other phones in some way) then I admit, I'm interested in getting a cell for the first time ever. I can think of a lot of software that would be damned useful in a portable package.

      And modern cells have GPS...I wonder if it's possible to get at that data.

      I wish I could get a summary of "what this means from a programmer's standpoint"

      Hmmm, open source
    • Yeah, it's a proprietary platform, but... 'niche'... depends on how you look at it. At least for J2ME, potential users number in the millions, given the phones out there right now. That's an awful lot of people.
  • What is with gnu? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I saw lots of "linux," but I didn't see any "GNU/Linux." Is this embedded device loaded down with the GNU software, or is the person who submitted the article ignorant and politically pushy?
  • by moreati ( 119629 ) <alex@moreati.org.uk> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @06:05PM (#15345922) Homepage
    Motorola showed actual thought and innovation for the V3 RAZR and it's ilk. Thin flip-phones makes so much more sense. I hope they can do it again with the software.

    Other than an old Ericsson T39m, the V3i is the best phone design I've ever used. That is, except for the software - which is.. quirky, to say the least. Games consoles get much of the attention in terms of reverse engineering and modding, each generation is designed to be more locked down and 'trustworthy'. However phones seem to have fared infinately better against the modding crowds and this sucks. Mobile operators get away with charging 15p for a 20 byte SMS and other restrictions that would leave Sony/MS XBox division drooling.

    I wish it were possible to rip the Motorola supplied firmware and replace it with something buggy but useful. I wish I could sync to anything and actually run real software, that does real things like access bluetooth and the camera. I wish my current phone could run programs written in C, C++, Perl, Python, Ruby, Java, C# and AIML. I want my phone to make a Star Trek communicator noise every time it opens. I want it to work in landscape mode and allow input from a bluetooth keyboard and to log GPS. I want it to do all the things Motorola didn't think of or didn't have the budget for.

    So please, if anyone from Motorola is reading, do this properly. Open up more than just a few smartphones or far east only models. Let your geek users break from the shackles of MIDP across everything. I note from TFA that you've released an open source mmc+sd driver, that's a great move - make it the first of many.


    • by Anonymous Coward
      The problem is that even if Motorola puts all those great features in their phones, US carriers are going to force them to disable most of them to make their money. I still remember Verizon's crippled V710 [nuclearelephant.com], and think that trend is likely to continue. Of course, you could import a phone, but then you forgo the subsidized pricing.
    • As a Razr V3 touting O2 UK customer, I'll just chip in a bit of the same...

      The Razr V3 is probably one of the best bits of phone hardware I've ever seen (and I've seen a few). It's emminently usable, small, has good battery life, and looks good too.

      However, the software is awful. Terrible, in fact (even though it's field upgradable, unlike 99% of other phones that need a trip to the shop). Why don't phone companies duplicate Nokia software? Nokia has always had the best software, although tends to trail on
  • ... in order to load your shiny custom cross-compiled apps on it, this could be hella-sweet. If only so I can have an IMAP and SMTP over SSL, it'd be almost worth getting an unlimited rate plan.

    I'd still prefer a Treo 650 keypad if it doesn't have SonyEricsson P800-level print recognizer though.
  • by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @06:19PM (#15346036) Journal
    Such commitment on open source-development could be seen as a good step

    But we can always spin it to look like pure evil.

  • Just curious... how do you dial this thing? Do you need to use the stylus on the touch screen or what?

    • I haven't managed to see a picture of it yet, but that is possible. My current phone (a PPC6700) doesn't have a keypad and requries dialing by touching the on screen dialpad. A bit of a pain, but not impossible.
  • I'd love to have a straightforward way of developing software on my phone. I can't even connect it to my windows machine without spending another $30 on software from motorolla.
  • by Eugenia Loli ( 250395 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @07:22PM (#15346585) Homepage Journal
    I downloaded the source code for the A1200 and e680/a780. There IS NO WAY you can create a native graphical application with the tarballs they offer. Whoever submitted the news on Slashdot is an idiot and he didn't try the tarballs. The modified Qt/EZX toolkit is NOT included in these tarballs.

    In other words, Motorola gave us NOTHING more than they didn't before. They just released a fancy web site about it. And we, Linux phone users, STILL CAN NOT create graphical native apps!
    • by Capt. Beyond ( 179592 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @11:59PM (#15348159)
      Sorry Eugenia, you will have to wait for Qtopia 4 [trolltech.com] and it's Safe Execution Environment (SXE) [trolltech.com] to have native applications on a Linux phone.
      • I don't see why I can't have Qt 2.x.x native apps too. Zaurus had native apps and was based on the same version of Qt. The problem is not SXE or anything like that. The problem is that Motorola hasn't released their EZX SDK.
        • by Capt. Beyond ( 179592 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @06:26AM (#15349419)
          No, the problem is with the phone operators/carrers. They are extremely paranoid.
          As an example, from this article Device Profile: Grundig Dreamphone G500i [linuxdevices.com]
          "The carriers are afraid of what kind of software might be connected to the network if users could run their own "hacked" Linux OSes. For example, think of an application sending millions of SMS messages per second. They expect from us a certain level of security."

          This also includes 3rd party software. Currently, Java applications are king, because they are sandboxed, and do not have full access to the device. With SXE, native applications are sandboxed as well as some other security restrictions that are in place, to restrict access to the device/network.

