OpenMoko

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A project to create a 'free' or open source Open Mobile Telephony platform.


URL = http://openmoko.org/


Description

"Mobile phones are closed environments created with a mobile context in mind. But this concept is limiting; a mobile phone has the potential to be a platform that can do anything that a small computer with broadband access can do. If mobile phones were based on open platforms, they would have the potential to bring computing to people in a ways traditional computers cannot. Mobile phones can become ubiquitous computers." (http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/community/2007-January/001586.html)

The long term goal is that phone software won't be tied to a phone. You can install any OpenMoko software over the whole range of phones, and if you upgrade your phone, you don't lose the software. Bugs fixed on one phone are fixed on all.


Status

"Openmoko Inc. canceled their efforts for an open smartphone in 2009. But due to their openness (semantics, hardware specifications) it was possible for enthusiasts from the Openmoko community, with great support from Golden Delicious Computers (one of the german Openmoko distributors), to develop a new and modern open smartphone – the GTA04 [http://www.gta04.org[>" (http://blog.slyon.de/2011/07/26/openmoko-gta04-is-getting-reality/)


See also:

Presentation by the CEO, September 2008, at http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080918-openmoko-ceo-embrace-fragmentation-diversity-is-a-strength.html


Discussion: How open/free is OpenMoko?

From Ostatic, a comparison between Android and OpenMoko:

“If all you want to do is develop or run open source software on your handset, then all the major players have you covered. You can buy a copy of Visual Studio to develop applications for Windows Mobile, or download a free beta of the iPhone SDK from Apple, and share your software to your heart's content. Well, almost: Apple is going to maintain some control over what iPhone users can buy from their devices, and it's not yet clear how this will play out with open source software.


But what if you want not just the application layer, but the underlying phone itself, to be open source? In this case, you have two main choices. The first, and the one that has gotten the most press lately, is Google Android. No Android phones exist yet, but Google has started releasing the software - a GPL'd kernel - and they've announced plans to use the Apache License for the final software. Using ASL rather than GPL means that handset manufacturers will be able to add their own enhancements to the Android code without any requirement for sharing back with the community.


Android only gets you so far with open source; although the software itself will be open (or at least it will start as open, though there could be closed parts in any particular device), most people will need to pick up a closed device from some member of the Open Handset Alliance to run it. If you want openness all the way down, you need to turn to OpenMoko.


With OpenMoko everything is open source: the software (GPL and LGPL licensed), the hardware plans, even the CAD drawings for the case. The tradeoff is that it'll cost you about $400 for their second-generation device (due out this month). Most regular cell phone users are unlikely to be willing to put that much premium on freedom.


One final possibility is interesting to those who like the OpenMoko hardware but think Android has a better chance of delivering sophisticated applications quickly (due to Google's clout and cash bonuses for development): run Android software on an OpenMoko phone. Though not currently possible (due to conflicts between Android's required instruction set and the CPU used by the available OpenMoko phones), this could happen in the future as both projects evolve.” (http://ostatic.com/158950-blog/how-open-do-you-want-your-phoness)

More Information

See also our entries on Open Hardware, Open Source Hardware, Open Design


Podcasts/Webcasts

  1. Watch: Michael Lauer on Open Moko and the Neophone
  2. OpenMoko Train Wreck: it has a long way to go still to be competitive with the iPHone
  3. Listen: Sean Moss-Pultz on Open Moko