Ten years of disappointment as OpenMoko, then Android, then Ubuntu Edge, then Ubuntu Phone, then …. have all failed to deliver a “buy now” button that delivered a working FOSS phone into my hands here on the far end of the world.
I remember getting all excited ten years ago, I was going to invest in buying a large number of OpenMoko’s and re-selling them locally…… but that “buy a working phone now” button never appeared.
Now I’m watching https://shop.fairphone.com/en/ for the “pre-order now” button to turn into a “buy now”.
As my anger and disappointment grows… I realize it’s not the FOSS ecosystem I’m unhappy with, but the commercial interests that have hamstrung, and undermined and worked against me, as a customer, at every point.
Which is why I’m more determine than ever to save my dollars to vote for a manufacturer that gives me FOSS and root out of the box.
Oh, didn’t know tje FP2 is out of stock. It ships with Google Android, which may be unfortunate, but you can flash in their own open Android without booting Google. And SailfishOS can be installed.
Edit/addendum: you may be able to find a SailfishOS phone over the counter, without needing to install a community edition, but also YMMV if it’s open enough. Afaik some GUI things are closed and some apps as well.
The blob set for the FP2 can be found at https://code.fairphone.com/projects/fp-osos/dev/fp2-blobs-download-page.html
(typing this on an FP2 with their “open source” OS edition - if you have specific questions about the device, ask me)
And I’m a happy user of Sailfish on that phone.
No Android apps, but eg. Signal exists as Whisperfish and there are very few things I’m missing.
Signal can be installed from a standalone .apk now.
So thankfully, the problem that FP2 OSS did not have Signal has finally been solved.
It even updates itself.
The Openmoko ten years article is worthwhile as well. From before they shipped.
It’s worth pointing out that these days laforge is working on free software for cell network base stations rather than phones: https://osmocom.org/
Is that still going? I was under the impression the project was dead (I hope not!)
I saw the OpenMoko Neo1973 and I believe a prototype or pre-production version of the FreeRunner at CES in January 2008. It was a brick. Wikipedia says 120.7 mm tall × 62 mm wide × 18.5 mm thick, no weight listed but I’ll bet it was close to ~230 g / 8 oz. The HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1 that I’d get ~10 months later to replace an LG VX8300 flip phone was 117.7 mm tall × 55.7 mm wide × 17.1 mm thick, weighing 158 g / 5.8 oz.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the Neo1973 and its successors was the resistive touchscreen. It was very imprecise. There was a certain niceness to it for cold weather because capacitive mittens weren’t a thing yet. The display was small, only about 2.8 inches but it had a decently high resolution at 640x480, 282 ppi. Google’s Nexus line wouldn’t get up to that density for years when the Galaxy Nexus with a 4.64 in screen at 1280x720 was 316 ppi.
I really liked the Neo1973 and its successors, though, and it’s only in hindsight that the line was to be very quickly rendered obsolete. Ideology is not yet a viable business model for technology. FIC could not market the product in the way that Google and Apple could, either.
I did love the OpenMoko WikiReader. I covered its launch and eventually bought one in 2009 for my grandfather for his 90th birthday. I don’t know if he ever used it. It just used Wikipedia exports as its data source. I wanted to insert a page into it about him and never got around to it before his death earlier this year.