Radio Tux: Lumiera Radio Interview during FROSCON 2009

Radio Tux has published my interview with the core developers and contributors to the Lumiera project now. I conducted the interview at FROSCON 2009 a couple of weeks ago. Lumiera is a Free and Open Source video editing application project for GNU/Linux developed originally by the
CinelerraCV community. It was born as a rewrite of the Cinelerra codebase called Cinelerra3 but it is now an independent project with its own name.

Lumiera Collage
Poster of ideas in the Lumiera logo contest

The lumiera project is insofar an amazing project, as it involves a lot of artists and videomakers. Also there seem to be quite a few women involved. So we do see the free and open source community evolving and including different people with various backgrounds. What a great news! Lumiera shows that people do not want to be limited by proprietary video editing software. I am looking myself for a good open source video suite for years and I believe Lumiera can be a good alternative in the future. Actually there is not a version to test yet. There have been code aditions to other projects.

Why I do think Lumiera will be successful, is because the project lead focuses on building a broad community of contributors and they do not focus on short-term success, but rather long-term goals. When they had to decide what logo they should use for lumiera, they put up a forum, a wiki page and a voting system and let the community decide as a whole. And I like what came out. Cool way to do it.

Lumiera Logo
Lumiera Logo after community contest

The interview is pretty interesting. It is a bit more than half an hour. I was also very happy to hear that Lumiera will focus on speed and usability for people with less powerful and expensive hardware. These are exactly the goals of LXDE and Freifunk, which I am happy to support as well. Lumiera folks just incorporate the idea of empowering people. I am looking forward to what comes out of this exciting project.

Die Nicht-Lineare Videoschnittsoftware Lumiera ist gewissermaßen ein Fork von Cinerella. Warum es zu diesem Fork kam, wie der Name und das Logo für das Projekt entstand und warum die Community, die sich mittels Wiki
und Mailinglisten organisiert, jetzt schon eine große ist, obwohl die
Software noch nicht veröffentlich ist versucht unser Moderator Mario
Behling im Gespräch mit Developern und anderen am Projekt beteiligten
Leuten zu klären. (http://blog.radiotux.de/2009/09/02/interview-ueber-lumiera/)

Special thanks to Sirko and Thomas “der genial vom Thema abschweifende” Steinbrecher for giving me the opportunity to conduct the interview and for always keeping us up to date about the FOSS community over the years with radio tux!

Links

* Lumiera project http://lumiera.org
* Lumiera wiki http://pipapo.org/pipawiki/Lumiera
* On Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinelerra#Lumiera_rewrite

* Radio Tux http://blog.radiotux.de

lubuntu first alpha releases

lynxis published the first lubuntu test iso based on the seeds by David Sugar and additional patches. The first release was 381 MB and a second one only 292 MB. Following test images are also around this size. After crashing the c-base server several times with the lubuntu images, the LXDE team kindly offers the download from its website: download.lxde.org/lubuntu-9.10

lubuntu
lubuntu logo suggestion by gusion

The lubuntu project was started in February after I met with Mark Shuttleworth in Berlin. We talked about how to cooperate between LXDE and Ubuntu. Mark agreed that a light Ubuntu distro would definitely be worthwile to proceed. I started the lubuntu project with the goal to create an Ubuntu derivative that is fast and lightweight just as the goals of the LXDE project.

LXDE, “Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment”, is an extremely fast, performing and energy saving desktop environment. It is maintained by an international community of developers and comes with a beautiful interface, multi-language support, standard keyboard short cuts and additional features like tabbed file browsing. LXDE uses less CPU and less RAM. It is especially designed for cloud computers with low hardware specifications like netbooks, mobile devices (e.g. MIDs) or older computers. LXDE can be installed with distributions like Ubuntu or Debian. It provides a fast desktop experience connecting easily with applications in the cloud. LXDE supports a wealth of programs, that can be installed with Linux systems locally. The source code of LXDE is licensed partly under the terms of the General Public License and partly under the LGPL.

The lubuntu team already had IRC meetings, face to face gatherings in Singapore, Berlin and other cities. And, I am excited to see the team getting together and releasing first results now. lynxis who is most of the time in the c-base just over the street from my appartment joined the team a few months ago. I am looking forward to more people joining up with us.

