| From: Christopher Browne <email@example.com>
... writes much that I find interesting and agree with. But this message
is about quibbles.
| On Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 7:56 PM, William Muriithi <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
| > > There were a number of interesting open source smart phone projects
| > taking
| > > off when android arived. Now there isn't much left of most of them.
| > > After all this wonderful android open source thing is here now, so no
| > > need to do these other ones anymore.
| > Think that would have happened either way. The pure open source projects
| > were driven by Nokia and you know what happened to them.
Nokia wasn't pure open source.
| > So, without
| > android, most likely dormant platform would to Windows. I sincerely
| > wouldn't think of a scenario we would have come out better.
Android would have smothered any other choices, so we don't know them.
| Consider what has happened to the "general purpose" operating system
Your points are good.
I wonder if that's sufficiently similar to the mobile world.
In the PC world, things that are shared between users often require
the same OS: (MS Office documents, programs, ...). Not always (.pdf,
...). The network effect exerts a strong gravitational pull.
In the mobile world, shared things less often depend on the OS: web pages,
Facebook, Twitter, DropBox, Amazon, .mp3 files (oh, wait, you are not
supposed to share those). So maybe the network effect isn't the same.
BTW, I actually think your analogy applies to the compiler world too.
| As much as I liked the idea of OpenMoko, I don't think it was remotely
| close to being a mainstream thing. It is amazing to me that they have done
| any further upgrades to the hardware. It was an interesting proof of
| concept, but I'm unsurprised that they're near impossible to buy.
1) The idea that the end user was the customer was alien to the mobile
handset business. Too bad!
2) I was told "systems are like waffles: plan to throw the first one
away". Unfortunately, OpenMoko could not afford to do that.
I was told that they couldn't even afford the retooling to modify
the case. There were a lot of mistakes:
- the quad-band radio they were promised was only tri-band
- the promise of complete specs they were given by the parts makers
were not honored in all cases.
- they changed their GUI framework about halfway in about three
times (so they had four halves of work to do)
- their angel (FIC of Taiwan) withdrew
And those are only the ones I heard of and remember.
| Nokia's flirtation with Linux was also interesting, but they never got
| *close* to serious enough to bet any of the company on it.
Yeah, but the N900 worked, was sold (slightly), and apparently was
wonderful (according to biased reports). Kind of like the Avro Arrow?
| The moment
| things got tough, it was many times more tempting to donate the remains of
| their future to Microsoft.
There is a bitter theory that Elop was a trojan horse.
Certainly they suffered very badly from the Osborne Effect (promising
something long before being able to ship it, and hence killing sales
between now and then). Except there's even evidence that sales didn't
actually pick up at the far side of the valley. Ouch.
| Further, this misses an enormous elephant in the room, namely that the
| mobile carriers have history of being dramatically controlling of what they
| allow their supplicants^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^hcustomers to have in Their
| Ultra Proprietary Service.
It appears to me as if it is a sheep / shepherd relationship. Most
carrier seem to "subsidize" preferred phones. Consumers are stupid
enough to accept this rather expensive financing.
I guess five years ago "Bring Your Own Device" was not always
possible. GSM certainly helped (necessary?).
I don't follow it closely, but "data" has had a bunch of gotchas.
| That doesn't make Android "free as in 'RMS-would-approve'"; with the broad
| rapacity of the mobile carriers
Not to mention that DRM requires at least a closed component, and DRM
seems to be important. Except in music, for some reason that is
surprising but promising.
| I don't think Maemo was "free enough" for RMS'
| purposes, and I'm not sure that OpenMoko was, either, as I expect they
| still had proprietary bits as consequence of needing to interface to
| proprietary radio hardware and the like.
No. The radio is done by a different processor ("baseband
processor"). The smart stuff talks to the baseband using the Hayes
"AT" command set! I understand that is true in all smart phones (or
was at one time).
The FreeRunner had a little proprietary hardware due to suppliers
reneging on promises. I think that the video was part of that.
But really, the FreeRunner is so obsolete that it doesn't matter.
I don't know anything about the update (GT04).
| > What do you think of Tizen? Open source enough in your opinion? That is
| > the only viable alternative I think has money behind to live.
| I doubt it; that's presumably going to turn out to be filled with Samsung's
| "tentacles," and I don't see any reason to think they have a cultural
| affinity to produce open source software in the long run (I'm not thinking
| of this as a "Korean versus anything else thing; just that Samsung's a
| huge, tough-competing conglomerate that's not likely to drop everything to
| become all about OSS).
I remember seeing a reasonable Samsung contingent at Linux Symposium
some years ago. That's a very modest good sign.
| If you require your phone to be "truly totally free software," then:
I think that some Android platforms are almost open enough to do a
software transplant. Think of OpenWRT as a model. Ubuntu seems to be
trying that, but they probably were invited to sign NDAs and accepted.
That's not going to be offered to XDA folks. Mozilla is also
bootstrapping from Android phones.
Reverse engineering progress is real but it might not match the speed
at which new proprietary subsystems are being introduced.
| b) As long as there are hard-competing mobile carriers prepared to throw
| billions of dollars around to try to destroy their opponents, it's unlikely
| that any will ever emerge.
I think the carriers might welcome customers that don't require a
subsidy. Most seem happy to let you BYOD. I think that their
business models have evolved.
I think that they hate Apple for the level of subsidy that is involved
but have to play that game because a large number of customers want
iPhones. Carriers probably love Android for moderating this effect.
I hate Android (and IOS) for operating in the interest of everyone but
the phone user: advertisers, Google, Facebook, CSIS, NSA, ...
I have a dream that BlackBerry could make an ecosystem where the
phones worked for the user (or perhaps their employer). It would be a
continuation of their past strength. But it is much more likely that
they will desperately try to imitate Android and IOS.
Not that BlackBerry is open. I actually think that the spyware
dimension is more important than the open dimension (but ultimately,
open may be required for trust -- think how much we trust Skype).
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