September 2008

St.Augstin, Braunschweig, Berlin, Taipei

Although trying (really!) to cut down travelling, it’s still a lot. Here’s a sweeping swipe of what happened during the past couple of months and what’s going to happen soon.


FrOSCon took place at its usual place on the last weekend in August and it was a very well organized conference — even better and more streamlined than the previous year was. I had the pleasure to listen to the Minix3 talk from Prof. Tanenbaum, which was very entertaining. Unfortunately my Openmoko talk was right after his one, so I had to take people kind of down to earth 😉

Since I was feeling pretty weak at this weekend I could only attend the first day. Looking forward to next year’s session.


Been travelling from Frankfurt to Braunschweig (to work with the Openmoko students on the framework) for a couple of times and I have started to actually use my Openmoko FreeRunner as a GPRS-forwarding device for my laptop. Using the framework it’s a breeze to do that. I just have to issue the dbus command ActivateContext("", "", "") and wait until the context goes online. Then I use iptables to enable NAT and forwarding for the laptop on the FreeRunner and it’s done.

GPRS is very solid on the FreeRunner — it works for hours without any disconnections or other interruptions. If the data connection is not 100% loaded you even get incoming call signalling and can take phone calls in between


Talking about the Openmoko / framework… we had a successful milestone3 release of it, debuting PDU-mode for SMS and phonebook data as well as lots of bugfixes over the place. We also have some nice reference docs now — i’m still working on introductionary type docs.

Unfortunately despite me trying to educate, lots of people still don’t get the point of the framework releases — I get frequent comments on the testing UI zhone, but rarely anyone is actually contributing to the dbus API specification and implementation discussion 🙁 I seriously ponder whether to release console images in the future to make this 100% clear. I say it again: FSO is not about user interfaces, it’s about a strong independent dbus service level framework to facilitate 3rd party development.

That said, there are four important contributions in the world: pkg-fso, fso-gpsd, frameworkd-glib,

  1. pkg-fso is a team coordinating the packaging of any software from the FSO initiative (and, widely, any software related to Openmoko).
  2. fso-gspd is a program offering a compatibility layer for the org.freedesktop.gypsy implementation of ogpsd. There are a lot of programs using the gpsd interface and with this compatibility layer, those programs will still work, but benefit from the improved accuracy of the UBX-based ogpsd.
  3. frameworkd-glib is a C library offering bindings to the framework APIs. Handling modern dbus APIs can be cumbersome in C (think a{sv} and friends), so this library offers you convenience functions for that.
  4. We now have official feeds hosted by a machine living in the same rack that serves Thanks to our friends at and

All software goodies live in our git repository.

Mobile Developer Days ’08

Last week I had the honor to give an invited talk about OpenEmbedded and Qt-integration into OE for the Mobile Developer Days 08 conference in Berlin. This conference is pretty unique in that it adopts a platform-agnostic approach, i.e. you will find people working on Symbian, Qt, PalmOS, Windows Mobile there. I even spotted iPhone folks. In my opinion, such a holistic approach is important for the future of development on mobile devices. Congrats, folks.

Speaking about the iPhone… true readers of this column may remember that I have been a MacOS user since early this year. To add up on this, lately I acquired an iPhone to gain some experience with this exciting new development platform. I have just been looking into what this system provides. I can already say that there’s a whole lot of stuff where FOSS can learn and I’m glad to be a part of both worlds, so I can try to be a catalysator.

Taipei ’08

On Sunday I’m going to fly over to Taipei. It’s been a while (12 months to be exact) since I met the folks in person there and there’s lots of stuff to catch up on. Now that the framework approaches its 0.9 release at the end of the year, we need to discuss the plan for the next 6 months. Can’t wait to meet all the engineers again! It’s going to be three interesting weeks. Stay tuned 🙂

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