Saturday, July 26, 2008

Neo FreeRunner does music, GPS, Internet and more...


I received my Neo some time ago and have been playing on and off with it ever since. Granted, it's not end-user ready indeed and even more courageous people should be ready to do some heavy learning. It's not that it wouldn't be mostly installing correct software and tweaking a few settings, but the fact that it's the first real phone using free software means there is a lot of low-level stuff that is being created along with Openmoko.

Anyway, things have progressed, initial GPS issues were fixed by the great Openmoko kernel team and generally the community has found fixes for anything I've thought asking about.

Currently the status I have is that:
  • GPS works great, I'm using TangoGPS with OpenStreetMap to a great success - and this is one thing that's working very well out-of-the-box (now that the GPS fix issues are resolved)
  • WLAN works - I initially used USB networking as specified in the Getting Started page and shown in the picture on the right (mini-USB connector), but now I simply click WLAN on and login to Neo from my laptop if I need to do some more heavy tinkering
  • Music playing (Ogg) works, see picture below - mixer settings had to be tuned for adequate party speaker sound quality, but Neo is now ready for some DAP (Digital Audio Player) action as well (extra battery pack recommended for longer use...)
  • Internet via GPRS didn't work at first, but I found a way to initialize it correctly and now it's just a matter of clicking a button - Neo's current software distribution comes with WebKit-based browser that does the job for basic browsing; my main usage has probably just been fetching AGPS data (and soon DGPS) for GPS speedup
  • Oh yeah, as the final item - it works as a phone! This is actually not so straight-forward as one would think, and related to the previous note about low-level stuff... how about creating virtual modems you offer via gsm0710muxd and assigning GPRS and gsmd to use them ;)
  • I also imported of all my contacts from my previous phone for the Evolution data server used currently in Neo
I have been trying to do my part in updating Openmoko Wiki with information I've found myself or on mailing lists, and I hope others will continue to do the same for everyone's benefit. I have also created a Finnish main page for the Openmoko project.

Here's an image of Neo connected to Altec Lansing inMotion iM4 speakers:

Neo FreeRunner has its quirks and problems, especially as the current software task has been abandoned in favor of the new "ASU" stack, which of course isn't ready (and which will be replaced with FSO at some point...), but still: it now works for about all the stuff I've used phones before, and some new things like GPS and of course the total freedom to change anything anywhere in the software.

It's an enormous promise, and I'm already getting delivered a lot of the good stuff.
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