[Gta04-owner] Newsletter Sept 2014

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Thu Sep 4 18:06:46 CEST 2014

Hi all,
I thought that I should start to write a small newsletter...

1. Replicant

Lukas already has reported that Replicant 4.2 can now control the 3G
modem of the GTA04! At least for data and SMS. This is great progress
that IMHO deserves some more donations:


The system is using a 3.12 kernel which is running quite well, but neither
device tree based nor optimized for power management. So one of the
next bigger steps will be to migrate to DT based 3.17++ kernel (see below).

2. Mainline kernel

We now have upgraded to 3.17-rc3 and it works quite well. Except the
known problems that none of the wireless interfaces is working, camera
is missing and power optimization is missing. Well, audio is also incomplete :)

So it is still a big construction site to identify the small bugs and help is
appreciated. The bugs re really small - almost everything we need to 
configure is in place, but some components simply fail to work. This
needs a lot of lowest level debugging (checking which path of some
driver fails and why and what is missing or in conflict).

We also have submitted several patches to LKML for consideration in
linux-next / 3.18. Let's see how much of that will be accepted.

3. Pyra handheld

development is going on, hardware tests are under their way and we
have good progress. Well, I am not in the role to make more detailed
announcements here.

Please visit www.pyra-handheld.org for the status.

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The best thing on development side is that with the 3.17 kernel we now
have the first kernel and RootFS that can simply run on different hardware.
It runs so far on GTA04, Letux 3704, Letux 7004, the PandaBoard ES and the
OMAP5432EVM with Pyra development hardware. Adaptation to
BeagleBoard and BeagleBoard XM and BeagleBoneBlack is planned
and just needs some tweaking.

Why is this so important?

Just by exchanging a device tree file during the boot process we can
run the same kernel (which means it provides almost the same features
and drivers) on different devices. This makes it a very powerful tool for us
to develop and bring up different pieces of hardware on parallel.

And it keeps the user space API easier to manage.

So we might have QtMoko, SHR, Replicant, QuantumSTEP everywhere 
because for the first time they can better rely on the kernel having certain
features :)

4. GTA04A5

the number of pre-orders has increased again a little to 35, but it is
still critical that we ever reach the required minimum of 100 units.

I have checked recently if we can still get the Option GTM601 3G
modem and the answer is: yes. Otherwise it would have been a
show-stopper. Almost all other components are still available or
easy replacements are.

So there is no technical reason not to build more GTA04A5 board,
it is just that we need people who believe in and need one.

About the plastic case for the GTA04A5, what are your opinions?

Do you still own a GTA01/02 for upgrade?
Or are you looking for the 3D printed "case kit"?

The latter has become easier these days. It just needs to be finalized
(making it nicer designed, e.g. rounded corners). The latest version
1 year ago was already very promising and did even have a 3D printed

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Or what would you think about producing a handful of Radek's wooden cases?

5. Neo900

the reorganization is almost finished and real work is ready to
continue. The plan is to have a set of really working prototypes
next that can be connected to a BeagleBoard XM (which has the
same DM3730 CPU of the GTA04 or the planned final Neo900).

This is where we really benefit from the 3.17 kernel and device
tree work - adapting to the Neo900 won't be difficult. Almost only
changes in the device tree and adding some device drivers.

6. OpenPhoenux Hard- and Software Workshop

the planning phase for the next OpenPhoenux workshop has
started and currently the preferred weekend is being identified.

Please check here (in German):


7. Misc thoughts

Generally I am thinking about improving the way we provide services
to the community. The basic idea is to combine the learnings and
principles of our already successful crowd-funding activities
(e.g. GTA04A3, GTA04A4, Neo900) with all the projects we run
(hardware, kernel, rootfs, etc.) and make it easier for people with
new ideas to present them. And get them funded.

We will then help to run crowd-funding, help to develop and produce
open devices and software. And we help with certtifications and shipment.

So that the gizmos really become available and don't remain a dream.

My main goal is to make it a low-risk for everybody by carefully sharing
knowledge on some platform. Low risk for those people who have great
ideas but no budget and for those who have more money than time to
develop something but still can't afford to pay to build something in
quantities of 1. Details will come when this effort shows tangible progress.


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