Notes from LNLs Todd Weaver Interview

On Episode 57 (published Feb. 19th, 2019) of the Late Night Linux podcast Purism CEO Todd Weaver was interviewed by podcast host Joe Ressington. Below is a brief summary in bullet points:

  • Generally Purism is doing “extremely well”: Year over year triple digit growth rates, overall community support and achievements are great.
  • Laptops: Coreboot, neutered Management Engine, security story is great
    • Soon Pureboot (Coreboot + Heads + TPM + Librem Key) will be announced: Tamper evident systems.
  • Librem 5 hardware
    • “Shipping hardware is hard”
    • CPU issue ended up moving the Phone to Q2, mayor update soon
    • after development kit shipments interest went up, flood of orders
    • dev kit problems: Screen not working, neither does HDMI out
    • point of development kit: get developers work on hardware close to actual hardware, phosh speed, core applications need to be improved and will be, “one time programming” necessary to get screens to work, as SoC can’t send initialization code to the screen (NXP i.MX8M buffer to small, silicon bug?). Every developer kit screen will be enabled by software work with NXP or sending out One Time Programming kits.
    • “dev kit size enormous”: Dev Kit is a break out board for the SoM which has all the most complex parts of the system, SoM is small and right for phone size. Phone is going to be about 14mm thick (or so), similar to kind of iPhone 4 original thickness
    • Massive heat sink on dev kit, fan on postmarketOS photo, how will this be cooled in the phone? Errata against CPU; no power management early on; initial temperature 90°, now by software improvements down to 34°, more optimizations coming like idle state
    • iMX8 not designed to be in a phone. Snapdragon would be clearly designed to be in a phone. iMX8 has a pretty high power draw. is more for mains connected devices. True. But: There are no mobile chips that offer “complete freedoms”. i.MX6 and i.MX8M are helping with freedoms, i.MX8M will be dropping to 14nm in 2019, so power consumption will improve with a later hardware revision. Good roadmap. i.MX8M vs. i.MX8Mini: GPU differences, …
    • Target for idle battery life: One work day battery life. Confident it will be reachable for phone ship date.
    • When will the phone ship? Q2 or Q3 (1th of April to 30th of September), everything is marching forward, big problem was the silicon bug, created delay in fabrication, but software stack development progressed very nicely.
  • Librem 5 software
    • Software store: Going remarkably well. Easy way for people to recognize what applications are available and does it respect me as an individual.
    • How many apps are going to be phone optimized at launch? Campaign promised 5 apps for typical tasks: Phone call, Browser, e mail, messaging. But: Libhandy is in GTK proper, porting an application over just means changing a few classes. Music player, settings application, contacts incoming. Even some game developers started development. People want to be part of the ecosystem.
    • In house development of apps vs. community efforts: Focus on initial 5 internally (80 % Purism, 20 % community), Fractal (Matrix client) funded development, some applications are going to be entirely written by the community.
    • Community ports: Some working, …, as dev kits got shipped to early backers first and then to partnerships. Plasma Mobile is advancing, UBports will receive dev kits soon.
    • Android: No interest in Android backup plan, fine with people working on it. The mission for Purism is to solve the long term problem of having a phone that respects people.
  • Twitter questions:
    • App store: Elementary OS-style “pay what you want” thing? Yes, talked to them. Want to have a curated set of applications with options of donating to the developer, a pay the developer process, a subscription process or straight up gratis. Working on it, is going to be part of the Purism store.
    • Number of developers working on Pure OS mobile: Close to 20.
    • Will Signal be supported? Community folks are working on the APIs to have Signal work. Purism have connections with signal, of all the applications out there it is the most likely one to be included by default and meet the criteria Purism have.
    • Different Mobile hardware? It’s going to be i.MX8 going forward, next silicon version will lead to 2nd gen Librem 5. Qualcomm or Mediatek are not on the table for the near future.
    • Other devices: Lot’s of other things on the table. Services coming, version 5 of Laptops.
    • Ethical subscription services: Purism will be launching a bundle of services based on decentralized services under on simple account. Free and paid tier. VPN, E-mail, chat, video and voice calling, social media, all in one. Virtual phone numbers, cloud storage. Convenient, but also completely respecting user freedoms. Will launch before the phone, services have been used before internally, will be scaled up for external users. Cross plattform, Android, iOS, desktop platforms. Federated, so people can run their own.
    • MIPS or RISC-V? Testing RISC-V, following very closely. Within a couple of years Purism will have some kind of a RISC-V product, maybe a router, as the platform moves along.
    • Still working without VC money? Yes. Have completely avoided VCs and will continue to do so.

