So, i have been trying again to turn my Openmoko FreeRunner into a usable device, despite its uncertain future. One that you can really use to make calls, send/receive SMS, surf the web (over WiFi or GPRS) and do other things you should normally be able to expect from a working smartphone. This is a little write-up of how far i've gotten in that quest.

Since i have repeatedly been frustrated by the apparent lack of progress in getting a usable (from the standpoint of someone willing and wanting to do some application level tinkering but not wanting to do any lower level hackery) platform using the Openmokos "native" distributions (SHR, Om200x etc.), i turned to Android. This has made quite some steps since i tried one of the first Koolu beta versions, but it doesn't seem to be totally there yet, either.

I first tried using Koolu beta 7 and was quite impressed by how many things worked out of the box (WiFi, sending SMS). But, alas, some things also did not work, receiving SMS for example. The phone just didn't do anything when it was supposed to have received (according to a delivery report on the sending phone) a message.

I then tried the images by Michael Trimarchi (mostly for trying out something based on the newer cupcake development branch of Android), and they are definitely going in the right direction. I can even receive SMS with them. Haven't tried using GPRS, yet. Strangely, the freerunner-v14.6-cupcake image worked better for me than the newer freerunner-cupcake-snapshot-v6. The latter gives me a lot of crashing applications ( right at startup, and seemingly in a loop, after ending a phone call, the settings app when trying to enter the "Wireless" settings...) and i haven't managed to get WiFi working on both of them.

All in all there still sadly is no Android-on-FreeRunner image where everything i need "just works"(tm). But, seeing all the development happening right now, i am confident hoping that a cupcake based image where all the important stuff works is not too far off.