John maddog Hall and OpenMoko at DebConf9 in Cáceres, Spain
May 15th 2009

The annual Debian developers meeting, DebConf is being held this year in Cáceres (Spain), from July 23 to 30. Apart from just promoting the event, I am posting this to mention that the Spanish OpenMoko distributor Tuxbrain will participate, and sell discounted Neo FreeRunner phones. As a masochistic proud owner of one such phone, I feel compelled to spread the word (and help infect other people with FLOSS virii).

You can read a post about it in the debconf-announce and debian-devel-announce lists, made by Martin Krafft. Also, Tuxbrain responsible David Samblas uploaded a video of maddog Hall promoting the event:

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First impressions on a Neo FreeRunner
January 13th 2009

Yes, as the title implies, I am the fortunate owner of a Neo FreeRunner. For those not on the know, the NFR is a kind of mobile phone/PDA running free software, and aimed at being open, both from software and hardware perspective.

I bought it last week, and I already have things that I love, and others that I don't love that much. First thing that sucks: my 128kB Movistar SIM card is not supported, so I can't use the NFR to make calls! Apparently older versions of the SIM card are supported, so I will try to get hold of one (by the way, the simyo card I posted about some time ago works perfectly).

Another thing that is not so good is the stability of the software. However, I expected that, and I have no problem with it. Being open source, the software will evolve day by day, and I will love to see the evolution.

On the bright side: it is really great to be able to install different distros in your phone! I tried OpenMoko, FDOM, QtExtended (formerly Qtopia) and SHR, and all of them have good and bad things. It is like going back to when I tried different distros for my computers (now I mostly stick to Ubuntu or Debian). By the way, you can install Debian in the NFR (haven't tried it yet, because you have to install it in the microSD card, not in the main memory (it's too big for it). You can even try Google's Android, if you so wish.

But the really nice thing about it is that you can create your own apps for it. You can install Perl or Python interpreters, and then use the Command-line interface (yes, it does have command line) to run scripts. Or create icons on the desktop and link them to an action. For example, I created an icon that switches from portrait to landscape orientation when pressing it, and then back when pressing it again. I created another icon that launches mplayer when pressed, so I can watch a video in it by just pressing the icon.

I expect to blog more about the gadget, so stay tuned.

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