Qtopia Phone Edition on OpenMoko

When the news about Qtopia on the OpenMoko made its round in the news, I was eager to find out how it would be, especially because the only platform I had seen it on was the Greenphone. Thankfully my friend Lars lent me his Neo 1973 to help me getting an impression. It still had one of the first OpenMoko Firmware images installed and couldn’t even do GSM. So I took it home and flashed it with the binary release from Qtopia.net. I booted it up and… wow, it asked for my PIN, logged into the network and I had GSM working. So after two days of using it, here is a list of cool stuff:

  • It’s astonishingly usable without a stylus already (scrolling, dialing, etc), with exception of the querty keyboard (must-have #1)
  • The adoption to keyboardless handling is very good, e.g. games that need one have been removed, applications got adjusted (must-have #2)
  • Telephony just worked (not that obvious these days)
  • The graphics look really polished
  • and of course: the lock/unlock mechanism is really cool and a funny idea

So what did I notice? (Please bear in mind that this is the first public release of the OpenMoko-based firmware, so this is something that can be fixed)

  • Suspend doesn’t seem to work properly yet (issues with the OpenMoko kernel?)
  • Without suspend, battery life is only about 6 hours
  • Some redraw errors in the unlock application
  • Speaker volume too silent, even when pushing everything to max

Now this is stuff that certainly can be fixed, and if there would be Marble available on Qtopia, too, that would even make for an awesome geo-location-based-services tool (Nokia seems to belive it’s the future, and so do I). Awesome work, Brisbane trolls, and of course all the other devel trolls in Berlin, Munich and Oslo! I hope now that Qtopia is GPLed, Qtopia might become an interesting alternative to OpenMoko.

By the way: I was approached a few times by friends who asked me of the whole Qtopia on OpenMoko thing spoiled the OpenMoko development. Here is my view. The OpenMoko firmware is for those who like to have their X11 and all the crap running, Qtopia is for those who just want to have stuff working, without caring that its even Linux underneath. They don’t need X11, the framebuffer is good enough and less complex to draw on (also, nobody keeps you from adding an X-Server to Qtopia or port Qtopia to Qt/X11. It’s GPL, after all).

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