There are many ways you can support the project. Firstly download and test the current test releases. If you are a developer you can submit patches. If you are a tester, please leave info about bugs in the bug tracker. Secondly you can join us and create desktop backgrounds and logos for lubuntu. We have not decided yet, what the final logo will look like.Check out the lubuntu Artwork Forum and leave your ideas there. You can also help with translations, if you speak another language and translate the desktop of LXDE. Or you can help to improve or write Wikipedia articles about lubuntu and LXDE.

lubuntu logo idea by genelyk
lubuntu logo idea by genelyk

lubuntu design idea
lubuntu Design Idea by leo

Download lubuntu test iso: download.lxde.org/lubuntu-9.10

Links

* lubuntu on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubuntu
* Join up with the LXDE community http://join.lxde.org
* lubuntu Artwork Forum http://forum.lxde.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=437
* Bug reports: https://bugs.launchpad.net/~lubuntu-desktop
* Seeds and Code of Lubuntu: https://code.launchpad.net/~lubuntu-desktop
* Launchpad Project: https://bugs.launchpad.net/~lubuntu-desktop
* How to make a LiveCD: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCDCustomizationFromScratch

Debconf11: The Debian Conference and Camp Proposal for 2011 from Germany

On Tuesday, June 2 2009 sixteen members of the local Debian and FOSS
community met in Berlin to discuss a possible bid from Germany for the
Debconf11. We had some discussions at DebConf8
already and also our DPL promoted the idea. There is a strong desire in
the local community to get the Debconf to Germany for the first time.
The participation at the informally organized Berlin meeting was
already overwhelming. There is a big and active group of very welcoming
and friendly local supporters and there is an excellent and cost
effective infrastructure available to host the event and contributors
from all over the world. We had a follow up about a Berlin bid during the Linuxtag on June 26, 2009, where bidders from Rhein/Rhur and Munich also presented their ideas for bids. We decided to submit only one bid for Debconf11 from Germany and will have an internal German process to decide which bid will work out best. During the Debconf9 there was a presentation of the bids from Germany.

 

Presentation by: Berlin – Torsten Werner, Rhein/Ruhr – Rene Engelhard, München – Michael BanckLinks

* http://debconf.org 

* Debconf 11 Germany Wiki page: http://wiki.debconf.org/wiki/DebConf11/Germany

* Mailing list: http://lists.debconf.net/mailman/listinfo/debconf11-germany

* Archive: http://lists.debconf.net/lurker-net/list/debconf11-germany.html

* IRC: #debconf11-germany on irc.debian.org AKA OFTC 

Harald Welte auf dem Linuxtag in Berlin

Robert Schuster interviewt Harald Welte auf dem Linuxtag 2008.

Links:

* Video http://www.vimeo.com/2081264

* Blog von Harald Welte http://gnumonks.org/~laforge/weblog/

* GPl Violations http://gpl-violations.org/

* Robert Schuster  http://blogs.fsfe.org/robertschuster/

Chris Wickert running for Fedora Engeneering Steering Committee

A good friend of mine, Chris Wickert, is running for the Fedora Engeneering Steering Committee.
Chris is a big contributor and supporter of LXDE and I value
Christoph's contributions to the free software community a lot and
especially his commitment to make computer systems more accessible to
people who do not own high end computers, be it here in Europe or
anywhere else in the world:

  • Christoph is the maintainer of Xfce and LXDE in Fedora, the lightweight desktops in Fedora.
  • His goals are to make Fedora more lightweight and less ressource hungry as well as keeping depencies low.

Christoph Wickert

To be able to vote for Chris you need to have a (1) Fedora Account and (2) be accepted in a group, for example as a Fedora Ambassador. Voting is possible until June 22, 2009. Chris is the most active distro package maintainer of LXDE in
Fedora. His engagements is a great success for both Fedora and LXDE as
the large interest at Chemnitzer Linuxtage and other events have shown
recently.

A quote from Chris Wickert:
(I want to) … improve packaging quality and enforce higher standards
for better cross desktop interoperability. Try to reduce the dependency
bloat to make sure Fedora does not become too fat, so it still can be
used on older or smaller hardware like netbooks or the OLPC without too
much pain.

