Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Jul 2017 23:22 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Michael Lauer, employee #2 at OpenMoko, has written a detailed article about the project and its eventual demise.

For the 10th anniversary since the legendary OpenMoko announcement at the "Open Source in Mobile" (7th of November 2006 in Amsterdam), I've been meaning to write an anthology or - as Paul Fertser suggested on #openmoko-cdevel - an obituary. I've been thinking about objectively describing the motivation, the momentum, how it all began and - sadly - ended. I did even plan to include interviews with Sean, Harald, Werner, and some of the other veterans. But as with oh so many projects of (too) wide scope this would probably never be completed.

As November 2016 passed without any progress, I decided to do something different instead. Something way more limited in scope, but something I can actually finish. My subjective view of the project, my participation, and what I think is left behind: My story, as OpenMoko employee #2. On top of that you will see a bunch of previously unreleased photos (bear with me, I'm not a good photographer and the camera sucked as well).

Mr. Lauer ends the article on a sad but entirely true note:

Right now my main occupation is writing software for Apple's platforms - and while it's nice to work on apps using a massive set of luxury frameworks and APIs, you're locked and sandboxed within the software layers Apple allows you. I'd love to be able to work on an open source Linux-based middleware again.

However, the sad truth is that it looks like there is no business case anymore for a truly open platform based on custom-designed hardware, since people refuse to spend extra money for tweakability, freedom, and security. Despite us living in times where privacy is massively endangered.

If anyone out there thinks different and plans a project, please holler and get me on board!

We'd all love such a project to succeed.

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RE: Where the action is...
by Pro-Competition on Wed 26th Jul 2017 19:05 UTC in reply to "Where the action is..."
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I agree that this is probably the best way forward.

Since the most proprietary parts of the device are the phone radios, we just need to give up on controlling those for the near future. The idea is to separate the "smart" parts into their own device, have a "dumb" phone for mobile data connectivity only, and use a securable connection (e.g. WiFi, Bluetooth, USB) to connect the two.

This way we could have completely open hardware and software on the "smart" device, and encrypt all traffic before it gets to the proprietary device. This wouldn't solve all the problems, but it would solve the problems where the firmware can peek at memory, misuse traffic data, or even inject unsafe code into the "smart" processor.

Despite having to carry the "dumb" device around, it would always stay in the pocket, so it shouldn't be too much of a burden.

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