Frequently Asked Questions
please add at the top and we will try to answer
Q: what is different to other platforms? Why not work on some commercial Android device?
A: The difference is that we build the device from the ground up and know all components. To make the hardware and software transparent. This allows to provide kernel and GUI developers the support they need to understand and operate the device 100%. Without hidden functions. "Anti-Vendor-ports" always ran into the problem of non-documented function blocks. So only 95% worked after a usually long time of reverse engineering and after the device was sold out. We try to keep the hardware to be available as long as there is demand, i.e. working on drivers, improving Linux, adding hardware extensions is not a waste of time such as it is with a dying out platform.
Q: Is the processor fast enough for encrypted telephony?
A: It has not been proven yet, but it should be no problem. The call latency will probably increase.
Q: Is it practicable to use VOIP via UMTS? Because I think GSM has better roaming support.
Q: Is it possible to use Android 4.x on this hardware?
A: Yes. Someone needs to adapt the missing pieces. A good starting point is Android on the beagleboard.
Q: Will there be an "out-of-the-box" ready to use GTA04-phone for sale?
A: Probably yes. We are working on preinstalling a tested softare image.
Q: Which non-free firmware is required to operate the GTA04?
A: required is none, unless you want to use WLAN, or 3D-Graphics acceleration. WLAN uses a Marvell chip and the open libertas driver. The firmware is available in Debian non-free repository. There is also a project to write an open version: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Thinfirm_1.5 The 3D Graphics accelerator of the DM3730 is a SGX530. We don't know a free firmware. But X11 is already very fast compared to the GTA02 (thanks to the Cortex-A8 with NEON). So 3D is only needed for 3D games but not for smooth smartphone operation.
Q: Is the GTA04 GSM-chip supported by the OsmocomBB-project? Or asked differently: Is the GSM firmware also open-source?
Q: why is it so expensive? There are so many cheap Android phones.
A: we currently producing in very low quantities. This means that the one-time cost (e.g. setting up machines, transport, certifications) are very high per unit. And, we buy chips in low quantities and produce in Germany. Since we can't (and don't want to) subsidize anything, we have the high price. The only way to reduce it is to produce larger batches. Producing 1k units reduces the price by 20-40%.
Q: Are most of the ICs you use also "open hardware", for example the UMTS chip or the ARM processor?
A: The silicon structures or internal schematics are unknown (closed). The interface and a few bits of the inner working is known because all datasheets are available with three exceptions: documentation for the UMTS modem, the WiFi module and the GPS module are only available under NDA.
Q: Could it be possible in the near future to also implement an LTE-chip?
A: Not with the same hardware. The UMTS module is not upgradable, IMHO.