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Motorola's Linux Phones Frustrate Developers 143

Posted by Zonk
from the play-nice-with-the-penguin dept.
n8willis writes "Three years after Motorola first announced it was migrating its smart phones to Linux -- and a dozen models later -- there are still virtually no third-party applications for them, much less open source ones. Symbian and Microsoft both give away free SDKs to all willing developers, but Motorola seems to be putting up hurdles instead. An article on NewsForge asks why is this the case?" NewsForge is a Slashdot sister site.
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Motorola's Linux Phones Frustrate Developers

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  • It might be because most people that put linux on small things are people that want to show people that they can do l33t things and are not interested in writing serieus apps. but why doesn't motorola port some linux apps themselves? it shouldn't be to hard for them, and there are plenty of them.
    • That answer would make sense if TFA didn't say that Motorola has been putting up roadblocks for potential developers, and stating that they wanted all development to be done via the Java Virtual Machine instead of on the embedded linux platform.
    • I don't write apps to show off, I write them to make life convenient for me. Of course, in that case I don't sell them either, though I do often enough post code online.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Or maybe it's because people make assumptions and dont read the Article to find out it's because Motorola intentionally is hampering development.

      Amazing things can be done with this phone. IF motorola released a tiny bit of onfo for the one interface they are keeping secret.

      They want you to do the java route and hide behind the lie that the mobile phone companies worry about security while Symbian and Microsoft encourage development for their platforms.

    • There are several reasons why Motorola might not want people inside these linux phones. For example:
      1.DRM. Allowing people inside could allow access to the secret key of the phone that is used to decrypt protected content.
      2.Featureset. Motorola might want to sell a phone with in it. This camera & chip might be physically capable of recording video but Motorola might decide to disable the feature on a particular phone for whatever reason (which might include wanting to sell a higher end phone with video

      • reasons why Motorola might not want people inside these linux phones. For example:
        1.DRM.
        2.Featureset.
        3.Carriers.
        4.Radio, phone functionality and FCC.
        5.Viruses and the like.

        and of course, that old chestnut:

        6.You'll poke your eye out!

      • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by richlv (778496)
        1.DRM. Allowing people inside could allow access to the secret key of the phone that is used to decrypt protected content.

        so why bother with linux at all ? trying to ride da wave ?

        2.Featureset. Motorola might want to sell a phone with in it. This camera & chip might be physically capable of recording video but Motorola might decide to disable the feature...

        oh. i just hate companies that act like this. it seems like an advertisment for capitalism.

        3.Carriers. For example, Verizon might want Motorola to di
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @05:34PM (#14663570)
    Those Linux phones would frustrate me too. Having to pipe AT commands directly from the command line to get them to dial, or use apt-get to manage contact details is fairly tedious.
  • Motorola (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Shaman (1148)
    Motorola has its head squarely up its ass when it comes to community and its customers. They are a lumbering elephant of a company stuck in 1980s mentality.
  • We don't have to make sense - or even seem like an American company, anymore. Why are you bothering us?

    Shouldn't you be out hassling Goldstar or Nokia somwhere, kid?
  • I think one problem might be availability. Here in Europe, we CAN get exotic GSM phones, but you have to go to a specialty dealer. If you just walk into a mainstream electronics and home appliance shop or a cell phone booth you can't find any linux phones.

    The specialty dealers take a large profit off the phones since they don't sell that many of them. So nobody has one, you never hear about one so you never know you might actually want one.

    This, I think, is really too bad.
  • not surprised (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Keropipi (937851) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @05:36PM (#14663593)
    Motorola's UI department is seriously THE WORST in the industry. Having owned numerous Motorola phones I really think they need to stop hiring artists to design their phones and employ some UI engineers.
    • Agreed... actually, I don't think they have a single artist amongst them. I have the E398 [mobileburn.com] and while by and large I'm happy with it, especially after downloading tools to allow me to unload and upload anything I want onto it (including removing the ridiculously crap games that came with it and put on some proper ones)... its interface is indeed horrible.

      I don't think artists had anything to do with it... Sony Ericson, now they have interfaces that are attractive, obvious and easy to use... this thing has one
    • Um... speaking as a former user of Nokia (total crap) and Goldstar (total crap), my move to Moto has been excellent. The UI is aesthetically flawless and intuitive. So intuitive that I don't even need to know what I want to do with the phone to do it. I just open it and things happen. It's the most uer friendly phone I've ever encountered. Take voice recognition for example.