Necunos NC_1 or a Lunchbox Smartphone?

While Purism has allegedly finally managed to ship out their developer kits, Necunos will provide you with a thingy they call a smartphone much faster.1

Necunos NC_1
The Necunos project may be scam. Be careful! Update 2/3/2019: After FOSDEM it seems a little more real. Necuno Solutions plan to ship the NC_1 in March. Let’s see.

Specifications:

  • SoC: NXP i.MX Quad, ARM Cortex A9 quadcore @ 1.2 GHz, Vivante GPU (Etnaviv driver, hardware acceleration)
  • 1 GB Ram (meh!)
  • 8 GB Storage
  • 3500 mAh Battery
  • 5,0″ display (no resolution given)
  • Aluminum body
  • 5 MP Camera
  • Audio: 3.5mm audio jack
  • Charging: Micro-USB, Data transfer disabled
  • Microphone: Built-in microphone
  • Speakers: 2 Built-in speaker
  • WLAN: WiFi (via SDIO) WL1801 (2.4 GHz)
  • Ethernet: High speed 100Mb/s
  • Serial: Internal
  • Closed source firmware with memory access: NO
  • Binary blobs: NO
  • Locked bootloader: NO
  • Operating Systems: Multiple community driven operating systems to choose from.

Price: 1199 EUR
Continue reading “Necunos NC_1 or a Lunchbox Smartphone?”

  1. To me, this – while it is an admirable effort – is not a smartphone, but rather a modern Linux PDA since it has no modem to connect to cell services. I’ll keep sticking to this 22 year old definition, where a smartphone has to be an actual phone. []

Zurück zur Tastatur.

Motorola Droid 4 und LG G2
Droid 4 trumps the LG G2

Im November 2013 habe ich mir zum bislang letzten Mal ein neues Smartphone gekauft. Es handelt sich um ein LG G2. Seitdem sind einige neue Geräte erschienen (ja, jetzt bald ist wieder Mobile World Congress, die Geräte-Schwemme hat schon erste Vorab-“Leaks” erfahren), aber auch wenn ich zuvor über Jahre ständig zu viel Geld für allerlei Smartphones ausgegeben habe, musste ich bald feststellen, dass das schnelle Wechseln plötzlich keinen Sinn mehr machte. Ja, das LG G3 ist schon ein bisschen besser, aber irgendwie nicht so richtig (wer braucht diese Display-Auflösung, und warum ist das Ding noch größer?). Samsung rühre ich aus Gründen (TouchWiz, Hardwaredesign) nicht an, HTC verbaute 4 Megapixel-Kameras und die Gehäuse sind im Vergleich zum verbauten Display zu groß.
Continue reading “Zurück zur Tastatur.”

Ubuntu Edge

Marc Shuttleworth, der Mann hinter Ubuntu, hat ein neues Projekt vorgestellt: Ein eigenes Ubuntu-Smartphone. Und zwar High End, mit Crowdfunding.

Die ganze Sache ist zwar sehr interessant, aber auch echt teuer – ich kann nicht mal eben US$ 830,00 in den Topf werfen um dafür im Mai 2014 ein neues Smartphone zu erhalten. Den Konvergenzgedanken schätze ich aber dennoch. Für Motorolas Lapdock-Ansatz mag es noch etwas zu früh gewesen sein1 – aber das ARM Chromebook reicht (auch mit einer leichten Variante von Ubuntu (ich nutze LXDE als Benutzeroberfläche) für Alltagstasks überall hin. Da das Ubuntu Edge mit 4GB definitiv ausreichend Arbeitspeicher haben wird, und zudem mit dem besten Chip ausgestattet werden soll, der bei der Fertigstellung des Designs verfügbar ist, kann man davon ausgehen, dass die 830$ tatsächlich mehr als nur ein Smartphone kaufen. Wenn es denn dazu kommt: 32 Millionen Dollar per Crowdfunding zu erzielen ist nämlich noch niemandem gelunden. Aber es sieht gut aus.

