Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The current state of Free / Open Mobile systems

Having had a N900 , I was very much excited about Free / Open mobile systems.

So the choices we have are :

Sorted by Availablity

Firefox OS phones like ZTE Open, Alcatel fire etc are available for world wide shipping .  Jolla with sailfish os  is also currently available for europe and has announced new asian countries in line up. Maemo devices are out of production and are only found in used conditions in ebay.

Sorted by Free or openness
Getting the GSM drivers is tricky and Openmoko came a bit close . The same devices also run debian which is open to the core. While maemo had lot of propreitary components it still gives a root shell and you can apt-get install whatever you want . Just like maemo even sailfish you can get a root shell and use zypper to install applications but its not as easy as maemo. Firefox os just runs on top of android kernel , everything on the top is all accessible via open web api's . You can't run a native linux shell on firefox os.

Sorted by user base
ZTE open was dirt cheap , hence it sold like hot cakes. Even N900 due to Nokia's reputation had sold well . Jolla is catching up but I am not sure of the numbers if it had exceeded N900 sales .I am guessing it didn't . N9 definitely didn't sell well because of the 'doomed platform' news.  Still in places like finland it did make some good news. Freerunner and other hardware hobby project devices are always expensive compared to normal devices in market hence didnt sell well but are the favourite devices of hackers.

Sorted by price
ZTE open is the cheapest device , while you can still buy the good old maemo devices N9 and N900 at ebay . Their prices and availability might change. Geeksphone revolution dual boots android and firefox os while jolla has awesome touch interface and can run android applications.

 Neo900 continues in the spirit of N900 and is a hobby hardware project which every geek worth his salt must support !