      The common assumption: You speak the name or number and the phone dials the right place

      The cold hard reality: You have to first
    • by Brunellus (875635) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @06:24PM (#14664076) Homepage

      you have obviously not had the misfortune of having to use Sony/Ericsson's phones, ever.

      I have a T610. It's an OK phone, I guess, but there are a number of irritating quirks about it. For instance--there is no easily-discoverable sequence to the "received calls" list. Apparently, some genius thought that linear time is not relevant when considering whose calls you might have just missed. Unfortunately, since I don't live in an experimental piece of modernist fictional literature, I am left wondering who the hell called me and when.

      My general complaint with mobile phones is that they have suffered from two great evils: feature bloat and a fetish for miniaturization. My phone is tremendously useful on paper, but the complexity of its operation (for everything but regular phone calls) mean most of those features are essentially useles. Add this to the fact that its tiny size makes controlling it needlessly difficult.

      I blame the engineers who put the thing together. I also blame the marketing departments, who have compelled their engineers to fight a generally useless "button race," in the futile hope of being the most "full-featured" phone on the market.

      One thing I'll say about Nokia: they've been very good at UI. I might buy one of their phones, next.

      • I actually have owned A SE T610 and currently own a SE710A There is a UI hack(for the t610) that you can implement that will list the calls in chronnlogic order. It can be found on howardforums.com Motorola's have the irritating side buttons and I hate that you can have the phone vibrate and ring at the same time. (V600) The side buttons are also annoying on the v600 as they beep everytime you touch them My v600 would also crash randomly while wirting sms's or making calls
      • I'm using a K750i, and I am quite satisfies with it. I like the fact that I can transfer .jar files without trouble from my Linux box, and I like the fact the themes as well as remote control definition files are mainly tar archives with XML, PNG, JPG or SVG files in it. SE phones really go well with linux [localhost.ruhr.de], with a Nokia phone, I would not be able to installe J2ME applications on it, since it requires a special software. I am also quite content with the user interface, and the fact that I can control it from
    • Re:not surprised (Score:2, Interesting)

      "Motorola's UI department is seriously THE WORST in the industry. Having owned numerous Motorola phones I really think they need to stop hiring artists to design their phones and employ some UI engineers."

      Here's an example of Motorola UI foolishiness:

      If you leave a voice mail on my phone, two dialogs come up. The first says that I have a voicemail waiting. The one following it says "You missed a call from this number: ###-###-####" The first dialog has a 'call voicemail' button. If you press that and re
      • Re:not surprised (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Shemmie (909181)
        Also, it seems they create software that their hardware isn't comfortable running. Example, E398. The "mp3 phone". Play an mp3 on it - see it grind to a hault due to a lack of processing power. Hell, it can't even run the UI without encountering slow-down, what chance did the mp3 player have?
    • If they have such bad UI...why did you keep on buying them?
    • The other things I dislike about them is the that dang 2 pronged power plug. After you've used it for a couple of months you need to wiggle it just so to get a connection.
      • Agreed. Only ever used Nokia until my latest, Moto E398, and compared to the standard Nokia power adapter, the Moto stinks to high hell. So much so, that the 'wiggling' in the end broke the middle connection on the bottom of the phone, rendering it useless (Unchargeable). The guy who thought "Ah ha, two lil plastic prongs, and a small spring button on the adapter will last every-other-day charges for a pro-longed period of time" needs taking out and shooting.
  • How is this unusual? (Score:5, Informative)

    by lifeisgreat (947143) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @05:37PM (#14663609) Homepage
    Knowledge-hoarding and incompetence from a big company? It's likely the move to Linux was made to either save money or as retribution from a manager/VP that was displeased with the previous supplier.

    Motorola's customers are NOT we end-users, but the phone companies that buy the phones and get people to sign up to contracts with them. Unless it's those companies kicking up a fuss, Motorola probably couldn't care less. Why should they? Motorola never sold a phone to an individual buyer, only to companies looking for features like locking the phone into a specific network.
    • Wait what?

      I'm not the end user?

      If that's true then I could bypass the GPL by selling people PCs using cell-phone company like contracts. Loophole!