Mehr:

  • Ein erstes Hands-On Video
  • Jason Hiner bei cnet.com mit Gedanken zu drei Aspekten des Ubuntu One
    1. erschwerend kam gegen Ende hinzu, das Android nicht wirklich Spaß macht, wenn man es mit einem Trackpad bedient []

    Jolla. (The smartphone, finally.)

    Jolla, that group of ex-Nokia employees working on an ex-Nokia smartphone OS (MeeGo, which is now “Mer” – and on the foundations of Mer Jolla built their “Sailfish OS”), have finally announced their first piece of hardware1, which will ship “at the end of this year”.2 It’s nothing too funky, hardware wise, but Jolla is about software, anyway.

    Here’s a first Hands On with engadget:

    1. Engadget have the specs []
    2. You can pre-order it now! []

    Pre-MWC speculations & more

    What we’ll see at this years MWC won’t be too surprising. Top level smartphones will feature dual core ARMv7 SoCs with fullHD capable graphics; WVGA will be replaced with higher resolutions in these devices (qHD or “Retina”(DVGA)-displays, 1GB of Ram will acompnie these.

    The software side might be more interesting, I hope for some MeeGo smartphones that will actually make it to the market – even though this has become a lot less likely with Nokia’s WP7 announcement. Regarding webOS, the only news that might come up are carrier partnership announcements, and Android? Second Gingerbread release with some Honeycomb bits pulled in? Possible.

    Personal I am not too interested in all these new devices, as I don’t have the dough to buy any of these now – and besides that I am much more interested in getting a tablet device to replace my netbook.

    Nontheless I will buy another smartphone very soon – and this will be exiting. (Maybe it’s on my Android ports list.. Feel free to guess.)

    Toshiba TG01 – Impressions

    The gadget hunger won again – and so I got myself a Snapdragon device: A black Toshiba TG01 “Tsunagi”.

    Yeah, it is a Windows Mobile Device. Yes, there is no Android / Linux port for the TG01 right now. But still: A 4.1″ 3G (MID size) Snapdragon slate, less than a centimeter thick – I could not resist.

    Hardware

    The formfactor is really impressive. It is just as pocketable as my G1 – or even more pocketable, as it is really so thin that people almost won’t see you’ve got a phone in your pocket. But that doesn’t mean that the hardware is perfect – the resistive touchscreen of the TG01 is a good one – but I would still prefer the capacitive one of my HTC Dream. One more bad thing: No 3,5mm audio jack, and the USB port (the only port of the device) is placed on the side of the device. Small pockets and a headset? No way. No need to mention that the slimness leads to a small battery and that should lead to a “not that great” battery life.

    Switching the device on you will see a customized Windows Mobile – depending on your operator you might see a special, operator made home screen replacement, e.g. SPB Mobile Shell or Toshiba’s stripe UI.

    Besides this the button placement is not perfect: The camera button is directly on the other side of the volume buttons, so if you press the camera button it might happen that you press the volume buttons as well.

    Windows Mobile 6.5

    With the TG01 being my first Windows Mobile 6.5 device, I have to admit that I like what Microsoft did to make the UI seem more competitive – comparing this to 6.1, it is a pleasure to use – though it is in my opinion inferior to Android. The whole platform is inferior in my opinion, due to its age and a lack of APIs. Looking at the TG01, you will find out that the inbuilt G-Sensor won’t work with some games or applications that work with, say, HTC devices.

    Further impressions

    While Phone quality and sound are ok with the latest Swiss Orange firmware, the device feels pretty slow, considering it has an advanced 1GHz ARM v7 SoC. Scrolling isn’t even as fluent as on my good old T-Mobile G1 – but I am pretty much convinced that this is a simple OS matter – the Windows Mobile 6.5 CE 5.2 kernel is pretty old, it is still close to 2005´s Windows Mobile 5 kernel. The ARMv7 instructions don’t seem to have a noticable impact on the devices performance – though compared to the Windows Mobile devices I had before it is without a single question the fastest one.

    More soon..