[Gta04-owner] Software plans

Neil Jerram neil at ossau.homelinux.net
Thu Oct 6 20:32:15 CEST 2011

On Tue, 27 Sep 2011 19:00:17 +0200, Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller wrote:
>>> (Will that rootfs already be in NAND when the EA boards are 
>>> shipped?
> Most likely no. We have 2 Gbit (512 MByte) on board and some part is
> required for Xloader, U-Boot and the Kernel. This is not enough for 
> the
> full Debain Squeeze we have. I am sure that some parts can be 
> removed,
> bu we haven't done.
>>> Or do we just download and unpack onto an SD card, and then GTA04 
>>> will
>>> automatically boot from SD?)
> Yes. You can take the 'makesd' script and adapt it to your needs:
> 	http://download.goldelico.com/gta04/unstable/makesd

Cool, thanks.

> I think there will be several activities in parallel.
> * David is already working on a Linux 3.1-Kernel.
> * Mickey is eager to adapt FSO.
> * Others will adapt/port SHR.
> * The QtMoko rootfs appears to boot out of the box but needs
>   some tweaking.
> * Maybe, some group will also pick up the Rowboat for BeagleBoard
>   activities and we will see some Android.
> * Maemo / Meego is also an option.
> * Bada and/or PalmOS may become (more) open source.
> * Non-Smart-Phone OS is becoming popular.

Thanks for that summary, and also to mrmoku for his SHR plans.

> And many more options. I believe in the creativity of this community 
> :)

Well, I've also thought more about what I'd like to do, and for what 
it's worth here are those thoughts.

- I'm strongly inclined to stick with a Debian base.  Despite long 
periods with SHR in the past, I'm always tempted to return to Debian 
because I feel I understand it, and because it has so many potential 
building blocks, if only I could work out how to combine and configure 
them nicely for a smartphone.  Also GTA04 will make Debian more 
attractive because it will really be practical to rebuild packages on 
the device (whereas with GTA02 I'd say it's only borderline OK, 
depending on the package).

(By the way, when I talk about a Debian base, I don't mean to ignore 
the many good things in SHR, QtMoko, Defora and so on (and in fact the 
last two also have a Debian base).  In general I believe that it should 
be possible to pull in bits and pieces from anywhere.)

- I plan to take my time and try to help in building up something 
that's cool and perfect, step by step.  I have to admit that I've 
recently been using a BlackBerry as my main phone.  Its arbitrary 
limitations and non-freeness bother me, but it's also shown me how many 
functions on a phone should Just Work - better than they do yet on the 
free distros that I've tried - and it means that I don't need to settle 
for something that's not quite right, just to have a workable phone.

- I want to have a mostly landscape UI!  Firstly this will give more 
horizontal space for a really usable on-screen keyboard.  Secondly 
because I find that it feels quite natural to hold the Freerunner with 
those two plastic semicircles on either side of the screen.  When my 
thumbs are resting on the side semicircles, it feels much easier and 
more controlled for them to move from there to a precise position on the 
screen - including close to the bevel edges - than it does when holding 
the phone in portrait.

- One of the first things to sort out, then, will be a really 
finger-usable and good looking on-screen keyboard, ideally with 
prediction and/or fuzzy press matching, possibly partly transparent so 
that it isn't an issue to cover up a large part of the application 
underneath.  I've experimented a bit with Literki.  It works, of course, 
but it doesn't look beautiful, because it has a naïve algorithm for 
drawing a one pixel outline around each character in the opposite colour 
to the interior of the character - which is needed because of its being 
a transparent keyboard.  I wonder if there are better algorithms for 
that?  (I suppose one would be to fill a bounding rectangle around the 
character.  That should look better but would reduce the overall 
transparency.)  Other keyboard options could be the one that GNOME just 
developed, or Raster's if it can be separated out from E or QtMoko, or 
matchbox-keyboard if it can be configured to look nicer and less tiny.

- Another first thing will be a nice application launcher.  I like the 
simplicity of the "one button always takes you back to the home page" 
idea, and if you have that you don't need anything else for switching 
between applications, and applications can always use the full screen.  
At least initially I think I'll assume that kind of behaviour, and see 
how it goes.  Can anyone recommend a nice finger-friendly application 
launcher, ideally (i) in Debian (ii) based on /usr/share/applications by 
default, but also allowing configurable exceptions (iii) knowing about 
applications that are already running, and taking you to those instead 
of creating a new instance?

Thanks for being a repository for my ramblings.  If any of this chimes 
with anyone, so much the better!


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