      Unless of course you're wrong. I am the end user. And the GPL does not fail to apply to me just because I'm buying it from Cingular instead of directly from Motorola. When I get a contract, I pay for the phone either through the duration of the contract or contract + whatever extra.
      • My point wasn't about the GPL, it was that it should be no surprise that Motorola drags its feet when dealing with actual phone users, as the people giving Motorola money are not phone users but phone companies.

        Sure they're legally obligated to do certain things, but if they actually gave a damn about people using the phones they'd have an official community, message board, mailing list, developer backing, *ANYTHING*.
    • "Motorola's customers are NOT we end-users"

      Sorry, but I have to call BS on this. The RAZR is a hot seller because we end-users choose it, not because the cell phone companies picked it. You could make the case that both of us are customers, but if all us start to buy an iPhone from A-mobile, the others Cell companies will come rushing over to get the same thing. The Cell companies are the middle man, as far as the phone is concerned.

      Moto's problem is disconnection from the real customer. They talk first
  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @05:38PM (#14663623)
    The real customer is Verizon, or Voda, or whomever the cell provider is. And the providers want to sell the crap they make, not good and free alternatives.
    • by garcia (6573) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @05:46PM (#14663714) Homepage
      Yup and in addition...

      The big question is, what does Motorola gain by obstructing willing developers from bringing software to their platform?

      Well, it keeps the development in the hands of the mobile phone companies using the phone who then will charge their customers to download songs, applications, etc. If they phone is wide open and anyone can develop for it why would anyone pay $2.50/song, $5 to $10/application, etc?

      Exactly, they wouldn't and that's why phones with great development environments (like the T-mobile Sidekick) are dead in the water.
      • "If they phone is wide open and anyone can develop for it why would anyone pay $2.50/song, $5 to $10/application, etc?"

        That's true, as far as it goes, but consider an alternative approach: Why not give up a little on the apps and services side of the thing, and make buckets of money by selling gazillions of the devices because people can do more with your phone?

        I suspect if they did a proper business case, they'd find, much as Apple has with the iPod, that it's not necessary to sell every little thing t

      • And you wonder why the Europeans and asias have bletooth ad more advaced phones than here in the us?

        I would't be surprissed if the telecom moopolies are the cause of this. Like yo said they wat to sell apps through their service and make moey off it Free software and inovation gets in the way of profits.

        Verizon would live drmed phoes that can only run software they approve.. oh wait they already do that?
    • And that right there's my problem with convergence. The phone companies monkey with the platform so they can sell you bells and whistles.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone who has ever owned or used a motorola phone, has to know that their software is horrible. I think this is a good situation where it may help to actually replace their entire software development team with people who are competent? Or else I (and many like me) will never consider buying a motorola.
  • In a word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jordan Catalano (915885) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @05:39PM (#14663643) Homepage
    The big question is, what does Motorola gain by obstructing willing developers from bringing software to their platform?

    Control.
  • The RAZR and its ilk are standing on the shoulders of marginal work (like the v600)...Motorola tends to make the first few iterations, then bugfix, then make a good stable product. It's entirely possible that the Linux models aren't ready for primetime yet. (This is based on my experience with four v600's, a MPx220, and a RAZR.)
    • what exactly is the razr like? any good? looks nice, but is it actually a decent phone, particularly for signal in out of the way areas? I spend a lot of time off the beaten path, and signal is quite important ... as well as features, surely it is a camera phone, and vid phone, as well as all the latest internet bells and whistles ...? thx
      • Better than the v600 by a good margin. Bout the same as a Nokia 6820 I had at the time. It's a quadband phone, so it'll get whatever GPRS reception is available. It's short of memory, but the V3(i?) has a slot for miniSD. It's got a flat crummy addressbook.
    • I've got one of those black RAZRs that Cingular is selling.

      The highs:
      • small, good style
      • non-crippled Bluetooth (it syncs with my Mac, and could be used as a modem if I had a data plan)
      • a real, honest-to-god USB port

      The lows:

