About this project
The goal of the OpenPhoenux project is to provide a complete community driven and independently developed hardware, software and services platform for portable operation, that is as free and open as we can achieve it within our environment.
This includes kernel, drivers and application software a well as documented hardware, and open discussion.
It continues where the Openmoko project did end.
Reasons for this project
This project was originally triggered by a lot of complaints by the Openmoko GTA02 users that everything (CPU, GPU, Wireless) is so slow and far behind state of the art. Since we felt that we can dramatically improve that by building on the OMAP3 based BeagleBoard and using some off-the-shelf UMTS modem module, we started the GTA04 project as a motherboard replacement. After a while it became clear that a long lasting success of the project needs to deliver complete devices. Consisting of complete hardware, software and services. This is what the OpenPhoenux project aims to be: a roof and central point of contact for all the individual activites, being GTA04-Hardware, QtMoko, SHR, 3D case designs and 3D printing etc.
Philosophy about Hardware
Why do we develop and produce our own devices? Why don't we buy cheap $DEVICE from $MANUFACTURER and get it opened?
- $MANUFACTURER is not willing to provide schematics and documentation - unless we pay a lot of money
- $MANUFACTURER may change the device hardware for production optimization - and we are the last ones to be informed
- $MANUFACTURER may have choosen chips for which there is only a non-open driver - we try to avoid this (as good as possible)
- $MANUFACTURER may not have all features (e.g. sensors) we would like to attach, develop and write drivers for
- $MANUFACTURER produces anywhere and we do not know anything about it
- $DEVICE may be replaced by $DEVICE2 faster than we can engineer a kernel for $DEVICE
Although hardware development is being done by a small (closed, hand-picked) team hidden from the eyes of the public, the software is free and open source. Starting from the boot loader (U-Boot) over the kernel (Linux) to graphical user interfaces (e.g. SHR and QtMoko). And we are even working on the last pieces and bits of non-free firmware (e.g. WLAN or 3D-Graphics acceleration).
The hardware design is not completely published (e.g. no Gerber files or production process documents), but we are very open with schematics and help to get the documentation of the chips so that low level driver development is not handicapped by lack of information.
- hardware schematics and user manual are open (CC)
- u-boot, kernel, user-space software is usually under GPL or similar open source licenses
- applications you write yourself can be closed source - if you know what you are doing
Contributions and Community
How can you, the (new) community member contribute?
Just hanging around and discussing
Even plain participation in discussion without contributing a single line of code is a very imporant part of a project. It helps to get new ideas, find clarifications, understand what others don't understand in the same way. Please let the core team and others know through the mailing lists, what you need and see as improvements. You can also add entries to the "Issues" list.
Contributing to software
- write your own Applications
- publish them through the Software Index
- participate in the software projects (QtMoko, SHR, Replicant, ...)
Funding such a project isn't easy since we are small and independent (from banks and VC) and therefore don't have the purchasing power to get down the price for the components like others can.
Donations may help to reduce the sales price of an OpenPhoenux a little for those who can't afford it and otherwise would have to switch to a non-free device. So far it have been Goldelico's owners and some generous donators (>1000 EUR) from the community (C. and W.).
- there aren't many rules
- everything is allowed to say as long as it is kept friendly
- what we don't want to see is illegaly leaked information (e.g. beyond legal reverse engineering) or links to such information
There is currently no formal organization behind Openphoenux.org. The domain is hosted and the project is driven by Goldelico. If we grow and need a more formal organization, one option is to found a OpenPhoenux e.V. (similar to OpenEmbedded e.V.) where there are members, elections, trustees, etc.