OM 2008.8 and 2008.9 impressions

Development is continuing at an incredible pace on the OpenMoko software. OM 2008.8 (the "ASU") was released in August and I installed it when I got back from my vacation. I also tried OM 2008.9 when was released last week. It looks like they are going to continue with updates monthly like this. This software is still rough around the edges but at this point the Freerunner is definitely usable as a primary phone now (while, I would argue, it was not with 2007.2).

To be honest, both of the 2008 series updates are very much "fix two bugs, introduce one bug". Nevertheless, the software is improving by leaps and bounds. The ASU software is a big improvement over the original GTK stack. Notably, it is much more finger-friendly, not requiring a stylus (or fingernails) for as many tasks.

Here are some of the most visible bugs that were fixed (hooray!):

  • 2007.2's sound broke after resuming from suspend. This meant that if you wanted to use your phone, you could not really suspend it. This was fixed in 2008.8.
  • Call connectivity was somewhat inconsistent in 2008.8. People reported that when they called me, the call would go directly to voicemail. I occasionally had to redial a number because the first call would just die. These appear to have gone away in 2008.9.
  • Time zones did not persist after rebooting in 2008.8. This has been fixed in 2008.9.

To put the situation in perspective, here are, in my view, the most visible/annoying bugs that remain. None of these really block normal phone use.

  • I don't think connecting to the internet via wifi works, although in 2008.9 it actually detects APs now.
  • Battery life seems to be worse on 2008.9 than 2008.8.
  • Upon being woken from suspend, the phone will go right back to sleep. I have to press the power button twice to wake the phone.
  • 2008.9 seems to crash and die more often than 2009.8. This seems to be related to suspending or waking the phone.

One other bug I've had is an issue with sound quality (the volume being too low). I'll show you how I'm working around that in my next post.

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