      • SLLLOOOWWW UI
      • poorly organized UI (although mitigated somewhat by the ability to rearrange some things and define "shortcuts")
      • flat address book (although mitigated somewhat by the ability to define "groups" and only show one at a time)
      • no "to-do" list
      • Cingular added a bunch of hooks to extr
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @05:43PM (#14663689)
    I though it was blindingly obvious at the announcement that Mototola only saw Linux as a free os to run a Java VM on, if they had a hardware chip they could run the VM on Linux would be in the bin for the next product release.
    • Huh? ARM Jazelle chips can run Java natively, though the VM is still present to provide GC and such. But it doesn't matter if your chip can run Java just fine, you still need an OS and it might as well be Linux. IIRC their actual OS is called JUIX and is mostly written in pure Java, with Linux providing task switching and core memory management etc.
  • ...the cell phone of the future! The anti-DRM gpl'd software runs all music through a filter, transforming great hits like Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" to a scratchy likeness of "Another One bites the Dust" by Queen...
  • The reason... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxx_730 (909644) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @06:05PM (#14663899)
    Well as i said on Osnews already, i'm one of the moderators/editor from motorolafans.com, and have been since the beginning, and it's true that motorola hasn't been exactly helpfull with getting the sourcecode and they still owe us the bootloader code, too. The reason that they are so unhelpful is ofcourse really obvious. Who are their customers? The big telco companies. Where do big telco companies make their money from? From their customers calling with their phones. If you start giving out the kernel source and encourage hacking on these phones (with sdio hardware and a mini usb host controller), the users will be voiping in no time, which would piss of their customers, the telco's.
  • I have taken a look on their website, and there is nothing about a Linux phone.
    The phone specs are not at all detailed, they focus too much on design.
    Who would want a phone that looks like a rock?
    And the whole HelloMoto thing is just weird. Maybe it works for Japan, but not for the rest of the world.

    Above stuff has at least kept me away from motorola.
    Sony Ericsson does a lot better on the presentation area.
    Motorola should promote the tech side of the phone more.
    If I'd known about a Linux phone with decent f
    • Motorola lists as Linux phones the E895 (clamshell to be released 4th quarter 2005 - where is it?), the A910 (the E895 with WiFi radio for UMA access to cellular network - to be released 1st quarter 2006) and no less than the ROKR E2 (also to be released 1st quarter 2006). You may have to hunt for the news releases.
  • This is simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by finkployd (12902) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @06:10PM (#14663948) Homepage
    Verizon, Cingular, etc. : "Hello Moto, we make a significant amount of money charging total idiots for the right to license crappy ring tones, useless apps, games, and backgrounds. If you release a phone to our customers that allows them to install their own apps, music, and images we will stop buying your phones. Speaking of which, make sure we can lock out DUN and OBEX on your new line of bluetooth phones."

    Motorola: "Yes sir, sorry sir."

    • BINGO!

      It is not in Motorola's best interest to allow open development and they know it- because that is what their buyers (the phone service companies) tell them. They probably love the low cost and flexibility of Linux but really are not all that interested in seeing much development outside of what THEY want.

      Funny how altruistic and "open" a company seems at first, until they realize they might lose control of their "baby".

      Now contrast this with the Nokia 770 and you can see that Nokia has a different be
    • This is worse than you might think.

      I have the A780. It's based on Montevista Linux. The UI is iffy. It supports SyncML, but not over OBEX. This is apparently the case with all of Moto's Linux phones. If you want to use SyncML, you have to do it over IP. You're options are then to either:

      Get a shell, set up ppp over USB, sync.
      Get a shell, set up ppp over Bluetooth, sync.
      Sync OTA.

      Now, if that weren't enough (oh yes, there's more...) you have to come up with a SyncML server. Where???? There's sync4j, b
    • There aren't enought mod points for what you said, or enough guns to put it right.

      Justin.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @06:12PM (#14663962)
    I was interested in writing a lightweight kernel to play with on the Motorola e815 and similar phones. Compiling binaries for the phone's cpu is no big deal, but the phone requires its kernel to be digitally signed.

    If you replace the built in kernel with an unsigned one, it won't run. I swore my ass off when I learned that, although I wasn't surprised.

    For anyone who claims there might be some FCC regulations that prevent this sort of experimentation, you won't produce interference accidentally with these phones. The radio interface is not complicated.

    (And don't get me started with Verizon crippling the Motorola phones they sell. It's best to buy the phones independently from the service.)

    I think the network service providers (Verizon et al.) should be banned from subsidizing phones, and be should be forced to allow the use of any phone compliant with the their networks' standards. There was an explosion in diversity of landline phones, and massive improvements in their capabilities and prices, when AT&T was similarly forced to untie the endpoint hardware from their network service. I want to see the same explosion occur in the wireless market.

