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Open phone goes robotic

Nov 20, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 8 views

Toronto, Ontario-based Koolu announced that it will release a version of Google's Linux/Java Android stack optimized for Openmoko's Neo FreeRunner Linux phone. A beta of “Android for FreeRunner” is due the first week of December, says Koolu, which will also sell the FreeRunner loaded with Android.

Koolu already sells its own “W.E. Phone” version of the FreeRunner loaded with Google Apps. Now, it says it will offer a version of the device preinstalled with the Koolu Android image.

Koolu hopes to sell its Android phone stack and phones to developers, end users, distributors, and value added resellers, it says. The first announced partner is value-added reseller (VAR) SDG Systems, which has a long history of distributing rugged Linux PDAs to government and enterprise customers.

Koolu W.E. Phone in four colors

The Neo FreeRunner (as well as the W.E. Phone) incorporates a 400MHz Samsung S3C2442 (ARM9 core), 128MB of RAM, 256MB of flash, and a 2.8-inch 640 x 480 TFT display. Other features for the 2.5G tri-band GPRS/GSM smartphone include WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and accelerometers. In short, it appears to offer most of the functionality of the HTC G1, aside from having a smaller screen and no keyboard.

Android will join several other phone stacks available for the FreeRunner. OpenMoko ships the phone with the default Gnome/GTK+ stack, called om2007.2, but there's also a newer April Software Update (ASU) stack based on Qt Software's Qt for Embedded (formerly Qtopia). Finally, there's an FSO framework initiative, which is still fairly early in the development process, and which implements specs.

Stated Steven Mosher, VP of marketing, Openmoko, “Openmoko welcomes Koolu's efforts to optimize the community lead port of Google's Android platform on the FreeRunner. That's the benefit of having an open platform. Their market focus complements ours.”

Android's source code was formally set free a month ago, a day before T-Mobile launched retail sales of the HTC G1, the first, and so far, only Android phone. The Open Handset Alliance (OHA) overseeing the Google-sponsored open source project released the Android SDK (software development kit) under an Apache 2.0 license.


Koolu's Android for OpenMoko Neo FreeRunner stack is scheduled for beta release the first week of December. The final release is set for early Q1 2009. Koolu did not state when it will ship pre-integrated Android FreeRunner phones via distributors such as SDG Systems. Koolu has established an Android Forum on its website devoted to the new distribution.

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