If you are interested to find out more about the community elections at Fedora, please check out: https://admin.fedoraproject.org/voting/about/fescof12

Links

* Blog of Chris Wickert http://www.christoph-wickert.de/blog/
* LXDE: http://lxde.org
* Join Fedora https://admin.fedoraproject.org/accounts
* https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Elections/Questionnaire
* http://www.leemhuis.info/files/fedora/answers.txt
* http://www.leemhuis.info/files/fedora/answers-table.ods
* https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Meetings:Town_Hall_FESCo_2009-06-03_1400

The Asian Free and Open Source Community

During my work as a FOSS business matchmaker in Asia for FOSS Bridge and other projects in the
last two years I met many fantastic people doing amazing things with
free and open source software. Yes, there is a vibrant free and open
source community in Asia. I have done a few interviews and talks and
will be publishing more of that step by step. I had a talk at the
Berlin Webmontag a few days ago about business opportunities with free
and open source technologies in Asia. The slides (in German) give some
ideas about this.

Community First!

The current release of MySQL shows
the problems free and open source software projects face that put
business first and community second. Michael “Monty” Widenius critizes in his Blog the current developement model of MySQL and recommends not to use the current release 5.1 of the database system.

The reason I am asking you to be very cautious about
MySQL 5.1 is that there are still many known and unknown fatal bugs in
the new features that are still not addressed.

Monty points out problems stemming from having a company taking the
lead in the development of a free software system – cause they need
something to sell fast. In this article I am supporting the view of
Monty and discuss his views in regards to Freifunk and LXDE.
I believe communities must take the lead in order to make and keep a
project on the bleeding edge, however, we should work together with
companies (like FON.com for Freifunk or ASUS for LXDE) and exchange resources. Both can profit. In the end open and free community projects are all about cooperation.

In his blog entry Monty gives some reasons why the MySQL development department again got a quality problem with the release. Problems are ranging from the fact that MySQL 5.1 was declared a release candidate to early (because of commercial reasons), to focussing too much on new features rather than on quality (because of commercial reasons), to involving developers that are not experienced in developing database systems (Mario: Maybe because they do not come from the community?), to not keeping the development open for testing and participation of the community and more.

As I said in my talk at the MySQL users
conference, I think it’s time to seriously review how the MySQL server
is being developed and change the development model to be more like Drizzle
and PostgreSQL where the community has a driving role in what gets
done! (http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2008/11/oops-we-did-it-again-mysql-51-released.html)

What can we learn for the free software and other open source projects here? The consequences are
clear. Projects that want to stay on the bleeding edge of technology with quality code and widespread support must put the community first.

In the projects I participate – e.g. freifunk, LXDE, FOSS Bridge – I always work hard to bring the community together, make the community grow and keep and foster it. And this is not always easy. There are different expectations of people involved, different goals and outside circumstances change and have positive and negative effects.

For example, even though the Freifunk community was in the spotlight many times in the last two years, it seemed somehow stagnating. We had put a lot of resources to rebuild the website and foster more exchange, but with the broader availability of broadband in some districts in Berlin for example the motivation of people to participate to get constant Internet access became less. Additionally new business models seemed to draw people away from freifunk to something that seemed easier to use and offer many things similar to Freifunk. However Freifunk is more than mere exchange of free Internet access. The idea of Freifunk is to build a local network – the public space in cyberspace, but we did not have the tools easy enough giving everyone the chance to build the local network with the limited resources, especially time!, that people have.. but we are getting there with simpler software and easier to use devices.

FON.com received different reactions in the core groups of the global Freifunk community when it started, ranging from refusing any connection with FON to trying to ignoring it. Some welcomed FON and their involvement. FON pays some of the core OpenWRT developers which is the base of the Freifunk Firmware and it offers new hardware, that can also be used by the Freifunk community. Personally I do not mind working together with FON. As I see it, we have to be pragmatic and everyone has to make a living and the Freifunk community could profit from the involvement of FON and other companies. I would like the decision if people from the community work for and with FON left to the person him/herself. At a recent meeting in Berlin, I have discussed this a bit with Martin Varsavsky. Martin actually asked me how FON could work together more with the Freifunk community.

We should be clear here though. FON and Freifunk are two very different things. FON is a company that labels its participants (actually its customers) community. Freifunk is a community with many different people – students, engineers, scientists, free and open source activists, people who want Internet, people who want a truly free network, people using it for their business, people working for development cooperation and so on. People have different motivations to participate in Freifunk – interest for technology and development, Internet access, interest in new ideas and projects, inspired by idea of freedom, a way to make a living. These people would not participate if Freifunk was a commercial operation. I remember the saying of some ¨Money destroys the community¨. It is formulated in this regard, I believe.

