[Tinkerphones] ZeroPhone site offline
paul at boddie.org.uk
Mon Jan 3 18:43:18 CET 2022
On Sunday, 2 January 2022 22:01:51 CET H. Nikolaus Schaller wrote:
> you have probably pinpointed the most important aspect of all discussions.
> We have no high-quality power management in any of the devices...
> We spend (spent) a lot of time to make it work, get hardware out just
> to get the same feedback as you have cited above.
> We (as the OpenMoko and GTA04 community) have faced it. I think also
> the Librem 5 has. And the Pinephone you have cited.
> What should be different?
> - well it needs a team dedicated at making hardware reliable and improve
> power efficiency
> - this needs a lot of insights into hardware and good doscumentation
> - and - maybe - a stable basis to work on
> - there should also not be fragmentation between several groups
> having multiple desktops to choose from is good, but having multiple
> power managements?
To what extent do you think Linux itself is part of the problem here? We both
know that it can be frustrating to adapt Linux to the realities of various
devices, and then there is the matter of getting modifications adopted in the
mainline. None of this is a particularly efficient process, and so doing
things "the right way" doesn't really fit in with getting a product to work
well, unless you have lots of resources, of course.
It seems to me that, as you say, you need people with experience who have
access to decent documentation, working at the lowest level of the software
stack, making sure that the hardware is functioning properly. All of that is
hard enough without a bunch of other people telling you that they just decided
to rework the APIs and that you have to change your code to follow suit, or
without weird regressions or deprecations that have been introduced elsewhere.
I've presumably mentioned the use of L4Re to test the Letux 400 and other
MIPS-based hardware on this list. One significant reason for doing so is to
just eliminate all the noise from "Linux" when familiarising myself with the
hardware and exploring how it works. And once one does that, one wonders why
there can't just be a layer dealing with the hardware in a proper component-
based architecture with things like documented interfaces and all the things
that people have learned from object-oriented programming over the last few
> This raises an interesting question: can a loosely organised open source
> community ever fulfill these user's expectaions? Or does it need a
> commercial effort following a plan, an agenda, doing scrum etc. having
> enough resources and not waiting for volunteers? This does not exclude to
> make the results open source (like Google does with Android), but it needs
> big funds...
Although I think you and Michael have been lucky having various people show up
and handle certain troublesome aspects of the Pyra software and hardware,
getting people with the right expertise to help out with projects probably has
to go beyond the "volunteers welcome" mindset. We saw this with Neo900, which
admittedly suffered from other difficulties, where it was practically
impossible to get people involved with the right skills, even when payment was
Also, there is a phenomenon where the people who might have the ability to
accelerate a project tend to get given devices, sometimes on an almost
speculative basis. Nokia sent out devices to developers - I think the N950
might have been a notable case of that - and I think the MIPS Creator CI20 was
sent out to people who were perceived as being potentially helpful. How many
of these devices quickly end up in the desk drawer in the office along with
all the other things that those people get sent? Meanwhile, other people wait
for wider availability of the product to have a chance at getting involved, if
that ever even occurs.
The more I think back ten years or so, the more I see that opportunities were
lost. The Ben NanoNote was an interesting device, but the reaction from
certain commentators was predictably consumerist. I only regret not getting
interested in that sooner, just to try and sustain the momentum it had so that
it might have led to other things. How much messing around ends up being done
with single-board computers now to reproduce similar kinds of products to one
that people were too cheap and sniffy to pay 99 EUR for?
Similarly, with Openmoko there was a chance to iterate in the hardware design
and to build a long term initiative, but a combination of factors brought this
to an end prematurely. Despite the tendency of some people to deliberately
portray that effort in a negative way in order to assert that they would not
make the same mistakes, one significant repetition of history that such people
have failed to escape is precisely the mismanagement of customer expectations
that occurred with Openmoko. That may have been inadvertent with Openmoko,
however, and people today have no such excuse.
Ultimately, the conclusion must be that long term initiatives are a good
thing: we cannot have things starting and then ending and then other people
coming along and starting again from scratch. This makes the failure of
crowdfunding campaigns particularly painful, since if they are not going to
deliver a product, maybe the work that went into the product might be
delivered so that people can genuinely believe the claims that seem to be made
that supporters are somehow investing in Free Software and open hardware.
And one might think that enduring Free Software organisations might seek to be
custodians of these long term initiatives, too. But as previously noted, their
cultural instincts render them passive: it is far better to badmouth Apple,
apparently, than to actually invest in infrastructure and solutions that might
keep the very basis of those organisations' existence viable for the
population at large. If no-one can buy hardware that can conveniently run Free
Software any more, it will be futile to exhort consumers to buy anything at
Well, still nothing particularly constructive here: that will have to wait for
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