Debian delivers FreeRunner open-phone package
20,000 applications, one open phone
Olympics aside, summer 2008 will be remembered for at least two other reasons. It will be seen as a time when the noise over Linux as a platform for mobile devices reached a crescendo. Second: it marked Debian's fifteenth anniversary.
Bringing both together, Debian developers have delivered a version of their Linux distro for Openmoko's FreeRunner handset.
The announcement, during Debian's DebConf8 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, points out the potential upside for the nascent FreeRunner: the Debian ecosystem brings more than 20,000 applications to the FreeRunner, launched in July and the successor to Openmoko's Neo 1973 - claimed to be the first open mobile phone.
More importantly, the availability of Debian as a development platform gives Openmoko a leg up in the increasingly competitive market for open smart mobile devices based on Linux. Debian joins Qtopia and GTK+ as development platform options for the FreeRunner. The move gives Debian a lift after Intel revealed it was dropping the Debian-based Ubuntu Linux in favor of Fedora for the second version of its Moblin mobile Linux project.
Linux and open source are increasingly seen as the future of mobile devices and mobile the new frontier for Linux - apparently having taken the baton from the desktop, which has failed to live up to years of expectations and promises. Sessions and speakers from the O'Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) in Portland, Oregon, to LinuxWorld in San Francisco, California, have been dedicated to Linux on mobile.
Been using it as my main phone for over a month now, and every time I flash a different image on it for testing it's like getting a whole new phone :) This week I'll try Debian, but then I'm probably going back to ASU/2008.8
Wait until the firmware settles and the hardware hacks start appearing!
The OpenMoko people took on the developers of the OpenEmbedded project, which grew out of a Debian-like system in the first place (apt,dpkg etc.). There isn't a lot those guys don't know about putting Linux on small devices, so overall I can't really agree that this is a significant event. Sorry to any Debian developers that worked hard on this; I'm speaking from end-user frustration and I don't mean to diminish your achievement.
The whole point of the OpenMoko endeavour is to make a consumer device that people can change. It already RUNS linux, it HAS a development tree behind it. Putting Debian on it is reinventing the wheel. The next step is the end user experience. Going back to the beginning is like bringing your cucumber sandwiches to an all you can eat buffet.
@ James Bassett
no offence but you don't appear to be doing it right. it's easier to recover a knackered linux box than it is a knackered windeez box. 'make uninstall' is a damn sight easier than hacking registry entires which are so cryptic they mean nothing to me.