    Their goal is to lock you in to old rates for a year or two at a time, and thereby avoid the amazing price competition which occurred in wired network phone service. If buying the handsets is decoupled from subscribing to the network, they'll have no reasonable rational for forcing people to sign long-term contracts, and we'll see proper competition again. I'd be happy as hell to see that. I want phones that serve me, rather than the network service provider.
    • I can't believe that situation (with providers locking in phones to their networks - you have to buy a phone from them to use on their network) still exist in the US. That's so 1997 as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Revolt! (Still, don't you still, in effect pay to receive calls, at least with some providers?)

      -p
    • Hmm... isn't this precisely the situation which GPL3 tries to prevent and Linus does not care about?
  • by un1xl0ser (575642) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @06:22PM (#14664060)
    I'm in the US, but I haven't seen Verizon/Cingular/Nextel/Sprint or any company offer a Linux based phone. It is one thing to be able to pay a company a few hundered dollars and have them give you the phone. Buying it on eBay or from a third party and hoping that it works with your service is different.

    As soon as I see Cingular with a Linux based phone, I will own^H^H^Hp4wNzz0r it.
  • Both the A780 and the E680 are available for US networks, though most of their other models don't work inside the US's GSM frequencies and there's a real lack of linux CDMA phones. Both of these models are being hacked and there's a small community of users using these as routers. see http://www.dewmill.com/linuxphone.html [dewmill.com] for an example.

    The dirth of linux smart phones has more to do with the weirdness of the US phone market. There are lots of cool linux phones (not just Motorola) that work outside the U
    • Maybe Newsforge is talking from a US or European viewpoint. The kernel sources for E680/A760 have been available for ages, and I've seen thousands of applications available for these platforms, but almost all of the apps are non-English.

      This is a bit like the N-Gage, where it's being laughed at in many English speaking countries, but it's still selling like hot cakes in Asia.
  • by Xonstein (927931) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @06:35PM (#14664169)
    They dont want native applications because they are more likely to brick the phone, causing warranty and customer support nightmare for carriers.
  • Kandy, KDE's Phone Syncronization application, and KPilot, KDE's Palm Syncronization application, were scrapped in favor of another program called "The Sync". The only problem: "The Sync" doesn't exist yet. I could never get KPilot to sync with my PDA or Kandy to work with my Motorola phone. And I don't even want to us anything GNOME has to offer considering I use Kontact.
    I can only assume that KDE is waiting on the Linux guys to find some way to get the Motorola's to sync.
    • The Sync

      Perhaps you are thinking of KitchenSync? In newer versions of KDE this is going to be back-ended by OpenSync [opensync.org] which is a universal syncing platform that can be used by all. OpenSync is perhaps a little rough around the edges at the moment but there is already support for quite a few mobile phones and PIM platforms (including those of KDE).
  • by dindi (78034) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @06:53PM (#14664340) Homepage
    For me it is an easy answer: I try to be polite: I dislike Motorola phones, and I am not surprised if tech savvy people would not get them, and would not care if it is linux, symbian or ce.

    I personally really do not care if my phone runs linux, and even if it did I would not waste the time to write some killer custom app just because I can ... Of course I am not saying that I would not write scripts or whatever needed to maintain my data.

    Besides: a phone's life span is soo short (unlike those old times) that for the time you develop something (as a hobbiist) someone comes out with a phone with 3 times bigger display, zoom lens camera and whatever else unneeded crap and you can start patching ....

    I mean do you need linux on your phone ? Do you have a Motorola phone? Even that there are development tools for your phone, did you write a CE/Linux/Java/Midp/whatever app for it?

    OK, I am negative today
  • Motorola generally doesn't have a single clue about what they're doing. They peaked in cell phones back in the 90's with the StarTAC, and haven't really done anything compelling since. The products suck, the support sucks, the tools suck, all the way around they have the most amazing feature-packed phones that deliver nothing less than total mediocrity. They throw away CPU time in favor of battery life, in such a way that it doesn't actually help. You know those ringtones they sell? Well, a frickin' 64
    • Okay, whatever. Mod me down. Motorola is a pain to deal with, and I'm venting. Fine. You may think I'm being overly critical, but all the way around, the results of people's experiences in dealing with them paints a pretty clear picture of a company floundering. They've been deliberately obtuse about product defects, don't communicate critical information to their developers (APIs, anyone?), and generally make things difficult for their customers. My point was that they've brought this on themselves,
    • Well grain of salt I work for Cingular. And own both phones in question.