Still, we should not be absolute here – meaning – we should acquire resources and money for the community -> for conferences, events, hardware for developers, funding for projects etc.. Based on my experience of the last years, communities need resources. We should study successful models of communities that have achieved to channel resources to the people really working on it. Associations, Foundations and similar organisations are very helpful here as they keep things transparent and offer newcomers entry points. Also companies that would like to support projects have it easier to talk to someone from the community if there is a working organisation set up.

During recent months I have seen more activity in the Freifunk community again. With the new OpenWRT Firmware Freifunk will have many features which we want for years. I am always talking about the fantastic things we can do in local networks – new usage cases and sharing of content in your local environment, community radio in schools, universities or simply your backyard. Local networks are different to the Internet as cinema to TV. Felix Fietkau and John have presented a development version of OpenWRT to a group in Berlin recently. The new OpenWRT will offer plugins that will let us store content directly on the nodes. With router devices offering USB connections now everyone can have their small webserver at home. We can have a local Web 2.0. With devices connected to sensors like thermometers we can have live feeds from all over the city, the country and worldwide. I do not want this local Web 2.0 called after a company, a device or anything else. We call this FREIFUNK. A global local = glocal network open to everyone – to the public and to companies.

Companies are always welcome to join development and focus on their
business models. However, Open Source, Open Infrastructure and Free Software Projects like Freifunk and LXDE or Open Content projects like Wikipedia have a roadmap that is following
long term goals instead of short term profitability. And people are engaging here not just for monetary reasons, they have much broader motivations and they are inspired by the freedom the communities offer. This is why communities are more powerful. Companies simply cannot compete with this in terms of human resources and motivation. In order to grow and sustain free and open projects and the communities though we need to work together in our different fields and we need companies that engage and support the communities.

Emails zum Mitnehmen mit OpenPGP Verschlüsselung und Portable Thunderbird

German Privacy Foundation LogoEmailverschlüsselung ist schwierig, wenn man immer unterwegs ist und auch noch verschiedene Computer nutzt. Eine Lösung hat jetzt mein guter Freund Jan Suhr von der German Privacy Foundation für mich gefunden: Portable Thunderbird für Gnu/Linux, siehe: https://wiki.privacyfoundation.de/PortableLinuxApps

Wenn jemand mehrere Computer nutzt und trotzdem nicht auf
Emailverschlüsselung verzichten möchte gibt es mehrere Lösungsansätze.
Unter anderem kann eine portable Version von Thunderbird mit Enigmail
verwendet werden. Diese wird auf einem USB-Speicherstick installiert
und verwendet direkt dort gestartet. Dabei werden sämtliche
Benutzereinstellungen und Daten auf dem Stick und nicht auf dem
Computer gespeichert. Für Windows gibt es diese speziell angepasste
Versionen bei PortableApps.
Für Linux gab es bisher keine speziell angepassten Versionen. Daher
habe ich ein einfaches Skript geschrieben, um einen portablen
Thunderbird und portablen Firefox für Linux zu erstellen.

Jan, vielen Dank!

Open Hardware: Marek Lindner über die Idee und das Potential offener Hardware

Frank Lachmann spricht mit Marek Lindner über Open Hardware beim Wireless Community Weekend 2008 in Berlin. Themen sind die Idee hinter offener Hardware und das Potential hinter der Idee, der OpenTechSummit 2008 und der Austausch mit Hardwareproduzenten aus Taiwan. Marek ist der Organisator des OpenTechSummit in Taiwan und vielen unter anderem in der Freifunkszene bekannt als ein Hauptmaintainer des Routingprotokolls B.A.T.M.A.N., Contributor bei OpenWRT und Developer bei OpenMoko.



Marek Lindner über Open Hardware auf dem Freifunk Wireless Community Weekend in Berlin 2008 from Mario Behling on Vimeo.

Frank: Was ist Open Hardware?

Marek: Wir haben uns Gedanken gemacht, wie können wir das Open-Source-Konzept, also freie Software, auf Hardware übertragen. Kann das Vorteile bringen? Kann das Nachteile bringen? Können wir Hersteller davon überzeugen? Das heißt im Prinzip, wir haben ein Stück Hardware, wo wir genau wissen, wie es funktioniert, was wir auch modifizieren können, verbessern können und dann anderen zur Verfügung stellen können mit diesen Verbesserungen.

Frank: Es geht dabei um Hardware aus welchem Bereich? Es ist ein zehr spezielles Stück, wie ein Router oder ist das ein Skateboard?