          • I do actually own a A780 and tried to develop software for it.
            There are two processors, one for the network handling (some prop os) and the other running Linux.
            Its nearly impossible to write a native app, you need to do major reverse engeneering. Java apps, if not signed can't do shit either. You need to be in Motorola developer program to get the right Jar files, and you can only access them if your application is signed.

            On top, you cant replace the kernel - because all required drivers are released, the s
          • Agreed completely.
            Unfortunately because of their hysterical paranoia they cripple a lot of technology unnessecarily. Take, for instance, the JSR-75 API which allows a midlet to read and write files on the phone. This API is mostly unusable because of confirmation dialogs that appear for each and every operation - unless you buy a number of expensive certificates. The confirmation dialogs appear even for *read* access of file - there's no way a midlet can possible do any harm by reading files.
  • Is there enough of a market out there for someone (with a lot of seed cash) to produce a totally generic mobile device designed for open source hacking?

    What I'm thinking about is a fairly simple PDA type design, maybe with WiFi/Bluetooth/GSM/EDGE radio(s), with a CF and an SD slot, not too big, 320x320 screen maybe, 1MP camera, the entire hardware design open and published, running Linux, the whole thing made from commodity hardware, designed for people to put freaky applications on?

    I imagine such a device
    • Re:Question (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wiml ( 883109 )
      There's the Silicon Valley Homebrew Mobile Phone Club [revejo.org]. If the comparison with computers is accurate, then in about twenty years we'll start seeing phones that don't suck.
    • Wait for a software defined radio to be readily available. Then you can do all your protocols in software and sell everybody the same hardware. CDMA is the only thing that comes in around here so I wouldn't buy a GSM device, and you don't want to run off multiple SKU's.

      Some of these protocols are patent encumbered so those parts of the phones probably can't be easily open sourced. Yeah, it shouldn't make a difference as long as you pay the license fee, but that's how these companies think.
    • There are few roadblocks for it actually.

      1) The GSM/GPRS/EDGE baseband needs a specific hardware (eg a digital DSP and a RF). The chipset makers Ti, ADI, etc. have it. But before they allow you to work on it you have to sign up for an NDA!

      2) The Protocol Stack itself has to go through an certification process before they can be used on a commercial network. And they are very expensive. The certification process is a business in itself. Its too much of investment required and would be difficult to recover if
      • Aw crap.

        OK, a box with a double PCMCIA socket in it for the radios, to let someone else worry about this sort of thing? Of course, there's a joke about that.

        Joe stops a man in the street and asks him the time. The man puts down his heavy suitcases with a sigh of relief, and looks at his watch.

        "I'ts 13:27 and 15 seconds preciesely. That's here of course, it's 08:27 in Tokyo. The temperature is 30 degrees; 25% chance of showers later. We are located 127 meters from the nearest Starbucks, and are 172 metres be
  • I remember the old Motorola Freeware BBS. You could download source code and development tools for all the classic Moto microcontrollers. 6802, 6805, and (most important) the 68HC11. All assembly language work, of course. There's still a lot of 'hc11 code worth slinging, even today. I have a few tubes of parts on hand for future projects.

    Good old Motorola. I wish the good part of the company had kept the name, because Freescale just doesn't have the history that 'M' logo carries.
  • RMS can buy a cellphone!
  • "Such commitment on open source-development could be seen as a good step, and may show the way to other companies."

    Me thinks they are trying to keep up, or compete, with Nokia's 770 Web Tablet. Next OS version (Q2 2006 release) will include VoIP capabilities. And Nokia has already setup a development community here: http://www.maemo.org/ [maemo.org]


  • Hopefully this is not redundant, but did anyone else notice that they used the word "SourceForge" in various places on the web site, and I assume that the site is SF based, but you don't find a link to it by searching for Motorola on sourceforge.net?
    • Re:sourceforge? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's using the commercial version of SF (SF Enterprise Edition). It is NOT hosted on the SF.net server complex, therefore you won't find a link to it there.
  • When my phone contract is up, I sure hope that Sprint can sell me one of these.
  • I'm astonished that with such a specific Motorola OSS topic, the #1 OSS website about all this hasn't been mentioned yet:
    http://www.openezx.org.nyud.net:8090/ [nyud.net]

    The OpenEZX project seems to be quite active, with Harald Welte (of GPL-Violations fame) doing a lot of 2.6.x kernel porting and hardware support. Join the mailing list if you are interested in helping out with this rapidly progressing project!

    Unfortunately several people say that Motorola has been less helpful with OSS development than they could

  • Motorola is having a lot of trouble in the market. In order to make it they have to attract not only more customers, but more top engineers as well. This move could draw in more customers and also interest more potential employees. If this works for them, then this could be an extremely efficient way to build up an email list of competent engineers while at the same time generating the goodwill necessary to harvest their labor in the future.
  • I don't even see any proper specs for MIDP 3.0, let allown source code.
    For instance, what new graphical functions are going to be in MIDP 3.0?
    " Enable richer and higher performance games" ...is all it says.
    Seems like just mouth service with no beef behind it
  • I suppose this is probably related to this job ad I got in my email this morning [careerbuilder.com]

    I would apply, but I'm happy in my current job. Also, with my well known skills at smooth talking and diplomacy it would be too easy ;-)

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.