      V551 is a batter hog, I never used it to play mp3s other than the ringtones, and they tended to play fine. Mine kept crapping out on the charger port so finally the warranty department sent me a V3.

      Great batter life, I charge it about every 5 days, sometimes six. Works well with all of my blue tooth headsets.

      I did not want to like the V3 but mine has been a solid performer. The UI could use work, but the majority of the customers w
  • by ashridah (72567) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @07:14PM (#14664540)
    I definently have to call bullshit, at least based on what's in the summary in this article.

    The Motorola SDK for their mobile phones is available right now, both the linux and non-linux varieties of phones.

    This article is discussing, of course, the availability of the linux source code itself, not the SDK. You do not need the linux source code in order to develop applications for their linux-based mobile phones, and to be perfectly honest, having to jump through hoops to get the kernel source really isn't that big a deal, since getting the SDK is as simple as signing up at www.motocoders.com

    ash

    • by rar (110454) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:12PM (#14665972) Homepage
      The Motorola SDK for their mobile phones is available right now, both the linux and non-linux varieties of phones.

      Having experience with one of the Motorola phones myself, I belive the article describes the current situation very accurately. As the article explains: the public SDK is only for java development. The intresting thing with having a Linux phone is to develop native applications. There is no public SDK from Motorola for native applications. That is the problem.
      • Seeing as how you can access all the functions of the phone via their Java SDK, including camera, WiFi, multimedia, bluetooth, IR, and text messaging, I don't see what the difference would be.
        • Seeing as how you can access all the functions of the phone via their Java SDK, including camera, WiFi, multimedia, bluetooth, IR, and text messaging, I don't see what the difference would be.

          First: this is simply not true. For example the E680i is at least missing both JSR75 (filesystem access) and JSR82 (bluetooth access) optional java apis.

          Second: java applications don't have the look and feel of native apps. You can only have one java app running at any time and they don't integrate nicely into the UI.

          T
    • > You do not need the linux source code

      Nevertheless, if they distribute a version of it and refuse to distribute the source code, there is no limit to the amount of civil liability to which they are exposing themselves, being in breach of a contract which does not specify any limitation on the value of damages which can be sought.

      This could become serious, if anyone on the plaintiff side of a GPL dispute is ever somebody who is not dependent on nickle and dime donations. Fortunately or unfortunately, no
      • You're taking my comment out of context completely.

        I did not say, or intend to insinuate, that motorola should not be releasing the source to the kernel they use in their phones. They should be adhering to the GPL, for legal reasons at least, if not to be good community citizens.

        But for the average developer who wants to target more than just the cluster of motorola linux phones, the SDK that provides the java development environment for their phones will do the trick, and give them a wider user base.
        What's
        • Now, if the phone is actually more like a PDA...

          For people who have not understood this: the Motorola Linux phones are running a *complete* Linux distribution: /proc, /dev, /usr, /etc. When you turn the phone on, its hidden startup is done sysV style with /etc/init.d scripts! There are ways to turn on telnet support. You do not have an X-server, but you have a framebuffer which can be used for QT programs etc. So, in short, they are even more than "like a PDA", they are pocket-versions of a system originall
  • Do any of these Linux phones work with the services in the US? I haven't seen any being offered by the carriers themselves.
    • well the one i'm going to buy in the next few months should work anywhere, its quad-band.
      A780, runs linux (not that i care as long as it WORKS), and some neat little gimmicks to boot:
      builtin GPS with a navigation software that has a "pedestrian mode" (whatever that is, i guess its a mode where it directs you straight through regions where a car wouldn't be allowed)
      comes with car mount + usb cable + 256mb flash chip loaded with the maps for your country
      bluetooth (my bluetooth handsfree will love that)
  • Having worked on a product for Symbian developers, I can assure you that the Symbian SDKs are not "given away". Symbian charged us to be "partners" with them. Then they charged for access to the SDK. Then they charged for access to the source. Then they charged for access to support. On and on. And the contracts were so constrictive that our legal department threw up their hands in despair. I believe they have every right to charge for their proprietary IP, but I want to make sure that the impression that t
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Umm, at least Nokia's Symbian SDKs are free. Go to Forum Nokia and pick up whatever you need.