Marek: Das kann prinzipiell alles sein, wo Mikrochips enthalten sind. Skateboards sind meistens schon Open Hardware. Da gibt es offene Standards nach denen diese zusammen gebaut werden und das wollen wir einfach auf die Computerwelt übertragen. Das können Router sein, Schallplattenspieler oder Computer im Großen und Ganzen. Das hat keine Begrenzung.

Frank: Also steht der Begriff für eine Idee der Oeffnung von Geräten. Also dass keine proprietären Techniken verwendet werden, keine Patente, sondern, dass Geräte zusemmen gesetzt werden sollen aus offenen Bauteilen und insgesamt auch offen sein sollen und offen programmierbar.

Marek: Genau, das ist der Sinn der Sache. Es geht darum, dass nicht ein Hersteller nur weiß, wie dieses Gerät funktioniert und das möglicherweise verbessern kann und verkaufen kann, sondern dass das Gerät aus offenen Komponenten besteht und damit ein Wettbewerb möglich ist und dass auch einsehbar ist, was dort passiert und wie es passiert.

Frank: Wettbewerb möglich, heißt aber dann doch innerhalb der verschiedenen Geräte, die es für die Zwecke gibt. … dass ein breiterer Markt zustande kommt.

Marek: Jetzt ist es so: Wenn ein Hersteller etwas entwickelt, dann patentiert er das, dann versteckt er das alles gut und macht eine schöne Schachtel außen herum. Und das kauft man dann und das tut dann, was auch immer es tut, aber niemand weiß genau, wieso es das tut, wie es das tut und niemand ist in der Lage dort anzuschließen und weiterzumachen, sondern nur allein diese Firma hat alles Wissen und alle Rechte darüber.

Frank: Warum ist ein offenes Gerät, eine offene Hardware, besser als eine Geschlossene?

Marek: Wir können ein ganz einfaches Beispiel nehmen. Gucken wir uns den eeepc an, der ein ganz prominentes Beispiel ist, offene Hardware ist. Dieses Gerät wird hergestellt in Taiwan von Asus. Auf dem Gerät befindet sich Open-Source-Software. Viele Programmierer, Entwickler, Leute um den Globus herum, verbessern die Software, verbessern das Gerät, die Möglichkeiten, die man damit hat und machen es sozusagen zu einem besseren Produkt. Nun wäre es auch schön, wenn man auch die Hardware besser machen könnte, zum Beispiel hat der eeepc einen sehr hohen Stromverbrauch. Man kann damit 2-3 Stunden ohne Netzteil durch die Gegend laufen, was für so ein kleines mobiles Gerät nicht optimal ist. Wenn es offen liegen würde, könnten Leute, die damit ein Problem haben, die der Meinung sind, dass sie Ideen haben, wie man das besser machen könnte, das direkt dort einarbeiten und das Gerät verbessern.

Frank: Wo du Asus und den eeepc nennst. Da hat in Taiwan eine Konferenz statt gefunden names OpenTechSummit. Worum ging es da?

Marek: Die Konferenz hat in Taiwan statt gefunden, weil es dort unheimlich viele Hardware-Hersteller gibt. … Wir haben uns dort getroffen, um Hardwareherstellern zu erläutern, wie das Open-Source-Konzept funktioniert, wie man das auf Open Hardware adaptieren kann und um einfach Fragen zu Communities, zu Lizenzen, zu rechtlichen Problemen zu behandeln. Es war ein ganz breites Spektrum, was wir dort abgehandelt haben.

The main idea behind this summit is to create a community feeling for
our cause and then use the synergy created to spread the idea of open
source (free software) development here in Taiwan. The summit will span
5 days (25th – 29th of April) and will be hosted at 4 different places. … ????? community
????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
??????? Community???????? Open Source (Free Software)
?????????????????????25????29??(http://wiki.openpattern.org/index.php/OpenTechSummitTaiwan2008)

Frank: Das hat bei Asus statt gefunden oder mit Unterstützung von Asus? Was war die Rolle von Asus in dem Fall?

Marek: Asus war dieses Jahr unser Hauptsponsor. Hat dort Räume zur Verfügung gestellt und uns mit Tickets unterstützt, um Leute einzuladen, auch mit Werbung. Es gab eine Reihe von anderen Sponsoren. Intel und die Universitäten haben sich beteiligt. Es war ein ganz breites Spektrum. Es gab unterschiedliche Interessenlagen, warum man sich daran beteiligen möchte und was man sich davon verspricht und die haben wir einfach an einen Tisch gebracht und haben wir miteinander diskutieren lassen.

