[Gta04-owner] Some thoughts about customer attraction

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Mon Jun 23 19:10:10 CEST 2014


Am 23.06.2014 um 11:22 schrieb Mario Barcala:

> Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller wrote:
>> Hi,
>> Am 21.06.2014 um 16:44 schrieb Mario Barcala:
>>> Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller wrote:
>>>> Well, in my view, there are no "new" directions yet. It needs to be discussed
>>>> and based on what the community wants to know, achieve and is interested
>>>> in.
>>>> The original objective of the gta04 project was to get new features into the
>>>> existing GTA02 (Openmoko Freerunner): faster CPU, UMTS and some other
>>>> improvements, and capable to run latest Linux. So it started as a motherboard
>>>> upgrade.
>>> It would be very important for me going towards a manufacturer
>>> surveillance free phone (using free software). GTA04 model, therefore,
>>> has "problems" with Wifi, GPU and GSM/UMTS in this field.
>> Not really. The "manufacturer" of the GTA04 devices does not want to do any surveillance.
> I know it :)
>> But there is the assumption that some components *could* do it, although nobody
>> has proven that they really do. Or that they don't. It is simply unknown to the
>> public - and to the user.
>> So it is the 0.1% of confidence missing to 100%.
> Yes, I was talking about this case.
>>> Disabling
>>> GPU seems not to be very problematic, but I think disabling wifi means
>>> to avoid using a very valuable functionality. GSM/UMTS modem seems to
>>> be a hard question, because there is not alternative one which include
>>> free software firmware.
>>> So, what I would do, or in a more clear way, what would motivate me
>>> to get a phone/motherboard like this and what would get me ivolved in
>>> this project would be to read in the objectives of the project.
>>> "We try to get the most manufacturer surveillance free phone"
>>> Which means the same for me that to get the most free software
>>> phone/board, that is, to build a phone/board with as free software as
>>> possible.
>> The GTA04 designs appears to be the best what is currently possible.
>> Possible in the sense of really building it (not thinking about practically
>> unobtainable components).
> That's great!. I was reading something about Neo900 which demonstrates
> Neo900 people interest for doing things as good as possible also.
> http://talk.maemo.org/showthread.php?p=1396903&highlight=stallman%20I%20am%20willing%20to%20say%20so%20Where%20and%20how%20should#post1396903

Basically FSF is seeking projects/products it can endorse under their
specific rules.

"> If the modem firmware is an installable program, then the fact that
> it is nonfree means the machine is running some nonfree software.
> If the modem firmware can't be changed, it is effectively in ROM, so
> it might as well be a circuit. It doesn't need to be considered
> as software. For instance, the FSF can disregard it when judging
> whether to endorse a product.

It is more or less the same wording as I had with RMS 2-3 years ago.
It appears as if FSF is waking up every time a new project is becoming public.
Which is good that they do and fits their role.

Unfortunately they can't help beyond checking products others are
developing. Well, everyone of us has limited options to modify the
world. Therefore FSF works on Ovid's philosphy:

"Gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed saepe cadendo."

>> Supporting the project today also helps to make it better in the future.
>> Otherwise it becomes a deadlock :)
>> * not enough support because it does not develop
>> * not enough development because it does not get enough support
> Of course :)
>>> And then I would try to replace in sucessive GTA versions as much
>>> "conflictive" components as possible: wifi adapter, GPU firmware
>>> and/or GSM/UMTS modem. If it was not possible to replace all of them
>>> (due to there not exists any better alternative), I'll maintain the
>>> same component and explain that there isn't any better alternative.
>> Yes, that is exactly the status with the GTA04 (incl. GTA04b7 = Neo900).
> So, finally Golden Delicious will produce Neo900? Neo900 forums seems
> to point to this but I don't know how last reorganization affect to
> Neo900 UG and Golden Delicious kind of relation.

Well, Neo900 UG will produce in the sense that they have a subcontractor
for production. It will likely be the same as the Pyra-handheld. But a different
one as the GTA04. But the same one who built the adapter boards of the
Letux 3704...

So essentially it will be the same. But this is only the assembly phase.

Most topics are not defined by production but by who is doing the engineering.

So far the Neo900 is based to some extent on the schematics of the GTA04
(compare yourself...). Therefore most of the design is the same. And most likely
even the boot loader and u-boot. Only the kernel will be slightly different. Maybe
just a different device tree file is sufficient.

The question of who is doing this engineering is not decided and the reorganisation
has more or less reversed the responsibilities.

> And, a more important question for me at this moment, if I make a
> donation to Neo900, will it help Golden Delicious or even you,
> Nikolaus, in some way?

Most likely yes. If GDC becomes a subcontractor for the next engineering
steps. The request from Neo900 is on the table, but I did not yet find time to
answer it in details.

> Sincerely, I like Neo900 full device project
> idea more than current GTA04 one as a replacement for my current
> phone, but I like how Golden Delicious and all people in this list is
> carrying out GTA04 project. Therefore, I don't know if both projects are
> a crossroads or if they are, in fact, the same road :)

Please treat them as the same road.

>> We all are trying for approx. 3 years to find good replacements, but
>> there was no breakthrough yet.
>> This is also a reason why there don't come new successive GTA versions
>> as you suggest. There is simply no known path to improve towards
>> the goal (which I think many of us share).
> Ok.
>> And the newer devices currently being developed (Neo900, Pyra-Handheld)
>> are not different.
>> [...] 
>>> If I understand well
>>> GSM/UMTS seems not to be a problem because you can "limit" access from
>>> it to the system data, but you cannot assure the same for GPU or wifi.
>> There is no difference in access limitations.
>> But there is one difference: the GPU and the WiFi system need a binary
>> "Operating System" that is sent into the subsystem at boot time.
>> Technically it is not important if it is stored on your SD card and loaded
>> by the driver or if it is stored inside the subsystem in some NAND flash (like
>> for the UMTS modem) and available after power-on.
>> The issue FSF points out is a completely different one. It is not even about surveillance
>> or getting access to your personal data. It is about you being able to reconstruct
>> the binary "OS" from some source code. If you need to maintain it or add new
>> features. And if the original manufacturer stops support. So it is about freeing users
>> from despotism by the original manufacturer.
> I know FSF is focusing on that but I think free software and
> surveillance risk are related. I believe that solving FSF wishes would
> solve surveillance potential risks.

>> Thanks for sharing and having interesting discussions!
> You're welcome. It is being a very clarifying discussion :)

Being clarifying is important :)


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