      That won't get you Symbian source, but it will give you the ability to write apps.
    • The SDK etc. is all free, as are quite a lot of the testing tools. You can pay for higher levels of access, but that's really not necessary. If you want to get Symbian Signed certification, which removes the "This application is not signed" warnings on install, that costs money too.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As someone who has done the embedded linux thing I've seen a couple of trends. First, you get a bunch of hard embedded guys who are used to controlling the hardware with an RTOS and they try to cram an app into a driver. It can work, it can even be "easy" but it's not really the linux way, it's not clean, you don't get a lot of advantages of having Linux in the first place.

    The other one is shitty dev tools compared to some of the stuff you can do with other platforms. I'm a big fan of GCC and the l

  • A little bit of info (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:45PM (#14666200)
    Most normal Motorola phones (like the E378i I have) use something called a Neptune as the main processor (its an ARM with a DSP inside I believe) with a custom motorola operating system (known as p2k in the moto modding community because of the p2k.sys driver used to access it).
    The Motorola Linux phones use a platform called EZX. This consists of a Neptune processor like in a normal p2k phone with a (presumably different) version of the p2k operating system running on it to handle the network side (i.e. actually talking to the cell tower) and then an Intel ARM chip running a modified version of MontaVista Linux for the rest of the phone software.
    They are using a modified version of the BLOB bootloader and a 2.4.x Kernel.
    The userland is made up of various normal utillities (e.g. glibc, gnu fileutils etc) plus a (aparently hevily modified) version of qtEmbedded and a pile of motorola specific stuff.

    Motorola HAVE released a kernel source tree for the EZX phones. And people have reported getting it to compile and run on their phones. Whether its complete, up-to-date or accurate I dont know.

    Motorola are under no obligation to provide any SDK for these phones.
    The only thing they need to do is to release the source code for any components under licences that require them to do so (e.g. BLOB, kernel, glibc etc). So far, other than the kernel release, they have not done so.
    Several requests have been sent to motorola requesting the source code to those comonents but so far, no code has been forthcomming.

    Motorola are under no obligations to share the source code, SDKs, docs, headers etc to the motorola specific stuff on the phone (unless its some how derived from GPL code that is). They are also not under any obligation to share any code to things like qtEmbedded (they probobly have a commercial licence from trolltech for that).

    There are reports of a "leaked" SDK for EZX phones but I dont know much about it (using it would probobly be a violation of copyright anyway so its probobly best not to)

    The most promising work is going on at www.openezx.org. People there are trying to make replacements for the motorola propriatory kernel modules and software bits as well as trying to reverse engineer the propriatory libraries motorola have used as well as trying to get motorola to release the code required under GPL (having the motorola version of BLOB in particular would be nice since it could lead to a better way to modify things on the phone without some of the hacks that are required now)

    Thanks to the OpenEZX project for most of the information contained here.
  • I was among those that bought one of the early Motorola Linux EZX phones.. the E680. It was a pretty cool device, with lots of features, and pretty decent speed. There was a growing user community [howardforums.com] based around it, who even went to some lengths to find the correct modem and bluetooth drivers to let us open a shell in the OS. It was unfortunate that Motorola never released a SDK for the Linux platform, as even a simple procedure such as changing the phone's icons took alot of hacking. Much of the early e
  • This is no different than how Motorola conducts their business with LMR. Because of their "no can do" attitude (or "our way or no way") they have been losing a lot of public safety business.

    I recently built a new 911 PSAP and dispatch facility and there isn't much Motorola product in there. It's not because of the quality of equipment, it's great stuff. But if you want to do anything at all with it that would be "custom", they won't support you one bit.

    IMHO Motorola makes great stuff, they just need to l
  • From TFA:

    Contrast this with Symbian, who provides free documentation and software development kits for all of its mobile phone platforms, encouraging third-party developers.

    Don't worry, that is not the case any more. From the version 9.1 Symbian with introduction of Symbian Signed [symbiansigned.com] Symbiam is not encouraging small/freeware/opensource developers any more. For small commertial developer sitaution worst - they have to pay for every binary release (good buy patches/expansions) around 400USD to testing ho

  • I absolutely agree with this. I work for a company that has obvious interests with phones, and we managed to get a Linux Motorola phone a few years ago from our office and contacts in China. It worked, and everything, and looked great, but we had no way to get to the Linux insides, which meant that it was about as useful as a chocolate fire-guard.
    Unlike some Siemens phones we had - it's very cool to be able to get a phone# prompt, and run all the usual commands.

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