OpenTechSummit2008
Frank: Wenn jetzt die Idee der Open Hardware promoted wurde. Wie war insgesamt die Resonanz, das Feedback? Waren die Leute überzeugt davon?

Marek: Die Resonanz der Veranstaltung war ausgesprochen positiv. Die Atmosphäre insgesamt war sehr gut. Eine Aufbruchsstimmung war sehr gut spürbar. Was konkret dabei herauskommt wird sich erst in den nächsten Monaten zeigen. Es ist unheimlich wichtig kontinuierlich weiter Gespräche zu führen und die Leute weiterhin zu begleiten und das auszuweiten auf mehr Leute.

Frank: Wenn du sagst, ausweiten auf mehr Leute. Wie offen seid ihr gegenüber neün Leuten? Wenn jetzt jemand denkt, das ist ein Thema, das mich interessiert. Wie kann er sich da einbringen? An wen wendet er sich da? Am einfachsten ist es sich auf unserer Mailingliste zu melden oder auf unserem Wiki sich einzutragen. Wir haben bereits die nächste Veranstaltung im nächsten Jahr geplant. Die wird im März statt finden auch wieder in Taipei, noch grösser, noch besser. Wir haben viel gelernt in dem Prozess diese Veranstaltung vorzubereiten und es gibt viele Leute, die das enthusiastisch vorbereiten wollen. Einfach bei uns melden, mitmachen – es gibt viele Möglichkeiten sich zu beteiligen.

Frank: Vielen Dank.

Marek: Gern geschehen. Danke.

Links:

– Marek Lindner, http://wiki.openpattern.org/index.php/OpenTechSummitTaiwan2008_People#Marek_Lindner
– OpenTechSummit, http://wiki.openpattern.org/index.php/OpenTechSummitTaiwan2008
– OpenPattern.org, http://openpattern.org
– OpenPattern Wiki, http://wiki.openpattern.org
– OpenPattern Mailingliste, https://lists.openpattern.org/mailman/listinfo/open-hw
– Freifunk, http://freifunk.net
– B.A.T.M.A.N., http://open-mesh.net/batman
– OpenMoko, http://www.openmoko.com
– OpenWRT, http://openwrt.org
– Asus, http://asus.com
– eeepc, http://eeepc.asus.com
– eeepc Pressemitteilung zum OpenTechSummit: http://eeepc.asus.com/global/news04212008.htm

OpenMoko in a nutshell: Platform architect Mickey about new approaches in the Neophone design and OM as an open source rolemodel

Michael 'Mickey' Lauer, platform architect of OpenMoko, is talking to Robert Schuster about the ideas behind the project, new approaches in the Neo Freerunner phone's software and hardware design and about OpenMoko being an open source role model in Taiwan.



Produced by Mario Behling // Interview Robert Schuster
Link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=355664534802394465

 

Robert: Mickey, what is OpenMoko?

Mickey: In a nutshell OpenMoko is the first real open source mobile communications platform. It is as simple as that. So what does that mean? It is a communication of open software and open hardware. Open software means we have a full mobile communication stack beginning from bootloader, over sysinit. We have a GSM phone server. We have applications.This is one crucial part, everyone can tinker with that, can change parts with that or everything, if he or she wants. But that is not everything. The other side is Open Hardware. Even if you have a full stack, where is the hardware, where you can actually flash that stack and run it. Most manufacturers just give out closed hardware. That means you can at maximum install a Java applet or something like that. But that is it. On OpenMoko you can install everything you want. It is open. We actually encourage to replace our software stack if you want to. This is experimentation at its best. We are trying to give power to the developer people.

Robert: What are the benefits for the user with this approach?

Mikey: Well, for the user, typically if you want to have newer software, you need to buy a new phone. Usually you can't update a phone and expect to have additional features. But with the Neophone it is completely different. You can install additional packages, you can install complete new operating systems, if you want that. So, the idea is, that ones we give power to the developers, they come up with really exciting applications. They can do nowhere else. Then typical users start to say: “Oh, this is a nice application. I want to have that device, because it does not run anywhere else.” So, this is how we think, we can sell a lot of devices eventually, even to end users.

OpenMoko Logo

Openmoko is a project which encompasses two related sub-projects, with the combined aim of creating a family of open source mobile phones. The project was founded by FIC. The first sub-project is Openmoko Linux, an open source Linux based operating system designed for mobile phones, built using free software. The second sub-project is the development of hardware devices on which Openmoko Linux runs. The first device released was the inconsistently-named Neo 1973 or Neo1973, which was followed up by the Neo Freerunner on the 25th of June 2008. Unlike most other mobile phone platforms, these phones are designed to provide end users with the ability to modify the operating system and software stack. Other Openmoko supported phones are listed here. (Version 4 July 2008, at 16:52, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openmoko)

Robert: And how are you involved in the OpenMoko project? What is your role in this project?

Mickey: I'm the platform architect. My current task is to work on the OpenMoko framework which is a set of middleware services, that allow our developers to use telephony, to use preferences, to use the pimp storage, things like that. So, I am trying to extract platform services out of our product specs and come up with a durable platform where developers have an idea what they can rely on – which services. And then we try to factor these platform things back into the actual products.

Robert: What are your plans for the future? Do you want to have the OpenMoko software on more telephones, on more mobile phones or just your devices?

Mickey: Actually, OpenMoko as a software is kind of designed in a generic way. We would really love to have OpenMoko running on – say the EZX devices of Motorola, say the HTC devices, where some guys came up with a Linux port. I think it is really good for the platform if it spreads out well. This is really good for us that people know, OpenMoko runs on a lot of platforms. However, at the end of the day OpenMoko as a company wants to sell devices. So, of course OpenMoko is optimized to run on a Neo platform.

OpenMoko Neo Freerunner Phone
Robert: At the beginning of the project, there were some problems. You were not able to make phone calls and such things. Let's show us, what you can do today.

Mickey: Yeah, I have to admit, we had a lot of problems getting the bread and butter features right. Actually placing a phone call was really, really hard. It was harder than we estimated. This is a framework testing image and I use it to just concentrate on basic features. Now we can place calls, we can dial a number. It is completely reliable nowadays. The modem no longer hangs up. We can send sms. We have contacts, we have GPS location and this is what people really expect. It is just the barebones features, however, these are reliable now. And from now on, there we can go like implementing a guitar tuner, implementing a web server in your hand, implementing all kinds of strange things people want to do that they just cant do on a closed source system. And the beauty of that is, you have full VGA resolution. It is 285 ppy. It is the highest resolution you can buy at this point of time. It is very slick. It has a nice touchscreen. We have embedded two LEDs behind the buttons, one red color LED and one multi color LED behind the power button. It is a nice design.

Robert: I have not seen any connector for a charger. How do we charge the phone?

Mickey: Usually people supply wall chargers and everyone is incompatible with another one. We said no. We don't want that. There is a standard nowadays. It is called USB and USB provides power. So this USB plug we have here is a standard mini USB plug. It is used for both data transfer as well as charging. You always have your charger with you, if you have a laptop with you or we of course supply a wall charger with a USB plug.

Robert: This is very handy. You do not need an extra plug.

Mickey: Exactly.

Robert: We now come to a completely different topic. How is it work at OpenMoko? Where is it located? How many people are you?

Mickey: Well, OpenMoko is different to what I am being used to. Being a Taiwanese based company you have a completely different culture. Usually I am like two or three times in Taiwan every year and they have a lot of really smart people there. OpenMoko Inc. is like 60 or 70 people – 30 hardware people, 30 software people and 10 for administrative tasks. It's great. It's different, they are all very shy and they are very modest and you need to encourage them to come all by themselves to say: “No, I don't like that.” or “I have a better idea.” It is really challenging when you are used to work with European guys, who are more self-esteemed. But it is an interesting environment. OpenMoko is actually trying to be a kind of a role model in Taiwan, because usually you don't have any open source companies in Taiwan. OpenMoko tries to establish a kind of an open source culture in Taiwan and it is exciting to be a part of that.

Robert: Thank you for your answers Mickey and good luck for your project.

Mickey: Thank you.

Links:
– Michael 'Mickey' Lauer http://www.vanille-media.de , Wiki profile http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/User:Mickey
– Robert Schuster http://www.fsfe.org/en/fellows/robertschuster/weblog
– OpenMoko www.openmoko.com
– OpenMoko Wiki http://wiki.openmoko.org
– OpenMoko Blogs http://planet.openmoko.org